Little Emma Chance is a shy bookworm, born a foundling and left, as a newly-weaned babe, in the questionable care of Mrs. Lightbody, the headmistress of a ladies academy in London. Her father is a gentleman who wishes to remain anonymous and has never wanted anything to do with her, although he pays a fee for her to remain at the school - a fact she doesn't learn about until she's older.
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(Excerpt below from The Bounce in the Captain's Boots)
Often Emma was the last one to bed and the first to awake, for there were chores to be done and, as the headmistress frequently reminded her, who should do them other than the girl taken in out of charity? The foundling with no family to pay for her board. The bastard child abandoned to Mrs. Lightbody's care when she was a newly weaned babe.
Her father, so she was told, desired to remain anonymous, never wanted to know her or be known to her.
"Is it any wonder at that?" Mrs. Lightbody would exclaim. "Look at you. A sorry piece of flotsam with a face as cheerful as the third consecutive wet Wednesday in October!"
Emma puzzled over how to have a more pleasing face. It seemed to her a matter of family likeness and the degree of happiness in one's life. Since she had no control over either it seemed to her quite unfair that she be blamed for the unsightly state of her features.
Besides, she rather liked October, especially when it rained.
But she kept that to herself. Her opinions were as welcomed in that school as unexpected parental visits.
"I wouldn't want to know you either," the lady continued, "but alas somebody had to take you in and out of the generosity of my heart I gave you a bed under my roof. Now you repay my kindness and forbearance with scowls, snivelings and mutterings, always hovering about in corners like the grim reaper!"
In truth, Emma was often found in the corner because she was too shy to stand in the light, too afraid of being examined and found, inevitably, wanting. She muttered under her breath because she disliked the sound of her own voice and knew that anything she said would only be criticized and ridiculed. She much preferred to keep her thoughts in the corner too, out of poking reach. And she scowled because on the few occasions she'd been caught smiling, Mrs. Lightbody had wanted to know why she thought she was so special and what could she possibly have to smile at? Or else she would assume the luckless girl to be laughing spitefully at her and then she'd put her heavy, vicious hands around Emma's throat and choke the laughter out of it.
Frequently Emma considered how fortunate it was that her guardian did not see what truly went on in her mind— all the many colorful and spectacular ways that woman had been murdered by the hands of her wicked charity pupil in a dream universe. Over and over again.
Well, a girl had to have some entertainment.
But thankfully Mrs. Lightbody had no idea; she thought this shadowy wisp of a creature was quiet because she was cowed. Not because she plotted dramatic death scenes for her own pleasure.
So, all things considered, "Chance" went through her life keeping her thoughts to herself and trying not to be noticed at all.
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So, our heroine, Emma Chance has grown up never quite feeling as if she belongs anywhere. Bullied and abused for most of her early life, she was finally befriended by two new pupils at the
Mrs. Lightbody means to get her vengeance on those young women and she'll begin with Emma, whom she thinks owes her everything. But the old headmistress has no idea that her charity pupil - once a meek, sickly girl - has matured into a woman with great inner strength and determination, a woman who is no longer afraid to speak her mind and claim her own happiness in life.
Emma takes on the world beginning Sept 13th, and you can pre-order The Bounce in the Captain's Boots from AMAZON now!
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About the image used above - When looking for a portrait to represent Emma, I had a very hard time finding the right one. I can't help but think she must have been too shy to pose for an artist. And then I found this picture of three young ladies around a tree with a badminton racquet! Amazingly it seems as if my Ladies Most Unlikely were once immortalized by Mr. Charles Edward Perugini in his painting entitled "A Summer Shower". I like to imagine he painted them to commemorate those dreadful events at Lady Bramley's garden party where our series first began. That must be Melinda in the middle with the racquet, Georgiana on her left and, on her right - Emma.
Copyright Jayne Fresina 2017