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.
Rupert showed he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips. Last week, the start of a new chapter shows that another of his talents is important. We discovered why it was so important that Rupert come with Sir Roger recently. Last week, Rachel awoke below decks in a ship (a channel barge).
When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.
“Vive L’Emporer.” Lars and the other hand snapped to attention.
“Is that why you want Rupert’s notes, his help?”
The man smiled. “Précisément. We must equalize the odds.”
Rachel said, “Untie me. I’ll behave.” Until I get a chance. Something tells me I’m due for a swim soon enough in any case.
“Bon. See to it Lars. I’ll arrange for the tow. She should stay below until we’re away.”
The preventive officer groaned as his consciousness returned. “And see that he’s bound, No need to be gentle.”
Rachel, as directed, stayed below until the ship was cast loose from the harbour. She felt it gently sway as a team of horses pulled the bow around, and then along the bank.
She called, “Can I come up?”
“Nichts, not yet.”
The barge stopped, tied to the side of the first lock on the Ouse. Rachel felt it slowly sink. A sinking feeling that matched her worries. Then she heard the gates open, the boy on the horse team call, and they were off. Down the twisty Ouse river and toward the North Sea.
By the time they allowed Rachel on deck, the sky had darkened into night. Not that it stopped the tow.
She scanned the countryside, the low flat farmland that was so different from her home. “Where are we?”
Lars laughed, “I shouldn’t tell you, but sweetie, you won’t get away. The Ouse, downstream from Selby.”
“Several kilometres east of Wakefield.”
It might as well have been on the moon.
Lars continued, “Komm. Mit mir. Time to earn your keep.” He led her to the galley. “You can cook, can’t you?”
“Wir have some fresh braut, sausage. Can you cook that?”
“Gut.” He tossed some coal onto the stove and stirred it. “When that heats. The pans – behind you.”
“I see.” Rachel studied the contents of the galley. “You don’t believe in cleaning them, do you?”
“Nein. Adds flavour.”
“I see. I prefer clean pans. Do you mind if I see what you have, find my way around your galley?”
“Just cook something good for us to eat.” He turned and left her alone.
Don’t worry, I will.
Henri spat out his mouthful, then swore, “Mon Dieu woman, Can’t you cook?”
“Yes I can. What’s wrong with it?”
“You English. This is execrable. Mais what can you expect from an Englishwoman?”
“I don’t know. Looks good to me, and what’s wrong with boiled sausage? I put the peas in it too. Mashed nicely, good mushy peas.”
Lars growled, “Henri, this is worse than mine. Are you sure you want this minou to cook for us?”
The Frenchman stood. “This is disgusting. Alors madam. Je vais teach you the art of preparing the food.”
“If you insist. What’s wrong with it?”
“It’s foul.” Henri took a swig of wine to wash the taste from his mouth. “Even this execrable sweet English wine can’t hide the taste.”
He took a couple of steps towards the galley, “Follow me.” Then he grabbed his stomach. “After I return from the head.”
Moments later Lars and the other hand joined him. They hung over the edge of the gunnel, alternately squirting from both ends of their digestive tracks.
Rachel smiled to herself. So that bottle really was calomel, good. Then she grabbed a knife from the table and ran, unnoticed, to the front of the hold.
I’m walking. Not without pain, and not without a little bit of a limp, but I’m walking. It turns out, if you’re ever in this situation, that it’s important to restore flexibility. You can walk through the pain. I moved from my Philmont boots to a pair of trail runners, the same type as I used in Wales last summer.
English food is something of a running joke to the French. It’s not that bad. Actually, it’s excellent when properly prepared. The thing is, the Brits do not complain. Well, they do, but very moderately. “I’m not exactly keen on this,” means “I loath and detest it.” So you can survive cooking awful food in a British restaurant – at least for a while.
I’ve had both some of the best food I’ve ever eaten in the UK and some of the worst (Boiled sausages at the University of Reading.)