A Writer's Journey

April 30, 2012

“The Conference House” Blurb

Filed under: journey,The Conference House,writing — mackenziew @ 12:00 am
Tags: , , ,

In last week’s post, I discussed rewriting my opening. I regret that I didn’t save my original one. I would’ve loved to shown you both, but that’s me thinking in hindsight. At the time, I just hit the “delete” button rather than “copy” and “paste” into another document. So, you’ll only get to see my new opening.

Summary: In the summer of 1776, British troops landed on Staten Island in New York in preparation to take the colony and isolate New England. After months of Whig oppression and occupation, the mostly Loyalist residents welcome the British with open arms.

Annemie Visser is one of those residents. Employed as a maid in the household of Christopher Billopp, she inadvertently finds herself immersed in the war. As it engulfs her life, Annemie finds herself torn. Torn between her father and brother’s support of the war and her mother’s hope for peaceful conclusion. Torn between her friend Miles, an ardent Patriot, and her budding relationship with Nicholas, a British soldier.

All these forces in Annemie’s life end up tied to a fateful meeting held on September 11, 1776 at Billopp’s house.

Blurb: Where did all these men come from? Have they been hiding in the woods all this time, rising from the mists?

Annemie Visser stood on her tiptoes, trying to see over the hats of the ladies surrounding her. She silently cursed her average height, wishing to grow a few more inches taller. At sixteen years of age, it was no longer possible. Annoyed, she turned to her younger brother Hans. At fifteen, he stood a head taller than she. “Can you see anything?” she asked.

He shook his head, blond ponytail whipping about. “Too many people,” he replied. Craning his neck, he searched away from the crowd. Hans gently took her arm. “Follow me.”

Following her brother’s lead, the Visser siblings found an open space a ways from the crowd. The two had spent childhood days playing around the village of Richmond. Hans spotted a rather large tree they had often climbed after Sunday services at nearby St. Andrew’s. He climbed up quickly, leaning down to offer a hand to his sister.

Annemie stared at it. “It’s not ladylike to climb trees,” she told him.

“Who is going to notice, Annie? Everyone is facing away.” As Annemie continued to hesitate, Hans blew out in exasperation. “Do you wish to see the ceremony or not?”

She did. Taking her brother’s hand, Annemie quickly found her footing. Holding her skirts in one hand and with her brother’s help, she was soon sitting in the tree.

From their perch, the siblings had one of the best views of the gathering. If Annemie thought there had been many men when she was on the ground, their numbers appeared to multiply from above. They stood row after row, wearing their Sunday best. This varied depending on the man’s status, deciding whether he wore silk or cotton. All had their heads covered by sharp tri-corner hats.

Standing before these men were several British officers, crisp red uniforms standing out. Polished swords gleamed in the summer sun as they hung by their sides. Black boots were shined to the point they gleamed and the wigs they wore were powdered as white as the snow that blanketed the island in the winter. The officers were an awe-inspiring sight.

Every British soldier was a welcome presence on Staten Island. The first half of the year had been filled with threats and fighting between the residents of the island who wished to remain loyal to the British and the dissidents who had seized control of the governments of both New York and New Jersey. Unlawful edicts, as Annemie’s father called them, had been issued forth from the Whigs. They forced the islanders to elect representatives to a congress that showed no concern toward their wishes, issued boycotts when merchants continued to have business with British soldiers and sent soldiers to patrol their villages.

“Claim the British are oppressive and what do they do? Oppress us!” her brother Reuben complained. He raised his voice as they passed a Whig soldier. “Bunch of hypocrites they are!”

The soldier stopped his patrol, hand going for his rifle. Afraid for their safety, Annemie took her brother’s arm and dragged him down a path. The Whig patrols were filled with men from New Jersey, allowing the native Islanders to use their knowledge of the land to their advantage. Annemie knew the path well; she had run down it many times as a girl with her friends. It was the long way back to their house, but it gave Reuben time to calm down before he got into any trouble.

Reuben stood amongst the men now. Annemie and Hans could see him, standing in one of the middle rows. He stood between his friend James and their cousin Thomas. The three had spent the morning cleaning their faces and polishing shoes. One could not sign up for the British army without looking his best.

(From “The Conference House,” Chapter 1)

Copyrighted 2012 Alexandria Brim/Grace Mackenzie Ness. All Rights Reserved.


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