NP9 – Chapter 7 – Fighting the Growing Storm

I often took an evening walk with the seamstresses after our shift let out. We would stroll around the block once or twice for some fresh air after a long day inside. I left before the other girls that evening, expecting them right behind me. Pulling my shawl around me tighter to keep the damp evening from seeping in, I rounded the street corner and almost walked directly into Frederick.

 

“Ella, my dear!”

 

“My dear?” I thought. Pretty early for terms of endearment. . .

 

He took both my hands entreatingly. “I have come forth diligently to seek you!”

 

“Frederick!” I stammered. “What- What brings you out so late?” It was past 8:30.

 

“Why you of course!” He gazed at me intently.

 

“I-”

 

“I have come to invite you to the opera on Friday evening!”

 

“I’d be delighted! I’ve never been before!” I could hardly take in the offer.

 

“I’ll pick you up in a carriage at seven!” He took my arm in his and began walking in the direction of the shop. “A lady such as yourself deserves to have the experience.”

 

“Here come the love birds!” Evangeline called out. I had the desire to slap her across the face for the remark. She consistently made rude comments to me in front of the rest of the seamstresses, but I held my peace.

 

“No wonder she left ahead of us!” Isabella smiled with a dreamy look in her eyes.

 

“Oh hush. I had no knowledge of his coming, and you were the ones who dallied after you announced you were ready to leave. I thought you were directly behind me.”

 

Frederick ignored them and turned to me with an earnest look. “I will go in and ask for your mother’s permission.” He kissed my hand and disappeared into the shop with a sweep of his long coat.

 

When we returned from our walk around the block he stood leaning against the doorway. He quickly came down the steps as I approached.

 

“I have read your letters over and over.” He took both my hands again. “I am so fascinated, my dear. You say so many beautiful things, so many sad things. Indeed you have a stunning soul. You have invaded my thoughts like a waterfall.”

 

I didn’t know how to react to such flattery.

 

“Here is my response, darling.” He dropped a letter into my hands. “I will see you Friday evening.” And with that he faded into the dark fog of the night.

 

I stood there motionless, gazing after him. What should I think?  It was so fast. The opera? What kind of money was he spending on such an outing? Had it even been a week? And yet he found me fascinating. He read my letters over and over. No one had ever shown such interest, they were usually annoyed. “One day you’ll meet a real person who will listen to all those thoughts and he will be a lucky man indeed.” Was he the one my father had always told me about? I longed for my father’s reassuring hand on my shoulder and a word of his counsel.

 

“Ella?” Isabella touched my elbow gently. “Are you coming in?”

 

“Oh,” I woke from my daze. “Yes.”

 

“You love him, don’t you?” She asked as we walked up the shop steps.

 

“Love him?” The thought startled me. “Love him? No, but I think I might be starting to.”

 

“Ella!” My mother came toward me excitedly as I entered. “Oh my dear! The opera! I will let you borrow one of my fine old dresses!”

 

“Oh thank you! I was just thinking I don’t have anything of my own that is nice enough.” I smiled excitedly, but my face sobered as I remember something. “Mother, we need to talk.”

 

“Talk? Why what about? Aren’t we talking now?”

 

“Privately.”

 

“Oh well, just come into the office.”

 

“You’ve reduced the wages.” I said as she closed the office door.

 

“Oh yes! Our neighboring shops have lowered their prices. I don’t want to lose business. We have to keep up!”

 

“Keep up?” Her words sickened me. “These are girls lives you are dealing with, not shillings and pounds!”

 

“Oh Ella! It’s just the world of business. This is the way things work!” My mother protested, acting as if she knew everything.

 

“No! You know what happens to the seamstresses who work for too little pay. You know the rumors and the truth behind them! Didn’t grandmother found this shop so that seamstresses could work for a living without being forced to prostitution? It’s not just a story! It happens and we’ve had seamstresses come to us for that very reason!” I remembered growing up hearing the story over and over again. “Can we abandon our first principles? That is the foundation of our shop! You’ve extended the hours for the season and are paying the seamstresses even less than regular hours! What holds you at a higher moral standard than any other business?”

 

“Oh Ella.” My mother sat down with a distressed sigh. “It’s so hard. I just- Sometimes I don’t even know anymore. We aren’t doing as well as we did last year. We lost a few seamstresses, the competition has lowered prices and they produce more and-”

 

“Mother,” I laid my hand soothingly on her shoulder. “We will make a way. Remember what father always said. ‘Honor God and He will honor you.’ We will succeed if we do right.”

 

 

Personal Reflection for The Novel Project

1. Have I connected the Conflict to the overall Theme or message I hope to portray?
 
The plot really works off of the theme in that my character chooses a path based on the fact that she isn’t learning the lesson of the theme. This story is a lot about her learning a lesson, and that lesson is the theme. 
 
2. Have there been hints to the Theme throughout the story?
 
So far I’ve only directly mentioned the theme once or twice, although I think I’ve alluded to it generally the entire time. 
 
3. What should my reader know at this point about each character?
 
At this point the reader should know that Ella is determined, striving for a high moral ground, unwilling to settle, and yet terribly lonely. This loneliness is so strong that it comes to compromise her. 
 
Frederick is not a very well known character, nor is he supposed to be. He is in fact the mystery of the whole story. You want to keep reading because you want to find out who he is. 
 
4. Could a reader guess the ending of my story or are there still surprises to come?
 
I think that would depend on the reader. Someone might pick up a few things here and there to form a general idea of where the story is going, but the climax is not particularly a pleasant one. Because of that it is a topic often avoided and probably will not come to the minds of the readers. I intentionally left seedlings to hint at the doubt of Frederick’s character, but I have not produced any real hints at the crimes he has committed, or will at least attempt to commit. 
 
5. How would my readers feel at this point? Would they be emotionally invested?
 
I hope the readers are so far emotionally invested. Honestly I think that so far the story is lacking. It’s a little bit flat, a little bit dry, a little bit repetitive  I don’t know what to add to flesh it out anymore. I hope that my readers are feeling the stress of Ella, the tension of her trying to make a decision that could lead to her happiness or her ruin, or to the repeated disappointment of her mother and her friends. 
 
6. Have I used literary devices, such as metaphor, simile, alliteration, symbolism, irony, etc?
 
All the chapter titles are a metaphor of the story as a sailing voyage. The entire story is intended to be symbolism of the Christian life. 
 
7. Am I staying true to my original Plot Outline?
 
I am mostly maintaining the original plot line, but I’ve deviated here and there with the timing as I’ve developed the story. 
 
8. Are there changes I need or want to make?
 
I would really like to go back and add more detail to the story. Also, to preserve historical accuracy, and to place it in a time frame for a certain historical event to happen in the climax I need to change the time frame from 1840, to 1870 or 1880. I’ve been researching as I’ve been writing and realized that the sewing machine was not used commercially in 1840 as well as the fact that I’d like the characters to attend a Spurgeon church service.
I also want to go back and add more detail in the previous chapters, for example going into clothing descriptions. (Ms. Gaines also recommended this.) 
 
9. Am I staying on top of important revisions according to feedback?
 
I have mostly edited the story according to the feedback, although I still need to make a few grammar changes in my posted stories. 
 
10. Am I energized about the Novel Project or feeling stuck?
 
That depends on what part of the story we are talking about. I’m confused about some of the developing plot line in the next few chapters, but quite excited about the ending. I’ve struggled to keep the story from being monotonous  and I fear I haven’t done too well. I’m also concerned that it’s become plain, all about one thing, while every life is infinitely complex. A lot of things happening in the background do not come to the forefront until the climax, so I’m afraid it may have a strange 2D effect that will turn the reader upside down into 3D. That could potentially be great, but it could also be really awkward. I’m considering moving the climax closer to the middle of the story than the end. 
 
11. Am I proud of my work?
 
I am certainly pleased with many aspects of the story, but I want to give all that I have, and I hope that I can. I know that some of the chapters previously are not as good as they could be. 
 
12. What have I learned from this experience so far?
 
Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ve learned. It’s difficult to take a bundle of experiences that I have just come through and say, “Bingo! Here’s the grand lesson!” I’ve learned that characters are infinitely complex and often hard to portray correctly to provide the needed effect. I’ve also learned that it’s hard to show the full spread of the story from the mind of one girl who is lost in her own world. In a way I like it, because I’m hoping to make the reader feel the same trapped feeling as the main character, and then the release when you learn the truth and it sets you free. So, it’s an adventure, one with lessons I have yet to realize I have learned. 

NP8 – Storm Clouds

Previously in Who Will Make Your Path Strait?:

Ella Middleton, a seamstress in Victorian England in the late 1800s, is working hard in the peek of “the season.” She has a new wealthy client, Juliet Middleton. In addition to this pressure her mother has introduced a suitor and many of her friends are pushing her to accept him, though the relationship is hardly even under way.

“That’s enough!” I gasped as Isabella, my understudy, pulled my corset tight.

“Alright,” she tied the strings.

I let go of the bed rail and slipped into my crinoline. “Are you ready for me to tighten yours?”

Isabella took my place holding the bed rail and I wrapped the cords about my hands and began the yanking process. “Are you excited to go out today?”

“Yes,” she spoke with a strained breath. “But I’m a little sad. I’d wanted to get hair ribbons for my sisters.”

“And you can’t?” I wondered why she shouldn’t manage it.

“Oh, the pay dropped this past week. Mrs. Middleton says we have to cut back this season.”

“What?” I found this hard to take in. Why would we be cutting back now? “But. . . she just extended the hours as well.”

“Well, it is her dress shop. She decides the rules. Stop! That’s enough!” Isabella took a sharp breath.

I tied the corset strings. “I’ll have to chat with her about that. The wages were low enough before. We can’t ethically deal this way.”

After breakfast Juliet and I headed toward the fabric shop several block away. “So,” Isabella braved enough to ask a question. “How are things going with this suitor?”

I laughed and blushed a little bit, not sure if I was annoyed or happy. “Um… well he wrote me another letter last night. He told me a lot of his life story.” I spoke as we strode down the sidewalk. “He seems to be quite an interesting fellow. He was engaged a year back. Apparently she broke off the engagement after it had been long held and he said he’s been devastated ever since. I confess I’m beginning to like him some. But really it’s far too early to tell.”

“Oh, my sister met someone and they were engage within a week,” She spoke as if that were completely a good thing.

“Well. . .” I couldn’t decide what I should say to that. “This fellow does seem quite eager. I certainly hope he’ll have the sense to wait more than a week to propose!”

“Oh you should go for it!” She was talking excitedly now. “You are plenty old enough and this could be your last sewing season if you took his hand.”

I tried not to roll my eyes at the dreamy talk of a fifteen-year-old girl. Surely she meant well. “I prefer to go about it with discretion rather than speed.”

“Well, it’s a fine match,” She said as she pushed open the door of the fabric shop.

“Hullo Miss Ella! Hullo Miss Isabella!” The shop keeper’s son greeted us with his usual bright smile. “Good to see you this morning!”

“Hello Sandy,” a smile of relief swelled over my face. Sandy was one of those people who relaxes the spirit.

“What can I get for you?” He beamed.

“Well, I’m looking for finishing materials, what do you have by way of lace trim?”

We glanced through spools of trim on a shelf as Isabella wandered about looking for her own things.

“How have you been?” Sandy always wanted to know.

“Oh, I’ve been well enough. A bit in an odd place really. My mother threw another gentleman at me. I’m not sure what I should do.”

“Pray and follow your conscience,” he replied as he pulled out a spool of lace. “Will this do for what you are making?”

“You make it sound easy,” I laughed as I inspected the fine crochet. “I think this will match.” I pulled out a scrap of the blue silk from the I was working on.

“Well, often the hardest questions have the simplest answers. Trust God. He will make your path straight.” Sandy surveyed the lace against the blue cloth. “You might want something a shade lighter,” he offered another type of lace.

“Hmm,” I picked a lace. “I try so hard to do the right thing, sometimes I don’t think I have the strength.”

“Ella,” Sandy laid his hand on my shoulder. “Stop trying to live by your own strength. ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.’ It is God who gives you strength, not Him demanding strength out of you.”

“Thank you,” I smiled gratefully. “I shall try and use that advice.”

“Just pray,” he walked with me to the counter. “Is that all you need?”

“Two yards of that and some beads.” I went off in search of my last details, now remembering that upon returning home I should speak with my mother. Why was she reducing wages and lengthening hours? Our business had not declined, had it? Were fabric prices really climbing so high? I tried to breathe deeply to feel better, but each thing that happened in those past few weeks seemed to add another layer of stress. I had taken on a wealthy client by myself, I was introduced to a new suitor, I had to confront my mother about business dealings, and the anniversary of father’s death was just a few days away. What on earth was the world coming to?

S8 – Passing By

 This assignment is to write a previous chapter from another character’s perspective. I have chosen chapter two from Lord Lawrence Willingham’s perspective. The original chapter is https://myrajtps.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/np4-chapter-2-of-the-novel-project-sails-unfurled/

“Good morning, My Lord,” the waiter in the cafe smiled at me as I entered.

“Good morning, Devon!” I appreciated his kindness.

“I have your usual table open,” He showed me to it. “Will you be having the standard?”

“Yes,” I sat down and opened the newspaper on the table. The press wasn’t the best place to look for clues, but I scanned it every morning. When investigating for a case I often spent my mornings strolling the streets of London.

“Is your work going well, My Lord?” Devon set a white china coffee cup on the table before me.

“Ah, I don’t have the evidence I need yet, and I’m concerned that he’s going for someone else.”

“Oh dear,” He coughed uncomfortably. “But, may I say, you could use this crime as bate, could you not?”

“I certainly could,” I took a sip of coffee. “But,” I paused with the cup still close to my lips. “I know the girl I think he is going after.”

“Well, I will leave you to think on it sir and return with your breakfast.” He left the table.

I stared into the coffee cup, swirling it lightly and watching the dark stains on the porcelain. My mind combed through what I knew about the case, and then my stomach twitched as I worried for the safety of the girl. I’d only seen her one in my life, but something connected us that I could not ever forget. As I gazed at the black liquid I fell into a sort of dream of memory.

 

For my fifth birthday my parents took me to a park in the city. The blossums of the cherry trees fascinated me. I wandered about beneath them, quite forgetting myself. I must have strayed from my parent’s view. Someone clapped a hand over my mouth and picked me up. I heard snickering.

 

“Hey kid!” A young man  sneared at me. There were about five of them.

 

My mind flashed through stories I’d heard about popular crimes. Young men, often even well-to-do ones enjoyed beating up the helpless, be it old man, or small child. They carried me to an alley way, laid me on the ground and let at me with their feet.

 

“Hands off!” It was a deep voice.

 

Before I could take in that the voice didn’t come from one of them, the scroundel of a man standing above me was clubbed in the head.  I realized that all five of them were sprawling on the ground. A working man with a kind face picked me up and carried me to his home, the appartment over Middle Dressmakers. He and his wife nursed me back to health.

 

I became aware again of the swirling coffee in front of me. Again I scanned over my memory of the house and I found her. Ella had been at the fireplace with some kind of sewing in her hands. She couldn’t have been more than three. I had promised her father that one day I would return his favor, but I never expected he would die before I could. Now I merely kept an eye on the shop, making sure the family did not come into great harm.  

“Your eggs, My Lord,” The waiter set a plate of eggs and sausage before me.

I cleared my breakfast away quickly, paid the tab and went on my way. After making a few usual rounds I strolled past Middleton Dressmakers. Today I lingered in the area, making small talk with the nearby shop owners and street sellers in case I might pick up anything. I glanced up and saw the figure of a girl with her back turned. Could that be Ella?

When I returned to the town house in the early afternoon I found a commotion in the carriage house.

“Will it not fit?!” I heard exasperated grunts and shouts.

“No, Jimmy. It’s not gunna budge!”

I stood in the doorway and slipped off my top hat. “What’s this?”

“The buggy has lost a wheel, My Lord,” the smithy, Jim, spoke to me. “It wouldn’t be much of a trouble except that Miss Juliet has to get to a fittin in a half hour.”

“And you won’t have it ready by then?”

“No, Sir. We’ll have in an hour though.”

“Do your work and don’t worry,” I smiled and replaced my hat on my head. “I’ll make a round by the dress shop and find out if we can change the appointment.”

I usually didn’t ride a horse or take a buggy, as I prefered going on foot. So I began ambling leisurely to the shop some blocks down. Before long I found myself walking through the front door of Middleton Dressmakers. She was standing there tidying a bolt of cloth.

“Welcome to Middleton Dressmakers,” she looked up at me with a smile.

“Oh, thank you.” I smiled at her, knowing from Juliet’s description that I had finally laid eyes on Ella Middleton again. As I removed my top hat I closed the door.

“How may I help you?” she laid down the bolt of blue silk fabric.

“I’m here for my sister Juliet.” I drew back a stray bit of hair from my face as I gazed at her.

“Is she unable to come?” Ella’s demeanor seemed to deflate.

“Our carriage wheel broke this morning.” I ran my fingers over the smooth surface of my hat brim as I spoke. “She will be able to come later in the evening, half past four, if you are able to see her then.” Her eyes seemed full of wonder as she listened to me.

“Certainly! I’d be pleased to see her later.” It seemed like she woke from a bit of a dream. “I’ll simply cut a pattern for another one of her dresses and she’ll have even more to try on.”

“Thank you. I will let her know.” I bowed slightly and stepped out of the shop. So that was Ella Middleton. I put my hat on again as I walked down the street. My zeal for pressing my case had intensified all the more. If Fredrick Williamson had designs on the girl I’d promised to protect I had to act quickly.

NP7

Navagating

 

Last week we left our main character, Ella Middleton, a young seamstress in London, 1840, discussing the troubles of loneliness with her wealthy client and good friend Juliet.  She still wonders if the suitor her mother is pressing her to take is a good man. Is he all that she dreams of? 

            I thought of Frederick here and there throughout the next several days. I confess it was not without a blush or two, but I was also cautious. He had knocked at the door, but had not gained entrance into my heart. That left me to wonder if he had the key. Sometimes it takes a very long time to gain someone’s confidence. Other times, like with Juliet, it takes only a moment. His conversation had intrigued me and flattered me, but I still felt haunted by a distrust for him.

 

            All of these ideas took a turn in the road when a letter came for me Tuesday evening.

 

            “Miss Ella,

 

I have eagerly waited to receive a note from you since my visit and I confess that you have come to mind more than a few times. Again forgive me if I seem too eager. I am almost entirely deprived of conversation, much less from a lady as noble and beautiful as yourself. It seems there are few ladies who truly understand the word honor, and I am delighted to find that you do. I find you fascinating and intriguing. At the moment I would like nothing more than to converse with you, and if you chose not to reply I will take the hint and leave you be.

 

Until then I shall remain,

 

Frederick Williamson”

 

I laughed at the first sentence. Why would I write him first? He was the gentleman and it was his place. Without waiting, I took up my pen and began a response.

 

Mr. Frederick,

 

I merely awaited you to write me. I find your eloquence stunning. Let me first warn you that I am excessively fond of rambling and capable of writing a very great deal. I have overwhelmed many friends and suitors by the length and amount of my letters. Since you said on Sunday that you too ramble I hereby challenge you to see if you can match my pace.

 

You have certainly come to my mind a number of times as well. I must confess that you have opened a well of memory in me. The first time I fell in love it was before I was allowed to go out. That has been many years back and it was a drawn out and painful experience. In spite of the fact that it was only a correspondence of letters, he treated me with cruelty and I confess that I have been angry and hurt over the matter ever since. The fact that meeting you has made me go back into those memories is shocking to me. I was so hurt then that I closed off those thoughts, afraid to face them alone because of the pain they would cause. What can I say? You are somewhat like him in temperament, accent, and interests. At the same time you are very different.”

 

I wrote a bit more, mainly asking various questions. He had peeked my interest, much more than I had expected he would. The following day I thought of him almost constantly, coming up with all sorts of questions to ask him in my next letter. His words awoke many wells of thought, so that I felt almost swamped by my own soul.

 

After many hours of labor I found myself exhausted on Monday evening. I took a pen to paper, perhaps as a letter to Frederick, but also perhaps just to myself. I wanted to explain myself to him so that he might understand the type of woman he was trying to romance. So I began.

 

“Mine is a heart that longs to be romanced, that is empty and has been empty for many years. It aches to be used, to be filled. And yet to admit this longing is to bring upon myself shame. To say that I long to marry is to invite the scorn of others. It is to bring the snickers of men, or of women who believe that true womanhood is some kind of demented sort of constantly vulnerability and dependency. If I am to say that I long to be romanced I invite the scorn of “being a woman.” Why? Why? Why? Are men incapable of longing? Are men devoid of a desire for romance? Are men truly heartless? Are men never lonely? Are men entirely self-reliant? Do men never long that the empty corridors of their thought be wandered by someone else?”

 

My tears splashed over the paper.

 

“What is it in the hearts of men that they have become so cruel? Is it a crime to want to be loved? And is it somehow only a woman who longs to be loved? And is it a crime to be a woman? Because… because I have always been told that it is.”

 

I resolved not to send the letter. At least not yet. It was too painful, too open, too much of my own heart and my own vulnerability to show him just yet. I simply folded the paper on the table and left it there on the table.  

Sandbox 7

IMG_3060Epoch of The Far Dawn:

A Tale of Adventure Beyond The Stars!

Chapter 5

    Last week’s chapter left Lawson Fuller and his mercenaries newly landed on Xoshana. First setting out on their mission to find the lost         colonists they split into three platoons with air support, and sweep the area, only the find Lawson’s main unit approached by carnivorous reptiles.

Without hesitation Lawson grabbed the receiver from the radioman who still stood beside him. “Sky Capt. Fuller,” he said quickly in an undertone, hoping not to arouse the beasts by loud shouting. “Platoons two and three flank from the north west and north east! Carnivorous lizards are approaching us from the river! Air support, assist!” He dropped the receiver and turned to his men. “We’ve come to fight for honor, glory, and the lives or the vengeance of our fellow countrymen! If we are here to die, then let us die with honor! But if to conquer, then let us do it in glory! For you brothers!”

With this last cry they opened fire upon the beasts. Lawson spewed bullets from his Lancaster submachine gun with a smile playing on his lips. He loved nothing better than the adrenaline of action. Knowing the fighting tactics of these heinous reptiles, the men attempted to keep them at bay with bullets to avoid disastrous hand-to-hand combat. The beasts would rise on their back legs to a size of nearly ten feet and could easily crush a man in their forearms.

“Bayonets!” Fuller called as the reptiles charged forward.

The first several minutes of battle were exhilarating. Lawson had fought more dangerous brawls than these, but the heat and the intensity of noise soon crashed over his initial pleasure. A beast charged strait for him as he continued to fire, but it came even against the bullets. As it rose over him he rush forward, lunging his bayoneted gun into its stomach and whirling to the side, in hopes to skirt around it. The beast however, lashed its tail in agony and swept toward his legs. He jumped and rolled over the ground.

The whirr of aircraft pulled him from his daze of personal battle with the beast and he rose to rally his men back. But the lines were confused. Reptiles and men were entangled in battle at every turn. The air support would be of no help to them now. He turned to survey the rest of the field and saw even more reptiles coming from the deep foliage towards the river. If he could radio coordinates to the aircraft he could let them know the location of the enemy, but his radioman was nowhere in sight. The jungle completely blocked the coming enemy from the sight of the men overhead.

Lawson had little time to stand and think. Lizards were coming from all directions and he found himself again embroiled in ferocious conflict. He threw down an empty magazine and pulled another from his belt, again working as much damage without coming into too dangerous a range of his adversaries.

Loud shouts from the northeast and northwest alerted him that platoons two and three had finally arrived to his aid. An hour of desperate fighting found them finished hammering the vermin to the anvil and they broke the spirit of the beasts. Lawson beat his chest and shouted cheerfully to his men as they broke through the lines from the opposing hills. Now only a few vermin remained, the rest of them running helter-skelter for the jungle.

As Lawson panted and wiped sweat from his forehead, he glanced upward, and watched the fleeing reptiles. Tracing their movements up hills in the east and through the jungle he glimpsed white cloth. His slowing pulse again quickened. On the high branches of a tree stood the nameless girl. Her white gown was now stained and darkened from long wear and her shadowy tresses were caught lightly in a breeze. He thought that their eyes met, but she was so far away that he could not tell. IMG_3061