Some say the past is the past. Thus, it is obsolete. But for some, their past continues to affect their present and alter their future. For the some, the past has shaped who they are today. The past teaches. The past is not obsolete. That was the case with Roselle Woods. Ever since her father’s death, it has been a struggle to keep the past from altering her future and the future of many others. Try as she may, her past has caused her present situation. She was an outsider of the port city of Boyce, a very bustling and growing city. She was not quite an outlaw, someone who was banned from the city limits and hunted. She -and others- was not allowed to live within 5 miles of the city. However, they were still under the rule of Lord Sutton. Outsiders were often thieves or children of outlaws who had not taken up the unacceptable actions of their parents. Roselle’s status as an outsider was part of her father’s misconduct and part of her own. There was never hope for more. All outsiders were marked with a thick black X on their inner bicep. Where ever she went, people would know what she was.
Outsider’s were considered wilder folk who had to hunt and fish for their own food. If they went into town, most people would refuse them service. They were rarely ever bothered if they stayed out in their tiny ramshackle village. It could be worse. They could be outlaws or pirates. Pirates received no mercy from the lord of Boyce and his soldiers. They were considered scum. Perhaps they should be glad they were even considered as that. The craggy shore line surrounding Boyce was a pirate’s paradise. But the city itself was their nightmare. It was also a nightmare to Roselle. She was not like most people.
The early hours of the morning in the Greenwood brought Roselle solace, and a chance to hunt. The Greenwood, ironically made up of large rotund redwood trees, was quiet and calm. The early morning orange sun illuminated the dew on the leaves in the forest. Moss hung from the canopy in the fashion of people decorating for a party. The smell of the earth was sweet but not as sweet or invigorating as the smell of the sea. Try as she might, Roselle always longed to be on the sea again. It was so close, but so far. The way she could see ships sail to and from Boyce mocked her. Roselle knew what dangers would occur if she headed out to sea.
Deer were most active during dusk and dawn. After setting traps yesterday afternoon, she had hoped by now there would be something in one of them. Tread lightly. The young brunette could probably even sneak up on an all hearing rabbit. Her all hearing ears picked up on something struggling up a head. Her fingers wrapped around an old flintlock handgun as she loaded it quietly. Emerging from the bushes she found a brunette man untying the buck that had wandered into her trap. “HEY!” she yelled out as she all but ran at the man. But it was too late, he had released the buck and it took off running with such speed and agility there was no hoping in chasing after it. She attempted to aim but knew that this fire arm was not too accurate at far distances.
Her green eyes narrowed furiously as she now pointed her gun at the nicely dressed man. He wore a white long sleeve shirt with a blue grey waistcoat and pants. Her eye brows furrowed deeply making her animosity towards him known.
“What the hell are you doing?! That was my dinner for the next few days and few others as well. There is consequences in these parts for messin’ with someone’s traps.” She growled menacingly at him as she was slowly getting closer to man. He had medium length brunette locks that fell in curls right to the middle of his ears. Some stubble grew upon his face but he seemed like a proper man who would be clean shaven most of the time. Roselle disliked him even more for that. City folk she thought.
“I’m sorry miss. I did not know. I was walking around and I saw the creature struggling. I thought I was helping. I am truly sorry.” He said actually sounding…sincere.
Too late, Roselle had already decided she did not like him. Any man from the city she did not like. She laughed a little. “Helping?! Well you have helped that animal but you’ve hurt me and others who were counting on that. You see, out here, we have to kill the things we want to eat. It just doesn’t show up in your dining room table prepared for you. But since when do city folk care about the outsiders, or know about real life?! Sir, you should give me one good reason not to shoot you and bring you back for dinner.” Roselle said partly joking as she smirked. The barrel of her gun still pointed at the finely dressed man.
“Well, I honestly do not think I would taste well. But perhaps you like the taste of human, I am not here to pass judgment. However, I do not think my father would be too fond of the idea. I would hate to see you have to face his wrath.” He smiled nicely at Roselle. Just by the way he talked one could tell he was wealthy. Roselle lowered her gun and crossed her arms about her chest. She raised one of her eyebrows quizzically. “Oh really?! And who might be your fearsome father?” she asked him.
“Lord Sutton. And that makes me Milton Sutton. Although, I’d much rather you call me Miles. I am not very fond of my name... Anyways, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. And who are you?”
He smiled so crookedly and handsomely that Roselle almost found herself smiling back and forgetting her animosity towards him. Internally she was screaming at herself. Of all the people to cross her path, of all the people to threaten, it had to Lord Sutton’s eldest son. She could only hope he would not go back to his father and demand her to be strung up for threatening him.
“I’m Roselle Woods.” She said returning an almost forced smile. She humbled and softened herself. “I supposed an apology is in order Sir Sutton. I didn’t mean to threaten you.”
“I told you, just call me Miles. And no, you had every right to. I did not know it was your dinner. I just have a soft spot for animals I guess. I should be the one extending an apology. I’ll buy you some dinner or some supplies from the market to make up for it.”
“I don’t need your pity.” She said suddenly bitter again. She did not need his sympathies for her predicament. It was his father’s rules that put her in this situation anyways. She also did not know how to react to a royal person wanting to help her. Roselle felt like she was being tricked. And yet, part of her felt guilty for snapping at him again. “But, you can aid me in checking the deadfalls.”
It was an equal compromise. Miles could clear his conscience of letting her dinner go and Roselle could clear her conscience of snapping at him. At 3 of the 5 traps they found nice fat brown hares dead underneath the rocks. At that point, she decided to make a stew and Miles wanted to join. He wanted to see Grey Hill where the outsiders lived. Roselle begrudgingly obliged.
“What are you doing out in the Greenwood anyways?” She asked him as they walked through a commonly treaded path in the forest. “I’m surprised your father allows you to come out here, especially without an entourage. Not everyone out here is as nice as me, you should count yourself lucky.”
“I must be very lucky indeed.” Miles said with that crooked smile of his. There was an awkward silence for a moment or two. “Uh, anyways, my father does not control my life. He thinks he does, clearly he does not though. Otherwise, I would not be here. I’m not so proper and genteel as you think I am.”
“Well, you’re more proper and genteel than most men I meet. But perhaps that isn’t a bad thing.”
It was midday by now. The pair had made it right to the outskirts of the Greenwood. And there, next to a gently flowing stream, was a small house made out of redwood logs. It was simple yet sufficient. It was perched up high enough to see across a plain of golden grass. To the west was the craggy coast with its teal blue waters. Boyce was much more north than most of the islands that were being colonized. And because of that, its climate was colder.
“Ah, there is my mansion in all her glory. You probably haven’t seen such a lovely house in all your life. This house even has two rooms.” Roselle told Miles as she gestured to her abode. It had two windows in the front that one could see white curtains hanging on the inside. The roof was covered in moss making the house look like an extension of the vast and lush forest.
Miles laughed. He could not understand why people hated the outsiders so much. They might have been rough but they had to be that way in order to survive. Or perhaps Roselle was just a different breed altogether. He can honestly say he has never met a lady quite like her. In fact, if he had, Miles might not be so resistant in finding a lady to marry. A constant pressure put on him by his father.
“Do you live here all alone?” he questioned Roselle. She had strung the hares up; it was much easier to take the skin on this way. “Yes, I do. But there are more houses down in the valley. I’m actually the only one that lives on a hill in Grey Hill.” Roselle told him as she began to cut open the rabbits and proceeded to gut and skin them. Miles had never seen a girl do this, it was typically the man’s job to hunt and then skin the creature. The woman then prepared it and cooked it. Instead Roselle had to do the whole process all by herself. Miles was struck with a disheartening feeling that Roselle had to do a lot of things alone.
Roselle rinsed her bloodied hands and the hares in the cold stream. It was a refreshing feeling to feel cold water running over her hands. Deeming the meaty hares to be clean enough she turned back towards Miles who seemed to be taking in the beauty for the wilderness around him. “You know, we do not have views like this in the city. All I see is other houses and a busy and dirty wharf. And it’s never quite, you can never hear the birds sings. You’re lucky you know?!”
“I’m lucky?” Roselle laughed in a mocking way. “ If by lucky you mean having no money, people looking down on you, and scrapping just to get by, then I must be the luckiest lady in all of Boyce.” She bent her knees and curtsied as if she was wearing a skirt. That must have been another strange thing for Miles to see, a girl wearing pants!
“No, I really mean it Roselle. Nobody is putting expectations on you. Or telling you what to do. You control your own density. You are as free as the wind. I would honestly rather live like this. Then I could be who I wanted to be and not who my father wants be.” He said with a sigh. A saddened feeling pulled down the corner of his lips.
“I’d rather live my way too, I suppose. I don’t like it when people tell me what to do.” She said with a smile.
Despite her feelings about Lord Sutton and the rest of the wealthy folk in Boyce, Roselle had to admit that Miles was not half bad. In fact, he actually seemed good and caring. Something she would never expect out of a man like him. Roselle felt guilty for judging him this morning. She never liked being proved wrong about things. And Miles had surely proved her wrong.
About an hour or two later, they had enjoyed a warm and savory rabbit stew. Miles kept commenting on how great it tasted. She was not sure if it was the truth or his manners making him say that. Either way, she would take the compliments with a smile.
But Miles had to go. Even though he was an adult, he still had to answer to his father. And this evening his father was having a few important people over for tea to discuss some diplomatic issues. A meeting that Miles had to be at, although he would much rather be here in the Greenwood with an outsider girl he had just met this morning.
“Roselle, I would like to see you again.” His voice was soft yet serious. “Well, if you would not mind it. Perhaps we can catch that deer I let get away. Or maybe you could come to town. It honestly is not that bad. And if you’re with me people will not mistreat you.” He said with a very excited grin. Roselle sighed as she looked down at her brown leather boots kicking up grass. Her green eyes met his brown gold ones. “I would like that Miles. But there is a reason I live here alone. Trouble follows me and I don’t think it would be good for you.” She said regretfully.
“I am sure whatever trouble it is, I can handle. Just say I can come see you again, please. You are the most interesting lady I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I would be grateful for the chance to get to know you better.” Miles all but pleaded. Against her better judgment, Roselle said he could see here again. A hopeful and cheerful grin was upon Miles face. His eyes glimmered in the sun. Roselle found herself smiling softly back him.
That night Miles went to sleep with thoughts of the beautiful brunette lady of the forest. Roselle could not sleep and reminders of her past haunted her thoughts. Could she allow herself to let Miles be part of her future? She could not guarantee his safety if she let him. Things were about to change, Roselle could feel it.