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.
Last week Rupert showed he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips. This week, the start of a new chapter shows that another of his talents is important.
When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.
Sir Roger Tennant, pursuing his duty as a local magistrate, by attending a session at the new county courthouse in Wakefield, was shocked. He lost little time in telling his companion, another local magistrate, about it. “You’ll never guess who I saw on the street.”
“It was Sir Rupert. That young woman, Lady Hayforth or Haywood, she’s made such a difference in him.”
“Yes, he was escorting her, her companion, a Miss Hollow something or other, and another dashed striking young thing about the town.”
“You are talking about Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, that one? The one from Oulten Hall who never leaves his Hall.”
“Of course. Who else?”
“Good Lord, Eros must be working hard. Have to keep an eye on my Evelyn. Don’t want a surprise visit from a suitor.”
Sir Roger laughed, “I think my James has his eyes that way, if you catch my meaning. Anyway they were heading towards the boatyards.”
Rachel enjoyed the morning, with Rupert supporting her arm while they walked. Charity, for all her purported weakness and delicacy didn’t seem to require the support. They were going to see the boatyards on the Calder, and then when the excitement of watching a sloop slowly being assembled paled, find a nuncheon nearer the centre of town.
They had started walking back into the town, when Charity shouted “Ouch!” and started limping.
“What is it?” Concern evident in Rupert’s voice.
“My ankle, I’ve twisted it. These shoes aren’t made for this rough ground.”
Rupert, immediately worried about her, said, “Shall I find a chair, or if you’ll wait, I can send for the carriage.”
“No,” Charity smiled, with a game smile, as she said to Rupert, “I’ll be fine, if I can have support while I walk.”
Faker! Rachel said to Rupert, “I’ll wait with her.”
“No. If you wouldn’t mind, I’ll support her until we reach the York.”
“Needs must.” Rachel removed her arm from his support and stood there while Charity took his arm. Not much of a limp, is there Miss Deacon?
Charity smiled at her, “Thank you. Sorry to be such a bother.”
I see you’re feeling better already. “My pleasure.”
The York, the closest inn, had no parlour suitable for genteel company. Rachel watched as that tall, yellow-haired hussy walked with her fiancé’s support in front of her. To make matters worse, they chatted with an easy familiarity about topics beyond her education. Greek, classical myths, literature, even natural philosophy.
Lucy noted her mistress’s discontent. “Rachel?”
“Nothing, except mayhaps we should talk.”
Not you as well. “About what?”
Lucy prepared to earn her keep by charming her mistress out of her blue megrims. “Lord Hartshorne. You knew, know that there isn’t a deep passion between you and him.”
“We like each other well enough, better than most … my parents did for that matter. That woman,” She nodded to Charity, “She has George, isn’t that enough?”
“Evidently not, but in the end, she’ll only have the one of them.”
“That’s true.” Rachel smiled; then broke into laughter. “What a lark it would be if I ended up with Lord Bedlington. Can you imagine what his mother would say?”
“She’ll fume, silently as becomes her rank. I don’t think it will come to that Rachel. Think about it. Poor Charity, all alone with that dreadful woman the last several days.”
“When you put it that way, there’s no surprise that she and my Rupert are talking. Besides, she’s had the advantages of education.”
“Lord Hartshorne did say, didn’t he, that he’d enjoy teaching you.”
“Yes, and I’m looking forward to it.”
They soon, all too soon for Charity and none too soon for Rachel, reached the Hart and Rupert went inside to negotiate a private parlour. While he was inside, a shock wave rocked the street, followed by a loud rumble and the crashing of a broken building. It could have been thunder from a nearby lightning strike, except that the sky was clear. Around them the horses bucked and whinnied, all except those too tired to care. Glass rained from windows further down the street where the shock had been stronger.
Once she’d caught her wits, Charity asked, “Was that the noon gun?”
Rachel shouted back, “There wasn’t one yesterday. This must be something else. Noon guns don’t shatter windows.”
Rupert strolled out of the inn, “Odd that noise. Haven’t heard it since that time in Cambridge. I have reserved a parlour Charity and … Rachel. Should we?”
Seated at table, in an upstairs parlour, Rachel asked him about that time in Cambridge. Rupert explained his remarks, “One of my … late friends. He tried different fulminates, managed to make a mixed silver and mercuric one. Stable enough when wet to accumulate a few ounces.” He lapsed into silent memory.
“It wasn’t stable, was it?” Rachel asked.
“No. It exploded when it dried out. Poor James. He was a good friend … These things happen.” He remained silent and then added, “Thing is, I told him not to make it. The week before a tiny amount had shattered my vessel. Sitting there, by itself, just went off. He should have listened to me.”
The waiter interrupted these melancholy thoughts by asking what they wanted to eat. Rupert started to answer, but didn’t have a chance to finish his order. The innkeeper himself burst in. “Lord Hartshorne, you’re needed.”
“Sir Roger is downstairs. Says you’re needed. This very instant.”
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’m out of the boot, but still hobbling about. 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.)
One of the key things to staying alive when making organometallic compounds, especially ones that are not exactly stable, is purity. Mercury fulminate is more or less safe to handle. Copper, silver, and gold fulminates … aren’t. Not at all. If you start from an amalgam (a mercury alloy) you get all sorts of interesting things. None are safe. (it also helps to keep control of temperature and have clean nitric acid.) I must add that none of these are reactions that anyone who is concerned with longevity or fingers should attempt.
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.