Twelfth of Never: 24 Hours in the Life of Elizabeth, Volume III

Twelfth of Never: 24 Hours in the Life of Elizabeth, Volume III

by Jeanne Marie Peters, Theresa Austin

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781490779560
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 06/30/2017
Pages: 392
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.81(d)

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CHAPTER 1

ARTHUR EXPOSES JOHN LAW'S HIDING PLACE

The Year is 1844, August:

It was long past midnight and Victor Arlington was in the stables petting his favorite brindle horse. He'd been disquieted and unable to sleep. He acutely missed his father, Jordan, who had died suddenly and mysteriously earlier in the year, prompting the moving of his family to France. And he felt abandoned by his Aunt Elizabeth Wells because she had not answered his or his Grandmother Arabelle's weekly letters.

Victor was comforted by the fact that his mother, Margaret, was in a happier frame of mind since they had settled in a magnificent chateau near Aix-en-Provence. She had acquired a circle of friends that she joined regularly for cards and other amusements. Not that Margaret gave her son any more of her attention than she ever had, but he and his grandmother were enjoying taking lessons in French from a local instructor and his grandfather, Arthur Wells, had hired an excellent tutor for his ongoing education.

Yet none of these things seemed to fill the gap in his forlorn soul.

"So there you are! I've been looking all over for you!"

Victor's heart began to thud as he heard his grandfather's voice.

The man approached and laid a hand on Victor's shoulder where he could feel the trembling in his grandson's frame. He asked, "Victor, are you afraid of me?"

"No, sir ... well, yes, I suppose I am ... a little."

His grandfather's eyes glistened as he gazed into the distraught face of his grandson. He spoke kindly, "Victor, you're the most important person in my world; you mean everything to me. I don't want you ever to feel afraid of me."

"Yes, sir. I'm sorry sir."

Arthur eyed him quietly for a few moments, and then said, "It's because of what happened in the Golden Hawk on our trip over here, isn't it?"

"Maybe, sir," Victor hung his head and whispered, "yes, sir."

*
It had been a warm sunny day and the sea was calm on their journey from England to France when Victor came upon his grandfather standing by a large box and shaking out individual Journals as he flung them into the water, watching them sink. Arthur was quite absorbed in his task and hadn't noticed his grandson's quiet approach.

Something came over the boy, as sometimes happens with children, and he impulsively yanked one of the Journals out of the box, which caused Arthur to turn on him with a fierce scowl. "Put that back!" he yelled.

Victor was so startled by the look of rage in his grandfather's eyes that he took off running, Journal in hand.

Arthur didn't want to leave his box open without closing the lid and by the time he secured it, Victor had disappeared.

More than a little frightened, Victor tucked the Journal into his shirt and dashed into the cabin he shared with his mother. Margaret saw the look of fear in her son's eyes and asked him what was wrong. He explained about the Journal as he was removing it from his shirt; he handed it to her.

His mother opened it randomly and was quickly scanning the pages when an expression of horror spread over her features.

There was a banging on the cabin door and Arthur burst in just as Margaret quickly closed the Journal. "You've got it!" he yelled, then turning to Victor, "did you read it, did you read any of it?"

Margaret replied for her son, "No, Father, he didn't read it, he just now gave it to me — it was only a prank — he didn't mean any harm," she handed him the Journal, and asked, "why are you so concerned?"

Victor noticed that his mother's hands were shaking as she quickly slipped them behind her back.

"These are records of my cases; extremely private. I've been discarding them." He removed the Journal from his daughter's hands and, somewhat mollified, said to Victor, "Don't you ever do anything like that again, do you understand?"

Victor hung his head and whispered, "I'm sorry, sir. I don't know why I did that ... I just got scared and ran when you were so angry."

After Arthur left the room, Margaret placed her hands on Victor's shoulders and spoke in a terse, frightened voice, "Don't you ever do anything like that again, don't you ever make your grandfather angry," she began shaking him violently, "or you'll end up dead — just like your father!"

This was the first time that Victor realized his mother believed that his grandfather had something to do with his father, Jordan's, death — and the first time he understood that his mother was afraid of her father. This information he kept to himself; there was never another conversation with his mother about the incident.

But a great change overshadowed Victor; he was no longer an innocent ten year old boy — he was the bearer of a dark secret within his family.

*
Shortly after Arthur's conversation with Victor in the stables he purchased a magnificent red stallion for his grandson and they began riding out together often, while Arthur made a concentrated effort to relieve Victor of any fear regarding his affection for the lad.

Meantime Arabelle became suspicious as to why Elizabeth hadn't answered any of her weekly letters. The next time she and Victor were being tutored in the French language with Mlle Colette Bettencount, Arabelle asked if she might confidentially use the woman's address to correspond with her daughter. The mademoiselle understood perfectly and was glad to comply.

Thus both Arabelle and Victor were later delighted to finally have a letter from Elizabeth, who informed them that she had never, prior to this, received a single letter.

And that night Arabelle confronted Arthur regarding her missing letters to Elizabeth.

He spoke with an indifferent tone when he explained, "I thought it best for the family to cut off all ties to England ... at least until we adjusted here ... and for Meggie and Victor's sake I wanted to keep Elizabeth's bizarre behavior out of our lives," he paused and his face turned cold as a stone, "I suppose she told you I froze her bank account."

"No! Beth didn't say a word about it. She did speak of participating in a concert with the Kilbourne family; now I see why. You call Beth's behavior bizarre and excuse Meg's behavior toward her. I believe I've had enough of how you've treated our older daughter through the years and we must either come to some definite understanding on the subject — or I will be returning to England."

Arthur's right eye twitched as he responded brusquely, "Perhaps you'd be satisfied if I were to reveal to you just where John Law has been hiding in France all these years in order to keep away from Elizabeth?"

"John here! in France?"

"Yes. He emigrated as a valet with a French family."

"How do you know that?"

"I was acquainted with the family and spoke directly with John before they left and, I can truthfully say, he was very glad to be leaving. When you see him he may pretend not to know you, but you'll recognize it's him — and then maybe you'll understand why I've actually been shielding Elizabeth from the truth that her lover deserted her."

"That doesn't explain why you cut off her funds."

"I did so because she needs to realize that I've treated her very well through the years; I can't think of any other fathers who would put up with what I've put up with from her — and given her free license to live and spend her money as she pleases."

Arabelle was grim. "But you will reinstate her bank account now?"

"Yes."

*
Upon their arrival in France, Arthur had hired a lawyer to search for the Frank and Eleanor Williams family, who would have returned there in 1818 with their infant son — and John Law. The lawyer had recently affirmed that the couple had reclaimed their French citizenship; their names were Maurice and Michelle Noir Vandame; and their twenty-six year old son was named Jean-Henri.

Arthur had met the couple in London, England, at a Séance where they revealed their desperate desire to have a child. He knew they had fled from AixenProvence when their estate was confiscated during the Revolution and he was pleased to learn that they had regained a portion of their property when they returned to France. And yes, he had given them his sister, Gwendolyn's, baby son in exchange for their assuming responsibility for John Law.

Arthur hired a French steward (le intendant), Edmond Devereaux, to manage the household and interpret for the servants. He asked this man to accompany him to the address his lawyer had given him for the Noir Vandame estate. Once there he presented his card to the butler who answered the door and escorted them to a sitting room, where they were left to fidget for quite some time before a nervous young man suddenly entered the room and introduced himself as Jean-Henri Noir Vandame.

Arthur noted the man's resemblance to his sister, Gwendolyn's, late husband, Lesley Longtree, and repressed a look of revulsion as he asked to speak with his parents.

"My parents are both gravely ill and unable to receive you; frankly, I prefer not to leave them alone for any length of time."

"If you give them my card, they will know who I am, and why I'm here."

"Sir, they are not in sufficient health to receive your card, let alone your person."

"I'm looking for your father's valet; he would be a man of about forty-six years of age now, a tall slim Englishman, with dark hair."

"Hmm, my father has never had a valet of that age or description to my knowledge. However," he paused and searched his thought, "there was a man who left father's employment when I was a child; yes, they had a violent argument, I recall, and the man walked right out afterward. That's all I know, all I can say, but I'll retain your card and when my parents are well, or well enough to answer your questions, I'll contact you. But now you must excuse me to return to their care."

He bowed and left the room.

*
Arthur reported the situation to Arabelle — explaining that the location of John Law was on hold until the recovery of the health of the couple who took him with them to France.

Arthur waited a full month with no word and then decided to call at the Noir Vandame estate again, only to learn that the couple had passed on within days of each other and that their son had sold his interest in the property and moved out. One man, who spoke English, said he knew that the son, Jean-Henri, had taught English at the university.

Accompanied by Edmond Devereaux, Arthur contacted the Aix-en-Provence University, but learned that Le Professeur Jean-Henri Noir Vandame had resigned his position when his parents first became ill and his whereabouts were unknown.

But Arthur's efforts were not entirely without effect, because with Edmond Devereaux to corroborate his search, Arabelle now believed him; that is, she now believed that John Law had indeed abandoned her daughter, Elizabeth, and left England with the Noir Vandame family, employing himself as a valet. Also, she was aware that John was fluent in French. She accepted that Arthur had been trying to protect Elizabeth from knowledge of John's betrayal, because of her fragile and intense emotional attachment to the man, proven by her years of nightly vigils.

Arabelle thought, My daughters aren't like I was when my parents refused to accept the young man I loved so dearly; how easily I let him slip through my fingers and married Arthur instead.

She said to Arthur, "This is one area in which Beth and Meg are alike: they both are unable to fully accept the loss of the men they loved."

He grimaced and remarked dryly, "Most women are too dull-minded to know when they're better off."

Arabelle's facial flinch was almost imperceptible.

*
A PORTRAIT
A face devoid of love or grace,
CHAPTER 2

FREDERICK FLYNN O'FLANNIGAN PROPOSES

The Year Is 1844, July-October:

There were many people waiting ahead of Elizabeth Wells at the teller's station in her bank; when she finally reached the position of next in line she felt a sense of relief, only to have the tall elderly and impeccably dressed man ahead of her burst into a loud display of arrogance toward the young clerk, who was attempting to maintain his poise despite the man's accusations against his competency. She considered moving to another line, but all the others were well filled, so she determined to stick it out.

Elizabeth cringed inwardly for the slight and sensitive clerk who was obligated to endure the man's rudeness. She herself was still adjusting to the peaceful freedom from vocal insult she felt since the previous month when her parents, Arthur and Arabelle Wells, her sister, Margaret Arlington, and her nephew, Victor, had settled in France. Elizabeth did miss her mother and nephew a great deal; the same could not be said for her stridently incriminating father and sister.

She was at her bank on this day to withdraw a large sum in order to pay the month's household expenses — which included the salaries of the remaining servants — and to purchase cloth for a gown to wear to the new opera, Emani, by Guiseppe Verdi, where she would be accompanied by Frederick Flynn O'Flannigan and her aunt and uncle, Gwendolyn and Horatio Släten.

The shrill man abruptly spun on his heels and stalked out of the bank.

Elizabeth paused momentarily, and then gave the flustered clerk a gentle smile as she handed him her withdrawal request. She thought the teller was still smarting from his wigging when he looked at her strangely, brought some files forward, and informed her that her father, Arthur Wells, had frozen all her assets. The teller dutifully displayed a document from a lawyer, which verified the information regarding her accounts.

"But," she protested, "my father gave written approval for my own bank account, and this is my money, bequeathed to me by my grandmother."

"I'm sorry, Miss Wells, but the laws of England give your father full control over your money, regardless how it was acquired."

"Well, if he's frozen my assets to care for Rosewood Manor then I shall have to sell it, I suppose."

"No, miss, if you read on to the second page of the document, you'll see that you are forbidden to sell the Manor without your father's signed approval."

"Hmm, he seems to have me blocked in all directions ... well, would you check The Marianne Blackwell Trade School account ... is that also frozen?"

"Ah, no, your name isn't the only one on that account ... there's a Mrs. Jordan Arlington also ... no, this account has no restrictions. Do you wish to withdraw from it instead?"

Elizabeth sighed, "No, that money's for the School, I shan't touch it."

The teller eyed the many colored gems sparkling from the large ring on his customer's index finger and remarked, "I say, Miss Wells, that ring you're wearing appears to be quite valuable ... have you considered taking a ... ah ... loan on it? There's a jeweler in the neighborhood. ..."

She snapped at the clerk, "I wasn't seeking your advice!" and strode toward the benches where she sat momentarily dazed, as a sense of loss and lack overflowed her soul. Is this how it feels to be poor? she pondered. It's devastating — and I have yet so many assets at my disposal; how foolish of me. She glanced at the Rainbow Ring and recalled that Jordan's Aunt Sophia had left a note in the jewelry box telling her to feel free to sell it should she ever be in need of funds. She thought, Did she suspect that one day I would? She glanced toward the teller, And that nice young man — he was only being practical — I must apologize to him.

She rose and took a position at the end of the line, but when she got to the teller's post he set out a sign indicating that his station was closed. She brushed the sign aside and said, "But please, I'm here to apologize for my rudeness ... you were only trying to be helpful."

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Twelfth of Never"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Jeanne Marie Peters and Theresa Austin.
Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

DEDICATION, xi,
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS, xii,
PREFACE, xiii,
Chapter 1: ARTHUR EXPOSES JOHN LAW'S HIDING PLACE, 1,
Chapter 2: FREDERICK FLYNN O'FLANNIGAN PROPOSES, 8,
Chapter 3: ELIZABETH & FREDERICK PLAN A WEDDING, 22,
Chapter 4: ARABELLE COMES INTO HER OWN, 28,
Chapter 5: VICTOR MEETS AN INQUISITIVE FRENCHMAN, 42,
Chapter 6: A FINE ROMANCE, 49,
Chapter 7: ARTHUR & HIS FAMILY RETURN TO ENGLAND, 58,
Chapter 8: MORE THINGS IN HEAVEN & EARTH, HORATIO, THAN ARE DREAMT OF, 67,
Chapter 9: THE BURNING OF A VIKING SHIP, 76,
Chapter 10: WALTZING MATILDA, 86,
Chapter 11: DANGER: RED HAWK LANDING, 103,
Chapter 12: BACKSTORIES ON ROBERT THE BEAUTIFUL, 112,
Chapter 13: A MYSTERIOUS ETHEREAL WOMAN, 133,
Chapter 14: THE INQUISITIVE FRENCHMAN CALLS AT ROSEWOOD MANOR, 140,
Chapter 15: WHEN IRISH EYES ARE CRYING, 149,
Chapter 16: PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF, 163,
Chapter 17: A LESSER GOD, 189,
Chapter 18: SANDS OF TIME, 202,
Chapter 19: THE CRYSTAL PALACE, 213,
Chapter 20: HOLD ON A LITTLE LONGER, 223,
Chapter 21: ROCK OF AGES, 229,
Chapter 22: PUT IN THE SICKLE, THE HARVEST IS RIPE, 237,
Chapter 23: VISITORS FROM AMERICA, 247,
Chapter 24: TWELFTH OF NEVER, 260,
Chapter 25: A REVELATION, 283,
EPILOGUE, 313,
SUPPLEMENTAL: PORTRAIT, POEM, & ESSAY, 333-335,
ENDNOTES, 337,

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