Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Interview with Mrs. Purdle and Mr. Jarbour

Well, maybe you know that Mr. Jarbour is the murdered man, but hey, all the characters need interviews.  Besides, it makes it more interesting this way.  Without further ado, I present Mrs. Purdle and Mr. Jarbour, who have graciously consented to being interviewed. *Applause* :)

The Interview
Me: Did either of you have any premonition of what you were getting involved in when you came to Tittleton House?
Mrs. Purdle: No, I can't really say that I did.
Mr. Jarbour: Premonitions are absurd.  I was only annoyed at being called to the house so rudely at night.  Certain people have no thoughts for the feelings of others.
Me: No thoughts for the feelings of others!  Mr. Jarbour, I am shocked!  You have not been the most feeling of men yourself!  Think of the way you treated so many people.  I visited your workhouses, and they are terrible.  Yet you lived in luxury, and talk about people who have no thoughts for the feelings of others.
Mrs. Purdle: Indeed, sir, you are quite a hypocrite!
Mr. Jarbour: Workhouses make me money, and there is nothing against making an honest wage, now, is there?

Me: Do you enjoy Christmas as a general rule?
Mr. Jarbour: Christmas is a thing for children.  I am much to busy to enjoy it.
Mrs. Purdle: Well, even if it is for children, I still enjoy it.  I make little gifts for all the Tittleton children, and it is such a joy to see how delighted they are.  And so polite!  I do love children, Miss Barrett, indeed, I do.

Me: How do you feel about the account Miss Warbling is writing of the events at Tittleton House during Christmastime?
Mrs. Purdle: Well, Miss Warbling is a sweet girl, but I do not think that she ought to be writing!  Really, the idea of a young lady writing seems rather improper.  Miss Warbling is so fashionable in other respects that I wonder at her undertaking this unladylike pursuit.
Mr. Squeed: I don't care what Miss Warbling does.  If there's any money in it, though, I wouldn't mind helping her out.

Me: Off the top of your head, who would you say is the most likely to have committed the murder?
Mrs. Purdle: Oh, I think that Mr. Squeed has the face of a murderer, he does.  I never trusted him, from the first moment that he stepped inside the house.  I am even surprised that Lady Tittleton let him indoors, for she is usually so particular about who she lets inside.
Mr. Jarbour: You forget, I was the victim.  I know who murdered me.  Should I still tell?
Me: No, you had better not.  Thanks for asking.
Mr. Jarbour: But I do agree with Mrs. Purdle about Mr. Squeed's face.

Me: Do you think that Miss Warbling's story will be more accurate than a newspaper account of the murder?
Mr. Jarbour: I don't even know the lass.  But since she was there, I suppose that she would know what she is talking about.
Mrs. Purdle: Well, now that you ask, I really don't know about Miss Warbling.  She is such a lovely and fashionable lady, but she does have such an imagination.  I think that she might see things differently than they really were.
Me: Funny you should say that.  Everyone else that I have already interviewed thinks the same way.
Mr Jarbour: I wonder if she needs some money?  Fashionable young ladies usually do?
Me: You stay away from Miss Warbling, for she is a particular friend of mine, and possessed of a very large fortune.  Don't even bother trying to lend her any money.

Me: What do you think will happen to the Tittleton family, now that they are ruined in this scandal?
Mr. Jarbour: I would have loved to lend them some more money, but that, unfortunately, is impossible.  I do, however, believe that they will pull themselves out of this mess.  They seem to be fairly resourceful, if slightly foolish.
Mrs. Purdle: They are not foolish at all!  And they are extremely resourceful, Mr. Jarbour, and just the best family that ever did walk the earth.  So, put that in your pipe and smoke it!  I know that they will become rich and respected again, especially Mr. Hugh and Miss Judith.  They are so buoyant!

Me: Do you deserve any special pity for what you went through?
Mr. Jarbour: My dear young lady, I was murdered.
Mrs. Purdle: You know if I deserve pity or not.  That is a very odd question, Miss Barrett.
Me: Yes, I know.  Mr. Squeed and Hugh thought so also.
Mrs. Purdle: I must say, the more I think about it, the more I think that I do deserve pity.
Me: Well, you are probably the one person I would have to say truly does deserve pity.  But I had better not say more, because Miss Warbling does want to make a sensation, and she will not be able to if everyone already knows what is going to happen in her story.
Mr. Jarbour: HER story?  I suppose she is going to give it a dreadful title also.  The Adventures of Miss Warbling, or some other such nonsense.
Me: No, it is called Christmas at the Tittletons.
Mr. Jarbour: Humph, it could at least be called The Tragic Tale of Eli Jarbour.
Me: Really?  Well, too bad it is already set in stone?  Ha, ha.  Ahem.  Well, thank you for answering all these questions.  I'll be seeing you.

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Monday, July 30, 2012

My Interview with Laban Squeed and Hugh Tittleton

Well, here we are again.  Laban Squeed and Hugh Tittleton are next in line for the interviews.  (I'm doing them in twos.)  This is actually an interview that occurred quite a while ago but never made it to the blog.  Here it is!

The Interview
Me: Good day, gentlemen!  What is this I hear about you two being great friends?  How did this come about, especially since Mr. Squeed is four or so years older than Hugh?
Hugh: I'm not really sure.  We just met each other one day at Cambridge.  I think that I lent Squeed some money, and he just stuck to me after that.
Laban: I believe that our friendship started when I lent you a textbook, but far be it from me to oppose you.
Hugh: By the way, Squeed, did you ever pay that loan back?  I think you still owe me four pounds.
Me: Moving on...

Me: Miss Warbling has begun writing an account of the mysterious happenings at Christmastime.  I've seen some of it, and she really doesn't present either of you in a favorable light.  How does it make you feel to know that the public could be looking down on you?
Laban: I have met Miss Warbling but once: at Tittleton House during Christmas.  I think that this is hardly enough time to judge my full character.
Me: She thinks it was plenty of time.  After all, you were all cooped up together for several days.
Hugh: Well, how could she present me in an unfavorable light?  What is there about me that is unfavorable?
Me: Would you like a list?
Hugh: Please, Miss Barrett, I think that we have gone far enough with this jest.
Me: Mr. Tittleton, we have only just begun.

Me: Do you look at people differently since being involved in such gruesome circumstances?
Hugh: I guess I get a little jumpy around strangers now.  I wonder about people more than I did before.
Laban: I have always thought that people were dull creatures, and I have not yet changed my mind.

Me: Are you interested in reading Miss Warbling's story?
Hugh: Actually, I rather an interested.  I want to know what she thought about everything, and anyway, it was the most exciting thing that ever happened to me.  It will be interesting to read it over again.
Laban: I really could not care less about Miss Warbling or her book.  I could tell that she held a strong aversion against me, and so her prejudiced imagination will probably embellish the facts.
Me: I don't know about that.  Miss Warbling was very anxious to be accurate.  I don't know why everyone seems to think that she would embellish the facts.
Hugh: Please, Miss Barrett, I think we know Miss Warbling pretty well.  She embellishes facts.
Me: Well, if you say so.  Even then, her story is still exciting.

Me: Do you have the same friends that you had before Christmas, or are they avoiding you now?
Laban: I am not a great one for friends, but people definitely do not wish to be near me now.
Hugh: Yes, I think that most people edge away from me when they find out who I am.  It's a bit annoying, although I think I am getting a bit more used to it.

Me: Do you deserve any special pity for what you went through?
Hugh: Er...no.  It could have happened to anyone, but it just happened to us.  I don't think we need any sympathy for it.
Laban: Why would you even ask that question?
Me: I just wondered.

Me: Do you feel closer to your family now that you have gone through such distressing times?
Laban: I have never been close to family, and now I think I'm farther from them than ever.
Hugh: I am definitely closer to at least some members of my family.  Judith and I are certainly closer than ever before.
Me: Well, thanks for answering all these kind of random questions.  See you later!

Thanks for reading, and God bless,

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Interview with Sir John and Lady Tittleton

A few days ago I persuaded Sir John Tittleton, and his lovely wife, Lady Tittleton, to consent to an interview, which I am posting in full here.  I designed my own questions for them.

The Interview
Me: How do you feel to know that Miss Warbling is writing out a story that could be embarrassing to you?
Sir John: I feel that Miss Warbling is being strangely forward.  It is not like her to give the Public an entrance into our private lives.
Lady Tittleton: I agree in part, my dear, but surely, as the newspapers got so much wrong, it is good that someone is going to set the record straight.
Sir John: Miss Warbling is a young lady of excessive imagination, and I do not think that she can be trusted to set the record straight.

Me: What was your first reaction upon hearing the news that such a revealing anecdote was to be written?
Sir John: I could not believe that Miss Warbling was going to be so indiscreet.
Lady Tittleton: Well, I was rather shocked, I admit, when my dear Judith wrote me the news.  I had rather hoped that such a matter might be forgotten.
Me: Murder?  Forgotten in about two months?
Lady Tittleton: If it is left alone, people will find something else to amuse themselves with.
Me: Then you think that people merely amused themselves by reading the news of the murder?
Lady Tittleton: Before this dreadful happening, I thought that people had some decency, but now I fear that I have seen a little too much human nature to be deceived.  It is my firm belief that people must surely read the newspapers for the bad news, for that is mostly what is in them, and if people wanted to read good news, then the newspapers wouldn't sell bad news.

Me: Interesting observation, Lady Tittleton.  Let us move on.  How do you feel knowing that the events of Christmas, which took place on your property, have caused so much widespread damage?
Sir John: It is my to my definite shame that such events were indulged in at all.  I am extremely sorry for those that have been affected by what happened at my house on Christmas week.
Lady Tittleton: I am sorry for the people that were affected by those events, especially for my children, and, of course, for those who are dead.

Me: Were you very nervous knowing that there was a murderer in the same house with you?
Sir John: Miss Barrett, I think that you know the answer to that question.
Me: Of course I do, but I still want to have it down for the interview.
Sir John: No.
Lady Tittleton: Well, I was at first, but I knew that the Lord would take care if us.  He did, too, as you can see.

Me: How did you feel when you found out that Mr. Jarbour was dead?
Sir John: I admit, I was not feeling exactly happy, as I perhaps should have felt at the death of that dreadful person.
Me: But it was murder!
Sir John: The law could pin nothing on him, but look at all the innocent lives he ruined.  Surely a man like that does not deserve to live.
Me: Isn't that for God to decide?
Sir John: Er, perhaps.
Lady Tittleton: I became excessively nervous and shaky.  I believe that I swooned at the news.
Me: You did, according to Miss Warbling.
Sir John: I believe that we have already established the fact that Miss Warbling is likely to embellish the facts.
Me: A swoon is a swoon, Sir John.
Sir John: Well, when you put it like that, what can I say?

Me: If you had to relive that Christmas, what would you do differently?
Sir John: I would have kept Miss Hatchet away from a certain person of which you know but whom I had better not say, as you asked me to say nothing pertinent to the actual story.
Lady Tittleton: I would have kept Mrs. Purdle away!  You know how hard it is to get good housekeepers nowadays.
Me: Tell me about it!
Lady Tittleton: Well, ever since Mrs. Purdle has been, er, relieved of service, I have not been able to find one decent housekeeper!  Not one, Miss Barrett, though goodness knows I have searched far and wide.  You know, I always hire the servants myself, although I rather wish now that I did not.

Me: Here is the last question.  Would you say that your lives have changed for the better or for the worse since the world has been rid of a man that did not deserve to live?
Sir John: Miss Barrett!  For shame!  Using my own words against me!  You know that I cannot say that my life has changed for the better.  The scandal has proved too much for us.  People do not want to be friends with a person who has had a murder committed in his house.
Lady Tittleton: I rather agree with Sir John.  The events of Christmas did not better our situation in the least, but rather worsened it.
Me: I won't ask you how, as I believe that Miss Warbling is setting down all of those facts in her account.
Sir John: I doubt that she will do a very good job of it.
Lady Tittleton:  Now, my dear, I am sure it will be a very lovely story.
Me: Insofar as a story of murder can be.  Thanks so much for your time, Sir John and Lady Tittleton!  I can't wait to get back with you.
Sir John: My pleasure, Miss Barrett.
Lady Tittleton: Indeed, it was a great pleasure.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm dreaming of a white summer...

Because everything is brown and dry right now.  That is why I am enjoying writing about the chilling subject of falling snowflakes in Christmas at the Tittletons.  What a fabulous day to talk about the characters!  Here is a complete character list.

The Family

Sir John and Lady Tittleton:
Sir John is the owner of Tittleton House, a sumptuous London mansion.  He is a wealthy baronet, and he is cheerful and generous.  Lady Tittleton, his wife, is a philanthropist of the first class, not to mention nervous in a laughable sort of way.  They love their children dearly, and would do anything for them short of murder.

Judith Tittleton:
Unfortunately for her parents, Judith is a headstrong girl with an inquisitive nature which is sure to lead her into trouble as she tries to investigate the strange happenings.  Judith can't be happy until she knows the whole truth, but there are those who think that to be uninformed is better than to be dead.  The only problem is that Judith really doesn't take the advice of others.

Hugh Tittleton:
Hugh is a college student with a peculiar taste in friends, or so his sister thinks.  The oldest son of Sir John and Lady Tittleton is steadier than he appears.  He enjoys helping the Inspector investigate, although whether or not the Inspector is as delighted remains to be seen.

Penelope Tittleton:
Because Penelope is only eleven years old, she is often disregarded.  She has, however, big ears and a memory of deadly accuracy.  Maybe she heard just a little to much against the people she loved most in the world, and that's why she has a dash of fear perpetually stamped on her otherwise ladylike features.

James, Abigail, and William Tittleton:
These are the youngest children of  Sir John and Lady Tittleton.  They provide no end of trouble to their governess, and are little angels in their mother's eyes.

The Friends

Jessamine Warbling:
Miss Warbling is a young lady with a flair for fashion, a legendary fortune, and an urge for writing.  Behind her apparently intelligence-less face lies a brain of considerable magnitude.  She is best friends with Judith, and it's all she can do to keep that girl out of trouble.  It's just like Judith, though, to push Jessamine to investigation after she is forbidden that joy.

Laban Squeed:
Hugh's college friend, Laban Squeed, is more than just an objectionable acquaintance.  The only question is, what else is wrong with his besides his fashion sense?

The Help

This impeccable butler is the epitome of respectability, but Jessamine thinks he has a bad habit of talking to himself when he doesn't know that anyone is listening.

Mrs. Purdle:
This good lady is none other than the trustworhty housekeeper.  Of course, you would not expect Lady Tittleton to hire any other kind, now would you?

Miss Hatchet:
Judith and Jessamine both agree that Miss Elizabeth hatchet is the most mysterious person in the house.  She is the governess, but with her pale face, mousy brown hair, and habit of turning her face away  from people, they think she is a good suspect for murder.

May Aston:
She's just Aston to the residents of Tittleton House.  She is the little waitress, but she has a big mouth.  Her only problem is that Miss Hatchet saw her in most incriminating circumstances.

Carlton and Rodgers:
Carlton and Rodgers are the footmen, always lurking about somewhere in the house.

Lydia the Cook:
That is what everyone calls her, and I think her name is pretty self-explanatory.

Brunhilde, Pruggery, and Ellen:
These last three are the upstairs maid, parlor maid, and scullery maid, respectively.

The Outsiders

Bob Able:
One of the more mysterious characters.  No one can understand why a street urchin such as he would actually turn himself in.  Especially when it is impossible for him to have killed the dead man.

Mr. Jarbour:
His dead body is discovered on Christmas day in the Alley behind Tittleton House.  What it is doing there no one can tell.

The Law

Inspector Fionn:
The good Inspector has little patience, but he manages to hide that fact from most people.  His odd ways of detecting don't make him incompetent, even though most of the Tittletons are inclined to think of him thusly.

The Policemen:
A good many policemen are guarding Tittleton House, but not necessarily to keep people from entering.

This is a full and complete list of all the characters in Christmas at the Tittletons.
By the way, Happy Birthday, ABC (Aunt by Contract)!  Today is my CBCs' mother's birthday!

Thanks for reading,

Monday, July 23, 2012

I LOVE Agatha Christie!

It's been so long since I've read an Agatha Christie book that I forgot how much I loved them.  My great-aunt, however, just gave me all thirty-seven books in her Agatha Christie collection, so I'm well on my way with my own.  Altogether there are eighty-seven Agatha Christie novels.  Only fifty more to go!
I am currently reading Sleeping Murder, which I've already read, but decided that it was worth a second read.  I've already made it through Sparkling Cyanide and They Came to Baghdad.  So, I have quite a ways to go!
Have you ever read an Agatha Christie?  They're like puzzles in novel form, which is what is so neat about them.  Watch out for profanity and adult content when you read them, which I always black out.  And I have heard that not all Agatha Christie books are good, so if you read one that completely shocks you, please don't say I didn't warn you!
Here are the most famous of Agatha Christie's characters.

Hercule Poirot
The dapper Belgian detective believes in the 'little grey cells' and VERY rich hot chocolate.  His methods of detection are ridiculous to all but his closest friends: Captain Hastings, a WWI veteran, Ariadne Oliver, a writer of popular detective fiction, and Inspector Japp, a no-nonsense Scotland Yard detective.

Miss Marple
She may look like a fluffy little old lady, but she's extremely sharp from observing human nature in her little village of St. Mary Mead.  Her predictions usually hit the nail on the head, and she never seems surprised at the most gruesome murders, as human nature never changes.

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford
This fun-loving young couple tends to get involved in adventures that involve somewhat more than murder.  Political intrigue, international counterfeiting rings, secret plans that threaten the world, or kidnapped Americans?  It's all in a day's work to WWI vet Tommy Beresford and his nurse-turned-detective wife, Tuppence.  Their second book, Partners in Crime, is actually a collection of short stories and is one of my favorite Agatha Christie books.

Monday, July 16, 2012

When Your Uncles and Aunts just won't be obliging!

Do you know what a CBC is?  (Don't answer, Kiri Liz!)  Well, that's just your loss then.  Because CBCs are the best things that ever happened to me, or my family, or a certain other family that lives on the other side of my state.  Well, maybe not the best thing, but at least it ranks on the top five list.
A CBC is a Cousin By Contract.  Yes, that's right.  It's the thing to do when you (like myself) have cousins who are much younger than you or, if they are your age, live so far away that they might as well not exist anyway.  In a case like mine, you have to use extremes.  Since your parents' siblings obviously didn't think about you when producing offspring, you have to get your own cousins.  This takes more work on your part than the alternative, but it is certainly worth it.  For one thing, it is a safer route than the other, because you are able to chose the Cousins yourself.
Exactly how does one find and make a Cousin By Contract?  Well, first of all, you have to meet someone that you find has just about everything in common with you.  Same tastes in books, movies, hobbies, and music are preferable.  When searching for this cousin, try to find one with approximately the same amount of siblings in his/her family as are in your own.  Spend about twelve hours in each other's company talking about your tastes and story plots, reading each others latest stories and writing glowing reports of each other in your journals.  Make sure to exchange addresses.
When you are finally forced from this perfect person's company, immediately write a letter to him/her.  You will soon become hugely familiar with his/her family, and vice versa.
The next part is a little harder, and Kiri Liz will definitely agree with me on this.  You must propose to your parents the idea of having the family of your prospective cousin come over to your house to stay for a week or so.  The parents will put it off for about two months and whittle the time down to about three or four days, but you will by then be so desperate to see this new friend that you will be ready to talk to them through the iron bars of a prison if need be.  Finally the Family of Wonders will arrive, and you will spend three quickly fleeting days with them.  You will have archery shoots in your back yard, snap an overabundant bean crop in your living room while watching your favorite movie with them, reenact The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and stay up to all hours of the night while completing hilarious pre-composed surveys about your favorite things.  On the day of departure, you will lament that you are not related, and decide that something must be done to fix that.  So, out with the Contract.  The Cousin Contract.
Their family and your family will become one family by the simple signing of a simple piece of paper.  You must make your zany cousin handshake, and after their departure, immediately plan the next time you will meet.  I promise you, all of those poor, unfortunates with whom I deeply sympathize, you do not have to complain about not having any cousins your own age.  If your Aunts and Uncles are simply not supplying perfect cousins, you can get your own!
Oh, and let me give you this modified sample of a Cousin Contract format:

We, [names of those in first family becoming cousins] and [names of those in second family becoming cousins], hereby state that the sacred Bonds of Cousinship have been formed between us, stronger than the Bonds of Blood.  These bonds will never be dissolved except on consent of the entire body of those who have affixed their signatures below.
Signed: [all names]

This, of course, need not be signed in blood, although some would dispute the fact.  The whole point is that you are not cheap blood cousins.  You are cousins by choice, far more precious because you have chosen each other.  And I promise that this formula, followed exactly, will yield a happy crop of age-appropriate cousins.
Thanks for reading!
(P.S.  Yes, Kiri Liz and her siblings are my CBCs.  We really did all that I have written about.  And my formula really works.  At least, it did for us.)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Brother not Bonded by Blood

Here is a story which I have written.  I doubt that it should be hard to see where I got my inspiration for it!

I came down the road from Jerusalem, intending to make my way to Jericho, a dangerous journey considering that we had heard threats of a new band of thieves terrorizing innocent travelers.  Probably more Zealots, nothing but troublemakers, I thought.  My business was urgent; my only sister was dying, and she had expressly asked for me.  I had hastily scrambled together the necessary items that I would need for the journey and left the city just before the gates closed for the night.
The sun was sliding down in the west, casting long, ominous shadows over the road, leaving good hiding places for highwaymen.  I was careful to keep an open eye for such bands.
Just as the moon began its round across the sky, the thieves jumped me.  They stole all that I had--my food, my money, even the gifts that I had for my sister's children.  They stripped the clothes from my back and beat me for sport.  An hour or so later they tired of me and left me for dead on the side of the road.
My entire body was aching, streaked with blood and dirt, bruised from their fists, and encrusted from my own vomit.  I could not do more than move my head a little, and though in plain sight of the road, I doubted that any more travelers would come along before morning.  The night proved to be a long one, for though I soon passed out from the pain, I woke and passed out again at least five or six times.
At length morning arrived, and I, being at the time awake, saw in the distance an early traveler on his way up to Jerusalem.  I raised my head weakly and saw that it was a priest of the Temple.  My heart became joyous, for surely this holy man of God would at least help me back to the city.  I forced out a moan through my cracked, parched lips, barely audible even by me.  The priest drew nearer, and I saw him look at me with disgust, draw his wide, blue-fringed robe closer about his body so as not to even risk touching my filthy body.
"Please help me!" I gasped, but he paid no further attention to me.  He merely walked on, his nose held up in the air.
I thought that God Himself must have forsaken me, if this worthy of the Law, one who was supposed to be generous to the needy, would not even lift a finger to help me.
I know not how the time passed from that moment, only that the sun grew increasingly hot, baking my wretched body and leaving me in an agony.  I wished to die.
But, Hark!  Another tread of footsteps came up the road.  With an effort surpassing the first time I lifted my head from the ground and called for help.  This time I saw an obviously religious man, one that I recognized as a Levite, whom I had often seen frequenting the Temple, who was reputed among us all to be extremely benevolent and holy.  Once again my heart leapt, for surely he would help me.
"Help!" was all I could manage to rasp out.  The Levite ambled up beside me and stared for a long time at my wounds.  Finally he turned and continued walking up to Jerusalem, saying nothing to me, but a look of great repugnance stamped on his features.  No help from him!  I then passed out, thinking with my last waking moment that I was surely dying.
I wakened to a soothing voice, and a feeling of relief.  My head was lying in the lap of a plain, brown robe, and I found myself looking up into the rough, sun-burnt, bushy-bearded face.  Gentle hands eased oil into a bloody gash across my forehead, and I felt the pleasant burn of alcohol as wine was poured into all of my cuts.  The man washed the dirt away with water, then bound me up tightly with strips of cloth torn from the hem of his robe.  I saw his donkey on the side of the road, and he, with a few grunts, lifted me onto it and settled me there.
"Who are you?" I groaned.
"Only a Samaritan," he said quietly.
For a moment I felt a twinge of revulsion that every decent Jew feels at the mention of the near curse-word.  I had been touched by a Samaritan.  Then it hit my fuzzy brain that I had been left by the priest and the Levite!  I had been helped by one of the cursed because the blessed had not deigned to soil their precious, holy hands.  The Samaritan was treating me like a brother because my brothers by blood had forsaken me.
He brought me to a small roadside inn.  Because I was too weak to protest, he paid for my lodging and board and for any medicine that I might need.  The last I ever saw of him, he said that he would pay any additional charges that might be made.
And where did my true brother go?  I know not, for I recovered quickly thanks to his generosity, and, remembering my sister, finished my journey to Jericho, where I saw that she was not on her deathbed at all, merely very sick.  After she recovered, I returned to the inn to give the keeper money for my lodgings, but he said that the Samaritan had been there and that everything was quite taken care of.  There was no need for me to worry about anything.
And that, my friends, is where I learned about true brotherhood.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Characters I Love, Part 4

These are my own brain-children, but they are most definitely misbehaving!  Here is my fourth and last installment--the best of the worst!  They are my personal favorites of the MANY villains which I've made up.

This is Heleopolite Tajisscra, at least as close as I could get.  Add wings and pointed ears, and you would get the idea.  Although, after the days of Modran Lonish, Tajisscra does hide his wings.  Tajisscra is evil, power-hungry, and full of himself.  He doesn't care who he uses or steps on to get one step higher.  And he has no respect for life, probably because he is Immortal.  But that is no excuse, for even the Cheol Ruvin are respectful of Mortal life.  Tajisscra's just bad.
This is most frustrating!  I have no idea how to upload this picture of Laban Squeed, one of my villains.  Perhaps you are wondering the significance of the watch and chain.  Well, in Christmas at the Tittletons, Squeed keeps playing with his watch chain, and that drives Miss Warbling nuts!  Mr. Squeed is a sleazy, red-headed young man with a bad habit of worming his way into rich families.  He does more than that, but if you want to find out what, you will have to wait, because I am not giving away my whole plot!
This is Sir Azemar, a knight who competes in The Tournament at Duscreloux.  Originally in the service of Lady Celsa, he turns on her and tries to hunt her down and kidnap her, thinking that her father will pay a large ransom for her.  Little does he know...but I had better not talk about that now!  Azemar is a hardened man, and although he seems like a mere poor knight, he is actually an evil man with big plans.
This is Valric, the evil Nordic Chieftain in a story that is far along but unnamed as of now.  The story is set in medieval France and Scandinavia, and Valric destroys an entire castle-full of men in a completely unfair battle, then kidnaps the women and children, just to avenge an old grievance.  Valric is a coward at heart as well.  He has no sense of humor, and that alone is enough to put him in the villain class!
Thanks to those who have read this whole series!  Now, it's time to tag some people so that everyone can take a part in this.  To those who are tagged, here are the rules:
1. State the rules!
2. Post four posts about your sixteen favorite fictional characters, including four good and four bad each from novels you have read and stories you have written/are writting.
3. Tag three new people when you are finished and comment to let them know that you've tagged them.

And I am tagging:

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beautiful People - Miss Jessamine Warbling

I have never done a beautiful people post before, so forgive me if it isn't everything that it's supposed to be.
This post is about Miss Jessamine Warbling, the narrator of Christmas at the Tittletons.

What is their full name?
Her full name (let us be grammatically correct) is Jessamine Elizabeth Warbling.

Does his or her name have a special meaning?
 She was given that name because her mother wanted to name her after a rich relative.  It paid off, and when old Miss Jessamine Elizabeth Warbling died, she left Young Jessamine a great fortune.  Never mind that Old Jessamine really didn't have any other relatives to speak of.  Mrs. Warbling is convinced that the name did it.

Does your character have a methodical or disorganized personality?
Miss Warbling is a member of Fashionable Society, and only mentally disorganized people were allowed in that in Victorian times. :)  Miss Warbling is actually a fairly organized person, but she tries to keep up with her friends, so a lot of people look upon her as a mere fun-loving society girl.

Does he or she think inside him/herself more than he/she talks out loud to his/her friends?  (More importantly, does he/she have any friends?)
Miss Warbling is usually a big talker, but she seems to be thinking more in Christmas at the Tittletons.  Of course, such a tragedy as murder would silence most people.  And yes, Miss Warbling has a great deal of friends, some real and some attracted to her money.  Her best friend is Judith Tittleton, but Judith talks even more than Jessamine, so when around her, Jessamine usually keeps quiet.

Is there something he/she is afraid of?
Fortune hunters and shadows at nighttime.  Miss Warbling only recently became afraid of the latter, but you will have to wait to find out why.

Does he/she write, dream, dance, sing, or photograph?
As you might be able to divine from the name, Miss Warbling LOVES to sing.  She also dreams of getting married to someone who does not know that she has a lot of money and therefore could not possibly love her for THAT.  Dream on, Jessamine.

What is his/her favorite book?
Miss Warbling likes novels best, of course, but she also likes sad books that make her cry.  She is presently reading David Copperfield, a brand new book published that very year!  However, I don't think that Miss Warbling is a very big reader.

Who is his/her favorite author and/or someone that inspires him/her?
Jessamine does not happen to think about authors, as she is occupied with far more important details, such as clothing and things like that.  But I would say that her best friend Judith inspires her with the courage it will take to investigate the murder.  Because Judith definitely runs out of courage right in the middle.

Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Peppermint.  I really could not see her liking anything else!

Favorite season of the year?
Winter.  For sure.  That is, after all, the time of year when society is at its peak.  And with her wealth, Jessamine is one of the most sought after society ladies in London!

Now, I must put a quote from Miss Warbling up here.  Miss Warbling says:

I was rather put out at Judith for her recent display of temper, and I said nothing immediately.  Upon reception of this silence, she turned to me with a forlorn look and words of rebuke trembling on her lips.  I held up my hand before she could say them.  “No, Judith, listen to me before you speak.  I know that Mr. Squeed may have been overstepping the bounds of human decency when he spoke to you, but his warning was just, and you should heed it.”  I fear I was guilty of raising my voice when I came to the part about Mr. Squeed, and I saw him glaring in our direction, which gave me the feeling of utmost glee!  He pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and began twisting it up in his fingers as William still had his Watch-Chain.

That is Miss Jessamine Warbling!  I know exactly what she looks like (thanks to Beth Grace, who played her character to perfection at New Year's), but I have no convenient pictures of her right now.
Thanks for reading!

Characters I Love, part 3

Now it's time to talk about the good characters that I like from stories that I have written.  This could go on and on and on, so I'll try to limit myself.  I promise there really are some characters that I have created which I positively hate, but they are not here.
When I saw this picture, I knew that it was Laiarol, the wife of Modran Kiltya.  She is loyal and obedient, but she loves her husband so much that she would simply be unable to continue life without him, so she fights  beside him.  She turns out to be vengeful as her character develops, but her loyalty to her husbands family prompts her to do a very brave thing for her dying brother-in-law, which I won't tell but which is extremely important.

This is Inspector Fionn, one of my favorite characters EVER.  He is the chief investigator in Christmas at the Tittletons, and although I intended for him to be a mere secondary character, he has quickly taken the spotlight and is one of my favorites!  He seems to be incompetent at first, asking questions of the children and letting out 'secrets,' but his methods are carefully calculated to catch the murderer.
Marcabru is a veteran Christian in my story The Tournament at Duscreloux.  Tortured in a dungeon for his strong beliefs, Marcabru remains faithful to God and is an encouragement to the other Christians in the dungeon with him.  Even the threat of being burned alive at the stake does not cause him to give up his Christianity.  I really like him because of his faith in God and his overall steadfastness.
Guess who?  Well, actually, most of you haven't heard of her before, but she exists all the same.  So far she's only figured as the main character in one short story, The Jewels of Bassone.  But actually, she's the niece of Lonish, the only child of Modran Mitrai.  Some call her Marie of Legrolie, others, the residents of Bassone mostly, call her Nariethiel Derethere, but she is best known among Mortals and Lucor alike as Marie the Clever.  She might look like a plain farm girl, but she has "the cleverest head found north of the L'Osseilles' to quote her cousin, Jamolon.  I am planning to write Marie the Clever as a sequel to Lonish the Swordmaster, so you'll probably hear more of her.  I like her because she uses wits rather than weapons to defeat the Fairies.  She never lets her circumstances drag her down.
Hope you enjoyed the third installment.  Tomorrow comes the fourth and last: Characters I have made up that I love to hate!
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Period Drama Costumes Tag!

Oooh, goody!  I love answering questions like this.  Thanks, Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Elegance of Fashion, for hosting this.
It took me a while to think of good answers, but I think I finally have figured out my tastes in period drama fashions!

Which costume in all the period dramas you've seen is your favorite? (List up to three)
I like Emma's blue house dress in the 2009 BBC Emma.  It looks so comfortable!
I also like Marguerite Blakeney's traveling dress in 1982 version of The Scarlet Pimpernel.  It is just so elegant and lady like.  The striped skirt is absoballylutely wonderful!

And last but not least I like Mary Smith's checked dress from Cranford.  I have no idea why her step-mother doesn't!
Which period drama costume vexes you the most? (List up to three)
Anne's puffed sleeve dress.  Ugh!  It looks like it's wearing her!

What period drama hat or bonnet do you like the most?
Emma Woodhouse's bonnet in the 2009 Emma.  I love that hat!

What costume would you wear today if you could wear period drama fashions in this day and age?
Lorna Doone's 'waterfall scene' dress from the A&E Lorna Doone.  I like the highland look that the tartan skirt gives the outfit.
Do you notice historical inaccuracies in the period dramas you watch or do you ignore them for the most part?
I think I ignore them.  I just notice if the dress is pretty/ugly or modest/immodest.

Pick a period drama character.  If you were designing their costumes for a new adaption (or new episode), how would you go about designing their costumes?
Elizabeth Bennet.  I would first research gowns and dresses that a middle-class young lady of Regency England would wear, then I would try to match the dresses to her personality.  For instance, a young lady like Elizabeth Bennet would probably dress more modestly than usually depicted.  She likes to read, but she has wit and humor, so I think something with light colors would show her personality.

What's your favorite fashion era?  Why?
I like the 1840s to 1850s a lot.  The skirts have always fascinated me, because they are symmetrically full, if you take my meaning.

What period drama has the best costuming?  The not-so-great costuming?
I have to go with Cranford for the best costuming.  I find myself looking at all the dresses and wishing I had this or that one!
  As to the worst, I am not too crazy about the hair or costumes in Wives and Daughters.  When you find yourself laughing at the female characters lack of fashion sense, then it means that the costuming is BAD!
Your puffed sleeves look funny, Molly!
Thanks for reading!

Characters I Love, Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of Characters I Love!  This time its all about those fictional characters so evil that they've stolen my heart.  Here are my favorite villains of all time!
Inconceivable!  Or not!  Vizzini is one of my favorite villains ever!  He is so ridiculous and funny, yet evil at the same time.  I always wish that he would have lived on and been in more of the movie, don't you?  He absolutely made it for me, and sometimes it's hard to forget that he's a bad guy!
I have always considered Ebeneezer Scrooge a villain, even though he turns good at the end.   But he is definitely one of my favorites.  I love his absolute villainy at the beginning.  It seems that he is pure meanness, and his change of heart is so remarkable that all the characters are dumbstruck by it.  And yes, George C. Scott is my favorite Scrooge.
I have to admit, Frank Churchill is one of the most detestable villains EVER!  I can't stand the way he uses Emma and Jane.  Even  though he's so likable at first, he is really hateful!  I even like him less than Willoughby and Wickham, because at least you get a glimmer of their evilness in the story.  Frank Churchill hides his true nature until the very last, and that's what's so bad about him.  Although he is sometimes pretty funny before you find out how bad he is.
And, my most HATED and the greatest villain in book or movie, the absolute sleaziest, greasiest, raspiest-voiced character to contaminate a screen (of a movie that I really liked) or a page is Carver Doone.  He's bad.  And he is one of the best villains ever to be created.  Imagining shooting a defenseless woman!  Just because...well, I had better not tell you, just in case you have not seen this EXCELLENT movie, Lorna Doone. 
I hope you enjoyed learning about some of my most-hated and best-loved villains.  Tune in tomorrow, when I will tell you about my favorite "good guys" from my own fiction.
Once again, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Characters I Love, Part 1

In almost every book that I have read, there are characters that stand out, characters that I love above other characters.  In stories I read and stories I write, there is usually one character especially that I wish I could get to know better.
For instance, in Jane Austen's Emma, I really, really, like the character of Jane Fairfax.  She is always so sweet, and when I was reading the book, I found myself wishing that I could get to know her better.  My mother told me that there is actually a fairly good book called Jane Fairfax, and that is Jane's side of the story, so I want to read it sometime.

Another character that I found especially exceptional is Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities.  I could not put that book down, and although I originally thought that Carton was going to be a bad guy, he turned out to be a very noble man.  I found myself feeling very sorry for him, and although he was part of a so-called 'love triangle,' I still liked his character.  I have never seen any movies of A Tale of two Cities, but I hope they make a really good version of it sometime.
Samwise Gamgee is one of my favorite characters of all time.  He is so loyal, so loving, and so courageous, that he is one character that I wish I could meet in person.  (Not the actor, mind you, the character.)  He is never selfish, and always thinks of Frodo, even when Frodo behaves in an absolutely hideous manner to him.    Although this is not in the books, I thought that the saddest part in all three of the movies was when Gollum persuaded Frodo into believing that Sam had thrown the lembas bread over the cliff and Frodo leaves Sam sobbing on the mountainside. By this time I would have been pretty sick of Frodo always defending Gollum, and I would have left and gone home, but Sam was noble enough to go and rescue Frodo.  Sam is just so NICE!
And of course, I simply must put up Hercule Poirot, everyone's favorite Belgian Detective.  I LOVE the Hercule Poirot books, my favorite being Murder on the Orient Express.  He is so funny and ridiculous, but he always ends up making everyone else look foolish because he is really so smart.  If you have never read one of these books, I would strongly encourage you to do so, while watching out for some inappropriate language and content, which I black out when I read the books.
This is my first installment of my favorite characters.  Next time I'll post about villainous characters that I love!
Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 9, 2012

By the By

I have begun a new blog, and it is all an experiment for yet another mystery story.  Please check out Third Form the Throne, the blog that is really written by a modern prince from Astolte, a small European kingdom. Even though the story focuses on his older sister, Princess Annika, it is Prince Niklas, a sixteen-year-old boy who is tired of being a prince, that gets the spotlight in this new blog.  Check it out if you want to, and feel free to comment.
This is just an experiment, since in the story, Prince Niklas really does have his own blog.
Thanks for reading!

Christmas Characters and Chocolate Cookies

So, I know that I have not posted in a while, but I am still here, have no fear.  Please don't tell me that you were glad for my silence.

I have been writing out, in novel form, my completed play, Christmas at the Tittletons, which my family performed with Kiri Liz, Beth Grace, and Jessa Bri's family last New Year's.  It was a lot of fun, and everyone was stumped by the solution, as it was a murder mystery.
The novel is slightly more difficult to write out, because it is rather hard to write as a young Victorian lady would write.  I am writing it from the perspective of Miss Jessamine Warbling, a guest in the luxurious                  Tittleton home.   Miss Warbling is a very nice person, but she writes with a LOT of Capital Letters in order to emphasize her thoughts, and I sometimes find it hard to remember that.

I have also been making chocolate no-bake cookies, and I love this recipe so much that I have decided to post it here for all of you lovely ladies.  Please make it, and then tell me what you think.

Chocolate No-Bakes

1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick oats

1. In a medium saucepan, combine first four ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat while continually stirring.  Turn heat to low and stir for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until evenly distributed.  Add oats and stir.

3. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper and let cool.  Enjoy!

This recipe is so easy and I just love it!   I often have to make a double or triple batch in order to meet the 'needs' of my family.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Congratulations, Miss Dashwood

So, what if I am a little behind the rest of the *understandable* stampede?  What can I say?  We were redoing our kitchen counters, which is not exactly a picnic in the garden.   Anywho, I want to congratulate Amy Dashwood on the publication of her new book, Only a Novel.  Like everyone else, I am hugely excited to *know* an author.  Alright, I don't know her personally, and I only started following her blog officially so that I could enter, but actually, I have been on Yet Another Period Drama Blog quite a bit through my very good friend and fellow-aspiring-author, everyone's favorite Kiri Liz.  And I often go into the blog in question and look around.  But I only just joined it.  I hope that does not disqualify me.
In all seriousness, though, I do want to give Miss Dashwood my deepest felicitations on her success, and I hope she lives on to write many more novels.  Congratulations!  I am so happy for you!
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Fantastic Phantastes

It's beautiful and rich.  It's like reading chocolate cake with thick, sweet chocolate frosting and chocolate sauce poured all over.  It's a real, old-fashioned fairy tale in novel form.  And I have always loved fairy tales. Here are my thoughts on George MacDonald's Phantastes, which I'll give to you as I read the book.
The above is an illustration from early on in the book.

One of the reasons that I am especially enjoying Phantastes is because it's an allegory, sort of like the Narnia stories.  I know that George MacDonald was a Christian, and I know that the book was intended to be an allegory, but at first I was having trouble actually defining the parallels between this and the Christian life.  However, there is a parallel.  For instance, Anodos, the main  character, opens a door although he has been warned not to, and his shadow comes out of the door and begins following him.  His shadow is dark and evil and makes Anodos uncomfortable, and I imagine that this is supposed to represent sin in our lives, which follows us around and bothers our consciences.  Anodos looks for relief from his dark shadow, but he does not know where to find it, and this is like the lost man who is dissatisfied with sin and cannot find relief from it.
Aside from the allegorical aspects, the story itself is, so far, very interesting, if hard to read.  I sometimes have trouble following the actual story line, although as I am reading it on an electronic device, that might have something to do with it. :)
One thing I really like is how all the trees and flowers are really fairies, ogres, or enchantresses.  That definitely livens it up a bit, especially since the Ash, which is an ogre, takes an instant dislike to Anodos.
For sure this novel is turning out to be a really good read, and I am looking forward to reading more so that I can post more about it.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

I don't expect a lot of people to be blogging today, in fact, it would be kind of strange if this was so, but I still want to honor the day with some pictures and quotes.
By the way, the United States has been a country for 236 years as of today.
"I cannot conceive a rank more honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest source and original fountain of all power."                                    George Washington


"May the sun in his course visit no land more free, more happy, more lovely, than this, our own country."    Daniel Webster


"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."                                                                                                                            John Adams

"All you need for happiness is a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife."                              Daniel Boone
(Don't you tell me that's not patriotic!)


"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy."         John Adams


"Yonder are the Hessians.  They were bought for seven pounds and tenpence a man.  Are you worth more? Prove it.  Tonight the American flag floats from yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow!"    
 John Stark at the Battle of Bennington, 1777


"Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for I have not only grown gray, but almost blind, in the service of my country."                                                                                           George Washington


"The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records.  They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power."                                                   Alexander Hamilton


My patriotism is welling up to overflowing now.  I had better stop putting these pictures up, or I am going to start crying.  I'll never be able to appreciate the sacrifices of the hundreds of patriots throughout the 236 years of freedom that has been America, but because of them I can enjoy more freedom than anyone else in the history of the world.  
Thanks for reading, and Happy Independence Day!