Saturday, 5 November 2011

Bonfire Week - A Hungarian Bonfire

I thought I'd share this excerpt from "The Hungarian" - it's perfect for Bonfire Week. The Set Up: Matthias is hosting a bonfire at his estate with Katherine in attendance.


Resa's voice cut through the air. "I light this match and honor the sacrificial pyre. I call on Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water elements all -- watch over the gathering here -- inspire us tonight." With a flick of her wrist, Resa struck a match against the matchbox, throwing it into the pit. There were a couple of crackles and a few pops before the flames roared to life.

Bright blue and white colors danced on top of the fire before the more dominant orange, red, and yellow flames took over. Mrs. Heatherton flinched as the fire came to life.

"Brilliant..." said Paul, mesmerized by the colors. Liz squeezed his hand.

Matthias rubbed his hands against Katherine's shoulders. "This is perfect."

"Perfect? How so?" she asked.

"You're here."

"Martin! Music!" commanded Resa.

Resa's brother sat down on a chair and picked up a guitar that was next to János. János joined in with a flute. Resa danced around the fire. Before long, Emily joined Matthias on the blanket and yawned.

"Well, I suppose it's Emily's bedtime," said Mrs. Heatherton, as she stood up. She looked downright spooked, standing next to the blanket. He could only imagine what she would tell Lady Ashton, but he shrugged it off. Nothing would bother him tonight. Nothing.

He glanced at Emily. "Go with Mrs. Heatherton, little rose."

Emily nodded her head and hugged him as well as Katherine. "Good night, Papa. Good night, Miss Archiebald."

Katherine hugged his daughter back. "Good night, Emily."

Mrs. Heatherton frowned. "God won't like this, he won't, Count Duma. Moral people don't do things like this."

Matthias kept his expression even. "This is not about God, Mrs. Heatherton. If I'm correct, this is an old English custom to celebrate summer."

"Humpf." She grabbed Emily's hand and led her away.

Paul sipped his ale. "I, for one, am glad the old frump is gone."

"Paul," said Liz, smiling. "How many have you had?"

"Not enough."

"Lazlo, pour some wine for the ladies and I'll have an ale," said Matthias.

"Katherine Archibald"

Lazlo nodded his head. The music stopped. János served everyone the food he had prepared. The rich, sweet spices left an exotic taste in Matthias's mouth. Martin picked up his guitar again. Resa grabbed a tambourine and danced a square type dance with János who had put his flute down. The pit tamed the fire. Matthias felt happy, content even, as Katherine sat close to him. He looked up at the stars. A first quarter moon. The fire made the moon appear almost red, as if it were burning as well.

"I see we have a visitor," Katherine said.

"Who?" asked Matthias.

She pointed to the celestial orb high in the sky.

"It's growing," he said, quietly.

She looked at him, concerned, cupping his cheek. "I know you don't like it, but I've never seen it look so... alive."

"With you here, I'll be fine."

She cocked her head. "Fine?"

Lazlo handed Matthias and Katherine their drinks. Matthias took a long, satisfying sip of his ale. "The moon has more influence over men than you think. Just as it plays with the tides, it can toy with a man's emotions."

Katherine raised an eyebrow.

Resa approached and clapped her hands. "Count Duma! The Verbunkos!"

He finished his food, chuckled, and stood up. "I haven't danced that in several years."

János handed Resa a tambourine and grabbed his flute.

"What's the Verbunkos?" Katherine asked.

"A Hungarian folk dance that only men dance," said Matthias, grinning.

Resa looked pleased that he was willing to take on her challenge. "Martin!"

"Matthias Duma"

Martin struck up the guitar and she kept the beat with her tambourine. Matthias hardly felt rusty even though it had been two years since he had danced the Verbunkos. He easily kept time with the music. The dance involved a lot of jumping as well as clapping. He centered the dance around Resa spinning and twirling around her. It allowed him to keep his concentration on the dance. The music built to a fast pace and then stopped suddenly. Matthias ended the dance with a quick jump and fell to Resa's feet.

"Bravo, Count Duma!" Resa exclaimed.

Matthias got to his feet and smiled. Paul, Liz, and Katherine all clapped.

"Well done, Matthias!" cried Paul. "I've never seen a dance like that."

"Now it's time for you and Miss Archibald to dance," said Resa.

Katherine waved her hands. "I couldn't dance that."

"You don't have to. We can dance the Csándás," said Matthias.

Resa clapped her hands again. "Yes, it's perfect."

"I don't know how."

"I'll show you," said Resa.

"Go on, Kate," said Liz, smiling. "Give it a try."

Katherine took Matthias's hand, and he helped her to her feet. Martin and János played their music at a slow tempo. Resa showed her a couple of steps at a time. It took about ten minutes, but Katherine seemed to pick it up. Matthias danced it slow for her the first time. There wasn't much jumping, but it was a rather square-type dance, and there was clapping involved. When the song ended, Resa approached.

"Let me dance with Count Duma at the normal pace. Watch me. Try to twirl the skirt when I do."

Katherine nodded her head. Again, the music started, and Matthias danced with Resa. From time to time Resa would look at Katherine to make sure she was watching. Matthias was pleased at how Resa was trying to help Katherine learn the dance.
The dance finished in a flurry of moves, with Matthias wrapping his hands around Resa's waist and Resa resting her head against his shoulder. She quickly parted from him and looked at Katherine. "Remember, it starts off slow but builds up to a quick ending."

"All right," Katherine said.

Matthias took Katherine's hand again. The music began. They danced in front of the fire. Liz and Paul clapped to the beat. They danced around the pit, laughing and clapping. The guitar played faster, the flute hit higher notes. Resa sang in Hungarian. They danced quicker, and when the Csándás ended, Resa threw powder into the fire. The fire crackled. It hissed loudly and then the flames turned colors -- purple, blue, green, and white before slowly returning to yellow. Matthias held Katherine tight against his muscular body. He felt her heart pulsing with energy just like his was.

"How did you do that?" asked Paul.

"Magic," replied Resa.

"Well done, Resa," said Matthias. Then he looked down into Katherine's eyes. "I've enjoyed myself tonight."

"So have I."


Happily Ever After Reviews, 5 Cups
"This is an excellent book and I think fans of both the paranormal and historical romances will really, really enjoy it."

Reader's Favorites, 5 Stars
"This book is extremely entertaining. The plot is sensual and romantic."

Coffee Time Romance, 3 Cups
"Ms. Burkhart tells this tale in such a voice that we can practically feel the waves of emotions both characters are feeling coming off the pages."













Lindsay Townsend said...

Beautifully atmospheric, Steph! I felt to be there with them. What a perfect excerpt for Bonfire Night! I love the men dacing, too.

StephB said...

What's a bonfire without a little dancing? hehe. I went to a couple of bonfires growing up in New England but it doesn't seem popular out this way in California. I can understand why - people are careless with fire and they can rage out of control into thousands of acres of fire.

Still, a good bonfire is fun. Happy to hang out this week.


Savanna Kougar said...

Fascinating, the customs in your bonfire excerpt. The dancing would have been so fun.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Get out the marshmallows and hotdogs, the Hungarian sounds positively exciting. I love the characters and the scenery is so lovely and romantic. I also like how you inserted pictures of actors to represent the characters. That was so helpful. I was charmed.

StephB said...

Sigh...ladies, I miss a good bonfire.

Jenny Twist said...

Great excerpt, Steph. Very atmospheric