The following is the first two pages of Downriver: A Tale of Moving Pictures Before Hollywood by Evan Anderson. The excerpt was provided by the author.
Four women in black picked their way along the wooden footpath, skirts hoisted ankle high above the estuary mud. By the time Anne caught sight of them it was too late to step back and hide among the cattails. When they came around a bend in the path she faced them dead on.
“Anne Blackstone!” Miss Hutchins, pillar of the Ladies Aid Society, was in the lead. Anne smoothed her skirt, took a breath, and gave a slight curtsy. When Miss Hutchins drew close she blocked not only the three ladies standing behind her but the sun as well. Anne found it almost impossible to look her in the face.
“Good day, Miss.” She bowed her head ever so slightly.
“Unfortunate, Anne, we did not find you at home,” said Miss Hutchins. “We have just paid a social call to the Meadows. We hoped you could show us about, introduce us to your neighbors.”
Strange request, Anne thought. The Ladies Aid didn’t usually venture into the Meadows except at Christmas time.
“I’m sorry…” said Anne, looking up for a moment. “I’ve been in town on errands.”
“Errands on your mother’s behalf, I’m sure,” Miss Hutchins replied, clutching her string purse tighter. “We were most pleased to find her in such good spirits.”
“How old are you now, fifteen?” asked another of the Ladies, whom Anne could not see clearly.