DISCARDED by Nancy M. Bell



DISCARDED  by Nancy M. Bell


by Nancy M. Bell 


GENRE:  Canadian Historical Mystery 



DISCARDED  by Nancy M. Bell
When the British arrived in Winnipeg in the 1800s it was convenient for the men to take Metis wives. They were called a la vacon du pays – according to the custom of the country. 

These women bore the brunt of ensuring survival in the harsh environment. Without them, the British army and fur traders would not have survived the brutal winters. However, as society evolved it became accepted that wives must be white, schooled in British ways, fashionable in the European sense and married by the Anglican church. 

The Metis wives and their ‘country born’ offspring were thrown out and forced to fend for themselves. The unrepentant husbands continued to live comfortably with their ‘new’ wives. It was inevitable that some discarded wives did not accept their fate quietly and hard feelings on both sides were unavoidable. 

When the bodies of two discarded Metis wives, Marguerite and Marie-Anne, are found floating in the Red River, Guilliame Mousseau, sets out to get to the bottom of his sister Margueite’s murder. 



“Marguerite, you must go to him. Ètienne needs medicine, the fever is eating him up,” Marie Anne urged her sister.

 The younger woman shook her head, wringing out a cloth in cold water to soothe her child. “How can I? The English woman, she is there now, I doubt Miles will even speak to me.”

 “He must, Ètienne is his son!” Marie-Anne insisted.

 “No longer.” The words were bitter. “He has disowned the baby and me, discarded us like so much offal. Now that his fancy English lady has arrived.”

 “Still, Marguerite, you must go and ask. I will come with you. Together we will convince your Miles to either send the British doctor or give us money for the medicine.” Anne Marie pulled the dripping cloth from Marguerite’s hand and threw it on the pounded earth floor. “Look at him! You cannot just let him die. If you won’t go yourself, I will go in your stead.”

 Marie-Anne whirled around, grabbing two thick shawls from the back of a chair, and wrapping them around her shoulders. She planted her hands on her hips and glared at her sister. “Are you coming?”

 “Yes, oui, of course. I know you are right. It is just my pride that stops me. For how long was I his wife in every sense of the word? If not for me, and you, and others like us, those soft Englishmen would never have survived their first winter. It was our relatives who brought them buffalo and other provisions to see them through, and us who cared for them, chopped wood, carried the water, bore their children…” Marguerite broke off, her throat closing in frustration and sorrow for all that they’d lost. Angrily, she swiped the moisture from her cheeks and straightened her back. “Come, we go. Alexandre! Come watch your brother while I go to your papa to ask for help.”

 The older boy poked the dying fire one more time before crossing the small room. He picked the sodden cloth up from the floor and wrung it out. After rinsing it with some water from the bucket by the bed, he wiped his little brother’s face.

 “Maman, he’s burning up.” Alex looked up at her. “Will Papa come and take him to the doctor? Why hasn’t he come to see us lately?”

 “Your papa will not be coming, nor will he take Ètienne to the doctor. The best we can hope for is that he will send the doctor or at least make provision for the apothecary to give me some medicine for him. I have tried the best I can with the willow bark, but it isn’t enough.”

 “Will Ètienne die like Elizabeth?” Alex glanced at the empty cradle still sitting by the hearth.

 “Not if I can help it,” Anne Marie promised. She took Marguerite’s arm and pulled her toward the door. “Put this on against the cold.” She thrust a Hudson’s Bay blanket into the other woman’s arms.

 “Oui, yes, we must go. You are right.” Marguerite wrapped the woolen blanket tightly around her, and after one last look at her children, followed her sister out into the bitter wind blowing down the Red River, howling around the eaves of the small buildings and sending snow flying into their faces.

 Alex’s last words echoed in Marguerite’s head as she shouldered her way against the wind. “Tell Papa I miss him.” She snorted, as if Miles cared about them anymore. Even little Elizabeth, dead at six months of age, hadn’t moved him to contribute to her burial. It was the English woman’s fault. She was the one who turned Miles against them. Charlotte Windfield, what sort of name was Charlotte anyway? Grief stabbed her for a moment, not Windfield anymore, oh no. Miles married the salope in the church two weeks ago. So now she was Charlotte Ashmore. Lady Ashmore, the pure. 



AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Nancy Marie Bell is a proud Albertan and Canadian. She lives near Balzac, Alberta with her husband and various critters.  She is a member of The Writers Union of Canada and the Writers Guild of Alberta. 

Nancy has numerous writing credits to her name, having three novels published and her work has been published in various magazines. She has also had her work recognized and honoured with various awards, and most recently, a silver medal in the Creative Writing category of the Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games in 2013.  

Nancy has presented at the Surrey International Writers Conference in 2012 and 2013, and at the Writers Guild of Alberta Conference in 2014. She has publishing credits in poetry, fiction and non-fiction. 

Nancy blogs on the first of each month at the Canadian Historical Brides Blog and on the 18th of every month at the Books We Love Insider Blog. Please drop by and say hi.

You can find her on Facebook at

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Post a Comment


  1. Thank you for featuring today's book on your tour.

  2. Hello and a huge thank you for hosting my latest novel Discarded on your blog. I really appreciate the support. Thank you again. Best Regards Nancy Bell

  3. The excerpt sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. The book details sounds so good!