Monday, 19 January 2015

Medieval Curses and More - Lindsay Townsend

Medieval people believed in magic, both good and bad. Spells and charms cast with evil intent were called curses and several have survived from that time. The Anglo-Saxons believed in both charms and curses, including a curse chanted against a wen or boil. The little wen is told to go away, to become smaller and vanish into nothing (Her ne scealt thu timbrien, it says - “Here not build your timbered house.”)

The Vikings also believed in the power of words and words for magic and curses. In one saga a witch called Busla issues a curse against King Hring, who has captured and threatened to kill Busla’s foster son. The curse is chanted at night (a good time for such dark matters) and Busla’s magical threats are made manifest.  In lines of poetry, the witch claims that her curse will cause Hring to go deaf, make his eyes to the leave their sockets,  make his bed like burning straw and make him impotent. In addition, any horse he rode would take him to trolls– and more.
“Shall trolls and elves and tricking witches,
shall dwarfs and etins (giants) burn down thy mead-hall…”
 The king is still reluctant and  Busla chants the strongest part of her curse, magic so dark that she does not utter it at night but which will cause Hring to be torn into pieces and flung into hell.  Faced with these gruesome outcomes, the king swears an oath to release his captives. The witch then stops the curse.

Curses could be used both as items to propel malice and as a curious form of protection. Curses were often attached to medieval and Anglo-Saxon wills, mostly to ensure the last wishes were observed, or for more day to day purposes.  The will of Siflaed (composed between 1066-68, soon after  the Norman conquest of England, which may explain the strength of the curse)  states “Whoever alters this, may God turn his face away from him on the day of judgment.”   The Will of Wulfgyth, dated 1046, promises that anyone who detracts from his will shall be denied all human comfort and joy and be delivered into hell “and there suffer with God’s adversaries without end and never trouble my heirs.”  

This form of invoking God by means of a curse to protect others remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1407, the Will of Thomas of Tyldeslegh gives a hundred shillings of silver to a John Boys to make him an apprentice in a trade and “If anyone hinder this, may God’s curse be upon him.”
                                                 
Curses could be used by medieval people everywhere and in all circumstances. When a monk  in 1420 discovered that the monastery cat had peed  on the manuscript he had been copying, the monk cursed the cat and recorded his curse—with a small drawing, showing pointing hands toward the cat pee—

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Curses as medieval swear words can be found in this article here:

The ultimate curse could be considered to be excommunication, where a person and a person’s soul is cut off from God and the comforts and body of the church. This was feared as a terrible punishment but was not seen as being permanent, since a person could make amends and have the excommunication lifted.  Bishops and popes used excommunication as a political weapon and means of control.

 Objects could also be used in a malicious way. An amulet containing such vile materials as human waste, a splinter of wood from a gibbet or menstrual blood might be hidden under a bed to cause anything from impotence to sickness. Corpses of dead animals, such as black mice, were sometimes wrapped in cloth and buried under a threshold to create trouble for the inhabitants. Sympathetic magic, where a witch would ‘milk’ a knife stuck in the wall of her cottage, would enable her to steal milk from a cow. In Lucerne in 1486 2 women were accused of making hail by pouring well water over their heads. In Coventry in the 14th century a sorcerer created a wax figure of his neighbor, then drove a spike into the figure’s head and then heart. The neighbor died. In the 1130s the Jews of Trier were accused of making a wax figure of the archbishop and melting it in a fire to cause his death.

Some people were believed to have the power in themselves of cursing others, particularly if members of their family had been accused of sorcery. In 1454 at Lucerne a woman called Dorothea  was widely believed to be an ill-wisher—her mother had been burned as a witch and Dorothea, being unpopular, was accused in her turn.

Certain things were considered to be inherently cursed or evil in the Middle Ages. The wood of the elder tree was believed to be unlucky (it was said Judas had hung himself from an elder tree)and it was also thought to be a witches’ tree. Elder wood can easily splinter, so strictures against its use were in some ways sensible.  Juniper was another plant with a mixed reputation. Although a sprig of juniper was believed to protect the wearer from curses, to dream of juniper was said to foretell bad luck or a death.

What could protect against curses? Rowan was said to be a strong protector. The rowan tree, taken from the Norse “runa” meaning charm, was often planted close to houses to protect the household  against evil. Around Easter time medieval people would make small crosses from rowan wood to give further safety to the house.

Illness, famine, flood, plague and all manner of misfortunes in the Middle Ages were believed to be either due to God’s anger (as with the Black Death) or the result of a curse. Given the state of knowledge about the natural world at that time, the idea of deliberate evil by a person (or in some cases an animal) makes a strange kind of sense. Moreover people were comforted when they could use prayers, amulets, witch bottles and, in extreme cases, the law to protect themselves against the occult forces.

Belief in magic was strong in the Middle Ages. I write about curses and have characters use, or fight against them, in Dark Maiden, The Snow Bride and A Summer Bewitchment . I touch on the idea of God's anger and the Black Death in To Touch the Knight and belief in magical creatures in The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn 

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Monsoon Mists - historical romance



Monsoon Mists is the final part of my Kinross trilogy and follows the adventures of Jamie Kinross, younger son of the couple in Trade Winds (book 1) and brother of Brice from Highland Storms (book 2).  Here is the blurb and a short excerpt:-

Sometimes the most precious things cannot be bought …

It’s 1759 and Jamie Kinross has travelled far to escape his troubled existence – from the pine forests of Sweden to the bustling streets of India.

Jamie starts a new life as a gem trader, but when his mentor’s family are kidnapped as part of a criminal plot, he vows to save them and embarks on a dangerous mission to the city of Surat, carrying the stolen talisman of an Indian Rajah.

There he encounters Zarmina Miller. She is rich and beautiful, but her infamous haughtiness has earned her a nickname: “The Ice Widow”.  Jamie is instantly tempted by the challenge she presents.

When it becomes clear that Zarmina’s step-son is involved in the plot Jamie begins to see another side to her – a dark past to rival his own and a heart just waiting to be thawed. But is it too late?

Monsoon Mists, excerpt:-

The smile Mr Kinross sent her this time was nothing short of dazzling. Zar was glad she was sitting down as it definitely did something strange to her innards. Then a teasing glint flashed in his eyes.
            ‘So have you thought any more about my proposition?’ he asked.
            ‘Which proposition would that be?’ Zar frowned, caught off-guard by his question.
            ‘To, er … amuse you if you’re in need of a diversion.’
            Zar couldn’t stop her mouth from falling open, but shut it quickly again as she sent him her most quelling glance. ‘Really, Mr Kinross, I don’t know to what you are referring.’
            ‘Oh, I think you do.’
            He was still smiling and Zar felt unaccountably hot all of a sudden. But she was also outraged. She would make it clear to him she was not that kind of woman.
            ‘I’ll have you know I’m a respectable widow. Neither you, nor anyone else, will ever set foot in my bedroom and I’d thank you not to refer to such things again.’
            She turned to stare out the window while she tried to force her breathing to return to normal. For some reason she was having trouble inhaling enough air and it was making her chest heave unbecomingly.
            ‘Now that sounds distinctly like a challenge to me. Would you like to bet on it?’
            ‘What?’ Zar swivelled round and stared at Kinross. The effrontery of the man.
            ‘I’ll wager one hundred rupees that I will. Set foot in your bedroom, that is.’ He raised his eyebrows at her, as if daring her to accept. ‘Say, within the next two weeks?’ he added, a teasing note in his voice.
            ‘I don’t believe I’m hearing―’
            ‘Very well, two hundred rupees. Deal?’
            ‘Now see here, Mr Kinross―’
            ‘You drive a hard bargain, Mrs Miller. Three hundred it is.’
            Zar almost stamped her foot in frustration, but managed to restrain herself at the last minute. ‘I’m not making a wager with you!’
            ‘Ah, you’re afraid you’ll lose. I thought so.’
            His smug expression made Zar see red. She clenched her fists by her side and scowled at him. ‘I am not.’
            ‘Well, then, you almost certainly stand to gain three hundred rupees. That can’t be bad, can it?’
            Zar took a deep breath and tried to think, but Kinross’s quicksilver gaze held hers and jumbled her thought processes. He was right. It would be the easiest money she’d ever earned. But then why was he even proposing such a thing? There must be a catch … For the life of her, she couldn’t think of one though. ‘Oh, very well, I accept your wager. But I’m not meeting you anywhere private for you to hand over my winnings, is that clear?’
            ‘Perfectly.’ He bowed. ‘I will allow you to decide entirely. If you win, of course.’

Buy links:-


Happy New Year everyone!
Christina x

 


Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Regency comedy GOOSED! OR A FOWL CHRISTMAS is Here!



Goosed! or A Fowl Christmas, the first in my Regency The Feather Fables series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple.

BLURB:

The Feather Fables--where birds twitter and chirp and bring romance.

Ah, Christmas, what a glorious season. Decorations, friends, good will to all, a time of magic and miracles.

But not for Miss Julia Shaw. She is new to the area, her farm desperately needs upkeep, and the pittance she earns from her artwork doesn’t pay the bills. And then her pet goose escapes. Making matters worse, when she first meets the devastatingly attractive Lord Tyndall, the abominable man insults her as he returns her goose. No peace and good will for her this Christmas.

Exhausted from a year of business travel, Robert, Baron Tyndall, returns to London only to fall prey to his mother’s matchmaking attempts. Escaping to his country estate, he finds solace with the birds in his aviary. Except that a plague of a goose that belongs to his new neighbor, Miss Shaw, has somehow entered his aviary and wreaked havoc. That disagreeable lady had better keep her misbegotten bird to herself. Too bad she is so lovely. What a horrendous Christmas this season has become.

But even in the blackest depths, a spark of light can glimmer. For at this wondrous time of Christmas, miracles and magic can and do happen.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance with fantasy elements. 61,000 words.

EXCERPT:
What was that infernal din? Catching up her shawl, Julia dashed down the stairs and then out through the front door. Winding her shawl around her, she rounded the house and almost slammed into an unfamiliar gig.

The vehicle blocked her view of the goose pen, from which the honking emanated. But no one was there—her pet goose had run off. She ran around the conveyance and stopped dead.

Her pet had returned! Flapping, honking and biting, the flying goose—He could fly? She had never before seen him do so—attacked a large, stylishly dressed gentleman.

The man, his arms high to protect his head, flailed at the goose. His back was to her, his upended hat lay in the dirt and white feathers covered his black greatcoat. He swore. Loudly.

Julia’s ears burned. “Do not hurt my goose, sir!”

The man batted at the goose again and turned toward her.

Julia gasped. He was the man on the road a few days ago. His dark eyes blazed, his brown hair was mussed, and his sharp cheekbones had flushed from the effort of warding off the goose.

Her pulse raced. He had looked handsome at a distance. Up close, he was magnificent. Tingles raced over her skin.

“This spawn of Satan is your property, madam?” He jerked his head back from the goose’s open bill as the bird dove in for a bite.

“He is, sir, and you will not harm him!” She jumped between the man and the goose.

The goose, breathing heavily, plopped to the ground. Eyes afire, he angled his head around her. He hissed at the man.

“Gracious, what is the matter?” She stroked the goose’s head.

The bird went limp, as if he had been pumped full of air and all the gas suddenly escaped.

She tipped her head back to glare up at the man. Good gracious, he was tall. “He has never acted this way before. What have you done to him?”

The man’s jaw dropped. “I? This feathered blackguard has tried to bite me ever since I saw him. And just now he attacked me.” He scowled at the goose. “If he is your property, you are welcome to him.”



Available at





Also available at the other Amazon stores

Barnes and Noble


Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords)


Kobo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My world of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com


Sunday, 9 November 2014

New Release from Jen Black : ABDUCTION OF THE SCOTS QUEEN

Blurb:
Henry Tudor demands the Scots Queen be brought south, by force if necessary, to marry his son. Young Englishman Matho Spirston accepts the challenge only to fall foul of the king's niece, bold beauty Meg Douglas.
She has her own problems with ambitious Lord Lennox. Her trickery forces Matho to use his wits and all his courage to survive in the brutal world of 16th century Scottish politics.
Observing them all is Marie de Guise, the Dowager Queen with a loyalty to France, struggling to protect her daughter's birthright amongst headstrong lords who think any one of them could rule the country better than a mere woman.

A bright, sparkling story with both drama and humour set in sixteenth century Scotland when life was an uncertain thing and death never far away.

Excerpt 1:
‘Spirston, you’ve dealt with forays of Scots across the fells to steal a few cattle and sheep. You know men don’t always return from a raid or a trod. This persuades me the pair of you may have a chance of success. But don’t take this task lightly, either of you.’ He cast a warning glance at his son. ‘It could cost you your lives.’
   ‘Aye.’ On a wave of confidence, Matho flicked his fingers against Harry’s green velvet sleeve. ‘You’d best get out of those fancy duds, Harry. They’ll give you away in a trice. Splurge some money on a less gaudy set of clothes, man.’
   ‘Quite.’ Humour lit Wharton’s eyes. ‘I dare say Harry will be loath to shed his favourite boots. He is ever light-hearted about too many things, Spirston. I’m relying on you to talk sense into him.’
   Matho’s glance fell to the boots in question. While he had never begrudged Harry his expensive clothes, his time at court nor his chantry school education, he stared at the fine brown leather boots with red, turn-down cuffs embossed with tiny gold flowers, and promised himself he would own a similar pair before the year turned. Either that or he wouldn’t be worrying about boots at all.


Excerpt 2:
Meg Douglas braced her palms on the cold stone windowsill high in the north-west tower and stared out to sea. A mile away, Bass Rock heaved its white, guano-smeared sides out of the indigo water and the usual coronet of seabirds circled its cliffs. Her gaze moved to hills of Fife on the far side of the Forth estuary, where waves hitting the shore threw up a faint haze and hid the beaches from sight.
With a hiss of exasperation, Meg banged the shutter closed and turned back into the small chamber. Father’s summons to this ancient Douglas stronghold had been unwelcome and badly timed. He must know Henry of England had married for the sixth time in July, and a budding court jostled round his new queen. By the time Meg rode south again, the plum positions would have gone and she would face the simpering smiles of the favoured ladies-in-waiting. She would have only King Henry’s erratic generosity to rely upon for the coming year.
Father would not care. Thanks to King Henry’s gold, Father was happily ensconced twenty-five miles from Edinburgh, and as busy as a bee in clover encouraging the populace of Scotland to accept the marriage of their infant Queen to England’s young Prince Edward. He could do it and welcome. She would be polite, even charming, do his bidding and get back to London as soon as possible. Scotland held nothing for her.
‘Margaret? Are ye ready? Daughter?’ Father’s bellow echoed up the spiral stairs from three floors below.
On the long, uncomfortable ride north she had received the unwelcome news that her father had re-married. At fifty-three, for God’s sake, he had wed a girl of eighteen. No doubt the new Countess of Angus would be waiting beyond the curve of the stair.

or http://amzn.to/1wQTs7F for the UK link

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Elisa DeCarlo: 'The Abortionist's Daughter'

CAN YOU ESCAPE YOUR PAST?

In 1910, before her father was convicted of accidentally killing a woman during an illegal abortion, Melanie Daniels was considered the most marriageable girl in her tiny Adirondack village. Now, six years later, the “Killer Doc” has been released from prison and the family are social outcasts. To cope with her fear of ending up an “old maid”, Melanie loses herself inside glamorous motion picture magazines. Until she meets James, a handsome stranger who promises adventure and a chance to leave the stifling small town life behind her. Shortly after they elope to New York, Melanie meets James’s ‘friend’ Gladys Dumbrille, a Broadway actress, and discovers he is not the man he seemed. In an attempt to re-invent herself, Melanie lies her way into Gladys’s new show. Their lives become intertwined in ways neither of them could have expected.

From the backwoods of the Adirondacks to the backstage of Broadway, The Abortionist’s Daughter explores love, sex, work and freedom in the first decade of the 20th century.  Filled with a colorful cast of supporting characters and vivid depictions of social mores, fashion, and family, Elisa DeCarlo tells one woman’s story with intelligence, passion, and wit.

BUY AT:  Amazon.com

ELISA DeCARLO was raised in Westchester CountyNew York. Her first novel, The Devil You Say (Avon, 1994) won both “Locus Best First Novel” and “Amazing Stories Best First Novel”, and received the CaB Magazine Special Achievement Award. Its prequel, Strong Spirits, was published by Avon in 1995.  Her humorous essays have been collected in the 2002 Random House anthology “Life’s A Stitch: The Best of Women’s Contemporary Humor”; Morrow Books “The Best of The New York Times’s Metropolitan Diary”; and Freedom Voices Books “Goddesses We Ain’t”.

Elisa’s been a working journalist, an audiobook abridger, magazine staff writer, and comic performer.  For 10 years she sold plus-size vintage clothing, both online and privately.  She has a keen knowledge of both fashion and show business history.

Her latest novel, The Abortionist’s Daughter, reflects her passion for vintage fashion and theater while painting an elaborate portrait of New York City just before World War One.


REVIEWS:

"It is crucial that we understand the historical challenges women have experienced regarding family planning and reproductive choice and the sacrifices that were made because it also sheds light on the very concerning roll back of rights in the present day. Elisa DeCarlo's historical  novel brings this to light in her imminently readable, dramatically rendered and useful book."
-Joan Lipkin, Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company

"Elisa DeCarlo masterfully takes us back to 1916 New York City with a tale of romance and betrayal that rings even more true for today."
- Mike Player, Author, Viral - The Story of the Milkshake Girl, Out on the Edge

"Truly entertaining and entertainingly true, DeCarlo's novel gives us the unforgettable and flawed Melanie Daniels, a heroine not only of her time, but of every time that women struggle to be fully human."
 Ruthann Robson, Professor of Law & University Distinguished Professor, CUNY School of Law, author of Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy

Elisa DeCarlo brings the “risqué” world of turn-of-the-century Broadway to life with the story of Melanie Daniels, an aspiring actress who moves to NYC with a dream and violet-trimmed toque. Melanie struggles with the puritanical morality of her upbringing and her nascent feministic awakening against the backdrop of this captivating historical novel -
Lisa Haas, playwright, In Heat, Crown Hill Cemetery, Rita & Inez: The True Queens of Femininity


EXCERPT:

Melanie knew she was pretty, but a lot of good that did her.  If only she were a movie actress, like Pearl White, who was on the cover of that month’s Photoplay.  Famous, rich, sought after.  Actresses weren’t just people.  Actresses didn’t have to muck out stables or darn the same pair of wool stockings ten times over.  “I’d make a wonderful actress,” she told herself.  In school, she had played Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet”.  It had been such fun, wearing the long romantic costumes and saying Shakespeare’s words.  And having everybody watching her, with admiration rather than queasy curiosity, not like the way they stared at her during the trial, or when she accompanied her mother to church.  Instead of Shakespeare, she would have rather done a rip-roaring melodrama like “The Drunkard”, but the school would hardly approve of such a thing.
Her pace slowed. Unconsciously Melanie arranged her face into an expression of languorous boredom and began to walk with her hips slightly forward, head back. She saw herself, glittering and desirable.  Away from her parents, she could transform herself into a “vampire” like the screen actress Olga Petrova.  A “vampire” was the antithesis of the sweet, innocent blonde movie heroine: a coldblooded temptress with long black hair and carmined lips. Melanie swayed down the road, the mud impeding her progress and interfering with the attempted seductiveness of her walk.
She was in a sitting room, filled with fine antiques.  A man in a velvet smoking jacket murmured, “Would you care for a cordial, my lovely?”  Her white shoulders were  magnificent in a backless evening gown.
“Hey!  Hello there!”
Startled, Melanie straightened up and turned.  A tall man in gray lounged against the rail fence of Abercrombie’s meadow.  It was the man from the ice cream parlor.  He was still in his gray worsted suit and a dashing black fedora.
“Hello,” he repeated.  Melanie knew that she should ignore such freshness.  But he was good looking. 
“Good afternoon,” she said, in what she hoped was a suitably uninterested tone.  She kept the languorous expression on her face, her eyes half-closed.
The man straightened up and swept off his fedora. “If it isn’t Alice Blue Gown!” he exclaimed, grinning. He had a wide, friendly mouth. Melanie remembered the small, bright eyes, bushy black eyebrows, the small, bulbous nose. His skin was ruddy, and there was a nice heft to his figure.
Her heart accelerated: what would a “vampire” do at this moment?  She wished she was wearing something more alluring, but in this weather she would have frozen stiff.  She favored him with a smile.
“You remember my dress,” she said. Oh, mercy, why couldn’t she think of anything to say?
“It was some dress,” he said.
“I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.” She fished for the right tone of  indifference. “Do we have—ah—mutual acquaintances?.”
“No, I don’t know anybody here,” he said. “My name is James Louis Throckmorton. Won’t you tell me your name? That’s a cute hat you got on.”
“Thank you.” He was indeed older than Lawrence Badger. The dusty look to his hair was caused by the gray sprinkled through his black curls. There were fine lines around his eyes.
He fell into step alongside her. “Come on, what’s your name?  I’ll wager it’s an attractive name.”  His accent was citified, with the r’s pronounced very strongly, his voice deep.
Melanie looked up and into his eyes, then looked away. Her throat was drying up. “I ought not to tell you this, Mr. Throckmorton. I don’t, ordinarily, but those who know me call me Miss Daniels.”  She cleared her throat.  On impulse, she added, “But you can call me Melanie.” She averted her eyes, her heart pounding. She had gone too far.
“Say,” said Mr. Throckmorton, “that is an attractive name. Are you from these parts, Miss Daniels?”
A gentleman!  She smiled.  “Yes.  Where are you from, Mr. Throck­morton? Tupper Lake?”
“No, I’m just traveling through these parts. I was in Saranac Lake and thought I’d take a look around.”
She felt that he hadn’t quite answered her question, but she let it pass. “Oh, that’s nice. My mother is from Saranac Lake.”
Mr. Throckmorton smiled, trying to see her face under the brim of her hat. “I might be in Muller’s Corners for some time, Miss Daniels. Perhaps I might call on you? You’re awfully pretty.”
Again, she managed to look briefly at him, then away. She couldn’t look directly at him.  When she did, she could feel his interest.  She didn’t know why it scared her, but it did.  “I don’t mind,” she said.
“How’s about tomorrow afternoon? Or tomorrow night? If you’d let me, I could stop by your house.” 
“No, no. Why don’t we make it in the afternoon? If it’s a nice day, we could go for a--for a walk.” Melanie did not want Mr. Throckmorton coming to her house. That would spoil everything. She wanted him to herself, without her mother languishing over him.
“That would be swell,” he agreed. “That would be grand. You know this town better than I do, Miss Daniels. Where’s a good place to meet?”
“You can meet me at White’s. I might want some ice cream, if it’s a warm afternoon.”
“You’ve got it! Two o’clock all right?”
They had reached the top of the steep hill that sloped down into Main Street. At the foot, Melanie saw with dismay that the usual gang of boys was hanging around Saxton’s Garage. She didn’t want them to see her with Mr. Throckmorton. It was bad enough having to listen to their filthy remarks, without this man also hearing them. He would find out her reputation in the worst possible way.
She stopped and smiled at him as prettily as she could. “Mr. Throckmorton?”
“Yes, Miss Daniels?”  He held his fedora in his hand, lightly tapping it against his thigh.
“Those boys down there, by the garage.”  She lifted her hand daintily, the way her sister would. “It wouldn’t do to be seen together by them. We haven’t been introduced, you know.  You do understand, don’t you?”
“Oh, sure, I understand.” He nodded vigorously. “Wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea about you.”
“No,” she said with a light laugh. “People will talk. They haven’t got much else to do around here.”
“I’ll wait up here for a spell. It’s such a beautiful day, it’s a pleasure. You go on home, Miss Daniels.”
“All right.” She extended her hand. He shook it. His hand was fleshy and warm, the skin surprisingly soft.  Melanie blushed to the roots of her hair.
“Until tomorrow, at two?” Mr. Throckmorton said.
“Until tomorrow. Good day.”  Melanie hurried down the hill, not daring to look behind her. If she looked back, he’d be looking at her, and she didn’t know if she could bear that just at the moment. Melanie didn’t know which frightened her more, his interest in her or her reaction to his interest.
The gang of boys in front of the garage were between thirteen and nineteen years old; a cheaply dressed, loud, obnoxious crew. Sometimes their loitering spot of choice was in front of White’s Candy and Soda Emporium; more often it was Saxton’s Garage (Ford Authorized Sales and Service), because Saxton didn’t care if the boys were there and White did. No unmarried woman in Muller’s Corners was safe from the boys’ lascivious cat-calls.  Melanie was a particular favorite. It was a gauntlet she ran at least once a week when she went to the market, because the garage was on the only road leading in and out of the village. She didn’t dare look at any of the boys, lest they take it as encouragement.
Melanie went hot and cold all over, hearing the low murmurs begin. But she kept walking, head high, eyes fastened on a point in the middle distance.  I’m better than all of you, I’m better than all of you, I’m better than all of you, she repeated with each step.
“Hey there, baby doll,” said Lucas Freeman, one of the older boys. He had been two years behind her at school. “Have fun at the dance?”
“How’s the old doc doing?” said another boy. “Killed any whores lately?”
“You rape ‘em, we scrape ‘em,” a youth said, to raucous guffaws from his fellows.
“How’s about some squeezin’? Hey, Rufus, how’d you like to get her behind the baseball field?”
“Ah, she’s too old,” said Rufus, a virile specimen of fifteen.
Melanie was shaking all over by the time they were out of her earshot.  She wanted them all to burn in everlasting flames.  Thank heaven Mr.Throckmorton had stayed behind.  The boys only said what everybody thought but was too polite to say.