Sometimes Love Doesn’t Have to be Put into Words…
Most people are aware of it today…the graceful twirling of fingers and hands representing words and phrases so those unable to hear or speak may communicate. How many have seen an interpreter signing as someone makes a speech or a pastor gives a sermon?
Modern science, more sophisticated methods of surgery, and electronic implants have enabled many deaf persons to hear again and also to speak, but signing is a boon to those who can’t be helped. Think of being in a room full of people, all speaking at once, yet none making a sound.
This wasn’t always the case. Once having a deaf child, and subsequently one who was also mute because he couldn’t hear, was considered retribution from God for some transgression.
Though sign language had been known in Great Britain as early as 1570, there were no set methods for teaching those who couldn’t hear, Parents communicated with a few gestures which the stricken one came to learn meant specific actions. Occasionally the child would grunt an acknowledgement, not real words, but something showing it understood.
That changed in 1760 when Thomas Braidwood, a teacher from Edinburgh, founded Braidwoods’ Academy for the Deaf and Dumb. This was considered a highly-startling endeavor since it was the first school for the deaf in the kingdom. In fact, some people thought it a scandal since a good many families believed to try and change the deafness of a child was an affront to the Diety.
Braidwood managed to change that opinion by teaching the children of some very influential people. Soon the Academy was thriving and giving hope to many youngsters and an occasional adult. Several of the people coming to be taught stayed to be trained as teachers and later went back to their homes to open their own schools.
One of the men trained by Braidwood was Joseph Watson who became the headmaster of the first public school for the deaf.
What does all this have to do with my new novel?
It’s very simple. That’s the theme of Love is Silent…
In my novel, Watson trains the fictitious Rupert McAdam who returns to London to open the McAdam Academy. The school uses the method called sign-supported speech, which incorporated both speaking words aloud while simultaneously signing them.
When Dr. McAdam receives a letter from the Right Honourable Eleanor Wood, asking for a tutor for her younger brother who has been deaf since the age of five, following a carriage accident, the doctor suggests his best teacher of young children..Anna Leighton.
Anna will be the best person for the young baron, he decides.
What both Dr. McAdam or Anna don’t know is that the baron is no child. He’s a young man approaching his majority, and his lands and title are threatened by a cousin wishing to have him declared incompetent so he can inherit. David Woods’ entire future depends on what Anna can teach him, and she has only a few months to do so.
Because he lost his hearing at age five, David can still speak a few words and has rudimentary reading skills as well as the remnants of near-forgotten manners. He has a habit of asking embarrassing question in public places, however, and, from his association with young men in a nearby village, a most crass sense of humor. His only friend is his horse and the two are nearly inseparable. In fact, David spends most of his day riding who-knows-where.
Nevertheless, Anna senses an inquiring intelligence behind his undisciplined exterior. David reveals he’s eager to learn…unfortunately the things he wishes most to know can’t be found in any book, and they involve Anna in a very intimate way.
More unfortunately, Anna finds herself responding to his earnest but often crude overtures…
David walked with the brothers to the door. They lingered a moment on the stoop, trying out their new skill, also using the gestures and grimaces they’d always employed with David. Anna waited at the foot of the stairs watching.
She wasn’t certain what except that Al turned to go, then looked back with a smirk and a wink, and nudged David in the ribs. Until that moment, David had been responding quite jocularly to whatever they were saying. Abruptly, he stiffened, glared at Al and shook his head, rather violently. Both brothers looked surprised. Al then waved and the two walked away.
David came inside, pushing the door shut a little too violently. One fist pressed against the door frame, he stood there a moment, forehead resting against his hand.
“David?” Anna hurried over. He didn’t react until she touched his shoulder.
Looking at her, he seemed to be visibly attempting to shake off anger.
“What is it?”
He glanced from her lips to her hands and shook his head.
“There’s something wrong. What did Al say?” she persisted. Had he ridiculed David somehow, perhaps mocking her or been scornful of David’s attempts at signing? Protection of David blossomed. She felt herself becoming angry at the smith’s son.
David looked away. Anna caught his arm, shaking it.
“I want to know what he said.” She enunciated the words tightly, fingers slashing the air.
He lifted the slate. Anna made a mental note to have him stop wearing it. He was still relying on writing to get his messages across. He wrote, He want to know, and stopped.
“What? What did he want to know?”
There was a long pause before he wrote, if I…and again stopped.
“If you what?” Exasperated. Anna gave his arm another shake. “If you did what, David?
He bit his lip, tapping the chalk against the slate, not looking at her. At last, he scribbled something on the board and held it up.
He want to know if we grind corn.
For several seconds Anna’s expression was blank. Grind corn? What? The manor doesn’t have fields to harvest. She had no idea what that meant.
Another look at David’s expression, however, at the pressure with which his teeth were sinking into his lip, the whiteness around his mouth, and she believed she understood. Al thought she and David were… Oh!
Color flooded her cheeks.
I tell him no. David’s hand hacked downward as if to chop something. We not do that.
She was grateful he was angry, knew he was aware he shouldn’t be saying such a thing to her though she had insisted. She was even more grateful he’d defended her.
“Thank you, David.”
He shook his head, fingers spelling out the shocking words. No thank me. I want to.
Before she could react, he pushed past her and ran down the hall.
Love is Silent is a romance set in a period of manners and artifice, when young men were well-mannered, well-spoken, and expected to have survived a series of affairs before settling into marriage, as well as enjoying the lesser vices of 19th century society. David has experienced none of that, though with Anna’s help, he’s quite willing to do the former.
The only question is…will Anna survive the scandal if it’s discovered what she and her pupil have done?
On January 15, 2016, Love is Silent by Icy Snow Blackstone will be available from Class Act Books in both electronic and paperback forms.
BUY LINK: www.classactbooks.com