of writing “snippets” around here have been far and few between–at least, in my recent posting history. I didn’t post any for July, so August will just have to compensate. And did I promise some new art on this blog? It’ll show up sooner or later.So here’s the scraps of story I gathered up for anyone who stumbles across this blog to read.
“What is your name?” He asked in a hoarse whisper, so low she almost didn’t catch his words. His question startled Diana, having expected him to ask after her being on his property, uninvited. But she answered, with a quavery smile,
“Diana Wayland. Are you Mr. Bentley?”
“Aye. The master of Brandywine.” With the tip of his head the man answered tacitly. He couldn’t have been unable to speak—perhaps he was disinclined to, therefore did not. This uncomplicated resolution somehow appealed to Diana, for she read a shy frankness in the wide-set eyes, the corners of the gentle yet firm mouth turned up as though they might smile, but pain kept the smile back—a deep, impenetrable sadness hindering any show of enjoyment.
“Your friend Peg has submitted to her husband’s need for such a dangerous passage—so far away it is, and her parents shall indeed worry! And I shall worry when you take yourself off into that distant village—which is only a village. You are unguarded, unwed—‘tisn’t wise . . .”
“I shall!” Diana’s natural stubbornness revoked her father’s pleas, and he silenced, his face growing paler yet, and more aggrieved. “I must!” with passion she added. “I feel that I should go—and Uncle Matthew has already written—I may now, and he shall protect me and take me into his home. I will take two servants—he so instructs for the journey. Little Sam and Beulah shall accompany me.”
“Lordy Hester, but what is so odious about father’s overseer?”
Hester glared at the needlework in her lap. “He is very disagreeable.”
“That is not true!” returned Diana, annoyed by Hester’s tenacity to insist this. “He is nothing of the kind. I think he is one of the most of the agreeable men in my acquaintance.”
“He can never measure up to Julian Quentin, I think,” Hester answered. “He is so homely and uncouth in spite of his pretense of refinement.”
“That is ridiculous!” Diana declared. “That is no pretense. He is unaffected, and affable at every point. Rather too ironic, perhaps,” she admitted, “but agreeable.”
“I cannot bear his nose. I could like him well enough, if it weren’t for his nose . . . or his mouth.”
But Julian was too proper to add what he had originally intended to write—“has Peg been besetting you with pleas after joining her happiness in matrimony—for you two must always be at the same pace!” Perhaps a dark hot flush reminded him that Diana was no longer the girl to be teased as in early days.
“I’m sorry Jem!” Diana whispered. Her face had gone magnolia white. She did not know how she could every look at his eyes again, but she did then, and saw the stricken confusion of a man who hears the beginning of a death chant—who does not know the words themselves, but the tune. He gazed at her for long, terrible moments.
“Archie!” I gasped, my hands flying to my loose, tangled hair. On my morning ride the wind had swirled my hair into a thick, untidy mass about my shoulders, and the soil of the farm fields clung to the hem of my frock. But within moments all of this was forgotten as Archie rose to his feet, in a splendid navy uniform with gold epaulets and a captain’s regalia.
“I mean—Captain Laurence,” I stammered, taking a step backwards.
Archie smiled that quiet, pleasant smile of his and shook his head. “I hope to always be Archie to you, Milly. Captain Laurence has a stodgy sound to it, don’t you think?”
We had been bandying such “ghost-stories” around for more than an hour, after we had climbed from the hot tub into the shadowy pool, where with the deep far end blackened into murkiness into which none of us cared to venture. Even I, who often relished these stories, could feel the presence of the unnamed folk who been the cause of these alarming yarns. But Emmaline’s, along with her low, warning voice and round, gleaming eyes, had proved to daunt most the gathered.
“Yeah. They had no idea. That poor girl just walked up into the kid’s bedroom and saw him on the bed, staring at her out of his eyes . . . they were blue, and his face was painted white with black eyebrows—”
“I would have screamed and run out and lock the door,” declared Sara Roger, in a quivering tone.
“And you’d have left the kid behind?” retorted Beth Calvin.
“No-o-o,” Sara sighed, “But with him on the bed and the crib on the other side of the room, he could’ve just jumped up and grabbed me.”
In Attics Dark (a short story)
“It’s not a permanent condition, but there won’t be sight for a while. Several months, perhaps. A year at most.”
Blind? Annie couldn’t believe it. She fingered the bandage wound ‘round her forehead, covering her eyes. Blind. “But—but,” she struggled to get her voice out, beyond a whisper, “but it’s not permanent, right?”
“No, it isn’t.”
At least it wasn’t permanent. The thought . . . it sent a shudder through her. Then she heard Mom’s voice. “What should we do about it? Is there any specialist, expert, therapist . . .”
“The best thing you can do for her eyes is let them heal, slowly and naturally. The damage isn’t permanent, but you get a surgery on ‘em, it could mess things up. Just let it come slowly. It’s the best way. Yes, you could get her training in how to move around, someone to teach her how to walk, feel . . . you might consider teaching her braille.”
So she was about to learn braille.
In Attics Dark
“Father? Father!” Katharine hurried into Mr. Wayland’s study, where he sat at his desk with his ledger, working through the numerous figures.
“Yes, darling Kate?”
He looked up as she sidled up to him, extending a letter. She waved it beneath his nose, with such childish eagerness that he laughed. “Yes, Kate?”
“’Tis Diana! She has reached St. Louis, and you shall never guess who she met!”
“Spare me the trouble of that!” Mr. Wayland grinned.
“She encountered both His Excellency the governor, and His Excellency, the chief of Indian affairs,” Katharine told him, beaming, “Such an honor! As Uncle Matthew is well acquainted with both. Diana must have been very pleased. And do you know who the Governor of Louisiana, and the chief of Indian affairs are?”
“I’m afraid I do not,” Mr. Wayland confessed.
“Captain Meriwether Lewis is now Governor Lewis—you recall the ball Uncle Patrick gave in honor of him, and his friend, Mr. William Clark.”
“Diana says she finds the general most agreeable, but cannot say the same for Governor Lewis. He, she pronounces, is as stiff as he was in 1806, and she declares his vanity has not been helped by his promotion in society.”
Mr. Wayland chuckled. “Then I daresay she finds him contrary.”
“You know very well, Father, that Diana has no patience for vain, stiff, contrary folk. I pity Governor Lewis. He has earned her bad opinion and that not to his gain!”
“Then he has not been dancing with her, I expect. Surely she turned him down.”
“That is uncertain. She said nothing of dancing. But you may believe that she did refuse him.”
“He was a rather handsome fellow, wasn’t he?”
“Quite handsome, father! Every creature in the nation must desire his attentions.”
“Which he must give out handsomely.”
“That is likely!”
“But Diana did dance with him at Uncle Patrick’s. I think Diana was rather intimidated by him.”
She could hardly believe that it had only been that morning she and Little Sam had been in that stage coach, till that fool of a driver had refused to sober up, and put aside the whiskey. Diana still trembled with indignation at the folly of that man’s lack of temperance. His rude laugh, when she had coolly told him that if he did not leave the tavern she would no longer be a passenger of his. ‘Twould be a fool risk, she had said loftily.
“Well look-a-heer, Miz!” he had tried to rise from his seat, but had crumpled back down instead. Diana had gazed at him in the haughtiest of disdain, her eyes like two coals flaring sparks in her livid visage.
“Lordy, but I’ll be cursed if I let some high n’ mighty girl sass me,” he mumbled, his breath reeking of rum.
“You lost a passenger, sir,” Diana informed him shortly, and turned on her heel, pushing out of the tavern. The could hear bellowing laughter behind her, and the driver calling for more drink.
“’Tis ludicrous, Sam, that I allow myself to be endangered by that man—that senseless, ridiculous man!” Diana cried, tossing her head, as she took her bonnet and tied it on with shaking fingers.