Amid the liberty and promise of the New World, Bridget Barrington and Philippe Clavell fall in love. But nothing about their love seems possible.
To pay for the Clavell family's passage from France, Philippe, a former member of French royalty, worked as an indentured slave to the Barringtons. Bridget is the heiress of the prominent plantation.
When Bridget's parents discover the budding Romance between their daughter and their servant, they quickly orchestrate her engagement to an older, more advantageous match. But Edward Moorehead has a secret. And he's anything but a good match for Bridget.
Separated from her true love and in danger from her betrothed, Bridget must rely on God to deliver her from darkness into light.
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Where Hearts Are FreeBOOK THREE IN THE DARKNESS TO LIGHT SERIES
By Golden Keyes Parsons
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2010 Golden Keyes Parsons
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBridget pulled the lace curtain aside and peered through the diamond-shaped windowpanes. She watched from her upstairs room as the handsome Frenchman calmed a rearing red roan in the early morning fog. He dodged the flailing hooves with no more than a step sideways and stroked the neck of the nervous mare.
She tugged her hood over her head and pulled a blonde lock of hair out from under the folds of the soft blue fabric of her silk palatine. Not that Philippe Clavell would notice. Horses captured his attention; riding captured his attention; newborn colts captured his attention-but she did not. She had to admit, however, that his skill with horses was a most attractive aspect of this young indentured servant. He harnessed the team of mares to the carriage and led the rig around the corner of the house toward the front of the Barrington plantation that sat on the outskirts of Philadelphia.
It did not seem possible that six years had passed since her father had bid on him at the redemptioner's auction on the wharf that drizzly day. And though he'd carried her deepest secret all these years, the older the two became, the more he seemed to withdraw from her. They had not ridden together in months.
Bridget turned from the window and moved down the stairs to the front door. As she descended the steps from the porch to the circular driveway, Philippe appeared with the carriage. Her parents, Amos and Sarah Barrington, followed her, chattering about the day's outing.
Bridget loved going to Philadelphia to spend time with her best friend and childhood companion, her cousin Ella. But since Ella's marriage, their times to share confidences had become fewer and shorter. Bridget missed her.
The top of Bridget's head barely reached the tall Frenchman's shoulders as he opened the carriage door. He nodded and helped her into the cab, along with her parents, then climbed onto the perch and chucked the reins. Bridget was pleased that Philippe was their driver today. He executed impeccable, formal manners and exhibited a strength that gave her a sense of security in the noisy streets of Philadelphia.
"Look at the violets and clover. Aren't they beautiful this morning?" Sarah tapped her daughter on the knee and pointed out the window.
Bridget gazed in the direction her mother pointed and watched the wildflowers that covered the hills nod their colorful heads, shaking off the early morning dew. "Mmm, yes, beautiful."
"Do stop that squinting. You'll get wrinkles." Sarah sat back and looked at her daughter. "What is going on in that pretty head of yours this morning? You're awfully quiet."
"Nothing." She fidgeted with her gloves. "Has Philippe asked permission to go see his brother today?"
Sarah turned to her husband. Amos shook his head. "Not yet. Why should that be of any concern to you?"
She shrugged her shoulder. "No reason. No reason a'tall." She continued to stare out the side of the carriage, but her mood fogged over like the vapor that hovered in patches over the landscape. She didn't want Philippe to go visit his brother. As an indentured servant, he wouldn't be included in any of the family activities, but she could imagine what it would be like if he were ... If only he could sit down to dinner with them, enter into conversation with the men, laugh at inside stories of the family. Family. Of course he wanted to go see his brother.
But still, selfish or not, she much desired to have him near. She was relieved when her mother began to prattle away about the arrival of Ella's new baby-the reason for their visit today.
"It's always nice to have a boy first. A big brother is ..." Sarah paused, and her eyes misted over.
Amos patted his wife's hand as she searched for her handkerchief. "That was a long time ago, Sarah."
"I know, but I still miss him."
"So do I."
Bridget wished her mother wouldn't do that. Her heart twisted inside of her with compassion, but she felt awkward whenever the subject of her older brother came up. Somehow it made her feel inadequate or guilty, even though she had not even been born then. Asthma had taken his life when he was twelve. Then there had been a baby boy who was stillborn. But all Bridget remembered was being an only child. She never knew what to say during these conversations. At least the ride was only thirty minutes into town.
Philippe slowed the buggy in front of the Osbornes' house and guided the team through the mud to the hitching post alongside the wooden sidewalk. He jumped down, secured the horses, and opened the door of the carriage. Amos emerged with a grunt and helped Sarah maneuver out of the buggy. Philippe waited for Bridget to set her foot on the iron plate.
She held out her hand to him, and her eyes traveled over the new formal blue footman's uniform that Amos had requested Philippe wear today. It fit his tall, slender frame perfectly, the epaulets accentuating his broad shoulders. She looked into his face as she stepped onto the street, but he averted her gaze. "Philippe, I appreciate the expert job you do in driving us. Thank you." She took her father's arm as Amos clapped Philippe on the back.
"Your time to leave us is drawing near, my boy," her father said. "What are we going to do without you?"
Philippe smiled. "I am sure you will manage." The young man paused as he helped the Barringtons gather their belongings. "May I ... may I have permission to visit my brother today?"
Bridget stared at Philippe and frowned.
"Of course." Amos glanced at his daughter and pulled a basket of baked goods from the carriage, handing it to his wife. "Be back here around three o'clock."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, monsieur."
Amos looked at the young man. "Your English has improved greatly, but one can definitely still detect the French accent."
Philippe nodded and untied the team to take them to the small stable in the back of the house. "I'll take care of the horses, and then I shall return before three, sir. Thank you, sir."
The Barringtons moved up the steps to the door of the house.
Bridget sighed. "I wish you had asked Philippe to wait here for us, Father."
"I would not deny the boy the chance to see his brother."
"He's not a boy. He's a man."
"Yes, of course. He's grown into a fine young man before our eyes. Come, ladies." He ushered his wife and daughter to the door and clacked the heavy knocker.
Bridget turned to watch Philippe head toward the back of the house with the carriage. He disappeared around the corner without so much as a glance in her direction.
Philippe adjusted his bag, shoved his hands into his pockets, and walked at a brisk pace down the now familiar street. He hunched his shoulders against the morning chill. The yellow daffodils, red tulips, and white lilies of the valley in patchy flower beds struggled to announce the arrival of spring, but the mornings were still cool. The sun began to poke through the haze, burning the moisture away. It would take him about twenty minutes to reach the shop, but he didn't mind the walk. On these days when the Barringtons came into town to visit relatives and allowed him to go see Charles, he pretended that he was no longer a servant, but a free man. And that he would be soon.
Rounding a bend in the road, he spotted the Harbor Tavern & Inn. He opened the heavy door; the wood scraped against the floor, alerting the proprietor, who looked up from behind a large table set with steins of ale and rounds of bread. The smell of cinnamon wafted from a large brick oven where the owner's wife poked a long-handled peel into the interior.
A wide grin spread across the man's face, revealing stained teeth with a wide gap in the front. "Philippe! I was just thinking about you this morning. I reckoned it was about time for you to come around. Come in, my friend."
Philippe shook the man's large, beefy hand and nodded toward the door. "I would be happy to fix that for you."
"Ah, no need. It shifts and will likely not be scraping next time you visit. Have you come for your usual?"
"Yes. A round of cheese, some smoked ham, and a loaf of your wife's wonderful bread. Do you have rye today?"
"Sorry, but"-the man put his hand up in the air and laughed-"my good wife is baking apple pies this morning. Surely you would want one of those."
Philippe took a leather pouch out of his tunic, poured his wages onto the dark wooden table, and began to count the coins. "How much?"
"For you, I throw the pie in for good measure."
"Ach, Mister Clark. You are too generous. How can you stay in business if you don't charge your customers?"
"My customers, I charge. My friends, I can give a gift, if I choose, eh?"
Philippe chuckled and scooped the coins into his hand. "Very well. How much for the rest? And I think I would like two loaves of whatever kind of bread you have today, please."
Philippe shook his head and counted out the money. "Any news in the city?"
"Nothing, except the Lenape seem to be moving north and west."
"Yes, we've seen the movement of the Indians past our place. No trouble, though?"
"Not that I know of. Some of the older folk are staying, but I hear the younger ones are moving to expand onto more land."
Philippe nodded. Amos had worked diligently to maintain a good relationship with the local Algonquin tribes. They traded goods and even worked for him on occasion. Philippe had heard tales of Indian uprisings in other colonies, but in Pennsylvania, all seemed to be peaceful-so far.
Philippe paid for his food, stuffed it into his bag, and stepped out onto the street. He headed at a brisk pace toward the foundry. Approaching the establishment, he noticed the sign that announced Zwicken's Foundry leaning against the front of the building. His brother emerged from the front door with a hammer in his hand and picked up the heavy, carved marker. The wind tousled Charles' hair, still red but growing darker as he matured. The young man looked up at the bracket and put the hammer down.
"Need some help?"
Charles whirled around and dropped the sign. It clattered at his feet as he ran to his older brother and pulled him into a smothering hug. "Philippe! I'm so glad to see you!" He pounded Philippe on the shoulders. "Don't you look fine! New uniform?"
"Yes, well, you know how Mister Barrington is. Likes me to look the part."
Charles looked down at his ragged breeches, his worn shoes and stockings. "Ha! Not quite like my employer."
Philippe winced. "Well, do you?"
"Do I what?"
"Need help with the sign?"
"Oh ... uh, yes, please. I thought I was going to have to put on new hooks, but it appears to have simply swung out of the bracket. Grab that end of it, and I think we can hook it back on."
Philippe set his bag next to the shop window. He helped Charles heft the sign and rehook it. The heavy marker creaked as it swung into place.
Philippe motioned to Charles' tool belt. "Do you have pliers?"
Charles pulled out a pair.
"Let me lift you on my shoulders and you can press those hooks back together. Then it won't slip out again the next time it gets windy."
"Why didn't I think of that?" Charles cuffed him on the arm.
Philippe grinned and removed his tricornered hat. He bent down for Charles to climb on his shoulders, then slowly stood, raising Charles just high enough to reach the hooks. "Hurry. You're not as light as you used to be."
"Got it. Let me down."
Philippe lowered Charles and wiped his forehead with his sleeve. "It's warming up."
"Philippe, Clavell men are gentlemen. We use a handkerchief."
Philippe grinned and pulled a handkerchief out of the cuff of his jacket. "I remember saying that to you when the musketeers 'escorted' Maman and me to Versailles. You were pretty upset." He replaced the handkerchief, picked up his hat, and brushed his hair out of his eyes.
"Oui. I was." Charles wasn't quite as tall as Philippe but was more muscular. The gap of three years in their ages seemed to have narrowed now that they both were adults. "You look more and more like Papa every time I see you. Especially your hair-the way it falls across your forehead."
"I know." Philippe twirled his hat in his hands for a moment, then put it on.
"Philippe, do you know what bothers me?"
"I can't remember what Papa looked like when I try to recall his face."
"You were pretty young."
"I was twelve. I should remember. But then when I see you, I see him. That makes me feel better."
"Don't feel guilty. I have trouble remembering as well." Philippe picked up his bag. "I brought food."
"You always do. Thank you. Can you stay awhile?"
"Oui, I don't need to leave until around two o'clock."
The door to the foundry opened, and a burly man with a bushy beard and huge arms filled the entrance. He boomed at Charles, "Anytime you feel like returning to work, Mister Clavell ..." He glared at Philippe. "You again."
"Yes, sir. I'd like to visit with my brother for a bit today. I'll be happy to work."
Mister Zwicken eyed his uniform. "In that finery?"
Philippe lifted his bag. "I brought work clothes."
"Humph." He scratched his chin. "Very well. But if we lose any time on this job, you're on your way."
"You'll make up time with me working alongside Charles. I guarantee it."
Zwicken opened the door wider and shooed the brothers inside. The shop was already steamy and noisy. They walked to Charles' workbench in the back of the shop.
Philippe removed his jacket. "What 'job' is he talking about?"
"We have several dozen rifles to ready for the militia. They are required now to use flintlocks, rather than matchlocks." He handed one of the weapons to Philippe.
Philippe peered down the sight. "It's longer."
"Yes, and look into the barrel."
"Ah, there are grooves."
"Makes the ball spin-one gets a more accurate shot." Charles sat down at a table. "That's our current project. We'd better get to work. Get changed. Zwicken will be watching."
Philippe donned a work tunic. He suspected Zwicken mistreated his employees, but Charles never spoke of it. His brother worked hard and deserved better. Philippe didn't know how he was going to return to the family in central Pennsylvania a free man in a few weeks while his brother labored in these conditions. Where was freedom for Charles?
Chapter TwoBridget and her parents uttered the proper oohs and ahhs over the new baby in the wooden cradle. Ella beamed and rocked the cradle with her foot. David Osborne, the proud father, strutted around the room like a rooster and gathered with the men in front of the fireplace, discussing the latest news of the frontier.
"May I?" Bridget bent over to pick up the baby.
"I suppose that would be fine. We don't want to spoil him, though."
"I don't think his cousin holding him for a few moments is going to spoil him." Bridget picked the baby up in her arms and looked into his blue eyes as he blinked at her and jerked his fist into the air. "Do you think his eyes will stay blue?"
"I doubt it. Be careful. Hold his head. He's only a month old."
"I know how to hold a baby, Ella. Don't be so nervous."
"Well, you haven't had much experience."
Bridget smiled. Ella, with her dark hair and milk-white skin, looked more like Amos and Sarah's daughter than Bridget did herself. She knew what her cousin was insinuating: You should be married by now with a baby of your own. "I've birthed many a foal and puppy." She kissed the baby's forehead and nuzzled his cheek.
"Horses and dogs are hardly like a human baby."
"Oh, I disagree. They are very much like a human baby-helpless and weak and ..." The baby began to search against Bridget's arm to nurse. "And always hungry." She laughed and handed the baby back to her cousin.
Ella blushed. "Please excuse me. I'll go upstairs and feed our little David Junior."
A rap sounded upon the door as Ella left the room. A servant stepped into the parlor. "Mister Edward Moorehead."
David bounded toward the visitor. "Welcome, Edward. Thank you for coming."
A delicately handsome man stepped into the room. He wore a chocolate brown riding habit lined in gold satin with gold braid on the cuffs and buttonholes over a shorter, dark green embroidered vest. Mister Moorehead removed his hat, revealing a well-groomed head of dark blond hair, and acknowledged his host.
Excerpted from Where Hearts Are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons Copyright © 2010 by Golden Keyes Parsons. Excerpted by permission.
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