“Don’t let me set eyes upon you again.”
Miranda’s step-mother’s voice oozed venom as she pushed her out of the back door and threw her bundle after her. The door slammed and Miranda heard the bolt being drawn.
She caught her breath as the chill of the January night sliced through her thin cloak.
Her feet in their satin slippers were already wet through. Snow had begun to fall, spiralling through the darkness to turn the gardens around what had once been her home into a magical fairyland.
“Be off or I’ll set the dogs on you.”
Her stepmother’s voice reminded her that this was no longer her home.
Miranda’s beloved father died less than a week ago and her step-mother had wasted no time in evicting her from the house. No doubt her two step-sisters were watching her departure from an upstairs window with unconcealed delight.
Miranda shivered. She’d been given minutes to pack a few of her possessions – a miniature of her beloved mother, some jewellery that she’d managed to conceal about her person, her father’s prayer book and some clothing. She had little money and no idea where she could go.
She turned away from the house, taking the path through the woods, noticing the snowdrop flowers that her mother had loved so much. She stopped and picked one, cold and waxy in her fingers, and pressed it amongst the pages of the prayer book.
Miranda saw a candle burning in the window of Daniel the gardener’s cottage. She intended to hurry past and not disturb him. However, in the darkness, she missed her footing and with a cry, tumbled forward. The last thing she remembered were the ice-cold snow feathers covering her like a blanket.