Saturday, September 03, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample: Excerpt from Slim and the Schoolmarm

I started a novel a long time ago and called it Slim and the Schoolmarm. I haven't finished it yet, as it got sidelined by my current series, The Owen Family Saga. I thought it might make a good Sweet Saturday Sample for today. Here's the beginning scene from this Western novel. [Edited to add the missing words, which appear in blue below.]

“Do not come to Arizona. Stop. Accidents happen. Stop.”

Alice-Anne Barrows turned the telegram sheet to the back, as though it would give her further information. Nothing enlightened her there. She looked at the message again.

“I cannot imagine what this signifies, Cousin. Are you certain it was meant for me?”

Clarissa Pembroke looked up from the bandage she was knitting and nodded her graying head. “Yes, dear. See, your name is on the envelope. Who has sent it?”

“There is no name given. This is a puzzle. What does it mean?” Alice-Anne rose from her place on the sofa and paced the room.

“Is there a place of origination, my dear? I don’t think we know anyone in the West.” Miss Pembroke twisted her thin frame in her comfortable chair near the fireplace, following Alice-Anne’s progress.

Alice-Anne stopped and examined the paper once more. “Oh! Of course. It says ‘Bitter Springs, A.T.’ The initials must indicate ‘Arizona Territory’.” She read the message once more, then asked, “Who would want to bully me, Cousin? And at such a distance from New York City! I think this is a prank.” She crumpled up the telegram as though preparing to throw it into the fireplace, then changed her mind and smoothed it out, folded it neatly, and replaced it in the envelope.

Miss Pembroke shook her head. “I have no idea, dear.”

“I have no patience for 
 pranksters.” The young woman brushed back a blonde curl that threatened to fall into her eye, then put the envelope into her pocket. She took a deep breath. “Will you come to the lecture tonight? Doctor Harley is to speak about treating poisons.”

“I thought Mr. Spencer was calling this evening.”

Alice-Anne stepped to the window and moved the heavy damask drape aside. A distant bell jangled, drawing her eye to the horse-drawn streetcar at the end of the avenue. She turned to face her cousin. “I sent Will a message that I wouldn’t be receiving callers.”

“He is no ordinary caller, Alice-Anne. I do believe he will offer for your hand soon.”

“Oh, Cousin!” The young woman crossed the parlor to kneel at the older woman’s side. “Please, don’t encourage him. I know he means to ask me, but I don’t love him.”

“I wish you had the luxury of refusing every offer, but your stocks—” Miss Pembroke broke off and left

unspoken the fact of her cousin’s diminishing means.

“I will dismiss the servants and take a smaller house. I can find a position as a governess, or even clerk in a shop. I don’t love him, Cousin. I want a love match—like Momma and Papa.”

The older woman sighed. “It would help if I could find employment again. I cannot believe my usefulness as a nurse is over because of a few gray hairs.” She straightened her back as though in denial of aging. “Let us not fret about it, dear. If Mr. Spencer is not coming to call tonight, I will go and enjoy the lecture with you.” She held up her knitting. “This bandage will be finished by then, and I can take it and another eleven to the good doctor.”

Here's the list of participants in this Sweet Saturday Sample blog hop. Have fun reading them!


  1. Well, this catches the imagination, that's for sure. I dohope you get back to working on it again soon.

  2. Love the questions this brings up. Who sent it? Why bate her this way? Love match--ooh!

  3. Did Slim send the telegraph? Or will he rescue her? I somehow don't think she'll let it deter her. Great beginning.

  4. Nice, cozy scene between the two women. I can feel their affection for each other. The telegram is a good setup for future conflict too. I'm definitely interested in what happens next.
    FYI: I was a little confused by "I have no patience for unspoken the fact of her cousin's diminishing means.

  5. EEK! I had a significant amount of trouble posting this excerpt, and I see that words were lost as I struggled. I have restored the sentences to their proper place, so Sandy, you should be able to make sense of everything now.

  6. This snipptet has tweaked my interest in the story.

  7. No wonder I was confused! I love what you've written, especially with the missing sentences restored. The formal voices of the two women really tell your readers that the story takes place in the past, as does "Arizona Territory." A good beginning to your story.

  8. Anonymous11:25 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Anonymous11:28 PM

    Don't go to Arizona! I'd have to go, after that message. :) Great beginning.

    Here's my sample:


I welcome your comments.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...