The Art of Deception 15 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice


Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. One more posting about Alice before she and Roderick meet. Last week we found Alice in training at Mrs Hudson’s academy in Chipping Sodbury, and in trouble. This week she’s on an errand of mercy. There’s a veiled reference to a Jane Austen book in here. Can you find it?

Later that afternoon, Lucy fell ill, and Alice was detailed with a trip to the druggist. Unfortunately, his response wasn’t helpful.

“If it were a sleeping potion, or a poison, say some hemlock or arsenic … I could help you, but rhubarb; what’s that for?”

“Settling the stomach; I mean everyone knows that.”

“Do tell; I’m sorry, are you sure you don’t want hemlock or maybe morphia?”

“It’s for a friend; A good friend.”

“Oh well then I have the miraculous cup; guaranteed to purge every time … Jalap or Calomel maybe?”

“She just has an upset stomach, rhubarb.”

“Sorry I can’t help you; Did you try Allinger’s? Just down the street from us, or maybe Smith’s in Yate?”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


One reviewer for Dr Craven took me to task for the incompetence of medicine in 1805. (Couldn’t they tell someone was dead? In short, no. At least not until the body started to smell.) Jalap, calomel and “the miraculous cup” (tartar emetic or spirits of antimony in wine), are at the standard of care at the time. I think the idea was that if you survived the purging, whatever it was that ailed you felt good. They did have morphia or opium in various forms. Powdered rhubarb root, imported from China, was used to settle stomachs. We don’t use it today because it was at best a placebo. Interestingly the first controlled clinical trial had been done forty years before (willow bark or salicylates) so there were the very beginnings of modern medicine. Only radical doctors used this discovery. Still twelve years after this, Princess Charlotte would die in childbirth because the doctor refused to use tongs and straighten out her breech birth in what was otherwise an uncomplicated delivery. Even in Victorian times infants died from “teething,” or more likely the overdose of opium, various mysterious patent medicines, or even lancing the gums that were standard practice at the time.

I skipped the chapter where Lord Grey deposits Alice at the school.

I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

Frankenkitty is available.
Frankenkitty What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstien’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.

Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble. (Although there are issues about ‘creative teams’ that still need to be settled.)

Get Free Stuff and try out my landing page. There are three free complete short stories (including an ARC for Frankenkitty) available after you’ve gone through the hoops.

Author: rharrisonauthor

International man of mystery. Well not really, although I can mangle several languages and even read the occasional hieroglyphic. A computer scientist, an author and one of the very few people who has both an NIH grant and had a book contract. An ex- booktrope author and a photographer.

6 thoughts on “The Art of Deception 15 #wewriwar #amwriting”

  1. Congratulations on the release!
    Medicine in those days was very hit and miss, and some hospitals were absolutely horrid. I am always amazed so many humans survived tjat era 😷 I like that she knows what she wants, and is not deterred by the druggist.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was at a meeting at Royal Holloway college a few years ago. It was founded by Thomas Holloway – who made his fortune from patent medicines. (Holloway’s pills, made with a still secret formulation, where a universal cure. Modern analysis suggests the recipe was chalk and herbs – completely inactive, but tasted good. He also made an ointment – which didn’t sell at all well. A pity because it actually contained anti-bacterial ingredients and would work for many minor skin rashes.)

    Rhubarb root is full of calcium oxalate – which i know from bitter experience (trying to cook the supposedly edible skunk cabbage) will give your lips, throat and stomach one heck of a tingle. Something like eating a bundle of pins, but without the added benefit of the iron in your diet.

    Holloway’s company is now part of Glaxo Smith Kline Beecham.


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