This is probably the easiest blog post–well, one of two–to write on this blog tour. Why? Because most of it was already written. It’s a sneak peek into Lily of the Valley. But first, a little news. Then the sneak peek. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway.
I HAVE A BOOK COVER FOR LILY OF THE VALLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
*Ahem* Sorry. I got a little carried away there. I may have the cover, but I’m going to have to make you wait a little while. I don’t know exactly when I’ll reveal it to the public, but within the next month or so. Anyway, on to other things. Like the excerpt.
For those who have read A Mighty Fortress, some of these names will sound familiar. They’re just a few years older. Enjoy!
With the first three weeks of school over, Ruth expected the next week or more to be a trial. The children were now comfortable with her and could start testing her limits.
During the time when Ruth worked with the youngest students on their reading and the older students did their assigned math problems, Ruth heard a suspicious noise and looked toward the back of the room.
“Jeremiah Carson!” Ruth said sharply.
Jeremiah flinched and looked at Ruth. “Yes, Miss Brookings?”
“What do you have in your hand?”
Ruth stood up, a stern look on her face. “Open it,” she demanded as she approached him. The eyes of all the students were on the two of them.
Jeremiah opened his hand and a large frog blinked at her. Ruth forced herself to hold her ground while the girls closest to Jeremiah screeched and moved away from the frog.
Ruth put her right hand on her hip and pointed toward the door with her other hand. “Get it outside right now. And get back in here as soon as it is.”
Jeremiah tried to keep the grin off his face. “Yes, Ma’am.”
The rest of the morning went as smoothly as it could after the rude interruption. During lunch, however, a scream from outside sent Ruth racing out the door.
One of the girls’ lunch pails was on the ground and a very unhappy frog hopped away from the pail. Ruth locked eyes with the laughing Jeremiah and she marched out to him. Jeremiah looked around trying to find a place to hide, but he was surrounded by his friends. Jeremiah tried to get their attention, but by the time he did, Ruth had gently moved John out of the way. She grabbed Jeremiah by the ear and pulled him out of his group of friends.
“What was that for?” Jeremiah asked when Ruth let go of his ear. He rubbed the ear and glared at her.
Ruth kept her stern gaze on Jeremiah’s face. “Did you put the frog outside when I told you to?”
Jeremiah swallowed hard. “No, Ma’am.”
“I thought it would be more fun…”
“More fun?” Ruth interrupted. “More fun to scare a girl half to death and ruin her lunch?” She put her hands on her hips and closed her eyes. “Have you eaten your lunch yet, Jeremiah?” She looked into his face.
Jeremiah’s eyes grew wide. “Nooo.”
Ruth looked around. “Go get your lunch and give it to Hope right now. And I will be watching you the entire time. When you give her the lunch, apologize to her and make it sincere. Then come with me to the schoolhouse and sit in the front row. When I’m ready, I’ll talk to you and figure out how else I should punish you.”
As Jeremiah walked to the pail next to Clem’s feet, his stomach grumbled and he scowled. A whole day without lunch. He gave his lunch pail to Hope an mumbled an apology then trudged next to Ruth back to the schoolhouse. Once inside, he chose the front row desk furthest from Ruth.
Ruth slowly finished her lunch and read some of the essays the children had turned in. When she got to Jeremiah’s, she picked up the piece of paper and flipped it over. She glanced at Jeremiah and saw him picking at a scratch in the desktop. She looked back at the piece of paper and set it aside.
After finishing the last of the essays, Ruth stood up, picked up Jeremiah’s essay and sat in the desk next to him. “Can you explain your behavior this morning?”
Jeremiah shrugged. “No.”
“So you have no idea why you brought the frog inside or ruined Hope’s lunch?”
“I wanted to.”
Jeremiah grunted and crossed his arms. “Hope is annoying. She’s always acting like she’s better’n everybody else.”
Ruth tapped her fingers on the desk. “Who made you the judge of that?”
Jeremiah wrinkled his nose, but didn’t answer.
Ruth sighed. She would have to talk with his father about this and let him deal with it. “And how do you explain this?” She held the paper with his name on it.
“It’s invisible ink.”
“Even invisible ink leaves indentations, Jeremiah.” Ruth sighed. “You will stay here after school and sit in your desk writing your essay as well as a note to give to Hope tomorrow. The note will have an apology and also say three nice things about her. And make sure those nice things are things she would think are nice.”
Jeremiah looked up at Ruth with wide eyes. “Miss Brookings, please…”
Ruth held up her hand. “No, Jeremiah. You are not getting away with this. I will also have a talk with your pa this afternoon. When your essay and note are finished, we will both walk down to the sheriff’s office together.”
“Nothing you say will deter me from this punishment.”
“But I had plans to study with Clem and Chancy.”
“You’ll have to do it another time,” Ruth replied as she stood up. “Go ring the bell, please.”
Jeremiah bowed his head and obeyed in sullen rebellion.