The Traveller: Bella's Tale


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  1. #1

    The Traveller: Bella's Tale

    December 1799
    South of Cedarwood Grange, Norfolk


    The sound of panicked whinnying yanked Emmaline, the Dowager Countess of Taverton out of the light doze she had fallen into after having departed, Cedarwood Grange for Taver House, her home in London. The chase lurched heavily as Dunnings drew the conveyance to an abrupt halt. The Dowager managed to catch hold of the strap above her head, narrowly avoiding being deposited on the floor of the well appointed vehicle. Highwaymen...Maria, her dresser huddled in the opposite seat, remained frozen. The aging countess reached for the small pistol she kept beneath the seat. Cautiously she moved for the door.

    Dunnings, her coachman since her marriage to the sixth Earl of Taverton some thirty-five years prior, was ahead of her. He opened the door and peered inside. “Nothing to worry about, my lady. T’ain ‘t thieves. ‘Tis only a great hulking brute of a hound blocking the road. Spooked my team, is all.”

    Knowing they weren’t in any danger, Emmaline exited the vehicle. “How big of a dog are we dealing with?” Her question answered itself as she stepped down into the roadway. She caught sight of the massive form limned in moonlight and soft glow of the carriage lanterns. It was a shaggy mastiff, similar to those kept by the gypsy caravans that frequented the area. Gypsies whose stories and legends, she had studied as a younger woman. This hound wouldn’t have abandoned its family with major provocation. Sensing the smaller, calmer form watching him, the canine moved aside, revealing its provocation.

    A small figure curled in a tight ball lay in the middle of the roadway. It was as still as death; seemingly unaware of Lady Emmaline's approach. The elder's eyes went dark at the sight of massive crimson stains marring the freshly fallen snow. The sulfuric smell of burned gun powered and the harsh tang of iron enveloped the Dowager’s senses as she approached the child.

    Stooping down, she studied the little figure’s face. The tiny, perfect features were contorted in terror, the mouth open in a silent scream that never came. Mittened hands obscured the ears in a feeble attempt to drown out the sounds of events just past. The child’s breathing was shallow and labored as shivers racked the little body, whether from cold or shock, the Dowager didn’t know. At the moment there were only two things she could truly ascertain; something horrific had just transpired and the catatonic toddler at her feet had witnessed it.

    As Emmaline reached out to touch the little girl’s icy cheek, the silenced shriek suddenly erupted; bloodcurdling and pain wracked it split the frozen air, echoing against the stars. The child wrenched away from the Dowager’s warm hand. Rolling onto her stomach, she revealed a heavy fur-lined pelisse and velvet gown, nearly shredded. The girl’s white flannel underpinnings were soaked with blood from four long, narrow gashes across her back that were still seeping.

    As she twisted away, the Dowager saw the mark, the odd tattoo that separated this child from the rest of the world and placed her in a realm far beyond the keen of mortals. The fey child bore the torn glory of the Traveller’s mark of the Taboo. A dragon with wings spread wide, dissipating into a column of mist. This child was one of the Chosen her husband and the other members of the Assemblage had sworn to protect. There was more to this brutal attack than mere highwaymen.

    Dunnings shivered as the child began to scream. Retrieving one of the lanterns hanging from the side of the driver’s seat, he glanced over his shoulder at the Dowager and the hysterical child. She caught his unspoken look as he made for the woods. All the while the little girl continued to wail. Her screams shook the trees, seeming to carry for miles. The keening of one small child drowned out the furious howl of the winter wind, searing itself into the old coachman’s soul. And the scene hidden in a secluded copse was more suited to a battlefield than the tranquil English countryside.

    The faithful retainer was rocked to the core of his being by the final resting place of the child’s parents. Massive, unidentifiable paw prints had churned the snow and moist earth into mire, the stench of death and blood clogged the air, while the tiny girl’s disembodied keening gave voice to the ghosts that hovered close. Her Ladyship was right, this had been no highway robbery; this was a massacre. No living man could have been capable of the carnage revealed by the quivering light of Dunnings’ lamp.

    A slender young woman lay draped and broken across a fallen log. Her face, contorted into the same lines of terror that graced the child’s, stared sightlessly at the intertwined branches of the pines. Her skin matched the stark white of the snows. There was no blood left to lend her color; her throat had been torn out. Compared to the remains scattered about the copse the lady’s death had been kind. The old coachman knew she had been a lady given her attire and that of the little girl. The fate of the gentleman would haunt him until his dying day.

    Dunnings booted foot made contact with a severed hand, sending it skittering across the icy ground. It caught in the blood soaked hem of the lady’s gown. The burning metallic glitter of gold caught the flickering light of the lantern the retainer held aloft. It was all Dunnings could do not to toss up his supper. Steeling himself for the distressing task, the coachman crossed the small clearing and reached for the ring. His hand closed around the still warm flesh of the severed limb and pulled the ring free the cloying flesh. It was a dragon concealed with the twining tendrils of ivy surrounding a cursive M.

    With the ring in hand, Dunnings removed his coat and laid it over the crumpled form of the lady. Her gaze no longer stared into the darkness of the night. The remains of the man littered the deeper shadows of the glade. Dunnings didn’t make an effort to find them. He turned, making for the road where the Dowager waited. The little girl had gone silent once more. Her eyes burned silver in the moonlight as she watched the coachman emerge for the woods. She knew what he had seen. She sensed the metal clutched in his hand, heard the song of the gold and the dying cry of her mother’s soul. She was the last.

    Emmaline caught the line of the child’s gaze; the glare of the lantern seemed garish the moonlight as Dunnings approached. She saw the look in the little girl’s eyes and felt the sudden change in her demeanor. The aging countess anticipated the child’s reaction. She drew a piece of the little girl’s tattered gown across her eyes, preventing her from shifting to smoke and disappearing into the night. As soon as the blindfold was drawn across her eyes the child went limp, her unseeing gaze fixed on Dunnings. He wasn’t wearing his coat.

    Maria, in the meantime, had finally calmed herself enough to actually be of use. She jumped down into the road, bringing one of the lap robes with her. She draped it around the girl’s shoulders, covering the injuries on her back. She didn’t notice the intricate mark on the child’s skin as she helped the Dowager to her feet, the tiny figure little more than a limp doll in the older woman’s arms. Blood, snow, and mud now caked the front of the countess’s cloak and gown. The child offered no resistance as the dowager handed her over to the maid. The dog drew up beside Maria and leapt into the front facing seat of the coach where the maid promptly deposited her burden.

    The little girl rolled onto her side, burying her face and fingers in the hound’s shaggy coat. The massive beast stretched across the length of the seat, curling around his precious charge. Eerie silver eyes, identical to the blindfolded ones of the child, stared out into the bitter night daring the creatures that had slaughtered her parents to return. Disconcerted by the hound’s steady gaze, Maria shut the door and returned to her mistress.

    The Dowager startled by Maria’s return asked, “You didn’t leave that child alone, did you?”

    Maria shook her head. “No. That hell beast of a dog is wrapped around her like a wolf with its pup. With him watching, there is nothing that will venture near. Not even me.”

    “Good,” the Countess murmured, turning her attention to Dunnings. “What did you find?”

    Dunnings handed her the odd ring. “I found a slaughter. It is as you feared; the mite’s parents are dead. The lady’s throat torn out and the gentleman…” The coachman blanched. “All I was able to see of him was his right hand. It bore that ring.”

    “Thank you Dunnings, your work tonight shall not be forgotten.”

    Maria broke the silence encompassing them. “Any idea as to the child’s identity? It’s as plain as day, she’s Quality.”

    The Dowager fingered the ring in her hand. She knew the crest, knew it well. The old Count had been a great friend of Henry’s back in the day. “Arisaige is the name of the father’s family. They had a large estate in Austria before the war. Victor, the current Count’s father was an ambassador, well known and respected across the Continent. He died nearly ten years ago. His son Hector inherited the title and took his wife’s maiden name in order to inherit her family title. He has been in the employ of the Home Office since his father’s death. He married one of my sisters’ nieces several years ago, a Miss Arabella Amesworthy Moncreiffe. I stood as their daughter, Isabella’s godmother. She’s only seven months older than my other goddaughter, Jonquil. I haven’t seen her since the christening.”

    Dunnings brow furrowed in confusion. “You think this waif is your goddaughter? What proof do you have?”

    The Dowager’s smile was cold. “Those eyes, Dunnings, she has the Arisaige eyes. Her father’s and grandfather’s were every bit as beautiful, every bit as chilling. She looked at me with them only once before. I never forgot that gaze, like two shimmering stars plucked from the dark. It is Isabella. The ring you found only confirms her identity. Only the highest ranking members of the Assemblage and the Taboo themselves possess them. They never pass out of the direct line, father to son, mother to daughter.”

    “I don’t doubt your identifyin’ the child, milady, but what’s to be done with her?” Dunnings said. “Surely she must have some family, hereabouts.”

    The Countess shook her head. “Unfortunately she doesn’t. Her family wasn’t very numerous to begin with, but thanks to the war most of them are now either missing or dead. Everyone she had here in England, again, it is much the same case. My sisters are long dead and her grandparents, as well. Even if they had been alive, they wouldn’t have taken her.

    The Amesworthys cast Arabella off when she married Hector. They knew he was more than he appeared to be. They were right.”

    Tears gathered in Lady Emmaline’s blue eyes as she cast a speaking glance at the carriage. “I’m all the family she has now.” A short while later the smell of fresh smoke rode the freshening wind as flames began to billow of from the tattered copse that was the finally resting place of Lady Isabella’s family. Come morning there would be nothing left for the creatures to recover.
    Last edited by Darkkin; June 4th, 2017 at 04:35 AM.


  2. #2
    Finally - a chance to properly read this and comment! Gosh, criminal that it's not been commented on. Anyway I am generally a fan of your writing and this doesn't disappoint. It's rich, vivid, and quite firmly up my street. Bung in a ring with a dragon etched on it and I am invested.

    That said, there were a few parts I wanted to change. If there seem to be alot of comments, its only because I was that into it.

    First line:

    "The sound of panicked whinnying yanked Emmaline"

    To me, there are a few too many "nk"y sounds in "panicked whinnying yanked". Easy to fix though (if you want to); eg: The sound of a panicked whinny snapped Emmaline..."

    With that as an example I rhink you need to just be watchful for easy phrases, to avoid cliche. You have the chance here to set the tone so use it. Choose a word that fits the scenario of riding in a horsedrawn. Again, here:

    "Knowing they weren’t in any danger, Emmaline exited the vehicle."

    Exited is a little too ... meh. Have her "step one delicate shoe onto the ivory running boards of the charabanc". Yes, you may have to research pre-regency era coach construction, and personally I can think of little that would give more enjoyment, so go to!

    With this sentence:

    "This hound wouldn’t have abandoned its family with major provocation. Sensing the smaller, calmer form watching him, the canine moved aside, revealing its provocation."

    Try and avoid repeated words so soon (provocation). Also, surely the dog would have not gone anywhere without provocation, not with it. Also, dog nerds may go twitch-twitch for calling a hound a mastiff. A hound is a dog used for sniffing stuff out. A mastiff is type of very large dog used for other sorts of jobs, so they'd probably look quite different - but you can probably get away with it if you are in character and voice. Elsewise there are lots of other synonyms available: God-dratted cur, hell-fuelled mongrel, etc etc. Canine is a bit medical for me. We've already established dogness so no need to belabour. so the sentence could possibly be reworked something along these lines:

    "the broad animal moved aside, revealing a small figure curled in a tight ball in the middle of the roadway. [NEWLINE]


    With this
    "the sight of massive crimson stains marring the freshly fallen snow"
    again "marring" is a bit of a placeholder. Want it to look like, for example, a rose? Then make it look like one. Use images that are apposite to the content and the setting/tone, and the person perceiving it etc.
    "the sight of massive crimson stains spreading on the freshly fallen snow like a bloody rose"
    or something... Ditto "steeling himself" and "shivers racked the body". I mean, use it by all means, but there is scope for banging it up a notch, particularly in this piece, and particularly since you have wracked shortly afterwards:

    "bloodcurdling and pain wracked it split the frozen air, echoing against the stars". Though I have to admit I have no idea which spelling is correct...

    On that note - "echoing against the stars" and "shook the trees". I think I might need to ask you to just go ahead and step away from the poetry for the minute Lovely phrase, but it just doesn't quite fit here. It's too purple. The volume's too high on a background thing. Who would think this way on such a dark night as this? Invoke tension in the woods, not the hyperdrama of the Bolshoi Why not have her voice echo against something that is nearby and relevant - a gnarled old oak, for instance (maybe not that but you get the idea). Ditto "As she twisted away,". The movement is too whoa for the moment, it's too much. As with this: "The faithful retainer was rocked to the core of his being by the final resting place of the child’s parents. Massive, unidentifiable paw prints had churned the snow and moist earth into mire, the stench of death and blood clogged the air, while the tiny girl’s disembodied keening gave voice to the ghosts that hovered close." Sounds like something a Finnish symphonic metal band might sing (which is no bad thing!). Uness - unless! - ghosts hovering close are a normal part of your world. If so then keep it. Philip Pullman does that really nicely in His Dark Materials, just really subtle and beautiful worldbuilding.

    With this, it's a little bit of a similar thing:
    "The keening of one small child drowned out the furious howl of the winter wind, searing itself into the old coachman’s soul."
    - note you have keening shortly afterwards but more importantly until this moment I was not aware of any stormy howling wind. Things seemed quiet ... too quiet (ina good way) but this storm seems to have come from nowhere and risks looking shoehorned in, especially as you refer to it as "tranquil English countryside." at the end of the very next sentence. Pick one weather pattern, stick with it, and be ever mindful of Bulwer-Lytton

    "limned" - it fits but it's a bit outre as a word choice. You might want to sort of contextualise it a bit and not give it quite so much prominence because it risks "sounding like writing" whereas it should sound like a massive dog in the moonlight.
    "She caught sight of the massive form traced in moonlight and limned by the soft glow of the carriage lanterns."
    Apart from that it's grea, really atmospheric.

    This:
    "The burning metallic glitter of gold caught the flickering light of the lantern the retainer held aloft. It was all Dunnings could do not to toss up his supper." was great. Visual, characterful. I get all I need from that.


    burned gun powered => burned gunpowder

    Who is Maria? She seems to come out of nowhere.

    Watch your points of view. Who are we? Emmaline? Dunnings? The girl? At various points we are all three but this risks making the characters less believable and te story less immersive. Changes in point of view are best left to scene switches etc unless you do it sort of intentionally. To a degree, we are the character, experiencing the events, so with this:

    "The little girl had gone silent once more. Her eyes burned silver in the moonlight as she watched the coachman emerge for the woods. She knew what he had seen. She sensed the metal clutched in his hand, heard the song of the gold and the dying cry of her mother’s soul. She was the last."

    and this

    "The faithful retainer was rocked to the core of his being by the final resting place of the child’s parents."

    These things might be best depicted as observed by the Dowager Countess. Use body language to suggest them to her.

    Anyway I hope this helped. Feel free to ignore what doesn't work for you. I really enjoyed this read and your style and the whole situation here has a great hook and promises alot


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    The first cut don't hurt at all
    The second only makes you wonder
    The third will have you on your knee
    s
    - Propaganda, "Duel"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous








  3. #3
    The sound of panicked whinnying yanked Emmaline, the Dowager Countess of Taverton out of the light doze she had fallen into after having departed, Cedarwood Grange for Taver House, her home in London.
    The subject of this sentence is that the horses are frightened. The rest is filler unrelated to what's going on. Where she's coming from is irrelevant. Where she's going is irrelevant. Her title is irrelevant. To her all that has relevancy is that she was snatched awake by the horses action. And given that it's her story, and you're neither in it nor in the scene, you have neither the means nor the right to step on stage with an info-dump of backstory.

    When people treat her as royalty we'll know she is. When she identifies herself or is called by her title, we'll know. When she arrives, or discusses her destination, we'll know that, too. But here, you're trying to convince the reader that this is an exciting story, so they will commit to reading it. And that means you need to entertain, not lecture.
    The chase lurched heavily as Dunnings drew the conveyance to an abrupt halt.
    First, it's chaise, not chase. And a chaise is a two wheeled, open carriage that carries one of two people, so you need to do your research.

    But that aside, from a reader's viewpoint, and given they've probably not ridden in a such a vehicle, how does a lurch and a heavy lurch differ? Unless that's meaningful to the reader, that extra word serves only to slow the narrative.

    The problem is that you're not telling the story. Story happens in the moment she calls now. It happens in her viewpoint, and in real-time. And in her viewpoint the carriage came to an unexpected halt. Any lurching and nearly falling is irrelevant because it's visual detail that a reader can't see, simply because you mention it as having happened. She would be holding on and wondering what's going on—which matters to her. And since she can't see what's causing the stop, why would she assume it's highwaymen? It could be a tree across the road, or a rockslide. In case it was highwaymen she might take precautions, but unless someone outside is shouting for them to stop she can't know.

    If she's the POV character then only what has her attention matters because it's her story and she's our protagonist. So unless she's thinking of the woman with her—and she's not till she feels the need to give her an order—the woman doesn't exist.

    The problem is that you, the storyteller, are speaking the same words you'd use in person. But can the reader hear the emotion in your voice, your delivery, and all the vocal tricks that you hear when you read this? No, because the page doesn't reproduce your performance. Nor, for the same reason, can they see your expression, gesture, and body language. All they have is what the words and punctuation suggest as they read. And since they can't know what a line will say till it's read it, it's too late to perform it as you would. In short, you're using the tricks of verbal storytelling in a medium that can't reproduce them.

    Not good news, I know, but it's not a matter of talent or writing skill. It's that you lack the specialized knowledge and trucks of writing fiction for the page. The professional skills of the profession, in other words. And that's fixable.

    A great place to acquire the knowledge is the local library system's fiction writing department. And as always, my recommendation is to look for the names, Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover.

    Hang in there, and keep on writing.

  4. #4
    There is something I like about a specific date and locale. It gives a sense of grounding or... Something. Or maybe I've just been critiquing too many pieces that are not related to *anything.*

    Your first sentence is a little ambitious, it seems; you got the commas wrong. I'd split that one up if I were you. If the *writer* doesn't get the structure, the reader doesn't stand a chance in hell.

    I assume you're attempting to evoke a sense of the language of the time, but I still hear lines from Demolition Man every time I hear the word "conveyance." If you are unfamiliar with Demolition Man, you have missed a truly excellent film. For context, just in case: http://www.subzin.com/quotes/M20651b...arking+zone%3F

    Dunno if capitalizing "the Dowager" works here.

    You introduced Dunnings by name in the first paragraph, but it isn't clear until the second that he is a person. Just leave him out of the first and it'll flow better for readers who don't realize he is a character.

    "Knowing they weren't in danger" doesn't necessarily work, here; a great, hulking brute of a hound is more than enough danger for an elderly woman. Maybe rework that bit of description? Or make it clear why she's not worried about a big-ass dog. Historically, mostly women and children are killed by big-ass dogs when big-ass dogs want to kill humans. Just sayin'.

    Mastiffs are scary as *fuck* up close, shaggy or not. They were bred as war dogs, after all. Also, the idea that one would leave his family for *any* reason is not one that stands up to much scrutiny. There are stories of people having to kill these dogs in order to bury their slain masters. You're off the hook because the dog is protecting something in the road, so he has a reason to be here and hasn't abandoned anything at all, but having the dowager not know that does not do her credit in my mind.

    gun powered -> gunpowder

    I think "sulfurous" would work better, too. Sulfuric is a kind of acid; sulfurous is a stench. Also, the thing *most* people would associate with gunpowder is the stink of bad eggs, so that may be more evocative.

    My little sister has a mastiff. Odds of a stranger being able to approach my little sister while she's on the ground, bleeding, without the mastiff scaring them half to death and/or eating them alive? Almost exactly nil. Just saying. Story would be stronger for me, at this point, if they had to kill the dog--especially when the kid screams. Actually, as I read on from here, I notice that the dog seems to disappear from the page? Maybe just make it a *dead* dog in the first place. I think that would fit better.

    "The fey child bore the torn glory of the Traveller’s mark of the Taboo. A dragon with wings spread wide, dissipating into a column of mist." This description doesn't work for me. Maybe don't shovel it all in at once. I think you're done at "...bore the torn glory of the Traveller's mark." You can describe it in greater detail later on. I might also skip the thing about her husband, too, for now.

    The transition before the words "The faithful retainer was rocked to the core by..." is... Well, it's nonexistent. I read back to see if I had missed a paragraph, but the transition just isn't here at all.

    "Her ladyship" hasn't said anything about highwaymen. Not out loud, anyway. How does the coachman know she's right?

    If a hand is cold and hard enough to "skitter," the little girl has long since frozen to death. Just... You know. I imagine a hand more as a nasty, meaty lump on the ground--it squishes and rolls beneath your foot rather than skittering.

    It's freezing cold and people are getting killed and dismembered. Why is Dunnings taking off his coat?! He's too old to be this big a bleeding heart, isn't he? Just think--1799 is in the middle of one of the greatest periods of strife in human history. There's a better than decent chance this guy has seen severed hands before this.

    "Maria" just seems... Forgotten up until she's supposed to do something again. Did you come back and throw her in later on?

    The descriptions "tiny figure" and "toddler" and "child" all work to confuse me as to how big this thing is. "tiny figure" and "toddler" make me think she's not yet four years old or so, which makes me wonder how she's not dead; I have to figure anything that can tear out throats and literally tear a grown man to shreds probably has big enough claws to rip this child's spine out without much effort, so the idea she's not dead is just... Weird. Is she bigger than I'm imagining? Is she a vampire?

    Now the dog undisappears, too. He comes back magic. I guess that explains why he has such good manners.

    "Not even me." <-- Maria, the biggest pussy in the story, makes out like she's braver than the average monster and therefore a good barometer for what will and will not approach the dog to assault the child. >.>

    When you do the split dialog thing, I personally think it works better if the dialog *begins* the preceding paragraph. Also, you're supposed to then begin the next paragraph with a quote, like...

    "That fish was terrible.

    "Also, I hate tartar sauce."

    The fire at the end comes out of nowhere. I'm left with this idea that the angry toddler did it with her mind powers, but I'm hoping that Dunnings did it with a torch and some gasoline or something...

    Overall, I think the sense of tension you try to build with this scene is undercut by how easy everything is (there is no real conflict--just the evidence of previous conflict--even though there are ample *opportunities* for conflict, like how the coachman could have a very difficult time corralling that dog while everyone else tries to take care of the kid, or they try to convince him that they aren't evil, etc...); I mean, your main character even says, "We are in no danger," right before just hopping out the door. That's pretty easy to fix, I think; just let us know a thing or two that might make the hair stand on our necks and we'll all be happy.

    ...Hell, make the dowager *wrong* about the danger. Then you have a fallible character *and* tension.

    Edit!!!!!

    One last thing: I fucking *hate* when people call children "beautiful." They're fat, red-faced, pouty, ugly things. They all are, unless you want them to be creepy, like as in horror movie creepy--and that, by the way, was my impression of this one, particularly when we started talking about how *pretty* it is. All I can think of is the scathing critiques I read of... Ok, I can't remember the kid's name, but the brat in the vampire books? Anyway, I just thought of that as I was scrolling up and clearly it produced a strong response in me.
    Don't take my advice personally. Also don't expect me to provide disclaimers like, "Just my opinion, but..." You should know that by now.

  5. #5
    I defer to the critiques mentioned above... save for the final piece about children

  6. #6
    This piece has been nominated for Writer and Story of the Month June 2017. If anyone reading this wants to vote, please go here.
    ​[REDACTED]

  7. #7
    As ever, I greatly enjoyed reading your work, Darkkin.

    The poet in you shows up strongly in your prose too. Although I loved reading this, I might struggle to read a lengthier story in this style because I'm sure I would become lost in the nuances of language and lose track of the story. At this sort of length though, it is a delight to behold.


  8. #8
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    I like the strong, evocative language you use. There is a sense of feel to your story that his hard to do. But I think sometimes it gets away from you, seeming too flowery. I think I could have guessed you were a poet if the other commentors didn't mention it.

    One thing I think you could look at is the over-complexity of some of your sentences. For example, your first sentence is more understandable if broken up.


    The sound of panicked whinnying yanked Emmaline, the Dowager Countess of Taverton out of the light doze she had fallen into after having departed Cedarwood Grange for Taver House, her home in London.


    could be


    The sound of panicked whinnying yanked Emmaline out of her doze. The Dowager Countess of Taverton had fallen asleep on the long trip from Cedarwod Grange to her home in London.

    There are a number of convoluted sentences that could be much more easily understood if you split seperate ideas into separate sentences. You don't have to give all the details at once.
    You also use unnecessary convolutions making people's body parts do the work they should be doing. Dunnings booted foot kicks the hand, rather than Dunning kicking the hand with his booted foot, the dogs eyes do the staring and not the dog. Stooping down, she examined the girl rather than she stooped down and examined the girl... I think you give away some of your character's will and immediacy by having other things do what the character is really doing.

    Gotta say though, I do want to see the next installment.

    --wkiraly

    ohh, sorry, one more thing that jarred me a little. A final resting place is where they put your body after the service, not where you were killed. Maybe it was okay in the last paragraph but it seemed odd the first time you mentioned it. But maybe that was intentional.

  9. #9
    "“You think this waif is your goddaughter? What proof do you have?”! I question whether the retainer would have worded his question thus. "How can that be?" Perhaps? To ask for proof from his employer seems a little presumptuous don't you think.

    Contrary to previous critics, I applaud the more structured nature of your sentences, nothing worse than staccato one clause sentences that make prose so boring to read?

  10. #10
    I like it. Gave me some good ideas for mine.

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