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Friday, April 4, 2014

Fairy Tales & a Sneak Peek with Rose Anderson

I love fairy tales. My favorites have always been those stories with the secrets. There's just something about being privy to information the other players don't yet have and watching the story weave and unfold around it. I enjoy that intrigue when I read.

Of the fairy tales that are love stories, a few
stand out in my mind because of the secrets involved. One of my favorites is Beauty and the Beast. The beast's secret was the curse that had him waiting on unconditional love. In Snow White and Rose Red, the sisters befriend a cold and starving bear whose secret later reveals he's an enchanted prince with an equally handsome brother.

Another favorite is Tam Lin -- a tale of an enchanted knight and a headstrong noblewoman named Janet. She ignores her father's warning to stay away from a tract of land known as Carterhaugh because there's magic and potential danger there. Curious, she goes anyway.  There she meets Tam Lin and they argue over a rose she's just picked. One thing leads to another. They fall in love and
Janet soon finds she's expecting their child. But Tam Lin can't marry her. The dire secret of his enchantment comes to light --the fairy queen plans to pay a tithe to hell with him as a sacrifice and he's on borrowed time. Good stuff!
Today I'm offering an unedited bit from my soon-to-be released fantasy love story ~
The Changeling. It's my spin on the old Tam Lin
fairy tale. Subplots have been added and I've thrown in some changeling lore for good measure. I hope you enjoy the peek. I anticipate a May release.

The Changeling
January 1st 1867
Frances March hurried cautiously through the freshly drifted snow along the stable wall. The nicker of a horse startled her. So distracted by the conspiracy of mercy she was embroiled in, she nearly jumped out of her shoes. Pressing flat to the wall, she listened, but only the muffled sound of stabled horses and the hoot of a distant owl met her ears. Leaning back to look around the corner, she watched her sister disappear through the hedge. Pulling her shawl tightly around her and the bundle in her arms, she scurried across the gardens to the library. It was imperative that no one, upstairs or down, see her. The sooner this deed was done, the better. She slipped inside quietly.

The head butler was waiting. He stated rather than asked, “You’re certain no one saw you…”

Frances nodded and went to stand by the fire with her bundle. The grandfather clock in the hall struck one.

Osgood checked his watch against it. He pressed, “Did you explain to your sister she must never speak of this again?”

“Yes Mr. Osgood. As I said before, Agnes says no one would believe the truth of it and she’d be ridiculed…her reputation ruined. And there’s always the possibility she could be blamed. It is unbelievable, no?”

Osgood nodded. “It is at that. I scarcely believe it myself, Fanny. What about the wee still babe?”

Her eyes brimmed with tears. Voice cracking, she answered, “Agnes will see him to the cradle and hopefully none will be the wiser. Poor Mrs. Benton will think her own baby died and he’ll get a decent burial in the kirkyard. And that’s pretty much the truth isn’t it? Her own son is as good as dead. Poor, poor, laddie, wherever he is now.” She crossed herself.

Osgood peered into the night before locking the French doors and drawing the heavy curtains closed. “It’s as it should be.”

“Is it? Was it wise to switch them, Mr. Osgood? I mean that poor baker and his wife…”

 “…Had their child taken with nothing to be done for it. They have seven living children to love, Fanny.

Her ladyship has four stillborn in the grave. Five now.”

Frances frowned. “Has her ladyship...?”

Interpreting her pause, he shook his head. “Under the doctor's medicine she closed her eyes believing her child lived. She has no idea of the tragedy that occurred but half an hour later.”

“My poor lady. That long labor and in the end the babe was too weak to survive it.” Emotion welling, Frances wiped her eyes. “What do ye suppose they do with the babies they take?”

Osgood blinked his own sentiment away. “I can’t say. My old Welsh grannie said the Fae only took the sickly ones. Even then it was only legend.”

Frances nodded. “My Scottish gran told us the same.” She shook her head. “But Agnes says Libby Benton’s baby wasn’t sickly. A bald baby boy, he was. Nearly every child the Benton’s have is as towheaded as their father, except for the two with the ginger hair like their mother. Agnes said he was destined to be ginger blond.”

Osgood went to the decanter and poured two small sherries. Handing one over, he downed his in one swallow. “Did your sister witness the switch?”

Frances sipped first then shook her head. “When Agnes went to tidy the mother, she left the sleeping babe in the crib with no one to watch him. And, why would she think he needed to be watched? It was spare minutes only that he was out of her sight. When she went back, another with black hair was in his place. That’s when she ran up to the hill to find me. So distressed she was.”

 He nodded. “It was fortunate she did. Another hour and everyone might have known.”

“Oh yes, it was fortunate. Libby’s husband was at the bakery mixing his dough, and the other children were sleeping up the stairs…one more child to such a large family meant little interest in the next. There was no one to see the deed. Will ye be telling Mrs. Smithson?”

“No, no one in this household save you and I will know. Of course Mrs. Smithson would keep the secret if I asked her to, but it isn’t necessary. I shall not burden anyone else with the truth.”

Francis uncovered the bundle in her arms. Looking down, she smiled. “He’s a handsome laddie, don’t ye think. I’m no expert mind, but Agnes and I both suspect the babe is of mixed race. His wee ears…”

Moving to her side, Osgood broke into a smile of his own. The little bundled boy was sleeping. He ran a gentle fingertip over the small, slightly pointed, ear. “Yes, he very well could be. And yes, he’s a handsome little man – dark like Master Evan was. May his soul in heaven forgive us.”

The lady’s maid put a reassuring hand on the head butler’s arm. “He wouldn’t want her ladyship’s heart broken more than it already is. You know how he loved her.”

“I do. As I see it Fanny, the baker’s child is no more – taken away to some Faery hill no doubt, never to be seen again, if the old stories are true. This little boy did not belong with the Benton family anyway. He’s black-haired, for one. He’d grow being different, maybe disliked or mistrusted, even despised by his father as another man’s bastard. You know how people are when they feel something isn’t quite right. The child would suffer for a situation completely out of his control. It harms no one that he be raised a Pendry.”

She nodded. “Yes, you’re right Mr. Osgood. If nothing else, this is the better life of the two.”

“It most certainly is. Master Evan is gone and Master John hasn't been seen for a fortnight. Solicitors across London have been inquiring high and low for his whereabouts but it’s not looking good, Fanny. Should anything have happened to Master John, there is no other heir living. This little man may very well become the 10th Earl of Pendry.” To the babe, Osgood whispered, “And the family name will continue because of you. Shall we meet your mummy, little sir?”

About Rose
Rose is multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest. 


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Tina Donahue said...

I love fairy tales too, Rose. Loved your excerpt. :)

Sandy said...

As a child, I had all the fairy tales read to me, and then later I read them myself.

Can't wait to see what happens next, Rose.

Rose Gorham said...

Enjoyed reading your excerpt, Rose. The Changeling is on my have to read list.

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

That's wonderful that The Changeling is almost here! Can't wait to read it, Rose. I wrote a short faery tale myself with room for sequels. It was a lot of fun.

jean hart stewart said...

What an intriguing excerpt....Gotta read this one for sure....Jean

Rose Anderson said...

Thanks everyone. :) I grew up with a set of My Bookhouse books with the wonderful old lithographs. My husband and I found an even older set of fairy tale books and they were the closest to the original tellings as I've found to date. Boy are they violent.

Paris said...

I love a good fairy tale and your story sounds wonderful! Great excerpt:)

Gemma Juliana said...

What an enchanting story, Rose. I can't wait for you to publish it. Fairy tales are my favorite stories of all, especially the 'deep' ones.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Lovely excerpt! Romantic fantasy is so enjoyable when well-written like yours.

Melissa Keir said...

I loved Snow White and Rose Red. I had forgotten how much I loved the story until you mentioned it. :) I was always shocked when I read "real" fairy tales because they didn't fit with the Disney tales. :)

Great story! I can't wait to read it! All the best Rose!

Rose Anderson said...

I'm glad you've all enjoyed my preview. Thanks for commenting. :)

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