Chapter One

Chapter One

A Chapter by ALittleBitOfEverything

Esther watched her young sister, Abigail, run around the large courtyard; her shoes clomping along the stone floor, wooden beams connecting above them, draped along the beams were ivy blooming with flower. The sky was a pretty blue, green stone plant pots placed in the corners of the yard, a round groove in the middle of the stone floor was filled with water. Fish circled and splashed, the edges surrounded by little bushes that were cornered with lavender pots; it sent a warm and buzzing bees feeling around the empty space.
            Esther sat on a marble bench by the back of the house, watching Abigail laugh as she attempted to grasp butterflies in her tiny fingers. The sun beamed down and shone Abigail’s strawberry blond hair to a halo of gold. Her freckles dotted around her nose and a red, round, giggling mouth.
            She wore a soft linen yellow dress, so small and pure, no need for stays or gowns. Her white cap fell to the floor a while ago from hopping around like a rabbit, a wooden doll dropped into the little pond.
            “Esther!” A stern voice rang her name like a church bell. She turned, hard with this corset digging into her sides. Her eyes raked a tall, hard looking woman. Her gown a dull brown, revealing her red petticoat beneath, her lace trim shift poking around her bust, she looked annoyed.  “Look at your sister!” She contained her brisk annoyance with suppressed lips.
            Esther turned back to see Abigail watching them with confused hazel eyes, the same as Esther’s, though Abigail’s didn’t contain flecks of green in. Abigail’s fingers held something crushed. A butterfly.
            “What’s wrong with her, mama?” Esther heard her voice tinged with irritability. Her mother had the ability to make Esther’s mood change dramatically.
Her mother came down from the steps of the manor house, her eyes flicking to dig in Esther’s. She smelled like rosewater and wine, her face a certain way because of the lotion, she clamped a heavy and bone grip on Esther’s shoulder.
            “You’re letting the sun on her,” She twitched an umbrella from beside the marble bench. “Make her sit and hold it above her head, she’ll grow a tan!” Her mother stalked back to the door, her lingering eye on Abigail’s soft round face.
            “She needs a tan, it’s healthy,” Esther whispered to herself.
“What was that?” Her mother’s voice rose which made Abigail flinch, Esther tried not to smirk as she reset her face to glance back.
            “I said, ‘of course!’” Esther made her voice more than a little heard. Her mother disappeared around the door.
            “Esther?” Abigail was still so young that her pronunciation needed a little tweaking, that she pronounced Esther’s name as ‘Etha’.  Abigail trotted to her; fingers unfolding a dead butterfly, dust brushed her fingertips. “I killed it. I didn’t mean it.” Her round eyes began to shine and weep; she took the dead butterfly from her sister’s splayed hand.
            “Abigail,” She said in a disappointed tone. “You destroyed something pretty.”
“I wanted to keep, pretty.” Her voice grew frustrated.
            “You can’t control something beautiful or wild,” Esther soothed Abigail, running her gloved hand across her tangled hair. “You’ll suffocate it, break it.” She dropped the ugly umbrella to the stone floor beneath her. “You need the sun, silly, ignore mama.” Esther giggled, it was rare she did, only around Abigail she would.
            “Ignore mama!” Abigail roared, her giggles evaporating her tears, cheeks a blistering red.
            “Eh-shh!” Esther giggled again. “Want to go to the square?” She whispered to Abigail, who looked with big eyes, excited. Esther took of her heavy hat, placing it beside her.
            “Yes!” She jumped, arms in the air.

 

Esther gripped Abigail’s small hand in her gloved one, skipping along the cobblestoned street.
            There were happy people at the square and in the street, happy and joyful. Men, strappy in suits and coats, some in just long shirts and breeches, some bare foot, boys that were dirty ran along the shops and stalls. Little girls with caps and bonnets laughed with their elder sisters, but when dirty little boys would grab their attention, the elders would pull them away.
            The sun battered down on the late morning, seagulls cawing in the air and the slosh of water hitting the dock a little far away brought up splashes. The smell of fish among the stalls and fresh air hit her nose, breathing in deeply; she wished she could live within this square of well kitted community, instead of the isolated fortress of the manor she called home.
            Esther had changed before they left into something more comfortable for the square, as mama would not approve getting her gown dirty, never mind her shoes and lace gloves. She wore a plain, long gown with a loose fitting bodice beneath, making her look a little bit frumpy, riding boots instead of shoes. Abigail had her most worn coat, most stains as to not get mama too distressed with more filth.
            People buzzed around shops, chit chat among people who didn’t know each other, stagecoaches clattered down the streets, horses body’s hurtling past as well as their smell. Trotting hooves and wooden wheels churning, single carriages of wood with metallic colours, some just plain wood or the iron framed carriages with dirty thin men with cloths covering their treasured parts inside that shouted and cursed to the Gods.
            The smell of fish mingled with fresh vegetables on stalls hit their noses, Abigail’s nose scrunching at the smell, her head beamed up and her index finger pointed at something. She followed her gaze to the houses, above their rickety rooftops and out of place chimneys with spiralling smoke, there was white sails stained yellow, almost touching the clouds.
            “Ships!” Abigail dragged Esther down the cobblestones, tripping over her feet as she guided them both to the docks.
            People would smile as you passed; even say “hello” and “good day to you.” It made a change from a sneering mother that looked down her crooked nose to you. Around the waters, birds flew high, snagging at tiny fish in the green water below. It smelled like the sea, but it only leads to it. As Esther stared, she could see the misty horizon of the open sea.
            The moaning boats made their way to the port, curving ships looked scary to go near, Abigail nearly toppled over from craning her neck so far back to look high in the sails. Her mouth dropped open, expelling air.
            “Esther...” Her grip loosened, fixation all on the huge ships that groaned. Suddenly, Abigail sprang from her grip, and she began to bounce off. Esther held onto nothing as Abigail ran forward to the wooden port.
            “Abigail!” She ran after her, pushing past smiling faces and friendly greetings as Abigail dashed under their feet, laughing. “Abby, stop!” Esther held her hand out, fingers brushing women’s cloaks and men’s coats, children like rats darted between her legs.
            One man actually grabbed her by the shoulders, steadying her as they crashed. His face big and joyful, a twisting moustache and shaven jaw grinning at her, his breath smelling like rum, silver rings playing on his fingers. “Are you alright, my dear?” His husky voice wheezed.
            “My baby sister!” Before Esther could hear the man’s reply, she wrenched free from his grip and was back on a run. She could still spot Abigail’s halo of hair bouncing around knees and feet.
            Esther had to stop and look around. She lost sight of Abigail. The sea of people bustling around masked the little girl.  Weaved baskets on women’s arms, noticeable guards on the outskirts and on corners of the shops, parasols bobbing like the gulls in the water, Abigail was lost in that. The guards had thin blades and blood red uniforms with black boots that reached their knees, long barrel flintlock rifles with a lengthy bayonet jutting at the end of the barrel.
            “A-Abigail?” She questioned herself; no one around her paid any attention. She moved again, towards the edge of the dock. Sprays of water spat at her face, the sound of water crashing the supports of the port; ships swayed side to side, men drawing planks and coming down from their vessels, and still no sight of the golden curly haired Abigail.
            “Oh dear,” Esther heard a man snort, a young voice drawling. “What a sporting, tiny girl.” She spotted Abigail, kneeling in front of her was a man from what looked like a member of the crew from a nearby ship. He wore a brown leather waistcoat with a loose shirt, tight pale leggings with brown breeches that have been patched in places.
            “Abigail...” Esther bent to her baby sister’s side; she was chewing on her finger. Eyes wide but gazed fixed entirely on the man in front of her. She was clearly frightened. The man looked Esther up and down, he looked like he hadn’t washed in a while, face smudged with dirt and smelling strongly of pickles and salt water. “Thank you, for finding my sister, or stopping her, in this case.” Esther grabbed her hand desperately, standing and about to leave before the man got her attention again.
            “It was nothing, my dear,” He stared at a large ship behind him; it was grand and dirty around the edge of the ship, the bow spirit high above their heads. “Little lass was interested in the ship.” His smile revealed teeth, not too fondly taken care of.
            “She has a wondering imagination,”
“We were told girls with imagination are dangerous,” He laughed, he seemed younger with that laugh, but he appeared around mid-fifties.
            “And sailors are like rats,” The man’s sunken face soured and Esther had to quickly save. “But crew members, finely respected.” His face relaxed again.
            “Have you ever been on deck, miss?” He smiled gently, she tightened her grip on Abigail’s.
            “I’m afraid I haven’t,” She smiled a lie in return, images of her father’s ship flashing through her mind, feeling a falling sensation in the pit of her stomach. “Now I believe I hear my name being called and I have to get my little sister back, I apologise.” Esther started to turn again, and this time, he let her go. He yelled after her.
            “Next time you come to the square you should make you way back here!” His voice shrilled. “This is The Lucia!”

 

Esther walked up the gravel dirt path to her home, a big, brick building. The manor house was the place Esther grew up in, and sometimes she didn’t even feel she belonged behind the walls. The gardens were rich green, rose bushes along the gravel path; the stone steps to the patio were glittered with stones.
            The smells of roses were faint, wet mud and the smell of fish on both girls’ clothes was evident.
            Esther glanced up, a three story building, rows of arched windows draped with heavy green curtains, behind one in the middle window of the second level, mother in shadows stood there. Her scorn lanced down onto Esther, and she could feel the disdain through her glare that she wanted to turn around and run through the gates with Abigail wrapped tightly in her arms.
            The oak doors opened and Margaret stood there, her black dress creased and white stockings showing at the ankles, weathered brown shoes and crisp stained white apron around her waist, cap keeping her grey hair bundled up. She smiled at Esther and Abigail.         
            “My dears, you look tired,” She took hold of Abigail’s hand and guided her down the spacious foyer. Floors white as snow and ceiling as high as the sky, winding stairs with an iron railing. It was light, and Abigail and Margaret headed for the kitchen at the back.
            Esther always adored Margaret or Maggie as she’d like to be called. But when mother was around, she had to address her formally.  Maggie had been with Esther for as long as she could remember, other servants came and went but Maggie had always been around, and she was more of a mother than her own flesh and blood could ever be.
            She’d be there when she’d cut her knees down in the streets, told her stories of princesses and trolls, with ancient mermaids and wolves as big as horses. Held her when boys would call her ugly and girls would be twice as mean as her mother. Esther was indebted to Maggie and she didn’t even know it. And she was the mother to Abigail, as well. She sees it clearly now she was 18 years old, Abigail was fond of Maggie more than her own mother, and at times, their mother could see right through it.
            “Esther,” A hard voice broke her reverie, a commanding one at that. Mother descended the stairs, her shoes making her sound more terrifying than she looked. Her lips twisted in a scowl upon Esther. “Where on seven seas have you been?”
            “Just to the square,” She waded to a wooden desk on the other side of the foyer and from the stairs, putting as much distance between herself and her mother.
            “Dressed like that?” She virtually shrieked.
“It wasn’t all that bad-“
            “And you take your sister, without any assistance, Esther Grace Sybella,” Her mother continued to howl. “Anything could have happened. Abigail could have been snatched and put up for slavery, the world is changing. And your clothes,” She shot a glance at her plain gown without petticoat or proper shoes. “Look at you! Out there like that you’ll disgrace our name, your father, what he would think...” She was at the bottom, twisting and covering her face. “Do not go out there like that again, do you hear me. Or I’ll let you live on the streets you’re so fond of.” She set it in stone rather than giving her a choice.
            “I can do whatever I please, mama.” She turned on her boots to face her, picking at the linen on the top of the desk, her voice suddenly finding her.
            “You are a child.” Her tone frost like. “You do what I tell you, Esther, you abide by my rules!” Her eyes flared blue, unlike Esther’s golden green ones.
            Although she didn’t want to give her mother the satisfactory, her assertion made Esther flinch into submission, not wanting to argue with her mother again.
            Her mother let her shoulders drop and sighed, stalking towards her to close the space, eyes searching hers that she was a little repulsed looking into her own mothers. 
            “I want to talk to you, child,” She took hold of her daughter’s hands, smiling weakly. She knew this smile. It was all smoke and slightly condescending, a rueful distaste to it that Esther swallowed. “Privately, come into the Hall.” She walked in front of her towards the hall. She watched her mother sway like the ships at port, her new bodice made with whalebone made her waist look a little thinner than her head. She couldn’t imagine what it was like to breathe in it.
            In the Hall, it was lavishly decorated. A vast window shaded with woollen cloth weaved in an intricate pattern. The walls were white with crests of iron sheaths with sword hilts. A beautiful hearth at the far end, it was empty, ash free as it always was.
            Dark furniture around the walls, thin silver plates, high above them a glorious, gold rimmed chandelier, glittering like diamonds in the sunlight.
            Her mother sat at the far end of the table, fitted for ten people, when hardly anyone dines here. Goblets and silver wear arranged with folded linen in front of every empty space. Georgina, a beautiful woman, a servant for mother, came through with a pitcher of something thin and runny. She came and resided by Esther and poured in her cup, clear water. “Evening, Georgina,” She smiled at the delicate young woman. Georgina’s dark hair uptight on her head, small eyes framed by slender dark eyebrows, cherry lips in a sweet smile, looked worrying at Esther. “Is Lilith well?” Lilith happened to be Georgina’s little sister, as old as Abigail, and they frequently played with each other, but hidden from mother’s vexed gaze.
            Talk about eyes, Esther felt the fire glare that burned the side of her face. “That is enough, Georgia.”
            Georgina bowed her head, but flicked her eyes to mother when her name was pronounced wrong, she didn’t dare correct her lady.
            “Georgina, mother,” Esther, however, did not care of her mother’s lour.
Her mother did nothing but stare, eyes like stone towards her. With another bow, Georgina poured into her mother’s glass and left to the side door of the dining room.          With a calmer pair of eyes, she laid her laced gloved fingers on the table, back straight in a proper posture, and continued to stare at her.
            “Esther, there is something your father and I need to discuss with you,” Esther noticed her mother’s lip twitched. “But as your father is away tending to business, it is just I to discuss with you,” Her chest rose high, but didn’t seem to exhale; she used it to breathe her next words. “There is a manner of your marriageable duties.”
            It was then that Esther’s heart dipped far below her reach, her breath caught in her throat. She closed her eyes, praying this wasn’t the conversation she was having with her mother. But when she opened them, she seen her mother stare curiously back, and knew it was all too real.
            “I will not marry,” Esther began to fidget.
“Do not chew your lips, it’s off-putting and ill mannered,” She gently shook her head and got back on topic. “Esther, you know the time would be soon. More effective now in your youth than when you begin to sag.”
            “Mother!” Esther heard her heart pound, rushing water filling in her ears.
“Your father and I have found a wealthy, handsome young man,” Her smile only seemed to suit herself. “His name is William Pouter, his father is in the trading business, it would work fittingly well with father’s business.”
            Esther rose from her seat with frightful speed, her own face distorting to an ugly scowl. Young women did not wear them well, but for the wicked mother about to marry her daughter off for their own sake, it seemed proper. “You cannot do this!” She spat. “This is not for my benefit, but yours, and father! Have you even thought about me in all of this? Of course you have not. How long have you been planning against me-“
            “We were not planning against you!” Her mother stood too, the wooden legs to the chair cried as it flew back against the floor. “Esther, this is for you. He is very wealthy and has a safe family; you will be in good hands. All I-we want for you, is to have a safe life, a safe home.”
            “How long?” Esther could feel her bitterness like the plague in her boiling blood.
            “We’ve had it in mind for several months.” Esther chortled in disbelief. “He is a charming young man-“
            “How young, mother? Young enough to be my father?” Esther sat back down in a mess; she felt her hair tickle the nape of her neck. Her being burned with rage, of course her mother wanted her married off, getting rid of her and being left with little Abigail to spoil rotten and then marry her off too when she will rebel from the restraints around her.
            “He is of age-“
            “His age, mother, answer it.” She did not have time to dawdle on belated breath.
            She smoothed her dress and touched at her up do of dark hair. Georgina came back in, in no rush and to her mother’s side to place the upturned chair upright. She sat back down with a gratuitous nod in Georgina’s direction. “He is twenty-four,” Esther, again, laughed incredulously. “He is mature beyond his age, an only child and longs for a wife, Esther, why not make him a happy man?” She seemed dubiously confused to Esther’s tantrum.
            “You’re willing to send me off to a man I do not even know?” She sat, hands shaking and lips trembling, she was not just angry, but felt hurt and a fraction of betrayal, not from her mother. Knowing her mother doing this kind of trade was obvious, but her father…
            “Esther, don’t be ridiculous,” Her mother took off her gloves savagely and placed them by her goblet, examining her freshly lotion tinged fingers. “Your father and I have encountered the boy regularly, congregated with his family, also.” She smiled in delight at Esther. “He and his family seem pleased with the proposal.”
            “He’s already agreed!” She shrieked, and Georgina, who was waiting to come back inside with a sterling tray, receded backwards into the dining room.
            “Esther, honestly,” She tugged back to her chair, eyeing Esther. “I don’t know why you are fretting so much; any young woman would be falling to their knees at this offer.”
            “This-isn’t an auction, mother!” Her cries grew more pleading, wrenching at her own heart. “I-I want to live before I marry the man of my dreams. I don’t even know him, what if I don’t love him, or even like him?”
            “Love?” Something unrecognisable flashed behind her mother’s eyes, and it was gone as soon as she spoke. “Love has nothing to do with it, Esther. You’d gradually begin to adore the man that looks after you and your children, like I did with your father.”
            “You don’t love father?” Esther whispered, voice filling with dread like lungs would fill with water.
            “I love him with all my heart,” Her voice seemed final. “Please, consider-“
            “I will not.” Esther rose again, her feet like iron bars. “I will not go through with it! You cannot force me.” She quaked towards the heavy doors to the foyer.
            She heard her mother call after her, fury echoing through the empty room. She slammed the door behind her and rested against it, her shoulders shook and streams of confused and frustrated tears ran down her cheeks and dripped off her chin as she locked her jaw and dashed for the stairs, sobs racking her back as she did.

 

 



© 2015 ALittleBitOfEverything


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

127 Views
Added on December 14, 2015
Last Updated on December 17, 2015
Tags: 18th Century, old, romance, pirates, magic


Author

ALittleBitOfEverything
ALittleBitOfEverything

United Kingdom



About
Right, I'm back after months! (return 09/12/2014) and I am no longer a wannabe goth kid weirdo. I no longer listen to bands that make me depressed a little and on my (maybe) last course of college of .. more..

Writing