Of Moths and Butterflies - By V.R. Christensen

What others are saying


Of Moths & Butterflies

“A lovely, haunting story. The first paragraph drew me in and I could not stop. The author’s writing is superb, like a river flowing through a beautiful landscape that is sometimes light, sometimes dark and threatening. A gorgeous book!”

Susanne O’Leary, author of A Woman’s Place


“V.R. Christensen’s work reminds one of literature from the turn of the century, when masterful writers gave their characters emotional gestures and restrained dialogue. A tremendous accomplishment for a contemporary writer.”

Janie Bill, author


“What really makes this work is the author’s understanding of social attitudes in the 19th century. An enjoyable read!”

N. Gemini Sasson, author of Isabeau: A Novel of Queen Isabella and Sir Roger Mortimer


“Poor Imogen, cursed with money. All the things that money does to a family, the paradoxes of having and not having, of how money ruins the best of intentions, and the author combines all this with writing of the highest quality.”

Jeff Blackmer, author of Draegnstoen and Highland King


“What scandalous mystery, what delicately hinted corruption wrought behind closed doors! The dialogue flows effortlessly, drawing the reader into the times. Of Moths and Butterflies is masterful for its genre!”

Hawaiibased mystery author, Toby Neal

Author of

Cry of the Peacock and Gods and Monsters

Captive Press Publishing

Copyright 2011 by V.R. Christensen

Kindle Edition

This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to persons living or dead are purely coincidental.

Cover design by V.R. Christensen and Captive Press. For more information about the author, see the About the Author page at the back of this book. Illustrations by B. Lloyd. For more information about her, see theAbout the Artist page at the back of this book. For all other citations regarding quotations and images used in the creation of this book, please see the copyright info page.

Part one

People have very little idea how great are the injuries which imprudence draws on them, or they would not despise this homely virtue. Especially for young women is prudence required in the conduct of love affairs. There is no end to the tale of misery we could tell resulting from its want. Marriage would not be the lottery it is, if girls would exercise a little prudence. They should never engage themselves to a man of whom they know nothing—the past of their future husband ought to be clear to them.

Laura. Valentine, The Young Woman's Book

Chapter one

October 1881

ITH EACH CREAK in the floorboards above, Imogen’s nerves tensed. She wanted to sleep, needed to. The fire in the parlour had gone out, but it wasn’t a particularly cold night, and the warm glare of firelight seemed too harsh an interruption to the soothing darkness.

Again, the footsteps overhead. The doctor had been upstairs for hours now and this late night vigil did not bode well. If the man should die, she might at last have the liberty she’d so long desired. But where would she go? How would she live? Yet there were concerns more immediately pressing. The shameful circumstances of her life here, the events which had led up to the tragic finale of the evening, these secrets must come to light. Perhaps the doctor was hearing of them now.

It had not been her intention to hurt him. She had only meant to stand up to her uncle. She had reached her limit and she could take no more. She wanted the torment to end, the daily battle to hold onto the last vestiges of self-respect that still remained to her. But now she sat in this limbo between freedom and ruin. If he lived, could she leave him? If he died could she stay? Her conflicting and tumultuous emotions betrayed themselves only in her occupation of busily fingering the fringe of her paisley shawl. Out of date, it was her mother’s and she wore it often. She wore it for comfort.

A knock at the parlour door startled her from her meditations. Mary entered, followed closely by the doctor. He paused a moment before crossing the threshold, his frame a black silhouette against the lights that burned in the hall.

Imogen sat up, pulling her shawl more tightly around her.

“Your uncle requests his solicitor, Miss Everard.”

Silently she nodded and arose. She crossed to the writing desk, where she sat down to compose the line or two required. She blotted and sealed the message, then gave the direction for its delivery.

The doctor returned to his patient, leaving her once more to her dark thoughts, interrupted only by the creaks and groans of a centuries-old house and by the hall clock as it marked