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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Nano Challenge Arabella: A Love Story

Hello Everyone,

This month I am taking part in the Nanowrimo challenge. For those of you who don't know what Nanowrimo is, it is National Novel Writing Month. During the month of November each year people are challenged to write 50,000 words or more within the thirty days of November. The challenge is a great way to build discipline and become more creatively attuned, by writing a set word count each day.
This year I am working on an historical romance novel titled Arabella: A Love Story. Below is the official book cover created from 'Learning to Dream,' the amazing artwork by Romanian Artist Corina Matesan Corina's Art Gallery Facebook. Below I have also posted the first three chapters of Arabella: A Love Story. This is a very different genre than I'm used to writing in, but as I am a huge fan of period dramas I have always wanted to write something within the historical romance genre. I hope you enjoy the chapters below.




Prologue

Dearest Arabella,

We have known each other for many years and it is only now that I can confess my love for you. You must forgive my past silence on this matter. Ever since the first moment I laid eyes on you as a young and selfish child, before Romeo and Juliet, I have loved you like no other. You are the reason for my existence and the only woman I will ever love. I dedicate myself to only you Arabella. You are my angel and the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes upon. I hope you understood my reason for leaving and receive this letter; I could never have left you without good reason for doing so. Every minute of every day I miss you and when my time in the military is over and done I will come back for you with the intention of making you my wife. I will wait for you for as long as it takes.

Yours now and forever,
Lewis Larson.



Chapter One: Larson

My life had always been simple. Growing up with a mother and a father in a busy farm house. Our way of life was to be up at first light to feed the hens, muck the horses, milk the cows and round up the sheep. As a child I thought it would be all I would ever know. It was hard work; everyday seemed to be the same repeated over and over again. I wasn’t popular and my family didn’t have much money to spare like all of the other children but I just knew that one day something good would come into my life and I would find my own personal greatness and the real reason for my existence. I knew that reason would not be to follow in my father’s footsteps and grow up to be the greatest farmer that ever lived; I was more ambitious than that even for a boy.

On a bright, hot summer’s day my reason appeared. Just across the lake stood a magnificent estate with acre upon acre of the finest British soil. My father always said that the soil was wasted on the rich and he liked to imagine the kind of farm he could have there. Of course we could never afford land like that. There stood a grand house in the centre; you could see the fine red and gold draped curtains hanging from the windows if you sneaked close enough. I would go and snoop around the grounds often when I had finished my duties on the farm. Ever since the last family who lived there moved away it became easier to get a closer look. I liked to imagine myself living there when I got older. I pictured myself as a rich man with no cares in the world, dressed in the latest fashions and expensive materials. I liked to imagine what the house looked like from the inside. I imagined tall gold candle sticks, silk drapes, red velvet carpets and marble floors, gold bannisters and the finest wooden furnishings that money could buy. I saw inspiring and majestic pieces of art hanging on the walls, valued for lots of pounds and sparkling jewels in the ornaments and lamps. I pictured a huge dance hall and a banquet table with a hundred chairs to entertain guests. I imagined grand balls with a piano and the finest musicians, and ladies wearing expensive jewellery and fine dresses. I would close my eyes and lay back in the grass near the lake gazing towards the clouds picturing a beauty beyond comprehension, the beauty that when I grew up I would marry. Sometimes it felt real but then I would be pulled back to reality when I awoke from my dream.

The grounds had been abandoned for a while, I never expected anyone else to move in anytime soon and I knew it was against the rules to break into other people’s homes. But no one lived there so I didn’t think it mattered. I was only twelve years old and although my father had taught me right from wrong I just couldn’t seem to help myself. I had to know what it felt like to be inside such a fine home. I guessed I would never have a home like this and live on the farm forever but if I didn’t look inside then I would never know.

I could hear my mother shouting me from across the lake but that didn’t stop me as I picked up a stone from the ground and thrust it through a window round the back of the estate. The minute the stone hit the glass I pulled myself inside. I only just got through the window into a large servants’ kitchen when I heard the sound of horses galloping outside. I fumbled around wondering whether to run or if I would be shot down for it. It was well known around these parts that if you trespassed on someone else’s property you would be shot down in cold blood. I instantly knew I’d made the wrong decision when I jumped back out through the window and ran as fast as I could towards the lake. At first I didn’t think anyone had seen me but then I heard galloping and a voice behind me as a hand grabbed the back of my shirt. I tried to wriggle free but his grip became tighter.

‘Hold up, boy, what do you think you are doing on my property?’ said the man.

‘I’m sorry, sir, I swear I didn’t know anyone lived here. Please, sir, let me go.’

‘Not until your father knows what you are, boy.’

‘So you’re not going to kill me, sir?’ I asked.

‘Kill you? Why in the world would I kill you, boy?’

‘That’s how it is round here, sir.’

He looked down at me with a confused look about his face.

‘Ah I see, well be off with you, boy, and I never want to see you on my grounds again.’

‘Yes, sir, thank you, sir.’

With that he began to walk me off the grounds.

‘Where do you live, boy?’

I suspected he was curious where I had come from and wanted to know if I lived locally.

‘In town, sir,’ I lied.

I wanted to tell him my name so he would stop calling me boy but I knew that was a bad idea. If my father knew what I was up to he would whip me. Although my father was poor he had a level of respect amongst the people here and what I had done would only bring shame to our family name. I knew I shouldn’t have broken in in the first place but I just wanted to know how it felt to live somewhere like that, to be rich and enjoy the finer things in life; the things I would never have.

As we walked through the gravel we passed a magnificent gold carriage. A woman came out dressed in purple and white.

‘What is this?’ she asked.

‘Just some silly boy playing on our land, dear, not to worry; I’m escorting him to the gate, he won’t be back again.’

She looked at me like I’d stolen something and even though I felt the need to defend myself I knew I shouldn’t as they were not my class of people. To them I was just some dumb boy who didn’t know any better but if only they knew me they would know that wasn’t true.

I glanced over at the carriage again upon hearing a shuffle from inside. I looked over at the nearest window to see the face of a girl. The girl looked around my age; she had long golden blonde hair that hung in curls, pale skin and the bluest eyes I had ever seen. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever encountered.

‘Arabella, get back inside,’ her mother called.

She looked over in my direction a smile forming on her rosy red lips before she pulled back inside the carriage.

As I was escorted from the estate making my way back home, I knew I had just found my reason.


Chapter Two: Arabella

When Papa announced we were to move to the countryside, I felt a sudden sense of attachment to my familiar surroundings. I had grown up in the city of London in a rather large town house, although it was more like a palace if you asked me. We had ten servants which included house maids, a butler and three cooks. To be ripped away from all of the high class friends I had made, being forced to live in the countryside was one of the worst things to happen. I loved my father very much and everything that he did for our family made us love him all the more, but this was not one of those moments.

‘Papa, Papa, do we really have to go?’

‘Arabella, darling, if your father says it is a good idea, then it is a good idea,’ my mother blurted out in response.

‘But, Papa, what about my friends? I shall never see them again, I shall never attend a ball.’

‘Arabella, will you do as you are told,’ my mother shouted.

‘You will make more friends, my dear, better friends, and there will be balls in Derbyshire, you have my word,’ said my father.

My father’s word meant a lot, as he was well known around town to never break his word. When he said something he meant it.

‘Really, Papa, better friends, I cannot image so. I cannot wait until my first ball.’

I dreamed of the way the ball room would look, complete with gold trimmings and me with my golden blonde curls pinned up, wearing a beautiful blue dress.

‘You have a long time before you need to worry about balls, my dear,’ father responded.

‘I will be the most beautiful girl in all of Derbyshire.’

‘Yes, my dear, you will break all their hearts,’ my father laughed.

‘Arabella, will you stop this silliness at once and prepare yourself for the journey. It will be a while until we arrive in Derbyshire,’ my mother announced.

‘Papa, I think I shall like the countryside very much.’

My father laughed as my mother tugged my arms, pulling me outside, before sitting me in the carriage.

‘Now wait there and stop this nonsense,’ my mother said before taking one last look back at the house.

I saw many sights on my arrival into Derbyshire, but more than anything the place seemed to be filled with animals enclosed in fences and stone walls. My mother explained that they were farms that are run by the people that I should never talk to, as they weren’t of our class.

The scenery was very different from our old home in the city. Cities are full of buildings but the country was just full of grass and trees. I didn’t understand how I was to love such a place, but I trusted Papa knew best. People always described my father as an honest man, so I knew he would always be right and he was my father after all.

When the carriage began to turn onto our new grounds, the horses jerked, as if they could sense a danger of some kind. It wasn’t long before my father jumped out of the carriage and ran around the back of the building. As we waited for Papa to return, my mother told me that this would be our new home.

‘But it is so big,’ I responded in excitement.

‘That it is, Arabella, that it is.’

‘Will Riley be coming to live with us?’ I asked my mother.

‘Yes just as soon as his time at school is over.’

Riley was my older brother. Papa had sent him away to school for a few years, with the hope that he might learn something new and come back more refined, as papa had put it. Riley was an adventurer; he loved to play in the dirt and disobey Papa. Papa called him a disobedient child, before he was sent away. I missed my brother greatly but the housemaids did not miss his filthy garments.

On sight of my father, my mother got out of the carriage. I could hear them talking outside. I decided to peak my head out of the carriage window but I did not go unnoticed, as I saw him. A boy just standing there staring back at me. He was covered in dirt from head to toe. I smiled as I could only imagine what he had been up to. My mother shouted at me for being nosy. The boy turned back and looked again, as my father escorted him from our land. I knew I was going to like it here.


Chapter Three: Larson

When I returned home, I was met with a hand to my head.

‘Where do you think you’ve been,’ my mother yelled.

‘If your father knew you had been out all this time,’ she continued.

‘I’m sorry ma, today I saw an angel, her name is Arabella and she is the most beautiful girl in all of Derbyshire,’ I remarked.

‘It sounds like someone’s been playing in fantasy land for too long today,’ my mother laughed.

My father burst through the door with a worried look on his face.

‘Lewis where have you been son’? My father asked.

‘Just out and about sir.’

‘Oh is that right.’

‘He’s been away with the fairies again,’ said my mother.

‘Guess again, he’s been to that house over the lake again, haven’t you son?’

‘How did you know that sir?’ I asked.

‘Never you mind how I know, I have eyes and ears everywhere son and don’t you forget that.’

‘I’m sorry sir.’

‘How many times do I have to tell you not to go there, they’d lock you up or even worse if you were caught,’ my mother continued.

‘As a matter of fact love he was caught, by the new owner too, isn’t that right son?’

I gulped hard wondering how my father could have known.

‘It won’t happen again sir, I promise.’

Although I didn’t know if I could keep that promise.

‘Damn right it won’t happen again, now get some supper and off to bed with you, we have work to do on the farm in the morning.’

‘Alright sir,’ I said before fetching myself a bowl of stew.

The day next after working on the farm I ventured down to the lake. The moment I got there, I saw her sitting across the lake, in s perfect pink dress, with her beautiful blonde ringlets hanging down her shoulders. I wanted to cross the lake and talk to her. She glanced over in my direction and although no words were exchanged at that moment in time, I knew Arabella was the girl I would marry.

Days and weeks passed by without seeing her again. She was locked away like a princess in a palace. I knew that eventually our paths would cross again but I never expected the way they did. Sometimes I would go into town to run errands for my father when he was behind with work on the farm. I had been to town many times to collect money owed to my father for the purchase of veg, meat and grains from our farm but I never had any problems, until I bumped into Radley Moores and his followers.

Radley was a rich snob and his friends only followed him because his father was the wealthiest man in all of Derbyshire. Radley Moores was well known for taunting the less fortunate and in this case, on that day, that was me.

‘Lewis Larson, what do you have there?’

Radley referred to the pouch of coins in my hand. I grasped my hand tight so that none of the coins would fall out, before I ran. I ran as fast as my feet would carry me, as Radley and his followers chased after me. They chased me through field after field. I came to a halt when I tripped over the stub of a tree. Radley and his followers had me surrounded. They began snatching at me, trying to free the pouch of coins from my hands. Radley eventually managed to free the pouch from my fingers.

‘That belongs to my father,’ I shouted.

‘Your father doesn’t deserve this; he deserves to be poor, just like you will be when you grow up.’

I leapt off the ground knocking Radley off his feet, leaving him face down in the dirt. His followers grabbed my legs, dragging me into a pile of cow dung, before kicking me and laughing hysterically. But they were soon stopped in their tracks by the sight of a beautiful, pristine girl, Arabella. Arabella stood staring at the other boys, holding her hand out to me to help me up.

‘My you smell bad,’ she said smiling.

I couldn’t help but smile back at her. I took her hand as she helped me up off the ground. Radley sneered at the sight of us, as if he didn’t approve, before introducing himself to Arabella.

‘Lady Lybeck, I am Radley Moores it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. I believe our fathers are friends. I should very much like to be yours.’

‘It may be your pleasure but it is not mine. I do not care who your father is and I already have a friend already thank you.’

Arabella turned to me before asking.

‘What is your name?’

‘Lewis, my name is Lewis Larson.’

‘Lewis Larson is my friend, you see,’ she taunted before leading the way back home.

I followed her every step of the way, until she turned around and burst out laughing.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘You really should get a bath,’ she smiled.

I smiled back in agreement. Something about this girl drew me to her like a moth to light. Her smile illuminated her face and I had to know if I would see her again.

‘Will we meet again,’ I asked.

‘Of course we will silly, if we are to be friends I should like to see you tomorrow, the next day and the day after, until we have known each other many days.’

‘Thank you,’ I said.

‘For what,’ she asked.

‘For stopping to help me.’

‘It was nothing, in any case I despise Radley Moores, from what I have heard, he is nothing but a rich bully. Now, you had better go home and clean yourself up, I will see you tomorrow,’ she said before skipping off home.

‘Until tomorrow and every day after,’ I whispered beneath my breath.

After that day we became inseparable. We saw each other every day and my life of poverty was blessed, with the richest gift I could ever receive. Everything was perfect for a while, as our friendship grew into a deep bond. That was, until a trail of unfortunate events occurred, that would change everything.

Thanks for reading,
Louise Lake.
 

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