Sunday Snippet, A fine and private place.

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 last week.

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


 

Rachel awoke to gentle rocking, a splitting headache and in damp dark panic. A panic that having her hands and feet bound did not help. The smell of the bilge rose up to greet her. She retched onto the deck, and that only improved the smell.

“Awake, my pretty?” Somewhere behind her, one of the sailors noticed her stirring. His heavy accent suggested he was from the Baltics, and not the nice parts of the Baltic coast.

“What?” words came slowly to her mind. She’d been grabbed, something forced into her mouth, then nothing. She wanted to scream, but the sound wouldn’t come.

“What happened, precious?” the man laughed, “You’re supposed to be a smart one, figure it out.”

He turned her over, “and I must add a pretty one. They’ll pay well to get you back. Or,” and here he leered at her. She couldn’t help but notice his stubble and missing teeth. She didn’t miss that the few teeth that remained in his mouth were decidedly dirty, “Or … well, we’ll find a way to make you pay your own way.”

“I’m not very wealthy myself, but my fiancé is Lord.”

“It’s not money we want Liebchen.” The man chuckled, “Not money. Not yours or his anyway. That book … not complete it is. Poor Fridhis found that the hard way.” The man crossed himself, “Rest in peace … pieces anyway.” He laughed at his little joke, “No lass, it’s the complete book, your precious fiancé’s book.”

“Lars!” Someone called from above deck.

“Was?”

“They’re coming. Inspecting the grain barges.”

“Gott verdampt es. … Sorry Miss.” Lars pulled a dirty rag from his pocket and shoved it in Rachel’s mouth. Then he dragged a cloth over her. “Should keep you quiet.”

In the process, despite her tied feet, Rachel made a creditable attempt at kicking him.

“Showing some spirit, ha. I begin to hope they don’t pay for you. More amusing when they struggle.” Then he clumped back up the ladder to the deck and shouted to someone. “She’ll keep.”

Rachel gagged on the rag Lars shoved in her mouth. The best thing it tasted of was pine tar from the spars they shipped from the Baltic. The worst things were unmentionable. Slowly, with her tongue she pushed it forward, eventually out. The horrible taste washed the panicky fear from her mind. There’ll be time to panic when I’m free.

She wanted to scream, but without anyone bar the sailors there, next time Lars would tie the gag in firmly. If she made a noise, it would have to be heard by someone who could help her.

There was a thump as the coast guard, the preventive officer’s boat knocked against hers. She heard, faint voices, “Ahoy.”

“Was ist es?” Lars, pretending he didn’t know English.

“Damn and blast. Another bloody Balt … Papers … documents … papieren?”

“Ach. Ich verstehe. Kommt.”

More clumping noises as the officer hoisted himself aboard; then followed Lars to the other end of the ship, the captain’s quarters in the stern. A few minutes later, she heard the officer. “Seems in order. Spars and stores unloaded. They’re waiting for corn and wool for the return. They’ll sail once it’s loaded.”

He turned to climb down to his boat; then stopped. Rachel heard him say, “Sorry, I forgot; so many ships. I need to see your cargo areas. Some blighted woman’s gone astray. Up in Wakefield, but they’ve told us to look for her here in Selby. Search the ships.”

“Nicht sehen.”

When the hatch opened, Rachel saw the light at the far end of the hull. The man clambered down and peered toward her. “I say,” he said, “What’s under that mass of cloth?”

“A spare sail.”

“So you do speak English. Thought as much.”

“Ja, never sure when the coast guard ist hier.”

“Fine. Do you mind if I check? They’re tearing the damned town apart for her. Wouldn’t do if I don’t check the hold. Have to be thorough about it.”

“Ja.”

“I say, did it just move?”

“Rats.”

“Perhaps. I’d best check.”

Rachel heard them approach. The officer’s boots in front, Lars’ softer shoes behind. Then she heard a thump, followed by the slumping noise of a body sliding to the deck. Lars chuckled. Then he climbed out of the hold and she heard him say. “Captain Lewis has accepted my invitation for a drink and some dinner. I’ll see that he ist back this evening.”

“Lucky sod.”

Her heart sank when she heard the preventive’s boat rowing away. It plummeted even further when she heard Lars and his companion walk over. They argued, loudly and strenuously, but mostly in a combination of languages she didn’t understand. Finally, a third man joined them, and said, with a heavy French accent, “Quiet. We’ll sail with the tide this evening. Tie this man. You can release l’femme.”

“What? Warum?”

He pulled the covers off Rachel. “Ma’am. Your friend. We’ll kill him if you try to escape, and I’m sick of Lars’ cooking. It needs a woman’s touch.”

“I see. And the alternative?”

“We leave you both bound until we don’t need you.”

Lars objected, “Without the corn? We’ll sail without the cargo?”

“We’ll pick up our real cargo in Brittany. Meet the ship off the coast and then to Saint Helena.”

Vive L’Emporer.” Lars and the other hand snapped to attention.


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.

Saint Helena is a small volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic. Almost literally the most remote place on Earth (I suppose the south pole and Easter Island are more remote, but not by much.) Since Napoleon could not be trusted to stay put, it became his final abode. The Xkcd comic is appropriate here. It must have seemed like this to the British..

 


Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.  The first book in our series, The Art of Deception is now available for preorder with an extract on instafreebie as a teaser.

Sunday Snippet, and come to a boil

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 discover why it was so important that Rupert come with Sir Roger this week.

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


 

“Sir Roger is downstairs. Says you’re needed. This very instant.”

Rupert rose, “If you’ll pardon me.” Then he followed the innkeeper downstairs.

Rachel looked around, “Well?” Seeing that Charity looked away from her, she continued, “Lucy, look after Miss Deacon. I’ll see what’s happening to my, my fiancé.”

She arrived downstairs just in time to see Sir Roger lead Rupert out of the building. Something was amiss, but Rupert went with him voluntarily. She followed, equally willingly, and with even more curiosity.

They hadn’t proceeded far down the street before Rupert turned around and saw Rachel. “Lady Hayforth, go back to the Hart.”

“No, I’m coming with you.”

“I’m not in trouble.”

“Not yet,” Sir Roger said.

“I assure you, Sir Roger, if I wanted to make explosives, I’d do it myself, and they would not explode until I wanted them to. I wouldn’t hire someone off the docks.”

“Rupert,” Rachel asked, “Why would they think you were involved?”

“Apparently my missing notebook,” He gave a nervous laugh, “It’s been found, or at least fragments of it have.”

“Who is your solicitor, or should I send an express for your uncle. Have your dashing Uncle George get you out of trouble, again?”

“That won’t be needed, Ma’am.” Sir Roger bowed, “But the scene … no place for a woman.”

Rachel laughed, “Depends on the woman.”

“Charity, will she be well? Please don’t neglect her.”

“Miss Holloway is there. Lucy won’t let anything harm the darling Miss Deacon.”

“You should be there as well, with your companion.”

“No.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I should be here, with you. Keep you out of mischief.”

Sir Roger gave a nervous laugh, all he was up to, and said, “Strong willed chit, ain’t she? I’ll see that she stays safe.”

They didn’t walk far before they came to the broken remains of what once had been a handsome half-timbered building near the shipyards. A constable, with the help of several soldiers, who had been on leave, held back the interested bystanders.

“I still don’t see, Sir Roger, what this has to do with me?” Rupert said.

“Here My Lord. This was in the street.” The constable bowed and handed him a tattered book. The cover bore his name.

“My notebook. No, this is a copy, another copy.” Rupert paged through it. “Looks like it was open, held open with a brick, here.”

Rachel pushed her way forward and examined it from Rupert’s side. “I know that writing. Mr”

“My Lady, please. That’s evidence.” Sir Roger quieted her.

Rupert gave a quick giggle. “Whoever copied it missed a few critical details. No wonder it exploded.”

Sir Roger said, “Details?”

“Purity of the acid, keeping the temperature in control … copper, lead, or silver impurities. Don’t let it dry in a copper pot, especially if it’s not purified. There’s a reason it’s taken more than fifteen years to move from the first scent-bottle locks to something the army could use. Still not there, in truth. My friends and I were getting close when that Corsican bandit was finally chained to his kennel.”

“Oh.”

“Yes. It was before my time, but I heard they nearly levelled the Tower of London.”

Rachel asked a more practical question, “What about the man in the building?”

“Poor fellow,” Sir Roger replied, “Not much left of him, but from what I can find out, a sailor … from the Baltic. Maybe Denmark or Danzig.”

“Not a Luddite?”

“Definitely not. Not an Englishman at all. Shame.” Sir Roger waited, cleared his throat, and finally said, “Lord Hartshorne, do you know how to destroy what’s left? Safely, I mean. Can’t have another explosion.”

Rupert laughed, “That’s the rub. I wish I knew. It’s safer when wet, but we’d just burn the residues. Carefully, mind you. It could get exciting.” He smiled at the memory, “We’d have fun with it in the evening.”

Sir Roger had his doubts but said, “I suppose we could wait for it to rain.”

“Unlikely there’s much left. Tricky stuff, tends to all go off at the same time. Do you want me to take a look?”

“If you think you’d be safe.”

Rupert shrugged, “Should be.”

“Rupert, please don’t.” Rachel felt the breath sucked from her body. “I’d. I don’t know … what.”

“My love,” he replied, “I’ve seen too many accidents to be reckless.” Then addressing Sir Roger he added, “You might want everyone to move back.”

He walked forward, and peered over the wall at the red mess that had once been a sailor from Denmark or Danzig or somewhere. “Poor fellow. Looks like he tried to make a large batch and it, ah, got away from him.”

Focused on this, he missed what happened to Rachel. A maid, claiming to be from the Hart, accosted her. “Lady Hayforth?”

“Yes?”

“Miss Holloway, your companion, she’s fallen ill. She needs you at once.”

“Lord no!”

“I’m sorry Ma’am. I was sent to find you.”

Rachel apologized to Sir Roger, “I must see to my friend. At the Hart, tell Lord Hartshorne where I’ll be.”

He nodded, unwilling to take his eyes off Rupert.

Rachel followed the maid towards the Hart. She never arrived.


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.

The part about nearly leveling the Tower of London is true. It did not take very long (less than four years – he patented the pill-bottle lock in 1807 and the synthesis of fulminate was published in 1803) for Alexander Forsyth to invent a reliable firing mechanism that used mercury fulminate. It was, and like modern percussion caps is, a far more reliable way to fire a gun than a flintlock. Having actually fired both percussion and flintlock rifles, the flash in the flintlock pan (it will burn your face and makes safety goggles a must – unless you don’t mind wearing an eyepatch) and its propensity to hangfire if you don’t do everything exactly right makes the flintlock only suitable if you don’t have anything better.  The British Army agreed and hired him immediately. It was then, while he worked at the Tower armoury that they discovered the fulminate’s untoward propensity for going off in an interesting and energetic way did not diminish when you had pounds rather than ounces of it.

Forsyth turned down an offer of L20,000 pounds from Napoleon for his discovery. I guess he wasn’t a member of the SNP (snark).

Amelia reminded me to put a link to our book page.  The first book in our series, The Art of Deception is now available for preorder with an extract on instafreebie as a teaser.

Sunday Snippet, Things heat up.

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.”

“I won’t.”

“It was Sir Rupert. That young woman, Lady Hayforth or Haywood, she’s made such a difference in him.”

“She has?”

“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?”

“What now?”

“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?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.

 

 

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.”

“But?”

“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.”

“No.”

“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.

 

Sunday Snippet, Next Morning.

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.

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


Rachel started to say she wasn’t hungry, when she saw the concern in Rupert’s face. “Please.”

Their repast finished, Rupert told Rachel what his step-grandmother had said and done. “That virago. Claimed you were a low adventuress, bent on stealing my fortune.”

“I’m not.”

“I know that. And those documents … Mr Oliver’s work I presume?”

“Yes.”

Rupert shook his head, “Obvious forgeries. I could see that and I don’t know your father’s handwriting. They were all written in the same hand, and didn’t you say he used a different name at that time.”

“Yes, William Harding. I forget his other names. What are you going to do?”

“I, I am going to escort my affianced wife on the mail to her cousins. Then I’ll stay somewhere, Claridge’s.”

“Won’t that be below your rank, uncomfortable? Not Claridge’s obviously.”

“Uncomfortable, a touch crowded, but I rode the mail to school many times. You’ll need someone to look after you.”

“I can’t imagine anyone better.” Rachel reached for his hand and squeezed it. “Thank you.”

Rupert looked as if he had another idea of how Rachel could thank him. Then he saw Miss Holloway’s quelling stare and thought better of it. Rachel, too, had wondered about a kiss and felt the weight of her companion’s presence. I’ll find some other time, when Lucy’s distracted.

“Let me suggest something. If you feel up to it, we could explore the town. Take in the sights. There was a teashop my mother liked.”

“As long as you’ll lend me your arm. To steady my way.”

“It would be my pleasure.”

Mr Brindle met them as they were leaving the Hart. He carried a small valise and, more importantly, advice. “Sir?”

“Brindle, I am glad to see you. The bag is for me?”

“Yes My Lord. I thought you might need some essentials for your journey, a spare shirt, neck-cloths, and your brushes.”

“Thank you.”

Mr Brindle then coughed to clear his throat, “If I may take a liberty, My Lord.”

Rachel thought, Here it comes.

Rupert calmly inhaled, old and familiar servants could be difficult.

However, he wasn’t. “I think it would be best if you, all of you, returned to the Hall. Lady Bedlington can be … difficult … indeed very trying at times. Best not to call craven with her. You should not let her dictates force your behaviour.”

“I see,” Rupert thought for a moment; then asked Rachel, “Are you willing to beard this lioness in her den?”

“If I’m to be mistress of your establishment, My Lord,” Rachel said to Rupert with a deep curtsey and a broad smile, “then I’d best act the part. We can always ride together on the mail some other time.”

Rupert laughed at that, “Yes I suppose we could. If we wanted to. Travelling post, as befits our station in life, is far more comfortable. Brindle, would you see that our luggage returns home. I will accompany Lady Hayforth around Wakefield. Show her the sights, such as they are.”

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.


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 four three more weeks with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor).

Medicine in 1816 or so was at the height of the “heroic” age. You’d have to be a hero to take it. It will shortly become important for this story, but in addition to “balancing the humours” by bleeding, purging was a standard treatment. A deep colonic with a difference.

Two approaches were used to “purify the body” and to put it bluntly, you would be completely insane to try them today.

The first common treatment was calomel – mercury chloride. It’s not quite as toxic as it sounds, but that’s not saying much. Your body is smart enough to recognize it’s not good for you and rapidly excretes it along with whatever else there is in your digestive system. Very rapidly. (In Horsefeathers, Chico Marx replies to a question from Groucho about a headache “Sometimes I take an aspirin, sometimes a calomel.” So it was used almost into living memory.) The “red gum” in Jane Austen is quite possibly a symptom of giving babies calomel to help with teething.

The other common treatment was the “miraculous cup” (don’t look for that on Google – look for antimony cup (you have been warned).) Wine, left in a cup made of antimony or with an antimony-containing glaze would leach small amounts of the metal into solution. Since arsenic is almost as poisonous as antimony, it’s good that there was only a small amount of metal leaching. The active ingredient,”tartar emetic” a complex of tartaric acid (those crystals in the bottom of the wine glass) and antimony lives up to its name (and is, I suppose, fully “organic”).

Needless to say – which has never stopped me in the past – if you ingested too much of either compound your medical problems were over. To be honest, there is a small differential toxicity between us, worms, and bacteria and therefore a therapeutic threshold, so in the absence of anything better they may have worked. Perhaps. If you were very lucky.

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.

 

Sunday Snippet, Next Morning.

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. This week picks up after 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.

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


Rachel awoke the next morning. George must be away by now. She rose and looked out her window at the farmyard beyond. It was curiously grey for such a sunny morning. “Still,” she said to herself after she rang for her morning water, “Best to about and doing. No point in lying here.” Lying here moping away the morning.

Lady Bedlington had much the same idea. She greeted Rachel with a glare from the far side of the parlour where they both broke their fasts.

“Madam,” Lady Bedlington said, “When you are finished, I have … ah … something to ask you.”

The food turned to ashes in Rachel’s mouth. “I’ll eat later.” If I’m still hungry.

“Excellent. You may be aware that Mr Oliver visited me yesterday.”

Rachel gulped, “Yes.”

The grim smile Lady Bedlington gave her made her heart sink farther. “Excellent. If you’d follow me.” She rose and led the way to the library. At the door to the room, she stopped, “I thought it best to show you these while my son is away. Lord Hartshorne is easy enough to manage, but George can be surprisingly stubborn.” She took a sheaf of papers from a locked drawer and handed them to Rachel. “I believe the mail stops in Wakefield … you won’t need to go all the way to Leeds.”

Rachel rapidly scanned the papers, “They’re forgeries and not very good ones at that. This is not my father’s handwriting nor his signature.” She studied Lady Bedlington and saw her complete lack of reaction. “Which you already knew. In any case I would know if my father pledged me to that man … and he didn’t use the name Oliver at the time, it was William J Harding.”

Lady Bedlington only grinned at her. “That doesn’t matter. Rupert will believe me. I’m family and you’re not.” She rang the bell and when Mr Brindle appeared added, “Brindle, see that this woman’s things are packed. Then have her and her ‘companion’ taken to Wakefield. The posting house … The Stafford Arms?”

“The Hart, Ma’am.” Brindle bowed, stiffly. Rachel could see his reluctance and read the disapproval in his sour expression.

“Which ever. Brindle. See that this person is deposited there. She is no longer welcome in this house.”

****

Still stunned at her change in fortune, Rachel sat in a back parlour of the Hart. Lucy was little better. “Rachel,” She said, “do you think Lord Bromley will take us in?”

“I hope so … I have enough of the ready to get back home if he doesn’t. But.”

“I know. It doesn’t bear thinking.”

Rachel’s ears pricked. The Hart had been so quiet. Yet there was a disturbance outside. A man rode into the courtyard and shouted. “Has it come?”

A groom answered him. “Has what come, sir?”

“The mail. Tell me man, is she here?” It was Rupert.

“I don’t know about her, whoever you mean. The mail came and went this morning. Won’t be another until tomorrow. They can book you a room inside.”

Rachel struggled with the catch on her window. It wouldn’t open. Normally a good thing, as no one wanted the cold night breeze with its attending ill humours, at this moment it was a disaster. She knocked on the pane. Look up! Please look up here and see me! She rapped on the window then waved.

Lucy had more presence of mind and dashed downstairs. Then she ran into the courtyard. “Lord Hartshorne!”

Rupert turned, relieved, “You’re here, and your mistress?”

“She too. We missed the mail this morning.”

“Thank God.” Rupert leaped from his horse and threw the reins to the groom. “See that my horse is returned to Oulten Hall. I need to book a ticket on the mail.” Then he heard the noise from a window above. He turned and waved at Rachel. She waved back, feebly at first and then not at all. She slid to the floor.

Lucy, followed closely by Rupert, ran for the parlour. Rachel lay by the window, gazing upward with a confused expression.

“You’re here.”

“Yes.”

Lucy pushed him aside and examined her charge. “Miss Rachel, sniff this.” She held a small vinaigrette under Rachel’s nose. Rachel started from the smell. “What’s in that?”

“Just a vinaigrette.”

Rupert took it from Lucy and sniffed. “Pleasant, but I fail to see that it could have much effect.” He bent over and offered a hand. “Let’s get you up. Have you eaten?”

“No. I was so worried.”

“Then I’d say a meal is in order, some tea?”

“Please. Did Lady Bedlington show you the papers?”

“Later. After you’ve eaten.” He turned and started to shout, only to find the ever-attentive innkeeper standing there. “Tea, and have you something suitable for Lady Hayforth?”

Rachel started to say she wasn’t hungry, when she saw the concern in Rupert’s face. “Please.”


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 four more weeks with the boot. Here’s hoping. I’m getting antsy to ride my bike – the one with a decent sized motor).

Establishing identity is one of those things we take for granted today. Fingerprints, blood-types, and DNA make it straightforward. Those things existed in the regency, but no one knew about them. Identity was by facial recognition and people vouching for you. Everyone had a “settlement” – a home parish where you were known. It was typically where you were born or married. The relatively well-off characters in this story wouldn’t have been a problem for any parish, but if you were poor … well that was another matter. Your settlement was responsible for your upkeep. So they had a vested interest in not recognizing you if you were in need of charity. Especially as the parish clerk got to keep the money he didn’t use for the poor. Bribery, subterfuge, and paying someone to marry debauched single women was the usual practice, when they didn’t just send you to a workhouse (usually only for a short while and not because you were released).  This state of affairs could not be allowed to continue and eventually people of conscience but together charitable corporations like the foundling’s hospitals to deal with the worst abuses.

 

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.

 

Sunday Snippet, Awkward.

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.”

“He did?”

“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.”

“I know.”

“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.”

“There is?”

“Don’t you want to be married?”

“To George?”

“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.

 

Sunday Snippet, Lepidoptera.

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.

Butterfly collecting.


 

“He was gambling on that being well after he had left, or that he’d have the time to copy it out. We interrupted him.” George smiled at the thought then laughed as he said. “Shall we find the light of my life, my Charity?”

Having knocked on Rupert’s workshop without success, George found Mr Brindle, “Ah Edward, have you seen Miss Deacon?”

Austere at the informality and disapproving of the intelligence he had to bring, Mr Brindle’s habitual frown deepened when he replied, “Lord Bedlington.”

“George.”

“Lord Bedlington, Miss Deacon and the Master have gone for a walk on the downs. I believe they are hunting Lepidoptera. At least, they had nets and a collecting box.”

“Sounds a wholesome activity. It sounds like Gas is taking after his parents after all.”

“It was not clear that they were chaperoned.”

George cocked an eyebrow, “I shouldn’t worry about that. Charity’s a rock. Trust her with my life, you know.”

Mr Brindle’s expression indicated he thought that might be a misplaced trust, but as a well-trained servant, he kept his opinions to himself.

George continued, addressing Rachel, “Ma’am” he bowed, “Perhaps you and Miss Holloway would care to find his Lordship. I, on the other hand, am dreadfully tired. Need to write a missive to my friends in London. Let them know the good news.”

“If you’re taking your letter to the post, I should write to my cousin once more. To let him know I’m still on my way.”

“Yes … there is that. I was thinking of a faster, somewhat more expensive missive.” He gave her a smile, “More than a shilling a sheet, if you must know.”

“Oh. That. I’m sorry, must seem so very dense.”

Mr Brindle coughed, “Ma’am, I shall have a page carry your letter to the village for posting.”

Rachel smiled at him, “Thank you Brindle.”


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).

Lepidoptera are butterflies, which Rachel must be feeling by now. Bees are hymenoptera, but the subject of this Gilray cartoon. Various wasps, representing everything from Catholic emancipation to the radical republicans are raiding the treasury. Pitt the younger is by now (1808) no longer involved in politics (in the poetic French phrase he is eating dandelions from the roots). Other less memorable members of government (including one who looks suspiciously like a Wellesley – probably Arthur’s older brother) are defending the hive.

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.

 

Sunday Snippet, Empty handed.

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.

After Pontefract.


George, Lucy and Rachel rode back to the Hall in silence. Mr Harding or Oliver or Jones wasn’t in the camp, and if he had the notebook he’d cached it well. It wasn’t in his tent.

Rachel watched the country slide by as the horses pulled their carriage. She turned back and said, “Well, I hope that’s the last we see of him.”

George replied, “Pity about that notebook. Wonder if one of the soldiers took it after all.”

“I’m sure he has it. Never loses anything that’s to his advantage. Do you remember Lucy, when he turned up at the solicitors, during probate?”

Lucy nodded, “All those bills. You almost had to sell the hall to meet them.”

George’s eyebrow raised, “Indeed. That’s interesting.”

“Interesting to you, Lord Bedlington. A disaster for us.”

“No, not what I meant. I’ve seen this fellow before, or at least heard of him. … I mean from before the last few days. Dashed if I can remember where.”

“Well, for me, I still hope that’s the last we see of him.”

The carriage pulled up near the front of the Hall. A pair of footmen promptly appeared and helped them alight.

George stretched in the fading afternoon light, “Good to be back. Have to see about getting you to London. … I suppose it depends on my dear Mater’s plans. Maybe you can ride with her. It might help things if she gets to know you better.”

Rachel replied, “I’m not sure of that. She disapproves of me, on principle. Thinks I’m taking advantage of Rupert. She almost called me an adventuress to my face. Who knows what she’s said behind my back.”

“Yes … well … you know, she’s sort of, um, stuck in her ways. Pity, but that’s how it is. You’ll have to charm her. I mean she’s Gas’s grandmother.”

“Lord Hartshorne, Rupert’s step-grandmother. I’ll do my best.”

“Good girl. Gas is getting a good bargain. I must admit my suggestion has proven fortuitous.”

“Please remember that my fiancé doesn’t like that nickname.”

“But I do. There’s that, you know.”

An unpleasantly familiar voice met them as they approached the parlour. George stopped and quieted Rachel. He whispered, “Listen.”

Lady Bedlington said, “Mr Oliver, thank you. We’ve been looking all over for that book. My grandson will be ever so pleased that you found it.”

“One of the men took it. I’m simply happy to be the agent of its return.”

“And that other thing, those papers of yours, they will be most useful.”

“Glad to be of service.” The sound of chairs scraping along the floor echoed from the room. Evidently Mr Oliver rose and bowed to Lady Bedlington.

George pulled Lucy and Rachel into the library, with a whisper, “Best if we’re not seen.” They watched while Mr Oliver whistled his way to the front door, and then strode towards the stables.

“Pleased with himself, isn’t he?”

“I’d say so.” George replied, “Wonder what mischief he’s done?”

Rachel said, “Who knows.”

George shrugged, “Must see how Mother is, and then you should find Gas. I hope Charity has recovered.”

“Yes, Charity.” Rachel replied, in a curiously toneless voice.

“Once more into the breech dear friends.” George led the way to the parlour.

Inside Lady Bedlington greeted them with a smile. A knowing smile that seemed almost a leer to Rachel. “You just missed a visit from an excellent young man. A Mr Oliver.”

“We did Mother?”

“Yes. He was returning that missing notebook of Lord Hartshorne’s. One of the soldiers had taken it.”

George hurriedly asked, “May I see it?”

Lady Bedlington pointed to a bound volume on the table. “If you insist.”

Hastily picking it up, George quickly flipped through the pages. His mother continued, “I didn’t know you were interested in chemistry, George.”

“I’m not particularly, but this book interests me.”

“Why?”

“That would be telling. Let’s just say I’ve acquired a recent interest in natural philosophy.” He snapped the book shut and stared at the ceiling for a moment. “Interesting, dashed odd, but interesting.” Then he slipped the book into the shelves with the other laboratory notebooks.

“George,” Rachel started to say, then seeing his mother glare at her, “Lord Bedlington, what’s interesting?”

“Must find Gas. I mean Rupert. See that he’s keeping out of trouble.” George bowed to Lady Bedlington, and then to Rachel. She didn’t take his hint and followed him out of the room.

Once out of immediate earshot, Rachel asked, “George, what was in the book?”

“Nothing.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Exactly what I said. It was blank. Other than the first few pages. Something tells me Rupert wouldn’t have left it that way. I think it’s a fake or a copy.”

“Surely, Mr Oliver would know that it would eventually be opened.”

“He was gambling on that being well after he had left, or that he’d have the time to copy it out. We interrupted him.” George smiled at the thought then laughed as he said. “Shall we find the light of my life, my Charity?”

 


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).

General Byng is a minor, but real character in this story. After Waterloo he and his soldiers camped near the town of Pontefract. Camp Hill is now covered with houses, but you can still find references to it in the street names.  He was deeply involved in putting down the Pontefract uprising, and marginally involved in the Peterloo massacre. (He left his command temporarily to attend to a horse race at York – no word of whether his two horses won. His second in command lost control of the situation and the cavalry charged into the otherwise peaceful protest.) In any case, his politics seemed to have changed because he was a supporter of the reform bill, which tried to deal with many of the issues that caused these uprisings.  (It raised the number of eligible voters from 500,000 to 814,000. Mind you there were 14 Million people in Britain at the time. Come to think of it, that’s not much bigger than Atlanta.)

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.

 

Sunday Snippet, A Search

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 Pomfret.

Pomfret.


 

Once the carriage pulled up in front of the Hall, Rupert remembered that his workshop needed his attentions. “Sorry, George, but it’s a total wreck. I daren’t let Brindle or the servants in – they could hurt themselves. Do you mind going without me?”

George replied, “Coward.”

Rupert smiled in his embarrassment. “Let’s just say I’m glad to be shot of Camp Hill. It was hard enough to get away from it yesterday. I’m not sure I’d like to return.”

Rachel said, “He has a point, Ge-,” seeing Charity’s brow furrow, she continued, “Lord Bedlington. It must have been worrying.”

Charity added, “I’m feeling a bit tired, George my love. Do you mind if I stay?”

“No, I suppose not, it’s just I’d thought, well maybe, you’d have enjoyed a ride with me … and Lady Hayforth.”

“I would, but not today. I’ll keep your nephew out of trouble.”

So without much further discussion, the carriage, bearing George, Rachel, and of course – for proprieties sake, Miss Holloway, sped off for General Byng’s camp. It was just this side of Pontefract, an easy five mile ride.

George stretched back in his seat, evidently enjoying the space. Rachel asked, “What should we expect?”

“In Pontefract or General Byng’s camp?”

“Either.”

“The town’s a little market. Used to be an important place, back in the day. Parliament and Cromwell saw that it would stay a minor town.”

“I see.”

“They grow liquorice if that helps.”

Rachel smiled, “I suppose it might. And the camp?”

“A yes. That’s different. Tents, soldiers and officers.”

“Officers?” Lucy asked. “Handsome ones?”

“Yes Miss Holloway. What did you expect?”

“Handsome officers,” Lucy muttered to herself. “I wonder.”

Rachel gave her a friendly push, “After I’m married, Lucy. For now, I still need a companion.”

****

General Sir John Byng stared at this interloper. “Lord Bedlington. Why should I search Mr Oliver and his rooms for this book?”

“Because I’m asking you nicely.”

“That’s not a sufficient reason.”

“I thought as much.” George calmly turned to Rachel and Lucinda, “I’m afraid I shall have to ask you to leave.” He nodded to the General’s secretary, “Unless you are cleared, you as well.”

Rachel gasped, “You’re not going to fight?”

“Oh, no, not at all.” George laughed, “It’s just, um, you see … I can’t show it to you. Please do as I say, and it won’t be long.”

General Byng continued his hard stare, “You’re one of those ‘funnies’ aren’t you? I don’t approve of the funnies. Caused no end of trouble for us real soldiers.”

“Let’s say, I work with the F.O. shepherding dodgy diplomats around the village. Not really one of the funnies, but I know my share of them.”

“You can document this?”

“But of course, my dear general.” He bowed to Rachel and Lucinda, “Now if you’d leave us.”

The guards pulled the flap away when Rachel and Lucinda walked out. They stood there blinking in the bright daylight.

“Rachel,” Lucy said, “Isn’t that Mr Oliver?”

The man in question strode towards them and said, “Lady Hayforth, what brings you to Pontefract? To see the castle Pomfret where good King Richard was murdered or is it to shop in the market?”

“Neither. Lord Bedlington thought it would be good of us to show our support for the soldiers with a visit to their camp. He’s inside arranging the details of a tour with General Byng. We felt we needed some air.”

“Indeed.” Mr Oliver went a shade of puce; then paled to a decidedly grey colour. “Give him my regards.” He turned and hurried away.

Lucy said, “Odd that.”

“Yes.” Dashed odd. He’s worried. Why?

The presence of two young women outside of the General’s tent quickly drew attention. Lucy was chatting with a decidedly good-looking young lieutenant while another, equally gallant and possibly more dashing, tried to attach Rachel’s attentions. He pointed out that there was another ball in a couple of weeks.

“Could I have the honour of a dance?”

“Maybe, but I hope to be in London by then.”

“London, Ma’am? What could London offer that we don’t have here?”

Culture and society, not to mention skilful dancing and men who didn’t stink of horses, “I don’t know, but those are my plans.”

“Is there nothing that would dissuade you?”

“I’m sorry, but I promised my cousins that I’d visit.”

“Lucky cousins, to have such a.”  He stopped and saluted. General Byng and Lord Bedlington emerged from the tent. His friend, who had been chatting to Miss Holloway, was not as observant. He drew a sharp reprimand and the night watch for a week.

George said, “Lady Hayforth, Miss Holloway, if you’ll accompany us?”

General Byng glared at him, but mindful of George’s credentials kept quiet.

“Do you need us?”

“No, but I would feel better were you not far away. Mr Oliver or Harding is a slippery customer.”

“Then,” Rachel curtsied, “It will be my pleasure to accompany you.”


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.

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.

One of our books is in Patty’s Promos. There are more than a few great authors (like 99 of them), but do take a look.