Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Historical Fiction


Layden Lady

by vixeyt


LAYDEN LADY

This story has been retold based on letter and diary entries from Lucile Layden, Robert Layden and Andrew Layden. Some of the story is based on the activities of one of Lucile's maids, Nancy Kelson.

The cries of a child, a baby, rang out clearly and sharply into the night. The snow outside whirled around, engaged in a dance of freedom. The cold air froze the very hearts of those outside and it did mine. The baby I hled in my arms was that of Elizabeth Berry. She was on her bed and beads of sweat still glistened on her face even though she was dead. Elixabeth was dead and along with it was the Berry family name. The reason for this was that the child in my arms would not live for very long. All of the fortunes of the Berry family would go to me and I would become safe, rich and secure and who knows. Some day I might become a husband and a father.

"Hello Lucile. My beautiful baby daughter." Lucile raised her fist into the air and punched me in the face as hard as she could.

" You are a smart one. It's too bad that you won't live for much longer. You would have become a daughter I could be proud of. I might not have to kill you. What do you say to that?" Her reply was unmistakably clear. She squirmed in my arms and kicked her two tiny legs out with the most strength she could muster into my gut.

"Then again. You would be too much of a liability to me if you were alive." I placed Lucile onto the bed next to her mother's lifeless body. I walked out of the room and came back moments later with a cloack fastened tightly and I lifted Lucile up into my arms again. She began to murmer softly as I ran out into the icy cold of the night. She was wrapped in a small bundle of bedsheets and as the cold hit her she began to shudder in my arms and so did I. I finally reached my destination and I felt my cloack whip around me as I dropped the baby into the icy cold water of the river. I watched as a hrill scream was realeased as Lucile rounded a corner. I stood there, watching the rivers waters rushing past me then I dissapeared into the darkness.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
84 Reviews


Points: 1698
Reviews: 84

Donate
Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:42 pm
nickelodeon says...



Oooo! I forgot to mention!

I'm pretty sure Lucile is usually spelled Lucille with 2 L's. Obviously it doesn't matter, but i thought i'd enlighten you if you didn't already know.

Very pretty name by the way. Fits the time period.




User avatar
84 Reviews


Points: 1698
Reviews: 84

Donate
Sat Apr 07, 2007 7:40 pm
nickelodeon wrote a review...



It was intriguing. (hahaha i love that word!) Seriously, though, it did catch my attention and made me want to continue reading.

Suggestions:

In the first line, consider using hyphens to seperate "a baby."

"The reason for this was that the child in my arms would not live for very long." THis is an extremely blunt line. Could you ease into any bettery or make it flow?

Logic:
Is the villain her father? Make it clearer, whatever relation he is to her.

I'm confused as to why he dropped her in the river. If you don't want to weave a whole story around him and his crazy motives, i'm good with that. Just explain what you mean by liability, etc. It seems like you created him lazily. (Don't worry,,I'm the same way. That's why i can never think of a good story!)




User avatar
402 Reviews


Points: 1586
Reviews: 402

Donate
Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 am
Wiggy says...



Ooo...gruesome! I shivered when he dropped the baby into the river. Please say she survived?




User avatar
1258 Reviews


Points: 6090
Reviews: 1258

Donate
Fri Mar 02, 2007 1:02 am
Sam wrote a review...



Hey!

Ooh, some more historical fiction and girls who kick butt. :wink: Let's get to your critique, shall we?

BAD GUY SYNDROME:

Bad guys seem simple- deceptively so. We just make them do bad things, and then the readers boo and hiss and throw rotten fruit, right?

...well, not really.

Your bad guy was more of a Disney bad guy. He's exceedingly cruel to little children...for the gain of money. No reason but the cash, and there's no trace of remorse at dumping a small girl into an icy river.

That's kind of boring. No offense, but I'd much rather eat my rotten fruit than read about him. :wink: Let's look at a few types of villains you could use that are still kind of melodramatic but much, much more interesting:

THE DISNEY BAD GUY, UPGRADED: [Muck, from the "Bloody Jack" books by L.A. Meyer]

Muck is a Bad Guy. He kills orphan children and other types of 'street rats' that end up getting sick or into fights, and sells them to the anatomist for 'scientific gain' and quite a bit of cash.

I think you'll agree that is inexcusable behavior, but...look! A bit of uniqueness, and a more complicated motive than getting even more rich!

The fact that there's an Anatomist around looking for dead corpses is interesting in itself, besides the fact that Muck is in a battle for survival, himself. No rich person would be caught dead (haha, no pun intended) in the streets of London, picking up residual bodies from gang wars to sell, so he's obviously in an impoverished position.

If you've read the book, he's also got kind of an interesting way of speaking- using the interesting Cockney slang and syntax.

if you want this kind of villain, you either need to be the greatest writer on earth or have an amazing, kill-your-competition answer to these questions:

What is this guy's motive? [If your answer is 'Money', and your answer to Why does he have money? is 'to get rich' or 'just 'cause', you need to rewrite him].

What makes him unique- in manners, speech, etc.? [This is just basic character development. Villains don't just pop up out of the ground, do they?]

What is unique about his surroundings? How does he use them- or bring in new things? [Setting is very important for crimes, as is weapons, materials, and other such items. A villain in present day Boston using a musket to do his dirty work is certainly interesting- elaborate on the reasoning and you've got your readers hooked.]

___

THE ACCIDENTAL VILLAIN: [Evidence Goring, from "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation" by M.T. Anderson]

Uhm...yeah, I do have a bit of a thing for books set in the 1700s.:wink:

Anyway, Evidence is a solidier in the Continental Army, and one day this solemn black boy comes into his camp, asking for work- a black boy who speaks Greek and Latin and French and can play the violin like no other.

And then, a bunch of rich men come in asking about this black boy, and how they would hire him and make his life better- and of course, Evidence is happy to brag all about his friend's talents and gifts. But- oops!- these men are slave-catchers come to take the black boy back into captivity.

You want to hate Ev, you really do, but he was only trying to help his friend out.

This is a strategy that takes a lot of work to do, but will perhaps make your readers more involved in the story (the readers knowing whether or not something is a good decision based on your descriptions on people and places in the story is a very good thing. That's when the rotten fruit flies).

If you're really sneaky, you can use first person, but it's usually best to use third person omniscent when you're writing with this type of villain or circumstance. If you've got absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, consult Cal's latest "Soap Box Oration" in the Writing Tips forum.

What you want to do is to set up a character that would make even the hardest of hearts soften- someone who's kind, likeable, always does the best things, blah blah blah. (What you don't want to happen is to have people say, "Oh, that rascal, I knew he'd do something like that". While a character always careening towards disaster is amusing, it's predictable and therefore your readers will get very, very bored unless you have something shiny to distract them with.)

And then you need another character, in a precarious situation.

You could take your villain, and make him an innocent, caring man coming home from work- and your Lucille, a child wandering along the riverside. Your villain, in a cheerful mood, offers her a piece of honey candy, not knowing that Lucille is deathly allergic to honey. Lucille eats it, and soon goes into anaphylactic shock- and this being sometime in antiquity, there's no epinephrine present. Villain, not knowing what to do and not wanting to appear the criminal, dumps her into the river.

And then he comes into money, as he's a relative of this family that died in the plague, blah blah blah.

Just sit with a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm all sorts of cool little plot twists that'll make your readers entertained and tie up loose ends.

GOOD COP/BAD COP:

This is the type of villain that is bad, but also...good? It's very hard to comprehend, but I'll put it simply- the sort of villain that is essential to a certain character, but is also terrible and horrible at the same time.

Perhaps your story is set in a war-torn land under mob rule. If Lucille went out onto the streets, she'd surely die or having something equally awful happen to her (and make sure the reader is aware of this). Your villain is her caretaker, but he abuses her and sometimes neglects to feed her.

Would it be worth it for Lucille to risk sneaking out onto the streets for an almost-certain deatH?

...that kind of suspense is what's going to keep people turning pages. :wink:

____

"SPY KIDS", "SUPER BABIES", "BIG FAT LIAR" AND WHY THEY DON'T APPEAL TO PEOPLE OVER THE AGE OF EIGHT:

When you're eight, it sure is fun to watch kids kick the butts of people three, four times their age. It's simple, right? A simple punch to the nose or crotch of an adult, and they're down, leaving you in the position to rob a bank or overthrow the government or whatever it is that you want to do.

But something happens when you turn nine. You realize that adults are big and scary and much stronger than you are- and therefore, such movies are laughably innacurate.

Uhm, sure, Lucille's going to punch this big scary guy who's perhaps killed the rest of her family without crying or screaming or anything.

Why am I making such a big fuss over one line?

It's the sort of mistake that's going to make people put down your book. Readers are mean, that's the bottom line- and this is the type of mistake that was done kind of...irreverently. You might be tempted to make it again. :wink:

But, oh, thank goodness, the Reality Police are afoot!

A few quick tips, just in case you're ever in doubt of a situation:

- IS IT EVEN PHYSICALLY PLAUSIBLE? ...I once had a cannonball drop on the lap of a character in a battle scene. I thought it sounded all right, but then my mom quickly explained that that would most likely break your hips, femur, feet- and whatever else lay in the way. Cannonballs of the type I meant would weigh six to eight kilos, and at a free fall- 9.8m/s/s before terminal velocity- it would be traveling with a force of 70 Newtons [around the amount of force of me jogging]. Me jogging into your legs= ouchie.

So, do the math, do the science, do the research- do whatever it takes to make sure that your readers aren't laughing for all the wrong reasons.

- IF YOU WERE BRAVER, STRONGER, ETC. WOULD YOU DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT? There's a distinct line when some stunts get to be idiotic. Don't have your characters dive off bridges just for a laugh.

- MIGHT THIS HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE? (A culmination of the first two parts. :wink:) "This is fiction!" you might cry, but really, truth is stranger than fiction. If it couldn't happen in real life, then it definitely ain't happening in your story.

___

Ooh! I can't wait to see how this turns out- I'm betting Lucille's coming back with a vengeance. Your subject line said something about 'defying her sex'- that's tough for HF writers to do. You'll have to detail for me what you do. I'm having quite a bit of trouble with an unruly girl...:wink:

Do PM me if you've got any questions, or if you've posted more. :D




User avatar
113 Reviews


Points: 890
Reviews: 113

Donate
Thu Mar 01, 2007 10:37 pm
writergirl007 wrote a review...



"The cries of a child, a baby, rang out clearly and sharply into the night."
Don't use both child and baby. Just one or the other.

"The cold air froze the very hearts of those outside and it did mine. "
Add as after and. This will sound better. XD

"The baby I hled in my arms was that of Elizabeth Berry. She was on her bed and beads of sweat still glistened on her face even though she was dead. Elixabeth was dead and along with it was the Berry family name."
Don't say her name or that she was dead twice! Try this: "The young baby I held in my arms belonged to that of Elizabeth Berry. She lie on the bed, beads of sweat still glistening on her still form. She was dead, and, along with her, the cherished Berry family name."

" I finally reached my destination and I felt my cloack whip around me as I dropped the baby into the icy cold water of the river."
Change this a little bit so that it captures you're reader's attention. If you always start your sentence with'I' then you will lose your reader. Try this: "Finally reaching my destination, I felt my cloak whip around me as I dropped the baby into the icy cold waters of the river below."
Also, paint more of a picture. Which river? Where are we? Is it night? Is it day? Did she just die? I assume she died giving child birth.

"I watched as a hrill scream was realeased as Lucile rounded a corner."
'hrill' should be shrill. Again, this does not flow. Try this, "As Lucile released a shrill scream, I watched intently until she was no longer in sight." Or something like that.

"I stood there, watching the rivers waters rushing past me then I dissapeared into the darkness."
You already said that she was watching, do you need to repeat that? Here is my suggestion: "As the river rushed past me, I stood there, thinking upon the innocent child. Then I turned, leaving the awful seen and dissapered into the suffocating (or welcoming) darkness."

I can't say if I like this or not. THere is not much to the story and I hardly know what is happening. For instance, did she have to walk a far ways? Or was the river close? Did the baby start crying or screaming as it fell? Did it fall? What does her master's room look like? What does the baby look like? What does the women look like? I mean, add something to this, please! 007





I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can't stop eating peanuts.
— Orson Welles