Hello campbellsworld visitors and lovers of books everywhere.
This morning in the Author’s Corner author Meredith Burton has joined us to share a bit of her work with us.
Meredith, I’m so glad you could join us today. Can you tell us, what inspired you to share this excerpt?
Hi Patty. I’m very glad to be here today to answer your question and share a bit of my work with you.
I chose to share this excerpt from my Snow White novella entitled Hart Spring because it illustrates my main character, Bianca’s, loneliness and ens on a deliciously suspenseful note. This chapter was inspired by the scene in the fairy tale when Snow White is taken into the forest by the huntsman. My huntsman character, Isaac, is a conflicted man as he has experienced much loss. I loved his character, even if he sometimes makes wrong choices.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 4 OF HEART SPRING
The day began like any other. Bianca helped Priscilla assemble breakfast. Then she helped Mabel with the laundry. Of course, both Priscilla and Mabel told her not to help, but she had ignored them. Laundry was tedious, for each article of clothing and piece of linen had to be scrubbed repeatedly. The lye soap burned the hands and brought tears to the eyes.
“Mabel, do you ever feel—“ Bianca was at a loss as to how to phrase her question. Ever since her visit with Stepmother, a feeling of disquiet worried at her soul like a dog at a bone. “Do you ever feel like you don’t belong anywhere?”
Mabel looked up from the sheet she was scrubbing. Her sweat-soaked face wore a frown. “Everyday,” she said stiffly. “Why do you ask?”
“I just wondered. I feel like a piece of yarn that might break, like I’m being pulled in two directions. Father only summons me once a month, and I feel so tired after he does. But I love to see him. Stepmother only summons me to scold me. I only feel happy when I’m with all of you. But, Stepmother said something mean yesterday.” Bianca lowered her head. “I don’t want to tell you what she said.”
Mabel’s face hardened. “I can guess,” she said. She sighed and turned to Bianca. “Mistress, you know you don’t belong among us, don’t you? You’ll only cause yourself trouble. Why do you keep coming back?”
Bianca sighed. “Because all of you make me feel welcome.” She resumed her work. “Do you remember apple butter day last year?” she asked wistfully. That particular day always heralded fun for the slaves, for there were games and a picnic. The usual routines were set aside.
Mabel laughed, her features relaxing. “Next time, I’ll beat you in the potato sack race.” She laid aside the sheet and retrieved another article from the tub of water. “Do you remember the cakewalk? I know Isaac cheated.” She laughed.
“He wouldn’t!” Bianca said with a shocked gasp.
Mabel snorted. “Fly Along my Dovekin isn’t played that fast. Didn’t you see him watching my mother? He wanted to make sure Mother stayed inside the circle and didn’t step on the edge. She’d have been out if she had. Don’t you remember how proud Mother was when she won the spice cake? It’s her favorite.”
Bianca laughed. She remembered Isaac’s callused hands as they strummed the banjo and his weathered features that had smiled. He rarely played music or smiled, so that memory always made Bianca happy. “Priscilla sang that day,” she said softly. “Her voice sounded so pretty.” Bianca remembered the song:
“Across the dividing river,
Amid wildflowers’ golden gleam,
Lies a land bought by brutal means,
A land where we will go.”
Bianca allowed the words of the song to fill her mind. They were mysterious, and she did not know what they meant, but they gave her comfort. She began scrubbing another article of clothing.
“Mistress Bianca?” Priscilla entered the washroom. Bianca raised her head, shocked to see Priscilla’s face. She was frowning, and tears shone in her eyes. “What is it?” She hurried to Priscilla’s side.
Priscilla smiled wanly. “Isaac wants you to go with him today. He’s selecting a pony for the stable. Mistress Gloria has given her permission. She said it was her final indulgence and that you must enjoy it.”
Bianca gasped with excitement. “Really?” Another outing on the same week as the summons from Father? She looked at Priscilla’s sad face, and suddenly her happiness evaporated like melting ice cream. “What’s wrong?”
Priscilla shook her head. “Nothing, my dove,” she said. “Go on out to the stable, now. He’s waiting.” She gave Bianca a quick hug. Bianca felt a cloth-wrapped bundle being placed in her hands. “Provisions,” Priscilla whispered. She hugged Bianca tighter.
“You’re shaking.” Bianca grabbed Priscilla’s arm. “Please tell me—“
“Go.” Priscilla thrust Bianca away, hastily turning to conceal her tears. “I’ll tell you tonight during our lesson.” She fled the room.
Bianca turned to Mabel. “I don’t understand,” she said.
Mabel shrugged. “Mistress probably yelled at Mother again. You know how it upsets her.”
Bianca nodded. “Why don’t you ask Isaac if you can come, too?” she said hopefully. “We could ask him to stop by the general store on the way home for some—“
Mabel shook her head. “I have to finish this washing,” she said glumly.
Bianca sighed and nodded. Work always came first. She left the washroom to journey toward the stable.
Isaac ran his hands along Conrad’s feet. The horse’s shoes were worn, but they would suffice for the journey. He blinked rapidly as he saw Bianca hurrying toward him. “Morning,” he said, managing a smile.
Bianca approached, her eyes shining. “Hello, Isaac. Thanks for asking me along.”
He nodded. “You’re always asking about the ponies at the stableyard. I thought you’d like to help me select one.”
Bianca jumped up and down with excitement. “I hope they have a chestnut one,” she said eagerly.
Isaac laughed. “Don’t count your chickens,” he said gruffly. “Come now. We’d best be going.” He gestured to Conrad. “You’ll ride behind me.” He assisted Bianca onto the horse’s back and mounted himself. “Did Priscilla pack you a lunch?”
Bianca nodded. Isaac clicked his tongue, and Conrad began to move. “Can we stop at the general store for a dandy fizz on the way back?” Bianca asked.
Isaac did not answer. After a moment, Bianca repeated her question.
“We’ll see,” Isaac said shortly. He pressed his heels into Conrad’s sides, and the horse began to move. “I used to take you on rides when you were no bigger than a fledgling,” he said.
Bianca looked at the man’s weathered face. Faint memories stirred of glorious rides that took her breath away. She always felt like she was flying. “Did Father ever let me ride with him?” she asked.
Isaac frowned. “Not on horseback,” he said. “He’s a busy man, Mistress Bianca.”
She lowered her head. “I was just thinking,” she said. “I remember darkness and the smell of earth. It was cold, and I remember being on a horse with Father. We—“
“Stop talking about him!” Isaac said harshly. He yanked Conrad’s reins, and the horse tossed his head in agitation.
Bianca flinched as if she’d been struck. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I just—“
Isaac looked at the stricken girl, his face sorrowful. “Forgive me, Mistress Bianca. I didn’t mean to yell,” he said wearily. “You just don’t understand. Your father is not—“ He turned away and focused on guiding Conrad through a tangle of undergrowth. “So, do you feel stronger after the other day?”
“Yes,” Bianca said, frowning at the abrupt change in subject. “It was just the usual weak spell. I have to learn to conserve my strength.”
Isaac frowned. “It wasn’t the usual weakness, Mistress Bianca. You fainted. And, I don’t think conserving your strength has anything to do with it. Seems to me that the weakness isn’t your fault, contrary to what someone might want you to think,” he said gruffly. He continued guiding Conrad and did not speak again. He was not given to speaking as a general rule, so Bianca was used to his silences. She relaxed as Conrad continued cantering through the springtime landscape.
By midmorning, Bianca began to notice something strange. Trees surrounded her, and the temperature had fallen slightly. She knew they rode within a wood, for the trees arched over her head in a graceful canopy. Silence surrounded her. Only the clip-clop of Conrad’s hooves were discernible. “Isaac, is the stableyard near?” she asked.
“We’ll reach it by early afternoon. We’ll eat before we arrive there,” Isaac said.
After another hour or so of riding, Bianca was fidgeting uncomfortably. “I-I need to, um—“
Isaac nodded. “We’ll stop in a moment.” He spurred Conrad on. Even Bianca could tell that the horse was tiring. She noticed that Isaac gripped the reins in an iron fist.
Soon, the cheerful chattering of water filled Bianca’s ears. “Here,” Isaac said, finally allowing Conrad to stop. Bianca surveyed her surroundings. They had emerged in a sunny glade. A river bubbled just to the right of them, and wildflowers bloomed in abundance. Isaac turned to her. “Go do the necessary,” he instructed. “Then we’ll eat.”
Bianca smiled at him. “It’s beautiful here,” she said as she dismounted from Conrad’s back.
Isaac nodded. “My daughter and I used to come here,” he said, a faint tremor in his voice. “Go now. I have to see to Conrad.”
Bianca walked a stone’s throw away in order to find some privacy. When she returned, Isaac was sitting on the grass eating a sandwich. He turned to her. “I have sardenes,” he said, smiling faintly. “Would you like one?”
Bianca grimaced and shook her head decisively. “No thank you,” she said haughtily. “I have my own lunch.” She laughed as she opened the bundle of provisions. So much food for such a short journey!
As Bianca ate, she became aware of a strange noise. SNICK! SNICK! She turned toward the sound. Isaac was standing facing a tree, his lunch forgotten. He held something in his hand, something he was running along the tree’s trunk. She saw that he was shaking, and tears were coursing down his cheeks. “Isaac? Is something wrong?“
Isaac turned toward her, his right hand upraised. In his hand gleamed a knife. “Run,” he said, his voice barely recognizable. It emerged in a raspy growl. “Cross the river. You’ll be safe if you reach the other side.”
Bianca stared at Isaac, thunderstruck. The knife glimmered in his hand, the blade pulsating with evil itself. “What are you—“
He lunged toward her, knife blade sweeping in a deadly ark. Bianca screamed and bolted toward the river like a frightened deer. Behind her, she heard Isaac’s ragged sobs. Then she fell, the river catching her in its cold embrace. She tumbled head over heels. The current bore her along with insistent fingers, pushing her beneath the icy surface of the water. She knew no more.
Well, readers, can you leave it there and not know what happened next? I don’t know about you but I surely cannot.
How can we read this wonderful tale? Read on to find out…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND HER WORK…
Meredith Leigh Burton was born on July 4, 1983. She attended the Tennessee School for the Blind and Middle Tennessee State University. Graduating in December of 2007 with a Bachelors’ of Arts Degree in English and theater, she then obtained her teaching certification for grades 7-12. She enjoys working with students, helping them to explore their own talents and learn self-expression through writing. She also enjoys helping with church activities. She resides in Lynchburg, Tennessee.
Meredith is an author of young adult fantasy. Her recent release, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption, is an anthology of fairy tale retellings that seek to explore the familiar tales in unique ways. Most of her works feature disabled protagonists who are called upon to fight against evil. All her characters face difficult obstacles and must find strength to fight. Meredith hopes to show her readers that disabilities are really blessings, that we all have gifts and long to make a difference in the world.
To see and buy her book visit her at:
Find her on Goodreads at:
Find her on Audible at: https://www.amazon.com/Blind-Beauty-Other-Tales-Redemption/dp/B07KBC52JJ/ref=sr_1_1_twi_audd_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1542207638&sr=8-1&keywords=blind+beauty+and+other+tales+of+redemption
Buy her book in braille at:
Thank you for dropping into the Author’s Corner today and do come again soon.