Novel PASTimes: Physical appearance
Laurel Grace: I’m slightly built…thin, but not skinny.
Novel PASTimes: Eyes
Laurel Grace: They are gray, with green and gold flecks when emotions creep in.
Novel PASTimes: Hair
Laurel Grace: Long, tawny masses of curls tamed by a braided coronet around my head when Mac will allow it. He hates my braids and so I have to let my hair down most of the time. Those long curls are a real bother on the trail.
Novel PASTimes: Can you tell me about your parents?
Laurel Grace: I’m an orphan. That’s why I got married six weeks ago. My papa, Mark Campbell died in mid-March of this year 1857 of consumption. He’d been really sick for about four months, and I’d been taking care of him at our homestead. My mama died about twelve years ago giving birth to a baby sister who’d been named Mary. Mama’s name was Leah. I remember her being really beautiful, like an angel. Papa has a drawing of her by his bed.
Novel PASTimes: Do you have any siblings?
Laurel Grace: No one’s home anymore but me. I do have a brother named Daniel who moved to Texas few years ago with his new wife. My brother Samuel died two years ago trying to break a horse. He got bucked off and broke his neck. He’s buried next to mama and Mary at the Hawthorn Chapel Cemetery.
Novel PASTimes: Where have you lived?
Laurel Grace: I was born in North Carolina but when I was almost twelve, papa moved us to Arkansas to homestead in the Boston Mountains in the Ozark Region. We been here ever since. These mountains are really beautiful, and we’ve had a really good life here since we came. At the time of creation, God decided the Arkansas Ozarks would be one of his masterpieces, I know.
Novel PASTimes: Do you work?
Laurel Grace: Since I was fourteen, I have been the woman of my father’s household. I fix the meals, clean, store food for the winter, garden, care for our animals, make our clothes, and whatever it takes to run our homestead. I finished common school early so I didn’t need to go to school anyway.
Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your friends.
Laurel Grace: I have a best friend. Her name is Rachel. We saw each other lots when I went to school at Hawthorn school, but now only on Sunday a little. She married my cousin Josh and has four kids and doesn’t have much time to visit now. I love to tell Rachel things…when we can talk, which isn’t often. I have wonderful memories of our friendship. Then there is Elizabeth Wilson who lives down the road a piece. She’s about my papa’s age, but she’s a good companion, and she’ll listen to me when I need to talk about woman stuff. She’s our local healer, too.
Novel PASTimes: DO you have any enemies?
Laurel Grace: No, I don’t think I do…some people don’t like me much. When I went to school, they called me names. They said I was too smart and the teacher’s pet. They teased me because I wore glasses. I still do. But not really enemies, I don’t think they are anyway.
Novel PASTimes: Are you involved with anyone?
Laurel Grace: Here at Hawthorn Chapel people can’t believe I got married at all. They don’t know I know, but everyone calls “the Spinster of Hawthorn” behind my back. It used to make my papa really angry when he heard anyone whisper about me like that. My preacher almost wouldn’t marry us…my husband Patrick and me…because we only knew each other four days, but my papa was so sick and it was his dying wish to see us married. He and my uncle Matthew Campbell had arranged a marriage of convenience with his friend Patrick MacLayne. That’s how I got to be Laurel MacLayne about six weeks ago.
Novel PASTimes: Overall outlook on life.
Laurel Grace: There is so much about my faith I still am learning, but I do believe that the Lord looks out for me every day. I don’t know why Patrick came across the state to marry me, but I know the Lord sent him so I consented to marry him, and I am sure that eventually I will understand how everything is supposed to work out. Romans 8:28 is the verse that I recite to myself when I am most puzzled. “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (1850 King James Version Holy Bible)
Novel PASTimes: Do you like yourself?
Laurel Grace: Yes. I’m a good person. I like that I am independent and I can take care of myself. I’m plain. I am smart, but because of that people don’t seem to like me much. I put myself in the background of life because I don’t like to draw attention to myself. I will defend myself when I get pushed into a corner though. I surely ain’t better than anyone else, but I don’t guess anyone is any better than me either.
Novel PASTimes: What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?
Laurel Grace: I wish society would let me be my own person. My papa wanted me to marry Mr. MacLayne because he knew if he died, I’d be without anyway to provide for myself. The stupid state law would not let me inherit our homestead so I could go on living here and taking care of myself, even though I am perfectly capable of doing so. Just because I am female! Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Mr. MacLayne. He is a kind man…a God-fearing man. He’s quite attractive…too attractive to have a wife as plain as I am, but marrying a stranger is difficult even under the best of circumstances. Only the Lord knows what the future holds for us, but we’ve made vows. We’ll try to make a good marriage in the eyes of the Lord.
Novel PASTimes: How would you describe yourself?
Laurel Grace: An average twenty-seven-year-old woman trying to survive the best I can, relying on myself, my faith, and others when I have no other choice.
Novel PASTimes: What are your strongest and weakest character traits?
Laurel Grace: My strongest character trait is independence and determination to survive. My weakest trait is self-worth.
Novel PASTimes: What are your fears?
Laurel Grace: Rejection, travelling to make a home three hundred miles across the Arkansas wilderness in Northeast Arkansas.
Novel PASTimes: When are you happy? Angry? Sad? Laugh?
Laurel Grace: I try really hard not to let emotion dictate my life. I take care of business and do what has to be done. If the going gets too hard, I try to let the Lord handle it. I do lose my temper once in a while, but always regret it so I really try not to. It’s better to just live one day at a time and try to stay the course. Of course, I must admit, Mac does make the days more enjoyable when we talk or when he teases me or sometimes he even sings me that silly song he made up about “Annie Laurel.”
Novel PASTimes: What has been your biggest trauma?
Laurel Grace: I still don’t remember all the details…but that terrible Harvest Festival when I fourteen and the nightmares that I’ve had for years. Patrick has pleaded with me to tell him what causes them, but I don’t know why it scares me so much.
Novel PASTimes: Do you have a secret?
Laurel Grace: Yes, but if I tell it and Mac finds out what it is, it could cause an end to our marriage so I’d better not share it with anyone else yet.
About Patricia Clark Blake:
Professing Christian…United Methodist, RetiredProfessional School Counselor, First Time Novelist…The Shiloh Saga, Native Arkansan, Traveler…whenever she can. To find out more about Patricia you can visit her on her blog or Amazon.