Prompt: Mister Hartford

Posted March 16, 2012 by Amber in Writing / 10 Comments


The rolling gardens seemed to reach their thorny branches around the black carriage as the horses slowly pulled them towards the door.  Her companion rolled out first and offered assistance, glancing nervously at his pocket watch for the twenty-third time since they left her house.  She took his sweaty hand and descended.  At best, the Manor was creepy, but that may just be an illusion cast by the unkempt gardens.  While she stared in uncomfortable awe at the wide doors and towering columns, her companion tottled ahead and pulled the doors open to his master’s house.

“Come along, come along,” he urged, and so she rustled her way into the grand hall.  Although better cared for than the gardens, the grand hall still carried the heaviness of the home.  It would not have hurt to open the hall to a little sunshine, but Hartford Manor was not her home.  Not yet, anyways.  She was waved into an empty drawing room, and then the little man disappeared.

As soon as she was alone, Anna let her breath slip out of her.  She leaned against one of the elegant couches in the room, and sneezed when a cloud of dust erupted from it.  A part of her wished Mama was here, at least, the break and silence and reassure her that things were not as strange as they appeared.

“I don’t like her.  Send her away.”

Anna straightened immediately and spun towards the door, but the only part of Alain Hartford she glimpsed was his retreating coattails.  Her copmpanion bounded after him, but it was Anna’s voice that made him stop.

“You don’t like me?  What, pray tell, do you mean by that?”  As she planted her hands on her hips, she thought of how proud of her courage Papa would be… and how mortified Mama would be.  Perhaps it was best that Mama had respected Mister Hartford’s wishes that she come alone.

When Alain turned and walked back to her, he did so with crossed arms.  When Anna saw her face, she almost wished she hadn’t spoken – he had bags under his eyes and hollow cheeks, as though he rarely ate or slept.  He was tall and thin like a scraggly sapling. “Very well, if I must lay it out,” he cleared his throat, “You’re too tall, you’re too robust, you’re too vocal, you’re too pretty -”

“Too pretty?” Anna interrupted with an unladylike snort.

Alain ignored her. “Too manly, too presumptuous, too tardy, and quite frankly, generally unpleasing.” He bowed deeply.  “Good day, madam.”

The prompt:  Show me an anti-hero. It can be a character sketch or a scene, but try to establish how and why this person is the obstacle to the protagonist’s goals.

You have 500 words.

Author’s Note: I love this prompt.  It inspired me to make a much more interesting character out of Alain, and I am excited about the things that are to come! No secrets revealed here!  You can read the last installment of Anna’s story here.

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10 responses to “Prompt: Mister Hartford

  1. When Alain turned and walked back to her, he did so with crossed arms. When Anna saw her face, she almost wished she hadn’t spoken – he had bags under his eyes and hollow cheeks, as though he rarely ate or slept.

    I love the description here. Although I’m sure you meant to say When Anna saw his face…

    I love Alain as you drew him. Quite persnickety and the perfect challenge for Anna, whether she’d like to admit that or not.

  2. The young man who brought her to the manor, seemed turn into a tottling little man. That confused me for a moment, when she met Alain. Who seemed quite an antagonist. I would like to hear more.

  3. Love a good historical, and this has all the ingredients! Alain is just what I was imagining for this prompt. A foil for the protag whose motive aren’t necessarily malicious.

  4. 2old2tap

    Anna’s personality is wonderful. She’ll be hard to be rid of for Alain I think.

    Nice descriptives of the manor and people of it.

  5. I like Anna. And Alain? Well, I was reading his dialogue in my head with quite an irritating accent.Great work! I enjoyed reading the interaction between Alain and Anna.