Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sunday, February 07, 2016 - , ,

Elizabeth's Flight

a tale of loving discipline out west
by Susan Thomas
Published: Dec 23, 2015
Words: 43,857
Category: romance, western, domestic discipline
Orientation: M/F
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Chapter 1

Elizabeth was getting dressed for church. Going to church was something she disliked and even the prospect of teaching in the Sunday school did not assuage her dislike. She was popular with the children and even the rumbustious boys gave her no trouble. Other teachers became very tense at the thought of taking the boys but not Elizabeth; she was still seventeen but the boys adored her and her classes, while lively, were orderly and productive. No, it was not the Sunday school that was the problem: she disliked going to church because it troubled her conscience. The Good Book made it very clear (Exodus 20:12) that children should honor their father and mother. Elizabeth found it very hard even to like her parents and being in church reminded her of that failure. On the wall of the Sunday school that very text was written in large letters and drove a sharp knife into her conscience every time she saw it.

"Elizabeth Franklyn Jones," came the cold harsh voice of her mother, "you are not ready. Must the whole household wait on you?"

"Sorry mother, I'm coming now."

The ride to church was, to begin with, much the same as always. Elizabeth's mother criticized her posture, her choice of clothing and once again her tardiness in getting ready for church. Her father made no comment but looked at her as if he was thoroughly tired of her presence. When her mother finally stopped her catalog of criticism her father cleared his voice.

"Elizabeth, you will be eighteen next week. I shall use your birthday to announce your engagement to Mr. Rankin Blake. It will not be a long engagement."

"But Father-"

Her father reacted sharply. "Enough, Elizabeth. I will tolerate no further delay or disobedience. Blake has waited four long years for you to become his bride."

Elizabeth tried hard to disguise the acid tone of her voice. "He didn't wait very long after the death of his first wife, and I was only fourteen."

"I shall not tolerate any more impertinence. Blake is a respectable, wealthy and influential man. It will be an excellent match for you."

Elizabeth said no more. She said nothing about the way that Rankin Blake had stared at her even when his poor wife was alive ... a look that made her flesh crawl and which had grown worse with every year. She said nothing about how cowed and frightened his first wife had looked or how quiet and timid his nine-year-old son Arthur was in his presence. Furthermore, she made no mention of the talk among the servants about his conduct at home. His servants talked to the Jones' servants and Elizabeth had picked up that talk. At home, Rankin Blake was a cruel man who had physically tormented his first wife. The whisper among the servants was that Blake had treated his wife with such cruelty that she had gone into an early labor and died.