Engagement

It was a perfect summer evening in 1782. A rust-colored sky cast an amber glow over the house as I set forth to climb the fence one last time. I wanted to rub the head of Wilbur my father’s dog cast in bronze long before I was born. I spent many a summer out here by the gate to our plantation waiting for Father to return. Tonight, I told Wilbur goodbye.

“I am a little afraid,” I said as if Wilbur could answer me. “I hope he is a sensible and kindly gentleman.” I imagined Wilbur reassuring me that Edmund Tackett was from a good and sensible family. On the many occasions where I had been privileged to make his acquaintance, he always seemed quite congenial. Father had made a good match, and Mother was excited that finally, she would be a part of the Tackett family.

The Tackett’s owned the mill and the town surrounding it. They were a family of class and high standing. Mary Tackett was once a neighbor to my mother when they were girls and once their families arrived had promised each other to one day be family.

A letter had arrived that very morning informing us of Edmund’s return from Europe, having received his letters. The wedding would take place within a fortnight, and I assumed the rush was so as not to give Edmund a chance to change his mind. I had not set eyes on him since we were twelve.

“Miss Elizabeth,” Sally Ann called, “Your Mother would like you to come in before you catch cold.”

I obliged. The last thing Mother needed was to send a sick girl over to Mary Tackett in the morning. Mrs. Tackett was so very peculiar about everything, at least according to Mother and that was before money gave her the rights to be so. I went to bed that evening, hoping that Edmund would find me agreeable. I picked up a letter that Edmund had sent to me while still in Europe. I read through it again trying to discern any meaning from his words before blowing out my candle and falling asleep.

Our house the following morning was full of excitement and rushing about. Sally Ann had packed only the best of my belongings to take with me, everything else, the Tackett’s would provide. Mother gave me Grandmother’s ivory brooch and attached it to the lace collar of my dress. Father, dressed in his favorite birthday suit. I watched Will help Mother into the chaise as I said goodbye to Sally Ann.

We took the long way to Tackett’s Mill at my request. They didn’t expect us until that evening for dinner, so there was no requirement to hurry. The horses trotted along past Old Henry’s farm. Mr. Henry let me ride his horses from time to time when he got too old to exercise them properly. Farther down the road was a very large oak tree that collapsed during a lightning storm. Part of it still stood erect, wizened and black from the fire the lightning had caused. Edmund said it was a witch’s fault. He told me the witch lived back in the woods and tried to scare me; he was so mischievous and fun.

The sun was high up in the sky by the time we took the turn to Tackett’s Mill. My heart fluttered in my chest with the anticipation of meeting Edmund again after so much time apart. My mother squeezed my hand as we took the turn onto the estate. I watched as the household staff began to line up outside in their finest livery. I took in a deep breath as the carriage came to a stop in front of the entrance.

“Ready dearest,” my Father said as he took my hand and helped me down from the chaise.

As we walked towards the house I would soon call home; filled me with nervous excitement. Mr. and Mrs. Tackett greeted my parents. Then, Mrs. Tackett hugged me and said, “Welcome to the family, Elizabeth.”

Edmund stood behind them, silently watching until he was reintroduced to me. I would know him anywhere; his twinkling green eyes had never changed even though he now inhabited a man’s body. He kissed my hand, looked up at me and winked. His face full of the same mischief I recalled from our childhood summers together, it was then I knew he was still very agreeable, indeed.

* I had a little help with the language of the 18th century so if any of my word choices look off – please check here for their correct meaning. The prompts were bronze and drama.*

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. MM Schreier says:

    I love how your MC talks to the cast dog as her confidant.

    Something to think about if you choose to expand this – adding dates to historical fiction is a tricky thing, in my opinion. I expect you used it in your opening line to set the time period, but it’s an awkward device especially as an opening line. I think you did such a great job with your narrative in setting the period that you didn’t need it.

    Despite the fact that arranged marriages give me a stomach ache – I really liked that your ending was hopeful. I imagine not everyone was as happy with their lot in life as Elizabeth seems to be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Thanks! I wasn’t sure about the first line either, I had several versions of it before I was just like screw it I’m done. I didn’t know how well it was going to come across since it was my first go at it. It’s not my genre so I doubt I’ll do anything else with it. I love reading Jane Austen like stories from time to time but I find it’s best to leave it to the masters. lol
      Thanks again for reading and critiquing!

      Like

  2. innatejames says:

    It’s apparent in the story how much care you put into establishing the period. I very much appreciated the hope for the marriage at the end of the story. The third paragraph felt a bit like the author’s voice was rising above the narrative. There might be ways to delete it and insert the key ideas more subtly into the text. Naming the town Tackettville, for instance, would give the reader what they need to infer that the family was wealthy. Describing Mrs. Tackett’s poise and dress in a certain way might indicate her social and economic status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Great suggestions – thank you!!! I will take a second look at that third paragraph and play around with it a little bit later.

      Like

  3. Sara says:

    I loved some lines like ‘before money gave Mrs Tackett a right to be peculiar’ and I loved the happy ending. I was getting anxious:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Asha Rajan says:

    I was listening to a podcast recently about writing historical fiction, and the point that Maggie/MM raised above about inserting dates came up. It’s an interesting one, isn’t it? With the advantage of glancing back on these times, we tend to insert the date, but if we truly inhabit the mind of our narrator/protagonist, we have to question whether we’d casually drop the year into conversations. The presenters of the programme suggested inserting significant events (world events or more local ones) as markers of the time instead. It puts the onus of responsibility for research on the writer, but I thought that was a neat way to get around the conundrum of setting the action at a particular time without explicit stating what year it is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Writer says:

      Good point. If I were to make this a longer story, I’ll do that. I LOVE research.

      Liked by 1 person

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