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Old July 20th, 2007, 11:25 AM  
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Join Date: July 18, 2007
Location: Maine
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First chapter. It's set in the 1860s based on a girl opal and her life.

"Well I’m vexed to disparity, Jenny!" exclaimed Opal, quite horrified with the cake she upset. "I am an idiot. Baking, it’s fine art really, but not for me! Every time I try I do something tragic occurs. I’m cursed."
"Do gather you composure and stop your babbling, for heaven’s sake. It really was a fine cake, until you took it out of the oven," comforted Jenny, trying to gather her own composure and the remainders of the cake.
"It was for the best. Better in pieces than all in one; I probably poisoned anyhow. My dearest sister, there isn’t a particle of hope for me, so I might as well be left alone in my misery," sighed Opal, feeling as though she was in at the climax of a tragic novel, and rather liking it.
“Drop the nonsense and don’t worry about the cake, we’re fine off with the other desserts which are all bountiful by themselves. We’ll have a grand meal for the minister and he won’t suspect a thing. We mustn’t let Aunt Hannie know the cake is ruined. Come now, help me with the cobbler; you shan’t fail at that."
"Don’t say so, I fear if you do it will be a bad omen."
Now demonstrating how to bake a cobbler can be frightfully boring, and you all know how to I am sure, so I might as well shed some light on the story and who our characters are.
Jenny Kreen, fair, fine, and beautiful in every respect, counting the virtues. A good disposition she had, for any girl of fourteen going on fifteen and made passers-by acknowledge her, stop and stare and say to themselves or a possible walking comrade, “There’s a pretty little lass with a fine management and character.” And if ever, Heaven forbid, Jenny was to be strolling with her sister, Opal, the spectators would still nod in approval and remark, “Let the young woman manage that Sancho Panza and she does so gracefully.” Jenny was intelligent, no one would contradict the fact, she studied dilligently in hope of some silverlining allowing her to live a college life with a genorous amount of education. It could very well happen, people say, the finest of colleges would not hesitate to offer a scholarship and it was predicted to occur soon. And I am afraid, with this all said, it’s not proper for me to let the story hang dry and not comment on her looks. A “fairy-maiden angel” little admiring girls would say about Jenny, for her golden locks hung from her milk-white head like a halo, her “creamy” green eyes shone like a beryl, her dainty hands and feet her complimented to her feature, and her irresistable smile made one’s day.
Opal, what is there so say of her? so much, and so little good expect for the portion hidden in her heart. Sancho Panza she indeed was, her quick-wit, earthly humor, and mischeif-loving spirit got her such a name. She was naughty since the day of birth and would likely stay so till the day of death and in Heaven, none can say what will become of her. I don’t believe she was the child with a birth-right, for it seemed Jenny got the blessing and Opal got the curse when trouble was her middle name. There was nothing graceful about her and not nearly as refined as Jenny, but she never paid it any mind for she was a dignified, happy tomboy too riotious to care about looks. Her thick, natted hair, which resembled something of a horse’s mane, sat on her head, her cold blue eyes flashed merriment if in fun or warning if in a terrible temper, and her tall figure towered of most thirteen year old girls’. When people saw her they would focus directly on all her faults, which I dare say, were many, but then the good-natured optimists would come round and see past her sin and into her heart, a big generous, unselfish one it was.
Aunt Hannie, another character of ours, came into the girls’ lives when there dear mother died of polio and their father said “good-bye” and left for the West, working in coal mines, receiving a wage which was monthly mailed to the three, poor women. Aunt Hannie was the care-taker for the sisters, who brought up the girls sensibly allowing little fun and games and much hard-work. Naughty Opal regarded the young woman as the “the saint’s wife”, and at other times when Aunt Hannie was greatfully appreciated, the neice would call her an angel.
Hence the cobbler was finished and unhurt as Jenny predicted, as well as the many other fascinating desserts. Fruit sauces, preserves, cream cakes, cookies, strawberries and cream, and ices were among the desserts that Opal and Jenny were preparing for the new Reverend Anderson of Whiteshores. Aunt Hannie had voluntarily invited the minister for supper and when one is under the pressure of preparing for something as significant as that there will come heaps of trifles. One is always wondering if there are enough appetizers to suffice, or possibly how the beverages will turn out, and have mercy! we all worry how well the decorated lobster will be. But Aunt Hannie has the worst of it. That blessed woman was always striving to be the perfect saint and hostess. And there’s more, for when there is company Aunt Hannie is a natural wreck. You must know when one is the guardian of Opal there will come trials and tribulation. Numerous accounts can I recall when she would fall over a chair and into a cake or perhaps the time she let out her little bird Oscar, and he flew right into a "high-society" woman’s hair when visiting! And goodness alone knows what disaster just might strike tonight.
"Opal you are not going to wear those obnoxious frocks are you? I’d have a proper fit if you did," cried Aunt Hannie after coming into the kitchen, eying the hideous rags that Opal chose to wear with pride.
"Aunt Hannie dear, I’m pining to know, how are frocks obnoxious?"
"Don’t be saucy. Opal you look despicable and you know Miss Nelson is also coming and my soul! she’ll never give you an ounce of respect for the way you look. Now why has your sister been dressed up prettily and you in peasant clothes? Go change into something suitable—that blue sprig say?"
"The time will come when I will," replied Opal, irritated and succeeding in procrastinating. "But I’d rather not now. Something as elegant as my blue sprig is bound to be soiled or torn in some way, so I should say it’s best to wait and put it on later. I’m known for my scrapes."
"I can’t contradict that."
Disturbed with her sister’s agreeing, Opal felt the need to change the subject.
"Does the minister have children?"
"Not a one," returned Aunt Hannie.
"Oh that’s a shame."
"Isn’t it? I suppose it is best for a devoted reverend to stay unmarried with no family so that he may stay closer to God," suggested Jenny, pensively.
"No, no, no, I meant to say that preacher children are brats from Heaven, and I am rather disappointed that there shan’t be any for me to torment." Yes, I should say this awakened Aunt Hannie from her absence in the conversation. That phrase "brats from Heaven" might amuse one and provoke another, but amused indeed Aunt Hannie was not.
"What a blasphemous thing to say! What compelled you to be so rude, Opal, that disrespectful toungue of yours or that thoughtless mind?"
"Truth. And it is too! I felt as though I should smack the little pug-nosed child who came to me one day and said I was the ugliest urchin---the nerve to call me an urchin! Now I know I’m not becoming and I don’t care! But she should never say such a thing, don’t you think?"
"Children are not all the same. That girl’s father was probably the leader of a cult---" Aunt Hannie stopped abruptly, realizing she never should have made such a remark in the presence of her nieces and finished it off with, "Go put your dress on."
Opal reluctantly obeyed, having nothing more to do or say to disrupt human serenity and Aunt Hannie let out a sigh of relief.
Time passed as it always does, bringing evening, supper, and the long awaited {and soon to be discovered, prolonged} arrival of the Reverend Anderson. After the chicken was gracefully stuffed into the oven, a loud, hard rap at the door startled the semi-peaceful family.
"There’s the door! Get it won’t you, Opal, I must finish off this chicken," called Aunt Hannie from the kitchen, in a highly improper way, especially for a lady like herself.
Opal sat up after lounging on the sofa and smoothed her ruffled pinafore before answering the caller. After the half finished grooming she hopped away, forgetting the dignity one would expect from an adolescence, and let the door swing open, present a gracious curtsy in the most mock, irreverent way, look into the callers eyes hospitably, change her calm expression in a revolted {yet comical to veiwers’ eyes} manner, forthwith slamming the door in his face. Alarmed by this action that could be heard and partially seen in the next room, Aunt Hannie forgot her chicken and swirled around to punish and lecture the wicked child.
"What did you do that for, young lady? That was company!" cried Aunt Hannie.
"That was far from company and much less human; what in the world is Jacob doing on our doorstep? He is as unwanted as mosquito!" And Opal threw herself into rage muttering false words under her breath, tossing her head like a discomforted colt, and pace furiously.
"Oh dear me!" sighed Aunt Hannie to herself, though loud enough that Opal could hear.
"What is it? Do you know about this?" scolded Opal, and stopping to listen to more that she did not know.
"Yes, I should have told you and Jenny sooner. Your cousin will be staying with us for a spell. Treat him nicely mind you, he is your cousin and my nephew. You’re father would want you to be kind to him, for his family is a mess at the moment. Aunt Kara is in a bad state due to that incorrigible gambling, drunkard of a husband of hers. She very much should leave the man but doesn’t have the heart to and is insistent on being able to talk and counsel Henry. Now be good, you hear me child?" said stern Aunt Hannie, with a doubtful look in her eye.
"This is a fine way to break the news, auntie. Telling me after he arrives so I hadn’t a chance to devise some scheme to rid him. That was unfair game and you knew it! Very well, go back to your chicken and I will to mine," sighed Opal, shooing away her aunt and opening the door once more.
There stood the most unruly, mischievous boy with the naughtiest grin and flyaway look on his face. He seemed about thirteen or so and appeared very wild, therefore he would be a challenge to everyone. It was no doubt that the Opal and he were related for they both had a bad nature and just by studying Jacob one could see he was filled with pranks. As for features he was a frightfully tall lad, dishevled, dirty blond hair unkept and not the least bit hidden by the cocked hat that we wore on his head, and at any minute it looked as though it should fall off and never did. He had merry black eyes dancing with wickedness and sometimes very threatening eyes they could be. For his quick temper and rough manner which he inherited from his father could be seen by one flash that he gave with his eyes which merely seemed to say, “Don’t catch me when in rage or I’ll throttle you.” Brown skin had the boy, much like that of an Indian’s, a ruddy face, big hands, long limbs, a very interesting nose, not queer, though yes rather interesting, and nice teeth though often clenched due to his fury.
"Good woman! I take it it isn’t quite faddish to slam doors on gentleman, but you are the one to revise the rules, insticts tell me. Do you find it so very appealing to break my nose?" said the said the loud voiced boy, inviting himself in and letting his eyes rove the house.
"Did you have a pleasant ride?" asked Opal, trying earnestly to behave but only succeeding in giving the boy a bleak stare and quick handshake that clearly seemed to say she would have much rather punched him.
"Massachusetts isn’t the place to get a train, neither live. Where do you want this?" asked Jacob, already dropping his trunk on Opal’s toe.
"Give it here, I’ll take it to your room. You’ll have to stay in the barn with the other pigs," sneered Opal, picking the luggage up herself as if Jacob expected her to be his bellhop. She then collected herself and said in a more serious tone, "Now hear me Jacob, we’re having company, a minister, for dinner so you must act nicely spite of your bad self, understood?"
"Oh I’m obliged, ‘bad self’, am I? Well, rather be devilishy handsome than saintly homely like all of ‘em goody two shoes. Company, hey? Party of two or just one?" inquired the boy, pulling off his hat and tossing it on Opal’s as if she was not only bellhop but hat and coat rack.
"Just one. Go tidy yourself up and look somewhat decent. If you only semi-occasionally washed your hands and face you might look almost human.”
“Now really, ‘Al, you ought to treat me with more respect,” started the less than sober Jacob. “Why, just look at me, I’ve gone days without a wash, been on a rowdy train, and only just plopped on your doorstep to receive a scornful order. What hospitality is that? Couldn’t you be like most young ladies and fetch me tea and cream and pleasant things for a hungry man who’s worked up a beastly appetite?” And here note that the boy with a beastly appetite heaved a sigh and gave his chest a sound slap. “Hollow.”
“I ain’t amongst the majority of ‘most young ladies.’ Now what must I do to get you to obey?”
“I’m afraid nothing.”
“Now please, Jacob, if I tell you a young lady shall also be dining with us would you at least try to put in effort into hygeine?” pleaded Opal.
“Yes indeed, very much so. Who’s the young lady?” asked the eager little Don Juan.
“Miss Nelson.”
“Never mind,” howled the dissapointed child.
“Start right away!” ordered the unromantic Opal, pointing towards the staircase.
“And Jacob,” she called, stopping Jacob from sprinting up the stairs and frightening night and day out of anyone in his path. “No pranks, whatsover. I can see it on that smug face of yours you are up to something, up to no good. No ma’am, nothing doing tonight, as tempting as it is. Go now.” This caught the master of jokes attention immediately, for what good was the world without fun? Jacob swirled around to debate, and after much teasing and insulting, bribing and scolding done all in vain to bargain with Opal, he retreated to the guestroom to change his attire, vowing to be good for the night.
"He’s here, did Aunt Traitor tell you?" whispered Opal to Jenny, once she had her moment to flee from Jacob.
"Yes. We must be kind to him, for his father must be a burden on his thoughts. To think it has been two years since last seen him. I hope he has become something of a gentlemen since then," sighed Jenny, for she remembered her cousin as a very impertinent lad.
"I can guarantee he isn’t. The bland manner of his is mock and rude and he’s stupid," growled Opal, staring at the door which tauntingly reminded her of the mistake she made by letting Jacob in.
"Nonetheless we won’t be that way. And there he is now! Jacob Kreen, how do you do?"
"Alright, Jenny. Refreshingly stunning as usual, much older you’ve become and a lady more that ever," complimented Jacob boyishly.
"You’re looking fine yourself, cousin. How’s Boston?" asked Jenny eagerly, for the semi-formal greetings had ended and the children began to mingle like they did years ago.
“Primative. Whiteshores will do me a world of good, it’s intruiging land."
"Would you like to know what else would do you a world of good?" said Opal and with wicked intentions, for she had not quite gotten over the revulsion for her cousin.
"Not really," he returned, observing his pumps in a ungentlemanly manner.
"Don’t bicker," warned Jenny the peacemaker with a sharp look towards Opal then hastily changed the subject. “How is Roddy getting along with Aunt Kara, Jacob?”
“I wouldn’t know. Roddy’s been away at war for four months now,” explained Jacob, looking cool and confident, but deep within, the threat of losing his brother was constantly on his thoughts.
“So long, and you didn’t tell us? Why didn’t Aunt Kara send word?” cried Opal, for Roddy was her favored cousin and was very much like an older brother for she had none and he was the best.
“I don’t know. Perhaps not to frighten you, or maybe she forgot,” guessed Jacob, uncomfortably fidgeting with the button on his cuff.
“I think it is just horrid to send boys and young as eighteen off to war,” sighed Jenny.
“They send younger, fifteen at least. Two years if the war keeps up like this I might go.”
“Is that even legal?” Opal, who was much interested in war affairs and other such manly things, leaned forward with evident interest and want of continuing the subject.
"I do wonder when the minister is too come, and Miss Nelson," though aloud Jenny, happy to end the conversation of Roddy and war.
"Let’s hope she isn’t coming. She worries me sick the way she rambles words off her tongue, it gives me such a headache. What a gossip she is! Why auntie invited her I don’t know, it was a rash doing," said Opal.
“She ought not to speak the way she does, gossiping fool. One day she will find herself at a loss for words, for she’d have spoken them all and nothing more left for her to say,” remarked Jacob, causing Opal to snicker at the very idea.
"I’ll bet."
"Girls don’t bet, Opal. Behave a little more for you may not speak so in front of the minister. What a terrible impression you would make!" groaned Jenny, with a melodramatic slap of the hand on the forehead as her eyes went heavenward.
"Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine and yet better if I can. Aunt’s having a fit with the chicken and hasn’t even started the lobster. Isn’t rather inane to have two such big meats and all the trimmings. She’s really gone aboard and over hasn’t she?"
"So much I have not even seen her yet. Isn’t that family like of her, to leave me be even without a cold ‘hello’ at the least," and Jacob shook his head with a counterfeit frown for he found his aunt’s manner amusing on the whole.
The children snickered and giggled, pulled on braids and threw punches, merged and socialized in the most absurdly childish manner for a time more and when their Aunt joined them it was one happy family until the doorbell interrupted the party. Now, it must be said, for a doorbell was never so frightening as then, when Aunt Hannie jumped in surprise and she had a tremendous fit before answering the door. The nieces and nephew dared not laugh, though it was an irresistibly funny sight to see for the aunt got so flustered in her thoughts till it was evident her heart might fail her.
"Mercy me, here already!" she cried.
"I’ll be darned," muttered Opal, and luckily for her sake, Aunt Hannie was too fluttered to hear her or she would have been given a hearty thrashing.
"Be hospitable Opal, and don’t go off on one of your absurd stories, you know they can bore even a Quaker. Please do be a cherub and mind your manners."
"Oh yes Auntie! I will. Truly madam, not a soul shall discover my inner stupidity. Bless my heart, are you going to leave that poor dear out on the doorstep?" gushed Opal, knowing it was safe to imitate her aunt, for Aunt Hannie would never know how comical she really sounded. Though Aunt Hannie did forget of her awaiting company and rushed to the door not minding the danger of tripping up her skirts.
"Reverend! So good to have you, don’t wait in the cold, please," faltered Aunt Hannie, not giving anyone a split second to get a word in edgewise, and obviously in an oblivious state after mentioning "don’t wait in the cold" during the prime of summer.
Jenny looked particularly pretty and regal and perfectly like a lady; but one must know Opal is a very social creature, though had no idea how to act civilly, anon jumping to the caller and shook the minister’s hand gentlemanly.
"Mr. Reverend, Opal Kreen, how go’s it? Fine night for a supper; heavenly breeze, don’t you agree? So sir, where you from? Come a long way, I suposse. How long have you been in Whiteshores? Hope you’re nice and settled. You know you got a lot of responsibility now mister, pastoring our flock," declared Opal unconscious of how blunt she was, which made Aunt Hannie and Jenny blush till they were as scarlet as the lobster. Yet this was nothing that disturbed the Reverend, rather amused him actually, and took a liking to this child quickly.
“I’m very well, young lady, yes it is a fine night. Wyoming actually, yes very long way. Got in town a three days ago and very settled. Have I? Well responsibility will be good for me, I’ve pastored a church out West for two years before coming here, will take time for me to adjust to the East.”
"I understand that. And meet by sister and cousin; my sister Jacob, and cousin Jenny," and Opal smiled to herself as she presented Jacob.
A sudden crash that saved Jacob from shooting off his own high words and getting himself into trouble came from Miss Nelson as she burst into the home flirting her fan, batting her eyelashes, and giggling ridiculously. Miss Nelson was a rather plump—large to be frank, young woman and as it was said before, friend of Aunt Hannie that had such a contrary time trying to come through the door. Her stupefied airs made her look just as ludicrous as her apparel.
"Reverend Anderson, pardon me for my being fashionably late. Where is that dear Hannah? In the kitchen, cooking a fantastic meal. Always does, makes terribly elegant preserves and such. I hope you knew I was coming? Oh indeed I was, I was pining to meet you!" proclaimed Miss Nelson, much too revealingly, which sent Jacob cackling like a rooster until Opal thrashed him before the minister and Miss Nelson.
"Very much obliged, madam," said the minister with nod and smile.
The party of five acquainted for several more minutes when one member was called away to the kitchen.
"Opal come here, I want you. Serve the salad would you? I haven’t time for this blessed lobster won’t give up a good fight even when it’s dead!" howled Aunt Hannie, throwing together bowls carelessly and nearly breaking the china in the process.
"That dear sea-creature and I have much in common, shall I attend to him? I can settle my kindred kinds."
"It’s a risk but do it, better for me to serve anyway, and it has been terribly unmannerly of me to not even meet the minister or greet Miss Nelson. Mustn’t have you upsetting chairs either."
"Don’t doubt me aunt! I’ll fix that lobster, if I die in the attempt!" was the brave return, looking as though she would very much die while handling the main course.
"That is what frightens me," murmured Aunt Hannie as she walked away with bundles of fear and bowls of salad, leaving Opal to have a word with the lobster.
"Now listen to me, you. We’re going to finish this the right way and no complaining about it. You have a choice, you may fight and fail and be thrown into a miserable death, I should say your second death; or boil properly, be served, and hear wonderful words of praise of just how scrumptious you taste! It’s best for the both of us if you only cooperate," whispered Opal, as she poked at the urchin vigorously.
It took mounds of effort and time before Opal and the lobster compromised their differences, but it was done in due time and brought out for the supper to finish the artistic meal. I do say though, Opal had quite a trial and was mystified when the lobster sat at the bottom of the boiling water still as hard as ever. "Hard on the outside but nice and tender inside," was what she though and made no delay in serving it, feeling very much confident with her latest work. As the food was being passed around the table, Opal was the prisoner of suspense watching and waiting for each to taste. But oh how Opal dreaded the feeling of defeat as Aunt Hannie warned her, and in front of everyone, that the lobster was solid frozen to the core.
"Oh how could it be? I had that devil sitting in scorching hot water for a long spell!" cried Opal, unaware of swearing in the minister’s presence and truly envying the species of lobsters who had shells to crawl into when humiliated.
"Opal Kreen when will you ever think practical? You must be as daft as a mule, the fire was never stoked! As for you thinking it was ‘scorching hot,’ I don’t know where that came from."
"Practical poppycock!" declared Opal, looking for a fight. "Crumbs and Olives! Only to me! It never seemed the least bit frozen, although sea things are mysteries to me! You can’t be very perplexed, aunt, at least we’ve still got a splendid chicken."
Now it was Aunt Hannie’s turn for shame, for she was blushing up to her forehead as if a naughty child who had been caught stealing a second helping of dessert.
"No we haven’t. When I put it in the oven earlier and found it just half an hour ago, it was burned to a crisp, so we have not a meat."
If this happened in a secluded family dinner Aunt Hannie never would have minded, but in front of the minister and Miss Nelson it would have been better to roll over and die. It was only a week ago Miss Nelson gave Aunt Hannie one of her speeches of Opal’s terrible manners, and this gave the woman the perfect opportunity to raise her brow and telegraph, "I told you so." Aunt Hannie sighed as she departed once more to the kitchen to hammer away at the frozen and haughty lobster, though before she could she caught of glimpse of the bad Jacob and the minister himself trying to restrain from roaring with laughter, though I should say the former was not doing his best. Opal glared at her cousin who winked at her and snickered to his heart’s delight, but excused Reverend Anderson by saying—
"It’s quite alright reverend, I’m used to it, please make yourself comfortable and laugh yourself to Jupiter if you’d like," exclaimed Opal meekly and she stifled a sigh of regret. The lobster affair was quite humorous, but Opal’s little speech was the end of it all and not a soul could stop from laughing, not even Aunt Hannie though she tried her best. "The most shameful thing of this all is that, that wretch has won the war!" And though no one knew what Opal meant they laughed anyway with tears coming down their faces.
The supper ended rather jubilantly if not peacefully, for all were content with eating the lobster and chicken dinner without the lobster and chicken, excluding perhaps one party for straightway after supper events Opal asked her cousin, “How was your dinner?” to which he replied, “Disgusting,” and I dare say it is rather crushing to a trying cook. They adjourned for they night and had a hearty game of Sayings with dessert, coffee, and talk, leaving behind unforgettable memories of this disastrous dinner.

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