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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“Don’t you want to be married?”
“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.