Mara

A Georgian Romance

The SWEET & CLEAN ROMANCE edition of “Of Angels and Orphans”

Young Adult/Teen

mara-final  A poor little rich girl meets an orphan boy and their friendship soars. Mara tells the romantic yet realistic tale of an overweight, neglected, posh young girl who befriends a poor, courageous orphan and his three friends.

Mara Markham is a lonely 10 year old born into privilege. The granddaughter of a viscount, she is ridiculed by her spoiled and spiteful family. The unloved little girl seeks solace in the guise of food.

In another part of London, Jacob Abbot, 13, lives a wretched life and is forced to steal food to survive. Living in squalid conditions at the local orphanage, he and three friends are rescued by Mara from their plight, and thus their adventure begins.

This story will appeal to readers of all ages, as it chronicles two lost souls trying to find their place in life, despite the tensions of poverty, neglect, and cruelty. This unique novel tells of two lovers from very different upbringings who are united by their individual struggles and discover an unbreakable bond.

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Excerpt

Mara fumed at having to give up her afternoon ride so the boys could frolic in the water. She was also angry they hadn’t asked her to join them! She told Calvin to saddle Hebe, and rode to the pond by herself. After watching the boys undress and run into the water, she quietly snuck over to take their clothes, shoes, and towels. She pushed the booty into her saddle bags, and smugly rode around the estate on her own, enjoying sweet revenge. She wished she could see the looks on the boys’ faces when they found their items gone!

A couple of hours later, Alvin screeched so loudly Jake thought he’d been bitten by a snake.

“Our clothes! Where be our bloody clothes?”

Jake came running up beside Alvin to look at the bare space. Their items were nowhere in sight. And they both knew who had taken them.

“I am gonna kill her.”

“What do you think we should do?”

Jake started laughing. Mara had certainly had the last laugh in this case. He didn’t think she had it in her to do something like this. He just wondered how long she had watched the two of them swim and swing from the rope. “Hope she received an eyeful,” he chuckled.

Alvin paused, and also started laughing when he realized what Mara must have seen. “Hope she saw me good side!” he joked as he sashayed around showing off his manly wares, which made them both laugh even harder.

The boys could do nothing except start the long trek back to the paddock. They boldly walked down the middle of the horse trail, as there was no one around to see their dripping wet, naked bodies.

They had gone only a hundred yards or so when Jake grabbed Alvin’s arm. “I hear voices. Quick, over here!” He dragged Alvin into some bushes and crouched down, pulling Alvin down with him.

“Wha …?”

Jake put his hand over Alvin’s mouth. “Shhhhh.”

Soon, several riders came into view. The Markham adults, plus Edwin and Bertram, were out for an afternoon ride—an unusual occurrence, and poorly timed. Since Calvin had given Jake the afternoon off, he and Ike had to saddle the six horses by themselves.

Just as the riders were passing by, Alvin moved his foot to better position himself, snapping a twig in half. The sound reverberated like a shot in the woods.

The viscount stopped his horse, and looked toward the noise. He could just make out a human form in the shadows.

“You there. Show yourself!” he commanded.

Alvin dropped his jaw, mortified. Jake stared at him with venom in his eyes.

“I can see you, come out now!” the lord of the manor repeated.

“Sir,” called out Jake, his voice cracking, “please don’t ask me to do that.”

Lord Markham recognized the voice of his footman. “Abbot!” he yelled angrily. “Come out before I have to reprimand you again!”

“Please, sir, I beg of you. That would be a very, very bad idea.”

“Abbot! Don’t make me dismount this horse and come in after you!” Jake recognized the cruelty in that voice, and decided he and Alvin had better do as they were told.

The riders heard some rustling and snapping, and were then shocked to see two naked, wet boys with branches covering their private parts emerge from the bushes. Both boys were red with embarrassment.

The viscountess and Lady Maureen turned their heads and began tittering. Edwin and Bertram snorted out loud, and the viscount threw back his head in uproarious laughter.

Jake took a big breath, stood proudly at his full height, and looked his boss straight in the eye, trying to act unperturbed by the whole awkward situation. “We were swimming in the pond, sir, and someone stole our clothes.”

Both ladies turned their heads back to look at the spectacle, and began to laugh without restraint. Jake and Alvin turned even deeper shades of red.

Even Markham’s mouth began to twitch at the corners at the very amusing and entertaining situation. He sat on Zeus, contemplating how long he should allow his two young servants to sweat and be laughed at.

Alvin finally broke through the mirth in a small and timid voice. “Sir, may we go now?”

The laughter pealed once more, this time Markham joining it with a chuckle.

“Carry on, boys, no need to keep hanging around.” Another round of laughter followed his joke.

Jake and Alvin retreated backwards into the bushes as fast as they could. They crouched down again, waiting until the laughter melted into the distance.

Alvin was livid. He had never been so embarrassed in his life. He stood up and looked in the direction of the retreating riders. “I am gonna kill her when I see her.”

“No you’re not, ‘cause there won’t be anything left of her when I’m done with her.”

“Hey, man, you can’t have all of her! You gotta leave a bit of her for me to kill.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yea, you do.”

“Nope.”

“Yup.”

And thus they argued all the way back to the paddock, as they timidly stepped through the gardens, hiding in the landscape to avoid any more embarrassing encounters.

They finally snuck back into the stables and up into their room without being detected. There, they found their clothes and towels, perfectly folded, lying on their cots, their shoes neatly placed underneath.

As the boys dressed, they plotted their revenge. Once clothed, they went in search of their tormentor. They found her sitting prettily on a bench in the front garden, reading a book.

Mara looked up and smiled sweetly, until she saw the looks on her friends’ faces. They were not amused, and had murder in their eyes. Mara quickly arose from the bench, dropped her book, and started to run. Alvin and Jake easily caught up with her, and grabbed her under her arms, dragging her backwards toward the stables.

Mara began to struggle and call out for help, not knowing what mischief they had in store for her. She soon found out. With a great heave, the boys picked her up and threw her into the horses’ trough.

She came back up from the depths of the cold water, sputtered, and tried to rise up, but Jake held her down in the water, allowing only her now soaking-wet head to remain above. “Jake, let—”

He cut her off. “That, my lovely lady, was not amusing.”

Alvin leaned way over to look her straight in the eye. “Having to face your father buck naked was definitely not amusing, my dear.”

Mara’s eyes grew wide with fear. “My father!” she whispered. Having her father encounter the boys had not been part of her plan. What if Jake received a beating again due to her careless actions?

“How’d you see my father?”

Jake, too, leaned over so that his face, along with Alvin’s, was right on top of hers. “Could it be that your father, mother, brothers, aunt, and uncle decided to take a ride around the grounds? Could it be that they ran into us as we were walking back home? Could it be that we had to stand there dripping wet with only branches covering our tenders while they enjoyed a good laugh at our expense? Could it be that we are now so mortified that we may not be able to show our faces to your family for the rest of the summer? Could it be—”

Mara cut him off. “Tell me this didn’t happen!” She looked back and forth from face to face, and realized that every word they said was true. Now she was mortified.

Jake pushed her head back under the water, and then walked away to let her contemplate her actions and their consequences. Alvin watched to make sure Mara re-emerged from the trough before following Jake into the stables. Mara stood up and watched her two best friends walk away, a look of bitter regret on her face.

It took several days of Mara apologizing, begging, cajoling, and bringing them goodies from the French chef before they talked to her again. It took the rest of the summer at Rochcliffe House before the Markhams stopped laughing every time they saw one the boys. And even then, from time to time over the next few years, either Edwin or Bertram would mock Jake or Alvin, pretending to stand there with branches over their crotches.

This was one prank never to be repeated. Or forgotten.