Use little moments to enrich your hero (or heroine)–the classic “man with a baby” thing. When done right, it’s powerful. This photo, for example, says a lot.
Not the child’s trusting expression, but the man’s. His affection leaps off the page. Those fond eyes, that tiny smile. Writing friend, you need this in your novel.
In Darcy By Any Other Name we see that Mr. Collins was called to the pastorate not by God, but by his desire for a secure career. He’s the kind of rector who will sink a congregation. How will Darcy-as-Collins fare? Rather better, as it turns out. But I don’t tell the reader, I show her through a Little Moment.
And today’s Little Moment is rather long! (Sorry!) I’m including more than usual so that you can see what I mean.
“If you please, sir,” said a small voice at Darcy’s elbow. “It’s Hobbes, sir. If you wouldn’t mind saying a prayer for him?”
It took Darcy a moment to remember that he was a clergyman.
She was a slip of a girl, perhaps the scullery or maid-of-all-work. “He’s just there,” she said, and pointed to a chair where a boy sat huddled under blankets.
Were there tears in her eyes? He was forcibly reminded of Georgiana.
“Not now, Kate,” said Mrs. Nicholls. “The rector has more important matters to attend to.”
And so he had. Still Darcy hesitated. The girl was trembling. She was quite young, perhaps eleven or twelve. The work apron she wore hung on her thin frame.
“I apologize for her manners,” Mrs. Nicholls said briskly. “Kate and her brother are new to us. If you will just follow me, please?”
“Just a moment,” said Darcy. He bent to address Kate. “Hobbes is your brother?” She nodded. “We’ll have a little word, then.”
Collins’ shoes were wet; as he walked the leather made spongy sounds. And no wonder, for his stockings were soaked through.
“If you please,” chided Mrs. Nicholls. “We should not keep Mr. Darcy waiting.”
Did everyone feel free to order Collins about? “In a moment,” Darcy told her. He turned to Kate.
“As you see,” he confided, “I am in need of dry stockings. Fortunately, Mr. Fleming has thought ahead.” He retrieved a pair from the valise and returned to the fireplace. Hobbes was a year or two older than his sister and was also quite thin.
“Hello, Hobbes,” said Darcy, finding a seat near the hearth. “Hats off for braving the snow and without snowshoes too. A courageous feat, to soldier on so far. No wonder you’re worn to the bone.”
“T’ain’t nothing, sir,” said Hobbes. His eyes found the floor.
“Having walked those miles myself, I cannot agree. And now you are injured.”
“Not much, sir.”
“Fleming?” Darcy said over his shoulder. “Have a look?”
While Fleming examined Hobbes’ foot, Darcy removed Collins’ shoes and stripped off the socks. The dry pair felt heaven-sent.
“Not a bad sprain,” Fleming remarked. “Mind that you keep off your feet for several days.”
At this Hobbes looked truly frightened, and Darcy understood it. Employment at Netherfield meant a great deal to this family.
“I’ll speak to Mr. Bingley on your behalf,” Darcy promised. “And in the meanwhile, while you are off your feet…” He dug in Collins’ pocket and pulled out several coins. “This is for your trouble,” he said. “A brave deed deserves a reward.”
Color came into Hobbes’ thin cheeks. “Thank you, sir.”
“Not at all. Now then, your sister wishes us to say a little prayer.”
“Mr. Collins?” called Mrs. Nicholls from across the kitchen.
Darcy gave her a quelling look. “Shall we pray?” he said crisply. At once she bowed her head and shushed the others in the kitchen.
Collins would have had a prayer book to read from, but Darcy was not so equipped. He would have to improvise.
“Father in heaven,” he said, scorning to use Collins’ unctuous tone, “I thank You that You are…”
He opened one eye. It occurred to him that Hobbes and his sister were country people.
“…that you are the Good Shepherd,” Darcy went on, “and that You watch over your sheep. You saw Hobbes, here, when he was struggling alone in the snow, and You brought him safely back. We pray for his healing, and for the health of his family, and we thank You for his sister’s loving care.
“Thank you, too, for bringing a physician for the, ah, gentleman above-stairs. And that no one else need venture out on his behalf. In the name of our Savior.”
The others echoed his Amen. Darcy tied Collins’ shoes and rose to his feet. The eyes of Hobbes and his sister were shining. “And now I must obey Mrs. Nicholls,” he whispered, “or face a scold.”
He was answered with a pair of shy smiles.
Tomorrow we’ll have M for Manipulation. Thanks much for stopping by!
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