The School Mistress Summary
The School Mistress is the delightful first book in the Emerson Pass Historicals sweet romance series.
If you like gallant nobles, resilient heroines, and hints of mystery, then you’ll adore Tess Thompson’s Edwardian adventure in the Old West. Buy The School Mistress to study reading, writing, and happily ever after today
Colorado, 1910. Quinn Cooper can’t help feeling uneasy. But securing a job as a schoolmarm in a tiny frontier town was the only way to save her family from starvation back in Boston.
And her nerves aren’t eased by a stray gunshot that spooks the sleigh horses, casting her into the snow… until she’s rescued by a handsome stranger. Lord Alexander Barnes knows better than to believe any pretty young woman would willingly become a mother to five children.
But the lonely widower finds himself charmed by the lovely newcomer and her easy rapport with his offspring. And after his disgruntled nanny quits, his heart melts at the sight of her joyfully taking over the role. Determined to prove herself in the schoolhouse and as a governess, Quinn fears her near-poverty will prevent any possible courtship with the affluent Englishman.
And between their age difference and prejudicial violence in the town, Lord Barnes is certain this second chance at happiness just cannot be. Will their love go unspoken, or will their persistence reward them with a lasting passion?
About the Author
Tess Thompson is the USA Today bestselling author of small-town romance and historical fiction, with more than twenty titles across multiple series. Tess holds a degree in theater from the University of Southern California and can be found most days at her desk in suburban Seattle.
The School Mistress Introduction
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Had I known of the ways in which Emerson Pass would test my character, I might not have had the mettle to step off the train that autumn day in 1910. Then again, perhaps I would have. The path to our true places, our northern lights, are circuitous. We cannot predict the joys and sorrows that await us on this journey through life. Courage is our only map.
My journey began when we lurched to a stop at the train station with a terrible roar and release of steam from the engine. As I had during the entire way from Denver to Emerson Pass, I wondered if the passenger car would remain in one piece.
During our trek higher and higher into the Rocky Mountains, through tunnels and over tracks built on stilts over deep canyons, I’d feared we’d never reach our destination. My wild imagination had run amok envisioning the train falling from the track and killing us all. Would I die in the unforgiving mountains after making it all the way from Boston to Denver?
I cleaned the window and pressed close, hoping to catch a glimpse of the former mining town that was to be my new home. I’d expected golden leaves of the famous aspens this time of year. Instead, I saw nothing but snow flurries so thick it was as if I were peering into a closely knitted white blanket.
I slipped into my wool coat, frayed and tattered from withstanding six Boston winters, and squared my shoulders. Courage, just then, was a shadow buried deep within me. Even more so than the day last week when I’d pressed this same nose to a different window to catch one last glimpse of my mother and sister as the train pulled from the station.
Next to me, the baby asleep in her mother’s arms woke and began to howl. Her diaper was full. The odor mixed with that of human perspiration and the greasy hair of my companions might have turned my stomach, but I was too tired and hungry to care. Third-class was not for the fainthearted.
I gathered my suitcase and rose unsteadily to my feet. I waited for the couple with the baby to exit first, then the two men dressed in overalls and heavy work boots with whom I’d been sure to avoid eye contact. For a woman, traveling alone was not wise. For those like me, without funds or a companion, I had no choice but to set out alone.
I held my long skirts high and stepped from the train down to the platform and lifted my face toward a sky the color of smoke. Daylight was nearing its end. Snowflakes as big as quarters caught in my lashes. Grime and soot swirled about me as I tromped onto the platform.
The covered area was a relief, although the wooden planks were icy. Behind me, the train groaned as if it too were happy to have arrived. Here, at last, it seemed to say.
The trip had taken almost a week to get from Boston to Denver. Long days with the scent of oil and unwashed men. When we reached the plains, blizzards, ice storms, and harrowing wind that howled like a tortured animal had chased us all the way to Denver.
“Unusual this time of year,” the porter had said to me, probably in response to my terrified expression. After a night spent in Union Station in Denver, unable to sleep for fear of being murdered for my meager possessions, I’d boarded the train that took us up the mountains to my final destination.
A gust of wind swept under the train station’s awning and threatened to lift my hat from my head. I gripped the brim between gloved fingers. This hat with its wide black bow was no match for the gusts of wind and snow. It did not matter. I was off the godforsaken train. I was alive, despite nature’s relentless attempt to make it otherwise.
I would have dropped to my knees and kissed the ground if I hadn’t been concerned with decorum. Truly, with no thought to my only gloves and second-best dress, I’d have dug through the snowdrifts that were as tall as my five-foot-two-inch frame and given the ground a big smooch as if it were my beloved. Instead, I sighed with great relief and stuck a pin through my hat, fixing it more securely into my masses of honey-blond hair.
My thick, silky hair was my only vanity. Some women needed wigs to make their buns appear thicker, but mine needed no enhancements. I’d once hoped my golden tresses compensated for my lack of figure. Even with my corset pulled tight, I had no curves. My hips were narrow and my chest flat. Combined with a quick mind that suffered no fools, and a teaching degree instead of a dowry, my fate was clear. Spinsterhood.
Alexander Barnes had written that he would send a man to fetch me and take me to the boardinghouse in town where I was to live. Clutching my suitcase, I searched the platform but saw no one. I exhaled, long and slow. My warm breath made a cloud in the frigid air. Only a few seconds off the train and I couldn’t feel my toes. Dizzy and light-headed, I felt as if I were drunk. Was it the altitude?
What if no one came for me? What if coming out here all alone to this place that was truly the Wild West was a terrible mistake? Emerson Pass was a town of prospectors, mostly men and probably heathens. One tiny woman named Quinn Cooper who had never set foot outside of Boston until a week ago was sure to fail.
I gave myself a stern lecture as I stood shivering on the platform. What was needed were the skills of a fine actress and the courage of a lion. For Mother and Annabelle. Images of their thin faces wavered before me like apparitions. Under my gloves, there were cracks between my fingers from the frigid nights without heat. I was their remedy and their hope. This work would save them. I’d live frugally with the barest of necessities and send everything else to them. Soon, I would have enough to send for them. We could all be together. Or I would return home.
No looking back. I can do this. I will do this. I was a young, educated woman about to teach at a newly built school. Lord Barnes had written of its brick construction and shiny wood floors. A dozen students, he’d said, who needed an education. I might be headed to spinsterhood, but I was a good teacher. Having my own school was a dream. Remember how blessed you are, I reminded myself.
I’d be plucky, like the characters in the novels I loved so much.
Please, someone, come. Don’t leave me to freeze when I’ve finally reached my destination. As if I had conjured him, a young man appeared from the curtain of snow. He had dark eyes with thick lashes and a red mouth, which smiled at me. Brown curls sneaked out from under the back of his newsboy cap.
“Yes, yes.” Relief flooded through me. I was saved.
“It’s Harley, Miss Cooper. I’m sorry to be late.” I detected a slight accent. French, perhaps? “This storm came out of nowhere this afternoon and made traveling slow. Our horses don’t like it. We have a twenty-minute drive to town in the sleigh, but I have blankets.”
Harley took my suitcase, and I followed him outside where a sleigh waited, hitched to two brown horses. One whinnied and grinned at me with his large teeth. “Hello, lovely.” I stroked his nose. He nudged at me, most likely wondering if I had an apple. If I’d had one, despite how much I loved animals, I would not have shared it with him.
I hadn’t eaten since the morning. Although my room and board would be covered, I’d had to leave most of the traveling money Lord Barnes had sent with Mother. They needed it to survive until I could mail my first paycheck. Which meant that I’d had to get by on one meal a day.
“Careful now,” Harley said, helping me into the sleigh. “We’ll have you thereby suppertime. Mrs. Winslow makes a fine stew, and the boardinghouse is warm.” Had he hesitated before the adjective warm? What else was it besides warm? Was warmth all it had to brag of? And Mrs. Winslow’s stew? I thought of Mother’s meals. Although made of meager provisions, somehow, they always tasted delicious, if not altogether filling. Bread filled the spaces between our bones, my mother sometimes said when the soup was mostly broth.
I ached with sudden homesickness. They would be sitting by the fire by now with their knitting or needlepoint. I was not there to read to them as had become our custom since my father passed two years ago.
No, I must not succumb to self-pity. This was an adventure. An opportunity. Traveling across the country to this beautiful, uninhabited land. A newly built schoolhouse and children who craved learning. I’d read the letter from Lord Barnes so many times I had it memorized.
The children here need education and refinement. The West lacks in proper guidance for young ladies, especially. Our hope is for your good breeding and manners to influence and educate a new generation of Americans. These are children born of adventurous and hopeful men, who have longed to provide better lives for their children. Alas, with this effort comes the wild.
Five out of the dozen children in town were his own. He was the board of education for their community, he had written. Not because I’m fit for the vocation, but because there was no one else.
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The School Mistress PDF
|Posted on||March 19, 2020|
|Page Count||316 pages|
The School Mistress PDF Book Free Download - HUB PDF
The School Mistress is the delightful first book in the Emerson Pass Historicals sweet romance series.
Author: Tess Thompson