Sunday Snippet, Bearding the Dragon

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon.  George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

This week Rupert shows he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


Mr Brindle managed to keep his face expressionless as he bowed to them, “It will be my pleasure, and I’ll see that the carriage is here later this afternoon.” Rachel sighed with relief as Rupert escorted her and Lucy down the High Street. She turned and saw Brindle go into the Hart, calling for the keeper.

Miss Deacon ran out to meet Rupert and Rachel when their carriage arrived at the Hall, beating the footmen to it. “You’re back!”

Rupert asked, “Why? What happened?”

“Nothing, it’s just.”

“Alone with your intended Mother-in-law?”

“It’s more than I can stand. Next time you run off, take me with you.”

“Rupert!” The woman in questions strident voice echoed out the door. “Come here this instant, and leave that woman outside.”

Rachel glanced at him, and Miss Deacon. She’s so pretty, even in distress.

Rupert said, “Rachel, please come with me.”

“But?”

“It’s my home, not hers.”

They entered the hall together. Charity and Lucy followed behind them. Out of the corner of her eye, Rachel could see Charity, gun-shy, clasping her hands. She turned and said, “Worried about the consequences?”

Charity replied, “She’s snapped at me all day. I don’t like it. I don’t know how George endures it.”

Rachel smiled, “Knowing him, he dutifully listens, appears to agree, and then quickly forgets.”

“I couldn’t do that.”

Lady Bedlington was already dressing Rupert down inside the library when Rachel entered. “So you’re still engaged to that harpy. Even after I showed you her past.”

“Forgeries Ma’am, forgeries and not very good ones at that.”

“Prove it.”

Rupert took one of the pages from her and then found the recently restored volume nine of his laboratory notebooks. The writing matched. Rachel relaxed when he smiled at her. “I told you they weren’t good forgeries.” Then he addressed Lady Bedlington, “Grandmother, either I wrote the documents or whoever took my notebook did. In either case they can’t be authentic.”

“There’s no smoke without fire.”

With his backbone stiffened by the admiring gazes of both Rachel and Charity, Rupert rose to the challenge, “Well … actually … um there is. Sal Ammoniac. Could fill this room with hazy smoke without a fire at all. Bit of a nuisance, but if you’d like, I can readily demonstrate it.”

“No.”

“Fine. As you wish, Ma’am. Rachel, my love, would you like to see it?”

Lady Bedlington interrupted him, “Either that, that adventuring hussy, putting herself forward goes, or I do.”

“I believe the carriage hasn’t yet been put to. It should be easy to arrange your transport. Miss Holloway, would you find Mrs Hobbes and arrange for her to pack my Grandmother’s bags?”

Rachel followed Rupert’s gaze when he addressed Lucy, but stopped on Charity. She likes him, more than a little. Possibly more than George. Pity she’s engaged. She smiled to herself. The thought Pity he’s engaged, passed through her mind and dampened her good humour.

Faced with determined resistance, resistance that called her bluff, Lady Bedlington spluttered for a moment; then said, “No, please don’t. I’ll stay.”

“And you’ll behave; address my fiancée with the respect she deserves?”

Lady Bedlington slowly, every so reluctantly, nodded her head, “Yes.”

“Then,” Rupert smiled at the lot of them, “We can be one big happy family.”

Studying Lady Bedlington’s expression, Rachel thought, for the moment, until there’s something else she can do.

Rupert rang for a servant and when Mr Brindle appeared said, “Brindle, the ladies desire some tea, At least I should think so, as I do. Could you see to it?”

“Certainly, Sir.”

Rupert added, as quietly as he could, “And thank you.”

A hint of a flicker of a smile passed over Mr Brindle’s face, “Pleased to be of service.”


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA – It’s better in that I can put weight on it, but three more weeks a couple days with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor – though I might have to follow Red Green’s advice.).

Sal Ammoniac, e.g. Ammonium chloride, is a neat chemical. It deliquesces into a fine white smoke when heated. It’s sometimes used for stage smoke – when they don’t use dry ice and hot water or an oil burner. It also has one heck of a heat of solution. When I was a lab tech in high school, I was told to make a saturated solution of ammonium chloride. The usual trick for salts is to heat the solution, add the salt until it can’t quite take any more, and then when it cools a small amount of the salt precipitates – which ensures that the solution is saturated. I started with NH4 Cl and kept adding it, and kept adding it, and kept adding it. Eventually I could add no more. Then when it cooled there was a small amount of water and a huge amount of ammonium chloride in the bottle. You can also make it from gaseous HCl and NH3.  We did an experiment measuring diffusion, where you put drops of this solution on either end of a tube and measure a band of smoke where the two gasses meet. That worked, but one of the highlights for me of highschool was making the entire wing of the school foggy.  They didn’t repeat that experiment the next year.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.

 

Illegal Aliens is alive.

 

My close collaborator just posted that her new book is alive for preorder on Amazon.

There’s information on the post about using the kindle creator to format a book, which may be of interest to some.

Sunday Snippet, Next Morning.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon.  George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


Rachel started to say she wasn’t hungry, when she saw the concern in Rupert’s face. “Please.”

Their repast finished, Rupert told Rachel what his step-grandmother had said and done. “That virago. Claimed you were a low adventuress, bent on stealing my fortune.”

“I’m not.”

“I know that. And those documents … Mr Oliver’s work I presume?”

“Yes.”

Rupert shook his head, “Obvious forgeries. I could see that and I don’t know your father’s handwriting. They were all written in the same hand, and didn’t you say he used a different name at that time.”

“Yes, William Harding. I forget his other names. What are you going to do?”

“I, I am going to escort my affianced wife on the mail to her cousins. Then I’ll stay somewhere, Claridge’s.”

“Won’t that be below your rank, uncomfortable? Not Claridge’s obviously.”

“Uncomfortable, a touch crowded, but I rode the mail to school many times. You’ll need someone to look after you.”

“I can’t imagine anyone better.” Rachel reached for his hand and squeezed it. “Thank you.”

Rupert looked as if he had another idea of how Rachel could thank him. Then he saw Miss Holloway’s quelling stare and thought better of it. Rachel, too, had wondered about a kiss and felt the weight of her companion’s presence. I’ll find some other time, when Lucy’s distracted.

“Let me suggest something. If you feel up to it, we could explore the town. Take in the sights. There was a teashop my mother liked.”

“As long as you’ll lend me your arm. To steady my way.”

“It would be my pleasure.”

Mr Brindle met them as they were leaving the Hart. He carried a small valise and, more importantly, advice. “Sir?”

“Brindle, I am glad to see you. The bag is for me?”

“Yes My Lord. I thought you might need some essentials for your journey, a spare shirt, neck-cloths, and your brushes.”

“Thank you.”

Mr Brindle then coughed to clear his throat, “If I may take a liberty, My Lord.”

Rachel thought, Here it comes.

Rupert calmly inhaled, old and familiar servants could be difficult.

However, he wasn’t. “I think it would be best if you, all of you, returned to the Hall. Lady Bedlington can be … difficult … indeed very trying at times. Best not to call craven with her. You should not let her dictates force your behaviour.”

“I see,” Rupert thought for a moment; then asked Rachel, “Are you willing to beard this lioness in her den?”

“If I’m to be mistress of your establishment, My Lord,” Rachel said to Rupert with a deep curtsey and a broad smile, “then I’d best act the part. We can always ride together on the mail some other time.”

Rupert laughed at that, “Yes I suppose we could. If we wanted to. Travelling post, as befits our station in life, is far more comfortable. Brindle, would you see that our luggage returns home. I will accompany Lady Hayforth around Wakefield. Show her the sights, such as they are.”

Mr Brindle managed to keep his face expressionless as he bowed to them, “It will be my pleasure, and I’ll see that the carriage is here later this afternoon.” Rachel sighed with relief as Rupert escorted her and Lucy down the High Street. She turned and saw Brindle go into the Hart, calling for the keeper.


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA – It’s better in that I can put weight on it, but four three more weeks with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor).

Medicine in 1816 or so was at the height of the “heroic” age. You’d have to be a hero to take it. It will shortly become important for this story, but in addition to “balancing the humours” by bleeding, purging was a standard treatment. A deep colonic with a difference.

Two approaches were used to “purify the body” and to put it bluntly, you would be completely insane to try them today.

The first common treatment was calomel – mercury chloride. It’s not quite as toxic as it sounds, but that’s not saying much. Your body is smart enough to recognize it’s not good for you and rapidly excretes it along with whatever else there is in your digestive system. Very rapidly. (In Horsefeathers, Chico Marx replies to a question from Groucho about a headache “Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes a calomel.” So it was used almost into living memory.) The “red gum” in Jane Austen is quite possibly a symptom of giving babies calomel to help with teething.

The other common treatment was the “miraculous cup” (don’t look for that on Google – look for antimony cup (you have been warned).) Wine, left in a cup made of antimony or with an antimony-containing glaze would leach small amounts of the metal into solution. Since arsenic is almost as poisonous as antimony, it’s good that there was only a small amount of metal leaching. The active ingredient,”tartar emetic” a complex of tartaric acid (those crystals in the bottom of the wine glass) and antimony lives up to its name (and is, I suppose, fully “organic”).

Needless to say – which has never stopped me in the past – if you ingested too much of either compound your medical problems were over. To be honest, there is a small differential toxicity between us, worms, and bacteria and therefore a therapeutic threshold, so in the absence of anything better they may have worked. Perhaps. If you were very lucky.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.

 

Sunday Snippet, Next Morning.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon. This week picks up after George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


Rachel awoke the next morning. George must be away by now. She rose and looked out her window at the farmyard beyond. It was curiously grey for such a sunny morning. “Still,” she said to herself after she rang for her morning water, “Best to about and doing. No point in lying here.” Lying here moping away the morning.

Lady Bedlington had much the same idea. She greeted Rachel with a glare from the far side of the parlour where they both broke their fasts.

“Madam,” Lady Bedlington said, “When you are finished, I have … ah … something to ask you.”

The food turned to ashes in Rachel’s mouth. “I’ll eat later.” If I’m still hungry.

“Excellent. You may be aware that Mr Oliver visited me yesterday.”

Rachel gulped, “Yes.”

The grim smile Lady Bedlington gave her made her heart sink farther. “Excellent. If you’d follow me.” She rose and led the way to the library. At the door to the room, she stopped, “I thought it best to show you these while my son is away. Lord Hartshorne is easy enough to manage, but George can be surprisingly stubborn.” She took a sheaf of papers from a locked drawer and handed them to Rachel. “I believe the mail stops in Wakefield … you won’t need to go all the way to Leeds.”

Rachel rapidly scanned the papers, “They’re forgeries and not very good ones at that. This is not my father’s handwriting nor his signature.” She studied Lady Bedlington and saw her complete lack of reaction. “Which you already knew. In any case I would know if my father pledged me to that man … and he didn’t use the name Oliver at the time, it was William J Harding.”

Lady Bedlington only grinned at her. “That doesn’t matter. Rupert will believe me. I’m family and you’re not.” She rang the bell and when Mr Brindle appeared added, “Brindle, see that this woman’s things are packed. Then have her and her ‘companion’ taken to Wakefield. The posting house … The Stafford Arms?”

“The Hart, Ma’am.” Brindle bowed, stiffly. Rachel could see his reluctance and read the disapproval in his sour expression.

“Which ever. Brindle. See that this person is deposited there. She is no longer welcome in this house.”

****

Still stunned at her change in fortune, Rachel sat in a back parlour of the Hart. Lucy was little better. “Rachel,” She said, “do you think Lord Bromley will take us in?”

“I hope so … I have enough of the ready to get back home if he doesn’t. But.”

“I know. It doesn’t bear thinking.”

Rachel’s ears pricked. The Hart had been so quiet. Yet there was a disturbance outside. A man rode into the courtyard and shouted. “Has it come?”

A groom answered him. “Has what come, sir?”

“The mail. Tell me man, is she here?” It was Rupert.

“I don’t know about her, whoever you mean. The mail came and went this morning. Won’t be another until tomorrow. They can book you a room inside.”

Rachel struggled with the catch on her window. It wouldn’t open. Normally a good thing, as no one wanted the cold night breeze with its attending ill humours, at this moment it was a disaster. She knocked on the pane. Look up! Please look up here and see me! She rapped on the window then waved.

Lucy had more presence of mind and dashed downstairs. Then she ran into the courtyard. “Lord Hartshorne!”

Rupert turned, relieved, “You’re here, and your mistress?”

“She too. We missed the mail this morning.”

“Thank God.” Rupert leaped from his horse and threw the reins to the groom. “See that my horse is returned to Oulten Hall. I need to book a ticket on the mail.” Then he heard the noise from a window above. He turned and waved at Rachel. She waved back, feebly at first and then not at all. She slid to the floor.

Lucy, followed closely by Rupert, ran for the parlour. Rachel lay by the window, gazing upward with a confused expression.

“You’re here.”

“Yes.”

Lucy pushed him aside and examined her charge. “Miss Rachel, sniff this.” She held a small vinaigrette under Rachel’s nose. Rachel started from the smell. “What’s in that?”

“Just a vinaigrette.”

Rupert took it from Lucy and sniffed. “Pleasant, but I fail to see that it could have much effect.” He bent over and offered a hand. “Let’s get you up. Have you eaten?”

“No. I was so worried.”

“Then I’d say a meal is in order, some tea?”

“Please. Did Lady Bedlington show you the papers?”

“Later. After you’ve eaten.” He turned and started to shout, only to find the ever-attentive innkeeper standing there. “Tea, and have you something suitable for Lady Hayforth?”

Rachel started to say she wasn’t hungry, when she saw the concern in Rupert’s face. “Please.”


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA – It’s better in that I can put weight on it, but four more weeks with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor).

Establishing identity is one of those things we take for granted today. Fingerprints, blood-types, and DNA make it straightforward. Those things existed in the regency, but no one knew about them. Identity was by facial recognition and people vouching for you. Everyone had a “settlement” – a home parish where you were known. It was typically where you were born or married. The relatively well-off characters in this story wouldn’t have been a problem for any parish, but if you were poor … well that was another matter. Your settlement was responsible for your upkeep. So they had a vested interest in not recognizing you if you were in need of charity. Especially as the parish clerk got to keep the money he didn’t use for the poor. Bribery, subterfuge, and paying someone to marry debauched single women was the usual practice, when they didn’t just send you to a workhouse (usually only for a short while and not because you were released).  This state of affairs could not be allowed to continue and eventually people of conscience but together charitable corporations like the foundling’s hospitals to deal with the worst abuses.

 

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.

 

Sunday Snippet, Awkward.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

It starts with the trope, Lady Rachel on her way to London, is stranded in the country by an unfortunate accident. They’ve made their way to the house in the distance, but not without slipping in the muddy lane.

The Master was introduced here. He was somewhat annoyed at the disturbance, but willing to see that his guests were properly entertained.  The housekeeper, Mrs Hobbes, leads Rachel and Lucy to their rooms to prepare for dinner The carriage wright makes a cameo appearance in a previous snippet.

Last week saw the arrival of Rupert’s Uncle George and a hint at the complicated family history – a history that was not completely … harmonious.

After a peek into Rupert’s history, George makes a somewhat unusual proposition to Rachel which was continued. The rain finally scuds off to the North Sea leaving a fine day – for riding and other things. Rachel, unsure of her own feelings, arranged for her companion to use the only sidesaddle.  Meanwhile Rupert and Rachel discover a shared interest in music, which leads to a proposal.  George has just returned from finding a magistrate to deal with a mob. At the ball a slippery character from the past makes his first appearance. George disposes of him, for the time being, in the this snippet.  Rupert explained about his previous work in chemistry and Mr Oliver returned equipped with a search party.

Rachel gets a start on clearing the mess, in the library, because she can actually read the titles.  George’s fiance helps her. The evening ended with an excursion. George has just closed the door on his mother at her morning toilette. After George works on his declensions, they decide to visit the army encamped in Pontefract.  They returned empty handed, but Rupert and Charity didn’t.

Butterfly collecting ctd.


Rupert came bouncing back with Charity in tow. Rachel looked up from the desk where she struggled with the letter. “My Dear Lord Bromley,” was about as far as she had written. There’s so much I could say, and so little I can.

“Good hunting Rupert?”

“Yes, for Charity – a blue skipper and others. Did you have luck?”

“Not directly. Mr Oliver brought back your missing notebook.”

“He did?”

“George said it was interesting because it was mostly blank.”

“What! Are you sure?”

“It’s in the library. George too, unless he finished his express.”

“Excuse me,” Rupert gave the two women a quick bow and ran.

Charity remained, standing. “I think you are so lucky Rachel. So lucky with Lord Hartshorne. I mean, to be engaged to him.”

Rachel smiled at her. “Yes, I suppose I am. George, your George is no mean bit either. You could do far worse and not much better.”

“I wish he were more serious, cultured.”

“That frippery manner conceals a good mind and a sound heart. I’m sure he’ll settle down with matrimony.”

“His mother thinks he’s more than a bit of a fool and needs a strong hand guiding him.”

“That, I can assure you, isn’t at all true. It’s an act, an affectation.”

Charity blinked in confusion, then changed the subject. “Did you know Mr Oliver called while you were out?”

“We saw him.”

“He was closeted with Lady Bedlington for ever so long. They were talking when we, Rupert and I, left to look for butterflies.”

“I know.”

“He said something, I didn’t hear it all, about documents and you.”

“The man’s a forger and a villain. He drove my father into deep water, far over his head.” Rachel paused, “In a way I owe him thanks. Wouldn’t have met Rupert otherwise.”

“It sounded as if Lady Bedlington was pleased with what she heard.”

Rachel sighed, “Why am I not surprised? She thinks I’m an adventuress … out to steal Rupert’s fortune.”

“Weren’t you searching for a husband?”

“Yes, but there’s a difference between that and being an adventuress.”

“There is?”

“Don’t you want to be married?”

“To George?”

“To someone. Charity, I’ve faced the alternative. Even an imperfect marriage is a better fate.”

Charity sighed, “I- I suppose you’re right.”

****

After dinner, after port and snuff, and when the men had finally joined the ladies in the drawing room, George attracted Charity’s attention. “It’s a fine night, Miss Deacon. Why don’t you show me the stars? You were saying you needed to improve my mind.”

“If you’d like.”

“I’d best take advantage of the chance. I’m afraid I must run off to the village in the morning.”

“London?” Rachel asked, “Why?”

“With the end of the war, the expresses don’t run this far. Not regularly in any case. They’ve let themselves go slack.”

“But?” Charity said, “Why do you have to do it?”

“A matter has arisen, an old but in a way still very pressing matter, and I need to tell, ah … an old friend about it.”

Rachel, all ears, said, “Is this that Lord Grey you mentioned?”

“Maybe,” He flashed her a smile, “Then again, maybe not. I’ll either be back or Old Gas can see you into town himself.”

“Here,” Rupert objected, “I’m not sure I like this. Me in charge of Lady Bedlington.”

“More likely you in her charge. Charity,” he offered his arm, “The stars are out and it’s a surprisingly clement evening.”

Charity glanced around, “We’ll need a chaperon, Rupert?”

Lucy rose, “Miss Deacon, I’d be glad to see the stars. His lordship should pay attention to my mistress.”

“Yes he should,” Rachel laughed, “Would you care to see the stars as well, Lord Hartshorne? We should keep your uncle out of trouble.”


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA – I find out Wednesday if I can take the boot off. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor).

This story is set at one of those “interesting” times in history. Remember the Chinese curse “May you be born in interesting times?” Public, if not private, morals were beginning to change from something the 1960’s would consider risque to the tight prudery of the Victorian era. (Mind you something like 20% of births in the 1880’s were “premature” in date but not fact. So chaperons were not quite as effective as they thought.)

In the background, that evil Corsican, Napoleon was exiled to Saint Helena. St. Helena is almost literally the end of the world. In India you can buy ‘Hitler’ branded goods. I just ate at a restaurant called “Napoleon’s” which is much the same thing. Many of Napoleon’s allies wanted to rescue him, but I get ahead of the story.

The first industrial revolution is well underway, with societal dislocations that mimic the tensions in our own. Suddenly skilled labour is no longer as important as it was. It no longer mattered if you could assemble a brown bess by yourself with your eyes closed. Now all that mattered was could you feed a machine.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.

 

Sunday Snippet, Lepidoptera.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

It starts with the trope, Lady Rachel on her way to London, is stranded in the country by an unfortunate accident. They’ve made their way to the house in the distance, but not without slipping in the muddy lane.

The Master was introduced here. He was somewhat annoyed at the disturbance, but willing to see that his guests were properly entertained.  The housekeeper, Mrs Hobbes, leads Rachel and Lucy to their rooms to prepare for dinner The carriage wright makes a cameo appearance in a previous snippet.

Last week saw the arrival of Rupert’s Uncle George and a hint at the complicated family history – a history that was not completely … harmonious.

After a peek into Rupert’s history, George makes a somewhat unusual proposition to Rachel which was continued. The rain finally scuds off to the North Sea leaving a fine day – for riding and other things. Rachel, unsure of her own feelings, arranged for her companion to use the only sidesaddle.  Meanwhile Rupert and Rachel discover a shared interest in music, which leads to a proposal.  George has just returned from finding a magistrate to deal with a mob. At the ball a slippery character from the past makes his first appearance. George disposes of him, for the time being, in the this snippet.  Rupert explained about his previous work in chemistry and Mr Oliver returned equipped with a search party.

Rachel gets a start on clearing the mess, in the library, because she can actually read the titles.  George’s fiance helps her. The evening ended with an excursion. George has just closed the door on his mother at her morning toilette. After George works on his declensions, they decide to visit the army encamped in Pontefract.  They returned empty handed.

Butterfly collecting.


 

“He was gambling on that being well after he had left, or that he’d have the time to copy it out. We interrupted him.” George smiled at the thought then laughed as he said. “Shall we find the light of my life, my Charity?”

Having knocked on Rupert’s workshop without success, George found Mr Brindle, “Ah Edward, have you seen Miss Deacon?”

Austere at the informality and disapproving of the intelligence he had to bring, Mr Brindle’s habitual frown deepened when he replied, “Lord Bedlington.”

“George.”

“Lord Bedlington, Miss Deacon and the Master have gone for a walk on the downs. I believe they are hunting Lepidoptera. At least, they had nets and a collecting box.”

“Sounds a wholesome activity. It sounds like Gas is taking after his parents after all.”

“It was not clear that they were chaperoned.”

George cocked an eyebrow, “I shouldn’t worry about that. Charity’s a rock. Trust her with my life, you know.”

Mr Brindle’s expression indicated he thought that might be a misplaced trust, but as a well-trained servant, he kept his opinions to himself.

George continued, addressing Rachel, “Ma’am” he bowed, “Perhaps you and Miss Holloway would care to find his Lordship. I, on the other hand, am dreadfully tired. Need to write a missive to my friends in London. Let them know the good news.”

“If you’re taking your letter to the post, I should write to my cousin once more. To let him know I’m still on my way.”

“Yes … there is that. I was thinking of a faster, somewhat more expensive missive.” He gave her a smile, “More than a shilling a sheet, if you must know.”

“Oh. That. I’m sorry, must seem so very dense.”

Mr Brindle coughed, “Ma’am, I shall have a page carry your letter to the village for posting.”

Rachel smiled at him, “Thank you Brindle.”


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA).

Lepidoptera are butterflies, which Rachel must be feeling by now. Bees are hymenoptera, but the subject of this Gilray cartoon. Various wasps, representing everything from Catholic emancipation to the radical republicans are raiding the treasury. Pitt the younger is by now (1808) no longer involved in politics (in the poetic French phrase he is eating dandelions from the roots). Other less memorable members of government (including one who looks suspiciously like a Wellesley – probably Arthur’s older brother) are defending the hive.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.

 

Sunday Snippet, Empty handed.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

It starts with the trope, Lady Rachel on her way to London, is stranded in the country by an unfortunate accident. They’ve made their way to the house in the distance, but not without slipping in the muddy lane.

The Master was introduced here. He was somewhat annoyed at the disturbance, but willing to see that his guests were properly entertained.  The housekeeper, Mrs Hobbes, leads Rachel and Lucy to their rooms to prepare for dinner The carriage wright makes a cameo appearance in a previous snippet.

Last week saw the arrival of Rupert’s Uncle George and a hint at the complicated family history – a history that was not completely … harmonious.

After a peek into Rupert’s history, George makes a somewhat unusual proposition to Rachel which was continued. The rain finally scuds off to the North Sea leaving a fine day – for riding and other things. Rachel, unsure of her own feelings, arranged for her companion to use the only sidesaddle.  Meanwhile Rupert and Rachel discover a shared interest in music, which leads to a proposal.  George has just returned from finding a magistrate to deal with a mob. At the ball a slippery character from the past makes his first appearance. George disposes of him, for the time being, in the this snippet.  Rupert explained about his previous work in chemistry and Mr Oliver returned equipped with a search party.

Rachel gets a start on clearing the mess, in the library, because she can actually read the titles.  George’s fiance helps her. The evening ended with an excursion. George has just closed the door on his mother at her morning toilette. After George works on his declensions, they decide to visit the army encamped in Pontefract.

After Pontefract.


George, Lucy and Rachel rode back to the Hall in silence. Mr Harding or Oliver or Jones wasn’t in the camp, and if he had the notebook he’d cached it well. It wasn’t in his tent.

Rachel watched the country slide by as the horses pulled their carriage. She turned back and said, “Well, I hope that’s the last we see of him.”

George replied, “Pity about that notebook. Wonder if one of the soldiers took it after all.”

“I’m sure he has it. Never loses anything that’s to his advantage. Do you remember Lucy, when he turned up at the solicitors, during probate?”

Lucy nodded, “All those bills. You almost had to sell the hall to meet them.”

George’s eyebrow raised, “Indeed. That’s interesting.”

“Interesting to you, Lord Bedlington. A disaster for us.”

“No, not what I meant. I’ve seen this fellow before, or at least heard of him. … I mean from before the last few days. Dashed if I can remember where.”

“Well, for me, I still hope that’s the last we see of him.”

The carriage pulled up near the front of the Hall. A pair of footmen promptly appeared and helped them alight.

George stretched in the fading afternoon light, “Good to be back. Have to see about getting you to London. … I suppose it depends on my dear Mater’s plans. Maybe you can ride with her. It might help things if she gets to know you better.”

Rachel replied, “I’m not sure of that. She disapproves of me, on principle. Thinks I’m taking advantage of Rupert. She almost called me an adventuress to my face. Who knows what she’s said behind my back.”

“Yes … well … you know, she’s sort of, um, stuck in her ways. Pity, but that’s how it is. You’ll have to charm her. I mean she’s Gas’s grandmother.”

“Lord Hartshorne, Rupert’s step-grandmother. I’ll do my best.”

“Good girl. Gas is getting a good bargain. I must admit my suggestion has proven fortuitous.”

“Please remember that my fiancé doesn’t like that nickname.”

“But I do. There’s that, you know.”

An unpleasantly familiar voice met them as they approached the parlour. George stopped and quieted Rachel. He whispered, “Listen.”

Lady Bedlington said, “Mr Oliver, thank you. We’ve been looking all over for that book. My grandson will be ever so pleased that you found it.”

“One of the men took it. I’m simply happy to be the agent of its return.”

“And that other thing, those papers of yours, they will be most useful.”

“Glad to be of service.” The sound of chairs scraping along the floor echoed from the room. Evidently Mr Oliver rose and bowed to Lady Bedlington.

George pulled Lucy and Rachel into the library, with a whisper, “Best if we’re not seen.” They watched while Mr Oliver whistled his way to the front door, and then strode towards the stables.

“Pleased with himself, isn’t he?”

“I’d say so.” George replied, “Wonder what mischief he’s done?”

Rachel said, “Who knows.”

George shrugged, “Must see how Mother is, and then you should find Gas. I hope Charity has recovered.”

“Yes, Charity.” Rachel replied, in a curiously toneless voice.

“Once more into the breech dear friends.” George led the way to the parlour.

Inside Lady Bedlington greeted them with a smile. A knowing smile that seemed almost a leer to Rachel. “You just missed a visit from an excellent young man. A Mr Oliver.”

“We did Mother?”

“Yes. He was returning that missing notebook of Lord Hartshorne’s. One of the soldiers had taken it.”

George hurriedly asked, “May I see it?”

Lady Bedlington pointed to a bound volume on the table. “If you insist.”

Hastily picking it up, George quickly flipped through the pages. His mother continued, “I didn’t know you were interested in chemistry, George.”

“I’m not particularly, but this book interests me.”

“Why?”

“That would be telling. Let’s just say I’ve acquired a recent interest in natural philosophy.” He snapped the book shut and stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Interesting, dashed odd, but interesting.” Then he slipped the book into the shelves with the other laboratory notebooks.

“George,” Rachel started to say, then seeing his mother glare at her, “Lord Bedlington, what’s interesting?”

“Must find Gas. I mean Rupert. See that he’s keeping out of trouble.” George bowed to Lady Bedlington, and then to Rachel. She didn’t take his hint and followed him out of the room.

Once out of immediate earshot, Rachel asked, “George, what was in the book?”

“Nothing.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Exactly what I said. It was blank. Other than the first few pages. Something tells me Rupert wouldn’t have left it that way. I think it’s a fake or a copy.”

“Surely, Mr Oliver would know that it would eventually be opened.”

“He was gambling on that being well after he had left, or that he’d have the time to copy it out. We interrupted him.” George smiled at the thought then laughed as he said. “Shall we find the light of my life, my Charity?”

 


I have to apologize on being a little remiss at replying and various social obligations. It is surprising what a broken ankle will do to your energy level (Even after several weeks, it’s mending but a royal PITA).

General Byng is a minor, but real character in this story. After Waterloo he and his soldiers camped near the town of Pontefract. Camp Hill is now covered with houses, but you can still find references to it in the street names.  He was deeply involved in putting down the Pontefract uprising, and marginally involved in the Peterloo massacre. (He left his command temporarily to attend to a horse race at York – no word of whether his two horses won. His second in command lost control of the situation and the cavalry charged into the otherwise peaceful protest.) In any case, his politics seemed to have changed because he was a supporter of the reform bill, which tried to deal with many of the issues that caused these uprisings.  (It raised the number of eligible voters from 500,000 to 814,000. Mind you there were 14 Million people in Britain at the time. Come to think of it, that’s not much bigger than Atlanta.)

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page. We actually are preparing books for publication and have some sort of plan – amazing as that seems.