31 December 2016

The Orphanage of Curiosities | 1

Chapter One
The Orphanage of Curiosities

          The white crested waves of high tide beat against the smooth rock faces, nearly shielding the shore from sight. A salty spray sprang up from their encounters in showers of little droplets which fell back down to the sea once more. The normally sandy shore was swallowed by the hungry waters, removing all traces of sea life.
          Overlooking the ocean upon a mossy cliff, situated a safe distance from the water was a salmon pink, Victorian-style house. The sturdy building included four stories complete with a generous amount of rooms, was decorated with soaring gables and plenty of shining windows, and was masked in lush twirling ivy. 
          This house was known as the Curieuse Estate by its inhabitants, and by the locals as The Orphanage of Curiosities. It was home to an assortment of unique children and adults alike, and owned by the dashing Colonel Grover Curieuse of the English navy, a diligent father and husband. Over its years of constant service, The Orphanage of Curiosities had become a safe-haven, a place for parentless children to thrive in a creative environment.

          The orphanage had housed a variety of children over the years who made their mark in its many rooms; however, our story follows the trail of a few particularly fantastical of its charges. We shall begin our story with the gardener, a humble young man by the name of Rajeev Fairwell, who had once come to the orphanage in search of a home the same as the others. Yet unlike them, he had neither the spirit nor presence of mind to leave the home he had known for almost his whole life, and so he stayed on at the orphanage, improving the sadly diminished garden plot behind the main building. Most children of the orphanage seemed to consider him a silent, lackluster part of the orphanage’s framework, not deemed worthy of conversing with. Even so, they all never missed seeing the dark-haired young man working among the greens of the garden from their bedroom windows.
          In fact, that was precisely what one of the orphans was doing at that moment. Her crystal blue eyes peered scrutinizingly out of her healthily colored, heart-shaped face at the young man digging up a row of potatoes in the garden plot. Clods of dark earth showered the ground as Rajeev drove the metal spade into the dirt. He wiped his perspiring brow with the cuff of his linen shirt and looked up to the blue sky above, letting the warm, golden sunlight fall across his swarthy face. The girl decided he was a peaceful figure, standing there breathing in the aroma of freshly turned earth, leaning on his shovel, with dirt under every one of his fingernails. She continued to watch him in tranquil interest. 

          A little while later, with the girl still watching him intently, Rajeev finished filling the wooden bucket holding the potatoes. The latter vegetables were mounded over the rim of the bucket causing the girl to wonder how he was going to carry the potatoes without them spilling over the brim. Seeing he was done with work for the afternoon, she started to slip away from the window, but paused when she saw him pick up his shovel once again this time, furtively, and begin digging in a far corner of the garden. When he had dug a hole large enough to fit an average-sized cat into, he reached into his overall pocket. Instantaneously, a bell began to ring incessantly from downstairs in the orphanage. Hurried footsteps outside the door of her room caused the girl to turn away from the window swiftly.
          “Hurry, Cali. It’s time for Naturalist Society.” Another girl, by the name of Eunice, stuck her head around the door frame and motioned briskly with her hand. The girl who had been at the window, Cali, took one last wistful look out the window and caught a glimpse of an object held in Rejeev’s outstretched hand, glinting in the sunlight. 

          “This plant right here is Atropa belladonna, known by some as deadly nightshade. All parts of the plant including the berries, leaves, and juice are highly poisonous and contain atropine, hence its Latin name. If ingested, it will cause slow, but certain death.” The voice of Mr. Augustus Canvas reverberated in the enclosing circle of tall white pine trees. He pointed out an elegant plant along the edge of the pines to his attentive students, its dark purple-black berries gleaming malignantly in the glow of the setting sun. “Please open your sketchbooks and draw this species of the Solanaceae family beside your illustration of the Datura plant.”
          “Can we go closer to look at it, Mr. Augustus?” asked one of the orphans, more cheerfully than would have been expected when talking about a deadly poisonous plant. 
        “Absolutely, only please take care not to touch it. As I said, the toxicity level is quite high.” The group of ten students stepped forward to examine the plant. 

          Cali looked up, surprised, from her sketchbook when a droplet of rain splashed onto her paper and rolled across her anatomy drawing of the belladonna plant.
          “Oh dear. I’m afraid I forgot the umbrellas today. Let’s head inside; we’re about done anyhow,” said Mr. Augustus dismally. The orphans stood and trailed their teacher down the well-trodden path back to the orphanage. A boom of vociferous thunder made them all quicken their pace. Cali’s sneakers, along with the others’, were soaked thoroughly by this point. Why had Mr. Augustus chosen to take them this far into the forest on this of all days? Irritation showed on all the pupils’ faces. 
          When they arrived at the orphanage, wet through and disgruntled, they were greeted by the few students who had chosen not the take the extracurricular Naturalist Society and Ms. Rada Canvas, who served as the Mathematics teacher for the orphanage and was also Mr. Augustus’s wife.
          “Why, you’re wet, darling,” she said when she saw her husband among the crowd of students. Ms. Rada reached over to her husband, who was grunting with annoyance, and straightened his polka-dot necktie. She then turned to the saturated orphans and said, “I’ll tell Cook to get some tea directly.” 


  1. Very wonderful, Sophie! It encourages me to continue my chapter, although I bet I'll have to do some character improvements...XD
    You did everything so well, everyone mentioned fit the character exactly, and I love the way it all fit together like a puzzle. So creative!!

    Amelia xxx

    1. Yay! I'm so glad you're inspired to continue the book! Yes, we definitely need to update characters ;)
      Thanks!! It was SO fun to write. <3

  2. Okay, okay, i got the hint. XD (This is great btw.)


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