I woke up the other morning at 3 A.M. and there she was, like an even ashier Cinderella. She was tiny, scrawny, brown and dirty. Her hair was a mess, her tongue as sharp as an adder. She was my unlikely heroine for my unlikely hero Andrew, and she was still nameless. I kept thinking of the fabulous Shakespeare Re-Told Taming of the Shrew. Shirley Henderson played Kate, and while a bit over the top, kind of fit my mental profile. So here’s when Andrew first meets Miss Peartree:
He tiptoed down the hallway as quietly as he ever had eluding a suspicious wife or husband, coming at last to the kitchen. A raggedy serving girl dressed in what appeared to be stray Tartans and tablecloths was bent over an empty fireplace, a pitiful pile of sticks on the hearth. At the sound of his footstep on the bare slate floor she turned and shrieked.
Some of Andrew’s childhood Gaelic had come back to him the further north he’d come. Immersion with the village women earlier had helped a bit too. “Gabh mo leithsceal.” Excuse me.
“Does bloody anyone in this bloody place speak any bloody English?” the girl muttered.
She looked like a street urchin. Her brown hair was a nest, her pointed, unfashionably brown face was smudged and her brown skirts muddied. She was so very brown. Surely she couldn’t be—
“Miss Peartree?” Andrew asked, praying not.
The little wren’s mouth hung open like a baby bird waiting to be fed. Then she looked like she tasted the worm. “Oh, good lord. Mr. Rossiter?” She curtseyed, nearly tripping on twigs.
A little later on in the day, she became Gemma, because she is a jewel just waiting to be polished.
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to write?