Here is the first chapter of my book, so you have an idea what it is about and if you think you’ll like it! Enjoy!
The Untold Story of Margaret Hearst
Alias Maugrim Valletta
By Briana Vedsted
The cold snow bites my cheeks. I cannot feel anything from my waist down to my toes. And my hands are cold and stiff, despite me blowing on them. The night is black all around me and I cannot see anything, except for the bits of blowing snow that stings my eyes. My breath has started coming in gasps. Tears run down my face, warm for an instant, before freezing against my skin.
Matthew left me out here to die. He doesn’t care if I freeze to death or not. But he didn’t used to be so cruel. No; Matthew Bourdon was a kind man: he was tall, handsome, and in love with me.
I left everything I knew behind to be with him. Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Margaret Grace Rose Hearst. I previously went by the alias Maugrim Valletta but now I just go by Maggie.
Have you ever heard of a girl running with a boy because she loved him? If you have, then I’ll bet you could understand that a poor girl from an orphanage might run away with a boy from a rich, upper-class family, right? But have you ever heard of a rich girl running away from her prosperous family to be with a poor boy?
I hadn’t, not until two years ago, anyway.
See, Margaret Grace was born to a man who had struck it rich with lodes of silver, gold, and copper. I was born in 1869. Ten years earlier my father, George Hearst, became rich after discovering silver. When I was eight years old, Daddy took control of the Homestead gold mine in South Dakota, expanding acreage and increasing profit.
My mother Phoebe, my brother William, and I lived a life of luxury. I never knew that Daddy’s life was often in danger. But his wealth had made him just as many enemies as friends. I didn’t know that until a few years ago. But as a child, I had been rather spoiled: I’d had fine clothes, an abundance of toys, a pet cat and racehorse, and elegant jewelry of my very own. I even had a maid to clean my room for me.
But later in my life, months before my twentieth birthday, I discovered that all the money in the world couldn’t buy happiness. I was often moody and depressed. Parties were no longer fun. Fine clothes and food gave me no joy. Neither books nor music or the art of embroidery could hold my attention. I was bored out of my mind. I started doing things I’d never done before. I became what my mother called a rebel.
Daddy thought it was time I got married. But the suitors he picked were snobs who cared not for my charm or pretty face. They did not love me. It seemed to me that all they wanted was to fall into Daddy’s good graces and get a share of his money. I rejected man after man. But one day, sitting in our elegant coach with my mother on the road through town, I caught a glimpse of a man I’d never seen before.
He had a shock of unruly black hair, and even from a distance, I could see the color of his emerald eyes. He’d just been knocked down by a shopkeeper and was getting to his feet, wiping blood from his lip and grinning impudently.
I was intrigued. “Edwin, stop the carriage.” I called out to the driver.
Mother protested, “Whatever could you need here? We’re already done shopping Margaret.”
“I want to know why that shopkeeper is beating that boy so savagely.”
Peering through her glasses at the brawling pair, Mother deduced, “It is none of our business.” And at her command, Edwin picked up the reigns and the horses started trotting again.
“If you won’t stop the carriage, then I will jump out and it will be your fault if I am injured in any way.” I threatened.
“Oh all right you foolish girl! Edwin, stop the carriage.”
Nose in the air, I gathered my skirts and exited the carriage just as soon as Edwin opened the door.
Mother’s note of caution followed me, “Stay away from them Margaret; they are ruffians.”
But I ignored her. I walked right up to the shopkeeper, who was rubbing his knuckles in a intimidating manner and glowering down at the dark-haired boy, who’s cheek was blooming with a large bruise and his cracked lips and nose bled freely down the front of his blouse.
“What right do you have for beating this boy so brutally?” I demanded of the barrel-chested man.
“He tried to make off with some goods that didn’t belong to him, Miss, so I was teaching the thief a lesson.” He answered unabashedly.
“Have you any money?” I asked the boy.
He shook his head.
“There! See, he is only a poor boy. Couldn’t you help him just a wee bit?”
“Aye, he is poor. But he’s a lazy louse: he’s old enough to be making an honest living. He’d just prefer to steal from hard-working shopkeepers like me.”
I looked curiously at the boy, and spotting the mischievous gleam in his eyes, I knew the storekeeper was right. I turned back to the shopkeeper, “Very well, I shall pay for whatever he wants.”
The man raised his eyebrows. “He kin of yours?”
“Then why would you want to-”
“Do you want the goods paid for or not?”
“Well of course I want paid-”
“Then get on with it and tally up what the boy owes you: I am a busy woman and haven’t got all day to stand around.”
The shopkeeper jumped like he’d been shot from a cannon. “Yes ma’am! Right away!” he bustled back into his shop and I could hear the cash register noisily clicking and humming and he thrummed away at the keys.
The youth got to his feet, looking me up and down. He no longer wore his roguish grin. “Why do you want to help me?” I could hear curiosity and gratitude in his deep voice.
I shrugged and turned away, hoping to keep him from seeing the crimson blush that had flooded my cheeks. I didn’t really have an answer for him, at least not one I was willing to say aloud. Truth was: I’d fallen in love with him the moment I’d laid eyes on him. His life seemed so exciting and his face, despite the beating it had just received, was so beautiful that it almost didn’t seem to be fit for a boy.
But he didn’t seem to want an explanation. All he asked was, “Can I see you again?”
I heard my voice answering him, but I was not meaning to make the words. My body ceased to obey me. “Yes, meet me tonight behind the train station. I’ll be there at midnight.”
Finally he showed me his grin again, and at the sight of it, it was as if the sun had come back out and warmed me to the bone. “I’ll see you tonight.” And then he disappeared.
Numbly, I paid the shopkeeper and then hurried back to the waiting carriage. I didn’t know if I would really go to the train station tonight. A part of me really wanted to see that boy again but I was also nervous. My parents would never approve of such camaraderie…
Mother was impatiently waiting and I could see anger building in her eyes. “I understand charity, but there is no need to go flashing your wealth around. That whelp was nothing more than a common thief. I forbid you to ever do something so foolish again!”
My mind was made up: I would most certainly go see the boy tonight. Why, I’m a full grown woman! Mother cannot tell me who I cannot speak to! Her voice droned on in the background as I made my plans. Sneaking out would be easy enough, just as long as my brother William was already asleep. If not, he will undoubtedly run and tattle to Mother. Even though he is my senior by seven years, he acts so immature at times it isn’t a wonder why he is still a bachelor.
Anyway, as soon as we got home and I could escape Mother’s rants, I ran to my bedroom after securing a bundle of food and money. I didn’t know where the boy might go next, as he’d only recently drifted into town, but I wanted him to have adequate funds to last him for a spell.
I changed out of my lovely red satin gown and into a split-skirted riding dress and my tallest pair of boots. After awhile, my maid came and knocked at the door, but I yelled at her to go away. I lied and said that I felt ill and wouldn’t be down for supper.
Mother came later and ordered me to come down, and it took a good deal of lying to convince her that I truly felt sickly and she eventually left me alone.
When all was quiet on the other side of my bedroom door, I threw back the covers and got out of bed. I paced the length of my room for hours until the sun had set and I heard my parents bedroom door click shut. William soon went to his own room. I counted to a thousand, hopeful that had been enough time for them all to have fallen asleep. Then I held my breath and opened my door.