Fly Away Home is written in first-person narrative. It's so much fun to write Mr. Barnett's perspective after having written Callie's. Their voices are so elementally different. Callie's is sassy, sarcastic, insecure, and sweet by turns. Mr. Barnett's is careful, archaic, precise, and laced with dry humor. It's actually a little weird getting this close to Mr. Barnett. Getting into his head, in a way. It makes me feel like somehow I've taken a huge step into his character and that I've burst his personal bubble. Stil....it's pretty amazing....I thought I'd share an excerpt from Mr. Barnett's journal relating to the first time he meets Calida Harper...
…I rang Mr. Shores of The St. Evan’s Post in the evening. If the poor fellow smokes—and I believe all of them do—I’m afraid he swallowed his cigar whole when I announced who I was, and my purpose for calling. It was a one-sided conversation due—I fear—to the swallowed cigar. I politely informed him that I had an interest in beginning a small magazine for the families of America, and wondered if his firm would consider supplying an assistant for me. I had every intention of suggesting Miss Harper for the job, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t think of a plausible reason for knowing the girl. It seems she’s an obscurity I ought to know nothing about. Reminds me of a kitchen drudge in the dungeons of those great English houses.
By some blessed event, Mr. Shores agreed to my plan. He shares the desire of all his type to ‘not be taken in’, by which I understand them to mean they won’t allow themselves to believe in anything, lest it prove untrue. This trait added the complications of him doubting my seriousness, doubting I could get the thing together and doubting—above all—that he could spare anyone to help me.
“Haven’t you any…dispensables?” I asked. “Anyone just taking up space in the office?”
“Why are you so hot to get someone from this office, Mr. Barnett?” he asked.
I felt exactly like man clinging by his fingernails to the edge of a cliff and wishing the rope would come just a bit closer so he could grab hold of it. I reminded myself I would act in a similar fashion if put in Mr. Shores’ position. “I take an interest in underdogs, Mr. Shores,” I said. “Furthermore, I thought it would be an attractive position for your business. Think of the possibilities, sir. If my magazine succeeds—and forgive me the vanity, but I am certain it will—The St. Evans Post will have the dignity of being co-founder.”
He was silent for some moments before agreeing to my scheme. We set a meeting for three o’clock today, and that is why—an hour or two ago—I was in a wretched, ninth-floor office meeting Calida Harper.
The girl reminds me of a yearling filly—headstrong, calculating, and ready to kick a fellow at the least provocation. She stared at me as if I was a ghost first, then Winston Churchill, then a free ticket to Easy Street, then a banana peel in a trash-barrel at the West End. I am not sure on what footing this puts us. I’m not sure she’s sure. I suppose tomorrow will tell.
I ask myself what I think of her.
She is beautiful.
“Calida”…“Beautiful warmth”. Which I must admit is horribly ironic. Miss Harper seems to prefer the cold-shoulder method of communication. She is a perfect cruet, to pardon an odd expression; tall, stately, and full of vinegar.
I have so much to do in the next few days. My yacht will be out of the dry-dock with all repairs finished. I’m thinking of rechristening her. I shall search around for a good name, and ask Dirigible to paint over the old one. Sailors say it is bad luck to change a ship’s name, or to paint her a different color. What a mercy Man has more than one chance to change his stripes. ‘Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endureth forever.’