Plinky.com asked me to write a scene in the style of a historical fiction novel.
The contratemps had left Mr Prendergast angry; Isabella could be such a traditionalist, and were he to accept her father's odd-shaped proposal, he worried that their life together might remain buried in the pursuit of family, wealth and social standing; and that Isabella would remain a steadfast barrier to happiness. His anger was a tumescent cloud, darkening ill-conceived horizons.
He strode purposefully through the kitchen garden. With each footfall, his boots and riding britches met lavender, basil and camomile, releasing spumes of odiferous luxury into an open-armed summer's day. Dust and pollen caught in the fine hairs of his luxurious moustache.
She would follow him, he knew; she would gather her skirts in her hands and run with small, pidgeon steps over the cobbled-stone of the kitchen garden. She would simper. When she pleaded with him to stay, she would speak short… words… with… gaps… between.. them… onlytorushthenextfewtogether.
Here now, the sound of her footfalls, the rustle of her skirts.
"Mr Prendergast," she called after him.
He stopped walking, resolute in his conviction to not provide her the satisfaction of his turn; a sheep on the opposing hillside would do; he focused upon it with the intensity of a hunting wolf.
"Mr… Prendergast," she continued, closer now, "I… should… very… much… like… tospeakwithyoubeforeyouleave."
He would not turn.
"Will… you… not… turntospeakwithme?"
He was quiet for a moment; despite his attention to the ovine, an image of her in the pantry intruded upon his sight. Reaching up for the flour, focused upon gaining the necessary ingredients for her baking. She had been oblivious to his presence in that moment, consumed in her own endeavours. That quiet, quiet moment. She had seemed at ease.
"What would you have me say?" he spoke into the air.
She didn't respond; he could hear her breathing behind him. She was waiting.
Mr Prendergast turned to face Isabella.
"Your father believes we should wed, Isabella," he said, "he has proposed a pact."
"He… has… proposed?"
"Unusual, I should say. Is it not a fair expectation that a man propose to his future wife? Is it not traditional for him to do so?"
There it was, that stubborn streak of tradition running through Isabella like an iron bar. That was what she was, a machine of iron and rivets. There was no care in her for the release of the alternative, the pursuit of the path less travelled. She was rigid, unbending.
Mr Prendergast raised himself to his full height.
"No, Isabella," he said clearly and forcefully, the early sunlight catching his immense moustache, "he has proposed… to me."