Monday, June 16, 2014

Plot Bunny Challenge #3

Once more I link up with Anne-girl for her June Challenge.

For my third of eight plots, I find myself a little stunned.  I'm still mulling over my second plot, and I can't seem to get rid of it.  It's hanging on tenaciously, demanding to be written.  I know you all can understand me when I say that the characters, especially Sandy, have become so real that they clamor at my brain, beseeching me to let them out onto paper.

Hence this challenge may be more difficult than previously anticipated.  Hopefully my third plot will still be interesting, though.

I think I will have a difficult time ignoring my favorite period of American history during this challenge, which is why the third plot is focused on the War of 1812.  I'm calling it The Road to Baltimore.

Hester Tardenwell Dane has heard countless stories from her mother, uncles, and grandparents about the Battle of Fort McHenry, an event that took place over fifteen years before she was born.  Now, as a married lady of twenty-three, she and her husband, Crispus Dane, are returning to Baltimore, the city of her mother's childhood, and it's not for pleasant reasons.  Grandmother Tardenwell is dying, and she has specifically asked for Hester.

But somebody doesn't want Grandmother Tardenwell to speak to Hester.  The road from the Dane's home in the New England countryside to the city of Baltimore has become fraught with dangers.  Why do people keep bringing up that brand-new controversial book of Miss Stowe's?  Why does she keep meeting slaves who seem to know all about her?  And why does everyone keep asking her about the dead Francis Scott Key?

Hester tries to sort out these questions, but she knows she has to hurry.  Grandmother Tardenwell's time is ticking away, and so, it would appear, is Hester Tardenwell Dane's.

Connecticut, 1852

interesting sheer pelerine
Hester Tardenwell Dane
The problem with cows is that they are so large.  Horses are large, too, of course, but cows simply have bulk in places that makes them seem larger than horses.  After three years of living on the Connecticut farm, Hester was still unable to recover from the slight shock of having to milk a cow every morning.  Of all the chores she had, that was the worst.  She knew that Cris had chores far worse, but that never made her feel happy about the cows.

"You, Corinda, are going to behave," she said, staring straight into the big, dewy eyes of the monster.  She held the milk bucket slung over one arm, .  "I won't have any kickings over of the bucket.  Once a day is enough, thank you very much.

Corinda turned her massive head away and pulled some hay out of the manger.

"Ignoring me, are you?  I think not!"  Hester sniffed and stalked up to the cow.  "You are evil, you beast."  She leaned as close to the horrifying thing's ears as she dared and hissed out the words.  "If you kick over the bucket one more time, I will make sure you kick the bucket."

A Miniature Jersey Cow- I WILL have one oneday... SO CUTE
Corinda the Terrible

Cris stood in the doorway with his hat shoved back on his head and a concerned look flitting through his eyes.

"Oh, it's this cow.  She kicked over the bucket this morning, and she hates me.  I'm quite sure of it.  Our last cow was bad enough, but this fiend is positively the worst cow to walk the earth.  I am quite fed up with her shenanigans.  If she spoils the evening milking, I'll have her head.  Boiled up as it should be."  Hester cast a dark look in Corinda's direction.

"I'm sorry," said Cris.  "If you like, I could milk the cow and you could dig the potatoes."  His eyes sparkles merrily.

Hester laughed.  "I'd almost rather do that.  At least potatoes don't talk back."

"Corinda does?" said Cris.

"She would if she could," said Hester.

Cris smiled indulgently.  After all, Hester hadn't grown up on a farm.  "Oh, that reminds me!" he said suddenly.  "I came out here to give you this letter."

"A letter!" cried Hester.  "I didn't even know I could get letters."

Cris raised his eyebrows.  "Well, this one is addressed to Mrs. Crispus Dane, and that's you."  He handed Hester the letter.

She took it and ripped it open.  "Why, it's from my grandfather in Baltimore!  I've never even met him, you know."

"That's on your mother's side, right?" said Cris.

"Yes, but they weren't too happy about her marrying a New Englander like Father.  I think that's why we never saw them.  They were pretty high and mighty people back when Mother was younger.  I think they still are, in a way."

"Well, what does he say?" asked Cris.

Hester quickly skimmed the letter.  "Oh," she said flatly.  "He says that my grandmother is dying and that she is asking for me.  He wants me to come to Baltimore."

"I thought she didn't know you," said Cris.

Historic Baltimore row houses.

"She doesn't," said Hester.  "I've never met my grandmother before in my life."

Cris frowned.  "I don't like it.  What business do they have with us?"  He absently took the bucket and began milking the docile Corinda.

Hester pulled her thick shawl tightly about her shoulders against the October chill.

"Don't they own slaves in Maryland?  What do they want with us Yankees?" said Cris.

"I don't know," said Hester.  "Mother always spoke of Sedge and Lucy, the slaves they had in Baltimore, but I don't know if they still have slaves."

Cris finished the milking in silence.  Hester knew that he wasn't a rabid abolitionist, but in his quiet way he still thought that slavery was immoral.  What if he wouldn't let her go to Baltimore?  Suddenly Hester realized that she had a burning curiosity to see her mother's parents, no matter what they had done or thought about the Connecticut Yankees of which she was definitely a part.

Thanks for reading and God bless,


  1. Write more! Write more! Seriously. This is so good!

  2. This looks very good. Very intriguing.


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