Here are some bits of BB. Enjoy!
Light dawned over Chauncey’s face. “Why not?” he said. He looked at Grimm’s nonyielding expression. “Look, Grimm, if we want to get out of here someday, we must grasp at every chance we get.”
For a moment, Grimm looked like he was weighing the possibilities in his mind. The other three held their breaths in hope. Even Annie stopped her sweeping to watch his face.
Then Grimm shook his head. “No way,” he said. “There are too many things that can go wrong.”
Annie sighed and returned to her sweeping.
Chauncey opened his hands expressively. “But should that stop us from taking a chance? Come on, Grimm,” he pleaded.
Grimm stood to his feet. “If you want to take the chance, then ask him,” he said, with a jerk of his head indicating the master’s bedroom. “I wash my hands of it.”
Rounding a corner in the path, she suddenly saw it. There were big iron gates, covered in ivy. The mansion behind them was dark and in ill-repair. It didn’t look like anyone had lived there for an hundred years.
“This must be the Rottly place,” Belle commented to her cat, who was nowhere to be seen. Slowly she approached the gates. “I don’t see how Ronald Leen could have seen smoke from THAT place.”
The gates were slightly ajar. Belle wrapped her fingers around the cold metal and stared at the mansion. “Someone lived there once,” she said aloud. Somehow, even as foreboding at the place appeared, it tickled her story-loving mind and she wanted to know about its previous inhabitants. “Too late for that now,” she murmured. “They’ve been gone for a century or more.” Belle turned away from the gate as if closing the back cover of a book.
The entire village had gathered in the town square. Belle pressed into the throng, trying to see the cause of this universal turnout. In the center of the crowd there was an open space. But the attraction was not her papa nor his machine. Instead, the village had gathered around two people – Curt Hanson and the stranger from the forest – creating a large ring around them. The two men each had a long, stout stick, and they were dueling like two swordsmen.
“What’s going on?” Belle asked, shouting above the noise.
A couple of men from the village turned to answer her. “You know how Curt loves a good game of crossing sticks,” one said, grinning.
The other man shook his head, his eyes already bright with victory. “Nobody can beat Curt Hanson,” he said.
“Only a stranger doesn’t know that – and this one will find out soon enough, eh?” rejoined the first man, still grinning.
The stranger was proving to be Curt’s most able opponent yet. Both men were drenched with sweat, their bodies coiled like springs ready to launch their next onslaught. Curt’s eyes were lit with the fire of the fight.
Clatter! Clang! Clang! The two opponents rushed at each other, twirling their sticks in offense and defense. Each blow by one was parried by the other. A collective sigh went up from the crowd as both men dropped back to circle one another.
“How long have they been at this?” Belle asked.
But no one answered. The men in the crowd now held their fists as though they were the ones wielding the sticks. Women, with their hands on their hips, peered around, unwilling to miss any of the excitement. And the girls watched with hands clasped, all rooting for the handsome hometown boy.
They were at it again. Clack! Clack! Clack! Their sticks crashed together with tremendous force. Suddenly, Curt found the opening he sought. He brought his stick down across the stranger’s head. Thwack! The stranger had not been able to parry fully, and he staggered as blood poured from his head. Curt spun his stick catching the stranger in the ribs. The stranger fell, gasping, to the ground.
Time stood still for a moment as the stranger caught his breath. Belle’s stomach felt queasy at the sight of the stranger’s blood. But the stranger smiled, ruefully, and wiped the blood from his face. “Good game,” he croaked, hoarsely. He coughed, and pushed himself to his knees. “I didn’t think I could be beaten by a villager.”
It was probably Chauncey, talking in his sleep. The social butterfly was meeting people in his dreams now. Grimm made a face and lay down again.
By the way, I am over 23k words into BB now!