Author’s Note:Na No Wri Mo is all about busting the glass ceiling of word count. One writes and writes … and writes some more. Past normal. Past sane. Past coherent.
Eventually, when ideas have dwindled to dust, inspiration is snatched from any source. For me, this meant hauling down my grandmother’s antique volume of fables and fairy stories. The tale I’m going to share began as the Anne Elliot version of The Little Red Hen. Written solely for word count, one sentence after the other, with little thought or planning, just to keep in the Na No game. And then, to my complete surprise, things began to go sideways for our Anne. No longer was she the Little Red Hen! She became Cinderella!
Well, sort of. Read on, friend, and see …
Gentle Anne and the Mill by Laura Hile
Once upon a time, in an imposing manor house on a sizeable estate, lived Gentle Anne with her family. Her mother had died years before, and Anne worked very hard taking care of the things her father, the baronet, did not wish to do. Her elder sister, Elizabeth, did not wish to do them either. Anne’s married sister, Mary, lived nearby. Mary did not have a carriage at her disposal, which was probably just as well, or she would have come to Kellynch Hall every day. Mary was fond of talking rather than working, so her presence only added to Anne’s load.
Gentle Anne started each day early. First she supervised the serving of breakfast. Then she looked in on the maids as they tidied the drawing-room for visitors, and checked to see that the beds were made. Later in the day she went out into the gardens to observe that all was being properly cultivated. She sat down with the housekeeper, went over budget sheets, planned meals, and got after the serving girls. She also went daily to church and consulted with the curate about the needy under his care, for it was she who saw to visitation of poor widows. Gentle Anne worked hard from morning til night.
But the three members of Anne’s family never worked at all. They went for long walks in the sunshine when the weather was nice, and sat in the shade with tea or iced sorbets. On stormy days they spent their time in the drawing-room reading stories, exchanging gossip, and playing board games. From time to time they would host a dinner for other worthy families in the area, which included music and dancing. Anne loved dancing as much as anyone, but when Captain Wentworth broke their engagement, she gave it up. Then too, she could hardly dance while playing the piano. Anne’s playing saved her father the expense and bother of hiring a band. And so even at parties, Anne spent her time toiling.
One sunny spring day Gentle Anne was out with the gardener looking over his work. In the shed she happened upon a sack of wheat seeds. Anne fingered the seeds thoughtfully, and her eyes grew bright as she realized the latent potential. Her father overspent dreadfully and money was dear. And yet here was a means of growing grain for bread!
“Who will plant these grains so that they will grow?” Gentle Anne asked her family. The gardeners had all they could do with the ornamental flowerbeds, so she knew better than to load an additional task on any of them.
“Not I,” said the baronet. “I, as you know, am far too busy with great and important tasks, as befits my station in life.” And he took up a copy of his favorite book, The Baronetage.
“Not I,” said Miss Elizabeth, with a toss of her beautiful curls.
“And certainly not I,” said Mary Musgrove. “Honestly, Anne, you know I am able to call only occasionally! I am not about to spend my precious moments here doing your house and garden chores!”
Gentle Anne was not discouraged. Down the road she went to Kellynch Lodge. She would ask Lady Russell, her godmother. Lady Russell was an industrious woman who disapproved of wasting time. But Lady Russell was occupied with writing letters that morning and could not come away.
And so, working alone with her gardener’s hoe, she broke up the ground and planted the grains of wheat in neat rows. Rains came later in the day and before long the seeds germinated. And how they grew! It was tremendously exciting to see the tender green stalks pushing up. Gentle Anne came rushing into the drawing-room with the news. Then she said, “Who will help me tend this wheat?”
“Tend wheat?” said Sir Walter, looking over the top of his spectacles. “Do people actually do that?”
“Yes, tend wheat,” said Gentle Anne, not so gently this time. “The ground wants hoeing and the weeds need pulling. Who will help me to do this?”
Mary drew herself up. “I,” she announced, “being married, have children to tend and a household to look after. You may tend wheat, Anne, since you have nothing better to do with your time. Elizabeth ought to help you, since she is so fond of gardens.”
Elizabeth turned and gave Mary a measured look. “Sending out the little men to plant and weed,” she said, “is not the same as working the ground oneself. Why, I would ruin my manicure! As well as my complexion.” She waved an airy hand. “If Anne chooses to do so, that is her affair.”
Anne sighed and came away from the drawing-room. Caring for the wheat patch had become a mighty burden! Along with everything else, there was precious little time left for her music and reading. But reading brought to mind Lady Russell. Anne’s spirits lifted. Lady Russell was beyond caring about her complexion, though she did fret anxiously about the state of her hands. Wearing chicken skin gloves to bed each night was beyond normal in Anne’s eyes, but who was she to judge her godmother? Especially when she could be so helpful with the wheat crop?
But when Anne arrived at Kellynch Lodge, she discovered her godmother’s carriage standing in the drive. Longwell and the gardener’s boy were struggling to load several trunks. “Her ladyship,” panted Longwell, in answer to Anne’s inquiry, “is quitting Kellynch for a spell, Miss. There is a series of philosophical lectures in Bath she’s wishful to attend.”
Anne sighed some more and, with weary feet, tramped back to Kellynch Hall and her wheat patch in the garden, alone.
And so spring ripened into summer, and there were the usual balls and dinners and parties for Anne to order and supervise. Even so, she kept a watchful eye on the wheat. By summer’s end the stalks were blonde and ripe. Anne left the garden and found her father and sisters lounging in chairs beneath the shade of a large maple, eating Italian ices.
“Who will help me cut and harvest the wheat?” Anne said.
“What wheat?” said Mary. “Are you still playing farmer, Anne? I should think it would have withered and died in all this heat.” Mary dug in the glass with a silver spoon for more of the flavored ice. “Pineapple,” she said, around a sigh. “My favorite.”
Sir Walter raised the newspaper and rattled it. “Help? Not I,” he announced.
“You cannot be serious, Anne,” Elizabeth added. “Do you intend to thresh the wheat as well as cut it?”
Gentle Anne hadn’t thought about the threshing, but she raised her chin manfully. “If that is what is necessary,” she said, “yes, I shall.”
And so all that long, warm day Anne toiled alone, struggling to hold the scythe at the proper angle with hands that were sore and bruised. She dragged the cut sheaves to the corner of the patch and, after spreading an old tablecloth on the ground, beat out the grain. How her shoulders ached! How she longed for someone to share the workload, or, at the least, simply converse with her!
Just before dinner, she finally finished. It was not a very large pile of grain for so much work, but Gentle Anne was pleased as she gathered the four corners of the cloth. Manfully she tied a hearty knot – or what she hoped was one, for Anne was not skilled in tying – and went looking for the gardener’s wheeled barrow. But loading it was an awkward business, for Anne was not strong and it wanted to tip to one side. Presently she gave it up and went in to change for dinner.
Fortunately, cook and the servants had managed to serve without Anne’s reminders – which she was too weary to give. When dinner was ended and the plates cleared, Anne summoned her last thread of strength. “Who will help me take the grain to the miller so that he can grind the grain into flour?” she said.
“I beg your pardon?” Elizabeth raised her brows. “ You wish me to do what?”
Sir Walter put down his coffee cup. “Of course we will do nothing of the kind,” he said. “And you may not use my carriage for such a task. I do not intend to dignify the miller by presenting my elegant equipage at his mill. Nothing,” he added, “is served by inflating inferior persons beyond their station in life. I’ve seen that new miller. A well enough looking man, but always covered with flour! It is beyond anything!”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing Longwell help you, Anne,” Mary put in. “With his starched shirt points and his perfectly pressed coat, all covered in wheat dust! What a shame that he has gone to Bath with Lady Russell and her servants.”
“I’ll help you, Anne,” put in Charles. “Or rather, Coney can. He and I must make a run to Crewkhearne first thing on an errand for Mama. But after that.”
On the following morning Anne was up at first light, but Charles’ man, Coney, never came. It was three miles from the Musgrove’s home to Kellynch, so perchance Coney thought the distance was too great? Or maybe the pony became lame? At any rate, it was left to Gentle Anne to heft her tied-up parcel of wheat into the gardener’s wheeled barrow. It was a tricky bit of business to balance the load, but this time Anne managed it. Fortunately she had found a pair of old leather gloves in the shed to shield her bruised hands. She found a battered wide-brimmed hat as well. No one would recognize her as Miss Anne Elliot, middle daughter of the baronet – and this suited Gentle Anne very well.
And so she walked the long way, alone, with her load. The mill was on the far side of the village beside a picturesque millpond. Anne set down the barrow and gazed at the water wheel. What a pleasant spot this was. How cozy was the miller’s thatched cottage! How still and peaceful was the pond, and how enchanting the bridge that spanned the stream!
In answer to her knock, the miller himself came out of his mill. As Elizabeth predicted, he was covered in flour. But since he was stripped to his shirtsleeves for work, it wasn’t unsightly. Anne noted the broad shoulders and fine strong hands. Seeing her, the miller hastily removed his cap, revealing a head of brown, curling hair. “Guid morning, ma’am,” he said politely. He spoke with a Scotsman’s burr.
“Will you grind this into flour for me, please?” said Anne. She removed her gloves, pushed back her battered straw hat, and counted out the pennies for his fee. Though it was yet early in the day, the air was unaccountably warm.
“Aye, sure,” said the miller. He was a bear of a man, with a deep, resonant voice and a nice smile. Carefully he unfastened Anne’s awkward knot. His fingers sifted through her hard-won pile of grain. “Wheat, isn’t it?” he said. “Beautiful.”
Anne blushed in simple pride. Coming from a man who handled grain, this was praise indeed.
“This will make guid bread for … ” The miller looked up. “For your husband?” His twinkling blue eyes asked a question.
Gentle Anne felt her cheeks grow hot. There was admiration in the miller’s gaze; even a simpleton could see that. “For my father and my sister,” she answered primly. And then, for some unaccountable reason, she added, “I … do not have a husband.”
“Is that so?” said the miller. At last he grinned and said, “Well then, since ye won’t be missed at home, how about helping me with the grinding?”
This was not what Anne wished to hear, but she squared her shoulders. “Does it involve any lifting?” she said bravely, but her voice betrayed her weariness.
“Aye, sure!” said the miller cheerfully. He deftly retied the knot, placed the sack of grain in Anne’s unwilling hands, and said, “Here. You lift this. And I,” he added, “will lift … you!”
And he caught Anne up in his brawny arms as easily as if she were a bundle of kindling wood. The miller headed for the door to his mill with firm, confident strides. Obviously he did not find this task burdensome!
Anne felt she must say something, but what? How did one converse with a tradesman? And in such an unconventional setting? “After the grinding is done, I would like to make bread,” she managed to say. She had to lean against his broad chest or risk unbalancing him, but once she became accustomed to this, she found it was not so bad. “But,” she confided, “I do not know how to bake.” She looked up at him. “Do you? Or rather … does your wife?”
“Well now,” said the miller. “It happens that I haven’t got a wife. But aye, I can bake bread. Guid bread. I’d be happy to show ye how.”
Once inside the mill, he deposited Anne on several large and surprisingly comfortable sacks of grain. Who knew that a sack of grain could make such a nice seat? So much better than the stiff furniture in the Kellynch drawing-room!
And then he went to work. Anne watched him pour the grain into the millstone hopper and use various tools that hung from a beam above. From time to time he glanced back at her. He must have noticed her interest, for he began to explain what he was doing.
“Now this here,” he said, tugging at a lever, “opens the control gate on the sluice box.”
She had no idea what a sluice box was, but assumed it had something to do with the large water wheel outside. “And now,” the miller said, “I raise the runner millstone, thus.”
As water filled the buckets of the water wheel, the machinery in the mill came alive. Very quickly the mill began turning at a greater speed. “See here,” the miller shouted above the noise. “Your grain is feeding in between the millstones!” He lowered the runner stone closer to the stationary bed stone.
“Aye, and do you see? The grind becomes finer and finer.” He stooped, gathered a handful of flour, and held it out to her to inspect. “And there we are.”
Then his work began in earnest, and there was no time for conversation. The miller sang as he worked, a fine clear baritone that carried above the noise of the millstones. Gentle Anne pillowed her head on her arm. It was dim inside the building – dim and warm – and the scent of grain was delicious and comforting. Your grain, the miller had said. He was grinding grain that she had planted, tended, and harvested with her own hands. The millstones clapped and ground together in a rough rhythm, and the miller sang on.
Anne smiled to herself. What a pity that this man could not sing while she played the pianoforte. How well they would sound together! She opened her eyes for another look at him. His shirtsleeves were rolled to the elbows and his shirt was open at the neck. The muscles in his arms and back shifted as he worked.
Anne bit back a yawn and stretched her weary limbs. In another world — the world of the gently born — this fine man would look well in her father’s drawing room. For in spite of being so large, his movements were graceful. And so Anne was left to wonder whether the miller danced as well as he sang.
Still smiling, she drifted into a comfortable doze – and awoke to find the millstones silent and the miller hovering over her. “This is not a proper spot for a nap,” he said gently. “Not for a fine lass like you.”
“But it is comfortable here,” Gentle Anne murmured, and closed her eyes again. Naively she added, “And I like to hear you sing.”
“Do you, now?” he murmured. Anne felt his fingers touch a tendril of her hair. “Singing, now that’s the key to hard wirk. Sing until the power comes, my old father used to say.”
There was a smile in his voice, which emboldened Gentle Anne to confess, “I wish I could sing as I work. But they wouldn’t like it.”
“And where do ye wirk, love?” The miller’s voice had a comfortable rumble, like the roll of distant thunder.
Anne opened her eyes. His face was very near; his curls hanging down. For some reason, Anne did not seem to mind. “At Kellynch Hall,” she said softly.
“And why,” he went on, “are they sending a fine lady’s maid to get the flour milled? I know times are hard, but not so hard as all that!”
“But I’m not…” Anne hesitated. She could hardly confess the truth to this man! “I’m not a lady’s maid,” was what she said to him. But in her heart a wild desire rose. How she wished, at this moment, that she were only a maid! For then—
The miller’s strong fingers closed over hers. “Ye are not bred to hard labor, that much is sure.” He turned her hand. “Look at what you’ve done here.” He meant her cuts and bruises. Anne’s blushes increased. Did he think her weak?
“Oh, but I do labor!” she protested. “You have no idea! I work in the garden. And in the house. And I must call on the sick and needy and widowed in the parish!”
He gave his rumbling laugh. “Aye,” he said. “But not every one, I’m thinking. Howbeit that you have missed me? For I am a widower, sure enough. But then,” he amended, “I’ve only had possession of this mill for a fortnight. I’m easy to miss.”
This bear of a man was anything but easy to miss! Gentle Anne discovered that her heart was pounding. “Are you,” she said weakly, “fond of soup?”
This question was unnecessary, for his eyes told the answer. His fingers continued to stroke hers. Anne discovered, rather to her horror, that with her other hand she was caressing his curls. She swallowed down her shame. This lovely man thought she was a serving maid, and as such, not out of his reach. His next words confirmed her suspicion.
“And how is it,” he rumbled, “that such a fine, well-spoken lass as yourself does not have a husband and a lusty brood of bairns?”
Gentle Anne bit her lips and quickly looked the other way, hating the sting of his question. How could she confess the truth about her broken engagement to this man – a man about whom she knew next to nothing?
“Did he leave ye, then?” he said softly. “The brute.”
Anne’s eyes sought his. How had he guessed so much of the truth? “It was years ago,” she confessed in a rush. “We were engaged to be married. His career was uncertain … and I was very young. My father did not approve and I … was reluctant to marry in haste. We quarreled and were parted.”
Anne fought to maintain composure. This happened so long ago! Why did she still feel the pain of it? At last she said, but softly, “And there has never been another. We’ve … not many eligible gentlemen in these parts.”
At that the miller’s chin came up. Anne saw a smile tug at his lips. A knowing sparkle came into his eyes. “Ye’ll need to be changing your mind, I’m thinking, lass,” he said softly.
Anne would have looked away, but she discovered that she could not. The miller brought his face nearer, and the next thing she knew he was kissing her. Not in a greedy way, but gently, warmly, unhurriedly – as if kissing were the most natural thing in the world.
The most natural thing in the world? Anne was scandalized. She did not even know the miller’s name, and here she was permitting his kisses! Nay, not only permitting but enjoying them! For his lips were warm and tender and oh so inviting!
With a cry, Anne let go his curls and brought her arms around his floury person. His broad chest was warm against hers, and she could feel his heart thumping. What on earth was happening? Was she so starved for affection that she must throw herself into the arms of a perfect stranger? And yet the realization that she was behaving badly was hardly a deterrent. Forbidden kisses, Gentle Anne now discovered, were astonishingly sweet!
There came a clattering in the yard outside, and the miller abruptly pulled away. “A’m sairy, love,” he whispered, but with great tenderness. “The boys are here to do a bit of wirk.” He stroked her cheek. “We’d best postpone this ‘til later.”
Later? Was there to be more? Gentle Anne brought her hands to her blushing cheeks. What could she say to him?
He shook his head regretfully. “And wouldn’t ye know, this is the busiest time of the year for milling. Ah, but love comes of its own will and time. We can’t argue with that.” He paused to smile at her.
What could Anne do but smile back?
“By the bye, love,” he rumbled. “Since we’ll be seeing the rector about the banns, I’ll need to be knowing your name.”
Anne gasped outright. Was he making a proposal? And why was she smiling so foolishly? “My name,” she heard her voice say, “is Anne.” Not Anne Elliot, second daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, baronet, but Anne. Just Anne.
“Anne Miller,” he said, smiling more widely. “I like the sound of that.”
There more were shouts in the yard. Bear Miller – for Anne did not know what else to call him and was too shy to ask his Christian name – raised his voice. “Aye, I hear ye! Keep yer shirt on!” he shouted. “I’m a-coming!” He returned to her. “Now, love, into the kitchen with you. I’ll get them set to the milling wirk, and then we’ll have your lesson.”
Lesson? Poor Anne’s heart turned over in her chest. What more would this passionate man be teaching her?
As promised, Baird Miller – for such was his name – brought Anne into his cottage and showed her how to mix the yeast, milk, butter, and flour into dough. With his own hands he did the kneading.
Anne did her best to attend to his instructions, but she was consumed with curiosity over his tidy cottage. It looked comfortable enough – and with the enormous stack of firewood she’d seen in the yard, in winter it would be warmer than Kellynch Hall could ever be! The windows, set deep in whitewashed walls, had panes of shining glass; the wide oaken floorboards were freshly swept. A small table beside the overstuffed sofa had been fashioned from, of all things, a barrel! Even so, it warmed her heart to see that his home lacked a woman’s touch. Gentle Anne blushed. For if she were the serving maid he thought her to be, that touch would come from her own hands!
But there was much to be learned from a person’s dwelling, and so she continued her quiet search for clues. There was no evidence of heavy drinking or outbursts of temper that she could see, although what did she know of such things? On a drop-leaf table lay a few tools and various bits of machinery. Gears, she thought they must be. And there were books on the table as well – books with slips of paper tucked between pages. Was he a reader? And how was he able to afford these? No one knew better than Gentle Anne how dear books were! She had to scrimp and save to buy even one!
She edged closer. No volumes of poetry were here, but titles relating to carpentry and metal-craft. A Bible, a prayer-book, a hymnal. And what was this? A worn copy of Calvin’s Institutes? Anne looked at Baird with new eyes, for here was no light reading. And yet she was mindful to keep her gaze scrupulously away from the door to his bedchamber. After the intimate kisses they’d shared, the less said about that location, the better!
But Baird Miller must have noticed what was going on, or else he was a mind reader. He came up from behind. “I quite agree, Annie-love,” he murmured into her ear. “Best to keep to the kitchen, aye. Otherwise…” His tender smile crept into his voice. “It’ll be the bed first and the banns second. And we can’t be having that, now can we?”
The bed first? Anne whirled round – and found herself caught up in another passionate kiss! Thank heaven for the workmen pounding on the cottage door, or Baird Miller’s prediction might well have come true!
It took time for the bread to rise, and Baird Miller kept busy seeing to Anne’s bruised hands and giving orders to the fellows working in the mill. From the comfort of his lap, Anne combed flour from his hair and heard stories of his career, including his time spent in the Royal Navy. He’d not been as successful as Frederick Wentworth, for he was but a common seaman and not very able at that. But he didn’t seem to mind, now that he was back on solid ground – with the water in the millpond where it belonged! He had, in fact, bought this mill with what prize money he’d won, and had ambitions to purchase another. “We’ll make a fine success yet,” he promised her. “A whole string of mills throughout the county.”
Anne reclined against his chest and wished it could be so. But what help could a baronet’s daughter be to a tradesman? Oh, she could organize his accounts … and embroider table linens and order servants about. But he could not afford to pay for servants! And then Anne recalled her mother’s settlement money. Three thousand pounds, which amounted to her share, wasn’t much in the world of the gentry. But in Baird’s world it was a glorious fortune! She could be a help to this man after all! But to gain access to this income now, rather than after his demise, her father would need to consent to the marriage. Which, Anne knew, he never, ever would. Well, she would have to see. Surely he could do something for them! Or perhaps she could persuade Lady Russell?
It was late in the evening when Gentle Anne arrived home. She came in at the service door, smiling and powdered with flour – from Baird Miller’s strong and comfortable arms – and humming a cheerful tune. He had brought her in his pony cart, singing all the way along the moonlit road. Gentle Anne sang with him, a thing she’d always been too shy to do.
She came through the dining room, into the entrance hall, and moved past the open doors of the drawing-room. The members of her family were waiting for her, including Lady Russell who had just arrived from Bath.
“Where have you been?” her father wanted to know. “You missed dinner!”
“I’ve been baking bread,” Anne said. She worked to preserve an innocent face as she brought out her loaves. For that is what she had done … between kisses and exchanging dreams and promises.
The loaves smelled delicious, and so were her plans for the future. For Gentle Anne had decided. She would marry Baird Miller, come what may. Let her father thrash and curse! Let Lady Russell frown and scold! For she’d given up Frederick Wentworth all those years ago, and to what end? She’d been starved for love, that was what. Well, she’d had a taste of romance today – and friendly comradeship, too! – and she was determined not to let it go.
“You have grass in your hair,” Lady Russell observed. “Why do you have grass in your hair?”
Anne shrugged. “From his mill, I suppose.”
“His mill?” Elizabeth sounded shocked. “Whose mill?” she demanded.
“Mr Baird Miller’s,” Anne replied primly. Elizabeth was nearing thirty, still waiting for a gentleman of proper rank and fortune to appear. Anne doubted that he ever would. She offered her basket – his own basket – of freshly baked bread.
“Do you see?” she said, smiling in simple pride. “I tilled the ground, planted the seeds, raised the wheat, harvested it, and saw the grain milled into flour. And then I helped to shape the dough, with my own hands, into these loaves. Aren’t they lovely? Please do have some!”
“Why, Anne,” said Lady Russell. “How industrious you are!”
“A fine little worker. Honestly!” Elizabeth scoffed. “I hope you are satisfied with your day’s wages.”
“Satisfied? Oh yes. For a lifetime,” Anne agreed. “Never again will I look at a simple loaf of bread without appreciation.”
Or, she added silently, at a working man’s thriving business and comfortable cottage. But what, she wondered, would the curate say when it came time to announce the banns? Mr Baird Miller, new owner of the mill … and Miss Anne Elliot of Kellynch Hall … to be untied in holy matrimony! It was a heady thought and shocking too. But where, after all, was the objection? Anne bit back a smile as the members of her family reluctantly sampled her precious bread. If only they knew what was to come!
The weather changed that night, and clouds raced to blot out the glorious harvest moon that had so delighted Anne as she and Baird traveled the road to Kellynch Hall. Wind came howling round the corner of the house; rain lashed against the panes of Anne’s windows. And yet even this did not dampen her spirits. For in little over a fortnight she would be gone from drafty, lonely Kellynch Hall and be snug in Baird’s cottage. Her life would be filled with challenges, but there was nothing new in that. She would continue to visit the needy with soup (and with bread, too), for Elizabeth never would! But she would no longer do this alone.
No, she would have Baird Miller at her side. And perhaps one day that houseful of lusty bairns as well. Gentle Anne smiled into the darkness. And all because she decided to plant, harvest, and have milled a simple sackful of wheat!
~ The End ~
Author’s note: So much for The Little Red Hen! This was written quickly, just for fun and word count. My version of a Harlequin-style story! One wonders, however, what would happen if in the next scene Captain Wentworth returned to Kellynch, seeking to make amends with his beloved Anne…
We’d see a few sparks fly, I’m thinking! For which man would Anne choose? Be afraid. For I would be the one doing the writing here, not Susan Kaye. She has a soft spot for Frederick Wentworth. I, on the other hand, tend to explore Anne’s options!
I’ll put up another of my Na No chapters at New Year’s — a comedy loosely based on The Town Musicians of Bremen. With some of yourMercy’s friends as the animals! Oh boy!
~~ Laura Hile
Copyright Laura Hile, 2010
Title artwork is My Lady is a Widow and Childless by Marcus Stone