Mrs. Hartfield - by Melissa Taggart - In a place where gas lamps flickered and corsets tightened, a peculiar tale unfolded. It was the winter of 1875, in the quaint village of Cliffmore, where the cobblestone streets echoed with the muffled steps.

The sun’s delicate rays struggled to pierce fog; Mrs. Hartfield knelt in prayer by her modest hearth. Her heart, burdened by the loss of a son and the ceaseless poverty,
implored the heavens for a glimmer of optimism.

Little did Mrs. Harriet Hartfield know, the divine had already dispatched its gossamer emissaries. As the clock struck twelve, the room filled with an otherworldly glow, and a gentle zephyr whispered through the keyhole. In a flutter of unseen wings, a celestial being materialized before her.

“Dear Harriet,” spoke the dainty visitor in a voice like the rustling leaves of an ancient yew, “fear not, for you are chosen to witness miracles beyond mortal ken.”

The room, with haste, renewed into a realm betwixt reality and the divine. Harriet, bewildered but steadfast, partook in a series of extraordinary events. Tulips bloomed in the dead of winter. Infirm children were cured by a mere touch of her hand, and the impoverished were bestowed with unexpected favor.

News of portents spread like conflagration through the village, and soon Cliffmore was abuzz with awe. The local vicar, a man of stalwart dubiety, sought to investigate the veracity of the claims. Yet, each inquiry led only to more witnesses testifying to the wildering marvels.

As swiftly as it began, it ceased. The celestial being, with a nod of gratitude, vanished into the ephemeral mist, leaving Mrs. Hartfield with a heart brimming with faith and a village forever changed.

The sweet widow, humbled by the divine manifestations, continued her life of quiet virtue, attributing the miracles to the benevolence of the Almighty.

In the annals of Cliffmore’s history, the winter of paragons became a cherished tale, passed down through generations. The skeptics pondered, the devoted rejoiced and that once humble abode of Mrs. Harriet Hartfield forever marked England.

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Melissa, I absolutely love this story of the miracles bestowed on the humble but deserving Mrs. Hartfield. From your descriptive imagery like “gossamer emissaries” and “gentle zephyr whispered through the keyhole” I read eagerly about the miracles. Great engaging and inspiring story!

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Thank you for your lovely comments, Margarida. I’m happy to be back, but felt rusty getting back into writing. I wrote two Victorian-era stories on the same day, and this was one of them. I love that period in history.

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Hi Melissa, and welcome back, you have been missed! Oh, how I wish I had half your talent in descriptive writing. I loved this story, especially the final paragraph.

How I wish to have the same talent as you do, Melissa. This is superb writing. I can clearly imagine your humble setting and the humble life of Mrs. Hartfield. I was carried away as I read it. Well done.

Thank you, Lotchie! I need to point out that you also have so much talent as well. I appreciate your kindness and your stories you have written so far!

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Nice to hear from you again, Linda! Thank you very much for the comments again. You’re too kind!

Melissa, What a lovely story! The style and description work so well to frame “a cherished tale” of miracles and love. The vicar’s reaction is perfect, and the disappearance of the marvels works brilliantly: “As swiftly as it began, it ceased.” And yet the magic endures. Wonderful!

Thank you so much for you kind comments, Regina! This was a great prompt!

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This is a wonderful story, Melissa, and I am, as many other writers/readers here, happy to have you back. Your stories are always very well written and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Your language is very rich and colorful. Some of the phrases I loved are, “the vicar’s stalwart dubiety,” “gas lamps flickered and corsets tightened,” and “the divine had dispatched its gossamer emissaries.”
You said that you wrote two such stories in one day?! Wow! Your talent is impressive. I’m so much slower when it comes to getting a story together.

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It’s nice to be back, Christer! How have things been with you?
I really enjoy the Victorian-era and a lot of my stories are from that time. I worry about my use of archaic words, but I guess everyone here understood. That’s a relief. I’m glad you enjoyed this story!

I laughed out loud when I read, “I guess everyone here understood, “ because I had to use a dictionary at least five times while reading your story. That means that I’m impressed by your vocabulary.

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I’m also so happy that you’re back! Your use of unusual words is a gift to us, Melissa. An enjoyable, spine-tingling story and new vocabulary words - what more could a dedicated writer ask? I love the way you set the scene with gaslights and corsets, and then give us a tale of celestial beings and ephemeral mists and of course … miracles! Like you, I love the Victorian era. The words I didn’t know where “dubiety” and “wildering” - thanks for widening my vocabulary! Question - did “wilder” precede “bewilder”? Do they have a similar origin? I love the study of words.

Oh, Christer! I wanna say ‘sorry’? I guess learning doesn’t hurt too much? :laughing:

Thank you, Julie! ‘Wilder’ picked up some steam through 1850 to 1890s, although it was a word in the 17th century. ‘Bewilder’ was at its height in the 1850s and nose dived after that. Bewilder comes from the word wilder, an offshoot of that word also in the 17th century. ‘Be’ meaning thoroughly. ‘Wilder’ meant lead or gone astray. Wilder is the most obsolete word out of the two. Bewilder started a slight comeback in that it got used more in 2019, funnily enough.

No need to apologize for having a good vocabulary, Melissa. Instead, you should be proud of it. It fits well with your Victorian story, and it gives me a chance to widen my horizon.

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