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Yankee Bride / Rebel BrideBook 5
By Jane Peart
ZondervanCopyright © 1990 Zondervan
All right reserved.
Chapter One"No, Rose, you can't!" The urgency in Kendall Carpenter's voice gave it a harsh edge. "You can't mean you intend to marry Malcolm Montrose!"
"But I do and I am!" retorted the girl facing him, her dark eyes flashing with indignation.
Framed by the trellised arch in her father's New England garden, Rose Meredith had never seemed more beautiful to the distraught young man-the rosy coloring in her rounded oval face heightened by emotion; the sweetly curved mouth; the rich brown hair falling from a center part and tumbling in ringlets about her shoulders rising from the ruffled bodice of the wide-hooped muslin dress. Perhaps the fact that he knew now he had lost her, made him more keenly aware of her beauty today.
As soon as Kendall heard the news of her engagement from his classmate, her brother John, he had rushed over to Milford from Harvard only to hear the truth from her own lips. His hopes of winning Rose himself lent desperation to his argument.
Her initial indignation softened as Rose saw the genuine distress in Kendall's expression, the hurt in his eyes. She put out one delicate hand and touched his arm. "Please, Kendall, try to understand."
"Understand? It's you who doesn't understand, Rose."
Rose sighed. She knew Kendall would use all the skills at his command as a law student to dissuade her. She had tried arguing with him before to no avail. She would just have to hear him out.
"Has your father given his approval?" he demanded.
Rose smiled slightly. "Why, Kendall, that you should ask such a question!" Her tone implied a gentle reproof. "After all, this is 1857. Even my father thinks a woman has a right to make her own decisions."
Undaunted, Kendall continued. "But you can't, Rose. You don't realize what you're getting into. The South has a different culture, a different outlook on life. For someone like you, Rose, that kind of life would be slow death."
"What are you talking about, Kendall?"
"Their attitude toward women, for example, is almost medieval. Women are merely pampered little girls who never grow up because the men they marry won't let them. They are desired for decorative purposes and, well, for other reasons, of course. But Southern men certainly don't consider women their equals, any more than they do blacks. And that's another point-"
"Kendall," she interrupted, "I won't hear any more. I love Malcolm Montrose and he loves me. Its disloyal for me even to listen to what you're saying. Malcolm isn't like the men you're describing. I know him and-"
"I know him, too, Rose! I sat around debating with him often about the very things we're discussing now. Southerners are not like us. It's a different country down there."
"You're talking pure nonsense. A different country, indeed! Aren't we all one United States? Didn't our grandfathers all fight for the same freedom less than one hundred years ago?"
"No, Rose, you're wrong." Kendall shook his head. "Even then we were fighting for different reasons. Remember, I've been down South visiting just recently, and I know what I'm talking about. It is a different country with different ideas, accepted rules, traditions," he continued. "You'll find-if you're headstrong enough to go through with this ridiculous notion-that it will be like living in a place where no one speaks your language. Mark my words, Rose, its not just that I don't want to lose you. I don't want to see you lose yourself. If you marry Malcolm Montrose-you'll live to regret it!"
Rose was startled by Kendall's vehemence. John had warned her that it might be difficult to explain her decision to the enamored young man, but Rose had confidently replied, "Oh, Kendall will understand." Still, Kendall obviously did not understand. For the first time Rose became aware that what she had considered only a pleasant friendship had meant more, gone much deeper with him. She had liked Kendall more than any of John's Harvard friends. That is, until the weekend her brother brought Malcolm Montrose home for a visit.
Almost from the beginning Rose had felt a strong attraction for the tall, soft-spoken Virginian. It was mutual, and had moved quickly from interest to affection to love, the kind of love Rose had often dreamed of but had never dared to believe would be hers.
They had learned almost at once that they shared many interests in common-a love of nature, philosophy, and literature. They had taken long walks together, held lengthy discussions on every subject, watched sunsets, and strolled through the quiet, winding country lanes around Milford-more and more absorbed in each other's company, lost in each other's words, eventually completely in love.
Malcolm was quite the handsomest man Rose had ever known, but it was his gracious manners, gentle humor, and more than that, his poet's soul that endeared him most to Rose.
For his part, Rose knew that Malcolm not only considered her beautiful, but also often commented that her keen mind, her vivid imagination, and unconscious charm both awed and delighted him. That she could articulately discourse on the subjects that intrigued him was a cause for endless pleasure. Indeed, they often explored the new philosophies together-transcendentalism, pantheism, the essays of Emerson and other noted preachers of the day.
Rose had been well educated in a private academy that offered a curriculum for young women comparable to Malcolm's at Harvard. She had, therefore, studied French, Latin, history, botany, and even geometry and astronomy.
Theirs was, Rose was positive, a match made in heaven. She and Malcolm, in spite of misgivings others might have, were absolutely sure they were destined for each other, and nothing this passionate young legal student could say could convince her otherwise.
"Rose, I beg you to reconsider," Kendall pleaded.
"There is nothing to reconsider," she said gently. "I love Malcolm. None of your arguments can change my mind on that."
"Then, nothing matters," he said dejectedly. "There is nothing left for me."
"Oh, Kendall-my dear, dear friend-at least wish me happiness."
Kendall shook his head, the firm lips compressed. "I can't! I won't!" He struggled before he burst out impulsively. "I can't because ... I love you! I want you for myself!"
With that, Kendall stepped forward. Taking Rose's face between his hands, he kissed her on the mouth-at first gently, almost sorrowfully, then with a firmer pressure, and finally with a fierce intensity.
Rose pushed her small hands against his chest, forcing him to release her. Breathless and shaken by this unexpected display of emotion, she gazed at him, speechless.
Kendall dropped his head, saying brokenly, "Forgive me, Rose. I shouldn't have done that." Then he turned and walked hurriedly down the path, letting the garden gate slam behind him.
It took Rose several minutes to regain her composure. She had never dreamed Kendall felt so deeply about her. But with just a few weeks remaining until her marriage to Malcolm, nothing could mar Rose's happiness for long.
She spun around, gathering up her skirts, and ran lightly up the steps into the house. Inside she paused for a moment, listening, but the household was still. Her Aunt Vanessa must be napping. From her father's study came the low murmur of voices. He must still be visiting with some of his friends.
Rose tiptoed up the broad front stairway to the second floor. Moving down the hall, she came to the spare bedroom. Opening the door carefully, she stepped inside. In the dim light she searched out the dress form on which her wedding gown hung, awaiting only the final fitting before Aunt Van, an accomplished seamstress, would pronounce it perfection.
The gown was of ivory watered silk; the bodice, with its tiny tucks, tapered into a V and was edged with Brussels lace taken from Rose's mother's wedding gown. That dress had been too small in every way for her tall, willowy daughter. Rose's eyes misted as she touched the beautiful lace. How sad it was that Ellen Meredith had not lived to see her daughter a bride.
Rose's gaze fell on the wispy froth of veil secured to a circlet of tiny silk roses and spread out on the quilted coverlet of the four-poster. Beside it were the white silk stockings and satin slippers she would wear.
Excitement tremored through her as she lifted the wreath and tentatively tried it on. Rose smiled at her image, noticing the dimples that hovered at the corners of her mouth. Malcolm had teased her about her dimples and often kissed them when he told her how pretty she was.
Excerpted from Yankee Bride / Rebel Bride by Jane Peart Copyright © 1990 by Zondervan. Excerpted by permission.
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