Sunday Snippet, Bearding the Dragon

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.

The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon.  George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.

This week Rupert shows he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips.

When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.

Mr Brindle managed to keep his face expressionless as he bowed to them, “It will be my pleasure, and I’ll see that the carriage is here later this afternoon.” Rachel sighed with relief as Rupert escorted her and Lucy down the High Street. She turned and saw Brindle go into the Hart, calling for the keeper.

Miss Deacon ran out to meet Rupert and Rachel when their carriage arrived at the Hall, beating the footmen to it. “You’re back!”

Rupert asked, “Why? What happened?”

“Nothing, it’s just.”

“Alone with your intended Mother-in-law?”

“It’s more than I can stand. Next time you run off, take me with you.”

“Rupert!” The woman in questions strident voice echoed out the door. “Come here this instant, and leave that woman outside.”

Rachel glanced at him, and Miss Deacon. She’s so pretty, even in distress.

Rupert said, “Rachel, please come with me.”


“It’s my home, not hers.”

They entered the hall together. Charity and Lucy followed behind them. Out of the corner of her eye, Rachel could see Charity, gun-shy, clasping her hands. She turned and said, “Worried about the consequences?”

Charity replied, “She’s snapped at me all day. I don’t like it. I don’t know how George endures it.”

Rachel smiled, “Knowing him, he dutifully listens, appears to agree, and then quickly forgets.”

“I couldn’t do that.”

Lady Bedlington was already dressing Rupert down inside the library when Rachel entered. “So you’re still engaged to that harpy. Even after I showed you her past.”

“Forgeries Ma’am, forgeries and not very good ones at that.”

“Prove it.”

Rupert took one of the pages from her and then found the recently restored volume nine of his laboratory notebooks. The writing matched. Rachel relaxed when he smiled at her. “I told you they weren’t good forgeries.” Then he addressed Lady Bedlington, “Grandmother, either I wrote the documents or whoever took my notebook did. In either case they can’t be authentic.”

“There’s no smoke without fire.”

With his backbone stiffened by the admiring gazes of both Rachel and Charity, Rupert rose to the challenge, “Well … actually … um there is. Sal Ammoniac. Could fill this room with hazy smoke without a fire at all. Bit of a nuisance, but if you’d like, I can readily demonstrate it.”


“Fine. As you wish, Ma’am. Rachel, my love, would you like to see it?”

Lady Bedlington interrupted him, “Either that, that adventuring hussy, putting herself forward goes, or I do.”

“I believe the carriage hasn’t yet been put to. It should be easy to arrange your transport. Miss Holloway, would you find Mrs Hobbes and arrange for her to pack my Grandmother’s bags?”

Rachel followed Rupert’s gaze when he addressed Lucy, but stopped on Charity. She likes him, more than a little. Possibly more than George. Pity she’s engaged. She smiled to herself. The thought Pity he’s engaged, passed through her mind and dampened her good humour.

Faced with determined resistance, resistance that called her bluff, Lady Bedlington spluttered for a moment; then said, “No, please don’t. I’ll stay.”

“And you’ll behave; address my fiancée with the respect she deserves?”

Lady Bedlington slowly, every so reluctantly, nodded her head, “Yes.”

“Then,” Rupert smiled at the lot of them, “We can be one big happy family.”

Studying Lady Bedlington’s expression, Rachel thought, for the moment, until there’s something else she can do.

Rupert rang for a servant and when Mr Brindle appeared said, “Brindle, the ladies desire some tea, At least I should think so, as I do. Could you see to it?”

“Certainly, Sir.”

Rupert added, as quietly as he could, “And thank you.”

A hint of a flicker of a smile passed over Mr Brindle’s face, “Pleased to be of service.”

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 – It’s better in that I can put weight on it, but three more weeks a couple days with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor – though I might have to follow Red Green’s advice.).

Sal Ammoniac, e.g. Ammonium chloride, is a neat chemical. It deliquesces into a fine white smoke when heated. It’s sometimes used for stage smoke – when they don’t use dry ice and hot water or an oil burner. It also has one heck of a heat of solution. When I was a lab tech in high school, I was told to make a saturated solution of ammonium chloride. The usual trick for salts is to heat the solution, add the salt until it can’t quite take any more, and then when it cools a small amount of the salt precipitates – which ensures that the solution is saturated. I started with NH4 Cl and kept adding it, and kept adding it, and kept adding it. Eventually I could add no more. Then when it cooled there was a small amount of water and a huge amount of ammonium chloride in the bottle. You can also make it from gaseous HCl and NH3.  We did an experiment measuring diffusion, where you put drops of this solution on either end of a tube and measure a band of smoke where the two gasses meet. That worked, but one of the highlights for me of highschool was making the entire wing of the school foggy.  They didn’t repeat that experiment the next year.

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.


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.

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