The Muse

When he awoke that hot summer morning, so like the others that preceeded it, the sense of despair that had dogged him for months was lifted.

He had received a return letter from his friend Nathaniel the previous day, and hopes that the impasse he had reached with his writing would soon be ended were with him once again after such a very long time.

Elizabeth could be heard in the kitchen below and the smell of bacon permeated the house. He rose and performed his morning ablutions, dressed and descended the stairs.

“Good morning my dear.” He kissed her lightly on the cheek and took his place at the table.

Sensing his spirits were not dark for a change she favored him with a smile as she served the morning meal. he beamed at her and tucked into his breakfast.

“So then, you have a new plan, do you?” she enquired.

“I do indeed. I have been in conversation with Nathaniel on the matter these last weeks, as you know, and he said something to me yesterday that struck a chord. He has given me an idea for a change to the manuscript that I find exciting.”

She said nothing, knowing he would elucidate in his own good time and she did not wish to spoil the mood. The children had been away with her sister for the last forthnight as she had not wanted them to see him in such despair, but now that things had turned for the better she would send for them forthwith.

“I should have the children home tomorrow if it suits, Herman” she called as he headed for his study.

“That would be good, my dear. I should like to have them back with us. I must set to my work right away. The meal was lovely, by the way.”

He disappeared into the interior of the house and she smiled after him.

He took the page out of his desk and reread it. Yes, of course. It was so obvious, why had he not thought of it? Ah well, one never knew where inspiration would arise, what form the muse might take. He thought it well that it had been Nathaniel. Since moving to Massachusetts he had not much use for most of his fellows, but he had met Nathaniel in town and they had formed a bond most readily.

He set to work on his manuscript with renewed energy and the change in direction manifested itself quite readily to his great relief. He worked through the day without stopping and then went out to the farmhouse porch to clear his mind before dinner.

“How goes the writing?” Elizabeth enquired as they ate.

“It goes wonderfully well. I expect I will finish in a few weeks time, God willing. I am still a bit vexed by the opening though. It is Nathaniel’s opinion that the first sentence is of utmost importance, and I do so wish to make it strong.”

“You will manage, Herman. I have faith in you.”

As Summer faded to Autumn the mood on the farm was one of serene confidence. Work proceeded apace and Herman was nearing completion of his manuscript. Work around the farm had turned to the harvest and baling, the children attended their lessons and dutifully helped their mother with the chores.

Herman sat at his desk a few days later and looked thoughtfully at the page before him. The opening. It needed some change, but he couldn’t for the life of him decide precisely what. He sat back and rubbed his eyes and sighed. He thought about the Sunday sermon the previous day and suddenly it clicked.

He sat bolt upright and a smile spread across his face. Yes, he knew what it was. He needed to change the main character’s name, and that, by God would be his opening line. He picked up his quill and bent over the page and began to write.

Call me Ishmael…


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