X. The Lockwood Orphanage
I must make it work. I just have to, she thought before she was closing her eyes as she was dreaming of a place that will be a safe haven for the orphaned and poor children to get away from everything in their past.
Saul and Julian managed to get an abandoned house in the outskirts of Norkins for an affordable price since the estate manager said that the place was haunted.
Darla could not think of her stars enough for they have more budget to get the necessities for the orphanage to work properly. Sure, Penelope and Jared have been working their asses off as they were coming back to the house with all the supplies that they could think of to make sure that the orphanage will be comfortable as they could.
"Well, these are the stuff that we could acquire in the shortest amount of time and their cost was not that steep. Right, Jared?" Penelope said as she was turning to look at her childhood friend. Jared smiled as he nodded.
"Yeah, and I cannot think anything more dreadful than having those vendors to cut our throats off. They were trying to get the highest price possible," he said as he was scowling. Penelope shook her head.
"At any rate, we have to get some stuff from Scatterford or perhaps Fiktown," Penelope said before Darla was shaking her head.
"No, we cannot get the stuff from Fiktown. Who knows what the bandits will be doing in Fik Forest," she said before she was tapping her chin with her finger. She sighed before turning to Saul and Julian.
"I supposed you could do some shopping with them tomorrow in Scatterford?" she asked before the both of them were smiling.
"Would like to,"
"Cannot wait to be helpful,"
Darla smiled as she was looking at her closed circle group. This only a dream before she was riding through Norkins in her parents' carriage during one Winter Solstice and now she was fulfilling her oath to the children.
"Thank you. You are the best," she said before she was turning to look at Rosie. She did not know what was to think of this progress but if anything, they should take in the children that they have found today.
"I think we can get them together tomorrow and perhaps we will start this orphanage thing on the go, what do you say, peers?" she asked before Rosie was holding her ale up and shouted, "Here, here," The others followed before they sipped on the ale before retiring.
There's a lot of stuff to be done and she cannot wait to get her hands dirty.
She was looking at the four of her peers riding off to Scatterford to get some stuff as she was smiling before the children that have gathered in front of their new home.
Home, such a thing that Darla took granted for before. And now, she was providing it for the people that needed them most. She will not be careless to take anything in her life for granted again.
Is that including one handsome brunette, blue-eyed young lord? Darla did not dare to answer it as she was ushering the kids into the house that will be their new home. Some were crying, some were in awe, and some...still wary of why she was helping them out.
"Children, fear not. This will be your new home and I will do everything in my power to help you get a better life than your past," she said confidently before she and Rosie were giving away the stuff that the children need in the house.
Towels, dresses, and tunics as well as breeches. Some toothbrushes as well as soap. It would not hurt them to get clean in the river that was near their estate since Darla cannot figure out the indoor plumbing yet.
She had to get that working on as well before her peers returned from Scatterford.
She had scheduled the girls and boys to get separated to bathe in the river. Then, she proceeded to talk with the Cook that she hired to cook a grand meal for the first opening of the orphanage. She told her that she would need at least 30 portions and more every night. The Cook did not show any surprise if Darla thought that she never handled that kind of even before.
But every night? Well, that would take some courage to do it without falling into stress or worse, wanting to quit the job.
But Darla made an assurance that the Cook will be paid handsomely at the end of every month, she even got her to stay at the house as well. Darla knew that the Cook was struggling as well like the children and she hoped that the employment will ease her burden.
However, Darla has to keep finding someone or anyone at all to fight for her cause. She cannot think of anything but some lords or perhaps her own inheritance to keep the orphanage running.
Until she went to Warydeval one fine day to get some stuff that her luck was turning for the better.
Darla mentioned to her peers about her plan and wanted to get some objections from them if she would be getting into trouble.
No one says anything, which was a relief in and of itself.
"I know that I will find someone that would be willing to fight for our cause. I think I might find the said person there," she said, noting that Rosie was shifting on her feet.
"What is it?" Darla addressed her best friend before Rosie turned to look at her. she bit her lower lips.
"Rosie, I know that you have something in your mind. So, why don't you just share with all of us?" Darla has always been a person that mentions head-on. And it helped in time of crisis when Rosie sighed before she was staring at her hands on her laps.
"Would you be suspicious of your reputation, Darla? You and we all know that Warydeval...well, a place for scandals and rumors to spread. Not to mention the scandalmongers that hang around there. I don't want you to risk your reputation, Darla. Not even for this cause of yours," Rosie said before Darla smiled. She noticed that her peers were murmuring to each other as if agreeing that Darla should not go to Warydeval without a chaperone. Then, she told her why she would not care about such things.
"I know that everyone was anxious to think that I would ruin my reputation and would not find myself a good husband,"
Everyone was quiet, listening to her. Darla sighed before she continued.
"Well, ever since I was little, I know that I would be pursuing this cause of mine and be damned that I will not be marrying to some lord. I have long decided that I will be a spinster and it will save Rosie and Penelope from ruining their reputations," Darla said as if Rosie wanted to argue but she stopped her as she was simply held up her hand.
"I know. I should find my own happiness but here is my happiness. My child is the orphanage, the legacy that I wish to continue further. So, yes, I will be going to Warydeval, with or without your consent, my peers," she said before Rosie shut her mouth. She knew not to argue with her best friend when Darla was set her mind to something.
"Then, we will thank for your sacrifice then," Penelope said before she went out of her sitting and went to hug her. Rosie did the same before Darla laughed and she was getting ready to leave for Warydeval.
"Well, I shall not leave our new investor to wait any longer. Wish me luck," she said before Darla went out of the entrance as she went to mount her mare as the groom was holding it for her.
For my cause, for my orphanage, she thought before she clicked her tongue and nudged the horse to move to the one destination that she would not imagine to see an investor of her cause to be.
Darla was looking at the estate that was on the outskirt of Warydeval. Even with a bad reputation as the elopement town and scandalmongers' base, the town was doing pretty well. She can see that Warydeval was much more advanced than Norkins in economic development, thanks to the brothels and gambling halls as well as the chapel that was marrying people off on the name of Love.
Darla dismounted as she was walking along the trail as she was looking for someone to ambush her. she did not know how the missive found her but when she heard that a lord—a baron nonetheless—would love to sponsor her cause, Darla could not turn the opportunity down.
A groom was approaching her as he took her mare before someone was opening the huge oak doors. Darla can see that the butler was letting the master of the estate pass through as she was looking at the young black-haired man was walking toward him.
"Welcome to my humble estate, Miss Lockwood," the baron said as Darla was looking at his blue eyes. She did not know why but she was comparing to a certain lord that she would like to push his image away.
"Thank you for having me, Lord Laderhurst," she said before the baron was smiling at her.
"Please, call me Ruben for I know that we will be fast friends after this," the baron said as he was ushering her into the estate, not thinking about anything but the cause of her orphanage.
And this young, handsome lord will be making her cause to live long enough until she died.