CHAPTER 1: Eve
Blois, France: 1783
A Woman was expected to leave her family and marry at a young age. It became a burden upon her if time had passed and she was not yet bound to a man. Many women, out of obligation would jump into a marriage of boredom, trapping themselves out of desperation in the net of expectation. At the age of 23, Evangeline Cromwell had not yet married, nearly rendering herself a spinster. A feeling of desperation was welling inside her but she would fight it. She was worried but hid it well. Her father's pressure crushed her heart and it would take an unexpected man to push her life forward…
It all began in March. The winds were blowing in the French countryside at the near end of a heavy winter and the morning sky was showing its colors. A rather large manor stood in the distance amongst the delicate scenery of sloping hills and ancient bare trees. A path was set amongst them, leading to the above mentioned manor, dubbed Cromwell Manor, for those wondering, where the gardens were perfectly tended and the windows glowed with warm candlelight. One would think the inhabitants of this household were in want of nothing.
The serene silence of morning was broken softly by a voice.
She sat in the parlor in front of a slightly opened window, quietly singing as she stroked the keys of the piano forte and played a wispy tune. She was no more than twenty three years of age, which in her days nearly rendered her a spinster, but her appearance was soft and inviting. Her hair was blonde and slightly curly. Her cheeks were full and rosy, her figure was pleasantly plump and her eyes were laden with youth and exuberance.
Her name was Evangeline Cromwell, a girl whose life was plagued by the persistence of her father's matchmaking attempts for her. Every attempt at marrying her away was in vain for the poor man. It all began when she turned sixteen. He tried to bring a few men into the home for dinners or parties to introduce her, but it never seemed to stick. They were men of fortune but not of kindness or love. They never looked her in the eye, nor did they wish to hear her speak of intellectual things such as the history of man or of art. They always silenced her.
"A young woman such as yourself shouldn't want anything to do with such things," they would say, or, "a woman shouldn't give herself to books. It's spoils her mind for a husband."
The thing was, Eve did read quite consistently but she had, to be truthful, grown tired of it when she turned eighteen. That year she dedicated herself to her drawing and painting and decided that books were indeed dusty pages filled with the ideas of old men who studied the ideas of other old men. She decided her opinions would be her own, rather than those of others. She played the piano forte much more often and finely tuned her singing within that time. Her father tried to make her sound much more accomplished to the small amount of men who wished to court her because of her playing skills. She didn't consider herself accomplished. Many other girls, she said, could speak french much better than her and play much more complicated musical pieces. She only did such things to keep her mind from rotting in boredom, to be truthful. Her eldest brother, George, kept her company and stimulated her mind with intelligent conversation. When he left England for the war in America, Eve felt stagnant. So, she kept reading for the continuing years to prepare herself for when he returned and, of course, then she grew tired. He didn't return from the war after it had ended. He stayed in America for awhile. He wrote her, saying that the new land was different from England. Everything was different there and that kept him. Ten years passed since he had left home and he had no desire to return. Many things changed in his absence.
Eve's father was quite the caricature. He was entertaining, to say it lightly. A short, round, balding man with plump cheeks, he had an affinity for card games, and, lost money in the process of playing them at times. His wife was a beautiful woman with a heavy heart. She had great expectations for her daughters. Mr Cromwell loved his wife with all his heart, and, would do anything to make her dreams possible. Unfortunately, there love for one another was strained. Eve's father married her mother to keep her financially secure. Her mother was thankful for his generous heart but a deep love for him was hard to obtain. When Eve was sixteen, her mother wished to move away from England. She thought it was boring. Her father found a lovely manor in the French Countryside and uprooted his family. Eve was not pleased with it but she obliged her father and did not fight his will.
It wasn't long after they settled, when Mr. Cromwell wished his daughter to marry. However, Eve had a different idea of marriage than he did. He wished her to marry for financial security, not only for herself but for her entire family. Eve wished to marry for love and didn't care how big the man's purse was. To be perfectly honest, she was not tempted by money, unlike her little sister. Her father's attempts to make her like the men he paraded, all failed. It had gotten to the point where she would only glance at the man once and walk away. This behavior made her father stop and leave her alone but when she turned nineteen, he began to pester her again and not with suitors, but with words. He would compare her to her little sister Anne. Anne was on the right track, according to her father. She had several suitors at the age of sixteen. She had flirted her way into the heart of almost every rich old man in the countryside and was, in no doubt, about to be engaged. Eve, however, did not want to flirt or parade about. She saw no use in it.
It was beginning to wear on Eve's nerves but in the March of 1783, her life took a turn for the better.