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The Last Legacy - Adrienne Young
In Nimsmire, I’d always felt like a roughly cut jewel set into a shining brooch. My edges were too sharp. My anger too swift. Sariah had done her best to make me into one of the girls from prominent merchant families who would be matched like shoes to a handsome frock, but I’d never fit seamlessly among them. I’d never wanted to.
In that way, Bastian was more than my destiny. It was my chance at freedom from charades and displays and diplomatic marriages.
Back where you belong. Henrik’s voice crept through my mind.
I’d never belonged anywhere. Not in Nimsmire. Not with Sariah. But there was a faint, whispering voice that had found me as I crossed the threshold of the house tucked back in the dismal, forgotten alley of Lower Vale. It had snaked its way through me, echoing that single, terrifying word that Murrow had spoken. Home.
There was no decorum about these people. No apparent order. They were smartly dressed and groomed, but something about them had the look of feral creatures who’d been tamed. The only thing that seemed clear was Henrik’s leadership over the rest of them.
I wasn’t a fool. I’d known when I got off that ship at the docks that joining the Roths wouldn’t be as simple as taking my mother’s chair at the table. I’d counted on the fact that to them, family was everything. It was the net that would catch me if I made a mistake or if I fell from grace. But there was a clear line drawn between those who belonged and those who didn’t. It would take more than blood to cross it.
I bit down on my bottom lip painfully. He had never said my name. I was sure he hadn’t, because I’d never felt that bloom in my chest before. He was horrible and callous and cruel. But there was something else about Ezra that felt like a sinking stone in water. One that never hit bottom.
I looked like a Roth, it was true. But the thing that made my boots feel glued to the floorboards was that I looked like … I looked like myself. Maybe for the first time ever.
There would be no more gowns for dinners and jewels to catch the eyes of men. There would be no more rouged cheeks and bashful smiles. I was tired of pretending.
Little Men - Louisa May Alcott
Nat was very fond of Mrs. Bhaer, but found something even more attractive in the good professor, who took fatherly care of the shy feeble boy, who had barely escaped with his life from the rough sea on which his little boat had been tossing rudderless for twelve years. Some good angel must have been watching over him, for, though his body had suffered, his soul seemed to have taken little harm, and came ashore as innocent as a shipwrecked baby.
I'll be moderate, but do let me amuse myself. I get desperately tired of business sometimes, and nothing freshens me up like a good frolic with your boys. I like that Dan very much, Jo. He isn't demonstrative; but he has the eye of a hawk, and when you have tamed him a little he will do you credit."
"I'm so glad you think so. Thank you very much for your kindness to him, especially for this museum affair; it will keep him happy while he is lame, give me a chance to soften and smooth this poor, rough lad, and make him love us. What did inspire you with such a beautiful, helpful idea, Teddy?" asked Mrs. Bhaer, glancing back at the pleasant room, as she turned to leave it.
Laurie took both her hands in his, and answered, with a look that made her eyes fill with happy tears,
"Dear Jo! I have known what it is to be a motherless boy, and I never can forget how much you and yours have done for me all these years."
Dear me! If men and women would only trust, understand, and help one another as my children do, what a capital place the world would be!" and Mrs. Jo's eyes grew absent, as if she was looking at a new and charming state of society in which people lived as happily and innocently as her flock at Plumfield.
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
"Really, girls, you are both to be blamed," said Meg, beginning to lecture in her elder-sisterly fashion. "You are old enough to leave off boyish tricks, and to behave better, Josephine. It didn't matter so much when you were a little girl; but now you are so tall, and turn up your hair, you should remember that you are a young lady."
"I'm not! and if turning up my hair makes me one, I'll wear it in two tails till I'm twenty," cried Jo, pulling off her net, and shaking down a chestnut mane. "I hate to think I've got to grow up, and be Miss March, and wear long gowns, and look as prim as a China-aster! It's bad enough to be a girl, anyway, when I like boys' games and work and manners! I can't get over my disappointment in not being a boy; and it's worse than ever now, for I'm dying to go and fight with papa, and I can only stay at home and knit, like a poky old woman!"
Meg's high-heeled slippers were very tight, and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo's nineteen hair-pins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but, dear me, let us be elegant or die!
Meg knew Sallie, and was at her ease very soon; but Jo, who didn't care much for girls or girlish gossip, stood about, with her back carefully against the wall, and felt as much out of place as a colt in a flower-garden. Half a dozen jovial lads were talking about skates in another part of the room, and she longed to go and join them, for skating was one of the joys of her life. She telegraphed her wish to Meg, but the eyebrows went up so alarmingly that she dared not stir.
"My first name is Theodore, but I don't like it, for the fellows called me Dora, so I made them say Laurie instead."
"I hate my name, too—so sentimental! I wish every one would say Jo, instead of Josephine. How did you make the boys stop calling you Dora?"
"I thrashed 'em."
"I can't thrash Aunt March, so I suppose I shall have to bear it"; and Jo resigned herself with a sigh.
Jo's ambition was to do something very splendid; what it was she had no idea, as yet, but left it for time to tell her; and, meanwhile, found her greatest affliction in the fact that she couldn't read, run, and ride as much as she liked.
"Right, Jo; better be happy old maids than unhappy wives, or unmaidenly girls, running about to find husbands," said Mrs. March decidedly. "Don't be troubled, Meg; poverty seldom daunts a sincere lover. Some of the best and most honored women I know were poor girls, but so love-worthy that they were not allowed to be old maids. Leave these things to time; make this home happy, so that you may be fit for homes of your own, if they are offered you, and contented here if they are not. One thing remember, my girls: mother is always ready to be your confidant, father to be your friend; and both of us trust and hope that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives."
Jo's breath gave out here; and, wrapping her head in the paper, she bedewed her little story with a few natural tears; for to be independent, and earn the praise of those she loved were the dearest wishes of her heart, and this seemed to be the first step toward that happy end.
"Don't talk in that way; turn over a new leaf and begin again, Teddy, my son."
"I keep turning over new leaves, and spoiling them, as I used to spoil my copy-books; and I make so many beginnings there never will be an end," he said dolefully.
"Go and eat your dinner; you'll feel better after it. Men always croak when they are hungry," and Jo whisked out at the front door after that.
The London Séance Society - Sarah Penner
"That is the thing about you science-minded people," Vaudeline whispered, a sliver of frustration in her voice. "Everything must be so terribly simple. A hypothesis, either proven or disproven. Black-and-white." She fiddled with the door once more. "Might you allow a few shades of gray in your life? Might there be some things you couldn't classify on a taxonomy chart of emotions, if one even existed?"
She had no idea what she was asking - no idea how badly Lenna wanted to say, There are a thousand feelings I can't classify, all of them new since I meet you. Every one of them a shade of gray.