Hello readers! I know, I know, it's been a very long time, but I'm back with a new story :)
For those who haven't been following me over at The Writer's Coffee Shop, I started this story last week and I'm in love with it! lol.
I am still trying to sort out my stories so I can re-post them on here, but it's taking longer than I thought it would lol.
If you want to see the pictures for this story, see the link on my profile page here that will take you to my account on TWCS.
As always, I don't own anything except the plot line and a huge thanks to Texabella xx
It was considered vulgar to raise the dress with both hands as it would show too much ankle, but was tolerated for a moment when the mud was very deep.
September 1st 1843
"Isabella Marie Swan! What in heavens do you think you are doing! Showing your ankles in broad daylight for the whole village to gawp at." The high pitched words and the firm tone made me laugh harder than I had in a long time.
Oh it felt good to be but a child, even for a small while.
"Why, Lady Cullen, I have worked a long day and I was refreshing my poor feet in the cooling water of the stream before I go home to cook," I replied with a smile as I saw Lady Cullen sitting in her open top carriage by the side of the dirt and gravel path.
"That is beside the point, young Isabella. A lady never shows her ankles, not even to relieve them and especially not in the village stream." She smiled kindly at me as her footman opened the carriage door and she stepped out of it gracefully.
"A true point, well made, but I am not a lady, so I do not think the rules of high society extend to me and my poor feet." I giggled as I waded carefully out of the flowing stream to the bank where Lady Cullen had stopped.
She was such a beautiful young woman. Her dresses were always impeccable in design and made with bright fabrics and lace. Her auburn hair was always perfectly pinned and a smile always graced her face.
"Just because you are still a child, does not mean that you cannot use the principles in theory," she chastised me lightly with a soft smile. "And are you not expecting a birthday soon? You will no longer be child and you will have to act like a young lady." This time her face was a little less soft, but I understood her meaning, even if I did not agree with it.
"Lady Cullen, my birthday is in but a couple of weeks, but you know as well as I do that I will never be a lady in people's eyes. I am but a poor girl of a deceased farmer and I will never rise beyond that," I muttered as I took the long length of my skirt into my fingers to dry off my dreaded ankles.
"Isabella, that may be the case, but you know as well as I do that you are more than just the daughter of a deceased farmer. You have a strength about you that no other I know has," she said calmly as she linked her arm through my filthy dress sleeves.
I made to pull away, but she would not let me go.
"Pick up your boots and I will have the carriage take you home, your mother must be missing you," she said kindly as I shook my head.
"Lady Cullen, my clothes are terribly dirtied, I will not permit myself to dirty your carriage. It is but three miles to home and I can make that with a quick pace. Mother is with Mrs. Cope from the village, she will not miss me for long," I said pleadingly as I looked at the pristine black and gold carriage in front of us.
"And what about young Charles, where is he this afternoon?" she asked as she kept a hold of my arm and continued to lead me to the carriage.
My attempts to dissuade her offer of the carriage fell on deaf ears and I was not looking forward to sitting in the contraption.
"He is with Master Emmett in the fields today. He is teaching him how to spot a good harvest with the wheat," I said with a smile as I thought of my young brother.
He was so much like our papa, but he was more outspoken, still a child and therefore not old enough yet to understand stations and society.
"He may be young, but it is never too early to start teaching him. What they learn in infancy stays with them through life," Lady Cullen said as she waved away her footman and helped me up into the high carriage and then sat me down on the soft leather of the seats.
"I would not normally have this carriage out in the day, but I had to visit some ladies who would frown upon anything else I used. It might surprise you, Isabella, but I too do not like how society works for the most part." She winked at me as the carriage lurched forward, throwing our bodies forward then back.
Even with such a movement, her body held straight and true, unlike mine.
I was used to using the dray, when needed, and that held no class at all. It was a functional tool for the farm and there was nothing fancy about it.
"On a serious matter though, Isabella, how is your mother's health?" she asked over the noise of the hooves and wheels.
The sound would have been almost hypnotic if it were not for the loud crashing of the hooves on the stony road and the clattering of the harnesses.
"It is much the same as it always is. Last week through the storms she had developed a cough again, but Mrs. Cope said that it was down to the damp air that the storm had brought in from the coast. It tired her for a few days, but she is better now," I answered honestly as I watched the countryside whirl past us.
"And how is the farm, are you coping?" she pushed me lightly.
I wanted to sigh.
"It has been hard, but worthwhile. We have had a good year with the weather, so the harvest is full and I have been spending many a night pickling and preserving for the winter months ahead," I said softly.
We had been very busy over the last several weeks, but I was still worried about our stores and pantry. What if I had not stored enough? What if the damp got in and ruined the salted meat? I would also have to find some rennet to make the cheese further on in the winter.
So much to do and so little time.
"Isabella, I am sure that you have done everything in your power to get you all through the winter months, please, do not worry yourself," Lady Cullen smiled as she took my hand.
"I will try," I responded nervously and we both fell quiet.
Not long after our silence, the carriage came to a stop at the boundary of the farm that had been my home, the place where I was born, and the place where my father had died.
"I do mean it, Isabella, do not trouble yourself, and please, do not think our classes will stop us from forming a good friendship," Lady Cullen said firmly.
There was something in her look, something that troubled me, but she gave me no time to ponder about it. I needed to get back to mamma and it was not wise to keep a lady waiting outside in a carriage so late in the day.
"Lady Cullen." I said softly as I got out of the carriage and curtsied to her before climbing over the five bar gate in front of me.
"Isabella! You are a lady!" she cried out behind me, but I did not miss the humor in her voice.
"I am but a girl, Lady Cullen, at least for another twelve days, I think I shall enjoy them very much!" I giggled lightly as I turned on the spot and ran at full speed, bare footed, up the garden path and into the house.
I thought it humorous that Lady Cullen wanted me to act like a lady.
I ran a farm, milked animals, cleaned out their stalls. I rode a horse bareback, not side saddle and washed clothes four days a week.
I was no lady.
I was a farmer's daughter, who worked like an adult, who learned very little, like a babe, and was a secondary mother to my four year old brother all while I nursed our mother's ill health.
"A lady indeed." I scoffed as I made a start to prepare our little supper.
I made a swift meal of suet pudding with a little bacon and cabbage on the side, making sure I saved the fat and cabbage water for Mamma, before calling Charles in from the fields.
He came bounding into the kitchen as I waved goodbye to Master Emmett from the doorway. He was a good man and I knew I could trust him to look after young Charles when he was in his care.
"You are filthy, young man!" I laughed as he finished his food quickly and I cut another slice of bread so he could use it to soak up the juices on his plate.
"I have been busy today, Bells. Master Emmett taught me so much," he said proudly with a wide smile as I pulled him over to the pail in the corner and grabbed a rag that was drying by the stove.
"It seems that I can grow potatoes on your neck and carrots behind your ears," I laughed as I scrubbed him clean.
Soon after, I sent him to bed. I would go to him in a little while, if he was still awake and I would read to him, but first I needed to see to Mamma. Mrs. Cope had left a little while after mamma had drifted off to sleep earlier and I knew that she would want for some company this evening before I could go to bed.
Mamma was in her makeshift bed by the small glowing fire, fast asleep with a small smile playing on her lips.
"Mamma, I have your supper," I said gently as I placed the tiny bowl and bread on the small table by her side.
I hated to wake her, but she would be hungry and I did not want her to go searching in the night for food.
Her eyes fluttered open and she gave me such a soft smile, it pained my heart.
"I wish… I wish I were stronger," she stammered as I picked up the bowl and started to spoon feed her.
She had become ill at the same time as papa, but she had been the stronger of the two.
I knew she was clinging to life for the sake of my brother and I, but I knew she wanted to be with papa in heaven.
"You are what you are and we love you for it, Mamma," I said softly as her lips formed around the spoon.
"How was today?" she said tiredly as I finished feeding her and started to pick at the slice of bread.
"It was long and quite hot outside. I shocked poor Lady Cullen and bared my ankles in the stream!" I giggled as she gave me a small smile in return.
"You are such a good, sweet girl, Isabella," she replied as her eyes drifted closed.
I knew that she would now sleep for the rest of the night, so I blew out the stub of a candle that she had, stoked up the fire and left in search of my brother.
He was fast asleep in bed when I walked into our room and I smiled at how tired he looked. He needn't work so hard at such a young age, but there was no stopping him.
He was always so full of energy and always on the go.
"So much like our father." I mused into the darkness of our room as he let out a gentle snort in his sleep.
After stripping myself down out of my muddied dress, I cleaned myself from the day's dirt and I climbed into bed next to him.
Before I could think any further, I was whisked away into dream land.
A place I did not like to go.
Dreaming got you nowhere in life.
Or it did not in my case.
I'll post the next chapter very soon so that it's caught up with the other one posted over at TWCS :)
I would love to know what you think :D