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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Happy Meeting

In my current historical work-in-progress set in Sydney, I have young James Martin at the dock checking out the folk who've just arrived on the latest passenger ship from Southampton, in England. He looks up just in time to catch the eye of one young lady, and here's what happens:

A second glance showed him there was nothing exceptional about this one. She was of average height and average-to-slim build and she wore a simple, tailored dress in dove gray with just a touch of lace at the collar. Her hair was cut shoulder length, styled up on the sides in the current fashion, and it looked a medium, mousy brown – although he had to admit that it shone like spun honey when she moved into the sunlight. Her face was a fine oval and her features were even and soft, surely not the prettiest he’d seen, though he wouldn’t call her plain. Then she looked up at him, caught his eye, smiled like the radiant sun bursting over the sea at dawn, blushed, and shyly dropped her eyes.

James listens as she comes ashore and learns her name is Eliza Wells. When she steps off the boat, he volunteers to help her. Here is how that goes:

“Miss? May I help you with your satchel?” James asked, approaching her.

She refused to meet his eyes, looking determinedly at his collar. “I do not speak with strange men, Sir.” The color was rising in her cheeks again.

He chuckled. “I’m a strange one, I’ll grant ye’ that, but I’m also a friend of the official who checked you in. If you want to walk back a step or two, he can perform a proper introduction.”

“No, um, thank you,” the girl said, rather more stiffly than James thought necessary. She took a long, deep breath and turned away from him.

Impatience sneaked up on James. “Look, Miss, I’m not tryin’ t’ give ye trouble. I thought from the way ye smiled at me –"

“I .. I didn’t smile at you.” She looked up at him, and then quickly back down at her feet, blushing furiously. “I just smiled, and ye … ye happened t’ be there.”

James nodded. “Ah, I see.” He let his tone and his look tell her how little he believed her protests. “So, since I just happen t’ be here now, is there somethin’ I can help ye find?”

I'm having such fun with James and Eliza. I promise to share more as their story develops.

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