Reminder: Free short story see below “A Pearl for Your Enjoyment”
Excerpt from Rhylla’s secret:
The man batted Greg like a fly off his arm and went for Steve again. Steve was jammed against the frame of the open window with his midriff being pummelled in an attempt to make it fold. The drunk was in the process of stuffing the young man’s body through the opening but Steve clung desperately with one hand while throwing punches into the aggressor’s face. Greg strived to pull the man off Steve. He noticed the shillelagh sticking out at right angles from the Irishman’s belt. Greg dropped his hand and dragged the short thick stick with its heavy end from the man’s trouser belt. The weapon landed with a crack behind the man’s right ear. Blood sprayed out in all directions. The man shook his head and stumbled. A yell echoed from outside the window. When the man fell forward, his weight sent the top half of Steve’s body out through the window…
Current Weather and Tides
And now the book is out there in the big wide world, I have no more excuses for not doing the less exciting chores. First in line is to work my way through the paper mountain under which I hope to find I still have a writing desk.
Enjoy your reading.
Keep safe, Keep smiling, Keep reading, Keep writing.
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
This story evolved from a writing prompt provided by our mentor:
“She ran the brush through her hair, automatically doing longer strokes than necessary.”
BLACK – NAVY – GREY
Her long navy house dress blended in with the blackness of the dark curtains. Only her white face above the white collar stood out as Meg peered through the slit between the drapes. It seemed like forever – two whole months to be locked in their room with the screens drawn. She glanced over to the bed where her younger sister Jane, lay sleeping – the tears still wet upon her cheeks. Anger fuelled the hand pulling the brush through her hair. With each stroke, the brush hiccupped at the back of her neck where the hair now ended. The hacked-off plaits still lay strewn across the floor of the room beside the shard of a mirror they usually kept hidden in the cupboard.
Meg was not afraid to admit her long blonde locks had been a source of pride for her. “A sinful pride,” her father said. Her forefingers gently touched the excoriation around her mouth where he had scrubbed her face with the rough cloth and alkaline soap.
He had no right to come in here yelling at the top of his voice calling her a whore and a harlot. She bit her lip at the sound of her mother’s voice in her mind. “Yes, my darling, he has. He is your father and has every right to set every rule within this house – in fact within this whole property.”
Concern filled the furrows across Meg’s forehead at the fate of her brother, Ernest, Jane’s twin, who had found the tube of lipstick on the roadside in the first place. The sound of the boy’s screams as their father dragged him off towards the stables still echoed in her ears. Their father often punished the boys by standing them in a barrel filled with water up to their necks – for hours.
As soon as Marigold entered the vestibule of her home, she knew something was amiss. The heavy ornate doors creaked as the butler pulled them shut. Mr. Gordon’s face was paler than usual which always indicated an upset in the household. The man’s smiled greeting at the front entrance had been forced.
“I’ll have the footman deliver your parcels to your room, shall I Ma’am?”
“Yes please, Mr. Gordon. Where are the children?”
“Er… er… Ma’am, Mr. Kingsley has felt the need to punish Meg and Jane. They are locked in their room.”
“And Ernest? Where is he?”
“Oh, Ma’am, I’m sorry he has been taken to the barrel at the stable.”
Marigold’s lips tightened. A red flush infused her face before draining away to leave it whiter than ever. As much as she would have liked to ask Mr. Gordon what had happened, she knew it would not be proper to do so. Her first concern rested with her youngest son. With the lad’s history of a weak chest, a soaking in the water barrel was not an option for punishment; besides, Ernest nearly drowned last time when her husband had forgotten the boy who fell asleep.
She slipped out through the passageway which led to the side door. On her journey towards the stable, her heart quailed at the thought of the argument that was in her immediate future. Her husband did not like to be thwarted in any way but her love for her son drove her onwards. Only the swish, swish, swish of the stable lad’s broom and the stomp of several restless hooves greeted her when she lifted the latch into the stable yard. There was not a sign of anyone else, not even the grooms who were usually feeding the animals at this time of day. Had they disappeared when they noticed her approach?
Marigold made her way to the punishment barrel to find the surface of the water a constant ripple with the shivering of her son’s body. The grey hue of his face and constant small cough told her all she needed to know. Without hesitation or consideration of her clothing, Marigold reached in and lifted the naked child, with his hands bound behind his back, out of the barrel and held him close to her body.
“Boy!” She called to the stable-lad. “Boy, fetch me a blanket – immediately – please.” She struggled to control the panic racing through her body like a thunderstorm across a sea.
“Woman, what do you think you’re doing?”
Marigold knelt beside the small cot in the narrow bedroom. Her stomach lurched at the sound of his angry voice even though she had known this reckoning was inevitable. The hands rubbing the liniment onto the boy’s chest began to shake uncontrollably until the medication almost spilled from the unlidded bottle. She drew a deep slow breath and stood up tucking the blankets around her son’s body as she did so.
“I am saving the life of your son, Mr. Kingsley. The boy’s chest ailment is at its worst again.”
“You removed him from his punishment without my consent.”
Marigold’s mind drifted off as it was wont to do when in the presence of her unpleasant husband. She was constantly reminded this man was never born into the aristocracy. Even after twenty years, he was still little more than an oaf. His father was but a dealer in commerce – even if he had made a fortune in the process. Like many women of the times when the gentry was in financial straits, she had been virtually sold to this man she must now call her husband. A cesspit of revulsion began in her toes and journeyed up through her body. In its wake, a smidgen of courage clung desperately. She struggled to keep her feelings contained inside her soul.
“You do want your son to live to carry on your name do you not, Mr. Kingsley? It had seemed to me that time was of the essence if his life was to be saved. Do you think I should call the doctor?”
“I will not be defied, woman. You will receive your punishment later.”
Tears were not far from the surface as Marigold bowed her head and whispered. Fear coloured her every word. “As you wish, Mr. Kingsley.”