Story Snip from Larksong: Chapter 26 and the Story Playlist

Faltering steps towards a relationship...

Larksong is set in Montreal, July 1914.

In chapter 1, Alice arrived at the family cottage to take care of her grandmother's aviary, following her grandmother's funeral, only to find that her parents had already leased the cottage to another family for the summer. The only way she could have one more summer in her favourite place was to surreptitiously take on the role of governess to the two young girls...

In chapter 2, we met George, laid up at the hospital with a broken leg. Instead of joining his friends on a Grand Tour of Europe, he's being sent off to recuperate at a rented cottage in the country...

In chapters 3 and 4, we returned to Alice's point of view, and saw her bonding with George's younger sisters. Then she got a surprise -- George was arriving at the cottage that very day! We saw a hint that Alice finds George attractive and interesting -- but also unbearably rude.

In chapters 5 to 7, they had their first argument, then argued once more, but the stakes were higher: war is on the horizon. Then George attempted a rapprochement.

In chapters 8 to 10, Alice had some feelings stirring... During their first evening together, they began to suss each other out over a card game, and they reached a détente of sorts before going their separate ways for the night.

In chapters 11 and 12, we started the next morning in George's point of view, with his dawning realization of his attraction to Alice. Yet this realization did not lead to greater friendliness.

In chapter 13 (which I mistakenly also labelled as 12!), a new complication arose, in the form of the arrival of Albert, George's younger, and rather rude, brother. Meanwhile, George was busy with inappropriate (as he thinks) thoughts of Alice. (I skipped a scene where Alice takes the girls down to the lake and needs to pretend with a neighbour, Mrs Chase, that she is not a governess, but simply helping out with the girls. Then, while Alice is distracted, trying to spin her web of half-truths and discussing the threat of war on the horizon, Lucy gets up on a rickety boat tied up at the dock and fell off into the water.)

In chapter 14, on returning from the lake, Alice and the girls overheard an argument that ended with this outburst from George to his brother Albert: "I don't need your tales of self-pity. The question is, what are you going to do about it, now that you've f***ed it all up?"

In chapters 15 and, we witnessed the fallout from the argument, then shared a moment between Alice and George in the garden. Alice left George and resumed her governess role, and decided not to join the brothers that evening in the parlour.

In chapters 17 to 19, Alice went out early the next morning, to find George rowing on the lake, and joined him.

In chapter 20, following their early morning idyll, we finally had a true rapprochement. Alice, making up her mind in an instant, called out to George's sisters: "We're going on an expedition with your brother." (I skipped the rest of chapter 20, in which we take a trip through the woods with Alice, George, and his sisters. There are friendly chats, the girls sign their brother's cast, and George begins work on a sketch of Alice. When they return home, the girls help Alice feed the birds in the aviary and clean it in preparation for the arrival of Mr Palmer, a prospective buyer visiting from Boston. Mr Palmer says he will make his decision on purchasing the aviary and return the next day. Throughout the day, there are hints of the gathering storms of war.)

In chapters 21 and, as Alice saw Mr Palmer off at the gate, a new complication emerged, in the arrival of Albert's friends from university. Alice and George came close to admitting their attraction, but then George unwittingly insulted the birds and the aviary and Alice's affection for her grandmother's pets.

In chapter 23, following omitted scenes (a bit of George's reflections on Alice, and his feelings for her (as well as memories of unfavourable reactions from his parents about his hobby of sketching and painting); at the end, he decides that it might be a lark to try to lure Pixie away from his brother. He proceeds to do just that before dinner as she plays up her role of nurse and guides George through some exercises in the front parlour. This leads to an arm wrestling match between all the boys, involving both wagers for a few coins--and kisses for the winner from Pixie. That evening, they all gather in the front parlour, and agree to attend the ball and bonfire at the Hatley Manor hotel the next night. George catches Albert and Pixie canoodling in the kitchen, but decides he's in no position to say anything because he was ready to embrace Alice the governess), the next day, the crowd slept in, all except Alice, who took her charges into the village to watch a magic lantern show. On their return, George decided to show them his secret--the full extent of his artistry.
It was revealed that Eleanor is also a budding artist, and the siblings agreed to continue to develop their talent and to hide it from their disapproving parents.

In chapters 24 and 25, the girls returned to the house, and Alice and George, alone in the enclosed garden, sat side by side on the bench... They kissed, and Alice revealed her true identity to George. They talked, perhaps all too briefly, about what they would do with their newfound feelings.

Now, in chapter 26, George watches her with Mr Palmer (who's returned to inspect the aviary and agree on its purchase) and thinks about how he's actually looking forward to the big party at the fancy hotel that night, now that he'll have Alice on his arm. I've skipped this bit, and a bit where they discuss Alice's attachment to the cottage and the birds, as well as the fact that Alice isn't really a governess and what they might have to tell his family, if anything. Also a part where, seated side-by-side and hand-in-hand on the porch, they talk of George's hopes and plans for his future career, in despite of his father. Then she asks him a question...

Now, finally, came her chance to ask him. "None of you came to my debutante ball," she announced. By dint of concentrating on differentiating the excited calls of the birds, she kept herself from squeezing his palm against hers, giving away her eagerness to hear his reply.

George's brows rose. "We were invited?"

"Indeed you were. I'm not certain what your reason was, but it was rather galling to receive a one-line note of regret, with no excuses given. Our parents move in the same circles, after all."

"Was this last year?"

"Two years ago."

"Then that explains it." He smiled, as if relieved to have a suitable explanation. "We'd gone away as a family. Father kept it all hush-hush, as we were back in England, seeking investors for a new venture. James met his wife and was married out there, but had a second wedding on our return. And she's actually from New York, so all the talk is about her being a Yankee. Father's done well, keeping our Yorkshire dealings a secret, though we were gone for months. I'm surprised James managed to persuade Clarice to leave the soft dales and pretty woods for the big city and our long Canadian winters."

"Would you return to England?"

"To live? I might do. Had some great times out there. I was meant to be in Europe this summer anyway. If it hadn't been for this damned cast..." He brushed her cheek with the ball of his thumb. "But I'm resigned to it now, for the first time in weeks. More than resigned; if it hadn't been for my broken leg, I wouldn't have met you."

"And wouldn't that have been a terrible shame?" said a mocking voice.

She dropped George's hand but did not immediately move aside. She glanced around, trying to place Albert. There, his head resting between two rails as he stood on the ground and peered up at them, chin level with the planks of the porch.

"I trust you had a pleasant picnic, Mr Cunnick," she said, and rose, drawing away from George's touch, as slowly as possible so that Albert would not think she was trying to cover up any inappropriate behaviour, but getting to her feet simply because she had decided to do so. The less fodder he had for teasing, the better.

"I shall see if my charges have risen." She took refuge in her governess persona. "I will send Elsie out to bring up your baskets for you."

She sauntered off into the house before he could reply to her directly, but that did not prevent her from hearing his words to George.

"Feisty one, isn't she? Are you going to explain why you're making calf eyes at the governess?"

Alice remained at the foot of the stairs as though she'd been pasted there. Listening.

George was curt. "Seems to me it's no more than what you're playing at with my nurse."

He sounded so convincing, as if that was what he'd been doing all along, and all his words to herself had been the lie instead. As if he hadn't believed her at all when she confessed she was a McKerrow.

"Now you've paved the way," Albert said, words punctuated by the tramp of his boots up the porch steps, "you won't mind if I play my hand, will you?"

She should never have let her emotions get so far out of hand as to reveal herself to George. He was bound to blurt something out, whether in her defence––or his own.

"I'd like a dance or two with her tonight," Albert added.

"Won't my nurse be hanging on your arm the entire night?" George asked bitingly.

"I sure as hell hope not. She's a great gal in her own way, but there're bound to be some other wenches at this shindig. Maybe a comely country lass or two. But that Miss Alice now, she's got something. Definitely my flavour, that one. Bring her some punch, catch her as she swoons to the latest Irving Berlin, and she'll let me kiss her before you can say 'Moonlight in Montreal'."

Alice did not linger for more. She bolted up the stairs, as if by running she might leave behind Albert's conquering words and cocksure manner. In one fell swoop, he'd sullied her entire afternoon. She did not even wait to hear what George might say about her––or if he said anything at all.

It's been a while since I shared the playlist for Larksong!

I have two other stories, if anyone would like a different sort of flavour... Another one set in July and August 1914, in Montreal, and a fairytale about a statue of a mermaid...

If nothing else comes from having decided to share parts of this story on my blog, I've realised that typing up the summary has given me the bare bones of a synopsis!

I generally struggle with synopsis writing; I have the one for my NaNoWriMo 2022 story still waiting around for me to edit it!

How do you feel about writing synopses or query letters?


Hi Deniz - another great snippet ... I'm so enjoying reading Larksong this way ... it's very engaging and enticing as to what's next - cheers Hilary
Deniz Bevan said…
Thank you! It's really exciting knowing that you're enjoying it!
CLM said…
I don't see any Betsy-Tacy on the books you've read but I think you and your daughter would enjoy. Can I send you one?

Deniz Bevan said…
Oh! We have one! She hasn't read it yet, though, I'll move it up the pile a bit :p