As I stand here and feel the spring breeze. I also get the gentle aroma of romance that is always mixed into its tide. Being a romantic at heart as we all are---yes you macho guys too. Maybe it's just that Cajun French blood that pumps through my veins. Well what ever it is, I'm going to follow its lead.
Many-many years ago I started writing romance stories and self-published my own books. Some are no longer in print. Maybe it's time to dust one or two of them off and pass them on if I may?
Indentured Love: #1 (Historical Romance)
Anna stood there in the empty room staring out the big french window into the once lush green field. Now the fields are bare of all the living creatures that had once grazed there. There had only been one that she cherished and that was her magnificent stallion. She would miss riding that beautiful creature. He had been one of the first of her possessions to be removed from the Martin Estate. Today the men had come early and removed the last piece of her mother's beautiful furniture and she was told by the solicitor that she had to leave the premises in three days. The estate that had been handed down to her mother was now in the hands of the lenders.
Maybe it was wrong but she was glad that her mother was not here to witness this. Her mother had died six months ago. Her stepfather had not always been nice to either one of them and she knew that her mother regretted marring him. He enjoyed the power of money and what it brought with it. His own father had disinherited him for his excessive drinking and gambling and she knew that is why he married her mother to gain her fortune. Each night the servants would carry him in and he would be put to bed in the library. It was ironic because it was there in the library that he killed himself two months ago while she was attending a party at the Wakefield estate with friends.
Now here she stood staring out at everything that she no longer had. She fingered the locket at her neck, it was probably the only item that she possessed that had any value but it had been her mothers and it had been passed down from her grandmother. The only reason that she still had it was because she had been wearing it when the man came to list their possessions for the creditors. She had wisely tucked it into her dress.
Here she was penny-less and homeless and with no family that she knew of. Her friends were compassionate at first, now it was obvious that they were avoiding her. It seemed that their families had also been taken advantage of by her stepfather.
Well, today she planned on walking the short distance into town and seek employment. Although she was not trained in any areas, for every young woman that she knew they were expected to marry into wealth and run their husbands house hold and bear his children. Yes, she would just have to swallow her pride and beg if she had to. She vowed that she would survive this and rise again to live the life that she had become accustom to and never would she let anyone person be in control of her life again.
As she walked along carring only a small valise with a simple day dress and a few under garments, for she didn not know if the men would return and take all of her dresses. She pulled her heavy cloak tightly around her. Her feet were mired in the mud of the road and she was glad at the last moment she had decided to wear her ridding boots and hoped no one would notice with her long skirt.
It was only then that she felt the sharp hunger pain in her stomach and tried to remember when she had eaten last? This too was something she had no idea of how she would provide.
As she walked along the streets for the first time she really took notice of the homeless souls that approached her and begged for a coin. She looked into their eyes and seen the desperation that she now felt---for the first time in her life. When she turned the corner, she almost bumped into Clara Manson and her daughter Emily. They quickly looked the other way and side stepped around her with out a word said. It was obvious that she had been completly dismissed from their circle of society. Even the young men that had asked permission to call upon her, now quickly crossed the street to avoid her.
She desperately searched every shop window hoping to see a sign asking for help. Finally deciding to just go in and ask. Maybe if they didn't need help they might know of someone that did. She chose a book shop and asked to speak to the proprietor. He quickly informed her that he was not in need of female help. He needed some one with a strong back as a young lad that could lift heavy containers of books for storage. She tried to convince him that she was very strong and was sure she could do the job he had described. He only laughed and eyed her up and down for a moment and with a sneering grin, then he suggested that she would do much better out in the street selling her own---wares!
It was getting late and although it would be depressing she needed to get back before dark, at least she would have a roof over her head for two more days and maybe tomorrow she would have better luck on finding employment. As she turned the next corner, she could smell the fruit from the market stands. It seemed that the vendors were also packing up their wares for the day. She stopped and gazed down at the delicious red apples that were in front of her. Her stomach took that moment to rumble loudly demanding that she put someting in it immediately. Looking quickly at the man, he seemed to be occupied with putting some oranges in a box. Quickly she snatched two apples and slipped them under her cloak. She had only taken three steps when a big strong arm reached out and grabbed her.
"Hey George, we have our selves a pretty little thief," the big man said as he yelled out to the man that was packing up his wares.
"Oh please sir, it was just two apples and I have had nothing to eat for two days. I have no money but I will work for this food---please."
"Lady, I have enough mouths to feed of me own. A thief---tis a thief."
She watched in disbelif as he called out to the constable that was coming their way. "Tom, here is another one for ye to put in ye wagon." The wagon stopped and the constable jumped down and grabbed her arm and pulled her roughtly across the street and turned to the vendor and yelled, "Mate's, this should make a full load for the day, try not to catch anymore," the men all laughed.
Everyone was staring at them and it was then that she got a glimpse of Mary Canty standing there taking in the whole scene. This would be all over town for she was known to be the town gossip. What little hope she had, was no completely gone.
"Oh please sir, let me go I will give the apples back---please." she begged.
"Come on girlie get in the wagan with the rest of your kind," he said gruffly as he shoved her into the back and closed the gate. She felt hands reach out and pull her the rest of the way in. The stench of the other occupants was unbelievable. She tried to cover her nose but they were so crammed into that small space. It was no more than a cage that was set atop of a cart.
"My-my, look at what we have here me ladies, it looks like we have ourselves a real tady-ta from the look of her rags. Now deary, if you go any coin on you, ye best be handing it over before we gets behind the big gate."
She looked over at the old woman who was pointing a bony finger at her. Her hair was matted and her clothes were filthy and appeared to be tied on to her boney frame. Even one shoe was different than the other.
"No! I have no coins," she said sharply hoping that she would not have to be bothered by this filthy creature again.
"Well now, we will see how long ye will hold on to ye fancy bag that you got clutched so tightly when we gets there with the lot of them," she cackled.
She could not believe this was happening to her. Anna Martin! riding in a cart down the street like an animal. The cart bumped and shook as it made its way over the cobble stone street. The driver didn't care about his cargo and he was in a hurry to deliver them to the prison and get home to his meal.
The woman that sat next to her finally nudged her and spoke softly. "What did they get you for dearie?"
"It was really nothing, I only took two apples and I told them that I would pay for them later. I am sure that when I explain this to the magistrate he will understand and this ridiculous incident will be cleared up." She did not notice that the woman had just sadly shook her head at her statement.
She looked around when she felt the cart stop abruptly. There before them was the big iron gates of the Newgate prison. It was then that she could not hold back the tears that silently spilled down her cheeks. It now seemed that her world had tumbled to a depth of which she was sure she could endure.
They were herded like cattle down a long damp passage way and stopped in front of another large door. The guard stepped forward and took a large ring of keys from his belt and opened the door. The door pushed slowly back with a great screeching noise but it was the rush of more stagnate air that engulfed her. Once again she tried to cover her face with her cloak but the stench was over powering, it penetrated through the wool like a sponge.
"Come along, all you innocent queens and find you a nice cozy place there on the floor of your new palace," he said as he shoved them in and quickly pulled the creaking door shut.
She could only stand there and try to focus in the dim light that came from the one small window high above the floor. She could see some forms moving around and heard people mumbling about having to make room for more. Standing there and not knowing what to do she finally went back to the door and rapped sharply on it. Surly the guard would come and she would demand to see the magistrate at once so she could get out of this horrible place.
Again she heard the same old woman laughing. "Look see now will ye, all one has to do is jest knock on the door and it will open and let us ladies go free." This time several others joined in the laughter.
Then some one grabbed her bag and with out a thought she kicked at the woman and knocked her back. Again she was glad that she wore her riding boots under her dress that day. She was able to snatch her bag back. It wasn't much but it was all she had and she wasn't going to let the likes of these to take it away from her. The woman was screaming and swearing of what she was going to do to her, when a large form appeared from the corner of the room. Anna stepped back fearing for her life. She had never seen a woman of this height. She towered over the woman and she had to be well over six feet tall and a frame to match.
"Now big Meg, I didn't mean no harm to the girl," the woman said as she inched her way back from the big woman. Everyone was silent waiting to see what would happen next.
"You best come over here by me if you tend on keeping your bag," she said in a low whisper.
She meekly followed the big woman over to the corner that she indiacated. Meg motioned for her to sit down. There were no chairs and everyone just sat on the floor and leaned against the wall. Finally she thought that she had better at least thank the woman for defending her. "Thank you for helping me," she whispered.
"Tis easy to see that this is the first time you have been here. I too was frightened the first time."
"I am sorry, I should at least introduce myself. My name is Anna Martin," she whispered.
"I am known as Meg, some call me big-Meg. I can tell that you are not from this side of life and for what ever the reason that you are here, you will have to be very careful. Here in ths place there are murderest, thieves and mostly prostitues and they will try and take advantage of you. It be best for you to stay close to me for awhile."
"Thank you, I will certainly do that and I will repay you some how when we get out of her tomorrow."
It was better that she could not see the sadness in Meg's face as she stared down at the young woman that sat huddled next to her.
She woke startled and confused when she heard the big door squeak on its hinges. She was also surprised that she was laying with her head on Meg's lap with her bag cradled under her had as a pillow.
"Alright you fancy's get a move on it. It is time for you to take a nice trip and get some fresh air," he said and laughed with the other guard standing there with what looked like a whip in his hand.
"Meg, where are they taking us?'
To be continued: