What could be more dramatic than a scene in which a spy’s message is hidden in a loaf of bread? This happened during World War II, why not during the American Revolution? And what if, as the message was being exchanged, a soldier from the opposing army appeared? I loved drafting this scene. But, alas, my research in Williamsburg, VA dashed my hopes for it appearing in Love’s Courage. Why? Because people baked their own bread in colonial times, so few bakeries existed. I was disappointed to discover this, but my research revealed an even better option–the apothecary.
Eventually, I adapted the scene to be set in the apothecary, which actually tied into the plot much better. Here is the scene as I first wrote it (it’s a first draft, so don’t judge )
LOVE’S COURAGE – Bakery scene
Jenny started at the sight of a man with sandy brown hair up ahead in the road. Her heart thudded as she watched his gait—could it be Andrew? But her hopes were dashed when he turned to his companion revealing his profile. Every time a man close to Andrew’s description came into view, she had the same reaction. She clung to Jonathon’s hypothesis that Andrew was making his way to New York. She prayed he was. She prayed he wasn’t. The stranglehold the British troops had on the city would make it very dangerous for Andrew to be here. She knew her own actions were enough to hang her for treason.
Continuing along the road, she slipped her hand through the slot in her skirt to ensure the letter was still in her petticoat pocket. Satisfied, she hurried her steps to the bakery. She breathed deeply trying to still the fear that she was being watched. Whenever possible, she stole glances to the right and left scanning the street for anyone particularly interested in her destination. Just last week two men had been arrested on suspicion of treason, one because he lingered too long outside the British battery, one because he bumped into a passing British guard. The danger mounted every day, causing Jenny to be more cautious than before.
When she reached the bakery, she surveyed the street once more before she entered. Opening the door, she was enveloped in the warm, yeasty aroma of freshly baked break. She inhaled, savoring the smell.
“Good morning, Zachariah,” she said, greeting the young boy who was placing fresh loaves of rye bread on a shelf behind the counter.
“Good morning, Miss Sutton.” The boy finished his task, nipping a bit of crust off the bottom of the last loaf and winked at her. “It would be a shame to sell a loaf without making sure it’s tasty. I’ll get me mum.” As he popped the morsel into his mouth, he disappeared into the back room.
In a moment a woman appeared, a smudge of flour across her cheek. Smiling at Jenny, she wiped her hands on her apron. “Good day, Miss Sutton. Have you come for today’s loaves?”
Jenny nodded, hearing the words that signaled she was ready to receive the letter. “Yes, Mrs. Carter. I’m here to pick up today’s goods.”
Lucy Carter’s eyes blinked in recognition. As she turned to reach for the loaf on the upper shelf, the door to the bakery opened and Lieutenant Nigel Ashby entered. The woman froze, her hand stopping in midair.
Jenny swallowed down her panic. She had to think quickly. Lucy caught her eye with a questioning gaze.
“Good day, Miss, Sutton.” Nigel bowed slightly. “Mrs. Carter.” He touched the brim of his tricorn.
Lucy simply stared at him.
Jenny held out her gloved hand. “Good afternoon, Lieutenant. Ashby. How nice to see you again.”
Nigel bent over her hand. As he did so, Jenny lifted her foot catching the rim of a basket of crusts and end pieces displayed near the entry. Sweeping her foot to the side, she toppled the basket sending the pieces of bread tumbling before his feet.
“Oh! My word,” she exclaimed, starting to bend over to retrieve them. As she did so, she reached into her pocket and grasped the letter.
“No, let me, please!” Nigel bent to scoop the remnants back into the basket.
While he was thus engaged, Jenny slipped the letter across the counter to Lucy who tucked it into her flour-dusted apron. In turn, Lucy retrieved the loaf of bread from the top shelf and handed it to Jenny. The woman’s eyes were bright with fear, her cheeks flushed. Jenny wanted to warn her, to calm her, but there was no opportunity.
“Thank you, Mrs. Carter. Your delicious bread eases my sorrow and my mother’s. You bake the most delicious loaves in all of Manhattan.” Jenny hoped her praise would be cause enough to explain Lucy’s heightened color. She glanced at Nigel who had completed his task and was observing this exchange. He looked from one woman to the other, then nodded toward the loaf in Jenny’s hands.
“Perhaps you would allow me to sample this renown bread,” he said looking into Jenny’s eyes.
She faltered. “Oh, that I could, Lieutenant Ashby. But I must return immediately, for my mother worries when I am about town. Since we are in mourning, we cannot receive guests at present.” The loaf seemed to burn in her hands. Seemed to send out a signal that hidden within was a message … a message that could bring Jenny to the end of a rope.
He bowed. “Of course. At the least, let me escort you to your home.”
“You are most kind.” Jenny nodded slightly. “Good day, Mrs. Carter.”
Lucy stood mute, her mouth gaping. Jenny widened her eyes at her.
“Oh! Good day, Miss Sutton.” She stirred as if coming from a dream.
Nigel opened the door, and Jenny swept out of the shop. Nigel turned to look at Lucy once more before he followed Jenny out into the street.
Jenny stilled the trembling in her arms as she carried the loaf.
“Allow me.” Nigel took the loaf from her. He offered her his arm, and she slipped her gloved hand through to rest lightly on his forearm.
“How is your mother?” he asked.
“She is—” Jenny stumbled, and Nigel caught her.
“Are you all right, Miss Sutton?”
She nodded. “Yes, thank you, Lieutenant Ashby. I just caught my heel on a stone.”
And caught site of Andrew slipping around the side of a building. There was no doubt in her mind. She saw Andrew clearly.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to revise too much, and instead of imagining the aroma of fresh baked bread, I imagined the aroma of lavender and fennel.
Love’s Courage is available for pre-order now on Amazon. It will be released Jan. 9, 2018 (which isn’t that far away )
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