Emilie Loring wrote to her editor from a Maine hotel:
Beautiful surroundings. Table excellent. Very well managed. Music twice daily. So far the guests appear to be of the “Proper Bostonian” type, the season guests, I mean. No social hostess. Nothing planned for the entertainment of guests like card parties or tournaments–that is, nothing I have heard of to date. Friendly atmosphere. Easy walks and a glorious beach. Those are my impressions after a week here. “Liable to change,” of course as time goes on.
I imagine the rest:
“If that will be all, ma’am.”
“Yes, thank you.”
With a soft click, the door closed behind her.
Emilie surveyed her spacious hotel room, its coral draperies in velvet folds, plush carpet two shades lighter, polished accessories gleaming on a dressing table. She ran her hand across the elegant, cherry desk and leaned toward the open window to breathe in the familiar, salty air of a summer’s day on the coast of Maine.
What a view! Sea met shore in a moving line of tan and all the shades from deepest blue to lightest aqua. Wave for wave, the sky reflected the sea below, with only a few puffs of fluffy, white cloud to relieve its sapphire intensity.
She opened her dressing case and removed framed pictures of Victor, the boys–not such boys now, she reminded herself–and her grandchildren. Their familiar faces already made the room feel warmer, more like home.
Reaching deeper, she brought out silver boxes, one after another, each ornately tooled, some enameled with opalescent glass as deeply blue and green as though their shades had been plucked from the scene outside her window. Emilie and her silver boxes. She smiled at the amused tolerance the unpacking of those Victorian treasures always produced in the faces of the family looking back at her from their frames. She would no more travel without her beloved silver boxes than she would forego afternoon tea.
Still smiling, Emilie removed three small sketches from her bag. They were the original drawings for her first three books, enticingly rendered by a famous illustrator. Oh, how she had worked for those first publications! She had held her head high as rejection slip followed rejection slip. Finally, her first short story was accepted. Then her first book. And acceptance followed acceptance after that, as a noted publisher recognized the demand for her novels.
Who would have guessed that the public was so thirsty for a wholesome love story, set in beautiful surroundings, told in carefully crafted, aristocratic prose? But it was, and nearly thirty books later, here she was, in yet another grand, summer hotel, her first issue of the local paper open on the desk, ready to soak in the location of her next story, to look for the little seed of an idea which would sprout into the full flower of the next Emilie Loring novel.
Swiftly, she checked her appearance in the carved mirror. Smoothly coiffed, short, silver curls framed her face and set off her dark eyes, “the Baker eyes.” Patrician nose, a firm mouth despite its tendency to turn upward at the corners, and the dimpled chin which, despite her eighty-plus years, hinted at the girlishness so permanent in her character. And pearls, of course. Always those. Since her wedding, they had been her daily companions. She fingered their familiar, smooth ridges, lost for a moment in reverie, images of an earlier century crossing the stage of the present.
“Business for business hours.”
The familiar refrain snapped her back to attention. With efficient ease borne of years of practice, she sat down at the desk, drew her yellow, lined, writing pad from the worn, leather valise and felt the facets along the barrel of her sharpened pencil as, with a determined air, she put lead to paper. Time to get to work!