New England, 1860
Gillian looked around the dinner table. All the guests seemed to be
enjoying themselves, all except Gillian. She was visiting her Aunt Sophia
and Uncle Charles for the Christmas season, a very boring Christmas season.
She focused her attention on the guest to her left, Lady Christina Lowry.
She was laughing at a joke her Uncle Charles had just told and the merriment
on her face was plainly visible, but Gillian knew that beneath that mask of
happiness, Lady Christina was just as bored as she. Gillian clenched her fists
against the soft blue velvet of her gown and tried to stifle a yawn. She
guessed that she had not done so well in hiding her weariness when her Aunt Sophia
turned and looked at her.
“Is something wrong dear?” Aunt Sophia asked.
“No Aunt Sophia, I’m just feeling a little weary from the days activities.” Gillian
replied with a feigned smile.
“Well my dear, why don’t you go on upstairs and turn in for the night.” her aunt suggested.
“Yes of course Aunt.” She said curtly and bid everyone good night. Gillian rushed
up the stairs to her quaint bedroom conveniently named the Lilac room. The paneled walls
were painted in a refreshing lilac that reminded Gillian of the sky in the early dawn hours
of the morning at her home. The four poster bed was covered with a darker purple comforter of
silk that matched the fabric covering the cushion on the window seat. The white oak furniture
fit the dainty room perfectly and housed just enough space for her belongings. Gillian called
her maid, Leise, into the room to help her undress. It seemed like forever before Gillian was
finally in her nightgown, feeling so sleepy that she might collapse. She lit the candles in
the room and sat down on the window seat. She gazed out upon the land, admiring the rolling hills
covered in a blanket of snow. The moon peaked out behind the Appalachian Mountains much like a
child peeking sheepishly from underneath its blanket. It was beautiful all right, but it was not
home, a place where Gillian desperately wanted to be.
Aunt Sophia found her niece asleep with a book in her hands later that night. She pried the book
from Gillian’s hands and winced when she saw the calluses. She snorted disdainfully and snuffed the
candles in the room. “You read too much dear” she whispered disappointingly as she walked out of
the room. Gillian’s aunt walked into the library and sat across from her husband. “She’s not getting
any better you know, Charles.”
“Whatever do you mean darling?”
“Charles, open your eyes! Did you see her at dinner? She looked more out of place than water in a desert!
She’s almost a shame to have in the family.” Gillian’s aunt said wearily.
“Oh shush Sophia. She’ll become more accustomed to our ways, she’s still young.”
“Young? Gillian’s sixteen years old, she should be married by now and with children of her own! This all
could have been prevented if her father-”
“Sophia, we promised not to talk about this. My brother did what he thought was best for his daughter,
this is not his fault.” Charles said.
“The hell it isn’t, Charles! Your brother didn’t even send Gillian to a girl’s school for heaven’s sake!
Lord only knows he had the money, but he had to run of to Wyoming with that Hispanic wife of his, what’s
her name, Maria? I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew more of that Spanish language than proper English!”
Gillian’s aunt exclaimed. Charles stared at his wife, his cold gray eyes seemed to penetrate her very soul.
“I am through discussing this Sophia. I will not lose my niece because of your distaste for her father and
my brother. You know the situation as well as I do, nothing can be done, yet.” He bitterly replied.
“Good night, [i]wife[/i]” he sneered and with the slamming of the heavy maple door, he was gone.
Gillian awoke early that next morning almost looking forward to spending the day with her aunt and
uncle…almost. She called to Leise to help her dress and within ten minutes, Gillian was dressed in
her burgundy riding habit and her rich velvet cape to ward of the bitterly cold winter wind. She bid
the butler, George, a cheerful good morning as she walked to the beautifully carved front door.
George opened the door and bowed and wished Gillian a wonderful morning ride in his thick Scottish accent.
Gillian blushed profusely and smiled at the butler, and once again he bowed knowing that it was this action
that embarrassed her, for she was not accustomed to being treated so highly.
Gillian walked to the stables and asked the stable boy to saddle up Snowflake, her beautiful white horse.
Snowflake was Gillian’s prized possession and she loved her more than life itself. She received Snowflake
from her stepmother, Maria and her father for her thirteenth birthday. Maria traded her favorite gold
necklace encrusted with jade for the horse, an action Gillian knew that had come from the heart. Gillian
was jarred from her memories by the sound of hooves clopping on the hard wooden floor. She smiled at the
sound and reached out to stroke Snowflakes soft white mane. She got on Snowflake and nudged her into a
slow trot until they both got outside. Gillian then dug her heels into Snowflake to tell her that it was
time fly. Snowflake started into a gallop and Gillian felt herself relax, she felt herself shed the shackles
that her aunt and uncle subjected her too in that grand house. She was truly herself when she was riding Snowflake.
Gillian was not being hounded by her aunt to perfect her manners and act like a lady, her dear Uncle Charles was not
badgering her with current news, and she was not being chastised by her aunt for reading. She was truly alone in the
vast wilderness, or so she thought. Unbeknownst to both Gillian, she was being watched by a pair of beautiful green eyes.
TO BE CONTINUED