Three Line Tales : Gideon keeps a secret

three line tales, week 107: diaries, roses and bobbins with sewing thread

photo by Frank McKenna via Unsplash


 

Gideon Smith was the first to complain of the smell, Jennet Powell the next. After four days, Smith took matters – and a house breaker’s jemmy – into his own hands and broke into the seamstress’s cottage.

Jennet found the biddy stiff in her chair, head drooping, strands of silver hair sparkling against the blue of an unfinished velvet gown. On the deal table lay bobbins of thread, dull steel needles and scissors, a book with a pale cloth binding, a water stain clouding one corner. Gideon eyed the title and slipped the thin volume in his pocket while Jennet was rifling through a box of hat pins.

The constable was called and Jennet and Gideon left, Jennet to stow a jet and crystal pin in her drawer, Gideon to walk along the canal. He dropped the book into the lock. The pages flapped like broken wings before it hit the water and vanished into the thick brown, one last act of kindness for his neighbour.


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Word’s Three Line Tales. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join and share.

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30 thoughts on “Three Line Tales : Gideon keeps a secret

    1. I’ve been thinking about this story since I wrote it, making notes, wondering if – with a rejig here and there – it could be something longer, a historical crime thriller perhaps. Have you read His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet? It made me think of that, though it’s nothing like that novel in truth. Dark, muddy deaths in beetlebrow cottages … It intrigues me too! Thank you very much for reading Chris 🙂

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      1. You do historical fiction so well, Lynn, I could see this developing into something really intriguing. The names Gideon and Jennet certainly sound 19C if not earlier (though perhaps not too early, given a general lack of literacy prior to the introduction of universal education). No, I don’t know ‘His Bloody Project’ but it sounds like I ought to get acquainted with it. ☺

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      2. Ah, thank you Chris – you’re very lovely to say so. I do love historical settings and it was part of what drew me to The RD – I could write something creepy / ghostly and sneak some history in there too! I largely enjoyed His Bloody Project. The set up intrigued me as it’s supposedly a collection of found records of a real crime – part memoir, with doctor’s reports, court records etc – from which we the reader are supposed to pull the truth, thought that’s a grim old path to walk along and the main character is dour, a dark personality. It was Booker nominated but is accessible for that.
        https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/aug/12/his-bloody-project-by-graeme-macrae-burnet-review

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      3. Yes, I Googled it just before you wrote it and realised I’d read all about it without registering the author’s name. I’ll see if I can get it from the library, perhaps!

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  1. Dear Lynn
    That is just gorgeous. Such wonderful description, with its minute observation (e.g. the needles are dull because they’ve been in the cold damp cottage for days and have started to corrode). And the way Gideon steals the book to spare his neighbour’s reputation, and Jennet steals the jet and crystal pin because she wants it…so exquisitely done!
    I read this over and over because it’s just so delightful!

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    1. Ah, Penny! What a wonderful, wonderful comment – I’m smiling from ear to ear. I’m so glad you liked it. I’ve been thinking of the characters and the story since I wrote it, wondering if I can take the story forward somehow. I’ll keep thinking. Thank you so much for reading 🙂

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  2. Sensuous cinematic detail. I am hooked on what the book was! A hymnal or book of hours from a persecuted denomination? An account book? A book of herbal lore or witchcraft? A journal? Was she teaching herself to write? The intrigue remains, and I do like velvet! 😀

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    1. I think it just came to me as a good, solid name for a man of that period (late eighteenth, early nineteenth century). I imagine a Gideon to be a strong, strapping, carthorse of a lad. I often research names of any given period but he just came to me and I’d just been reading about the Pendle Witch trials which featured a couple of Jennets, though I suspect the name was dying out by the 19th century, so it’s a bit of a cheat

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      1. Very good name, I think Gabriel Oake seems like a Gideon, although he’s meant to be Bathsheba’s guardian angel and she’s a bit of a silly chit and a strumpet. The Queen of Sheba has a rep. I like the pathology of a story. Thanks for sharing it. x

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      2. Yes, Gabriel Oake – brilliant name and a wonderful character. Bathseba makes me so cross when she can’t see how wonderful he is – silly moo! She gets it in the end, but man … Captain Troy? For heaven’s sake 🙂

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      3. Well I haven’t read the book but I have seen the film a few times and yes, Bathsheba was a flibberty-gibbet but also an independent lady. You can’t hate on that, but you can hate on her indecisiveness. I did, a lot.

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      4. Ha! Yes indeed. All those men she mucked about, especially poor Mr Boldwood – she drove the man to kill for heaven’s sake. An independent lady, but an irritating one 🙂

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      5. I think Boldwood would never have suited her – but it was a cruel prank. It would have been a convenient arrangement on his side, and an onerous one on hers. She deserved some real talk but we’re on course to becoming quite snide about her, never a good thing.

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      6. No, you’re right about Boldwood, she just should have had the courage to tell him, poor man. Different heroines for different times perhaps

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      7. You’ve got to have a lot of self conviction and frankly, balls, to turn any man down – at any time – especially if everyone thinks it’s a good idea. At least Lizzy Bennet was very clear about it. STRENUOUSLY clear.

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      8. To be fair, it must have been especially tough back then – what else were women expected to do but marry and have kids. And Boldwood was a good prospect – well off with plenty of land. I’ts just Bathsheba wanted the whole package, to run her farm without interference and to have feeliings for the man she married. Picky for thsoe days! And yes, Lizzy was a different girl altogether. So much more definate on what she wanted. That’s why most of us love her I suppose

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      9. Uh huh. Although I wish I could say times have changed. I think Bathsheba’s independence was deeply vacuous and uncaring, whereas Lizzy’s was coded into a principled and uniquely seductive vivaciousness. And what woman doesn’t want to be considered vivacious?

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      10. I think you’re right. Lizzy has most things worked out before we meet her – sweet, sensible, smart but not in sway to the idea of marriage for its own sake, her independence comes from her intelligence not from selfishness. In the end love catches her, but it’s a deep love, hard won and we sense a lasting one too. Ah, no wonder we all so often keep returning to that story.

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