$18.95 / Perfectbound
ISBN: 9781608449163
352 pages

$24.95 / Hardcover (DJ)
ISBN: 9781608448005
352 pages

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ISBN: 9781608449842

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Excerpt from the Book

Prologue: Uniontown, PA, 1908

Everyone said she was a headstrong girl and that when she grew older she would have a temper to inspire awe. It wasn’t that she had tantrums as a child—her father would not permit that—rather, it was the smoldering depths of her dark brown eyes that penetrated the subject of her steady gaze with the chilling effect of something most unchildlike. There was a sorrow there that didn’t belong in the eyes of a girl in her mid-teens. She was quiet and obedient, but somehow those enormous eyes always betrayed the defiance within. It seemed her tranquil, poised attitude might give way at any moment to an explosion of volcanic emotional release, but she had been taught well and maintained her calm, waiting patiently even if the sadness was too much for her to disguise.

It was afternoon, and she sat upon the window seat in the front parlor, gazing through the glass across the verandah, with its potted palms and twin bench swings, to the street below the front steps. The sun cast long golden shafts between the hedges of hydrangeas, heavy with blue globes of blossom clusters, across the narrow sward of lawn and onto the sidewalk and the passersby. Gentlemen in straw boaters and striped blazers escorted ladies in extravagantly flowered and veiled hats along the sidewalk, and an occasional trolley ground by, its clanging bell disturbing the otherwise sleepy calm of this languid, late-May reverie. Male and female laughter drifted casually up from the street. The words the men and women spoke as they passed the big Victorian house were indistinguishable, but the easy gait of their promenade and the smiles and glances they exchanged were unmistakably those of the endless rites of polite, bourgeois courtship.

Suddenly, a huge figure rounded the gate post and bounded up the front steps. The man was tall and robust and thus would not properly be described as fat. Substantial was a better word for him—substantial in every way. His dress was elegant and expensive. His flowing handlebar moustache offset a slight coarseness of features and balanced the head of thick, wavy dark hair revealed as he doffed his bowler, opened the heavy cut-glass door, and entered the front vestibule.

“Darling Lenore, come and give your doting father a kiss,” he said through a broad smile.

“Hello, Pa,” she said, not lifting her intense gaze from the street and the passing throng outside the house.

“Lenore, my dear, how many times have I told you a young lady of proper breeding does not address her father as Pa! You’re entirely too grown up for that childish nonsense to go unchecked any longer.”

“I’m sorry, Father, I didn’t mean to ignore your request. It’s just been so stuffy and boring in this house all day, I really feel like a little child—if only I could go out with friends once in a while—” Her sentence was cut off in midstream.

“We’ve been through all that, my girl, and you know how I feel about you mixing it up with the common herd in this town. But I’ll not be cross with you today, for I have some news which I feel will make you happy and will perhaps alleviate your boredom once and for all.”

At this, Lenore jumped up from the window seat with a skip and hurled herself into her father’s arms. “Oh, Father, tell me! Tell me, what good news have you to share with this lonely girl?”

“Well, I think you are maturing remarkably and your education is proceeding miraculously well, considering this one-horse town and its second-rate schooling. I think it’s high time that you receive the very best opportunity to make the most of your potential, so I have arranged for you to attend the Chevy Chase School for Young Ladies in Maryland beginning in the fall.”

A sparkle came into his daughter’s eyes that Al de Quincy had not seen in a very long time.

“Oh, Father, how wonderful! I am so thrilled!” She covered his face with kisses, until he pulled back suddenly and, grasping both her arms just below the shoulders, gave her a stern and penetrating look. Her eyes met his, as the light there was replaced with a touch of fear.

“Lenore de Quincy, don’t you get any ideas into your head about this as an escape from this home and my plans for your future. You are going to be a grand lady and preside over the table of the man I choose for you. I am not sending you to Maryland to meet boys and to run with a common crowd of scatterbrained girls who will most likely spend their lives running sewing machines in a factory or taking letters in some office. You were not born for that kind of life, and, whether you know it or not, I know what is best for you and am determined to have it for you.”

“Father, why do you always think if I have any fun it will make me something less than you want me to be?”