Daughter of Silk (Silk House Series)
A young silk heiress is caught in the dangerous tide of French history during the reign of the evil Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici. Uncovering a diabolical plot, Rachelle joins forces with the handsome rebel Marquis Fabien de Vendome -...
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A young silk heiress is caught in the dangerous tide of French history during the reign of the evil Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici. Uncovering a diabolical plot, Rachelle joins forces with the handsome rebel Marquis Fabien de Vendome - but will they be in time?
Pursuing the family name as the finest silk producer in Lyon, the young Huguenot Rachelle Dushane-Macquinet is thrilled to accompany her famous couturier Grandmere to Paris, there to create a silk trousseau for the Royal Princess Marguerite Valois.
The Court is magnificent; its regent, Catherine de Medici, deceptively charming. . . and the circumstances, darker than Rachelle could possibly imagine. At a time in history when the tortures of the Bastille and the fiery stake are an almost casual consequence in France, a scourge of recrimination is moving fast and furious against the Huguenots - and as the Queen Mother's political intrigues weave a web of deception around her, Rachelle finds herself in imminent danger.
Hope rests in warning the handsome Marquis Fabien de Vendome of the wicked plot against his kin. But to do so, Rachelle must follow a perilous course.
Linda Lee Chaikin has written numerous best-selling and award-winning books and series, including the Silk series (Heart of India Trilogy), A Day to Remember series, The Empire Builders, Royal Pavilion Trilogy, Arabian Winds Trilogy, The Buccaneers Trilogy, and For Whom the Stars Shine, a finalist for the Christy Award. She and her husband make their home in Northern California.
Daughter of Silk Chapter One Marquis Fabien de Vendome stood on the open balustrade of the royal palais chateau at Chambord, resting his muscled shoulder against the broad marble embrasure. He fixed his attention below in the courtyard where voices shouted and horse hooves clattered over stone. Another burst of activity erupted near the gate. The king's cuirrasiers, garbed in black and crimson, sporting brass and steel, threw open the double gate. Riders thundered into the courtyard as though pursued by fiendish gargoyles. Fabien recognized le Duc de Guise mounted on a black charger with a jeweled harness and gold velvet housing edged in green braid. Guise's men-at-arms followed, bearing the flag of the House of Guise from the duchy of Lorraine. Fabien straightened from the embrasure, clamping his jaw. The secret rumblings of hatred smoldered in the rocky caverns of his soul at the sight of the duc. Le Duc de Guise looked up toward the balcony. His gaze appeared to search, as if he could sense a burning pit of hellish emotions attacking him from somewhere, as if he was a jackal smelling a rotting carcass to feed upon. Then le Duc de Guise locked gazes with Marquis Fabien. Guise's lips turned into a hard, faintly mocking smile. Fabien smiled in return and offered a bow. Guise turned his head away and peered over his shoulder toward the gate. He raised a gloved hand whereupon a masked, black-cowled rider burst through the turret gates, dusty, his horse sweating. Fabien tensed. Who was this? A moment later the duc's men-at-arms tightened their escort around the mysterious rider, encircling him within their midst. Is Guise protecting the masked figure or confining him? Why the cowl and mask? Fabien narrowed his gaze, as if by staring he could bore through the mask to identify the messire. He was here at Chambord at the invitation of the boy-king Francis and his petite reinette, Mary of Scotland, but not to become ensnared in whatever ongoing intrigue the House of Guise was presently hatching. Fabien left the balcony. Patience, he reminded himself. The longawaited hour to apportion revenge upon the head of le Duc de Guise would eventually dawn. The marquis pulled his brows together as he walked along the gilded salle in the direction of his chambers. If anyone at court understood the reasons behind the unexpected arrival of Guise, it would be Comte Sebastien Dangeau, a member of Catherine de Medici's privy council and Fabien's relative through marriage. Sebastien's position was a precarious one since the House of Guise might discover he was of the Huguenot faith. There were other Calvinists at court, and they too walked the edge of a precipice. One faux pas and they would slip from the slope into the bloodied clutches of the Guise brothers' inquisitional penchant. Comte Sebastien Dangeau, upon hearing that le Duc de Guise had ridden into the courtyard with a masked rider, joined other esteemed courtiers on one of the balconies. He held back, keeping behind the others so as to not be seen, as he managed a survey of the courtyard. Sebastien's gaze stumbled over a masked figure cowled in black, being escorted by some dozen men-at-arms under the proud flag of le Duc de Guise. The duc himself led the way into the palais. No doubt on his way to see the king. Ah but yes, there is something familiar about the hesitant gait of that hooded figure --- Footsteps pattered up behind him, the scampering feet reminding him of a mouse --- or a rat? Sebastien turned sharply. His gaze lowered to rest upon an expressionless face with brown eyes. The Italian demoiselle stared up at him. She was Madalenna, the young servant girl in bondage to the queen regent, Catherine de Medici. The Queen Mother had brought Madalenna with her from Florence, Italy, when Catherine first came to France to marry Henry Valois II. Madalenna, secretive, spying; Madalenna, always approached in a whisper of movement, emerging from some shadowy corner where one least expected to see her. Madalenna the spy. Madalenna curtsied. 'Monsieur le Comte, my mistress, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, bids you come to her state chambers tout de suite.' Sebastien glanced again toward the courtyard, then turned and departed for the chambers of the Queen Mother, known by those who knew her best as Madame le Serpent. Mademoiselle Rachelle Macquinet felt her heart thump and a trickle of perspiration ran down her rib cage. This was to be the telling moment. All she had labored for these many weeks, sometimes working twelve hours a day, would be held to the crucible of scrutiny. For this day Princesse Marguerite Valois, the youngest daughter of the Queen Mother, would try on the unfinished gown. The cut and flow, the stitching, all must be exact. Rachelle would measure and tack the hem with a steady but feathery hand and bring the gown back to her chamber to complete tomorrow. The gown was but one of several in various degrees of completion, however this particular gown was mostly Rachelle's work, and her future as a couturiere depended on the princesse's pleasure. Rachelle, a grisette from the Chateau de Silk in Lyon, was yet under the supervision of the grand couturiere herself, Henriette Marie Loiselle Dushane, otherwise known to Rachelle as her adored grandmere, a dainty widow in unrelieved black satin, with silver hair and sparkling dark eyes. Rachelle knew her to be no easy mistress with the needle, nor did Rachelle wish her to be otherwise. It was her desire to follow in her steps. Rachelle stood on the terrace of the royal chambers facing Princesse Marguerite and her ladies-in-waiting. Her wine velvet pincushion with her initials, R.D.M., was strapped to her wrist with a black velvet band, while a pair of specialized Dushane scissors swung from the chatelaine. Her measuring strip draped about her slender neck. She took the widths of sheer burgundy silk, draped gently over the cloth of gold, and with trembling fingers allowed it to fall gracefully over Marguerite's dark hair. The garment settled softly around her feet, shimmering. 'Ooh . . .' came the sigh of the ladies-in-waiting. 'C'est magnifique,' Marguerite purred, holding a section of the silk to her cheek. 'It is perfect. La, la, Rachelle, you will always do my gowns. I insist. You and your famous Grandmere.' 'Merci, Mademoiselle Princesse.' Rachelle curtsied, dipping her head and offering a quick thanksgiving to God. 'But the work, it is not yet finished. If it please my lady princesse, I would measure now for the hem and the addition of the Brugesse lace.' Marguerite stepped onto the small stool, and Rachelle knelt to smooth out the folds on the bottom of the gown. Marguerite spread her arms gracefully, lifting her face toward the March breeze and allowing the sparkling material to float. 'Monsieur Henry should see me now,' she whispered, drama in her voice. 'Ah, but he is not here . . .' Her ladies uttered sounds of sympathy. Rachelle admired Grandmere's embroidery work on the burgundy silk. The tiny gold rosebuds were sewn with a secret stitch Grandmere had perfected at the Macquinet Chateau de Silk, and Rachelle was determined to master the stitch as well. She was already practicing on leftover sections of silk. Each section of crafted rosebuds left a glittering mound of gold thread, yet the silk material around it lay smooth and unpuckered, a most difficult technique to master. Rachelle could only marvel. Not even Maman could make a perfect rosebud, and Maman too was a seasoned couturiere.