I have done it.
I have reached 50,000 words of The Scarlet-Gypsy Song.
I know most books are much longer. I know that The Gypsy Song itself will be much longer. But I've done it. I have passed that point of no-return that point wherein a book is called a Novel.
Not a novelette...
not a novella...
not a story...
but a Novel.
I hope to be able to write diligently and finish up in a month or so. A Novel. Oh, what a glorious word! I am rather pleased with it all and, having put over 2,000 words into it today, I thought I'd share some of the best bits of it with you. Enjoy.
“Well, Adelaide and Bertie are the first twins. Adelaide means well, but she’s awful clever and it comes out at the wrong times.” Charlotte looked so earnest when she confessed this failing of her sister’s that Miss Woodruff had to hide her smile behind a pretend yawn. Encouraged by this little action, Charlotte continued. “Bertie’s wonderfully clever too, and he knows such a lot of words—you’d best take care to have your dictionary out, ‘cause he sometimes says things you might not understand.”“Indeed?” Cecily gave up hiding her smile.Charlotte nodded, and clasped her arms about her knees. “Then there’s me and Darby. He’s the duckiest dear, but requires rather a lot of bandaging since he’s always banging about.”
Adelaide rolled her eyes and tossed the peels at her younger sister. “Charlotte, when have I ever been wrong?”Darby explored the depths of his delft mug with his pink tongue, then shoved it with a metallic clatter into the rest of the breakfast-ware. The topography of the mug now boasted another continent-sized chip. “Next thing we know, Adelaide, you’ll be quoting Miss Woodruff and telling us that being right is a gift of yours,” Darby sneered.“And how do you know it isn’t?” Adelaide asked. She eyed Darby through the bottom of her juice glass, then reached across the table for Bertram’s and made it a pair.
He opened the lid and a sound, unlike anything the children had ever heard, danced forth on the quietness of the bedroom. Bertram thought then, though he couldn’t have told you, that the melody would tear him to pieces. In its complex notes he heard the roar of a lion, and the tramp of an army, the song of a bird, and the laughter of Cecily Woodruff.The children grabbed each other, the instinct to hold on to something over-powering all else. The music seemed to be not only all about them, but in them and through them, piercing and wild and lonesome as the cry of a night-hawk in the dark. But over-arching, doubling back on itself and harmonizing with its own melody, the song played on, growing sweeter and more lonesome with each note. And as the song grew, so did that sensation that the world was much larger than the maps showed it to be, and Bertram’s heart thundered. The vibration of the silver music box in his hands intensified, and the bedroom seemed to grow smaller and smaller.
A sluggish rain began to fall as if some depressed giant were weeping over the encampment. Diccon hunched his shoulders and ascertained that his sword was tucked safely in its scabbard—never let it be said that Diccon Quarry had let the thief, Rust, stain his blade. Rust was the color of guilt, the old warriors said—and would eat the blade of a sword away as assuredly as it ate the heart out of some men.
At last he squeaked his chair about to face her, and he beamed at her with a benevolent smile. “Ask me for a raise, ask me for a holiday, ask me for an elephant! I am feeling generous, for my characters are behaving. My characters are behaving, Miss Woodruff!”
Lad cartwheeled forward, bowed elaborately, and presented the silver box with a flourish. “Hinkum-dinkum, fol-de-rol derry, your Majesty, but I do believe you’ve shorn the sheep well this time.” He winked at the group of subdued children and saluted Bertram with two languid fingers.Adelaide leaned close to Bertram and cupped her hands. “He’s the most annoying person,” she whispered.“Crizackly,” Bertram said, without moving an eyelash.“Are you scared, Bertie?”“Can’t decide.”“Well I think the King’s a darling.”“Oh no, Addie. Whatever he is, he’s certainly not that.”
King Octavian raised his hand and reluctant silence fell over the banquet hall. His face was grave and determined now, though still alight with somewhat of the holy fire that had filled it a moment before. “Then, my good brethren,” he said, “we must fight for our country. We must do as our beautiful Lady Cecelia and resist Fitz-Hughes with every ounce of blood left in our veins.” The king measured his words with a heavy beat of his hand against the table-top. “And then I swear, by the pen of Macefield and the blood of my own heart, we will be victorious.”
“No, no lad—thrust, parry, swing, thrust! Tha’s got it diddled again.”
Bertram dropped his sword, panting, and grinned at Lad. “And your blasted sword-fighting rules are down to such a science that it’d take a chemist to remember them all. I never was much good at memorization in my lessons.”
Lad chuckled and handed Bertram a wooden tumbler of water. Bertram drank it all in one sip. He grinned again and shook his head. It was strange, but he felt more alive now—looking down the great maw of a bloody battle—than he had felt the whole time since they’d come into this world.
Windteeth broke into an unrestrained gallop and the ground sped under his feet. The thunder of the beast’s hooves filled Diccon’s ears with a pleasant drumbeat and he breathed deeply the scents of crushed grass and Windteeth’s foaming hide. They were earthy scents. Strong scents. Strong scents to carry horse and man over the plains.
“You call yourself a soldier, and yet you are fearful of meeting a man in fair combat?”
Peter raised his eyes and all the pride of a wounded lion flashed from them and scalded Diccon. “Is ambush considered fair combat?”
Diccon observed him with his head on one side and a pitying eye. “Many a wiser man has answered that question: ‘All’s fair in love and war,’ or haven’t you heard? I rather think you are besotted with love—or something rather cruder—for these damsels. I—” he put a hand to his leather veskit, “—am a man of war. Therefore, I deem it fair combat, and you, my chosen opponent.”