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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Marabella - First Chapter, part III

And the last installment of Marabella, Discovering Magics

            “Um.” Wesley seemed to consider for a moment.  “Okay, then.” He resumed brushing her hair and spoke in even tones.  “I was only five years old at the time, traveling with my cousin, Benji, he was Nan and Henry’s son, and my father. He was trading in Riverton on the south bank.  Geremiah was there too. He had a ring made that day.  We went to the silver-smith with him. He asked me to hold it, well the bag anyway.   He and father must have known the ferry was in trouble. It's all a blur to me. Still, I remember that as the ferry reached the middle of the river there was a loud snapping sound and the ferry began to spin.  As it lurched downriver there was the cracking sound of splintering wood, and ladies screamed.  Next thing I knew, the big hunter man, Geremiah was putting me into an empty flour barrel with the saddlebag.  I could hear my father’s voice say not to be afraid as they pounded the lid tight. Then they threw the barrel toward the shore. I was terrified.  I was barely five.” Wesley looked over at the fire, remembering. “I recall it felt like flying. The barrel seemed to sail on the wind.   Hours later, I was found by searchers shivering with cold and clinging to the saddlebag sitting amidst the remains of the broken barrel in the rocks near the shore. *this part of the dialogue seems a little stilted. Not natural. Try placing yourself in the mind of an eleven-year-old and reading it aloud. See how it sounds to you*That's what people say anyway. I don’t really remember being found; just lots of sad people, crying, things like that.   The bag was Geremiah’s. “      
            “We still have it.” She mumbled. Marabella sat quietly, thinking about the story Wesley had told her.  *let the reader come up with the reason she is sitting quietly. Explaining too much inhibits the imagination. Fewer words*Finally she spoke.  “That was the most I’ve ever heard you talk.” She turned to look at him.  “Thank you for telling me.”  He met her gaze and smiled a crooked grin that made Marabella smile back.  “Could you read to me while we wait?” Marabella gave Wesley her sweetest smile.  He shrugged an affirmative and glanced over at the books on the nearest shelf.
The previous paragraph needs broken up to highlight the conversation and give dramatic flair.
            Wesley's nervousness seemed to *seemed to? Either it did or it didn’t :)*disappear as he ran his finger along the spines of the tomes.  He chose and sat back comfortably. “This is Adventures on the Pelagus Sea. There's a story in here about the Pelago Sea Stone. It gives the bearer the ability to swim like a fish and breathe underwater.”  Marabella climbed up into the chair next to him and looked at the book.  The puzzled look on her face made Wesley grin again.  “It's written in Pelago.  It's easy. Just follow along.”
            Nan peeked out from the kitchen to see Marabella and Wesley sitting side by side in her chair with a large book open on their laps.  Both the children were looking intently at the page as Wesley read.  It made her smile.  She turned back to her work, grinning.*you jumped from Marabella’s POV to Nan’s. Can you show this and still remain in Marabella’s mind?* After an hour of baking and wrapping and loading items on to Wesley’s goat cart, everyone was ready to go.  “May I go wake Mother?”  Marabella was anxious. “I’m supposed to take her to Festival.” 
            “You will, child.” Ma Nan chided. “Just be patient and let the sun climb a little higher before you wake her.  We’re only going to set up in the meat shop.”
            Marabella frowned and stomped her foot as she walked beside the big Billy goat pulling the overloaded cart.  “Well, I’m not looking at anything until Mother gets here!” The adults chuckled and continued on to the shop. Once there, they began to unload the cart.  The children were instructed to stay outside with the cart while Henry, Nan, and Ruth set up inside. Nan took baby Natan.  The morning air was still quite chilly but the brightening blue sky promised a beautiful day. 
            The little market square was beginning to teem with activity.  Tempting aromas wafted through the morning air.  Vendors from all about the area set up makeshift stalls around the square and every building. Fresh bread, pies, and sweetbreads *sweetbreads? Or sweet breads? There is a difference* caught Marabella’s attention.   Front and center stood the colorfully painted wagons known as caravans.  To Marabella they looked like little rooms on wheels with their doors and windows with curtains.  Bright cloth awnings were attached to each caravan giving the square the look of a great uneven tent.  Marabella fidgeted restlessly and looked at the brightening sky.  That moment Nan leaned out the meat shop door.  “All right, you may go wake Mara now.”
            “Thank you, Nan.” The child yelled over her shoulder as she ran toward Narrow Alley.  The six year old stopped a moment to catch her breath then knocked on the door of the small room she shared with her mother and baby brother.  She knew the door would be barred.  Mara always barred the door. She heard the thick oak plank scraping on the inside and the door swung inward revealing a bleary eyed Mara.
            “Good morning my darling.” She yawned.
            “It’s time!” Marabella smiled, bouncing on her toes.  Mara could see she was ready to go.*oops. You changed POV here. We were in Marabella’s head and now Mara’s.
            “You’ve been up since dawn, haven’t you. *is this a question?* I’m awake but I do need to get cleaned up.  You go back to the square.”  The child frowned at the floor.  “Have a look around and I will be there when I'm dressed. “ Mara stepped to the shelf by the small fireplace.  She took a few coins from the wooden box.  She looked earnestly at Marabella handing her the coins.  “I want you to find something special for my breakfast, and don’t forget the sweetbreads.” *sweetbreads (pancreas of a calf) and sweet breads are two different things. Which is it?*  Charged with such an errand, Marabella skipped back to the square.
Rounding the corner by the meat shop, she spied Wesley.  He was leading the empty goat *my mind read this as ‘golf cart’. Did I ever do a double take, LOL*cart toward the blacksmith’s stables.  It appeared that Wesley had stopped to talk with some boys*suggestion: Several boys had stopped him and formed a ring around him. She broke into a run when one of the boys shoved Wesley to the ground.  “Goat boy!”  She heard him spit at Wesley.  Another of the three threw a handful of pebbles at Wesley.  None of the adults setting up or milling about seemed to notice the altercation.  Furious, Marabella skidded to a halt in front of the Tanner’s shop.  The three boys still taunted silent Wesley.
            Marabella picked up a stone the size of her six-year-old fist and hurled it at the first boy catching him squarely on the side of his head.  “LEAVE MY WESLEY ALONE!” *don’t use caps or exclamation marks* she screamed and reached for another rock.
            “You let a little girl fight for you, goat boy?”  One one of the boys teased.  Wesley started to rise *started to rise but stopped? This makes it sound like he is half way between the ground and standing up*but remained mute.  The boy took a step toward Marabella and she let fly with another stone striking him in the shoulder.  “Ouch.” He winced, now angry.
            “I’m bleeding!” the first boy she had hit exclaimed.  He too turned toward *alliteration* the girl.  At that moment, Halsta, the blacksmith, stomped away from his forge, blocking the boys’ path to Marabella. 
            Still clutching his heavy hammer, Halsta growled. “You boys find something else to do.” When the three bullies hesitatedcomma he shook his hammer and barked, “NOW”. *caps* The three kicked up dust heading for the west end of the square. With a grin, the red-faced man went back to his work.
            Wesley dusted himself off and proceeded to walk his cart to a suitable place to tie it up.  He looked at his defender when she sauntered up. “Your Wesley?” he questioned. 
            “Well, yes” she stated matter-of- fact. “You’ll always be my Wesley.”  He shrugged.  Finishing his task, he took Marabella’s hand and led her back to the meat shop.  Mara was just arriving.  It was time to enjoy Festival.
            Marabella walked hand in hand with her mother.  They strolled from wagon to wagon and stall to stall. There were vendors selling fruits and vegetables, fine paper and ink, wooden toys, colorful fabrics, and sturdy pottery bowls.  Each day of Festival Marabella spent the morning perusing the various vendors, watching the acrobats, and helping her mother with baby Natan.  When the sun started to fall in the sky, she would take Natan to Ma Nan while her mother went back to Narrow Alley to prepare herself for the evening.  Marabella was allowed to purchase one thing each day.  The first day she filled her belly with sweet breads.*sugary treats rather than calf innards I hope* The next, she bought a book from a woman in a big floppy hat.    She watched as her mother bought a bit of fabric from a wagon with stacks of material and sewing notions.  Mara eyed a little box of silver needles, glanced at the few coins in her hand and sighed, pushing the needles back to the vendor, shaking her head.  Before Festival ended, Marabella also had a new pair of shoes and some fragrant soaps from Wesley's mother.  Festival was over far too quickly for Marabella. It was soon time to return to day to day life. 
***

            One day while Mara helped out at the meat shop and her friend Tufa watched baby Natan,  Marabella was left to her own devices for entertainment.  “Go outside and find something to get into.” Ma Nan was saying to the six year old.  Mara shot her a look. “Well,” Nan chuckled, “she will anyway.” The women exchanged a smile.  “But try not to throw any more rocks at boys, won't you.  I had to put four stitches in that child's head.” Nan called to Marabella as she headed out the door. 
            She walked out of the meat shop.  There was a gathering of men and some sort of commotion down at the corral. *i'd re-write the previous sentence. Kinda clunky* At the center of the excitement was Hough, one of Helfin's few men of wealth.  She had seen him at the black smith's *blacksmith is one word* getting a new wheel on the fine carriage he had for his family. Hough and another man were trying to rope the horse that was tearing around the corral.  The magnificent red beast was having none of it.  He galloped around the corral, pawed at the dirt and tossed his mane.  The men watching cheered and jeered as the two in the corral made one attempt after another to no avail.  Hough's young son watched from the other side.  The stallion reared and bucked, kicked and huffed before bolting again out of reach.  “How are you going to break him Hough?” one man asked. 
            Hough scratched his head and looked over at his small son, just a few years older than Marabella.  “Not sure. The boy is still a bit young for such a spirited colt.”  Marabella climbed up on the fence and watched as the two men tried again to get a rope on the horse. 
            “Be careful, little girl.” Another man spoke to Marabella.  “He's wild...might knock you right off that fence.”
            Marabella gave him her sweetest smile. “I'll be careful,she said and kept climbing.  She sat on the top rung of the fence, watching the boy scramble down from his perch to avoid the rowdy beast as it tore by a bit too close. 
            After a while the men seemed to give up.  “Let's let him settle a bit.” Hough said, red faced and out of breath.  The men began to disperse.  “I'm sorry, Geoffrey, he may just be too much horse for you...or me for that matter.” He patted his son's head with affection.  Geoffrey looked winsomely at the young stallion and sighed.
            Marabella watched as the breeze ruffled the boy's hair and something in his liquid brown eyes touched her heart.  She reached into her jacket and pulled out an apple.  She eyed the horse pacing around the corral now free of those trying to tame him.   She took a bite. MMM, good apple, she thought. The horse stopped and pricked up his ears.  She sat quietly on the fence.  The horse huffed loudly and pawed the ground.  Marabella took another bite and looked the horse right in the eyes. Come here horse. That’s a good boy, want a bite?  None of the men still present even breathed as the beast walked calmly over to the little girl and took a bite of the apple in her hand.  He did not flinch when she patted him on the side of his face or nip when she stroked the softness of his nose.  She leaned forward and spoke softly and the beast too, leaned in as if to catch every word.  The men stood in awed silence as the young stallion, which had, moments ago been trying to trample two grown men, nuzzled the little girl sitting on the fence.  She spoke quietly to the horse a while longer and then planted a child's kiss right on his nose. 
            “He seems to favor you.” Hough smiled at the girl with dirt on her face. 
            “Henry says I have a way with animals.” she smiled back. “What's his name?”
            “What do you think we should name him?” the boy spoke up.
            “I thought you wanted to call him...” Hough started but Geoffrey cut him off.       “No father. That was not a good name.” Then to Marabella, “so what do you think?”
            She looked hard at the mighty beast, his auburn coat shining in the morning sunlight.  She stared the horse directly in the eye again.  The horse tossed his head and pawed at the ground.  “I like Red Storm, but I think he would just like to be called Storm.”
            Hough laughed. “Well, that certainly fits.”
            “Storm it is.” Geoffrey smiled.  “How did you do that, get him to quiet like that?  What did you say to him?”
            Marabella shrugged her shoulders.  “Oh, he was just scared and kinda' angry with everyone running at him and all. Don’t you think?  And he really likes apples.  I told him you were probably a nice boy and would treat him well and give him an apple every day.”  Storm tossed his mane and pawed the ground.
            “I will.” Geoffrey turned to the horse.  “You'll get an apple every day.”  With his father's help, the boy slipped a leather halter over the Storm's head.  The stallion stood calm and patient.  When Geoffrey looked up again, the strange little girl was gone from the fence.*changed POV* Several of the men standing around murmured as she walked past back to the meat shop.
            The seasons turned and turned again.

My last advice concerns formatting. Be sure to check formatting marks and see if there are errors. Don’t use tabs ever.

1 comment:

Marabella said...

Thank you so much for your critique of my prologue and first chapter. Many of your suggestions had already been addressed in revision but your insights are invaluable. Your help has certainly aided the pacing of my first chapter, which I feared was bogged down. As you may have noticed, I am a fan of alliteration and description. Not always a bad thing, but it does come off as long winded. (like me)Thanks again.
Sandra Boutwell-Falcone