Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Sample - March 22, 2014

Welcome back to my Saturday Sample! Today's brief scene from Spinster's Folly takes place after Marie Owen's father has made arrangements for her to marry a neighbor youth, Tom, after which she discovers that Tom has little interest in her as a life partner. His comments made her believe he agreed to the match for the intimate benefits.

Pa selected a campsite along the river, in a spot that lay between two fields of Mr. Morgan’s corn.

Marie didn’t particularly want to speak to anyone while the bitter memory of Tom’s behavior sat in the front parlor of her mind. She busied herself with the camp chores, building a fire, cooking a meal, and preparing a pot of beans for their dinner on the journey home.

She thought work was enough of a barrier to keep her family from talking to her, but Pa sat himself beside her while she cleaned the dishes.

“Daughter,” he began. “Did you and young Tom get your plans laid out?” He ran his hand through his beard for a moment, then added, “You were gone a long spell, so I went to seek you out. I found only the boy down at the river, chucking stones into the water.”

She swiped the tin plate in her hand with her dishrag, watching it go around and around, until she almost felt dizzy. Words had abandoned her. What could she dare tell Pa about Tom’s actions and words, his impious suggestions? Although Pa was her father, he was also a man. From the nighttime giggles she’d heard coming from below the loft, she guessed that he and Ma still had carnal relations, even though it was unlikely they wanted more children.

When she realized her father’s gaze upon her had lingered long enough to turn into an inspection, she swallowed a couple of times to raise a bit of moisture in her dry throat, but her voice still sounded like a strangled cat when she said, “We had some talk, then I went to tend to Bess.”

“Tom was a mite closemouthed. You and he didn’t flaunt the conventions, did you?”

“No!” she denied, a bit more sharply than she would have wished. “I’m a proper girl.”

Pa looked at her a long time, his gray eyes seeming to read her soul. Then he nodded and got to his feet. “I reckon your ma brought you up right.” He reached out and patted her on the shoulder. “Get to sleep. We have a long trip home.”

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Why do you think Marie is so upset by Tom's view of her as an object to be enjoyed? She goaded her father to make her a match. Is she bound to accept the one he arranged if it doesn't meet her expectations for a happy union? Should she "settle" merely to avoid spinsterhood?

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from Spinster's Folly. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!

Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of the acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.

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