I’ve been banging my head against assumptions today. Four different parts of my busy life blew up on me because of diverse assumptions where people had decided what was happening without checking the facts. So I’m late posting, but it is still Wednesday somewhere, right? And keep right on adding those excerpts, folks. People look at these pages right the way through the week.
Wrongful assumptions, or diverse assumption, can be a useful plot hinge. Have your characters gone off in different directions or locked horns because of assumptions? Mine have. I haven’t yet written the major incorrect assumption that my heroine Sophia has about my hero James (that he is courting her sister), but Embracing Prudence is full of assumptions, Never Kiss a Toad has quite a few, and here’s one from A Raging Madness.
“Lady Melville keeps very little in her room,” he commented.
The maid frowned, and moved closer to him, lowering her voice to a thread above a whisper. “Miss Kerridge packed it all away. Said the lady did not need any of it and might use it to harm herself. They could have left the poor lady with her father’s picture. And the toy Sir Gervase bought for the baby. It was soft. She couldn’t hurt herself with a stuffed cloth cat.”
A baby? Ella had said nothing about a child.
“Perhaps they thought the child should have his father’s gift? Or hers. A boy or a girl?” Not that it mattered.
But the maid was shaking her head. “Poor little mite. It died. It was terrible.” Her eyes gleamed with the pleasure of a dreadful story. “The master was dead, and the old mistress had taken to her bed with a seizure (she was never the same again, poor lady) and my lady slipped on the ice. The fall started the baby coming. But it was not the right time, and the wee one was not lying right in the womb. She had it powerful bad.”
“The baby was born dead?” Dear God.
“Not then, sir. First Mr and Mrs Braxton arrived, and then the baby was born, and we were that pleased, and then the mistress was sick, and the baby, he just died in his sleep, poor little lamb. She looked fit to be buried herself, poor lady, but she got up from her bed and started nursing old Lady Melville, and she nursed her ever since, these three years till a month gone.”
Three years. Three years ago, Braxton had come to London to collect the body of his younger half-brother. He had said that Ella had refused to come with him—that she had social engagements she would not leave for a husband she did not want. And Alex had believed him. When he travelled down here for the funeral, he had made his contempt clear to a pale and silent Ella. How had he not seen that she was ill and grieving?