Still editing like crazy. This section takes place after Slim has well and truly hooked up with Dr. Miracle’s Medicine Show. Here’s the previous version:
Their wagon moved so slowly that Thérèse walked beside it easily. Slim flanked the wagon on the other side. He felt well enough, and didn’t want to be seen as any more of a liability than he already was. Dr. Miracle drove. Mary had left the group within five minutes of their setting out, and no one made any comment. After the way Thérèse had ignored Slim’s questions yesterday, he decided not to ask why Mary had left. Instead he asked where they were headed.
Thérèse’s lips curved up to one side. “Didn’t you hear? West.”
“Is there a town, or even a state we have in mind?”
“We’ll stop at the first town that seems likely for our purposes,” Dr. Miracle said.
Dr. Miracle seemed by far the most loquacious of Slim’s new companions, but that didn’t really mean he was forthcoming. He seemed to like to talk a lot, but that was not the same thing.
Dr. Miracle seemed to reconsider. “I suppose there’s no call to be especially secretive, Mr. Holloway. If my map is accurate, the next place that we are likely to find need of our services is a little hamlet by the name of Green Willow.”
And here’s the revised version:
The medicine show wagon trundled down the dirt road behind two phlegmatic horses, Dr. Miracle at the reins. Thérèse and Slim accompanied it, one on either side. Mary had deserted the group within five minutes of their setting out. Two hours passed with no sign of her, and no one made any comment. After the way Thérèse had deflected Slim’s questions yesterday, he decided not to ask why Mary had left. Instead he asked where they were headed.
Thérèse shot him a sidelong glance. “Didn’t you hear? Away from Fish Creek.”
“Is there a town, a state, or even a territory we have in mind?”
Dr. Miracle said, “We’ll stop at the first town that seems likely for our purposes.”
“Do you know what I like about you, sir?”
“I imagine there are so many things it’s hard to choose among them.”
“I was thinking of one thing in particular. You are by far the most loquacious of my new companions. I appreciate a good conversation.”
“We have that in common, son.”
“There’s only one fly in the ointment.”
“Somehow I knew you would find one.” Doc’s mouth curved up as he regarded the horizon. Slim tried to see what the old man might be looking at, but saw only a rut-filled road, low hills, tall grass and the occasional tree. Still no sign of Mary.
“Do you want to know what that fly is, Doctor?”
“If you want to tell me.”
“You are not what I’d call forthcoming. You may like to talk a lot, but that isn’t the same thing.”
Dr. Miracle chuckled. “I suppose there’s no call to be secretive, Mr. Holloway. If my map is accurate, the next place we are likely to find need of our services is a little hamlet by the name of Green Willow.”
The idea with the later version was that I wanted Slim to be more engaged with his companions, especially Dr. Miracle. I also wanted a clearer sense of the setting. And fewer adverbs.