Excerpt of my first historical novel.
See what y
Charlene stared out the window of her estate in Graham, England, in 1602, right on the border from the southern part of Scotland called the lowlands.
They had both Scottish and English people that lived around the grounds of the castle. Some inside the high wall that surrounded the keep, plus the farmers and some of the craftsmen were outside.
Although they lived in England, they were so close to the Scottish border that they had a large group of soldiers to protect the people. It seemed the Scottish enjoyed feuding with each other and sometimes thieving, especially in the Highlands, and the people that lived in and around the castle had needed to protect their own.
The castle was called Rosewood had been in her mother's family for a hundred years, and now it was hers.
Growing up in the castle had been magical. Her mother and father doted on her since she’d was the only child they’d been blessed with.
Unfortunately, her parents had died, and the only living male relative left was an uncle on her father's side. Uncle Earl Arnold Hammond. A man, her father, had never liked.
He’d been in her home for over four years and had pilfered as much as he could, knowing one day the man she would marry and her husband would take over the estate, and he’d have to leave unless he came up with another solution.
He’d been in charge of finding a suitable husband for her as Queen Elizabeth was much too busy to bother, Charlene was told but didn’t believe a word he said.
She gripped her hands together as she saw a caravan working their way towards Rosewood. This would be the sixth man to come for her hand. The last five had been turned away because Uncle Arnold could not control them as he would like.
He needed to find a man with no backbone that would do whatever he was told to do, or Arnold would find himself out of a home, and he’d become fond of the way he was living was what he told her.
This one’s name was Earl Emory Burbridge. She didn’t know a lot about him besides the horrific rumors she’d heard from the household servants. They hadn’t known she’d been listening, so they’d been very graphic in their telling of the stories.
She’d had nightmares about what she’d heard every night since.
“Are you excited to meet Lord Burbridge, milady?”
Charlene looked over her shoulder at her lady’s maid, Jamie. Jamie had been with her for many years and could tell when she was lying.
“No, I’m actually terrified.”
Jamie gasped and rushed to her mistress and took her hand. “Don’t listen to Lottie, milady. She likes to stir the pot.”
“You’ve got to admit every time she’s more right than wrong.”
Charlene squeezed Jamie's hand when she started to fuss. Her lady’s maid was twice as old as Charlene and didn’t need the stress of the meeting between her and Lord Burbridge.
“Don’t fret. I’m sure everything will be just fine.”
Jamie nodded vigorously. “Yes, I’m sure it will, milady.”
Charlene turned back to the window. The newcomers had pulled into the courtyard and were out of her sight.
“Milady, let’s get you dressed for supper.”
Charlene sighed. “Yes.” She allowed her lady’s maid to dress her in one of her more beautiful gowns. She wouldn’t have picked it because it was a bit provocative, but it’s what her uncle had demanded.
She listened to Jamie with half an ear as she regaled tales of one of the kitchen maids and a knight that was attracted to each other but hadn’t yet talked to each other. She knew her lady's maid was trying to get her mind off the coming meeting and appreciated it even if it wasn’t working.
When she was dressed, she walked back to the window to wait.
Charlene jumped when a knock came at the door. She listened as Jamie answered it. They were ready for me. She drew in a deep breath and stood. She vowed not to show any emotions because her uncle took great delight in bending them for his entertainment when she did.
“It’ll be alright, milady. Just wait and see.”
Charlene squeezed Jamie’s shoulder. “Of course, it will.”