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plbuster
December 29th, 2010, 11:19 PM
Hellow out there! Thought I'd sent out a feeler for some information regarding a problem in historical fiction I am having.
I've been working on a novel based on historic events occuring in and around Philadelphia, PA, in 1777, during the Revolutionary war. I am having trouble with a certain plot device, and am curious if anyone out there can help me.
In the past, there have been a number of names for capers that theives would pull upon their prey (the mark). One of the names for the certain type of caper I am trying to have my main character take part in is a complicated game called a "turtledove", where a young lady pretends to be a member of the house staff, enters the residence or location without being detected, and absconds with any number of valuable articles without being caught.
I am not sure if that term, "turtledove", is contemporary with the street language of 18th century Philadelphia.
Further, there will be distractors, or actors who will draw attention away from the turtledove, and a blocker, who will intercept anyone attempting to intercept our heroine. Any jargon contemporary with the Revolutionary War in this regards will be most helpful and I am open to any suggestions as to where to steer my research in this regards.
Thanks for any help in guiding me.
(My english professor in college thought I wrote a lot like John-boy Walton. What do you think?

plbuster
December 31st, 2010, 12:51 AM
I went ahead and changed the name to "cowbird" instead of "turtledove". It sort of works, and a species of cowbird is indigenous to the Eastern United States.

plbuster
December 31st, 2010, 03:13 AM
For those wondering if I am serious about John-boy, here's a sample of Chapter 1:


Chapter 1. August 8, 1775

The rooster crowed.
Grey-blue pre-dawn light filtered through her window. The sun had not yet risen enough over New Jersey to light up her room. She slowly turned down her covers and placed her feet on the cold floor. She had to pee.
Carefully, she reached under her bed and eased out the thunder mug. She giggled under her breath whenever she thought of the name for the ceramic pee-pot into which she would expel her morning ablutions. Squatting, she relieved herself.
“Miss Martha, you awake yet?” Tilda’s voice rang outside Martha’s room, following the daily routine.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Martha said.
“Good and well, then. You say your prayers now, girl.”
Martha knelt beside her bed, clasped her hands and prayed her morning prayer.
The smell of biscuits filtered in from the hallway.
Two knocks on the door and Martha darted behind the dressing screen. Tilda walked in with a pitcher and filled the basin with warm water. “Now you hurry up and dress, girl. Your papa is waitin’ downstairs for you to go over the books.”
“Yes, Ma’am, as soon as I finish dressing.” Martha could hear Tilda mumbling under her breath. “What’s wrong, Tilda?”
“Don’t see why you have to do all that work for your papa. That’s man’s work you are doin’. Just isn’t right, a young woman doin’ man’s work.”
“Well, with Nathaniel off to college, there isn’t another man in the family…you know all this Tilda. Anyway, it’s not like I’m a carpenter or anything. I just keep the books.”
“Stop your jabbering and get dressed. I told you your papa’s waitin’ on you.”
“Ok, Tilda. Could you toss me my petticoat?”
Tilda picked Martha’s petticoat with her ebony hands from the dressing table and passed it over the screen. She then picked up her white blouse and brown dress, placing them over its edge. First, the blouse disappeared behind the screen, then the dress. Tilda opened the dresser drawer and withdrew a pair of wool stockings. Martha came from behind the screen, placing her nightgown on the dressing table.
“Now you just sit down, girl, and I’ll help you get your stockings on.”
“Oh, Tilda, you don’t have to dress me anymore. I’m all grown up now.”
“I been dressing you since you were a young baby, and I’m gonna dress you till you leave this house. Isn’t no girl grown up till she’s married and had a child, so I say.”
“Humph. You really don’t want me to grow up at all, do you Tilda?”
“You just keep thinking that, girl. The day you leave here we’re a gonna have one heck of a party. We’ll be swinging from the chandalier and laughing ourselves silly.”
Tilda quickly forced the thin, woolen socks over Martha’s calves and buttoned them up at the knee. Reaching under the bed, she took out Martha’s buckled shoes and put them roughly on Martha’s dainty feet. “Not so hard, Tilda, you’ve got the toe all folded up under my foot!” Martha removed her shoe, straightened out the sock, and carefully put her shoe back on.
“Well, Miss-I’m-All-Growed-up. Why don’t you dress yourself then,” Tilda said in a huff.
Martha put her hands on her lap and thought for a second. She then reached over and gave Tilda a big hug. “I don’t know what I’m going to do without you Tilda, when I get married and leave here.” Tilda’s scowl slowly changed to a smile.
“Now you get to the kitchen and fetch yourself a biscuit. Time’s wastin’ and your papa’s waitin’.”

I'm up to 221 pages and 65,657 words and climbing. The project was originally a therapy to include my ailing grandmother in something we could work on together. She has passed away with the project incomplete. I am now trying to finish the story in remembrance of her.

garza
December 31st, 2010, 04:16 AM
I'm not familiar with the works of John-Boy Walton, but to my ear your dialect is a bit forced.

I am familiar with the type of cowbird I believe you are referring to, the snowy egret, which is not indigenous to North America but to West Africa. It has become common throughout the Americas and in Central America is known by a variation of the Spanish surname Garcia: garza.

You have chosen an interesting subject to write about and while I cannot offer any real help, I wish you well.

plbuster
December 31st, 2010, 05:10 AM
I'm not familiar with the works of John-Boy Walton, but to my ear your dialect is a bit forced.

I am familiar with the type of cowbird I believe you are referring to, the snowy egret, which is not indigenous to North America but to West Africa. It has become common throughout the Americas and in Central America is known by a variation of the Spanish surname Garcia: garza.

You have chosen an interesting subject to write about and while I cannot offer any real help, I wish you well.

Ah, John-boy Walton was a fictional character in the television series "The Waltons".

The type of cowbird I refer to is not the egret, but a smaller bird that lays eggs in the nests of other birds. It neither builds a nest, nor rears its own young.:cyclops: