Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

Talk of the devil and he will appear.

Irish proverb

This was not a night for running away.

Rain pounded against the mail coach, pelting painted wood, man, and beasts while a hard wind threatened to push them off the road. Despite the oilcloth covering over the windows, water splashed inside around the edges, puddling on the floor and dampening the wool cloak Miss Elise Lanscarr wore. She gripped the passenger strap tighter, her stomach queasy from the vehicle's wild swaying.

She was very thankful to be inside the coach. When she had set off on this adventure in the wee hours of the morning, the only passage she could afford was one of those on the roof of the Mail. She'd not been worried about the weather then. Her thoughts had been about escape.

Elise was going home—to Ireland and County Wicklow, to the stately Wiltham where everything in her life had once made sense. The headiness of taking action for herself was thrilling. She was bolting from London and all its nonsense, including sisters who no longer seemed to understand her.

The driver was a crude, boisterous man who yelled at his horses more than she thought he should, but she hadn't minded the open air on the roof. In fact, it had been rather pleasant considering how some of the other passengers smelled.

She had kept to herself, the hood of the black cloak she had filched from her great-aunt Tweedie pulled up over her wide-brimmed straw hat. Her blond curls were ruthlessly pulled back away from her face to keep them hidden since they were her most identifying feature.

Of course, that hadn't stopped the driver from attempting to roughly flirt with her. She was traveling alone and she was young. Apparently, that made her fair game, a completely rude and ridiculous male attitude.

Elise ignored him. She pretended she was a pious churchwoman. She kept her eyes downcast as if in prayer, murmuring a "Dear Lord" here or a "Thank you, Brother," there, as warranted.

This was not an easy role for her. She was the most outgoing of the three Lanscarr sisters; however, running away was daring. Bold. Unconventional. Even though she was taking secret pride in her independence, she didn't wish to be ruined. One person recognizing the "Belle of London" could create a scandal. Or lead her family to her before she was ready to speak to any of them.

Of course, as the day had worn on, the weather had turned. The air had grown heavy while dark, rain-laden clouds had gathered as if to declare war.

The driving also became increasingly erratic. The coachman drank without apology. The passengers all complained, and even the armed Mail Guard spoke up, not that any of it did a speck of good.

At the last coaching inn, in the face of what anyone could see promised to be a wicked storm, most of the travelers had disembarked with no intention of returning in time to leave. Apparently, they thought their lives were worth more than staying with this coach.

Not Elise. No storm, or drunken coachman, would stop her from going home, especially since she didn't have enough money squirreled away deep in the pocket of her cloak for her trip to suffer a delay.

It was to be a long journey. Her first destination was to reach Liverpool. From there, she'd cross the Irish Sea. But for now, her purpose was to get as far away from London as this coach would carry her.

Of course, that hadn't meant that she wanted to continue to sit on top, exposed to the weather. She had some sense, and if everyone was leaving, why shouldn't she invite herself to sit in the coach?

While the driver had been busy with the changing of the horses, she had scrambled down from her perch and climbed inside.

The driver had objected to her move. He'd wanted to toss her back up onto the roof next to him unless she paid the fare for the better seat. When she had tried to appeal to his goodwill, he had suggested there was one way a lass could earn her fare—and that was when Elise met her current traveling companion, who sat less than a foot from her on the hard leather seat.
...

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Today's Reading

CHAPTER ONE

Talk of the devil and he will appear.

Irish proverb

This was not a night for running away.

Rain pounded against the mail coach, pelting painted wood, man, and beasts while a hard wind threatened to push them off the road. Despite the oilcloth covering over the windows, water splashed inside around the edges, puddling on the floor and dampening the wool cloak Miss Elise Lanscarr wore. She gripped the passenger strap tighter, her stomach queasy from the vehicle's wild swaying.

She was very thankful to be inside the coach. When she had set off on this adventure in the wee hours of the morning, the only passage she could afford was one of those on the roof of the Mail. She'd not been worried about the weather then. Her thoughts had been about escape.

Elise was going home—to Ireland and County Wicklow, to the stately Wiltham where everything in her life had once made sense. The headiness of taking action for herself was thrilling. She was bolting from London and all its nonsense, including sisters who no longer seemed to understand her.

The driver was a crude, boisterous man who yelled at his horses more than she thought he should, but she hadn't minded the open air on the roof. In fact, it had been rather pleasant considering how some of the other passengers smelled.

She had kept to herself, the hood of the black cloak she had filched from her great-aunt Tweedie pulled up over her wide-brimmed straw hat. Her blond curls were ruthlessly pulled back away from her face to keep them hidden since they were her most identifying feature.

Of course, that hadn't stopped the driver from attempting to roughly flirt with her. She was traveling alone and she was young. Apparently, that made her fair game, a completely rude and ridiculous male attitude.

Elise ignored him. She pretended she was a pious churchwoman. She kept her eyes downcast as if in prayer, murmuring a "Dear Lord" here or a "Thank you, Brother," there, as warranted.

This was not an easy role for her. She was the most outgoing of the three Lanscarr sisters; however, running away was daring. Bold. Unconventional. Even though she was taking secret pride in her independence, she didn't wish to be ruined. One person recognizing the "Belle of London" could create a scandal. Or lead her family to her before she was ready to speak to any of them.

Of course, as the day had worn on, the weather had turned. The air had grown heavy while dark, rain-laden clouds had gathered as if to declare war.

The driving also became increasingly erratic. The coachman drank without apology. The passengers all complained, and even the armed Mail Guard spoke up, not that any of it did a speck of good.

At the last coaching inn, in the face of what anyone could see promised to be a wicked storm, most of the travelers had disembarked with no intention of returning in time to leave. Apparently, they thought their lives were worth more than staying with this coach.

Not Elise. No storm, or drunken coachman, would stop her from going home, especially since she didn't have enough money squirreled away deep in the pocket of her cloak for her trip to suffer a delay.

It was to be a long journey. Her first destination was to reach Liverpool. From there, she'd cross the Irish Sea. But for now, her purpose was to get as far away from London as this coach would carry her.

Of course, that hadn't meant that she wanted to continue to sit on top, exposed to the weather. She had some sense, and if everyone was leaving, why shouldn't she invite herself to sit in the coach?

While the driver had been busy with the changing of the horses, she had scrambled down from her perch and climbed inside.

The driver had objected to her move. He'd wanted to toss her back up onto the roof next to him unless she paid the fare for the better seat. When she had tried to appeal to his goodwill, he had suggested there was one way a lass could earn her fare—and that was when Elise met her current traveling companion, who sat less than a foot from her on the hard leather seat.
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...