Black Eagle

Free Black Eagle by Gen Bailey

Book: Black Eagle by Gen Bailey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gen Bailey
her past:
    Marisa had been a shy child of seven years of age when John Rathburn had summoned her to his study. Expecting the best of such a beckoning, Marisa had been overjoyed. Perhaps, after three long years of living within the Rathburn household, Marisa’s step-uncle was at last ready to lavish her with the love Marisa craved.
    Sarah had ensured that Marisa looked the epitome of fashion, in her sack dress of ivory silk, adorned with the white of her petticoat. True, she had still worn the back-fastened bodice, so common for her age, but this dress was her best, and it gave her confidence. As the butler had ushered her into the Rathburn inner sanctum, the lace edging of Marisa’s cap had fluttered delicately around her face, making her feel feminine and pretty.
    The scent of mildew was the first detail she recalled, then came the memory of the room, itself, which was lined wall-to-wall with books. At first her gaze had settled onto her step-uncle, who could have been the embodiment of British conservatism in his white-powdered wig and black tailored coat. Her step-uncle had always appeared to her to be a cold, foreboding and condemning sort of man, and on this day it was no different. However, there was an extra appearance of bitterness about him at this moment. Indeed, there had been an expression of disdain so great that it had set her knees to trembling.
    Instantly, Marisa’s joy had fled, replaced instead by an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. Under Rathburn’s censuring glance, she had shifted uneasily from one foot to the other.
    â€œStop that!” Rathburn had ordered, but Marisa couldn’t stop. In truth, beneath his anger, her fidgeting became more pronounced.
    â€œSit!” Rathburn had said with disgust, gesturing toward a chair that looked to be three times bigger than she was. Marisa had dutifully obeyed the command and had sat back in the seat, her feet out straight in front of her.
    â€œYer parents are dead.”
    Marisa gulped and straightened her shoulders at this seeming attack. Did her uncle think she was unaware of that fact?
    â€œTherefore ye come under my rule. Do ye understand?”
    Marisa nodded.
    â€œGood. The age of seven deems ye old enough to know of yer duty in this household. And it is yer obligation to me that bids ye to me this day.”
    Marisa had only stared at Rathburn with a wide-eyed look.
    â€œNow, yer first and foremost responsibility is to bring no disgrace to our family name. There’ll be no childish display of emotion in this house. No tantrums, no temper, no anger, and certainly no childish giggles are to echo within these walls. Do ye comprehend this?”
    Marisa nodded yet again. Had she committed some wrong of which she was as yet unaware? In her mind’s eye—perhaps in self-defense—the room and her uncle took on a dreamlike quality.
    â€œAdditionally,” her uncle was continuing, “ye are to present yerself as calm and poised as long as ye are a part of this household. And though it might seem a trifle early to speak of it, let me detail yer duty in the marriage bed.”
    Marisa gazed down at her lap, embarrassed, but she otherwise remained quiet.
    â€œYe have been seen playing with the servant boys, and this t’will never do. Understand now that yer keep is not inexpensive to me. Ye shall repay me when ye are of age, by bringing honor and fortune to the family when ye marry. Bloodline and fortune will have out, and part of the Rathburn familial obligation includes that only the ‘right’ classes shall be united. So do not be giving yer attention to the servants, lest ye fall in love with a lad unworthy of the Rathburn name. As God is my witness, ye will do yer duty to me when the time comes for yer marriage. Do ye understand?”
    Again, Marisa nodded.
    â€œNow speak up, lass. I would have yer word on this.”
    Marisa opened her mouth to utter what she realized must be her complete

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