House of Harwood-Tangled Beginnings by Olivia Batker Pritzker

Harwood front pageVote at the end of this episode!

Previously… Emily, the head butler’s daughter, is removed from the dining room after causing a scene at lunch. Readers voted that the next time Clarissa visits the Harwood house, Emily is gone.</span

Episode 11

The house felt more melancholy than it had before. The tumultuous sky was dark grey overhead, and the stone mansion stood out starkly against the threatening clouds. As Clarissa and Rose were ushered inside, the marble floor seemed colder and the statues sadder, or else more severe, as if warning passersby what could befall them if they continued on.

Victoria was waiting for them with a gracious smile in the tea room. Poised as ever, she explained that today she and Rose would be taking a walk around the grounds while Clarissa and John had tea – to get to know each other a little better, she added with an uncharacteristic twinkle in her eye. Clarissa looked quickly over at Rose but as usual, her mother ignored her glance. Clarissa felt a jolt of excitement despite herself to learn that things seemed to be progressing in her favor. Although her visits to the Harwood house were increasing, and the gossip slithering around the town that the number of girls being invited back was fewer and fewer, she still had not fully taken in the fact that she might end up married to John Harwood.

Meanwhile, Victoria was talking about the gardner. The flowers this year were exceptionally beautiful, and their gardner had outdone himself with the various arrangements in the flower gardens this year. She talked about the flower gardens for ten more minutes before moving onto the subject of tea biscuits, and at that point Clarissa realized that she was stalling. Where could John be, she wondered? Her mind immediately leapt to Emily, and she wondered if they were meeting secretly, or had perhaps run away together already, and were laughing with breathless wonder at their own daring in the attic room of a tavern inn somewhere far away. She found herself hoping that wasn’t the case.

Just then the door opened, and in walked John Harwood. However, it was not the John Harwood that she had become accustomed to seeing over the past month. His eyes were bloodshot and wild, his shirt was untucked and he was looking at his mother with the same betrayed expression that she had seen on Emily’s face. Unlike Emily, however, he spoke before she had time to open her mouth.

“Where is she, mother?”

John paced back and forth.

“She’s gone, no one will tell me where she went. I know you had something to do with this.”

“I know you’re upset John but this is hardly the time,” Victoria spoke evenly. “We will discuss this later -“

“No, we will discuss it now.” John was practically shouting. “She told me mother, she told me everything last night. How could he do this? She was trying to tell you, she’s been trying to tell you and you wouldn’t listen, and now…now she’s gone.”

John turned and faced the long windows.

“A baby…” he said softly. “We could have been a family.” Vote below on what will happen next or if viewing from email, click Take our Poll.

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