Sunday Snippet, a stroll.

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 start of this snippet.

A Stroll in the Country.


When George arrived back at the Hall, he found Rupert, uncharacteristically, enjoying a nuncheon with Rachel and Lucinda. Even more uncharacteristically, he was smiling.

“What did I miss, Gas?”

“Rachel has made me happy.”

George’s brow wrinkled when he glanced at her and said, “That was fast work my lady.”

She replied, “It was Rupert who asked me. He’s the fast worker.”

“I see.”

“We played a duet on the spinet.”

“And on that basis he asked you to marry him?”

“Yes. Is there a problem?”

“I’ll talk to you later.”

Rupert added, “We were wondering if a double wedding were in order, Uncle. Do you think Miss Deacon would mind?”

“I think she’d be delighted … At least I’d hope she would. Have you written Lady Bedlington yet?”

“No, which reminds me. There was another thing I wanted to discuss. When should we put the formal announcement in the Gazette? Rachel thinks not until the settlements have been negotiated. What did you do with Miss Deacon?”

After giving Rachel a hard stare, George said, “I’d keep it quiet – for the moment.”

Rupert said, “You haven’t answered my question.”

“I will post my announcement when I return to London. It was only polite to ask the head of my family first.”

After they’d finished eating, Lucy chaperoned Rupert and Rachel as he showed her the downs. George insisted on tailing along with them. As Lucy and Rupert walked ahead, he dropped back with Rachel.

“Do you know what you’re doing?”

“I like Lord Hartshorne, very much, if that’s what you mean.”

George stopped; then surveyed the field of still-green corn beside the path. Rachel watched too. The heads were starting to fill out and the wind made waves in it as it blew along the down.

Rachel continued, “I’m sure I’ll grow to love him and him to love me. We’ll suit, both practical rather than passionate.”

“That’s not what I mean. Oh damn.”

“You’re engaged too. What would Miss Deacon think?”

“I mean, you’re too good for him.”

Rachel looked away and grimaced, “I doubt that. You don’t know me very well.”

“You’re right. I don’t know you well enough.”

“Besides,” she laughed, “he’s the best available. My cousin, Lord Bromley, wasn’t enthusiastic about my chances at the marriage mart in London – even with his help. If your nephew likes me enough to make me comfortable, then who am I to argue?”

George shook his head, “Yes. I’m sorry. Viewed in a practical light you acted with sense. I wish you well. At least you won’t run off like Antonia Green. That really did hurt him. It was unforgivable.”

“I can safely promise you that won’t happen. Lord Bedlington –“

“George.”

“George, I’m conformable. I’m sure I’ll be happy with Rupert and do my best to make him happy. What more can one hope in marriage?”

“Not much more. I hope it isn’t marry in haste and repent at leisure.”

“It won’t be.”

George looked up the path, “They’re getting ahead of us.”

“So?”

Lord Hartshorne and Miss Holloway waited at the top of the hill. Rupert pointed at a smudge in the distance. “General Byng’s camp. The town of Pontefract beyond.”

Lucy squinted, too vain to wear the spectacles she required to see clearly, and said “It is?”

When they caught up with them, George drew a deep breath and said, “I forget Gas … sorry, Rupert, how much I enjoy the freshness out here. Even with the occasional whiff of cow, it’s far better than London. Clean air, nothing like it.”

“Rupert,” Rachel asked, “You were showing something to Lucy. What was it?”

“General Byng’s camp. The 15th Hussars. What with all the troubles, I’m glad they’re nearby.”

“Troubles?”

“That meeting in Nottingham several weeks ago, and the march on Butterly. A bad business.”

Rachel said, “Not that they don’t have a point. The corn laws are oppressive.”

“I know. It’s just we’ve fought to put down those nasty Frogs and now … “

“We’ve fought?” George said. “I didn’t know you had a commission.”

“I didn’t, but I did work on things. Things for the army, the navy.”

Rachel asked, “What kinds of things?”

Rupert smiled; then held up his hands, spreading them. “Explosives. Can’t say too much more. Still have ten fingers. I was luckier than most.”

A horseman rode up to them and hailed them with a voice practiced from years of running to hounds. The squire and local magistrate of the parish, Sir John Tennant called. “My Lord, I haven’t seen you out this year. Never with such fair company.”

Rupert bowed his head gently, acknowledging Sir John with what he felt to be the proper amount of condescension.  “Sir John, may I introduce my Uncle, Lord Bedlington, Lady Hayforth and her companion Miss Holloway?”

“Delighted to meet you. Chasing the young ladies again, at last?”

“More than just a chase, Sir John. Lady Hayforth has agreed to be my wife.”

“Good lord, I didn’t think you had it in you … I say, I didn’t send you an invitation since I knew you’d refuse, but this changes everything. I mean if you’re entertaining company again.”

“An invitation?”

“A ball, informal of course, at the manor. Tomorrow night. There’ll be officers from the 15th, maybe even General Byng himself.”


It’s probably obvious that the title, “A Formulaic Romance” refers obliquely to chemistry. There’s another arcane reference in the text. Anyone caught it yet?  It’s sort of, maybe, perhaps, important, given what Rupert worked on in the past.  What are Spirits of Hartshorne?

This story is set at the time of the Butterly Revolt. A combination of depression due to the immediate halt of government spending at the end of the Napoleonic wars, a crop failure, and a lack of employment due to increased automation resulted in an ill-fated march on Nottingham. One of the sparks of the rebellion was a government provocateur, one William Oliver (aka Oliver the spy). The General Byng referenced in this snippet is a cousin of Poodle Byng. The corn laws were meant to protect British farmers (e.g. the nobility and their rents) from cheap imported American wheat. Combined with a crop failure it meant real hardship for the working class.

The featured image, while from Wales, shows what the view from the open downs can be like.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.

University of Scouting

Nothing literary today. I’ve been an adult volunteer with scouting for a long time (started as a Tiger den leader and I’m now an assistant scoutmaster – not to mention being involved with training.)

The Atlanta Area Council held its University of Scouting. I helped the new Dean of Boy Scouts, but returned from the dark side of academia to the blessed ranks of instructors.

The featured image shows the Iron Chef class – how to use a Dutch oven to cook. I’ve posted the occasional dutch oven recipe on this site as well.

I taught plant identification. You can get a decent guide to native trees of Georgia from the forestry commission. The highlight was an immature red-tailed hawk that watched us from a tree.

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After filling in as a substitute for a dear friend on teaching about scoutmaster’s conferences and boards of review, I helped with the advanced pioneering.

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Raising a tower may replace the venerable golden ax as a camporee game. Because of leave-no-trace we don’t emphasize ax use any longer. Lashing can be done in a manner fully consistent with LNT.

Sunday Snippet, After the concert.

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.

Music Lessons and more.


“Good.” Rachel suddenly felt a little breathless. She sat too close, too alone, to a man. Not only that, she held his hand. Without gloves. The bleached streaks and white pallor of his skin accentuated the darkness of his eyes. She sat far too close to a far too handsome man for comfort.

Rupert only made it worse. “Marry me.”

“What?”

“Marry me.”

“Lord Hartshorne,” Rachel rapidly backed away and tried to stand. Only to trip on her gown and crash to the floor.

Rupert calmly slid across the piano bench and helped her up. “I’m sure George has, by now, asked you to help shift me to London.”

“How’d?”

“I know my Uncle. For that matter, I could tell something was up, from Mrs Hobbes. The way she smirked this morning. What did he offer you?”

“To help pay for my season.”

“I see. A bit mercenary of you?”

Rachel laughed, “No, a bit desperate. Lord Hartshorne,”

“Rupert.”

“Rupert, then. I hardly know you, and you hardly know me. How could we possibly wed?”

“I like the way you play your instrument, and you’re beautiful. You handled my … impoliteness with grace.”

“That’s not enough and you know it. Or you’d know it if you thought it through.”

“I thought it through with Antonia. Should have just kept looking.”

Rachel saw a flash of distress on his face.  He still is in love with her. “Are, are you sure? I, I can’t.”

“It won’t be passion, I’m done with passion, but I can offer you comfort, comfort and security … I think we should get on well enough. Learn to love each other in time. So what about it?”

“I can’t say yes. You know that.”

Rupert’s face fell.

“But I won’t say no. How would ‘maybe’ work for you? You’re not unattractive.”

“That’s damning.”

“Alright, you’re handsome, and you don’t seem vicious. I’m willing to see what happens when we know each other better. Will that do?”

“Maybe.”

“It’s better than no.”

Rupert chuckled. “You’re right. Maybe will be first rate.”

“And you’ll come to London with me?”

“I’ll bring you to London. If only to show George that he shouldn’t trifle with the head of the family.” Rupert’s smile broke into laughter.

“What’s so funny?”

“I’m just imagining the expression on my step-grandmother’s face when I turn up with a dashed good-looking armful.”

Lucy interrupted Rachel’s attempt to question Rupert about why that should matter. She stood in the door and shouted, “Miss Rachel, what are you doing? Alone with a man.”

“It’s fine Lucy. Lord Hartshorne has been a perfect gentleman. We were-”

“That is as may be. But you shouldn’t be alone with him.”

Rupert rose, bowed and said, “Miss Holloway, how was your ride?”

“It was exquisite. Now Miss Rachel, come with me. We will have a conversation, about your deportment.”

Rachel gave Rupert a wan smile, “See how I’m managed.”

“It’s for your own good, Ma’am.”

Upstairs, in Rachel’s room, as she helped Lucy out of her riding habit, she asked, “How did it go, really?”

“It was fine. The mare was a little barn-soured, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Lord Bedlington was nothing if not a gentleman.”

“Exactly what I’d expect of him.”

“It is. What, may I ask, were you and Lord Hartshorne doing?”

“Playing the spinet. I found a duet. We played it together.”

Lucy chuckled, “Since you haven’t practiced, in … I don’t know, ever so long. I’m glad I was out riding.” She noted that Rachel was unusually distracted, thoughtful. “Did something else happen?”

“He, he asked me to marry him.”

“I hope you accepted, much nicer to be engaged. It’ll solve no end of problems.”

“I didn’t.”

“You didn’t refuse him!”

“I didn’t. I said maybe.”

“Whatever possessed you? You know your situation, and … Good Lord Rachel. Get yourself back down there and tell him you accept his hand.”

“But?”

“But nothing young miss. He’ll make you happy. Happy enough.”

Rachel sighed, “I suppose you’re right.”

“I am. You know I am. With the war, there aren’t enough able and eligible men left, and things are so tight with so many soldiers returning from France. We saw a mob.”

“You did?”

“I’ll tell you after you’ve talked to Lord Hartshorne. Lord Bedlington and the groom went to find the local magistrate … that mob, it looked ugly.”

“Can you come with me?”

“Support you in your time of crisis? If you insist.”

Accompanied by her companion, Rachel returned to the study. Then she rang the bell for the servants. When Mr Brindle appeared, she asked him if he’d seen his master.

“I believe, Ma’am, that the Master was headed to his workshop.” Rachel couldn’t read Mr Brindle’s well-trained impassivity. “I could, if you desire, show you the way.”

“Please.” I hope I’m doing the right thing. Lucy thinks I am. But then she’s not the one getting married.

Rupert was in his laboratory, with the window open, while he worked through his notes. Rachel’s nose puckered at the remaining smell, the peculiar tang of chemistry. “Lord Hartshorne, Rupert,” She curtsied, “About what you asked me.”

“Yes?”

“I had the time to think, to gather my thoughts. I shouldn’t have said maybe.”

Rupert’s face tightened with worry, then relaxed when he saw she was smiling at him.

“I should have said yes.”


It’s probably obvious that the title, “A Formulaic Romance” refers obliquely to chemistry. There’s another arcane reference in the text. Anyone caught it yet?  It’s sort of, maybe, perhaps, important, given what Rupert worked on in the past. (No one yet has found the answer, so I’m leaving the question pending.)

Another clue, the material Rupert worked on was used to ignite gunpowder, and its synthesis was published in the proceedings of the Royal Academy in 1803. The paper is available for download, and requires a level of heroic chemistry that I wouldn’t do (the chemists tasted their product and said it didn’t taste like calomel). Your mileage might vary. It isn’t used as a primer any longer, but please do not fire into the air at midnight. You have no idea where the bullet will land.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.

The Art of Deception 47

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

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This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar.  Last week saw the return, at least by reference, of Thomas and a discussion of Miss Haytor.


Lord Grey cleared his throat, “Miss Green is a professional; no others, not that I’m aware of.  You will need more servants, of course, but your servants started removing the Holland covers and cleaning out the place; should be comfortable, but not.”

“Not up to the standard expected of me.”

“Precisely; however, I should like it if you and Miss Green should discuss your social plans. Perhaps my dear wife and daughter can escort their cousin for a courtesy visit this afternoon; Lady Grey can help arrange for suitable servants; can’t just have any riff-raff in your house, never know what you’ll find. In the meantime, I need to return Miss Green home; before they worry about us.”

Lord Roderick rose, bowed, and said, “That seems wise; Miss Green, say three?”

“I’d be delighted, and I promise not to punch you this time; as long as you don’t rip my gown again.”

Lord Grey approved of the meeting, “Excellent, I see you’re off to a good start, capital; three it is.”

Now that you’ve read my hackery, please see the talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


My apologies for creative punctuation.

 

an-old-maid-on-a-journey-1804-gilray

Servants were a problem. The bell pull to call them had recently been invented (recently in the relatively slow time frame of the Georgian world – about 1750), so they no longer slept by your door. Still keeping things private was not easy. So Sir Roderick and Lord Grey are correct to be worried about trustworthy servants and not just any riff-raff. The Gilray cartoon shows an old-maid accompanied by a maid/companion and two footmen. You may notice that the footmen aren’t in uniform. It wasn’t until quality cloth became cheap enough in the early years of Queen Victoria that servant uniforms became universal. Before then you could tell a servant from the quality by the quality of their cloth.  (By the way – notice one of the footmen is teasing a cat with the lady’s singing bird.)

Still working on a cover idea – hard even though I’m a dashed good photographer (if I say so myself). That and editing the manuscript to put more description/reaction into it. (not to mention a few thousand words).

Frankenkitty is available.
Frankenkitty What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstein’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.

Like poor Cecelia, ” The Curious Profession of Dr Craven” is back from the dead.

I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read.

Get Free Stuff and try out my landing page. There are three free complete short stories (including an ARC for Frankenkitty) available after you’ve gone through the hoops.

Waiting for the Snowpocalypse

A humongous storm is supposedly coming. I feel more than a little like I’m waiting for Godot.

a country road
a country road
a tree
a tree

Nothing to be done.

We’re supposed to get 3-5 inches of the fluffy stuff. One can only hope. I was about to practice on my bike, but the sleet started.

Sunday Snippet, Music Lessons.

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.

Music Lessons.


Left to her own devices after they left, Rachel found her way to the front parlour. A spinet, dusty and disused, but surprisingly still close to in tune sat in a corner. She started playing, first from memory, and then from a fraying and browned piece of sheet music.

Lord Hartshorne startled her and she stopped playing. He said, “Lady Hayforth?”

“Yes?”

“I … should like to … apologize. Last night.”

“For what?”

“I had intended to return, to keep you … and George company. It’s just … Well, I became distracted in my notes.”

“That’s what I thought. Do you mind if I keep playing?”

“No. Please do … You play very well.”

Rachel resumed playing, but continued to talk. “I thought you would be in your laboratory today.”

“Usually, but not today. Not when I have.” He paused for more than a moment, “To be honest, I caught a few too many breaths of the fumes, and need to let my lungs clear.”

“I thought you were going to say, ‘not when I have company.’”

“That too. It’s just.” Rupert couldn’t overcome his shyness.

“It’s not Antonia, is it?”

“How do you know about her?”

“Your uncle.”

“George needs to keep his mouth shut. Yes it is. Your playing, it reminds me of her.”

“Should I stop?”

Rachel paused her playing and watched as Rupert stared out the window. The grey skies from the last few day’s rains were gone. They could hear the birds and imagine the fresh smell of the drying earth outside. He turned back and said, “No. I liked, I like music.”

Rachel waited for a few moments before resuming, nonetheless. “Do you play?”

“A little, I haven’t in years. Not since …”

“This is a duet. The bass part is simple. Would you-?” She blushed. It was putting herself forward.

“Join you?” Rupert studied the window again; then flexed his fingers. “I’ll try. It’s been a long time since I’ve played.”

Rachel scooted to the side of the bench to make room for him. When he sat next to her she thought, He’s so thin, needs to look after himself … needs someone to look after him.

Then they played together. It wasn’t exactly the best performance, and certainly no one would have thought either of them an adept, but it didn’t matter. They were lost in the music. Together.

Eventually the piece came to an end. Rupert said, “I haven’t sat this close … I mean played a duet with … not since Antonia.”

“I’m not her.”

“I know.” Rupert sat quietly. Rachel could see the confusion in his face.

“Tell me about her, if it would help.”

“Not much to say. A beauty. I thought. No, I was in love with her. I thought she was in love with me. We were …”

“Engaged?”

Rupert nodded, “Then she eloped with Lord Biddle. Didn’t even leave me a note.”

Almost unconsciously, Rachel reached for his hand and squeezed it. “It must have hurt.”

“It did.” Rupert turned to face her. After studying her face for what seemed a very long minute, he said, “But that’s over.”

“Good.” Rachel suddenly felt a little breathless. She sat too close, too alone, to a man. Not only that, she held his hand. Without gloves. The bleached streaks and white pallor of his skin accentuated the darkness of his eyes. She sat far too close to a far too handsome man for comfort.


It’s probably obvious that the title, “A Formulaic Romance” refers obliquely to chemistry. There’s another arcane reference in the text. Anyone caught it yet?  It’s sort of, maybe, perhaps, important, given what Rupert worked on in the past. (No one yet has found the answer, so I’m leaving the question pending.)

Another clue, the material Rupert worked on was used to ignite gunpowder, and its synthesis was published in the proceedings of the Royal Academy in 1803. The paper is available for download, and requires a level of heroic chemistry that I wouldn’t do (the chemists tasted their product and said it didn’t taste like calomel). Your mileage might vary. It isn’t used as a primer any longer, but please do not fire into the air at midnight. You have no idea where the bullet will land.

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.

The Art of Deception 46

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

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This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar.  Roderick had just enquired after his valet/chief co-conspirator Thomas in last week’s snip. This week we find out where he is, and a few other things.


“He and his wife are at your townhouse, surely-”

“I came here directly; stayed with Edward Spode last night as we arrived from Bath late in the evening; the poor man is besotted about some blasted female. She disappeared from Bath and we can’t find her.”

Alice suggested, with a hint of laughter in her voice, “Lucinda Haytor?”

“That’s the name; how did you know? Wait, don’t tell me … she’s another agent.”

“I won’t then, she’s a student at Mrs Hudson’s private academy. I gather Mrs Hudson would like her to move on, but not to active service and if Mr Spode is cleared, I can put her in contact with him.”

Roderick turned to Lord Grey, “Any other amateur young women I should know about?”

Now that you’ve read my hackery, please see the talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


My apologies for creative punctuation.

 

Champagne – likely to be consumed about this time – either to celebrate the new or console one to the losses of the old, is widely thought to be a French invention. Thanks to the Treaty of Versailles the name is legally bound to the Champagne region of France – except in the USA which never signed the treaty (so we’re technically still at war with Imperial Germany).

What’s interesting is that Champagne has deep English roots – a Dr Christopher Merret, from Gloucester, published the mechanics of sparkling wine in a 1662 paper to the royal society. It was sparkling cider, not white wine, but Dom Perignon’s “I’m drinking stars” moment shouldn’t have been a big surprise.  (There are reports of sparkling cider and wine going back to the 1630’s in England.)

The modern process of producing champagne in large quantities and with something that resembles reliability is a French invention. So this “We did it first” is a case of sour grapes. None the less, it was the English who first made bottles that were strong enough to safely hold the sparkling wine.

The featured image shows a collection of 18th and 19th century wine bottles from the society for historical archaeology.

Still working on a cover idea – hard even though I’m a dashed good photographer (if I say so myself). That and editing the manuscript to put more description/reaction into it. (not to mention a few thousand words).

Frankenkitty is available.
Frankenkitty What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstein’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.

Like poor Cecelia, ” The Curious Profession of Dr Craven” is back from the dead.

I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read.

Get Free Stuff and try out my landing page. There are three free complete short stories (including an ARC for Frankenkitty) available after you’ve gone through the hoops.