Story Snip from Larksong: Chapter 35, and Eight Things Revisited--I Need an Intern!

Help! I need more time!

One of the first things I ever blogged about was how I Need An Intern.

A few years ago, I revisited the intern task list.

The time has come to do it again!

I'm going to do it as part of an update to the eight things list; I'm adding a group, so now we have...

10 lots of eight things about me

8 projects I'm working on
1. sort all the finished novels and stories into order of priority for editing
2. find an agent for The Charm of Time
3. draft a short story for the SIWC contest
4. knitting projects: following along with the Margery Allingham club of designer Kate Davies
5. think of compiling short stories for an anthology (and thinking of short stories featuring Kedi)
6. find a publisher for Larksong
7. write the latest Our Flag Means Death story!
8. organize long-term plans and clean-ups for the blog

8 TV shows I watch
1. Our Flag Means Death season 1
2. Our Flag Means Death season 2
3. Father Ted
4. Rhys Darby: Big in Japan
5. What We Do in the Shadows
6. Into the Woods (this counts as TV because I always watch the original that was filmed for PBS)
7. Deadloch
8. Doctor Who

8 favourite places to eat and drink [this list hasn't changed since last time]
1. at home
2. Turkey - yup, anywhere in the country
3. at the pub
4. at a cafe
5. at an artisanal ice cream shop
6. at a village auberge in Switzerland
7. also in Switzerland, at a local cave à vin
8. on a train, as this means travelling!

8 things I look forward to
1. in 2010 I mentioned publishing a book, and in 2019, I mentioned that I've done this, with Summer Fire, but that I still hadn't published a paperback -- well now, I have, with Druid's Moon!
2. in 2010, I also cryptically wrote "more family" -- this was a reference to children. We have two!
3. first-time experiences with the kids; in 2019, I wrote "skating, skiing, watching Into the Woods" -- we've done those! Now I'm hoping for more travel, and some live theatre and concert experiences...
4. seeing my friends' books published
5. summertime visits with family!
6. driving from Calais (after taking the ferry from Dover, natch) to Istanbul [this hasn't changed]
7. travelling to places I haven't been yet (the Highlands, Germany...) [nor this]
8. making time to Edit All the Novels

8 things I love about winter [this section is nearly completely different, now that we live in Switzerland instead of icy freezing Canada] [no change from last time]
1. how short the season is, followed by a real spring!
2. pretty snowfalls
3. skating and skiing within reach, without having to drive through slush to get there
4. visits from Jack Frost, and fog
5. views of Lac Leman and the Alps
6. skating!
7. ice on the lake
8. fondue

8 things on my wish list
1. to travel. Okay, let's be specific and start with more of Italy and Scotland [this hasn't changed]
2. to read all the books I own, set up a proper library, and get more books [nor this]
3. I like Pam's "Get rid of all the clutter in my house and Keep It Out" [I'm achieving this!]
4. to walk from Scarborough to the Lake District. Or any other walking path in the UK. I'm not picky [this also remains. The entire coastline of Wales is now a public footpath!]
5. to drive across Europe, Canada and the States. Not necessarily as part of the same trip [and this]
6. training to develop my leadership skills at work
7. to learn to sew properly, and crochet more than a chain
8. an intern to organize all my papers, CDs, library, notes to self, saved clippings/brochures/etc., files, recipes... [this has been on the wish list for years] [see more intern stuff below]

8 things I am passionate about [I haven't changed this one at all, even though the tone of my younger self is a bit bombastic!]
1. truth/not being misunderstood
2. accuracy. Especially when it comes to grammar, the written word, dialects, historical facts, etc.
3. writing
4. knitting (and other handicrafts)
5. music (by which I mean subcreation. You know, real bands, not manufactured formulaic nonsense)
6. travelling. The freedom of being able to get up and go whenever I feel like it
7. reading
8. trying to get at the essence of food. No additives, chemicals, preservatives, genetic modification, hormones, etc. I tried buying cream the other day. To my mind, cream should have one ingredient: cream. Not guar gum, carrageenan, salt, sugar or anything else

8 things I have learned from the past [this one also stays the same, but I have the same issue with my know-it-all-tone]
1. you know that little voice inside you that knows when something is off? Listen to it
2. don't second guess yourself on a test or exam
3. a good mood goes a long way toward harmonious relations with people, especially those you have to work with. Don't whine or moan or snap at others
4. don't talk too much. Listening's better
5. there's a lot to be said for the euphoria of a gorgeous day in the woods
6. get a pet. Or two. Or three
7. learn how to write. Don't use peak when you mean pique. Don't say your when you mean you're. It's hard to think clearly if you don't have the vocabulary to think with
8. live in a small town before the age of 10, a big city between 10 and 20, and travel often after that

8 things I want/need
1. more time to read fiction
2. all my LibraryThing accounts synced and updated
3. Scrivener for Android [I wonder if I'll ever get to remove this from the list!]
4. a house that stays clean longer when I've actually put in the effort to clean it, and laundry that dries quicker on the rack
5. a Turkish food delivery system (now there's a pipe dream!)
6. a pint. And a dram
7. a daily fruit basket with all the fruit pre-sliced (another dream)
8. more time to catch up on blogging. There are blogger friends I haven't visited in months! I owe comments everywhere!

8 things for an intern to help me with
1. sorting photos to print for the next album, saving everything on external drives, tagging photos for the blog, finally replacing older photos requiring copyright permission
2. taking care of niggling tasks (booking appointments, buying train tickets, scanning documents, printing tax forms, etc.) so that I have more time to read (both books and fic!)
3. organising a dedicated shelf for all the knitting and craft supplies, arranging printed patterns tidily, making it easier to get what I need when I start a new project!
4. collating my favourite recipes into a new, dedicated folder (and magically creating more baking time!)
5. organising the endless kid-tasks: tidying books, sorting summer vs winter vs school clothes and footwear, reminding me of game options (we haven't played cards in a while, and they've not yet played Clue(do)!
6. goading me to exercise! And researching the best options for self-care for me (e.g. skin-care products, shampoo, etc.) and making sure I have a good stock of backup socks, etc. for when I suddenly need a new pair!
7. setting up a dedicated space for what little valuables we have (art prints, first editions, important family tree stuff, etc.)
8. sorting all my old writing, scanning the notebooks and papers not yet scanned or typed up, keeping track of published works and any possible royalties or praise

I find writing all this down gets it out of my head, and helps me see that I'm doing the best I can with the time I have!

Tag yourself if you'd like to play!

And now, Larksong!

As we're near the end, the time has come to drastically shorten the synopsis at the start!

Larksong is set in a lakeside town on the outskirts of Montreal, in July 1914.

In chapters 1 to 10, Alice arrives at the family cottage following her grandmother's funeral, to take care of her grandmother's aviary--only to find that her parents have already leased the cottage to another prominent Montreal family. The only way she can have one final summer in her favourite place is to surreptitiously take on the role of governess to the two young girls.

Gradually, she bonds with them, and eases into her feigned position. Then she learns that their older brother George, laid up with a broken leg, will be staying as well, for rest and recuperation.

Upon his arrival, Alice keeps up her governess role as best she can. She finds George attractive and interesting--but also unbearably entitled. They can't seem to stop arguing over everything--including the rumours of political events in Europe.

As they spend their evenings together over cards and drinks, George attempts a rapprochement and Alice struggles to mask her stirring feelings. George, too, realizes that his attraction to Alice is growing--yet this realization does not lead to greater friendliness.

In chapters 11 to 20, a new complication arises, in the form of the arrival of Albert, George's younger--and rather rude--brother, hiding a secret about his expulsion from university. On returning from an afternoon at the lake, Alice and the girls overhear an argument between the brothers. When Albert takes his sisters with him back to the lakeshore, Alice and George share a moment alone in the garden. Alice, growing ever more conflicted, decides to emphasize her governess role and not join the brothers that evening in the parlour.

In chapters 21 to 30, Alice and George share an early morning idyll rowing on the lake, and finally have a true rapprochement. Alice arranges an expedition in the woods with the girls, and George joins them. There are friendly chats, the girls sign their brother's cast, and George begins work on a sketch of Alice, finally allowing himself to explore his passion for drawing and painting, which his family have been trying to quell.

When they return home, the girls help Alice feed the birds and clean the aviary in preparation for the arrival of Mr Palmer, a prospective buyer. Throughout the day, there are hints of the gathering storms of war.

Alice and George come close to admitting their attraction, but then George unwittingly insults the birds, the aviary, and even Alice's affection for her grandmother's pets.

A further complication emerges with the arrival of Albert's friends from Montreal, as well as Pixie, a hired nurse for George, who seems more interested in flirting with Albert and his friends than in engaging in her duties. That evening, the boys hold an arm wrestling match, involving wagers for a few coins--and kisses for the winner from Pixie. George catches Albert and Pixie canoodling in the kitchen, but decides he's in no position to say anything because he is ready to embrace Alice, the governess.

The next day, George decides to reveal to both Alicce and his sisters his secret--the full extent of his artistry. They discover that Eleanor is also a budding artist, and the siblings, guided by Alice, agree to continue to develop their talent and to hide it together from their disapproving parents.

The girls return to the house, and Alice and George, alone in the enclosed garden, sit side by side on the bench. They kiss, and Alice, too, reveals her secret. She discloses her true identity to George, and they openly discuss their newfound feelings. They also talk of Alice's attachment to the cottage and the birds, and what they might tell his family, if anything, about her pretending to be a governess for the past couple of weeks. Then they talk of George's hopes and plans for his future career in art-- and what might happen if war comes.

In chapters 30 to 34, they all attend the banquet and dance at the nearby luxury hotel. Alice juggles her governess duties with unwanted advances from Albert--and affairs of the heart. Earlier than planned, Alice and George return to the house together and draw closer than ever before, until Albert interrupts.

Following an argument between George and his brother, Albert disappears with Pixie. Alice and George take their relationship further than they have before, until George says the wrong thing and Alice storms upstairs to bed.

The next morning, Alice wakes to find all the birds gone from the aviary. She rushes out to seek them, all the while speculating about who might have left the doors open. She manages to catch most of the birds, with Eleanor's help. Yet just when she thinks all might be salvaged, things take a turn for the worse when George, goaded by Albert's jibes, reveals her true identity to everyone at once.

Now, in chapter 35, we're in George's point of view as he swings between contrition and frustration...

How many times in the past few days had he been inordinately rude to her, and she had never once struck back, but calmly rebuked him simply by being the wise and tender creature that she was.

He saw her again in his mind's eye as she had been in the wee hours, gilded by candlelight in his bedroom, making herself free to him. She'd been ready to open, like a scented nightflower that bloomed only in an undiscovered crevice, hidden to all but him.

And he'd ravaged her as though she was wildweed trampled under cartwheels.

Twice now he had betrayed her trust. God forbid there might be a third time.

Eleanor and Lucy scampered off, and Alice was left alone. The girls had taken the cage with them; so all the birds were caught now. Alice wasn't one to sit still, of course, and there she went, rummaging in her handbag. Would she pull out needlework or a book?

She was in the right, he thought. What did it matter now what the others saw or thought? He would go down and talk to her.

He turned aside without waiting to see what busywork she'd take up, and called for Elsie to hand him his crutches.

He was halfway across the verandah before he glanced up, and there stood Albert, bending over Alice and talking softly in her ear. Confound the cad! Ever since he'd arrived he'd sewn nothing but dissent. What did he mean by canoodling with Alice now? They'd be together on the long drive to Montreal, and who knew what he'd try then. It was just like him to start in on her under George's gaze.

He hurried as best he could down to the bottom step, then called out to his brother from there.

"Ah, George," Albert drawled, straightening and setting a hand on his hip. "Why don't you come join us?"

"I'd rather you came here," he said, trying to keep his tone even. It would never do to let Albert see how much he riled him.

"Surely you wouldn't have me leave a lady sitting alone," Albert called. Alice kept her head down, jabbing a needle repeatedly into the piecework on her lap.

He sucked in a breath, then said firmly, "After what you've already done, leaving her in peace might be seen as a blessing."

"What I've done? Dear me, have I caused you any harm?" he asked, looking down at Alice. Jaw set, gaze directed at her needlework, she did not reply.

George was dimly aware of figures crowding onto the verandah behind him, but did not turn to look. A rumble started up down the drive and after a moment Neil came sauntering up from where he'd left the car.

Alice still had not replied.

"I believe it harmful," George said, quieter now. "Releasing a flock of defenceless pets into the wild certainly seems harmful to me."

"You think I had a hand in that? You shock me, my brother."

"I'm sure you can handle it," George snapped. "Nevertheless, that's where the matter stands. Someone left those doors open, someone wished to sabotage the aviary."

"It might have been yourself who let those birds find their freedom. Ah, but I'd forgotten-–that convenient leg of yours. Makes it damnably difficult to get around. Except, of course, when you really want to go after something." Albert stood back and cast a meaningful glance at Alice, then at George.

George followed his brother's gaze. Alice continued to stab with her needle, head hanging, pinned curls framing her cheeks. Even from here, he fancied he caught a glimpse of them flaming red.

They'd shamed her abominably–-he had. Accusing each other over the top of her head, using the birds' plight as a reason to spat over who had more of a claim on her. Why didn't she get up and walk away?

It wouldn't make a difference, he realised. Everyone had heard enough.

There, that made three times he'd betrayed her, mere moments after he'd promised himself he wouldn't.

The best he could do now was get Albert away from her and cease their ridiculous arguing.

"I'm not going to dispute with you," he told his brother. "I wish you a pleasant journey back to the city." He swung about as smoothly as he could and made for the garden. Anywhere that the rest of them weren't.

He could feel their eyes on the back of his head and used the corner of the path to sneak a glance over his shoulder. Yes, they were ranged along the porch rail–-all except Neil on the path and Albert, still hanging about behind Alice.

He'd failed at getting Albert to move, but there was no point in any case; they'd all be in the car soon enough.

He had only one option left, and laid his plans quickly, calling to Eleanor to come to him.

What would you do if you had more time?
Let me know if you do the eight things list!