Hello everyone. My name is Rose Anderson and I’d like to tell you a little about my part in the Entice Me multi-author anthology by the Authors from Romance Books ‘4’ Us. Before I begin, I’d like to say thank you to Denysé for hosting me on her Fantasy Pages. I wrote Heart of Stone under my new pen name Madeline Archer.
I got the idea for this short and sweet story from Pinterest, of all places. I love Victorian stone work so made a pin board just for statues there. Some truly remarkable carvings were created during Queen Victoria’s reign. I stumbled upon a neoclassical Carrara marble piece by the sculptor Jean-Joseph Perraud entitled Le Désespoir. A story started to form in my head the moment I saw the piece with its fine handsome detail like someone poured liquid stone over a man…
Heart of Stone
The story opens with the notorious witch hunts in 17th Century Salem, Massachusetts.
As formal education for women lacks substance in her own country, Neila Flannigan leaves Ireland in 1904 to attend Radcliffe women’s college in America. Shy and introverted, Neila passes her lonesome hours sketching the Harvard grounds and sending drawings home to her father. A chance encounter with a kind and elderly Irish woman inspires her to sketch a statue in an old, unused building. Desperately lonely, Neila ends up sharing her thoughts and feelings with a man carved in stone. Some days it feels like he listens.
Setting the stage~
In this scene, Neila has taken Mrs. Maguire’s suggestion and gone to the old unused building to sketch a statue there.
Neila found the door unlocked just as Mrs. Maguire had said it would be. Poking her head inside, she spoke loudly enough for anyone to hear, “Hello? Is anyone here?”
The greeting echoed in the hall. Relieved, she went inside. The first floor was empty. Upstairs, she discovered that was true for all the rooms save the last. There, a statue stood near the window and beside it sat a wooden spindle chair. There wasn’t electricity in the room or even a gaslight on the wall but an old wrought iron chandelier, dripping with dusty hardened candlewax, hung from the ceiling.
The statue was a young man seated in a rocking chair. His boots and simple clothing suggested a farmer from centuries past. He had an open book in his hand and a sleepy kitten curled on his lap. Neila touched the stone pages of the book. It was far too grimy to tell for certain, but she could feel texture there, as though the artist had carved words onto the pages. Doubtful, she murmured, “That would be impossible.”
The John Harvard bronze and the other posthumous tribute pieces she’d drawn thus far were fashioned with generic features. Not so with this one. From what she could tell with the subject’s head bent over his book, his features were unique. She ducked her head for a better look, wishing she could lift his chin to see his face fully. The sculptor had given the statue a straight Roman nose, intelligent brow, and full lips that turned slightly at the corners. It was likely carved from life. She told it, “You are certainly in need of a good scrubbing, but you were very handsome whoever you were.”
She ran her hand over the cold stone face from cheek to chin. It was impossible to tell if the oddly textured material was marble or alabaster. Whatever the stone, it was a perfect medium for sculpting, as it held detail remarkably well. The piece was exceptionally realistic. That much was evident, despite the grime.
About Rose / Madeline
Known for crafting characters that stay with you long after the last page has turned, Rose Anderson is a multi-published award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes across genres under the pen name Madeline Archer. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.
Author’s Note: I hope you enjoyed my debut as Madeline Archer. Find my books under both names in ebook and paperback wherever love stories are sold.