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, this week George makes a somewhat improper proposition to Rachel.
An Unexpected Visitor and a Proposition.
At mid-day, Rupert was still electrolysing his salt, but Lord Bedlington sought a repast. He found his poetic meanderings dashed exhausting. Still, he thought, Charity would approve of his doggerel, as long as it was addressed to her. At least he hoped she would, and not criticise his construction, spelling and how the verses scanned.
Rachel and Lucinda joined him. Never one for subtlety he asked, “Lady Hayforth, may I inquire about your station in life?”
“Do you mean my estate? My father left it heavily mortgaged, and under an unusual entail.”
“Yes, I have only a short time to live there, unless I’m married. Then it goes to my second cousin. He’ll get it anyway if I die without issue.”
“I see. It is unusual to leave it to a female. I suppose there were reasons. So I presume there is some impetus for you to marry.”
“You might say that. I hope you aren’t …”
He backed away, “No, no, my dear lady, I’m happily engaged. Just getting the head of the family’s approval … and checking up on him. That said.”
“No. I know what you’re hinting. I barely know him and he seems such a strange, shy man.”
“Dreadfully sorry, I think you misunderstand me. What do you know of Rupert’s history?”
“Nothing. Until yesterday, I was completely unaware of Lord Hartshorne’s existence, and I’m certain he had never heard of me. Why?”
“Ah. There is a side to him of which you are unaware. He cut quite a dash about town … until, um, he met Antonia Green. She swept him off his feet and left him in the gutter. Found someone even richer. Pity rather, but he’s well out of it.”
“So? What is my concern in this?”
“He hasn’t looked at a young woman since. Retired to the country and pursues his chemical experiments. Alone in splendid isolation.”
“Surely you’re not proposing that I do something improper?”
“Not at all. It’s just if you could befriend him … This is dashed awkward, but I understand you’re not exactly flush with the ready.”
“No. I have five hundred pounds and expect little more.”
“And you hope to find a husband on that? It is a long shot, my dear. The odds … not to my liking.”
“I know. There simply isn’t much of an alternative. Five hundred pounds is not enough to live on and it won’t make my life as a governess or companion any easier. So for better or ill, a hunt for a husband it is.”
George nodded his head. This chit had her priorities straight. “Well, then, I have a very simple proposition for you. Befriend my nephew, and get him to London. Help me to turn his head to thoughts of ladies and marriage. In return I shall, ah, grease the skids as it were.”
The featured image is a “toad crossing” sign from the peak district – near Hayfield and the Kinder Scout. Nothing to do with the plot, except it’s not far from the scene of the action.