I’ve been listening to Christmas music for the last month and a half, at least, while writing. That music has been all instrumental and rather relaxing, and I suspect I will be listening to it for that relaxing quality this week as I attempt to finish up what needs to be done before the weekend arrives. There is the decorating to finish, school tests to be completed by my son, baking to do, and groceries to get for our Christmas dinner. It will be a busy week.
I know I have shared Good King Wenceslas before on a Music Monday, but I just can’t resist sharing it again because it is one of my favourite carols and has been since I was just a girl. As I have said in previous posts, I love lyrics that tell a story. That is not a new thing. I have always loved songs like this which tell a story.
Below, are two videos of this carol. The first is short and is just the singing of the lyrics with some lovely pictures to tell the tale. The second is much longer but includes an elaborate telling of the tale of King Wenceslas with the singing of the lyrics interspersed.
Brousseau, Patrick. “Good King Wenceslas.” YouTube, YouTube, 19 Nov. 2009, youtu.be/N5E8CXQwtrg.
MormonTabChoir. “Good King Wenceslas – Jane Seymour and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”YouTube, YouTube, 12 Nov. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=low_UI9zUfk.
I have selected this song today not just because it is a favourite of mine but also because it connects with the story I have coming out tomorrow. Two Days Before Christmas contains acts of charity both for family members and those less fortunate. I will talk briefly about this theme in tomorrow’s Austen Authors post, so I won’t delve into it here.
It is the act of kindness from a king both to the peasant and the page that has endeared this carol to me. On December 19, 1843, one of my favourite Christmas stories was published — A Christmas Carol. Again, it is the eventual acts of kindness by Ebineezer Scrooge are part of what has endeared this tale to me. The other part of the story that I love is the ability for a grumpy, horrid, miserly, old character’s heart to change.
My sister, when she read Two Days Before Christmas, mentioned that there were things which made her think of A Christmas Carol. Those things were not intentionally done. They just happened. For those who have gotten to read the story, you may know which parts those are, but for those who have not read it, I will not spoil the fun. So, I will remain silent on that for now.
Today, as a belated birthday present, my husband took me to see a wonderful movie that I had been longing to see — The Man Who Invented Christmas. There is a part in the movie (without giving too many details) where the ability of a character such as Scrooge was discussed. Two characters, in particular, insist that Scrooge possesses the ability to change and that if Scrooge does not change then the point of the story is lost. Can you imagine the story ending with Tiny Tim dying, and Scrooge going on his way to a cold and lonely grave, remembered and grieved by no one? I would agree that the point of the story — the reason for Marley and the ghosts of Christmas showing up would be lost completely. (And I would venture to guess that not many of us would know what A Christmas Carol was for it would not have been the success that it was.)
So, let’s circle back from this movie tangent to my writing since this post is supposed to be sharing writing news and all that. 🙂
I tend to side with those who were advising Mr. Dickens when it comes to writing my Austen-inspired stories. There are few characters who cannot be “redeemed” — even some that I thought might not be changeable, have proven me wrong. Often, it takes some studying of what their possible backstories might be and discovering fears that lead to a path of restoration.
As you know, in my current work in progress, I have been working with one such character whom many think is unworthy of a happy ending. However, Caroline Bingley, in my opinion, is not as awful as Scrooge, and if Scrooge can change, so can Miss Bingley if she is drawn along by the right motivation — in this case, it is love and not a fearful ghost of Christmas future which provides the motivation and self-reflection. 🙂
I’m coming to the end of this story. In fact, I should have it done before the end of the year. Below is a rather longish excerpt from what I wrote this past week which delves into the change being wrought in Caroline. But remember, I just said the story is coming to an end, so read at your own risk as there may (ok, most likely will) be spoilers! 🙂
Oh, one more thing before I share: If you wish to read the full first draft as it is being created, you can do that by becoming my patron on Patreon. For those who are reading along — the part below has not yet been posted over there as I am still working to catch up to where I am in the story.
AN EXCERPT FROM One Winter’s Eve:
The empty place at the table for breakfast, as well as the lack of whistling in the hallway, had made Caroline’s heart ache. Now, as she attempted to pay attention to the scripture that was being read, she wished to hear the colonel’s voice joined with the rest of the congregation lifted in prayer. She glanced at her brother on her right and then at her sister on her left. How was it that standing here surrounded not only by the whole of the worshiping portion of Meryton but also her family, she felt so small, so isolated, so set apart and alone?
She clamped her lips closed and stifled a yawn. She had not slept well. How could she have? Her heart was unwilling to listen to logic. It was fixed, most steadily and assuredly on the gentleman who was currently missing from their party. She could not fault him for being indisposed, but she could long for him not to be. She knelt and rose, repeated and remained silent as was required, but her mind was not focused as it should be on the words being spoken. As they sat for the sermon, she studied the Bennets. Tomorrow, she would call on them, but today, she felt a stirring within her to begin to mend her ways.
A small smile curled her lips as she remembered with fondness the hours spent with Miss Darcy, talking and looking at fashion plates. It reminded her a bit of how it used to be for her and Louisa. But then, that gnawing fear of failing and being rejected had set in, right around the time when that horrid witch, Miss Smith, had pointed out loudly to one and all who were gathered at that dinner how lacking Caroline was. Caroline could still feel the sting of Miss Smith’s words about her father not being a gentleman. How she had degraded him! And he, being a well-respected man in their community! It was then that Caroline had begun to actively work to hide her ties to trade and had begun to aspire to marry as wealthy and esteemed a gentleman as was possible. A title she knew was beyond her grasp, but the nephew of a man with a title seemed manageable. And now, that man was betrothed to a lady whom Caroline had treated almost as badly as Miss Smith. Caroline had not been vocal in her criticism of the Bennets in public, but in private, she had not held her tongue.
Caroline jumped when Louisa poked her in the side with her elbow.
“It is time to leave,” Louisa hissed. “Are you certain you are well?”
Caroline blinked and nodded. “I was merely woolgathering.”
“I know,” Caroline whispered, “Mama would scold.”
“And with good reason,” Louisa agreed.
Caroline rose and checked the fastening of her pelisse and fiddled with her gloves making certain they were on snugly as she followed Charles out of the church. They would, no doubt, stand around for a few minutes and talk with the Bennets. She was not wrong. Charles headed directly for Jane. Caroline sighed. That was what she wanted — a gentleman who longed to be with her and loved her as her brother loved Jane. It mattered not if he were the captain of a merchant ship or a tenant farmer, though she would prefer him to have an estate.
“Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth,” she said as she joined them. “I would be very pleased if you would do me the honour of dining with us tonight.”
“You would be?”
Caroline gave her brother a pointed look. “Yes, I would be. It is not long until your marriage, and I thought it might be pleasant to give Miss Bennet a tour of Netherfield.”
Charles’s brows drew together. “That would be pleasant.”
Caroline smiled and turned to Jane. “Will you come?”
“She most certainly will,” Mrs. Bennet replied.
“And you, Miss Elizabeth? Will you also join us?”
“Yes, I would like that.”
Though Elizabeth’s words were confident, her eyes held a certain amount of skepticism. Caroline could not fault her for that. They had not been on very friendly terms, and Caroline had attempted to separate Elizabeth’s sister from Charles. “I am glad.” She turned to Charles. “I will await you in the carriage.”
“I will not be long,” he replied.
“Do not hurry on my account,” she said. It was what would be the expected polite thing to be said, but to her, the words did not fall from her lips without meaning. She truly did not wish for him to rush away from Miss Bennet. He was so happy. How had she been willing to take that from him? It was abominable to treat another in such a fashion — especially a brother one loved dearly.
“You are different,” Louisa commented as they walked to the carriage.
“Yes,” replied Louisa. “Hurst do you not think Caroline changed?”
Louisa’s husband shrugged. “She seems more friendly if that is what you mean.”
“Yes, yes, that is it exactly!” Louisa cried.
“Miss Bennet is to be our sister, and Miss Elizabeth is to be Darcy’s wife. It seems only fitting that we should become friends.”
“No, no, it is more than that. You have been friendlier, more contemplative, and well, just more as you used to be before Father died,” Louisa said. “It is more than just accepting our fate.”
Caroline chuckled. It had a lot to do with accepting her fate — accepting that she was the daughter of a tradesman who could run a home as well as any gentleman’s daughter, that she was a sister who wished to see her brother happy no matter the lineage of the lady he loved, that she had never been able to capture the heart of a wealthy nephew of an earl, and that she loved a man who was not at all the sort she would choose but was precisely the sort she wished to hear say he was proud of her. Of course, she would not say any of that to her sister.
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