Since I shared an author that totally screwed up, I thought I’d share one that got it right. The setting is 1870’s rural England.
“He was interrupted by a wailing sound from the vicinity of the hay barn so filled with agony that chills pricked [the vicar’s wife’s] back.”“What was that?” [The Vicar] asked, quickly rejoining her side.“We’ve had to pen up one o’ the bulls. A bad tooth. [The vet] is comin’ this morning to pull it.”“Yes?” Another bellow pierced the air. “Does that happen often?”“Only once here,” Mr. Hayes replied. “Some five years ago. He’ll have to be put to sleep with some o’ that chloroform, of course. They don’t take kindly to knives.”“Knives?”“Why, yes. The gum has to be slit so’s pliers can get a better grip.”[The Vicar’s] face went pale. Threading an arm through her husband’s, [the vicar’s wife] said, “We should look in on Mrs. Hayes now. …”“Yes, thank you,” [The Vicar] echoed in a strained voice. “Will you be joining us inside?”The dairy farmer shook his head. “With all due respect, Vicar, I would just as soon stay with the bull.” …[The vicar’s wife] was accompanying [the Vicar] up the walkway through a garden, which almost rivaled the squire’s in its profusion of well-tended flowers, when the cottage door opened. Mrs. Hayes, framed by the doorway, squinted at them. “I was expecting you last night,” she said in a voice laden with umbrage. “Didn’t James tell you it was important?” James was one of the farm workers when he wasn’t running errands for Mrs. Hayes.“And good morning to you too, Mrs. Hayes.” [The Vicar] doffed his hat. “Your garden is looking especially lovely today.”“You’re baiting her,” [the Vicar’s Wife whispered. With a calm smile she explained to the woman as they reached the door, “We were entertaining supper guests when your note arrived and knew you would understand our waiting until this morning.”It didn’t matter that the guests were Jonathan and Elizabeth and the Clays. Family members and old friends were due the same courtesies as any other guests. Had there been an actual emergency, [the Vicar] would have left at once. But he had been summoned by Mrs. Hayes enough times in the past to know that this wasn’t one.Mollified only a little, the woman frowned and glanced past them. Her blond hair was drawn back so tightly that the comb marks were visible. “You’ll need to fetch Luther, Vicar. He’s -““Busy in the barnyard,” [the Vicar] cut in. “Will you allow us inside, Mrs. Hayes?”“But -““Or shall we stand here and chat?”The woman looked stunned but stepped back to allow entrance into the parlor. She nodded them toward an austere mahogany-framed settee, …, then sat in a matching chair. “I don’t see how you can put Luther to rights if he’s not here,” she whined. “He spent almost all of yesterday afternoon at that smithy’s.”“I can lecture him until I’m blue in the face,” [the Vicar] replied. “But I can’t undo the damage from what goes on here every day.”[The Vicar’s Wife] held her breath. She had never heard him speak so bluntly. …“What do you mean, what goes on here?” Mrs. Hayes asked, fingers worrying the ivory cameo pin on her collar. “I’m a God-fearing woman, Vicar. You know that.”With an audible sigh, [the Vicar] answered, “I’m afraid you talk too much, Mrs. Hayes. And most of what you say is of the complaining nature.”She gaped at him while two red spots spread across the severe lines of her cheeks.“The Scriptures say that it’s better to live in the wilderness than with a contentious woman. You must either change your ways or resign yourself to many more years of loneliness in your own cottage.”[The Vicar’s Wife] noticed a slumping of the woman’s shoulders and wished she could get up and put her arms around her. But … she knew [the Vicar’s] counsel to be good, and she must not interfere.“H-how?” Mrs. Hayes asked.[The Vicar] must have sensed that he was pushing too hard, for he sat back a bit and said more compassionately, “Your garden is lovely, Mrs. Hayes. But the most beautiful flowers in the world can’t bring you the joy that a good marriage can. I would advise you to put as much time and effort into your marriage as you do your garden.”She asked again, with still a trace of a whine in her voice, “How, Vicar? It’s rare that he even listens to me.”“Then listen to him for a change.”“But he hardly speaks to me either.”“Why make the effort if he’s only going to be interrupted with some complaint? Conversation – even in a marriage – is not unlike a game of catch, Mrs. Hayes.”
“Catch?”He gave her a grimacelike smile, but his eyes crinkled at the corners. “You played it as a child, didn’t you?”Her expression softened with memory. “Oh yes, Vicar.”“The object of the game was simple, wasn’t it? You toss the ball back and forth. A good conversation is built upon the same principles. After you’ve had an opportunity to speak, you allow the other person the same courtesy. It wouldn’t be much fun to play catch with someone who refused to toss the ball back to you, now would it?”He rose from the settee, so [his wife] got to her feet as well. “And now we’ll leave you to do what you have to do.”“What I have to do?” she asked, looking up at both of them.“Mr. Hayes is proud of those new calves. I would imagine if you spent a little quiet time at his side, he would be happy to tell you how he’s tending to them.”The Dowry of Miss Lydia by Clark by Lawana Blackwell, Loc 4080-Loc 4142