Tuesday Tales: From the Word MAD

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday tales, the blog where select authors post scenes from their current works in progress for you to enjoy. This week’s word is MAD. Lots of room to work with that one. I’m continuing with The Price of Courage, book two of my Canadiana series.

Last week, Lucien was about to open the door to the storm cellar. Here’s what he found.  Enjoy!

Makeshift torch in hand, Lucien grabbed the metal ring and pulled the door open.

He glimpsed into the darkness and gasped as he made out three shapes huddled under a blanket.

“Have mercy, please. They’re only children,” a woman said in a language he recognized as a mix of Mi’kmaq and French.

“No one will hurt you,” he answered in the same patois. “We’re here to help. Yves,” he turned to the man behind him. “Bring in some wood and start a fire in the hearth.”

Yves nodded to Okwaho, and the men went outside, returning seconds later with kindling and logs. Using flint and tinder from his pack, within minutes, the man had a blaze going and the room grew warmer.

“It’s all right,” Lucien said. “You can come up now. You’re safe.”

When a child was hoisted up high enough that he could reach him, he did so and placed the shivering toddler on the bench near the fire. A second child made her debut, trembling as hard as her brother was. Both were in their nightclothes, their tiny feet in woolen socks.

A man had to be mad to treat children like this.

Fighting his fury at such an atrocity, Lucien removed his coat, bundled the shivering children in it, and left them on the bench where the fire would soon warm them.

He returned to the hole. “Madame, it’s your turn.”

Hélas, I can’t come up the ladder on my own. I hurt my ankle when they threw me down here,” she answered.

“Move out of the way. I’ll jump down and get you. Okwaho, come and help me,” he said, before dropping into the root cellar.

Like the pantry, the place had been looted, crocks of preserves smashed and trampled into the ground. Traces of tiny finger marks bore evidence that the children had scooped up some of the precious jam along with the dirt under it. His stomach roiled and he fisted his hands at his side.

Slowly, a figure emerged from the darkness. The woman’s eye was blackened and her lip split. She held a quilt around her, but he could see the scratches on her neck and the edges of her torn blouse. She limped, favoring her left leg. One hand cradled her distended abdomen. Horrified, Lucien approached her. What kind of monsters could do something like this?

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word BRIDGE

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s edition of Tuesday tales, the blog where books are born. Each week a select group of authors share their work in progress with you, by providing a scene inspired by a word or picture prompt. This week’s word is BRIDGE. I used a variation of it. Be nice! I’m continuing with my historical romance, The Price of Courage, Book 2 of the Canadiana Series.

Enjoy!

As soon as the others joined him, they approached the house, quickly bridging the gap between it and them. Could animals have found their way inside? Lucien had seen it happen before, and a man would have to be a fool to ignore such danger. Abandoned houses and sheds made excellent substitutes for caves.

Mon Dieu, Seigneur,” he cried, jumping back as if he’d been stung. On the porch, hidden by the woodpile and snow, lay the frozen body of a young man, his throat slit ear to ear, almost decapitating him. It couldn’t have happened too long ago; otherwise the wolves would’ve been here.

“What is it?” Yves asked, musket drawn, rushing to his side and peeking around his shoulders. “Sacrament, maudite merde,” he began a string of French curses that would earn him a full year in purgatory. “Les bâtards. They did this. You know it and so do I.”

Before Lucien could answer, Okwaho raised his palm to silence them.

“Listen,” he whispered.

A low, muffled keening, came from inside the house.

Lucien raised his finger to his lips and stepped through the doorway. Yves followed closely as did Okwaho. It was almost as cold inside the house as it had been outside. Lucien swallowed. The place had been ransacked, the furniture, meager as it was, tossed around. The cupboards were emptied, the few wooden trenchers and cups tossed onto the floor next to the kettle and overturned pots. From what Lucien could see, not so much as a sack of dry beans remained in what must’ve been a large family home. So where were the rest of the occupants?

Another whimper, louder this time, similar to a pup’s cry. Slowly, he moved toward it, looking into the corners for its origin. The third time he heard it, he realized it was coming from under the overturned table. With Yves’s help, he righted the heavy object and moved it away, expecting to see a body, but instead, he saw a rag rug covering what must be the door to the root cellar. Horror filled him. Someone had tossed a helpless animal into the darkness and left it to die.

“Find me a light,” he said, his teeth gritted in fury.

Yves opened his pack and removed his flint, lighting a piece of wood from what must’ve once been a chair.

That’s it.   What do you think the men will find in the root cellar?

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word BONE.

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the blog stop where books are born and written  based on weekly word or picture prompts. This week’s word is BONE.

I find it hard to believe September is here and that we’re only seventeen days from the first day of fall. Around here, the summer continues with the same heat and humidity of July and August. I’m hoping a long hot summer won’t mean a long cold winter. With that thought in mind, I’m plunging you back into the winter of 1667 in New France, continuing with The Price of Courage, Book Two of the Canadiana Series. 

On a flat, packed surface, using snowshoes was reasonably simple, but in deep fresh snow like this, it took a great deal of effort and going up or down hill presented an additional challenge. Lucien’s first winter had been a nightmare, the pain in his hip bones at the end of each long day enough to make a grown man cry. But he’d learned and mastered the art, just as he’d learned to ski—his life had depended on it. If these men had been traveling three days—longer given the length of the storm—the first day must’ve been excruciating. Even with prior deaths at the estate, they would’ve been provisioned for the winter. Why the rush to leave now?

There’d been blood on Bouchard’s hands. Animal or human? His stomach clenched. He would find dead men at the estate, of that he was certain, but he doubted the cause of death would be fevers.

Cresting the hill, the trail continued northeast. Lucien stopped and sniffed. There was smoke on the wind.

“Do you smell that?” he asked.

Yves nodded. “Yes, and it’s not from a campfire. Maybe they smelled the smoke this morning and went to check. That could explain their coming from that direction.”

Lucien shook his head. “Possibly, but I find it easier to believe they caused the fire and were running from it,” he answered grimly. Campfires rarely got out of hand, but when they did, they could cause a great deal of damage even in winter.

Moving again, they’d walked little more than an hour, the smell of charred wood growing stronger as they pushed north, when Okwaho’s eagle cry warned them he was nearby. They stopped, waiting for the Mohawk to join them.

“Did they send anyone?” Lucien asked as soon as the scout was close enough.

“Not long after you crested the hill, two of the men came back—no packs, just muskets,” the Mohawk answered. “I growled like a wolf to get their attention. When they turned toward me and saw nothing, I howled. Both men screamed, made the sign of the cross, and fell over themselves in their haste to get away. I waited, but no one else returned. I have been watching behind me, doubling back to be sure.” He sniffed the air. “Burned flesh. Not good.”

“You’re sure?” he asked the scout, knowing instinctively that the Mohawk was right.

That’s it.  Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

New TT imageGood morning. I’m back from my journey out west. Welcome to this week’s edition Of Tuesday Tales where books are born.  This we, we have a picture prompt and a 300 word limit.

I continue with The Price of Courage, Book Two of my Canadiana Series. Here is the picture I chose.

cups and saucers

The snow fell and the wind howled for two days before the sun rose again. This morning, they would break camp and set off for the Montagnais village. Lucien rummaged through his pack until he found what he sought. Taking out the carefully wrapped, hand-painted bowl Izzy, Guy’s wife, had given him, he smiled.

While he should’ve paid more attention to his hostess, his gaze had strayed to the inn’s mistress, the lovely young redheaded widow who was probably married by now. He’d seen genteel women of such beauty and grace in France, but she was as far beyond him as the stars. Imagining her in a trapper’s hut was impossible. Besides, the young officer at her side had made sure her gaze and attention stayed on him. And why not? She was a priceless treasure.

As he spooned oatmeal into his mouth, he recalled the meal he’d shared with them and Alain, Marianne, and the children before he and the seigneur had left for Quebec. The food, exquisite as always, had only been bested by the warm welcome he’d received.

“How will you approach the chief?” Guy asked, his brow furrowed.

“An old friend of mine married Atika’s daughter and now resides with the Montagnais, living and trapping with them. I will bring goods with me—flint, iron knives and arrowheads, beads and cloth for his wife as well as muskets, balls, and powder. He is a Frenchmen. Giving him weapons doesn’t violate the law and his father-in-law has long been an ally of the French.”

“You must take something personal to the wife,” Izzy said, rising from the table. “I painted the rosebuds on it myself back in France. I’ve given similar items to the women on the estate and they love them. Perhaps she will like it too.

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word KNIFE

New TT imageAs I get ready to go and attend a family wedding, I found the time to post this week’s Tuesday Tales, the on-going weekly blog where books are born. Each week, we post a short excerpt based on a word or image. This week the word is KNIFE.

I’m continuing with my historical romance, The Price of Courage, Book Two in the Canadiana Series.\

Enjoy.

Guy rubbed his chin. “I’ve sent men beyond Quebec and down to the region controlled by the Abenaki and Micmac. According to official records, in the colony itself, there are more than a dozen seigneuries controlled directly from France. My friend Nicolas Denys, the governor of Canso, assures me all of his men and those in the area are loyal to the colony, as are those in Acadia. Rumor has it, the French will reclaim that land within a year or two. Loyal Frenchmen have no desire to support the English should a battle occur, and as long as rumors of an Iroquois Confederacy joining the Abenaki are false, there’s no danger there. My concern is with men nearby, like those you mentioned and those whose lands are near des Courts’ estates. My scouts will check on those when they return in the spring. My other worry is rooted in the tall tales of rich furs and gold far to the south and west of the colony. Men down on their luck will believe almost anything if they think it will lead to untold wealth.”

Remi pursed his lips and reached for the knife on the table to cut a chunk of cheese from the block his wife had brought in earlier.

“I was afraid to mention those, but now that you have, a greedy man with no ties to the colony—no wife, no children, no land—will indeed be tempted, and since those are the very men we need to farm the land and defend us, you have every right to be afraid.”

Knowing his friend wasn’t finished, Guy waited, his fingers tapping on his glass as Remi, popped the chunk of cheese into his mouth and chewed as if by doing so the morsel helped him organize his thoughts.

“Whoever is spreading those wild stories is doing so faster than a skunk can poison the air. Two of my engagés whose debt will be repaid come the spring have already mentioned they would like to join an expedition going west to search for this mysterious treasure trove. Has De Courcelle authorized such an expedition?” He narrowed his eyes. “My men are good, strong workers who believe the governor-general is behind this.”

Guy clenched his teeth. “The governor-general has ordered no such expedition. Participating in such a venture is a crime against the colony.”

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word Worn

New TT image

Welcome to another week of Tuesday Tales, the blog that takes you inside a book as it’s written. Each week we add a scene based on a word or picture prompt. This week’s prompt is WORN.

I’m continuing with The Price of Courage, Book Two of the Canadiana Series picking up the conversation between Guy and Remi from last week.

“Why would a man choose to live in a tropical paradise?” Guy asked, leaning back in the chair. “Because, above all else, it’s an incredibly rich and fertile volcanic island. It may be home to the fer-de-lance, poisonous snakes, but with good sturdy boots and vigilance, they aren’t an issue. Saint Pierre is well fortified and capable of fending off any attack from the English, Dutch, or Spanish, all vying to establish colonies there. I’m considering taking Izzy and our child to winter there once this threat of war and rebellion is over, but I would miss the beauty of the other three seasons far too much to make it my permanent home. Guyenne is also an attractive place, one that’s even warmer I understand. The ship we sailed on has taken up a post there to protect it from the Dutch and Portuguese. It’s on the mainland of South America. You might consider that, too, but I would miss you. This colony needs good men like you.”

“You have a point. Perhaps wintering there would be sufficient—as long as it controls the pain and makes life bearable.” He stood. “Would you like another drink while we wait? The others should be here soon.” He reached for the carafe on the table.

Guy crossed his feet shod in worn leather boots. “Thank you. Perhaps we should bottle this and sell it in France.” He chuckled. “The cognac and wine are readily available. All they would need is our maple syrup. Who have you invited to join us?”

Remi refilled Guy’s glass and his own then resumed his seat by the fire.

“I’ve sent runners to the eight estates around me, and all of them have agreed to come for an evening of cards. My wife and the servants have been cooking and cleaning all week, getting beds ready although, some who live nearby may opt to return home if the weather holds.”

“And how many do you think are on our side?”

Remi rubbed his chin. “I’ve no doubt the six men who were part of the regiment support our cause. One of them has already renamed his estate Trois Érables. The two who concern me are Charles de Michel and Sylvain Archambault. They were granted their seigneuries by  the company itself. They’ve been here many years, but the estates are poorly developed, their wealth dependent on the fur trade alone.”

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Tuesday Tales: From the Word NAKED

New TT imageWelcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales, the place where books are born and raised. Each week, we add a scene to our on-going works-in-progress based on a word or picture prompt. This week, our word is NAKED.

I’m continuing with my historical romance, The Price of Courage, Book Two of the Canadiana Series. Today, we leave the ladies to their dinner preparations and see what Guy’s up to as he delivers his invitations.

Guy sat across the table from Remi Lalonde, the seigneur whose lands abutted his own, sipping a glass of warm caribou. Between the heat from the fireplace and the wine and cognac mixture, nothing—other  than his wife’s arms—could’ve warmed him so well. Was he getting soft in his old age?

“Old Man Winter is flexing his muscles today,” Remi said, shifting in his chair, his previously injured leg propped up on a stool. “The sisters did their best with my leg, but on days like this, it’s as if the cold attacks the very marrow of my bones. I’m considering selling my estate to Etienne Marois, my brother-in-law who’s been managing it for me ever since the injury limited my movements. A man who can barely sit a horse can’t do much when it comes to clearing land and building houses.”

“What would you do? Return to France?” Guy asked, his eyes narrowed. He’d assumed Remi was on his side, but perhaps he was wrong.

The man shook his head. “There’s nothing there for me and it’s almost as cold there in winter as here, not to mention the damp springs and autumns. No. I’m considering moving to Martinique where the winter never comes and the pain would be so much less.”

The naked longing on his face reminded Guy of his own aches and pains. He’d wintered on the island just last year while recovering. Then, he’d gone to France and fate had taken over. How quickly life can change, but he wouldn’t trade his new life for anything. He had the woman he’d always loved and a child on the way. What more could any man want?

“I’ve been there,” he said, sipping his drink once more. I recuperated from my own injuries in Saint Pierre. It’s a magnificent place, warmer than Marseilles, and its beauty far outweighs its dangers. There’s plenty of land to be had, and sugarcane grows well. You could maintain your status easily.”

“Dangers?” Remi asked frowning.

“You mean in addition to the hurricanes and tropical storms that can destroy everything in a matter of hours? I’ve never seen one, but the governor was telling me about waves so high, they completely overran a small island, leaving the soil barren because of the heavy salt content.”

“Mon Dieu! Why would anyone choose to live there?”

That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on  Tuesday Tales