Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sweet Saturday Sample - March 9, 2013

Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples

Although I sometimes take on the role of pure point-of-view Nazi, I believe at times a scene may call for a more relaxed style of managing point-of-view. As long as an author does not send a reader into a fit of kicking and screaming and throwing the book because the whole is so horribly confusing that she can't continue, it's good. However, changing and blending point-of-view for a more "fly-on-the-wall" outlook takes skill, plus a good helping of awareness of breaking the rules, to carry it off well.

This piece also illustrates several writing techniques I used, such as sensory writing, that is, the use of the five senses to bring the scene to life, as well as a bit of narrative writing. I also purposely quit italicizing foreign words when the reader would have become accustomed to seeing them. This was to let the italicized thoughts take center stage.

I hope you enjoy the scene.

Sunrise fanned golden rays into the eastern sky as the horses ridden by Don Enrique Olmedo y Landa and Amparo Garcés y Martínez cantered into the Cuchara River Valley near Leones. The Don had pushed on through the night to get the girl to the mission priest on this, the twenty sixth day of October. Although the girl was weary, Don Enrique’s sense of honor and the memory of his friend, Tomás Garcés y Vega, demanded that he discharge this duty before he continued with his own business.

Covered with dust and chilled to the bone, the girl blinked her eyes to clear them, and a shudder ran through her slender frame as she reined in her horse on a flat section of the river bank. An icy breeze blew, causing the bare branches of the cottonwoods along the river to rub together. Hundreds of birds twittered in the trees, greeting the new day. The river was as dry as Amparo’s mouth.

Santa María, we are nearing the place of my sacrifice. Please, Holy Mother, petition your Beloved Son that He will accept my dear papá into His bosom.

Don Enrique wheeled his horse and came back for the girl, a frown drawing his moustache-covered mouth downward into his beard. “Señorita, what is the trouble? Why have you stopped?”

Amparo turned her anxious face toward the tall, gaunt man. “Please, señor. Permit me a moment to compose myself. Today this place marks the beginning of my new life. I need a little moment.”

The stern face softened. “Poor girl. I understand. However, we must still ride a small distance to arrive at the village. We can stop before we meet the priest, if you like. Be quick, señorita.”

“I am now ready.” The girl sighed, then took a deep breath and squared her shoulders. “We will continue, Don Enrique.” Amparo lifted the reins and clucked to her horse, and it moved up to follow the caballero and his pack mules.

All along the road, dust lay thick upon the brush. The trees thinned out as they went upstream, until, when they entered the village, there were no trees in sight.

Don Enrique led the way through the square to the whitewashed mission. There he dismounted and tethered his horse and the mules to a post embedded in the ground in front of the church. Amparo sat stiffly on her mount, trying to keep wisps of hair loosened from her braid from blowing into her face.

“Wait here, señorita. I will rouse the holy Father.” Then he was off, around the back of the church, where Amparo presently heard him pounding the knocker on the door of the priest’s lodgings.

The girl shivered as the sound died away. A large flake of whitewash drifted to the ground from the wall alongside the church door. Off to her right a rooster crowed. A barking dog chased a shadow into the square, then retreated to raise its leg against the side of a house.

Blessed Mother, are the people friendly in this village? Is my bridegroom truly a good man? I wonder if he will receive me kindly.

A pair of voices exchanged messages at the rear of the church. Then Don Enrique came around the corner, followed by a round-shouldered priest who carried a large key.

“Is this the señorita?” The priest gestured toward Amparo, then continued talking to Don Enrique. “I know nothing of her plans. The convent you speak of is quite a distance away, and I do not have any connection with the Sisters there.”

Don Enrique plucked at his beard. “This is most extraordinary. The señora said I was to bear the girl to you and deliver her upon this date, and that you would have made arrangements for her.”

The priest approached Amparo’s horse and looked up at her. “Little daughter,” he said gently, “I am Father Gallegos. Can you explain? I was expecting that a bride would arrive from Santa Fe by today.”

“My Father, this talk of a convent is foreign to me. Señor Fuentes made arrangements to send me here. I am the bride whom you seek.” Amparo’s hands gripped the reins, yet she could not feel them for the numbness in her fingers from the cold breeze blowing through the square.

Satisfied with her answer, Father Gallegos nodded and reached up to pat her hand. “Good. I look forward to the arrival of Don Julio this afternoon. He is anxious to meet you.” He gestured toward the church. “He has had the banns published, and all is in readiness for the ceremony.”

“Listen, what is going on?” queried Don Enrique. “You both talk as though this child is going to wed a stranger.”

The priest turned his head. “That is the case, my son. You may be at ease. Don Julio is a fine man, and will take good care of the señorita.”

“This is incomprehensible! Totally impossible!” Don Enrique’s voice rose a notch in both pitch and volume. “The señora told me the girl was to enter holy orders.”

“Is there any order holier than matrimony, my son? She will have a fine home, servants at her beck and call, all that she needs or desires.”

“I cannot permit it! I was her father’s closest friend! ¡Ay! He would not approve of such a ridiculous plan!” he sputtered. “Don Tomás would turn in his—”

“Don Enrique, please,” Amparo broke in. “I do this thing of my own free will.” She brushed a strand of wind-blown hair from her face and tucked it behind her ear.

“Child, you cannot know what you are doing.” Don Enrique’s face creased in a frown of solicitude.

Amparo sat up straight in her saddle. “Believe me, señor. It is what I wish. Please do not interfere.”

The caballero threw his hands into the air. “I see that the girl has made up her mind, but when I return to Santa Fe, the señora will bear the weight of my most strenuous disapproval. The woman misled me!”

Father Gallegos laid his hand on the Don’s arm. “We cannot know her mind, my son. You must be guided by charity when you speak to the señora. Peace be unto you.”

Don Enrique turned abruptly and strode to Amparo’s mount. “In view of your coming marriage, I will leave you the mule that bears your equipage as a gift, señorita. I cannot delay my departure longer.” He helped the girl to the ground, then turned to the pack mules and separated one from the bunch. He put the lead rope into Amparo’s hand, untethered and mounted his horse, and settled himself into the saddle. “If I had more time, I would not permit this travesty to take place,” he said gruffly, then, leaning out of his saddle, said to the priest, “As I am behind times, it must be as the girl wishes.” He turned back to Amparo and doffed his great embroidered hat. “Adiós, little one. Go with God.” Then Don Enrique re-covered his head, wheeled his horse, and rode out of the village in a great amber cloud of dust.

Father Gallegos took the lead rope from Amparo and tied the mule to the hitching post. She got her horse by the bridle, tugged it to the post, and tied it alongside the mule. The priest put his key into the lock of the church door, turned it, and threw wide the portals. “Come with me, my daughter. I will get a boy to care for your animals and bring in your luggage. You can rest in the chapel until Señora Clara arrives. She is my housekeeper, and I have no doubt that she can find you a place to wash and change your clothes.” He moved into the darkness of the doorway, then returned when Amparo did not follow him directly into the church. “Come in, little one. The Señora will be here soon. Now I must go prepare for the mass.”

“Gracias, my Father. Is there a place where I can sleep? The señor was anxious to conclude my journey by today, so we were obliged to ride all night.”

“Poor little one. Señora Clara will know such things. I will send her to you the instant she arrives. In the meantime, please sit in the chapel and rest.”

The priest escorted Amparo into the little church, and she bent her knee before the Host. Soon she was seated in a dark corner of the chapel, and before long, her head nodded until it touched the enclosed side of the pew, and she slept.


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  1. I hope things go well for this girl. Nice sample.

    1. Thanks, Elaine. I appreciate your visit.

  2. I'm so excited to read this story. I get the feeling all will not go smoothly with this marriage. I wonder if the Don will end up marrying her?

    1. There's an interesting thought, Jenna. Hmmm.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. I enjoyed this scene and the sensory details you included. They definitely added flavor and made it come to life. Good writing.

    1. Thank you, Sandy! I appreciate your comment. I like to use sensory details, because they, as you said, bring a scene to flavorful life.


I welcome your comments.

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