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 Pomfret.
Once the carriage pulled up in front of the Hall, Rupert remembered that his workshop needed his attentions. “Sorry, George, but it’s a total wreck. I daren’t let Brindle or the servants in – they could hurt themselves. Do you mind going without me?”
George replied, “Coward.”
Rupert smiled in his embarrassment. “Let’s just say I’m glad to be shot of Camp Hill. It was hard enough to get away from it yesterday. I’m not sure I’d like to return.”
Rachel said, “He has a point, Ge-,” seeing Charity’s brow furrow, she continued, “Lord Bedlington. It must have been worrying.”
Charity added, “I’m feeling a bit tired, George my love. Do you mind if I stay?”
“No, I suppose not, it’s just I’d thought, well maybe, you’d have enjoyed a ride with me … and Lady Hayforth.”
“I would, but not today. I’ll keep your nephew out of trouble.”
So without much further discussion, the carriage, bearing George, Rachel, and of course – for proprieties sake, Miss Holloway, sped off for General Byng’s camp. It was just this side of Pontefract, an easy five mile ride.
George stretched back in his seat, evidently enjoying the space. Rachel asked, “What should we expect?”
“In Pontefract or General Byng’s camp?”
“The town’s a little market. Used to be an important place, back in the day. Parliament and Cromwell saw that it would stay a minor town.”
“They grow liquorice if that helps.”
Rachel smiled, “I suppose it might. And the camp?”
“A yes. That’s different. Tents, soldiers and officers.”
“Officers?” Lucy asked. “Handsome ones?”
“Yes Miss Holloway. What did you expect?”
“Handsome officers,” Lucy muttered to herself. “I wonder.”
Rachel gave her a friendly push, “After I’m married, Lucy. For now, I still need a companion.”
General Sir John Byng stared at this interloper. “Lord Bedlington. Why should I search Mr Oliver and his rooms for this book?”
“Because I’m asking you nicely.”
“That’s not a sufficient reason.”
“I thought as much.” George calmly turned to Rachel and Lucinda, “I’m afraid I shall have to ask you to leave.” He nodded to the General’s secretary, “Unless you are cleared, you as well.”
Rachel gasped, “You’re not going to fight?”
“Oh, no, not at all.” George laughed, “It’s just, um, you see … I can’t show it to you. Please do as I say, and it won’t be long.”
General Byng continued his hard stare, “You’re one of those ‘funnies’ aren’t you? I don’t approve of the funnies. Caused no end of trouble for us real soldiers.”
“Let’s say, I work with the F.O. shepherding dodgy diplomats around the village. Not really one of the funnies, but I know my share of them.”
“You can document this?”
“But of course, my dear general.” He bowed to Rachel and Lucinda, “Now if you’d leave us.”
The guards pulled the flap away when Rachel and Lucinda walked out. They stood there blinking in the bright daylight.
“Rachel,” Lucy said, “Isn’t that Mr Oliver?”
The man in question strode towards them and said, “Lady Hayforth, what brings you to Pontefract? To see the castle Pomfret where good King Richard was murdered or is it to shop in the market?”
“Neither. Lord Bedlington thought it would be good of us to show our support for the soldiers with a visit to their camp. He’s inside arranging the details of a tour with General Byng. We felt we needed some air.”
“Indeed.” Mr Oliver went a shade of puce; then paled to a decidedly grey colour. “Give him my regards.” He turned and hurried away.
Lucy said, “Odd that.”
“Yes.” Dashed odd. He’s worried. Why?
The presence of two young women outside of the General’s tent quickly drew attention. Lucy was chatting with a decidedly good-looking young lieutenant while another, equally gallant and possibly more dashing, tried to attach Rachel’s attentions. He pointed out that there was another ball in a couple of weeks.
“Could I have the honour of a dance?”
“Maybe, but I hope to be in London by then.”
“London, Ma’am? What could London offer that we don’t have here?”
Culture and society, not to mention skilful dancing and men who didn’t stink of horses, “I don’t know, but those are my plans.”
“Is there nothing that would dissuade you?”
“I’m sorry, but I promised my cousins that I’d visit.”
“Lucky cousins, to have such a.” He stopped and saluted. General Byng and Lord Bedlington emerged from the tent. His friend, who had been chatting to Miss Holloway, was not as observant. He drew a sharp reprimand and the night watch for a week.
George said, “Lady Hayforth, Miss Holloway, if you’ll accompany us?”
General Byng glared at him, but mindful of George’s credentials kept quiet.
“Do you need us?”
“No, but I would feel better were you not far away. Mr Oliver or Harding is a slippery customer.”
“Then,” Rachel curtsied, “It will be my pleasure to accompany you.”
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.
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.
One of our books is in Patty’s Promos. There are more than a few great authors (like 99 of them), but do take a look.