Sarah's Roses, Book I: Roses of Blue

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Chapter XIII

A Blue Rose has a new awesome cover, made by AyychardelovesNiall. Thanks so much, I love it :)

Hope you are enjoying the story so far :)

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Chapter XIII

“I suppose your first ball could be considered a success.”

I cringed as I sat with my aunt the next day as we were having our hour of sewing. Aunt Helen had not attended the ball; she did not feel strong enough to stay up so late with all the guests and had remained in her quarters. Now I had to sit and tell her, minute by minute what had happened and hear her comments on everything.

She paused for a moment and abruptly asked, “Did anyone compare you with…with Evelyn?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I tried to reply in a soft, nonchalant way, remembering what the two gentlemen had said about my aunt and my mother yesterday.

“Did a lot of people compare you with her?”

“I…uh…” I didn’t know how to answer.

“Tell me the honest truth, Sarah,” My aunt’s voice turned sharp.

“Yes, ma’am,” I looked down.

“Well, I expected as much,” She said in a crisp voice. “Evelyn was very popular on her coming out ball. If your mother loved anything, she loved balls, and even though she ran off only a few days before her seventeenth birthday, in that space of a less than a year she attended more balls than some people do in a lifetime.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Aunt Helen gave a shake of her head. “Evelyn was always up to endless mischief. She was nothing but trouble from the start; from the start mind you. I always knew she would come to no good and no good would come from her. She ran off from home, literally killed our mother, subjected the family name to endless gossip and then went ahead produced an illegitimate child before dying and leaving you on my hands.”

“Aunt Helen,” I pleaded with her. Why was she bringing all this up?

“I’m serious, Sarah. I hope you are grateful to your uncle and myself for taking you in.”

“I am very grateful, Aunt Helen; I am forever in your debt.”

“Even though you were popular at the ball, you must never forget that you are beneath the rest of your peers!”

“But why, Aunt, why must I be?” I didn’t understand why she was so intent on constantly putting me down.

“You are a disgrace, Sarah! Surely you understand that?”

“Do I really have to be?”

“You don’t have a choice. You were a disgrace from the start. You are your mother’s disgrace and now you are mine. I am ashamed of you, Sarah; ashamed of what you are and of what you always be. You are a product of sin.”

Her words cut me like a knife. Aunt Helen had never been very kind to me, but she had never gotten this insulting. What had come over her? Was it because of the success of my début? Was it because I was so much like her sister, whom I only recently discovered she had been terribly jealous of?

“Your mother always looked for trouble and she certainly always made it, but she was never there to clean up all the disasters created by her. Who always had to do the dirty work? It certainly wasn’t Evelyn. We have created a lie to keep the family name safe, but it is a lie, Sarah. A lie. And a lie will never cover up who you really are. No amount of false stories can save that which is already tarnished. You, Sarah, are my lifelong shame.”

That was it, I couldn’t bear anymore, dropping my needlework, I fled from the room. Why did she always have to ruin everything? I was so happy with the success of the ball, so happy that I had managed to get through it and save face in front of everyone. Was she angry at my joy? Did she feel I didn’t deserve it? Couldn’t she be happy if I was happy?

I ran out of the drawing room, through the hall, out of the house and to my little garden. Sinking by the small fountain that stood in the center, I buried my hands in my face and gave freedom to my tears. “Who are you Sarah, who are you really? Do you even know yourself?”

“Miss Sarah?”

I looked up abruptly. Sammy was standing over me with a concerned expression. The tears were still on my cheeks and I felt embarrassed for having been caught openly crying. I wrung my hands and thought of what to say.

“Oh, it’s you,” I finally mumbled, looking at my hands.

“You are distressed.”

I wiped my eyes and looked at the ground, “as you can see.”

“I can leave.”

“No, no.” I suddenly realized how much I didn’t want to be alone. When I was alone, the despair preyed upon me and there was no escaping it. At least when someone else was around they could keep my mind occupied. From the very start, for all these eight years, there was nothing I hated more than being left alone.

He stood there, uncertain of what to do or how to act. I wiped the tears that refused to stop flowing. “I’m sorry,” I said at last.

“Sorry for what?”

“For this whole scene."

“Don’t be. What caused you to be so distressed?”

I looked into his deep eyes. How could I tell him? I wouldn’t be able to explain without giving him the truth, and no one was supposed to know the truth. Uncle Andrew had made it so clear that no one in the household was to know the truth; he didn’t want any gossip circulating anywhere. I bit my lip, wondering what to say.

“Sammy,” I suddenly asked, “Sammy, what do you see when you look at me?”

He had not been expecting such a question. “Who do I see? I see the young and beautiful Miss Rose! I see a girl who is growing into a woman, a girl who has the world at her feet. I see a talented and creative girl with so many accomplishments and so much before her.” He said at last.

“How ironic,” I tossed my head, “that’s what everyone sees.”

He looked at me in a strange way, obviously not understanding my behavior.

 “Miss Rose,” I laughed and sighed and cried, “everyone sees Miss Rose. Pretty Miss Rose, talented Miss Rose. At the ball yesterday that was all I heard. Miss Rose is so accomplished, Miss Rose is so clever, Miss Rose looks so much like her mother, Miss Rose this, Miss Rose that. Always Miss Rose.” I bit my lip and stared at my reflection in the water. “That is Miss Rose,” I pointed at the lovely young blonde with her hair gathered up, a smooth, delicate face, dressed in a soft, silk, afternoon dress, “but she is foreign to me. I don’t even know who Miss Rose is!” I angrily struck the water, sending droplets everywhere.

“What do you mean? Miss Rose is you, isn’t it?”

“That’s what everyone thinks, that’s what everyone has been made to believe, and no one suspects, not a single person.”

“Don’t suspect what?” Sammy was really confused and trying desperately to get to the bottom of everything.

“It’s a lie!” I blurted out at him, “Miss Rose is a façade, a made up person, invented by my uncle to keep who I really am a secret in order to save the family name and dignity. Everything you know about me is a lie. A lie so good tha the entire household believes it, but the truth, if you really want it Samuel Climb, is there is no Miss Rose, she doesn’t exsit.”

 “Then who are you, if not Miss Rose?”

“I’m a…a…a bastard!”

Sammy was taken back by the force with which I had spit the words out. He looked at me earnestly, wanting me to continue, which I did. Now that I had started I couldn’t stop.

“Illegitimate, born out of wedlock.” The words were bitter and angry, “a mistake, a disgrace, an accident; I am something that should never have happened!” A fresh wave of tears came over me. My aunt had stirred up my emotions and I didn’t have the strength to quiet them.

I was a crumpled heap on the ground, burying my head in my hand. Suddenly, I felt his strong hands gently take me by the shoulders.

“Sarah, how could you ever believe you are a mistake?” Sammy asked incredulously.

“How can I not believe it?” I replied, “when my aunt makes it plain as day to me every day. She hates me.”

“She doesn’t.”

“She does! At first I thought she just disliked me, but today she just about told me that she hates me. I’m her disgrace.”

“Is that what caused you to be so distressed?”

I nodded. “I don’t know what made her so mad at me today, but she told me that it would have been better if I had never been born. And you know what, she’s right. I’m the reason she died, the reason she was sent to early to the grave. If I had never been born, mother would still be alive.”

“Sarah, Sarah that is not true. You were supposed to be born.”

I stubbornly shook my head.

“Sarah, look at me.”

I lifted my head and looked straight into his eyes. He reached out and wiped the tears away. “There were mistakes made along the way, but you are not to blame for them. Your life is precious, you life is beautiful. Don’t let your aunt tell you otherwise. Look around you, everyone loves you.”

“Because everyone doesn’t know,” I pointed out.

“Massa Greensten does, and I don’t think he seems to mind.”

He was right; Uncle Andrew didn’t seem to care one bit about my parentage. Never had, right from the start.

“You can’t help your parentage, Sarah, but you don’t have to let that get you down. Yous aunt is not right about you, you are not a mistake, and you are not a sin. Don’t look at yourself through the eyes of the Mistress.”

 “Then how shall I look at myself?”

“Look at yourself through my eyes,” he stated in a low voice.

“And what do your eyes see?” I dared to ask him.

“A bright mind, a caring soul, and the kindest, deepest, warmest most adoring heart that every walked this earth,” he had whispered the words. We sat there, kneeling by the fountain, staring at each other, his dark eyes piercing into mine. I caught my breath as I felt him stare straight into my very soul.

“Sarah.”

The moment crashed in an instant. I jumped up and ran to find Jeff before he discovered the two of us staring at each other. Sammy remained sitting there.

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awww, such a tender moment broken.

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