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From Light Into Darkness
Chapter 1 (Part 1)
by: DarkenAngel

	I walked that night. I walked every night, but on this especially dark and
windy night something happened that would change my life forever. At the time it
seemed such an innocent thing. I couldn't know it would have so great an effect
on my future as it did, but as I said, it seemed innocent at the time . . . or
did it?

	My name is Christine Devereaux. To give some background, it was around 1727
when this event in my life occurred, this all too real plot~twist in the
never-ending story of my existence. As I mentioned, soon after the sunset I went
walking. I grabbed a shawl and headed outside into the darkness. The woods were
close to the poor excuse for a home that I lived in. I was a peasant, fifteen,
unmarried, and uneducated as most girls of that time were. The nightly walks
were an escape, a release from the things I could not change, despite how hard I
tried.

	I walked briskly to my favorite spot, a small clearing in the trees, whose
center was marked by a huge, flat rock, that on clear nights, the moon would
shine down upon it and reflect off it like the sun off a mirror. I would sit on
that stone for hours and dream of the better life, of diamonds and parties and
balls and suitors by the hundreds. I would pretend that my dull black hair would
shine (which it would if it were not covered with dust most of the time) and my
stained dress was a beautiful and elaborate ball-gown of the palest blue, the
shade of my eyes.

	I would wake from my fantasies to see that all was the same as it had been when
I entered my dream. Reality would hit me with its cruel force and I would sigh.
Hurrying back home I would await for another night, another dream. Then after
sneaking inside and getting into bed, I would try to sleep the few hours
remaining before dawn. I would have to rise then and help with breakfast.
Afterwards, I would go with my parents to work the crops which would be our only
source of food during the winter months.

	As I reached my spot that night and sat down on my stone, I wasn't prepared for
the chain of events about to be put into motion. I looked up at the sky and
wished the clouds would move and allow the moon to shine down on me and bathe me
in its comforting light, but the clouds remained, impassive as ever. I sighed
with disappointment. I had worked harder than usual and hadn't felt entirely
well. I did not feel like entering my dream world, to fantasize about better
times, to enter what I considered heaven, for at that moment I realized how
futile it would be, for it would not make a difference in reality. I sat in
silence, waiting for the night to end.

	I jumped when I heard a sound behind me, and turning quickly tried to penetrate
the darkness, but I could see nothing. My heartbeat filled my ears as I tried to
find the source of the noise. "Who's there?" I asked softly. With my courage
growing I repeated it much louder, demanding that whoever it was show
themselves.

	My heart began to beat even faster as I saw a figure emerge and separate from
the darkness. Who could this be? I wondered silently. The moon chose that moment
to shine through the clouds and illuminate the clearing. The figure reached for
the hood that covered his head, which obscured his face in shadows. He let it
drop to his back and the cape attached to it moved slightly as he reached a hand
through to grasp mine, coming even closer. I glimpsed eyes and hair the same
color as my own, though his hair was only to his shoulders and pulled back in a
satin ribbon, unlike the wig most noblemen chose to wear in that time. His eyes
shone like sapphires and his pale skin seemed to glow in the white light the
moon reflected.

	To say it simply, he was the most handsome man I had ever laid eyes upon. Even
in my dreams, I did not see one who looked even similar to this one who stood
before me now, taking hold of my hand and bowing over it, as if I were a
princess instead of a peasant girl in ragged clothes. With my long black hair
flowing in the wind and tumbling behind me I stared at him with a look of fear
and cautious curiosity through blue eyes.

	He watched me as he straightened up, still holding my hand in his. My heart
still kept its hurried pace and I thought that surely he could hear it in the
silence in which we merely stared at one another. Perhaps one would call this
love at first sight, but having not ever felt love for a man, I could not
identify it at the time.

	"Forgive me for startling you, Madame, for I was walking in this unfamiliar
territory and came upon you quite suddenly. I paused, for when one glimpses at
beauty such as yours, it tends to take his breath away." He said, his voice
soft, his English words colored with a beautiful French accent, one which I also
possessed. I blushed involuntarily at his words.

	"Surely you mean those words for another and not I." I stated, fearing to
believe that this was really happening, that my dream was beginning to unfold
right before my eyes, in reality.

	"There is no other here, mon cher, and the stars do not contain the brilliance
I see in your eyes and the moon is merely a shadow compared to your pale beauty.
You sit here as a goddess of the night upon her throne and yet you tell me my
words are meant for another?" he asked. His words took my breath away. To think
of it, a nobleman was standing before me, showering me with flattery I had only
dreamed of hearing from one of such wealth.

	"Forgive me, Monsieur. It is just this was unexpected and has such a dreamlike
quality . . . You flatter me beyond belief." I whispered, blushing, waiting for
the dream to end, waiting to awake to find that I was alone in the clearing and
that the vision had passed.

	"No need to ask forgiveness. I have not yet introduced myself. I am Count
Alexander McClear." he said, bowing before me. Again I could not help but feel
like royalty.

	I blushed at my ignorance and stood up saying, "I am pleased to make your
acquaintance, Count McClear. My name is Christine Devereaux."I curtsied for him.
	"Call me Alexander. Never feel as though you must address me by any other title
or name, Christine." He told me and then whispered to himself a thought I was
not meant to hear. "The one I seek." I did not puzzle over it, though. The
important thing was that he was actually here. I had not awakened to find it had
all been another dream, another fantasy. This was real and I prayed nothing
would happen to end this glorious night.

We talked for hours, but it seemed like only minutes to me. He told me of his
life when I asked, and also about the parties and balls he had attended, the
King and Queen, the beautiful people in their jewels. I noticed that underneath
his cape made of the softest cloth was a suit of fine clothes, most likely the
best that Paris had to provide. I told him of my life, reluctantly, when he
requested and I saw a look of sympathy and something else I failed to recognize
alter his features, but it was gone before I had really tried to name it.

	Alexander looked to the sky and said, regret in his voice, "I am sorry but I
must take my leave. May I return here and see you again?"

	"You may. I am here every night, and if I am detained, I live through those
trees." I said, pointing. Then I added, "No respectable gentleman should be seen
there."

	"Society is cruel, oui, but it matters not who sees me. If they are fortunate
enough to glimpse the dove I have come to see, they will not say a word. If they
do, who cares?" he shrugged it off nonchalantly. "Would tomorrow night be
appropriate?" he asked.

	"I will await." I answered, my heart beginning to beat faster yet another time.

	"Till tomorrow, then." Alexander said in farewell, kissing my hand, another
unexpected slight disregard of the etiquette I had seen displayed from time to
time, before he walked quickly away. He disappeared into the morning twilight so
fast that it seemed as though he had not been there at all. Surely he had been
an angel, who felt enough pity on me to spend a few hours in my company before
returning to his rightful place in heaven. Part of me was convinced that his
presence had been a dream or a vision while the other prayed to God for his
return. I paused, whispering his name, and then hurried home, watching the sun
rise in the East.

	I barely managed to sneak back into the house and get into bed before my
parents awoke. My mother tapped gently on my bedroom door and whispered,
"Christine, it is time." before returning to the combination kitchen and
bedroom, where they slept, to begin preparing breakfast.

	I got up quickly, feeling the exhaustion in every bone of my body. I usually
slept at least a few hours, but since meeting Alexander had changed my usual
routine, the night had passed without my really noticing it until it was dawn. I
ran my fingers through my tangled hair and pulled it up in a bun, trying to
smooth some of the wrinkles out of my faded gray dress at the same time.

	I walked into the other room to see Felicia Devereaux putting water on to boil
over the fireplace for tea, one of the few luxuries from England we could afford
from time to time. My mother was a woman in her mid~thirties who wore a tired
expression and whose blue eyes were no longer bright but dull from years of
worry, work, and fatigue. Her light~brown hair was pulled back from her face
into a loose bun as mine was and her dress, like mine, was at least two years
away from the late fashions. Seeing my mother's resigned and tired expression
and her spiritual and physical condition struck fear in my heart for my future,
but there was no time to think of that now. I had to go out and draw more water
from our well to help with breakfast.

	We ate our simple meal mostly in silence before my father broke it by reading
from the Bible, as he insisted on doing every morning, whether we wished to hear
the verses or not. I stared at the ragged cover and wondered how old the Bible
was and how many times it had been passed down through the Devereaux family. I
knew I would probably never inherit that sacred book for only the sons of the
family were worthy enough for it. The Devereaux's believed that the women were
only there to do the housework and to work in the fields. My older brother,
Michael, who was married and living on the other side of the woods, would most
likely receive this Bible upon my father's death.

	He finally closed the Book and I gladly rushed to wash the dishes while my
parents hurried outside to gather the tools for harvesting. The cool October
breeze blew in through the open window above the sink and rustled the faded
curtains. I looked over the wheat field. It reminded me of a golden sea, the
golden stalks bending in the breeze, creating the illusion of sun-colored waves.
It was so beautiful, but it took so much work during the autumn months. We had
to gather it in and then there was the bread to make, cattle to milk in the far
field, horses to feed, and a house to tend to. I really despised the life I
lived and wished that I could change it somehow, and at the time I thought there
would be no way, unless Alexander would ask for my hand, which I still believed
that a man of his standing would not be able to stoop to the level of marrying a
peasant girl. Even he would have to refrain from such for surely he knew that
even he who did not care would be shunned in society's eyes. It would be even
more severe for me, so I merely consoled myself that I could be in his company
for a short while before he decided he had to move on.

	I finished the dishes and went outside to help my parents in the warm sun. We
were harvesting the wheat. Father cut it down and Mother and I gathered it. It
was boring work, and exhausting. At least that day the breeze kept the sun from
being too hot.

	We quit working early. The next day was the Sabbath, a day of rest for my
parents. I had managed to sleep a little during the lunch hour, so I was a
little refreshed. I just hoped that I could manage to stay awake so I could go
to meet Alexander. I walked through the woods to a small creek and washed my
dress in the icy water and also washed my hair and bathed as best as I could,
using my mother's comb to brush my hair and braid it as my thin dress dried in
the breeze. I dressed quickly, noticing I had no corset or petticoats that the
fashionable women wore but I did not worry, and returned home to await
nightfall.

	"You look very refreshed." My mother commented when I came in the door.

	"I am." I answered, noticing that the cold water of the stream had completely
awakened me. I skipped dinner that night, too anxious for the sun to set to eat.
My mother gave me a worried look but said nothing and my father did not even
notice, or if he did, he also refused to acknowledge it. Even after the sun set,
I stayed so my parents would not be suspicious of my intentions. When they
finally blew out the candles, I went to my room and waited awhile before quietly
tiptoeing outside.

	The night air was crisp and the stars and moon shone with rare brightness. I
hurried to my spot and found Alexander already seated there, his cape neatly
folded and laid aside, even though the night air was cool. His hair was pulled
back as it had been the night before and his suit was black instead of the deep
red it had been. His eyes shone with the same brilliance and a soft smile played
on his lips as he sighted me coming toward him. A mere glimpse of this man took
my breath away. What is this feeling? What am I doing here? I don't know this
man. He could intend to do me great harm. Still, there is something that draws
me to him. Dangerous or not, I am compelled to go to him . . .

Next Chapter


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