Fun Friday: Her Rebellious Heart (A Ransome Spin-Off #StoryIdea)
Because I’m trying to re-teach myself that writing can be fun, this year, I’m focusing on coming up with new ideas for stories. Does this mean they’ll all get written in novel or even novella form? No guarantees. However, this is a creative exercise that I both need and want to share.
Edmund James Cochrane = Liam Hemsworth
Abigail Bradford = Jennifer Lawrence
After a few unsuccessful years as a sailor on a merchant ship as a compromise to joining the Royal Navy and following his Admiral father’s footsteps, Edmund is forced to find some other kind of work to support himself. While his father’s living as an Admiral in the Royal Navy afforded them a comfortable life, it wasn’t enough to ensure each of the seven children an inheritance that would allow them to live comfortably without their own source of income. Knowing that academia is not for him, Edmund instead joins the Metropolitan Police. Because of his outstanding work at infiltrating and bringing down several crime/smuggling rings in London and Portsmouth, in the summer of 1848, Edmund is assigned to find and infiltrate the resurgence of Chartists in order to waylay another violent riot, like the Newport Uprising ten years before.
His entrée into the heart of the movement comes from in a most unexpected form—when he rescues a woman on the street from a runaway carriage. She has been in the process of distributing leaflets about a meeting for “the working men of London,” a common phrase among the Chartists.
Abigail Bradford is, at first, suspicious of the tall young man who literally swept her off her feet—no mean feat, given her own above-average height and sturdy build. He’s a bit cleaner, and bit more nicely dressed, than most of the men that she usually sees at the Chartist meetings. But no one would be able to fake the interest he shows when she tells him about the meeting and invites him to come—fully expecting him not to show up.
But he does come. And Abby can’t keep her eyes off of him . . . and notices his eyes straying toward her more often than appropriate. (Not that she minds.)
Edmund is surprised by the fact that not only does Miss Bradford not feign shyness or pretend she wasn’t observing him, but she doesn’t look away, meeting his gaze evenly and steadily, whenever he looks her way. And he looks her way often enough to almost forget why he’s at the meeting in the first place. But when the main speaker takes the stand and begins to rail about voting rights for all men, for equal voting districts, and pay for members of Parliament, among other things, he is quickly reminded of the job he’s supposed to be performing. He knows his best course of action is to avoid anyone with whom a connection could become complicated by personal entanglement—but he cannot resist seeking out Abigail Bradford after the meeting ends. He tells her his cover story—that he’s new to London and trying to find a like-minded society with which to spend his time. She tells him of a ball at the borough guildhall in two days—and that she’ll save him a dance if he comes.
At the assembly ball, Edmund meets Abigail’s mother and sisters, and discovers that Mr. Bradford died while serving a life sentence at hard labor for being arrested as one of the rioters during the Newport (Wales) Uprising in 1838. Mrs. Bradford invites Edmund for Sunday dinner the next afternoon. There, he learns that Abigail’s mother married her husband’s cousin shortly after her husband’s passing, in order to be able to support her children, and they relocated to London, where the husband works at the docks, unloading coal from barges. Neither he nor Mrs. Bradford are pleased with Abigail’s involvement with the Chartist Movement, but since she is of age and makes a small living of her own as a jeweler’s assistant at a shop near Mayfair. And they trust that her uncle, her father’s younger brother, will keep her out of harm’s way.
When Abigail arrives at a meeting wearing one of the fine dresses that she usually only wears to work, she is accused of betraying everything her uncle and the other Chartists stand for. Afterward she confesses to Edmund that her position pays her enough that she could have a decent flat in a nicer part of the city than living with her parents near the docks. But she feels she’d be betraying her father’s memory and what he died for if she allows herself to become someone who lives like the Conservatives. But she’s torn. Because she also wants to show her younger siblings that with enough hard work and dedication, they can rise above their current situation, too. That while government reforms are vital, so is self-sufficiency and the willingness to work hard to improve oneself and one’s situation.
It isn’t long before Edmund has completely fallen for the feisty Abigail. Yet he knows he cannot act upon these feelings, or else he’ll put the job he’s here to do at risk. And if he reveals his feeling for Abigail and discovers she returns them, he knows he’ll no longer be able to keep lying to her about his real employment. And there would be nothing to stop her from telling her about him.
One afternoon, Abigail agrees to make a delivery for her employer. The bus she takes on the way home passes by Scotland Yard—just in time for her to see Edmund Cochrane walking out of the building, deep in conversation with a detective inspector Abigail recognizes from his several “sweeps” of the neighborhood where the meetings are held. The last thing she sees before the horse-drawn bus turns a corner is the two men congenially shaking hands.
Every suspicion Abby ever had about Edmund returns full-force, and she realizes what a fool she was for falling for his charm and flirtation.
Abby goes straight to her uncle and tells him what she saw. Her uncle tries to convince her that Edmund is trustworthy—that there’s surely another reason why he’d be meeting with the DI. Or that it was someone else entirely that Abby saw. But she eventually makes him admit that she might be right. That means he needs to call an emergency meeting in order to change the date—but he’ll need Abby to make sure that Edmund doesn’t find out about it in order to attend, as they can’t keep him out of the meeting without letting on that they know he’s spying on them.
Though it’s hard to maintain a pleasant attitude, Abby tells Edmund that she will in fact take him up on his offer of a drive in the country that he made quite some time ago, and conveys the date and time to her uncle. On the drive, Abby can no longer keep up the pretense. She confronts him and forces him to confess. She’s shocked to learn that not only is he a spy but he is also a Metropolitan Police officer and it was his job to find a way into this group of Chartists in order to preempt another uprising like Newport.
Abby insists on returning home—she cannot spend one more minute in his presence. As soon as they arrive, however, her uncle and a group of men are waiting for them and they attack Edmund right there in front of her, despite her protests.
With Edmund’s life in the balance, can Abby forgive his deception, put aside her rebelliousness, and let love reform her heart?
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