First up so no one is disappointed a piccie of the day.
You will remember that last week I shared the first scene from my new WIP Hilda.
I had been thinking the plot through for some time but last Monday was the first time I actually put “finger to keyboard” (I absolutely almost never use a pen for my writing). Well things have been progressing amazingly well, I have written seven scenes since that first, it is like the words are bubbling up from a wondrous spring. To be sure it will be a long time before it looks anything like a book, and given my usual path at least a third of the scenes will end up trashed in my first re-write, but I am having fun!
Now to celebrate my progress here is the second scene from Hilda (like the first this is an unedited draft,)
The laundry stood in the yard in its own little brick building out the back. Down on her hands and knees Hilda crumpled up some newspaper before laying kindling in the hearth under the laundry copper. As she struck a match, holding it to an edge of the crumpled paper until the flame caught, she held back the tears, her mum hadn’t really punished her, but… but it was so hard being a girl. ‘If I were a boy and as good at maths they’d be thinking about a scholarship to the Grammar School.’
‘If wishes were horses we should all ride.’
Hilda nearly jumped out of her skin, ‘Dad!’
Charles Attewell stood framed in the laundry doorway, never tall the twisted leg that had ended his first career as a jockey made him lean to one side and emphasized how small he was, ‘What’s wrong Duck?’
‘I let the fire out, Mum was cross.’
‘Dreaming again Duck?’
‘I was working a maths problem.’
‘Maths?’ he smiled, Hilda loved her dad’s smile, he smiled easily and often and drew you in with it. For the moment at least he was laughing at her, ‘As I said dreaming.’
Despite the smile she worried, was he going to be angry with her too? His smile said no, but she knew he was as set on her future as her mother was. Girls did not follow their dreams, she stood miserably without a word. ‘There’s no harm in dreams Duck, but you shouldn’t let them interfere with day to day.’
‘But Dad, I am so good at maths. Miss Wilson says…’
‘No Duck.’ He frowned, ‘Say we did find a way to get you to the Grammar School, what would you do then?’
‘I’d find something.’
‘What Duck? There is no scholarships for girls to the universities, and even if you got there what would you do then? The public service doesn’t take women. Doctors and Solicitors and the like is all men.’
Hilda felt tears coming again, ‘I’m sure I could do something. Miss Wilson…’
‘No Duck that’s not for you. The only job open to women with an education is teaching. But that is no good for you either. You’d end up in some village who knows where. Away from your folk and friends, among strangers. You’d wither and die.’
‘Miss Wilson is happy enough.’
Charles frowned, ‘I’ll grant you that. But her is the daughter of a vicar, or a lawyer or some such. People pay her the respect due to her station. How much respect do you think would be paid to a girl who is the daughter of an estate worker?’
‘You’re a master cabinet maker Dad. Not no farm worker.’
‘That fire needs some coal on it Duck, or you’ll be letting it out again.’
Hilda, flustered, dropped back onto her knees. She reached into the coal scuttle, carefully she laid smaller chunks of coal over and around the hotly burning kindling.
Charles spoke from behind her, ‘I am proud of my work. I am master cabinet maker because I am the best. Mind you it didn’t hurt me that I won Lord Shirley a few fat purses before I took my tumble. Yes I am master of the cabinet shop and have half a dozen cabinet makers and apprentices under me. I give your mother and my children a comfortable life. But my little Duck, I am over a workshop that belongs to Ettington Park. I am not my own man.’
He paused considering, ‘In my dreams I win the Grand National. But that don’t stop me doing my work each day. You is a girl on an estate, whatever your dreams you will be going into service when you finish your schooling. A few years of that and then no doubt you’ll marry some nice boy and start a family of your own.’
He leaned against the door frame to take the weight off his twisted leg. ‘That is your lot Duck, whether you want it or not. You’ll be much happier with that lot if you accept it and leave your dreams as that. Dream your dreams and enjoy what you do. We only get one go at this life, the best you can do is be content with your lot.’
‘But surely there has to be more than that. More than just being happy with your lot.’
‘Not much more for the likes of you and me Duck. There is things you can change by the dint of hard work. But some you can’t. You is a girl and there is no changing that. You’ll be happier if you enjoy that which you can, and accept the rest.’