Charles Web Journal

My blog is intended to show how I construct and write a historical novel. It will be a journal of my daily writing activity, as I write a new historical novel.

Location: Evansburg, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired school teacher with a B. Ed in English literature a B.A. in History. After a long career as a teacher of English and history, I now write historical novels based on Canadian history.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

An excerpt

Claude, here is a snippet of the first chapter of the novel of my WIP. It's the first draft so it will probably be revised in the rewrite. I hope you will find it of some benefit.

Chapter One—The Orphan—Fort Calgary, 1880
Daniel removed the copper kettle from the mud and wattle fireplace of the small log cabin that he and his parents, Robert and Angeline Martin, called home. For the past three days he attended them, as they lay ill on the narrow bunk along the west wall.
As he poured water into the small pot he used to prepare tea, he turned to the bunk. “Maman, how are you this morning?” A groan was his only answer.
“Daniel, you mother is not better. She had a very bad night.” Robert raised himself to his right elbow.
“Papa, are you better?”
“I think so…but not much.”
“Do you want some tea?” Daniel cocked his head questioningly.
His father nodded.
“What about Maman?”
Robert turned to his moaning wife. “Ma chère, do you want some tea? Daniel is preparing some for us.”
A deep whimper was the only answer.
“Your mother is too sick.”
“Papa, what can we do? Should I get the doctor?” The small cabin was outside the stockade of Fort Calgary, the North West Mounted Police post, at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers in the southwest corner of the District of Alberta, a territory of the North West Territories of Canada.
Robert shook his head. “What can he do?”
“I don’t know…but he will be more able than I am.”
“Son, you are doing a good job.” Robert gazed at his fifteen-year-old son with glazed, fever-filled eyes.
“But you and Maman are not getting better. I think you have the pox!”
Robert dropped to his back, heaving a great sigh. He shivered. Daniel is probably right, he mused. “I am getting better. I’m not so hot.” He reached with his right hand to feel his wife’s head. “And Maman is not as hot either. I think we are over it.”
His wife groaned but lifted her head as she whispered, “I feel better. I will have some tea.”
Daniel smiled. “I’m glad to hear that you are feeling better, Maman.”
“Thank goodness its not the pox…just the grippe. I’m feeling better too.”
“Papa, I’m happy to hear that.” Daniel turned back to preparing the tea.
For several moments, a deep silence filled the small room except for the clang of metal against metal as Daniel pour the steeped tea into two tin cups. Then he brought the steaming containers to his parents.
Both hoisted themselves to a sitting position as he handed each a cup. Daniel smiled. This was the best his parents appeared for the past three days.
His father took the vessel in both hands, sniffed at the contents, and smiled. “I feel so much better. I think I’ll get up.”
“Papa, you better rest some more. You’re not completely well yet. Neither is Maman.”
Robert nodded. “Maman needs more rest…but I think I’m well enough….”
“How are you, Maman?” Daniel reached to touch his mother’s hand. It felt cool. “I think you are better.”


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