Once Lost, Now Found

My (not-so-great-that-needs-editing) story originally published on Noble Novels.

Author’s note: This is a story of redemption and love. Eleanor and Edward love each other, but then Edward is accused of theft.  They are driven apart by this accusation, but meet again, quite accidentally, a year later.   Eleanor senses the change in Edward.  The change that Jesus Christ has made possible for all that believe.  Join Edward and Eleanor on their quest for the Truth that will bring them back together!

Once Lost, Now Found

Part #1

“Father, it cannot be,” Eleanor cried, half-running to keep up with her father’s long strides.

“Yes, it can be, Eleanor.  Even our most trusted friends can be enemies.” He replied angrily.

“No…” Eleanor trailed off, as they entered another room.  Near a door at the opposite end stood a young man, dressed in riding apparel; a very troubled expression marked his handsome face.

He looked up quickly as they entered,

“Edward,” Eleanor’s father began, “I have treated you as a son.  I have let you love my daughter.  Will you now do this thing?  Will you not give back the ring?”

“I did not take it.” Edward replied,

“I will call the constable.”

“No, Father, please,” Eleanor pleaded.  “Let him go, you have no proof.”

“How can I just let him go?  Proof or no proof, it must be true.”

“Please, father, for my sake.”

Eleanor’s father looked from Edward back to Eleanor.

“Aye,” he said finally, “I will not press charges, but you must leave my house at once.”

“I will leave,” Edward said, “All I ask for is a private word with Eleanor.”

Eleanor’s father hesitated, then nodded, “Be quick about it.” He said, “I trust my daughter enough to let her do it.  Be it known to you, however, that I will be right outside the door.” With that, he walked out, shutting the door behind him.

“Edward,” Eleanor whispered, “Tell me the truth.  Did you do it? Did you take the ring?”

“No, Eleanor,” Edward replied, “And I shall prove it to you, if you wish.”

“How?”

“By recovering the ring and bringing it back to you.” Edward took her hand, “Will you wait for me, Eleanor?”

“Yes,” Eleanor replied, “If it takes you a lifetime I shall wait.”

“Then farewell,” Edward paused, and looked into her eyes,

“Until we meet again.”  Eleanor said softly.

“Until we meet again,” Edward repeated,

Then, he turned.  The door clicked shut behind him.  Tears welled up in her eyes.  With Edward went her hopes and dreams of the future; all of these behind that closed door.

Two years later . . .

“My Lady, there is a man here to see you,”

“Did he give a name?”

“No, Miss, but he said that he knows you.”

“Send him in,” Eleanor replied. The footsteps of the maid retreated into the hall. Only a few moments later, her sharp ears caught another sound of footsteps. The confident tread caught her attention as something that she had heard before.

“Edward!” The name escaped her lips in barely more than a whisper. She stood quickly, her hands tightening into fists, her eyes burned with a mixture of pain and hatred. Her heart had changed.  So had he; a year ago she had seen him.  He had changed.  He was no longer the one she had promised to wait for.

She turned her back to the door as it opened, the hinges squeaked as the door slowly closed.

“Edward,” her voice was stiff and cold,

“Eleanor,” the voice was just as it had been. Warm, kind, perhaps even loving. She fought back tears.

“That is Lady Eleanor to you.” She felt a pang of regret as she said this. Turning slightly, she met his eyes. The dying light of the fire and the few candles that lit the room were sufficient to see his face. The same brown eyes, black hair, broad shoulders, and strong arms. “You are not supposed to be here.”

“You are right; but, since you insist on skipping formalities, I will get right to the point of my visit,” Edward strode forward and stopped next to her. She saw traces of dust on his clothing, indicating a long ride. His face was weary. “I believe that his belongs to you.” He pulled something from the pouch at his side. Grasping her delicate hand in his own, he dropped in something cool and heavy.

“What?” Eleanor looked up, shock registering on her face.

“Your father said that I could never come back here until I returned the ring. Well, since I never stole it in the first place, but I found it. I wanted to come back, Eleanor, and I still love you as much as I did then.”

“Edward,” she turned to him, her hand still clutched around the golden ring. “I do not wish to see you anymore.  Two years ago I pleaded with Father, and he spared your life for me. I pleaded because I loved you, Edward.  But then, you were how I always remembered you. When I saw you that time a year ago, you were different.  You are not the same man I loved.”

“It is because I am not the same man.” Edward looked deeply into her eyes, “Christ Jesus changed me, Eleanor; He wants to do the same for you,” he lifted his hand and gently placed it on her shoulder, “All you have to do is believe.”

Then, he turned, his retreating footsteps echoing on the stone walls, floor, and ceiling. Would she ever see him again?

~ ~ ~

 

 

Part #2

“Eleanor, dear, if you will come with me, there is someone I wish you to meet.”

“Yes, Father,” Eleanor smiled, taking the arm that he offered her.

He led her down the stairs and into the parlor.  A young man with bright red hair was standing looking out of the window.  As they entered, he turned.

“Eleanor, allow me to introduce Sir Travis,”

Sir Travis bowed to Eleanor, and she dropped a polite curtsey.

Her father leaned close to her ear, “My dear,” he said, in barely more than a whisper, “Sir Travis has asked for your hand in marriage.  I have not yet given him an answer, but he is a very rich man,” he paused, “Do try to like him.”

Eleanor felt her cheeks grow hot.  Try to like him?  Marry him?  She felt her heart still inclined to the promise to wait for Edward.  But, she thought, Edward is not the same.  I told him that I did not want to see him anymore.  Perhaps this ‘Sir Travis’ will be the right one.

“My lady, it is an honor to meet you.” Sir Travis bowed again.

“A pleasure to make your acquaintance as well, sir,” she replied softly.

“Why don’t you,” her father cleared his throat, “Go stroll in the garden.  It is a lovely day.”

“Yes, Father,”

Her father seemed to like this man.  He seemed to have excellent manners, and he was almost as handsome as Edward.  Almost.

In the garden the two began to talk.  Eleanor found that he was enjoyable in conversation.  But she found herself again pondering the promise that she had made so long ago to the man she loved.

About a week later…

Edward paced up and down the small room.

“You must understand, Esmond, that I am not welcome there.”  He said, “Eleanor herself said that she did not want to see me anymore.”

“I, for one, do not believe it.”  Esmond, a dark-haired fellow with blue, twinkling, eyes replied, “I imagine that she is pining for you as much as you are for her.”

“What would you know about love?” Edward growled, “You, who have never liked a girl in your life.”

“You’ve told me all about it,” Esmond replied, “I believe I know all about how to get a girl now.  Supposedly steal a ring, then run off for a while, then find it, bring it back, ask her to marry you, and ride off into the sunset.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“Really? I thought that was quite complicated.  If it’s more complex than that, then I shall never attain a bride.”

“Esmond, you are impossible.  Now tell me if you have any suggestions, if you are so brilliant.”

“I never said I was brilliant,” Esmond replied, “But since you asked for my suggestion, here it is: my dear fellow, if you don’t try, you won’t be successful.” He paused, “How is that for advice?”

“Brilliant.” Edward muttered, “Esmond, I don’t know now to try.  Eleanor… she… oh, bother you, Esmond, now I will have to go try.”

“I’m sure that the idea would have worked itself into your thick skull eventually.” Esmond replied, his eyes twinkling, “Aye, now you will have to go.  Sweep her off of her feet – or kiss her; I don’t care, just get her or I’ll have to get you a doctor.”  With that, and a chuckle, Esmond left the room.

“He must think I’m love-sick or something.” Edward said to himself, sitting down to stare at the fire. “Well, I would have to agree with him on that one.”

~ ~ ~ 

A little while later…

 

Edward slumped into the chair across from Esmond.

“Aye, it is true.  She is to be married in two weeks to a fellow name Sir Travis.” He said quietly,

“Do you know anything about him?” Esmond queried

“No, except that he is rich.”

“Then you do have competition!” Esmond exclaimed, “So when are you going to go back?”

“Esmond, stop it!”  Edward jumped to his feet, “She made her choice.  Sir Travis will be able to take care of her, which is much more than what I’ll be able to do.  Esmond, I have nothing to offer her.  Besides, she doesn’t like me anymore.” He sat down again.

“Edward,” Esmond leaned forward to face him, taking on a more serious demeanor, “I didn’t mean to offend you, but I still don’t see this situation as hopeless.”

“So what do you expect me to do, kidnap her?” Edward said sarcastically,

“God can work miracles like you’ve never seen,” Esmond pondered for a moment, “Pray about it, Ed; even though it seems that you’ve lost her, God can turn a heart of stone to one of flesh.”

“God.  I had nearly forgotten about Him.”

“How could you forget about God? He has not forgotten about you.”  Esmond stood, “Ask Him, Ed,”

~ ~ ~

Eleanor felt butterflies in her stomach as she gazed at the dress.  Beautiful white fabric embroidered and beaded in an exquisite design.

“Would you like to try it on, My Lady?” the seamstress asked,

“Yes,” Eleanor exclaimed, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited before!”

“Aye, My Lady,” the seamstress bobbed her head in a sort of nod and smiled, “All young girls are that way,”

This, Eleanor thought, is true happiness. Or was it?

NOTE: I didn’t mean to copy Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility with the names Eleanor and Edward.

Part #3

What in the world am I doing here? Edward wondered.  It was nearly midnight, and here he was, sneaking around the place he had never expected to see again.  He raked his fingers through his short dark hair; a sure sign of agitation.

He walked silently through the gate and into the garden.  Moving along the wall of the house, he slowly peeked around the corner. Two men stood only five paces away.   Edward strained to listen to the conversation.

“So, Travis, it’s working?”

“Aye, better than I expected.  I’ll marry the girl, then we’ll have the ‘accident’, her father will die, and she will inherit the fortune.  Once we have the money secured we’ll dump the girl somewhere.”

“Brilliant, Travis.  It is working extraordinarily well.  I must be going.”

Edward flattened himself up against the wall.  The man walked right past him.  Edward breathed a prayer of thanks that it was dark enough that the man could not see him.  Once he was sure that both men were gone he dashed for the gate.  He must get to Esmond and make a plan to rescue Eleanor from those brutish men.  Nothing was going as planned.  This was not supposed to be his life.  When he was young he had dreamed of growing and getting married,

Part 3

“Sir Travis,” Eleanor stepped from the house into the garden.  He turned, and offered a welcoming smile.  A few seconds later she fell in step beside him.  She felt her stomach twist in knots as she contemplated what she was about to say.

“Yes, my love?”  Sir Travis looked down into her eyes, his were a piercing, icy blue; so different from Edward’s.

“I…” Why could she not say it?  Finally she blurted out the words.  “I cannot marry you.”

A look of surprise crossed his face. “Why ever not?” he exclaimed,

“Because I promised to wait for another; even if it took a lifetime.”

“Who is this man who has so stolen your heart?”

“Why would you care?”

“Because I care for you,” Travis said with faked sincerity.

“His name is Edward.” Eleanor spoke softly.  Edward.  That name that had played itself over in her mind a thousand times since the time he left.  His image was engraved in her mind, still a beacon of hope that she would see him again.

“When was the last time you saw him?”

“A few months ago.”  She paused, then started walking away.

“Then farewell, Lady Eleanor,” he replied, “But I wouldn’t count on your Edward coming back.”

Eleanor turned, fire burning in her eyes.  “Sir Travis, you are no longer welcome here.  You may go.”

With that, and with a swish of her skirts, she disappeared inside.

~ ~ ~

Eleanor’s father was sitting in his study when a knock came on the door.

“Come in,” he said.

Sir Travis entered. “Sir, I hope I have not disturbed you.”

“No, not at all.  What is it you want to see me about?”

“Do you know…”  Travis paused, “Someone named Edward?”

“Edward?  Aye, I do.  How do you know of him, Sir Travis?”

“I saw him with your daughter earlier today.  When I asked her about it, she simply said that his name was Edward.”

“What? He was with Eleanor?” The elder man stood, “Why, that man is a thief.  He stole a ring, and then, because Eleanor begged me to, I did not press charges.  Edward,” he stopped and shook his head, “If you see him again tell me directly.”

“Yes, sir,” Sir Travis bowed and exited the room.  His plans were beginning to come together.

 

Part #4

“We have to rescue her, Esmond.” Edward exclaimed, as he burst in the door.

“Rescue who?” Esmond queried, looking up with a surprised air about his expression. “My dear fellow, you have quite lost me in your excitement.  Please repeat that with a few more details so that I can rightly determine what dangerous and troublesome things you are about to place upon yourself.”

“Quit the long speeches!” Edward dashed out of the next room over, carrying an armful of supplies. “We must rescue Eleanor, she’s about to get tricked into marrying a fraud.”

“Slow down, slow down.  I think that I am beginning to understand, but please begin at the beginning.”

“This is outrageous!”  Edward burst out, “That man-Sir Travis-is going to trick Eleanor into marrying him, then kill her father and get her money.  For all I know, they’ll leave her somewhere to die.”

“Really?” Esmond started slightly, “But what am I supposed to do about it? Travis probably has more men than we do, and may be expecting you to turn up.”

“Why?  Unless Eleanor has told him something he probably has no idea that I exist.”

“Ah,” Esmond paused, “Well, let us assume the worst in every possible situation.  Let us say that he does know about you.”

“What is the use?” Edward sat down in a chair, burying his head in his hands.  “It is hopeless.”

“It is only hopeless if you’ve lost hope, Edward; hope can be so much more than a distant, unreachable dream.  Our hope is in the Lord.  He will never fail; so, then, can our hope?”

“Aye, you’re right.” Edward said, standing, “We must go on.  There are lives at stake here.”

“I’ll help you, Ed,” Esmond said. “First, though, we need a plan.  No running off on crazy ideas.”

“All right,” Edward replied, “What have you got in mind?”

~ ~ ~

Eleanor walked slowly through the garden.  Her only thought – only hope – was to find Edward.  But how?  And how was she to tell her father about the broken engagement between Sir Travis and herself?

She determined that this must be taken care of first.

Walking into the house, she went directly to her father’s study.  Knocking on the door, she was greeted by a “Come in,”

She opened the door and stopped short.  There was Sir Travis!

“Eleanor, a very disturbing report has come to my ears.  That is that the man Edward has come back, and has been seeing you frequently.”

“What?” Eleanor gasped,

“And furthermore, in order to cut off such grievous meetings, Travis and I have decided to have the marriage ceremony tomorrow morning.”

“No!”

“What?!”

“I will not marry him!”  Tears came to her eyes.  “Father, several years ago I made a promise to Edward, a promise that I would wait for him.” She stopped to wipe a tear from her cheek, “I will not go back on that now, and I have already told Sir Travis so!”

“Eleanor, he is a thief!”

“No he is not.”  Eleanor pulled the ring from her concealed pocket and held it before him. “He returned this to me three months ago, having risked life and limb to get it back.  Then I refused him, turned him away.  Now I know that I shouldn’t have.  I love him, Father, and I don’t love that man.”  She pointed at Sir Travis.

“Sir Travis,” her father stood, “I need some time alone with my daughter.  Please come back tomorrow.”

Sir Travis bowed and exited the room.

“Eleanor, you must understand that you shall marry Sir Travis.  Do you understand?”

“No.”  Eleanor replied steadfastly, “No, I shall not marry him!”

“Yes you shall.”

“No.”

“Go to your room, Eleanor.  Tomorrow is the wedding, so be prepared for it.”

“No!”

Her father glared at her hard.  Then he spoke:  “You will marry Sir Travis.  Whether you want to or not.”

Pt 5

“Oh Lord!”  Eleanor sobbed, clinging to the post of the bed and lifting her eyes to the heavens, “Oh dear God, if You are real, if You are God, please help me!”

“Lady Eleanor?”

Eleanor’s heart skipped a beat in terror and she spun around.  She saw the silhouette of a head just outside the window.

“Who’s there?” Her voice trembled.

“The name’s Esmond, Milady,” The man hoisted himself higher and swung a leg over the sill.

“What do you want?”  She gasped, shrinking away from him.  “All I have to do is scream and a dozen servants will come running.”

“Oh, please don’t scream.”  Esmond glanced around the room, “I have an important message to give you.  Are you quite alone?”

She hesitated.

“Never mind,” Esmond continued, “It’s a letter from someone who you are intimately acquainted with.”

Edward!  The word flashed in her mind. Could it be?

“Throw the letter over here.”

Esmond pulled a sealed note from a pocket and tossed it.  It landed at her feet.  She bent to pick it up, her fingers suddenly cold.

She broke the seal, the paper crinkling as she unfolded it.

Lady Eleanor,

My Lady, you are in grave danger.  Sir Travis, who you are engaged to, wants nothing more than your father’s fortune.  Once married to you he will kill your father in order to get your fortune.  I am at your disposal in any way you may need me.

Sincerely, Edward

Not a word of whether he still loved her or no.  He probably didn’t love her.  It was only a sense of duty toward a woman.  But still….

“Esmond,” Eleanor looked up from the letter, “Is Edward here?”

Esmond glanced down from where he had perched on the windowsill, then back at Eleanor.

“He should be here presently.  He had some sort of errand in town.”

Please tell him that I need to see him.”

“Of course, Milady.”  He swung his legs over the sill and disappeared.

Eleanor counted seven minutes by the clock.

Then eight.

Finally ten, and still Edward did not appear.

She couldn’t take it any longer.  She strode to her door and opened it, nearly running into Sir Travis.

Sir Travis frowned as he saw her face.  “You are pale, Eleanor.  Are you ill?”  He stepped past her into the room.

She shook her head.  “No.”

He reached with the decorative cane he held and pushed the door shut.  “What is wrong?”

“N-nothing,” Eleanor stammered.

She thought she could hear the ivy on the wall rustle.  She sucked in her breath.

“D-do you want something, Travis?”  Eleanor attempted civility.

Travis turned toward the window.

“Travis!”  Eleanor exclaimed, “What do you want?”

“A few minutes ago I thought I heard a man’s voice.”  Travis turned around to face her.

Eleanor saw a hand slip over the edge of the windowsill.

“Who was here?  Was it Edward?”

“No.”

“Eleanor, don’t hide anything from me.”  He advanced and grasped her arm.  “Who was here?”

She tried to pull away, tears springing to her eyes, “Travis, please!”

Eleanor saw Edward climb through the window, drawing a sword from his belt as he did so.

He crossed the room in two strides and placed his sword at Travis’s neck.  “Unhand her, villain.”  He commanded.

Travis stiffened.  His hand loosed from Eleanor’s arm.

“Eleanor, get away from him.”

Eleanor.  Not Lady, just Eleanor.

Eleanor stepped away.

“Stay well away from him.”

Eleanor nodded.

Travis bounded away from Edward.  He grasped his cane and spun the end.  He pulled out a sword.

Eleanor screamed.

Travis ran for Edward and the swords met.

Edward retreated a few steps at the first attack, but he gained them back.

Eleanor gripped the bed frame until her knuckles turned white, If only he would get away from the door long enough…

Travis attacked with vigor.  Edward fell backwards, the sword skidding from his hand.

Eleanor screamed again.  She rushed to him.

“No!”  Another figure darted across the room, sword flashing.

Esmond lunged for Sir Travis, catching him quite by surprise.

“Are you all right?”  Eleanor gasped, reaching for Edward’s hand.

“Aye,” Edward took a deep breath, “But God help Esmond! Where is my sword, Eleanor?”

Eleanor didn’t answer, transfixed by the scene unfolding before her.

Esmond ducked, Sir Travis’ blade swishing over his head.

Sir Travis growled and thrust again.  Esmond tried to bring his sword into position, but it was too late.

Eleanor watched as time stilled and Travis’s sword found its mark in Esmond’s chest.

Esmond crumpled to the ground.

The door burst open, “What is going on here?”

“Father!” Eleanor sobbed,

Sir Travis whirled and dashed for the door.  He swung his sword at Eleanor’s father, barely missing him, before disappearing from view.

“Someone get the doctor!” Eleanor’s father shouted.

Edward knelt by his friend’s side.

“Esmond! Esmond, do you hear me?”

“Go after ‘im, Ed,” Esmond whispered, “But remember, friend, that forgiveness—” He gasped for breath, “Forgiveness is greater than revenge.”

“Let the sheriff catch him.” Edward muttered, “You must live, and I’ll stay here to make sure of it!”

“No,” Esmond’s voice grew faint, “Get… Travis.”

He went limp.

Edward sprang up and grasped Esmond’s sword from where he’d dropped it on the ground.

He ran out the door.  Several servants stood in a group in the hall.  “Which way did he go?”  Edward cried,

One of the servants, a woman, pointed to the left.

Edward turned and ran in that direction.

The passage led to the door.  He opened it and burst outside.

Travis had vanished.

He sighed and turned to go back inside.

He stopped just before the sword pricked his chest.

His gaze traveled beyond the blade to the hand that held it.  Then on to Travis’s face.

“Here you die, knave.”

Edward took a step back.

What do I do now?

“Travis,” He said, raising his sword, “Why?  Why do you do this?  Is it really worth it?”

Travis sneered.  “Don’t prolong your death.”

Edward couldn’t form into words the questions that flew like lightening in his head.  He raised his sword.

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Travis’ lips curved upward in something that wasn’t a smile.

Edward felt his stomach do a flip.

Travis raised his sword.

Edward bit his lip, then dropped his sword, lunged past Travis, whipped around, and clamped his arms next to his body.

Finally he pried the sword out of his hand.

“Stop struggling, Travis,” he spat the name, “It’s no use.”

Travis redoubled the efforts of his thrashing.

Edward glared at the back of his head, then hauled him backwards into the house.

“You!” He called to a servant, “Get me a rope!”

The servant scurried away and reappeared a few moments later with a length of cord.

“Help me hold him,” Edward grunted,

The servant assisted Edward as he wrapped the rope around Travis several times, then secured it in a tight knot.

Edward forced Travis into a chair, tying his legs to it.

“Watch him,” He said to the servant, “Make sure he doesn’t try anything.”

He ran from the room and back the way he had come.

Eleanor met him outside the closed door of her bedchamber.  “He’s still alive, Edward, but only just.”  Tears streamed down her cheeks.  “He was asking for you.”

Edward nodded.  He opened the door and stepped inside, closing it behind him.

The physician stepped away from the bed at the sound.

“Ed?”  Esmond’s voice, weak though it was, sounded cheerful.

Edward started forward.  “Esmond, my friend!” He exclaimed, “You shouldn’t have—”

“Did you catch him?”

“Aye.” Edward sank to his knees beside the bed.  “God help me, Esmond, I don’t know what I would do if you die.”

“You’d better start figuring it out.”  Esmond’s eyes twinkled.  Just like Edward remembered them doing so many times before.

“No, Esmond! No!”

“Just promise me two things,” Esmond grasped his hand.

“Anything!”

“Forgive Travis firstly.  Then, marry her, Ed.  Without any delay.”

Edward felt a tear roll down his cheek.  “Don’t leave me,” He whispered, “You’re the one who made it possible.  Please, please.”

“Sorry, I don’t have a choice.”  He grimaced in pain.   “Edward, remember.  I stood by you when you were, for that time, outlawed.  I was your friend when you needed me.  But now, you don’t need my help support and extreme wisdom,” He attempted a smile, “And now that you don’t need me, God is calling me home.  Marry her, Ed.  Don’t think about me.”

He gave Edward’s hand one last squeeze.  “Farewell, Ed.  I’ll see you again some day.”

His jaw clenched in pain, his breathing became forced.

Then died away altogether.

Edward buried his face in his hands and wept.

 

A week later….

“Eleanor?”

Eleanor looked up from the rose she held.

“Good morning, Edward.”  She smiled, trying to cheer him.  Since Esmond’s death he hadn’t been himself.

Edward came to stand beside her.

“Esmond told me to ask you something.”  He bit his lip and turned to face her.

Dropping down on one knee he looked up into her eyes.  “Eleanor, will you marry me?”

THE END!

Epilogue

She said yes.

Eleanor and Edward’s wedding took place two weeks later.  A year afterwards their first child was born, who they named Esmond.

And so, happy at last, Eleanor and Edward lived happily ever after.

 

(c) Copyright 2018, Molly J. G.