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Old 05-06-2016, 11:46 PM   #1
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Love is Blind (closed for Gr8chtr)

Alice Cornell was beautiful. Dark of hair and fair of skin, she was slight and petite, and elfin creature who smiled easily and spoke in a musical voice. But she couldn't know how lovely she was, because she, herself, was blind. It was difficult to tell - there was only a slight cloudiness to her eyes indicating any problems, and her irises were already such a bright, shining shade of grey that the lightness of the clouding was difficult to see, at first.

Her peers spoke of her in whispers, for she was rarely allowed out to socialize. Her father, Lord Harvey Cornell, doted on her and was immensely protective of her. He knew what they said. How they spoke of her in cruel whispers about how she must be disfigured, because the callow and catty among them couldn't imagine a girl with such a disability might be pretty or intelligent or otherwise a normal young woman of impeccable manners and breeding. He wanted to show them that she was not, but neither could his heart allow him to subject her to their cruelties. What if she tripped? What if, in bringing her somewhere unfamiliar, he caused her some embarrassment? Surely there would be those with truly noble hearts who would understand. Who would recognize that such things were not reflective of her as a woman, but rather of the cruelty of fate. But, there would surely also be those who would take any opportunity to whisper nasty things about her. Lord Cornell was a gruff and stoic man, but his daughter was his one true weakness, especially now after his wife's death. He could not bear the thought of exposing her to that.

And yet, he knew he would not survive forever. In the shadows, there were wolves, waiting until his dear Alice was left alone to fend for herself. Someone needed to protect her, but he did not trust the men he worked with, or their sons. Each of them bore some mark that made them unworthy of his daughter in his eyes. He suspected that would be true of every man in the kingdom. He knew he would need to find someone for her. Someone who would care for her once he was gone. A husband.

But how? How does one find a husband for a young woman who has such a reputation for disfigurement? How could he show others how wrong they were? How could he draw the attention of the young man who would become her husband, in time?

And that was how he came to hire the services of a painter from the Royal Academy. One of the best in England, he was told. Hired and directed to come to the Cornell country manor one fine June morning with no information beyond the fact that he had been hired to paint. He was to know nothing of his subject until he arrived. Until after Lord Cornell could see to it that it was an upstanding young man, suited for his daughter's company, even for so short a while.
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Old 05-20-2016, 09:41 PM   #2
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Gr8chtr is offline
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Henry Appleton walked briskly down the narrow, cobble-stoned road wearing a broad grin and a jaunty stride that only successful, young men possess. He was handsome, solid financially - thanks to a modest family fortune - and a talented painter whose talents were being noticed widely. Indeed, his rapidly growing reputation had, just two months ago, led to his induction into the Royal Academy, the youngest inductee into that prestigious body in several decades.

Not surprisingly, Henry also possessed two other qualities: an arrogance that matched his remarkable accomplishments, and the ability to seemingly have any young woman of his choosing for a lover within days, or often even within hours, of first meeting her.

Ordinarily in his strides through the countryside Henry's mind was filled with lustful thoughts of women that he would like to bed, images of which often subtly appeared in his paintings. Today, though, he was thinking only of jumping his career to several notches higher. He had been summoned by Lord Harvey Cornell, with the promise of a commission. Lord Cornell was the wealthiest man for many miles around, and, more importantly, was one of the most generous patrons of painters in the whole country. Though he had never been to the Cornell country manor, Henry had heard stories of the numerous commissioned paintings that filled both the manor and the pocketbooks of many artists, young and old. Next to getting a commission from the king himself, a commission for Lord Cornell was as good as it gets.

A bit of mystery added to Henry's excitement. Typically, patrons told painters what they wanted prior to inviting them to their homes, or at least hinted at the likely request. Lord Cornell had done nothing of the sort. Instead, he had sent his manservant directly to Henry to deliver a sealed, written note requesting - or was it commanding - Henry's presence at a particular date and time in June, and indicating that a commission offer was to be expected. There was no hint of what that offer would be.

Henry turned over the possibilities in his mind, and came up with only one - a portrait of the Lord himself. That would be a plum prize indeed. Everyone in the community knew that Lady Cornell had died several years ago, leaving Lord Cornell with but one child, a young adult daughter, blind from birth, who rarely left the manor house, and almost never left the manor grounds. Henry had never seen her, but he had heard the rumors that she was a disfigured, mentally deficient woman who was more like an animal than a young, noble woman. Surely, no caring father would want to immortalize such a figure.

Ah...a portrait of the Lord himself. Life was good; Henry was on top and climbing higher

Last edited by Gr8chtr : 05-20-2016 at 11:08 PM.
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