Richard French

Work in Progress This is the start of a novel I'm working on now. Its temporary title is "Prophets"

An Excerpt from a novel I’m busy with now, temporarily called “Prophets”.

To a friend we don’t know
To be Opened in 500 Years
Wherever you are, we’re sure you don’t think about us often. You may never even have heard of our small community. We expect that and understand. Each generation wants to be at the center of its own day. Still, it’s good for you to know about us. Our ways are surely quite different from whatever arrangements you’re living in. We won’t try to guess what they are.
We’re two people who live in Sagadac in the 1740’s – a British colony on the east coast of the huge continent of North America. Our names are Rachel and Edgar. We’re both in our 20’s and plan to be married in a few months.
We’re visiting Botolph now, which is next to the sea and where we hope to live. Our homes are in central Sagadac, near a large woods and the biggest river in our part of the world. We can’t tell you much about this immense continent. You probably know far more about it than we do, and if you folks have a yen for history, you probably know what’s happened in the world between us and you – that is, if Christ hasn’t come back before then. In that case, this letter will be irrelevant.
Our people have already had more than a hundred years on this continent and have passed through a dandy collection of adventures. We’ve had our wars and our controversies. And every year you have to be sturdy to get on with life during our winters and the heat in July and the first two weeks of August.
Most of us like to be active and take advantage of opportunities. Our people are builders, traders, farmers, carpenters, and fishermen. We have preachers and teachers, too. In fact, Rachel’s father has so many talents and has published exceptional writing that even some people in your day, hundreds of years ahead of us, may come across his name from time to time – Nicholas Butler.
Though we two come from small families, people we know have ten or more children.
You may be asking if there’s anything we don’t like about Sagadac. We’ve already mentioned the weather. Cold and heat that tires you just to think about it helps make you the kind of person you become. Long, dark nights, hours inside by a wood fire, heavy walking – all these limit people. We’re strong and sometimes peculiar. Of course, young people play in the snow, but childhood ends and fun stops. If you have a picture in your head of the way life ought to be, the weather quickly brings you down and you learn that dreams are only phantoms.
You may wonder how our government is set up. Our masters from away tax us plenty and remind us every chance they get that we’re colonists. The government preserves order and reduces each person’s well-being at the same time.
We think you’ll understand our situation because whatever arrangement people live with, there’s always a burden of inconvenience, unless you can be your own master. We’re all eager – some might say hungry – for freedom so we can build our own lives according to what’s right for us. We hope your situation is better than ours.
Other circumstances we don’t care for. Your neighbor insists on knowing your business. Some of our strongest men for brains and physical power – the ones among our own who claim to lead us – talk about land and money half the livelong day, a way of *thinking that restricts the lives of the rest of us as much as the weather and our monarchist overlords do. Rachel will say that males in general have too much influence over what happens.
On the whole, though, Sagadac is one of the best places on earth to live in.
Place and time, however, aren’t what’s most important about people. What matters is what we believe and what we’ll sacrifice for or stand up and fight about. If you’re looking for friends or associates who agree with you about what’s important, it may be that the community you were born into won’t provide them for you. It’s possible that the people who might know you best live far away, in another corner of the world, or in a different time period.
The world we occupy will always be imperfect, so we don’t get cozy with it and think that nothing better exists. Jesus has in mind the best place for us. He’ll bring his people there when the time is right.
One thing we’re sure of is that even though countries and cities will be quite different in 500 years, there will be faithful Christians holding on tight to God’s promises – unless Jesus comes for his people before then.

January 6, 2017

I’ve re-read “Prophets” and am halfway through a second draft. I’ve expanded the role of the narrator, whose name is now Harvey Butler. This is how the story begins:

I planned to tell this story as a TV documentary, since I’ve spent ten years making non-fiction shows for the networks. For reasons that I’ll clarify later on, I had to put my production notes in a drawer. However… the saga of the Marsden-Butler family has plenty to say about the faults and strengths of the American people, so, I’m setting down the story the old-fashioned way – with words and also with spurts and streams of creativity that I hope will work together pleasingly in your mind.

I should tell you that my name is Harvey Butler. I’ve recently married again and have taken on a new family. Though I live in eastern Sagadac now, I spent many years in San Diego, and that’s where I’ll start our story. You’ll hear from me again in my own voice before long.

February 1, 2017

Have finished adding a first draft of comments by the narrator, Harvey Butler. This is how tjhe novel starts now.:                                                           

                                                   Chapter One

I planned to tell this story as a TV documentary, since I’ve spent ten years making non-fiction shows for the networks. For reasons that I’ll clarify later on, I had to put my production notes in a drawer. However… the saga of the Marston-Butler family has plenty to say about the faults and strengths of the American people, so, I’m setting down the story the old-fashioned way – with words and also with spurts and streams of creativity that I hope will work together pleasingly in your mind.

I should tell you that my name is Harvey Butler. I’ve recently married again and have taken on a new family. Though I live in eastern Sagadac now, I spent many years in San Diego, and that’s where I’ll start our story. You’ll hear from me again in my own voice before long.

 

June 23, 2017

I’ve recently added a concluding novella about a young soprano, daughter of Harvey Butler, who has had an exceptional career as an opera singer. Here’s a few paragraphs about the start of her life in the public eye:
Nobody knows how many opening nights have taken place since the Greeks invented drama thousands of years ago, but all of them must have one thing in common: the cast and crew taking part in them whether in a small town anywhere or in London or New York are aware of only one – their own. Excitement, anticipation, uncertainty are a powerful combination and resemble as brief but consuming passion.
I had a serious case of the jitters before my first entrance, for I knew what a first-rate performance would do for the show and for me. Ma later told me that I looked so poised when I came on the stage that the audience couldn’t help themselves, they had to burst into applause. They sensed that I’d be steady enough to bring them a memorable evening. My song was about love for an absent man. I’d rehearsed it for days. Ma said that by the time I’d finished singing it, the audience knew that a major artist had made her debut.
I sang five other numbers, including a final duet with the man I’d missed. The audience roared when I appeared for my solo bow at the end. The show ran for a month in Louisville, time enough for me to appear on every radio and TV station in the area and on the front page of the paper twice. After Louisville, we ran for two weeks in Minneapolis and another two in New Corinth. I made sure I didn’t falter once. By the time we were ready to shift to an off-Broadway theatre in New York, my director said I sang as if I’d performed in public all my life.