Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Master Passion~~A snippet from the cutting room

I wrote and rewrote A Master Passion for a period of fifteen years, ending with a novel well over a 1000 pages long. Some scenes, especially those in the beginning which dealt with the far less well-known Elizabeth Schuyler, were cut. This scene, telling us more about the future Mrs. Hamilton, was among the ones that (sadly, I think) fell by the wayside.



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           Colonel Tench Tilghman had come north to Albany, an emissary from the Continental Congress, to attend a parley with the Indians.  General Schuyler and the Americans wished to obtain assurances of neutrality before the war with Britain broke out. 
            Today, though, as if there was no great war on the horizon, Tilghman and a group of young Albany gentry had taken a picnic to the falls at Cohoes, which he had been told was "one of the notable sights of the region."  The Colonel, accompanied Betsy in a steep climb to get a close up look at the top of the falls.


             The path Miss Schuyler elected was surprisingly bad. There were rocks to scramble over and briar patches to negotiate, but she appeared to enjoy this sort of rough ramble. At first Tilghman wondered if this was one of these feminine games which would end with her leaning helplessly upon his arm, but he was more than surprised when this dainty-looking miss kept pace with him. The way to the top was almost vertical, frequently necessitating an undignified down-on-all-fours attack. 
            At the breathless summit, they paused, panting and admiring the view. Tilghman experienced an unexpected rush of pleasure. The young woman's easy manner made him almost feel comfortable, even though they were now completely alone together.
            Pray God I do not have to reveal my wretched broken heart to another lady in search of a husband...
            The way she'd brought him to this splendid sight, agile and uncomplaining as a boy, demonstrated that she'd made the climb many times.


            "Come, Colonel Tilghman!" Betsy called over the noise of falling water.  "The best view is from here."

            Stockings flashing, revealing shapely calves, she scaled the last rock.  Tilghman, following her, had the insouciant thought that the best view might possibly be from exactly where he was. 

           When he reached the height, he found himself an arm's length from enormous quantities of green water hurtling over a narrow lip.  Falling, it became a spectacular white veil.  The ground beneath his feet shook alarmingly.

            Beside him on that rocky shelf, Betsy dropped to her knees, then stretched out on her stomach to get as close as possible to the roaring water. 

          "Do come, Colonel."

          Thunder sounded on every side.  The quick climb, vertigo, the sight of a lady young stretched at full length on the ground, left him almost giddy.

           The wind shifted and spray blew into their faces.   Betsy turned and smiled, a dazzling white flash against her nut-brown skin...



~~Juliet Waldron


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