Saturday, April 06, 2013

Sweet Saturday Sample - April 6, 2013

Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Samples.

This week, I'm sharing a scene from my work-in-progress (WIP), Gone for a Soldier. It's work fresh off the fingertips this past week. I hope you'll enjoy the spring wedding!

Mrs. Hilbrands opened the door to Rulon's knock and bade him enter, a small unchanging smile pasted on her mouth. He wondered if he should try to charm her, call her "Mother Hilbrands," kiss her cheek, but in the end, his terror left him meekly following in her wake without any attempts on his part to ease the tension.

He heard Benjamin and Peter coming in the door behind him, laughing, then shushing as they closed the door. Were they being respectful or did the close atmosphere affect them as much as it did him?

As he entered the parlor, the first thing he noticed was the drawn drapes, heavy barriers that forbid the sun to shine upon his marriage. The furniture had been shoved up against the walls, making room for the families to stand to witness the proceedings. Candles in heavy pewter holders stood along the mantelpiece, ready to be lit.

"Please wait here," Mrs. Hilbrands said, then left him in the dim room with but his brothers to attend him.

"It's a mite somber in here," Ben said, and going to the nearest window, tied back the drapes. Peter joined in, as Rulon sounded vain protestations.

"Don't make trouble for me," he begged, thinking he sounded like an old scolding woman as he untied a pair of sashes to let one of the windows fall prey to the darkness again.

"The missus don't like you?" Peter asked, cocking an eyebrow.

"Well enough, I reckon," he said. "It's the weddin' she don't much approve."

"As long as the girl is satisfied she's getting the right Owen," Peter said, smoothing down his hair. "I'm closer to her in age. By rights, I should be standing up with her today."

With an effort of will, Rulon refused to rise to the bait. "How far behind us was Pa?"

"He set out just after you rode off. He should be driving up the street any moment," Ben said, and craned his neck to peer out the window opening to the front of the house. "Yes, there they come. Don't Ma look fine in that getup?"

Rulon was too occupied with adjusting the tail of his coat to go over to the window to admire his mother's finery. Where was the parson? Had Mr. Hilbrands changed his mind? Where was Mary? He pulled at his collar.

The knocker fell on the front door with a boom, causing Rulon's heart to jump. One of the Hilbrands girls answered, and soon, his parents and the younger children came into the parlor. To his relief, Mr. Hilbrands accompanied them, bearing the parson at his side. However, Mrs. Hilbrands kept her whereabouts secretive, and Mary was nowhere in sight.

Mr. Hilbrands greeted his guests, planted the parson before the fireplace, and called out into the hallway for a lamp to light the candles.

The blonde daughter just younger than Mary brought a light, and as she performed her task with the lamp, Mr. Hilbrands left the room.

"Such comings and goings," Ben hissed from behind his hand.

"Hush," Rulon whispered, adjusting with a shrug or two where Pa's coat sat upon his shoulders.

Just then, Mrs. Hilbrands came back, looking somewhat pale in the brighter room. Ma greeted her, patting her cheeks with hands encased in lace mitts. Where had Ma dug those up?

Rulon counted his siblings. Carl, James, Marie, Clayton, Albert, Julianna. The entire Owen clan had come to either tease him unmercifully or make merry.

Mrs. Hilbrands looked toward the girl, who promptly disappeared. Then the woman made some gathering motions with her hands, and the crowd pressed toward her.

Rulon didn't know whether to remain where he was or go with the crowd, but the parson nudged him, and he chose the latter.

People spilled out into the hall, and Rulon edged up to the parlor door. Youthful voices began to sing a song about "this happy occasion," as Mary's three sisters descended the stairway, carrying more lighted candles. At the top of the stair, Mr. Hilbrands stood with Mary on his arm.

Rulon sucked in his breath.

His bride wore a demure light-weight cream-colored bodice with gay sprigs of purple flowers embroidered on the material. The skirt reversed the effect; purple with light-colored flowers, wide enough to fill the area between the bannister and the wall. On her head, a circlet of purple blossoms of some kind crowned her dark locks.

"Mary." His shallow breathing allowed only a whisper of her name before he choked with emotion.

She looked at him once, then lowered her eyes to a shy, downward glance as she made her slow way down the treads, leaning on her father's arm.

Then he was led backwards, stumbling, to his place alongside the parson. Ben pinched his arm, and he remembered to stand tall, scarcely able to draw breath.

His family formed an aisle. The girls came forward, still singing, until they stood at the front, at one side, lined up next to Mrs. Hilbrands. Mr. Hilbrands brought Mary toward him, stepping carefully, stopping before the parson with Mary on his far arm.

The girls stopped singing.

The parson opened a book and began intoning words that Rulon paid no mind to. Mary was half hidden beyond the bulk of her father's body. Why didn't the man step back? Then he said "I bring her," and did so.

Rearranging the couple, the parson kept talking, but Rulon only heard sound. All he could absorb was the fact that Mary stood beside him, looking at the carpet, her hand brushing his arm. After an interminable time, the man before them said something incomprehensible, Ma gasped in the background, and the parson smiled and nodded at Rulon.

Ben toed him in the ankle. "Your vow," he hissed.

Rulon woke from his stupor and said, "I do."

Mary echoed him in her turn.

The parson said something about "man and wife," and smiled again. Mary turned to him, eyes glowing.

Peter chuckled. "Kiss her, or I will."

Rulon inhaled. Was it over? He felt an elbow in his ribs, and decided it was. He kissed her.

She smelled of soap, and the purple blossoms, and another scent he didn't try to identify. When could he carry her back up those stairs to privacy?

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  1. A very sweet scene! :-)

  2. Thank you, Joselyn! Now I only need to add about 70,000 more words to the book.

  3. I wonder if this is the way all men hear their wedding? Good scene, Marsha.

  4. Thank you, Debra. It certainly could be this way for some men. I haven't discussed it with any, though, so I just had to make it up. :-)

  5. Is this a prequel? I thought Rulon was already married (though I might be mistaken). But would love to know his story. Loved this excerpt.

    1. Jenna, GONE FOR A SOLDIER is a prequel. I'm moving back into the Civil War period to bring you Rulon's story. I'm glad you loved it!

  6. I love all the details you've included in this touching scene. The singing girls, their candles, the embroidery on the bride's dress, and especially the groom's stupor. I felt like one of the guests, standing in the background, witnessing the event!

    1. Ahhhh, I'm glad you liked the details, Sandy! It was not very common for brides to wear white before the 20th Century, so I came up with a nice ensemble for Mary that was more in tune with the times. I might attempt to find an actual song that could have been in use--maybe. It's a minor detail, so other more necessary ones will take precedence.

  7. Oh, what a tender scene! Too bad he won't remember any of it. But I'm sure Mary will.

    1. Mary will remember it forever. Rulon? You're right. Thanks for the visit, Patty.


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