The Hangman’s Daughter- Chapter 1

Hi guys, okay, so firstly thanks so much for all your kind words and support. I honestly expected to announce this to the world to deafening silence and maybe a polite cough in the darkness, so the fact that so many of you have said you’re willing to follow this story means the world to me. So, starting from today I’m going to be posting one chapter every Thursday that’s not a review day. But to get the ball rolling I thought I’d do three chapters so that we can actually get pretty far into the story and establish the setting and a few of the main characters, particularly Marie and Luke, the daughter and the hangman (seeing as they are kinda important). Alright, so, here we go.

Aaaaaand…deep breath.

THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER

PART 1: THE HANGMAN OF ST ANNE

CHAPTER 1: MARIE

Marie was six years old when she saw the rabbit. She had been lying in a meadow on her stomach, her legs kicking forward and back, making little podgy white “L’s ” that rose, stood straight, sagged, stood straight and fell, over and over, like pendulums. The sun was in the sky because, as her father had told her, the sun loved France, and hated England, which was why all they got over there was rain. And that, he would tell her, was another reason why France would win the war, don’t worry my love they’ll never come to the village and it’ll be like this always I promise you that my sweet little red bird. Her hands propped her head a foot or so above the grass, the stubby fingers and broad palms completely covering her cheeks, so that any beetle who chanced to look up to better see what was casting this great shadow and blocking the warm sun would only have seen a nose and a mouth squashed between two great continents of hand, over which, just above the tips of the fingers, peeped two great green eyes, with the whole edifice crowned by a great and unruly silk stack of curly red hair. And Marie would shrink and grow as she lay there, looking down one moment at the grass, lowering one great eye down to an inch above the ground until the mass of green blades looked like a great forest, the daisies like mighty vines strangling anything foolish enough to come near, and the little scurrying, spit-polished beetles, glinting like new boots, were the natives, glancing up in awe and terror at this great red-haired goddess in the clouds. And she imagined them building temples to her in the steaming depths of that jungle, the little black beetles dancing, waving all six legs frantically, desperately praying that she would not smite them and the thought delighted her so much that she kicked her legs in sheer excitement, the bare feet thudding on the silky blades and soft loam, Ls birthing and dying like mayflies in summer. And she felt quite huge, massive and powerful, she felt every hour of her six years. But then she would shrink when she cast her eyes up to the blue sky, and see nothing but a great cloud, whiter than milk and snow, larger that a city, cruising across the blue curve. And then she understood how the beetles felt, and, young though she was, knew that she was small. Very small, invisible almost, and if God could see her, he must have the eyes of a hawk. But then, since he had made the hawk’s eyes, his own must be at least as good, and if it was not disrespectful to think it, he had probably kept the best eyes for himself. She turned her head downward to look at the beetles again (or, to be honest, to look at their jungle, there were no beetles nearby except the ones in her mind, still toiling away at her altar) but the thrill was gone. The beetles, in all probability, were laughing at her.
“Oh, you think so? You think you’re big? We’re all in the same boat. Our young tease the mites, until they see you. There’s some giant watching you right now. And someone watching him, and someone watching him…”
Marie became quite caught up in this line of reasoning, imagining an endless string of giant watchers going off for ever and ever and ever, and the idea made her feel a little dizzy. Then came something that blew the beetles, the temple, the giant watchers, the whole universe to pieces and out of her mind like broken china swept out the hall door. She had seen the rabbit.
It moved liked a rocking horse, its front and back seesawing up and down as it ambled over a little tuft of wild grass and into her view and soul. It was, to anyone who had grown jaded by rabbits, nothing at all to make a fuss about. It was a yearling, dull brown, quite scrawny, and its coat was neither glossy nor fine. Its eyes were large black balls of pure potential panic, and there was a chunk missing from its ear, lost to a stoat to whom it had been very lucky not to lose a great deal more. It was a rabbit no different from the millions that had hopped and rocked over the green fields of the earth since the dawning of the rabbit era, and inferior to most of them. But, to Marie, lying in that field in France which the sun loved, a goddess to the beetles below her, a beetle to the cloud above her, it was the most amazing thing that had ever been. Her large green eyes took in every inch of him, every breath his scrawny little chest took, every twitch of his ears and sway of his haunch and she loved the little creature. Half of her wanted to run for it, catch it and never let go, let it scratch her skin to ribbons, she’d hold it tight. But there was enough sense in her head to know that, just as prayers never worked if you said them with your eyes open, just as the fairies that she knew were running amok in her room and hiding her shoes so she couldn’t find them the next morning would disappear the second she lit a lamp, so would this little miracle vanish if she made the slightest movement towards it.
This was the best she would receive. She must be content.
She watched it eat a cowslip, the yellow flower getting drawn up into its mouth by the incessant and rapid nibbling.
It nibbled. Amazing.
Marie was shocked, amazed and deeply awed by the nibbling.
Time wore on, and the thrill of first seeing the rabbit matured into a contentment to simply watch him as he went about his business.
And so absorbed was she with watching the rabbit, that she stopped seeing it.
So it was a long time before a rather simple fact trickled down into her mind, distracted as it was by rabbits, and nibbling, and the nibbling of rabbits and such matters. And that fact was that the rabbit had not moved in…
How long had the rabbit been standing there, perfectly motionless, brown fur glinting in the yellow sun, without so much as a nibble or a twitch of the nose?
And suddenly, Marie’s mind was finished with the rabbit altogether.
How long?
How long had she been here?
Hours, definitely hours. Unable as she was to tell the niceties of time the child knew enough to know that she had been here far longer than she should have been. If she had been away a long time her father would be angry. If she had been away a very long time her father would be worried, which was of course infinitely preferable to him being angry. She now faced a dilemma. Return immediately before her father got very angry, or wait until he was too worried to be angry with her when she finally came home?
The rabbit, having grazed contentedly beside her for goodness knows how many hours, suddenly decided that she was a threat to life and limb, and bolted.
She looked up at the sky. The cloud was still roughly where she remembered it, and it was too bright to be evening, but still she could not shake the impression that she had been lying in the meadow for hours and hours. Eventually, she decided to risk it. The Ls straightened into pale and lumpy Is, stained green in the centres from the grass, and marked here and there with tiny brown scars, trophies from her mighty odysseys through brambles patches, rocky outcrops and the treacherous, mossy beds of clear tumbling forest streams. Picking herself up, she made off for home, leaving the beetle devout without their goddess, and leaving the great white cloud without its little red-haired care and treasure.

Her father was camped over the stove, stirring a pot of thick brown soup with a wooden spoon. Every so often, great orange chunks of carrot would surface and then sink down again, as if they were grabbing mouthfuls of air before diving back down to the bottom of the black pot. He looked up startled as his six year old daughter burst through the door like a small crimson hurricane.
“Sorry sorry sorry!” she wheezed breathlessly.
“Why? What have you done?” he asked, too amused by her abrupt entrance to sound as stern as he meant to.
She stared into his large blue eyes, which were smiling inquisitively at her. Her father was a tall man, with a broad chest and lean, strong arms. He wore his hair like a man of the woods, long and unkempt around his shoulders, and while it bore a little of the red that made his daughter’s hair look like a Mayday fire it was tamed by a darker brown. His mouth was largely invisible under his long full beard, but Marie had learnt to trust to other facial cues to see when he was smiling, his eyes being the most important. Those eyes, which could seem to burn with blue fire when he was angry, and that was more often than either of them would have liked, (she was not always an easy girl to raise), were now smiling merrily at her.
“What have you done now, Marie?” he asked.
“Sorry for being late” she mumbled, wondering as she did why in God’s name she was drawing attention to the fact.
“Late?” her father asked and laughed “You can step out of the house for half an hour, Marie.”
Marie was young, and hours and half hours were still nebulous concepts, but she understood that something strange had happened. She had thought that she had been gone for a very long time, and her father seemed to think she had been gone for too short a time to even bear noticing.
“Are you hungry?” her father asked her, as he doled out a ladle-full of soup into the flat black soup bowls.

The two sat across the table from each other, the tiny red-haired girl, and her great bear of a father.
Like most children her age, Marie hated food with a passion, and would only take the tiniest sips of her soup.
She looked up at the sound of a massive slurp from the other side of the table. Her father gazed back at her with a look of mock chagrin.
“Pardon me.” he said contritely.
“You are excused.” she said in a wonderfully haughty manner, even waggling her nose in the air to indicate her distaste.
They both knew what would come next. They were two old actors, going over the scene they had done a thousand times before, and the lines were as natural to them as every breath they took. They knew how long every silence had to endure to the last second.
Marie had finally gripped the spoon as if she had an intention to use it in some kind of assertive way. She slowly filled the crater with the brown sea of the soup, and she could see little circles of grease winking rainbow on the surface. She put the spoon to her lips, and drew out a long slurp like a cellist drawing out a pitch perfect note.
“I do beg your pardon!” she exclaimed with such mortification that her father, though he had seen this performance almost every day for longer than he could remember, still clapped his great hands and barked heartily.
The game continued as it always did, each slurp getting longer and more elaborate with every turn. By the end of it, their bowls were empty just as always, and just as always, Marie had utterly failed to realise that her father had once again tricked her into eating a dinner she hadn’t really wanted. After dinner she briefed her father thoroughly on her encounter with the rabbit, giving him a description so complete that he could have picked the animal out of a police line up (had such a thing existed) by the time she was finished.
Then, as was their custom, he lit a fire and he sat in the old rocking chair, while she curled up on the hairy rug like a large red-haired cat, staring into the flames, which stared back at their tiny reflections, painted emerald and dancing away in the sea of her great green eyes. Normally they would simply sit in silence, her father letting the flames perform their mesmerism on his daughter, and once she was asleep, he would take her up in his great hands, and bring her to her cool white bed and lay her down to sleep. But tonight, Marie wished to speak.
“Papa.” she said, and her voice was like a weary traveller, tramping through a marsh of fatigue.
“Marie?”
“What are you?”
The question baffled him momentarily.
“I’m your father, Marie.” he said.
“I know that, stupid.”
Ordinarily, Marie would never have been so brazen with her father. Around the fire, however, the rules were relaxed. Marie continued.
“I mean, what are you?”
“Why do you ask me that, robin?”
“Olivia asked me. She says her father is a farmer. And Sylvie, her father is Monsieur D’Arbe, the blacksmith. And Bernadette-who-smells-like-cack…”
“Her father keeps pigs, yes I know.” her father said “You don’t tease her about that, do you?”
“No.” she said. Not compared to everyone else, she thought.
“And they asked me what you were and I didn’t know.” she yawned massively “So what are you Papa?”
Her father weighed his options She was just on the verge of dropping off. He could simply wait in silence for her to fall asleep and that would be that. But the fact that he wasn’t answering her might rouse her from sleep long enough to ask what was wrong, and re-state the question. He briefly considered curtly telling her to mind her own business but instantly rejected it on the grounds that firstly it wasn’t the poor girl’s fault, and secondly, that it would break the hallowed unwritten rule that when they were gathered around the fire, there would never be anger, only warm contentment. It was a law he valued every bit as much as her. So, he decided on the most morally responsible reply, and lied to her.
“I’m…a soup maker.” he said, after casting his mind around for a likely profession, remembering that he was a terrible liar, catching sight of the soup bowl and grasping at it like a drowning man grasping at an inflatable bowl of soup.
There was silence for a few seconds.
“A soup maker?” she said.
“Yes.” he replied “A soup maker. I’m a soup maker, I make soup. You’ve seen me make soup, haven’t you? Well there you go, I’m a soup maker.”
There was a long pause. Her father waited for the inevitable barrage of questions which would reduce his pathetic lie to broken timber and powdered rubble.
But the only reply from his daughter was a high, purring snore.
He breathed a sigh of relief, and bent over, lifting her out of the yellow circle of the fire’s sphere like she was a feather, and laid her to sleep, where she dreamt of riding a rabbit through an endless field of daisies, while above her in a pure blue sky, beetles watched her in amazement from the safety of a milk white cloud.

CHAPTER 2

37 comments

  1. Am I the only one who immediately thought of Merida from Brave when reading the description of Marie? Maybe it’s just me.

    Like it so far. So it seems the narrator will be from the perspective of someone from modern day looking back on the events of the past? It’s an interesting touch that I rather like. On to chapter 2

  2. So this is it, then! My critical cortex is still juiced from Novels class this morning, so this was posted at the perfect time.

    This was a lovely way into the story. There seems to be more precise and evocative detail in this chapter than in the others, which is great. The ‘what are you?’ exchange was very charming and set up a nice dynamic. The whole ‘God-Marie-beetles-mites’ was a great image and definitely felt like a child’s thoughts.
    My main concern is with the voice. It reminds me of Tolkien, and the thing is… I actually don’t like Tolkien. I would rather be fully immersed in a character’s head, with all the limitations that involves. Marie is clearly a clever and imaginative little girl; it makes more sense to me as a reader to ‘be’ her than to watch her from a disembodied, omniscient perspective.
    The only other things that need tidying up would be the odd redundancy, and a few slight incongruities that a little research could fix. For example, Marie would be more likely, considering her age, (probable lack of) education and cultural context, to be familiar with folk tales than with religions other than her own, so I would exchange ‘goddess’ for ‘giantess’ or something similar.
    Good luck, and good on you for putting yourself out there!

  3. Nice! I love your prose (If that was your inspiration, I’m a huge LOTR fan, and I love elaborate descriptions, unlike paper alchemist :P). I also like the father-daughter dynamic.

    1. … Sorry, was I not clear? I like the vivid detail. So far, the best and clearest description is in this chapter – that was what I meant.

    2. LotR was an influence in the sense that you can’t write epic fantasy without being influenced by Tolkien. You’re either working with him or against him. Glad you like it.

  4. Forgive me if I am brutally honest here…if I would stand in a shop and taking a peek into the book to decide if I should buy it or not, the answer would be no. To snare in the reader a lot hinges on the first sentences, and the ones you picked are fairly weak. If you don’t start in medias res, you have to convince the reader that something interesting might come up, and that the character you introduces is worth reading about.
    “Marie was six years old”….and my attention was already gone. If I presume that the rabbit will become important later on, I would suggest instead “The first time Marie saw the rabbit, she was six years old”, because that would cause curiosity in the reader what might be so special about said rabbit (and does it have to be a rabbit? That’s so Alice in Wonderland).
    Second, beware of the info dumb. We don’t need to know everything in the first lines (ie do we already need to know about the looming war? Marie is apparently not particularly worried about it, so I don’t see the point of foreshadowing that heavily that he happy world will be destroyed at one point…it’s better to allow the reader to immerse in said happy world, so that he can feel the loss of it too, later on). We especially don’t need detailed descriptions how the characters look like. Mention what is important or what happens to fit, but don’t spend whole paragraphs on it. (and why do you need to mention a second time that Marie is six? Once is enough).
    Third the perspective you picked…that’s more a matter of taste, but for me, it’s a little bit too fluent, hopping from describing inner thoughts to observations. Now, this is legitimate thing to do, but I honestly don’t like the approach because unless it is done masterfully, it often comes off as having a very annoying commentator beside you, who keeps telling you what to think about a particular situation, to a point of over-explaining (this is usual behaviour for her, this isn’t). Take the example with the soup. Is it really necessary that said “voice” points out that Marie just did what she didn’t like to do by eating it? Wouldn’t it be enough to say that she now ate the whole soup after all, allowing the reader to recognize the trick for what it is.
    Fourth some aspects are a little bit anachronistic (yeah, I know you said “fantasy” but since it is set in a real place, it has to fit historically nevertheless) . You act as if precise hours were a thing back then (since you talk about the war, I guess we are in the middle ages?), but it was more a matter of “sun goes up, let’s go to work” and “sun goes down, not enough light to keep working, so let’s take a meal at home”. Half hours didn’t really play that heavily in the time construct, not even for adults. And a child, even a brazen one, would have never called its father “stupid”. Sounds way too modern
    Five: Try to avoid clichés, like the weather in England. Pig dung also doesn’t smell particularly worse than the dung of every animal.
    What I really liked though was you didn’t make Marie too perfect…she would tease, just not as much as everyone else aso. I also like the “soup maker” answer, though it would be more interesting if the title didn’t already give away what he is really doing. Plus, would none of the other children know about this?

    Uh, I better stop at this point…do you want me to continue? I don’t want to discourage you.

    1. Swanpride it’ll take more than that to discourage me. I take some your points and your feedback is always welcome. With regards to the language being too modern I’m consciously employing a translation convention. This is not exactly what they’re saying in medieval French, or even a direct translation of same into modern English. It’s something more fluid than that, a translation of meaning rather than words. Keep it comin’!

      1. I assume it also has something to do with trying to keep a consistent style of speaking for all the characters as they hop through different time periods (as you mentioned in your summary of the story that they do just that)

      2. I will admit that I was a little confused by it at first but when I remembered the time travel aspect I thought it made sense. I think it’s a good narrative style for the type of story you seem to be going for (though it’s admittedly tough to judge on just three chapters)

  5. So, I’m finally able to read your story (i was working on a big project that took almost all of my time) and I have to say that I really like this first chapter, when I read that Marie saw a rabbit I was like “Alice in Wonderland reference? But he said he didn’t like it” I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, I’m liking the characters and their relationships and (as paper alchemist said) your narration remembers me to Tolkien but that’s what I really love about this chapter, I’m a HUGE Tolkien fan, and I’m gonna read the second chapter, I hope it’s as good as this one 😀
    PS: This is the first time I read a “book” in English, wish me luck understanding everything! XD

  6. All right, so as of late, my reading has been kind of at a standstill. Being busy with a lot of other things, I haven’t been that up on literature, my most recent attempts to get back into it being rather slow and toilsome (you really know you’re in a bad place in your life when it’s tough to get through Othello of all things). Lately the one place which has never failed to catch my interest of reading is here on your blog. You always have something interesting to say whether uproariously comical or highly meaningful. So having heard you were posting a book with a highly fascinating premise, I have decided I’ll throw in my two bits and hope to get something nice to read as well as being able to possibly contribute to your efforts. I must say, I’m suspecting that looking at how a reviewer writes a story will be very interesting, what with critics having such a grasp on what makes a good story.

    Anyway, let’s get into this. Hmm, beginning with a rabbit encounter while lounging in a field in the summer, eh? Surprisingly Alice in Wonderland-esque coming from a writer who supposedly doesn’t think much of that story. Marie certainly has quite the imaginative mind, similar to Alice in a way. Though I think Marie’s more of a big picture person, which is kind of enjoyable. I’m really liking the philosophical string of thoughts in the opening paragraph. Also, that part about the endless string of giants made me think of the “it’s turtles all the way down” quote. I do love ever-contemplative heroes, getting into their minds is always so interesting. This is off to a great start.

    The part where Marie contemplates what time she should best return home was a pretty nice little moment. Definitely sounds like the kind of ponderings I’ve gotten, the whole puzzle of tip-toeing around unpleasant human interactions. I’m enjoying Luke and Marie’s relationship already. I’m definitely seeing some family resemblance with both doing the whole option-weighing with each other. Being tactical must run in the family.

    Wow, this chapter went by surprisingly fast. That can be a good thing in a way, a chapter that drags on can definitely be a problem. What I like about how you write is how engaging you can make something so seemingly mundane. …Ok, so you did ask for “constructively brutal”, but really I can’t think of a thing to say here. Well, maybe there are a few typos here and there which likely wouldn’t survive an editing session, but that’s about it. Maybe I’m not the best critic, as my comments tend to follow Thumper’s mother’s advice most of the time, but still, there doesn’t seem to be much to be improved here. Maybe some might say that the scenes are pretty bogged with description, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think every bit of in-depth, colourful bit of prose just serves to ensure that this story is never a dull moment. So I guess I was right to suspect you wouldn’t fail to give me enjoyment.

    1. Ta very much. I suppose I should address the rabbit thing because a few people have mentioned it now. It’s not actually an Alice in Wonderland reference, or at least not an intentional one. Probably just came from keeping rabbits as a kid.

  7. Not a bad beginning mouse. I’m intrested and I really like the father daughter bond. I wasn’t too sure about the omniscient presence but it grew on me by the dinner scene. I really enjoyed the beetle-Marie-God part. I love stuff that makes you think about perspective. As a sister to a 6 year old, I think you’ve got it down. I’m not sure about the stupid though. It felt out of place in the cozy fire place scene, but I’m not sure why. Hope with helps some! Off to read the other chapters.
    Steph

  8. I really enjoy the way you use language. I generally write very snappily and to-the-point, but the way you obviously luxuriate in the words you choose is a neat experience, simultaneously comfortable and quiet but putting the reader on high alert, lest they miss something important. (Though you have to be careful with that, because readers CAN get too comfortable in the words themselves, and miss the action.)

    Just a few adjustments I’d make:
    “She had been lying in a meadow on her stomach, her legs kicking forward and back, making little podgy white “L’s ” that rose, stood straight, sagged, stood straight and fell, over and over, like pendulums.”
    –Maybe simply write “stood straight, sagged, and fell over and over”? The description seems to go on a little too long. The important part is the “podgy white L’s”, because you reference them later turning into I’s (which I liked a lot, btw); you don’t want to distract from it by making people think the elaboration is the part that matters.

    “And that, he would tell her, was another reason why France would win the war, don’t worry my love they’ll never come to the village and it’ll be like this always I promise you that my sweet little red bird.”
    I would end with “another reason why France would win the war.” Personally, I *love* the quoting-a-character-in-the-narrative trick, but I usually employ it with a sense of…bitterness? Irony? I’m not quite sure myself, but what the father says (“Don’t worry, my love” etc) seems too sincere and poignant to not come directly from his mouth. I would save that for a moment during the rising action, when it won’t get lost in a sea of introduction. The focus right now is on establishing Marie; that line establishes *Luke*, and should be saved for a more apt time, imo 🙂

    ProTip: Don’t start so many sentences with “And”. I’m not against the practice, but it’s not quite setting the right mood here…usually when I do that, it’s in dialogue, or to create a sense of sarcasm, or of urgency, or of bombastic-ness, depending on the surrounding text. Your intro is leisurely and warm; it doesn’t need to hurry along or sound massively portentous :). “And Marie would shrink and grow” can just be “Marie would shrink and grow”; “And she imagined” can just be “She imagined”.

    “And she imagined them building temples to her in the steaming depths of that jungle, the little black beetles dancing, waving all six legs frantically, desperately praying that she would not smite them and the thought delighted her so much that she kicked her legs in sheer excitement, the bare feet thudding on the silky blades and soft loam, Ls birthing and dying like mayflies in summer. And she felt quite huge, massive and powerful, she felt every hour of her six years. But then she would shrink when she cast her eyes up to the blue sky, and see nothing but a great cloud, whiter than milk and snow, larger that a city, cruising across the blue curve. And then she understood how the beetles felt, and, young though she was, knew that she was small.”
    I would reword this a little for syntax and metaphor’s sake…

    “She imagined them building temples to her in the streaming depths of that jungle; little black beetles waving all six legs at her, desperately praying that she would not reach down her almighty hand and smite them. The thought pleased her so much that she kicked her legs in excitement, bare feet thudding on silky grass blades and soft loam, Ls birthing and dying like mayflies in summer. To herself she seemed massive and powerful, and she felt every minute of her six years on earth.

    But when she cast her eyes up to the sky, and saw nothing but a great cloud, whiter than milk and snow, larger than a city, cruising across the blue curve, she would shrink again. And she then understood how she imagined the beetles felt: that she was young, and that she was small.”
    Something like that.

    Same for this: “Marie became quite caught up in this line of reasoning, imagining an endless string of giant watchers going off for ever and ever and ever, and the idea made her feel a little dizzy. Then came something that blew the beetles, the temple, the giant watchers, the whole universe to pieces and out of her mind like broken china swept out the hall door. She had seen the rabbit.”
    Maybe make it “Marie became quite caught up in this line of reasoning, imagining an endless string of giant watchers going off into forever and ever and ever. The idea made her feel a little dizzy. But then came suddenly something that blew the beetles, the temple, the watchers, the whole universe to pieces and out of her mind like broken china swept out of the hall door. She saw the rabbit.”

    Taking a break from concrit to say that I love everything about how you describe the rabbit. It is so lovingly sarcastic; like when an adult finds something a toddler says funny. Perfect ❤

    "Half of her wanted to run for it, catch it and never let go, let it scratch her skin to ribbons, she’d hold it tight."
    You could make this "Half of her wanted to run for it, to catch it and never let it go. Let it scratch her skin to ribbons; she'd hold it tight."

    "She watched it eat a cowslip, the yellow flower getting drawn up into its mouth by the incessant and rapid nibbling.
    It nibbled. Amazing.
    Marie was shocked, amazed and deeply awed by the nibbling."
    I had to laugh at this, because I have given myself fits over how cute and enthralling a rabbit is when it nibbles food. XD But I think you can delete the last line quoted here. You've already established that Marie found the nibbling to be amazing, and you discuss it later in very funny terms ("rabbits and nibbling and the nibbling of rabbits"), so it's just redundant here. 🙂

    "Normally they would simply sit in silence, her father letting the flames perform their mesmerism on his daughter, and once she was asleep, he would take her up in his great hands, and bring her to her cool white bed and lay her down to sleep."
    Suggestion to fix the syntax here: "Normally they would sit in silence, her father allowing the flames to lull her into sleep, whereupon he would take her up in his arms and lay her down in her cool white bed."

    Didn't spot anything else I would fix except the odd typo or missing punctuation mark 🙂

    A good, solid opening, Mouse!

    1. **You could do either

      “She watched it eat a cowslip, the yellow flower getting drawn up into its mouth by the incessant and rapid nibbling.
      It nibbled. Amazing.”

      Or

      “She watched it eat a cowslip, the yellow flower getting drawn up into its mouth by the incessant and rapid nibbling.
      It nibbled.
      Marie was shocked, amazed and deeply awed by the fact that the rabbit nibbled.”

  9. Well, most everyone else has already said the stuff I wanted to say, so all I can really add is that I agree with Paper Alchemist in preferring strongly limited POVs instead of droll, omniscient ones (unless it’s supposed to be a story *about* omniscients, like Gaiman’s Sandman…).

    Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to keep reading, even if it reminded me for the thousandth time why I’ll probably never have kids.

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