Promised to the Crown

Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan Read Free Book Online

Book: Promised to the Crown by Aimie K. Runyan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Aimie K. Runyan
nun replied. “We must be sure to find you a young man with some wit about him.”
    Nicole nodded, not giving much thought to the prospect. The thought of “husband” and “Jean Galet” was still too synonymous for her to think of anyone else.
    All around, the Sisters questioned the young ladies about their lives in France, just as Sister Anne questioned her. Not just a method of getting to know their new housemates, but a tool for matchmaking, Nicole realized. The apple tart before her lost all appeal and she pushed it to the side where it was soon claimed by one of the other girls. Despite the lectures that laid the expectations plainly before the King’s wards, Nicole had managed before now to shove the reality from her mind. They were to marry, and to do so as soon as they were able.
    â€œMy dear ladies, if I might claim your attention for a few moments before you seek out your beds?” The eldest of the nuns, the one who had interceded at the dock, stood at the head of Nicole’s table. “I am Sister Mathilde and will be responsible for your welfare while you are with us. We are so pleased to welcome you to our little convent and hope your time here will be enjoyable and profitable.”
    Not an eye in the room wavered from the old woman’s face. Her voice was as sure as her step, and confidence emanated from her in equal measure with kindness of spirit.
    â€œWhile you are here, we hope you will voice any deficiencies you might have in your domestic education. If you have little skill in the kitchen, you will find yourself before a stove more often than you might like. If you cannot sew, we expect to see you with needle in hand for at least an hour each day. Likewise, we expect you to share your talents for the benefit of your shipmates and the order while you are here.”
    Nicole looked to Elisabeth, who harbored a small smile on her lips. Elisabeth’s talents were obvious. At least Maman sent me with her favorite knitting needles, Nicole thought. Blankets and scarves won’t come amiss with winter so near .
    â€œWe want you all to take advantage of your time afield, for many of you will settle quite far from here. You may well find yourself at quite some distance from any neighbor who is able to instruct you, nor will it be likely that she—or you—will have the time to spare. And, ladies, I cannot caution you enough, make your choice of husband carefully. You will have your pick, I assure you, but not all the men are equally deserving. Above all, you must ask any prospective suitor if he has built upon his land. We don’t want to see you with less-than-adequate lodging in the midst of one of our winters. You are here to keep houses, but not clear the land for them.”
    Sister Mathilde continued her speech for a few more moments, but Nicole felt it impossible to focus on her words. Within days, the single men of the settlement would descend on the convent, each vying for the attentions of the ladies, hoping to secure a bride. Nicole had a vision of a cattle auction where the group of farmers schemed to purchase prized stock for their herd. Looking for wide hips and straight teeth in his future bride as he would look for a rounded rump and strong legs in a dairy cow? Dinner churned in her stomach, and Nicole suspected it had very little to do with the richness of the food.
    They retreated upstairs to their room after the speech, Nicole happy to leave the chatter of the group behind. She changed into her nightdress and all but launched herself into bed. Nicole’s affection for her decadent mattress grew with each moment she wallowed in it.
    â€œIsn’t it exciting?” Elisabeth asked, straightening her bedcovers. “To think our arrival is such an important event? That the settlers are so anxious to meet us all?”
    â€œNerve-racking, more like,” Nicole said, pulling up her blanket. “What if we choose

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