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 in the last installment. 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 at the start of the last snippet.
This snippet continues their story.
An Interruption, continued.
Mrs Hobbes curtsied to him and said, “Rupert, Lord Hartshorne. May I present Rachel, Lady Hayforth?”
He bowed and said, “Enchanted. I see Mrs Hobbes has seen to your needs. Mother’s dress becomes you.”
Rachel curtsied to him, and blurted out as she rose, “Your eyes, what did you do to them?” Then she blushed and said, “I’m sorry. That was impertinent of me.”
“Not to mention impolite,” he chuckled, “You most likely have noticed the rings from my goggles. I wear them in the laboratory to protect my eyes.” He paused, and then added, “From the fumes.”
Lucinda’s nose wrinkled at the sharp odour that emanated from him. She could not help but ask, “What’s that smell?”
“A product of my research. You get used to it.” Neither Rachel nor Lucinda was sure she wanted to get used to it.
“Is that what happened to your hair?”
His hair had a peculiar bleached look, blonde streaks among the dark black of his natural colour. His deeply coloured eyes and eyebrows, protected from the fumes, gave him a piercing glare and offset his hair.
“Well, yes. Rather dashing, don’t you think?” Then remembering his manners, he offered her his arm and said, “I presume you are hungry. Would you care to dine? You and your companion.”
“Miss Holloway, then.”
One of the Master’s footmen interrupted them when they turned to enter the dining room. “Sir,” he said, “There is a person at the door. He wishes to talk with Lady Hayforth. About her carriage.”
“Ma’am?” Lord Hartshorne said, “I do not like to be delayed.”
“Sir, I should attend to this. May I?”
“If you wish.”
Rachel followed the footman. Lord Hartshorne, uncharacteristically, decided to delay his repast and followed her.
The footman did not exaggerate, ‘a person’ somewhat described the local carriage-wright. Even Lord Hartshorne, his nose immune to many smells from its exposure to the less appealing aspects of the chemical arts, wrinkled his nose at the odour. It steamed off the man and filled the front hall with a distinctive miasma.
“Miss Heppleworth. That carriage of yours, it’s fair broke.”
“The brace snapped; then the body landed on the axle. Snapped one.”
“Close on fifty pound to fix. Almost as much work as building a new one.”
“Fifty pounds!” There weren’t fifty pounds to spare in Rachel’s calculations. Maybe, if she were lucky, fifty shillings, and in reality, more like fifty farthings.
“Aye, if that little. Be a week at least before we can get to it. Have to wait out this rain. The thing is well stuck in.”
Lucinda turned to her mistress, “What are we going to do? We’re due in London. Lord Bromley expects us.”
“If I may,” Rupert interjected himself, “is that all it will take? Only fifty pounds.”
Rupert looked at the two young women; one was decidedly pretty, dashed pretty at that, but still a distraction for his serious endeavours. “One hundred pounds, if you’re done tomorrow.”
The carriage-wright stared at him. Fifty pounds was an opening shot across the bows, in hopes that the price wouldn’t be bargained down to a more realistic twenty-five or even less. “One hundred, sir?”
“Only if the carriage is ready tomorrow. Next day, seventy five.”
“I’ll see what I can do. Sir.” For one hundred pounds, he’d undertake to move the mountain to Mohammed, with a soup-spoon.
“Excellent. Now Lady Hayforth and Miss Holloway, would you care to join me in our repast. If it isn’t too cold.”
I always liked the smell of chemistry labs. A whiff of whatever in the morning.