I have to be honest: the deadline for this month’s Austen Authors blog entry came at me without warning.
Well, not entirely without warning. I knew the deadline was coming, of course, but in the recent rush of family activities and challenges, the date snuck up on me. May I share what’s been happening in our family and then leave you with an excerpt from my work in progress?
I have a close family member who will have surgery early next week for a serious health concern. We expect a complete recovery, but I have been somewhat distracted by learning more about their condition and the treatment, going to doctor’s visits, and planning time off of my full time job to be available for support. By the time I remembered to double check the calendar my blog date was nearly here! I would greatly appreciate your prayers, warm thoughts, or whatever form of encouragement you prefer as our family goes through this experience.
A much more minor concern: as some of you remember, in July I was preparing to test for my fourth degree black belt. I did not pass the test at that time 🙁 and my next chance to test will be in the middle of October. So, assuming that all goes well with my family member, I will be testing again on October 14th. If not, then testing will have to wait until next spring.
Between those two pressing matters (one of them much more serious than the other!) and the usual busyness of life I have still been working on my work in progress, Elizabeth and the Fleur de Lys, so I would like to leave you with a scene from early in the story. I love the excerpt below because it shows both Elizabeth and Darcy at their best, being brave and heroic. I hope you love it too! This scene is in France during the French revolution, shortly after Darcy and Elizabeth meet for the first time.
There was a disturbance of some kind on the sidewalk a little ways from them, a quick shuffle and shoving of the crowd, and a man’s voice crying out. Men and women in the area turned to see what was happening. Surprised utterances rose on every side. A young boy ducked and dodged through the crowds at a run, coming straight towards the two couples, with a loaf of bread clutched tightly under one arm. Behind him a heavy set, red faced man grabbed for the child, calling out, “Seize him!” as they both ran.
The race was over nearly as quickly as it began. Not half a dozen feet from where Elizabeth stood, the pursuing shopkeeper pounced. He caught the child, grabbing him by the collar of his thin, bedraggled shirt. The child gave a yelp of fear as the man spun him around, with the child still clutching the loaf tightly against him. The man’s face was a picture of rage. One of his hands held the boy in place while the other reached up in the air, about to descend across the child’s face.
“Stop!” Elizabeth and Darcy both cried out. Elizabeth leaped forward and threw her arms protectively around the child’s neck, turning him slightly and shielding him with her own body. She was just in time. The hand stopped in mid-air. The angry man could not strike the child without striking Elizabeth.
There were gasps from people all around, especially Jane and Bingley. Darcy swiftly stepped in front of Elizabeth, who pulled the boy a little closer to her. He faced the furious shopkeeper boldly. “What is the meaning of this? Why would you strike a defenseless child?” Darcy demanded, speaking in English.
The heavyset Frenchman directed a stream of angry sentences at Darcy, their faces only inches apart. Darcy shook his head. “I do not speak French.”
“He says for us to get out of his way,” Elizabeth translated, standing behind him. “The child is a thief and we are to hand him over at once. He wants to teach him a lesson!”
Darcy turned his head to glance at the boy now cowering against Elizabeth. The boy’s rags did nothing to conceal the thin shoulders, the gaunt features, and the trembling form. “Tell him that rage is an unsuitable lesson for a starving child.”
“I doubt he will care for your answer!”
“Then tell him we can pay for whatever the child has taken.” Bingley had stepped forward, his face uncharacteristically grim. “He will suffer no loss if he lets the boy go.”
Elizabeth’s eyes widened but she translated rapidly, then listened to the man’s response. “He says perhaps we can make a bargain, if the price is right.”
“How much does he want?” The question came from Darcy.
Elizabeth relayed the question, then blanched as she took in the answer. She named an outrageous sum. Darcy nodded and the angry man blinked, taking an astonished step back. From the look on his face Elizabeth guessed that he wished he had asked for more.
“I believe your offer is acceptable.” Elizabeth still kept her arms around the boy’s neck. She was not prepared to release him until she was assured of his safety.
If you would like to read more of this story, you can find it here. Have a wonderful September, and I’ll see you again next month!