<br><h3> Chapter One </h3> <b>The Five Most Dreaded Words</b> <p> <p> I slid gracefully onto my ebony cushioned vanity seat and sighed. I reached for my pink hairbrush encrusted with rose quartz and diamonds, slowly and gently combed my hair, and was careful not to ruin the silky white headband entwined with shimmering blue pearls in my hair. <p> <i>Today is Mother's wedding day</i>, I thought sadly. <i>I wish Mother didn't have to do this: it's dividing my love and loyalties between my stepfather and my real father.</i> <p> I put my brush down, stood up, took a fleeting glance at the vanity mirror and glided to my bedroom window. I fingered the lacy ribbon on my dress, worrying about what was to come. <p> As I looked outside, I realized that a mob was trying to get a glimpse of the bride and groom, for my mother was very well known among the people for being the founder of W.S.A.C. (Woman's Social Activity Club). I knew that very soon I would see my mother and stepfather walk elegantly down the aisle decorated with vintage veils and flowers. <p> I quickly rearranged my violet corsage, smoothed the sleeves and lacy hems of my blue puffed silk dress, straightened the headband in my golden–brown hair, and put on a blue diamond choker. I looked sadly at the mirror once more. <p> A wet and salty tear landed on my cheek, and I swiftly wiped it away. I wanted my mother to be happy - even if I wasn't. I reached into my closet and took out a pair of blue and white-lace ballet flats. I gently put them on and took a deep breath. <p> It was time for the ceremony to begin. Next to my bedroom door was a silver bell. I rang it to signal the carriage to come. I looked miserably around my room, examined everything - my room had always been the same, and sometimes, I thought it would be easier if the world never changed either. <p> I walked to my loggia and gracefully stepped down the carved marble staircase, my hand lightly tracing the silver stairway rails. Every one of my movements looked like I was dancing. The horse pulling the carriage was a beautiful white mare, as white as pearls. As I descended towards the carriage, I tried to rearrange my countenance to make myself look happy. Despite my best efforts, the driver noticed I was upset. <p> "Mademoiselle Swanilde, what is wrong?" he asked in thick foreign accents, his brow wrinkling in concern. <p> "I am ..." I was cut off by the abrupt halt of the carriage and opening of the door. A butler dressed in a dark black suit motioned for me to step into the carriage. As we went on the very short ride to the ceremony, I peeked out between the white tulle curtains, looking out the clear glass window. My hand rested on the velvet cushion seat, and I realized that I had mixed feelings. I was happy, yet I was also distraught. I was happy for my family, happy for my mother, happy that I would finally get a father - but I was sad that he was not <i>my</i> father. <p> The carriage stopped and I felt petrified. I could think of a million things that could go wrong. The elaborate door was opened and a gloved hand was held out towards me. The butler who had opened the door for me shut it inaudibly and stood by the arch, watching me walk down deliberately under the curved marble arch. I remembered when I was younger I'd wonder why the Greek goddesses' names were engraved in the marble, and I eventually realized that it was because my mother believed that they deserved recognition. <p> Chairs were positioned in front of my mother's prized Cupid fountain. Water was cascading from the side of the platform. Lilies were planted by the side of the fountain, and hummingbirds were fluttering around the flowers, gathering nectar. <p> When I stepped off of the bridge, everybody in the audience turned and stared at me, awestruck, stunned by my angelical appearance. The butler moved alongside me and escorted me to the wedding site while people gazed at me unnaturally. <p> The only sounds we could hear were the gentle trickling of water flowing under the bridge and the birds chirping their happy songs. Then the orchestra started playing a sweet spring melody. My mother walked down the beautiful mahogany colored carpet before my soon to-be- stepfather. The carpet was embroidered with golden silk imported from China which complimented the beautiful hanging baskets of flowers. Deliberately and slowly, my mother and her groom moved to the place where the priest stood, ready to pronounce them what I found I feared most: husband and wife. <p> My mother looked stunning, like a full-bloomed rose on a fresh spring day. Her gorgeous hair was in beautiful waves pinned back with diamonds; her wedding gown had an elegant silk train and her waist was tapered to the narrowest point possible. The lacy sleeves on her dress were down to her shoulders with shimmering opals which is my mother's favorite gemstone, as well as mine. <p> Thinking about the marriage nearly made me cry again, but somehow, I stopped myself from doing so. I walked slowly behind my mother, scattering flower petals even though I wasn't a flower girl. The too-strong scent of roses made me feel quite faint. Immediately, my head started aching. I did not tell anyone because I was afraid of disturbing the ceremony. I wanted my mother to remember this day as a happy one even if I would not. <p> The priest finished his passage, and looked towards my mother, a golden Bible in one hand, the other hand held up. He smiled, and spoke meticulously. <p> The hanging baskets of flowers from the arch began to look a bit unclear and I panicked. What was wrong with me? It was my mother's day, the day she should be overflowing with joy. <p> "Do you take this lovely lady to your wife?" the priest asked. <p> "I do," my stepfather to-be said in reply to the priest. <p> "And do you take him as your husband?" <p> "I do," Mother answered. <p> I felt as if my heart burst into a million pieces. How could my mother do this to me? <p> Then the priest spoke the five words that I was dreading hearing ever since I awoke this morning. <p> "You may kiss the bride," he said joyously, raising his head up, expressing his exuberance. <p> I hardly heard what he said; my emotions were too painful. He announced the words, all the while beaming at the audience. Then my eyes closed, and my mind was suddenly spinning towards a black hole of pain and ultimately, unconsciousness. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Two </h3> <b>My Stepfather the Spy</b> <p> <p> I woke up to find myself under my velvet taffeta-colored canopy that rose about six feet above my head. I touched the tassels hanging from the sides. Suddenly, I realized that I was in my chamber. Then I wondered: <i>How did I get into my bedroom?</i> Without delay I remembered that I had fainted. Then something outside my bedroom window caught my attention. I gasped, but quickly covered my mouth up with my plushy cashmere throw, nearly falling onto my silky pillows in shock. Andreyev, my stepfather, was discussing something with two men near my loggia that I did not recognize. Why they would be talking something during my stepfather's and mother's wedding celebration, I didn't know. <p> I slipped out of my bed, careful not to make a sound, passing by my favorite tapestries that depicted battles where the unicorn came and restored peace to the world. While approaching the window, I gently pulled the corner of the draperies away, pressed my back against the wall, and listened intently. <p> Andreyev's voice made me snap out of my thoughts and into reality. <p> "Neither she nor her daughter have any idea that I am a spy for our French government," Andreyev gloated. <p> "Good," the other men said. <p> "But, we must make sure we can force the truth out of your wife to see if the man she divorced is really a descendant of French royals." I was puzzled. They must have been mistaken; my father was not royalty of any kind. <p> Then Andreyev and the two men looked around to make sure that no one had heard and swiftly walked away from the garden below my bedroom window. As I crept back into my bed, I thought about what had occurred. My stepfather and those two men are spies ... but for the government of France? Why? And what could Andreyev want from my family? My mother and I were no different from the rest of our country. Before I could puzzle over it any longer, my mother swept through the door. My head promptly snapped up. <p> "Swanilde!" my mother gasped, her forehead creasing with concern. "I was so worried when you fainted!" I realized that she had changed out of her wedding dress and into one of her less formal day-dress. <p> "Mother, don't worry," I assured her. "Everything will be fine." My mother did not look convinced, but she moved on to another subject, regardless. <p> "Since you did not have a chance to partake of the fancy banquet, I will make it up to you." <p> "Mother! You really don't have to do this!" I said. <p> "I know that I don't, but I want to. We will be going with Andreyev to your favorite restaurant, <i>Food from Around the World</i>." my mother said excitedly. <p> Hearing my stepfather's name reminded me of the discussion that I had overheard. I felt like I wanted to tell my mother, but I didn't want to ruin her cheerful mood. My mother must have seen the wary expression on my face. <p> "What's wrong?" <p> "Oh! Nothing at all, Mother, you don't need to worry," I said. I didn't want to cause my mother my concern than I already had. <p> As I struggled to hide my emotions, my mother raised her eyebrows. <p> "If you say so, Swanilde. We will be leaving shortly." <p> I nodded. My mother left my room looking anxious. Before she left, she turned back to say one last thing. <p> "Swanilde, there are a lot of people waiting in the living room wondering how you are. Would you mind if I let them visit you?" <p> "No, not at all, Mother. I'd love to see them," I answered mechanically. <i>I guess all these visitors might cheer me up.</i> <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Three </h3> <b>The Dinner Disaster</b> <p> <p> Glancing out of the carriage, I admired the night sky. Mother looked striking, wearing a mauve chiffon dress. The driver guided the horses to the restaurant <i>Food from Around the World</i> and we came to an abrupt halt. <p> "All right, ladies," Andreyev announced "we are here." <p> We descended from the carriage and entered the restaurant. The waiter seated us in red velvet chairs with golden armrests, and gave us pressed gold-leaf menus. Moments later, when we had all decided what we wanted, the waiter came. While my parents ordered, I thought about the discussion between my stepfather and the two unknown men that he had met outside my bedroom. <p> I barely heard what my mother and stepfather ordered; I was too caught up in my own thoughts to be disturbed. <p> Before I could collect my thoughts, the waiter asked what I would like to order. <p> "I would like to order melted hot chocolate, steamed tea bread, and a small coconut sugar tart," I answered, quickly glancing at the top of the menu and picking out a few random choices. <p> Once the waiter delivered the food and beverages, everybody at our table began eating enthusiastically. When I thought that everything was about perfect, and nothing could go wrong, my stepfather <i>had</i> to ruin it. <p> Andreyev scooped up and flung crme brulee accidentally into a nearby lady's hair. She shrieked, staring wide eyed at Andreyev. She came to her senses and gave my stepfather an expression that meant trouble. Her fingers trailed to the generous portion of Crme Brule. I shrunk meekly down in my seat. <p> "I will be in the carriage, Mother!" I whispered softly into her ear. <p> My mother nodded, but otherwise, she barely paid attention to me. <i>Is she more worried about Andreyev or me?</i> I wondered. I came out the restaurant and walked to the carriage, hardly breaking my pace. When I finally reached it, I jumped inside and decided to do some planning. If Mother had really married a spy, then I must travel to warn my father. Spies had a reputation for capturing or hurting people in order to get valuable information. <p> By the time I had made my decision, my mother and stepfather had already walked out of the restaurant, stray pieces of food all over their clothing. A sliver of mashed cheesecake was falling slowly off of my mother's dress, leaving a greasy cheese stain behind, red raspberries were entwined in her hair like red rubies, bits of dough stuck to her dress like white colored mud, and there were liquid stains, grease smudges, salt, cream, and frosting all stuck to my mother's chiffon dress. The beautiful dress my mother was fond of was now covered in food, making it look like a doily that was put under food for decoration. <p> "Swanilde!" my mother cried, "Look at me! My new dress is ruined and ..." my mother paused for a second, her face red with embarrassment. "So is my dignity!" she finally burst out unrestrainedly. A few of the red raspberries stuck in her hair fell out, and my mother ground them into pulp with her heel. <p> I had nothing to say, so I just looked at her fretfully while discreetly ogling her destroyed clothing. It was my stepfather (the person who ruined my <i>entire evening)</i> who finally spoke to break the shocked and angry silence. <p> "Well ... I guess we should ... um. .. start riding ... err ... home." he muttered hesitantly. <p> I could have sworn that my mother turned and glared at him. I knew she wanted to scream. The dress that was damaged was made of the finest material and dyed cloth. But there was only one real question on my mind: If my mother was already irritated with him because he was the reason her clothing was ruined, would their marriage last when I left? <p> When we reached home, I could see the servants' intense curiosity about my mother's and stepfather's ruined clothing. My mother's furious glance warned them not to ask anything about what had occurred. <p> That night, my dreams were filled with screeching women with food in their hair, spies running to the French government to report what they had seen, and nightmares of what would happen to my mother after I left. <p> But I knew I had no choice. I would do this to help my mother from being used against her wishes. I couldn't have my family and life destroyed like this, it was the one thing held dear and treasured. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Four </h3> <b>Mother Verses Father</b> <p> <p> When I woke up in the morning, I looked out the window and realized it was still early. <p> "Perfect!" I said out loud. <p> I said it in a satisfied tone, but I was still sad inside. I grabbed a lightweight bag, put in a few pairs of clothing, journal, star chart (I always had a fascination with the stars), books, and a pack of pencils. I also took a small lavender pouch that held livres, sous and deniers (our French currency) that had been my allowance, saved for when I would need it. Inside was also a silver hunting bow, a gift from my mother. I treasured it always, and would forever. <p> Passing through our lavishly decorated hallway with chandeliers and high-quality gold framed portraits, I walked sadly and slowly into my mother's bedroom. I took one last look at her, and forlornly removed a picture of Mother and Father from a tiny but exquisitely beautiful picture frame. This picture reminded me of the past. <p> I walked past my stepfather's room, glaring at his door the whole way, because I wanted no recollection whatsoever about him. He was the reason I was leaving Paris, my beloved city. The sky was accented beautifully with the stars and moon, and I knew that this memory would be engraved in my mind for as long as I lived. <p> Before I left, I grasped for a reason to stay. Did I really need to go to Rouen? Couldn't I just send a letter to my father? No. I answered myself. By the time the letter arrived, something bad might have happened. It would be impossible to wait that long for a reply from my father. <p> I had made my decision. I would leave my hometown. I would be like a bird, with outstretched wings, ready to take flight out of my nest and into the world. Even though I knew it would be dangerous, I was determined to go on. <p> <p> <h3> Chapter Five </h3> <b>Visiting the Eiffel Tower</b> <p> <p> The moment I left, I realized I needed to see something first before I go to see Father. I jumped into a carriage and told the driver of carriage, "The Eiffel Tower, please." He nodded, and we were off. The wind blew westward, making my hair streak behind me like golden ribbons. <p> I sighed contentedly as I watched my beloved city of Paris fly past me. It was refreshing, and I loved the feeling of watching the sun rise. I was so caught up in the beautiful scenery all around me that I didn't feel the small carriage stop. <p> <i>(Continues...)</i> <p> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>The Eiffel Tower's Daughter</b> by <b>Bethany Huang</b> Copyright © 2010 by Bethany Huang . Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.<br>Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.