Excerpt from Defiant Destiny
The road inclined gradually as it led away from the bay, and, walking with her head down, Arielle would have run right into a well-dressed Englishman at the corner, had he not seen her coming and stepped out of the way.
"Bonjour, mademoiselle," he offered warmly.
Not fooled by the young man's pleasant greeting, Arielle replied in English. "It is madame, but because I will not bother to speak to the likes of you again, you will have no need to remember."
A well-bred Virginian, Byron Barclay had merely extended the usual courtesy one stranger showed another back home, and he was taken aback by the fierce hostility of the young woman's response. However, he was not so badly insulted that he failed to notice she was exceedingly comely, and he studied her with an openly curious glance. She was tall, and very blonde. Her blue eyes were framed with long dark lashes, and while filled with a furious disgust, held an unusual hint of aqua that lent a unique beauty to her delicate features.
Byron had learned many of the Acadians could trace their roots to Normandy, and back centuries, even further to Viking invaders. Clearly, this lovely fair creature had a Norman heritage. Then he realized she had spoken fluent, if slightly accented, English. He was relieved, for he had already exhausted what French he knew.
"We have scarcely met," he argued. "Are you always so hasty in your judgments?"
"When it comes to British swine, yes!" Arielle would have struck him with her basket had he not already moved aside. She dismissed him with a curt nod and continued on her way.
Byron had arrived on a supply ship that very morning, and wanting to see something of Grand Pré he had been out for a stroll before offering his services to John Winslow, the man overseeing the British occupation. While having no wish to confront a jealous husband, he was sufficiently intrigued by the irate young woman to follow at a discreet distance.
Unaware that she had inspired his admiration, Arielle did not once glance over her shoulder as she walked home. She lived on the edge of town, in a small frame house that was indistinguishable from its neighbors. There was a sprinkling of flowers in the yard, but the path leading to the front door was overgrown with weeds.
Taking care not to be seen from a window, Byron moved past the house before turning back to study it at length. He put his hands on his hips and pursed his lips thoughtfully. A fresh coat of paint would have made the unassuming dwelling utterly charming, but clearly the owners lacked either the pride, or the funds, to maintain it properly.
Unlike the neglected front yard, the lush kitchen garden in the rear promised an abundance of produce. He had heard the Canadian winters were severe and that its residents had to cultivate and harvest great amounts of food to survive in good health.
Turning back to the road, Byron walked on toward the farms where the meadows were filled with ripening wheat. Cows were grazing contentedly, and the peacefulness of the countryside belied the area's uncertain future. In the distance, wooded hills framed the idyllic scene. Restless, he turned back and gazed out toward the Bay of Fundy. The view had a pristine clarity in the fresh morning air, but if all of Grand Pré's residents shared the blonde's view, Byron doubted he would enjoy his stay.
He laughed to himself then, for, embittered after battling the French in the Ohio Valley, he hadn't come to Acadia to vacation, but to do whatever damage he could.