Sunday Snippet, Morning Toilette.

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.

A Pleasant Morning’s Inquisition.


 

That morning, Lady Bedlington requested her son’s company while she drank her chocolate in her room, prior to emerging from her lair.

Sitting stiffly upright in her bed she asked him, after he gave her a dutiful son’s peck on the cheek, “What can you tell me about this Lady Hayforth?”

“Not much, she was on her way to London, to stay with Lord Bromley … To try her hand at the marriage market. Her carriage broke down outside of Rupert’s pile.”

“An adventuress?”

“I don’t think so. Not if she’s Bromley’s cousin … he’s a stiff-rumped fellow of the first rank. Couldn’t be, at least not more of an adventuress than any other unmarried woman in search of a husband.”

“I doubt that.”

“Well … Mother, she has behaved with grace, good manners, and genteel conduct. I gather Rupert’s proposal came as something of a surprise to her, but I think it will be the making of the two of them.”

Lady Bedlington studied the faded wallpaper in her room while she tried to remember the Hayforths. Eventually she said, “I place her, not her, but her family, now. Her father tried to keep up with Brummel and that set. Run off his legs.”

“When was that?”

“Years ago. You were still in school. It was the talk of the ton. She’s a queer one, George, dashed smoky.”

“I don’t know Mother. She seems pleasant enough. Not at all what I’d expect for an avaricious ladybird.”

“As if you would know.”

“I haven’t lived a completely sheltered life. Until I met Miss Deacon, I carefully avoided the Parson’s trap … which I assure you was laid for me by many an ambitious mother, baited with her desirable miss.”

“I must admit, George, that I find it most reassuring that you are engaged to Charity and out of this harpy’s reach. Poor Rupert. We shall just have to see what we can do.”

“Mother, I’m not…”

“Nonsense. Time that I finished my morning toilette. Would you send Graves in?”

“All I will say, Mother, is that Lady Hayforth is a pleasing and rational young lady with excellent manners.”

“Right, next you’ll tell me about a new patent to make purses from sow’s ears. Where’s Graves?”

George, still unconvinced, nodded his agreement. He also made sure to shut the door before he sighed in relief.

Miss Graves was waiting outside the door. “How is she?”

“Irritable … still upset that old Gas is donning leg shackles. Shame, because it’s the best thing he could do. It’s made him almost human.”

Miss Graves nodded, “I wish I understood My Lady. Trying to keep poor Lord Hartshorne from marrying. It’s a shame and so beneath her.” Confidences over, she curtsied to George and entered the room.


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.

Did they stink?

Lady Beddlington is performing her toilette in the morning. One always wonders about the smell.

While formal baths were rare and showers, other than rain, non-extant, most people managed to stay vaguely clean. I actually have experience this, when backpacking with the scouts at Philmont. What you do is to sponge bathe the “pits and smelly bits.” It’s surprisingly effective. While there were people who stank, most notably Princess Caroline of Brunswick (of the “you think my hands are dirty, you should see my feet” fame), most people managed to keep their bodies clean. At least if you kept the windows open.


This painting, in 1798, of Princess Caroline, is one of the few that makes her look attractive. She had a difficult, highly restricted, childhood. Marrying George, the Prince of Wales, was an improvement, no matter how badly that marriage turned out.

Sunday Snippet, Stars.

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.

A Surprise Visit, The Hero’s Return.


Charity said, “Poor girl. I’m helping George, my George, to remedy the defects in his education. Would you like to join us?”

“Very much.”

Supper was over by the time George and Rupert returned from General Byng’s camp. They stumbled into the front parlour, tired and dishevelled. Definitely in need of a restorative brandy, or two, or maybe three.

George was the first to speak, “Charity?”

“I was worried, you didn’t write.”

“I did, and we were planning to return to the village soon. Sorry if I missed a day or two with the excitement, but you mustn’t worry.”

Charity fanned herself, “Four days.”

“That can’t be. I just sent you my answers to your questions about Kant’s philosophy.”

“Your answers? I heard that Lord Hartshorne helped you, practically wrote the answers for you.”

Lady Bedlington added her mite as well, “Your conduct has been most unsatisfactory, George. The Hall a mess and I find my grandson engaged to be married to an adventuress.”

“She’s not an adventuress, Mother. She’s a,” he caught himself before he said lovely, “well-behaved young woman who will be a credit to our family.”

“I’m surprised and upset. Why Miss Deacon could be within her rights … I mean keeping such low company and encouraging your nephew.”

George could see Rachel’s face whiten at the implied insults. Rupert missed it. Still Rupert said the right things, “I say, you’ve done a fantastic job putting things to right Rachel. It can’t have been easy.”

“It wasn’t, but you really should thank Miss Holloway and Mrs Hobbes. I put books away in the library, with Charity’s help.”

Charity smiled at Rupert, “What an impressive collection you have, and they were read, the spines cracked.”

“Of course, what good’s a book if you don’t read it?”

“That reminds me,” Rachel said, “It looked like one of your notebooks was missing. I found a volume 8 and volume 10, but no volume 9.”

“Really? That’s odd. Must have been misplaced. Look for it in the morning. George, I know it’s not done, but I feel the need of something stronger than tea. Then if Lady Hayforth is able to accompany us, I should like to look at the stars. There were some moments today when I wasn’t sure I’d see them again.”

George laughed, “Gas, O yea of little faith, trust your Uncle Bedlington to fix things. Nevertheless, I won’t say no to that restorative.”

Charity’s gaze glanced from Rupert to George to Rachel and then back to Rupert. “I’d like to see the stars too.”


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 the inconsistencies in Regency history is the existence/role of the militia. General Byng’s regiment, which takes a role in this part of the story is based on reality. They were camped where and when the story has them camped. They did take an active role in putting to the Pentrich rising to bed and were aided by a shadowy “Oliver the Spy.” On the other hand, they should have been disbanded by this time according to other references.

The massacre at Peterloo (1819) shows how the militia tended to deal with dissent. There is a reason that the right to assemble made it into the American constitution.

There was not anything at this time that really was a police force in the modern sense. The town watch and constables where holdovers from the middle ages (see Much ado about nothing scene 4 to see how the Bard of Avon considered them). The Bow Street runners were something like Federal Marshals, but there were only 6-8 of them at any time. Not exactly Scotland Yard or the FBI.

It wasn’t until Robert Peel, as home secretary, started reforming the criminal laws and police in his first term (1822-1827), that a modern police force arose in the UK. Hence the slang terms of “peelers” and “bobbies.”

Sunday Snippet, About Sheep.

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.

A Surprise Visit, continued for your delectation.


Eventually, tired of being ignored and of enduring her intended mother-in-law’s sputtering temper, while equally curious about the contents of Lord Hartshorne’s library, Miss Deacon rose. She knelt beside Rachel and said, “May I help?”

“Thank you, I’d love help. I’ve been sorting the books by author.” She pointed to the piles, “It’s a long process.”

“I see.” Miss Deacon picked up the ill-fated volume of Kant’s critique. “This is in the original German. I received Geo- Lord Bedlington’s answers to my questions. Most insightful. I didn’t know he had it in him, not to mention that he could read academic German … what are you sniggering at?”

“Nothing. He and Rupert, um, they worked together on your questions.”

“Oh. At least he was improving his mind.”

Lady Bedlington fiddled with her reticule, pulled out her fan, opened it and fanned herself, then shut it with an echoing snap. “Cha- Miss Deacon, I am distressed sitting here. Escort me to my room. I have a headache.”

“Yes, Lady Bedlington,” Charity started to rise, but Rachel was quicker. She curtsied, “My Lady, let me call my companion, Miss Holloway.  She’s an excellent nurse and very skilled at relieving headaches.” Poor Lucy. Lady Bedlington started to object, so Rachel continued, “I should so much like to know Miss Deacon better.”

“Maybe you’re right … Miss Deacon do not over tax yourself. Remember you’re not strong.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“If you’ll let me assist you.” Rachel added, “I’ll help you to the hallway and we’ll find my companion.”

A few minutes later, having safely delivered Lady Bedlington to Lucy’s care, Rachel returned. She asked, “What did Lady Bedlington mean by ‘you’re not strong?’ You seem healthy to me.”

“I don’t know. Maybe she thinks Geor- Lord Bedlington would enjoy a languid wife.”

“The George,” Rachel saw Miss Deacon stiffen, “The George I know wouldn’t. Let’s not pull caps, we should be cater-cousins. May I call you Charity? Much nicer name than mine, Rachel.”

“Ewe may.”

“Thank you.”

“I punned just then. Did you catch it?” Charity saw from Rachel’s confused expression that she didn’t. “The word Rachel means ewe, or ewe-lamb.”

Once Charity explained the joke to her, Rachel laughed, “I’m even gladder now that my father didn’t pick Delilah or Jael. No scholar, he just read the Old Testament to find one he liked – thought it would demonstrate his piety. Not that he really had any.”

“Delilah’s queen of the night and Jael mountain goat.”

“Then I guess Rachel’s not too bad of a name. Charity, at least that’s an English word.”

“Don’t you know Hebrew?”

“No. My education rose to Fordyce’s sermons and the house books. No more.”

“Poor girl. I’m helping George, my George, to remedy the defects in his education. Would you like to join us?”

“Very much.”


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.

Fordyce’s sermons to young women show up in Jane Austen’s work and were a real book of rather dull exhortations to proper behavior. There is a reason Mr Collins is enamoured of them. Novels, light fiction, and entertaining reading were not good for females, at least according to their male relatives. After all, you wouldn’t want your sister to look as dissipated as the young women in Mr Cruikshank’s cartoon, now would you?

fordyce_cover fordyce-sermon

Beta Reading?

Amelia and I are looking for a beta-reader (e.g. someone willing to read and comment, but not in a lot of detail – not an editor) for the art of deception.

For that matter, Illegal aliens and A formulaic romance could use one as well.

“What’s in it for me?” you ask.

In truth, not much, a free copy of the book when it’s complete and pride in helping it to be better than it would have been.

If you’re interested, you can drop either Amelia or me a line (amelia.treader at gmail or rharrison.author at the same place).

the_art_of_deception4cover_0

Sunday Snippet, Dido.

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.

A Surprise Visit.


Rachel stood in the diminishing pile of books, like Dido in the remains of a literary Carthage, when a carriage pulled up outside of the Hall late in the afternoon. While the maids and footmen had repaired much of the damage, the chaos of the morning was still evident when two stylish women strode into the library, leaving their servants to handle the mundane details. The elder of the two, a ferocious looking woman in her middle years, snapped her fingers, said, “Tea,” before she dusted off a chair, and sat down, rigid in her disapproval. The other, an elegantly dressed young woman who was close to Rachel’s age, added, “What are you waiting for? Tea. It was a tedious journey and we are in need of refreshment.”

Seeing that the bell pull was still torn from its wire and feeling the desperate need for a change of scene Rachel left them and found Mrs Hobbes. “If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, Mrs Hobbes, our visitors would like tea … in the library. Are there still three cups intact?”

Despite the carnage that lay around them, Mrs Hobbes retained her humour. She smiled when she said, “Not from the best set, Ma’am, but they’ll do for this company.”

“Thank you.” Rachel returned to the library and continued restoring books to their shelves. She picked up the first of several bound notebooks. They were in Rupert’s hand, his laboratory notes; copied gracefully and clearly so that his experiments could be repeated. While she studied them, wondering what he meant by Sal. Nat. or Cinnabar and nitric spirits or for that matter what it meant to reflux, Mrs Hobbes came in with the tea tray. She put it on a table; then quietly bowed to the two women. “Ma’am,” she said to Rachel, “your tea.”

“Thank you Mrs Hobbes.”

Rachel sat across from the two women and poured the tea. “I’ll be mother.”

The older one, her brown hair showing the beginnings of grey streaks, and wearing the minimal bonnet of a dowager on the make, raised her eyebrows when she said, “A servant, drinking tea with her betters. Rupert must learn to enforce proper deference in his people.”

The other one, much prettier and younger, with blonde hair, an elegant necklace, and a fine lace collar above her muslins added, “Lady Bedlington, I’m sure she could use the refreshment. We must excuse excesses when there has clearly been a cataclysm of no small magnitude. Whatever happened here?”

Rachel inspected them, “Lady Bedlington? George’s mother … and you must be Miss Deacon. I’m Lady Hayforth. I’m so pleased to meet you. We’re soon to be related.”

“We are?”

“I suppose, well with the short time, and … this upset. Rupert hasn’t had time to compose a letter. But”

“Oh My Lord, you’re not engaged to my grandson?”

“We haven’t negotiated the settlements yet, but yes. Rupert offered me his hand, and I accepted the honour … with great pleasure. It’s made both of us so happy.”

Lady Bedlington put her face in her hands. A minute later, when she finally had composed herself, she raised it to confront Rachel and say. “Where is my foolish grandson?”

“And my fiancé for that matter?”

“I wish I could tell you. General Byng’s men searched the Hall this morning. They took Lord Hartshorne away and George followed them to see what he could do.”

“I wish you would not be so familiar with my fiancé Ma’am.”

“I apologize, Miss Deacon, but he asked me to call him that … as a friend.”

“As a friend? Most unsuitable. I shall have to remind my dearest to keep his distance. It’s a besetting sin of his.”

“I’d say it’s charming. May I ask why you’re here? We were hoping to travel to London soon. My cousin, Lord Bromley, expects me.”

“George, I mean Lord Bedlington didn’t say anything about you or you and Lord Hartshorne in his last letter. I can see why.”

“Miss Deacon … as much as I count your fiancé as a friend, he is simply that, a friend.” Only a friend, yes, only a friend. “If you’re concerned, my companion, Miss Holloway can reassure you on that point.”

“You have a companion? Here.”

“Of course. I was on my way to stay with my cousin, for the season, when my carriage broke. Lord Hartshorne graciously,” Not so graciously at first, “offered us shelter.”

“That wretched pile, on the main road, was that your carriage?”

“Unfortunately, yes. I think our plan is to take Lord Hartshorne’s carriage. At least I hope it is, because his is incomparably better than mine ever was.” Rachel smiled at the thought.

“Dirty dishes!” Lady Bedlington leaned forward and exploded, “You baggage, you adventuress. Attaching yourself to my grandson. I’ll see that you don’t wed him.”

Rachel bit her tongue to avoid rising to the argument. Instead of giving Lady Bedlington a piece of her mind, she rose, stiffly, and after nodding to her said, “I must see to these books, Ma’am. These,” she pointed at the bound notebooks, “are his laboratory notes. I’m sure he’s most worried about them, and one seems to be missing.”

Eventually, tired of being ignored and of enduring her intended mother-in-law’s sputtering temper, while equally curious about the contents of Lord Hartshorne’s library, Miss Deacon rose. She knelt beside Rachel and said, “May I help?”


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.

In this Gilray Cartoon, Pitt the younger is distilling Royal favour and gold to further his dreams of power. Aqua Regia – the water of kings – is a mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids which has the happy property of dissolving gold. I’m not sure what the issue was about the barracks he’s sitting on, but there was certainly some scandal or another.
V0011302 An alchemist using a crown-shaped bellows to blow the flames Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org An alchemist using a crown-shaped bellows to blow the flames of a furnace and heat a glass vessel in which the House of Commons is distilled; satirizing the dissolution of parliament by Pitt. Coloured etching by J. Gillray, 1796. 1796 By: James GillrayPublished: 21 May 1796 Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
One of the big differences between Alchemy – prescientific chemistry – and chemistry is that scientists keep records that others can use to reproduce their work. Rupert’s missing notebook might be important.

Plans

What’s Going On?

Amelia and I have plans. Not necessarily good ones, but definitely plans.

Initially we’d planned to release “The Art of Deception” soon. That’s been put on hold while we write the intermediate (or an intermediate) book in the series between it and “A Formulaic Romance.” These will be a series on “Regency Spies.” Even though the transition between late Georgian and Regency occurs in the middle of the series. “The Divinity School,” set shortly after “The Art of Deception” continues the saga and is slightly under 1/3 written.

Meanwhile, Amelia will take up some of the slack. We’ve put together two science fiction stories. One, “Illegal Aliens,” is set in modern Britain and has the old Gods up to interesting tricks. The other, “A Dartmoor Story” is set in the same world as “Cynthia the Invincible.”  It explores the tetchy relations between the Terran Empire, the Xylub and the Cataxi.

 

Sunday Snippet, Surprising discoveries in a box.

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.

The search continues this week.

Applied Science.


One of the soldiers said to General Byng, “Not here, Sir.”

“Next room then.”

Seizing Rupert’s small sample of sodium from the shelf in the parlour, one of the men dumped the oil on the floor. Thinking it valuable, he put the metal in his pocket. He then discovered the hard way, when his trousers caught fire, that sodium was not to be held close to delicate areas[1]. Heading off their intention to quench the fire with a jug of water, Rupert managed to retrieve the metal before either the trousers or the man was burned too badly.

Rupert interrupted General Byng, “If you would tell me what you are looking for, I might save this destruction.”

“We’ll known when we find it.”

“So the destruction is the purpose of this search?”

“You might say that, but I’ll deny it.” There being little else to tear apart, they moved on to the next room. Screams echoed up from downstairs. Rupert’s cook defended her domain with more ferocity than her looks suggested.

Eventually the path of destruction wended its way to the Rupert’s workshop. Rupert stood in the door, blocking it. “No. Please. There are things in here that.’

His objections were of little avail. The soldiers ignored his next words, “Are dangerous if not handled right.”

General Byng laughed, “Move him aside, Lads. If it’s not here, then he’s clean.”

Rupert struggled against the two men who held him while the rest filed in and started tearing his laboratory apart.

Meanwhile, Mr Oliver sidled up to George and Rachel. He drew a quiet breath, and expressed his unctuous concern, “Would have been cheaper to settle you know. Easier.”

“Never. You’ll hear from my solicitor and Lord Hartshorne’s one.”

“Fat lot of good that’ll do you. M’Lord. I have Lord Sidmouth’s ear. The shining golden boy who can do no wrong, I am. Especially when there are so many dangerous reformers loose in the countryside.”

Rachel spat, “At least for the moment.”

Mr Oliver gave her a stiff bow. “That’s all it will take. Ma’am.”

An explosion, followed by screams, interrupted their conversation. Not that it was a flowing or enjoyable one in any case. One of the soldiers found a small box, labelled, “Explosive, do not disturb.”

It contained samples of Oxymuriate of Potash mixed with flowers of Sulphur, and various similar fulminating or detonating mixtures. Chemicals that would ignite or explode with little provocation.

He shouted, “Here Sir, we’ve got it,” to General Byng.

“Open it and see.”

Rupert tried one last time to intervene for their safety. He shouted, “Please don’t. It contains sample detonators. A long-term study of their stability. They could.”

It was too late. The soldier opened the box and picked up one of the fulminates. It still worked three years after Rupert had made it. Unfortunately, it was more sensitive than the original preparation and blew the man’s hand to shreds when he handled it roughly.

Years of war had inured General Byng to wounds and screams, at least those of the enlisted men. He turned to the men holding Rupert and said, “He’s under arrest. We’ve found what we need.” Then he turned to the others and said, “See what you can do for poor Lewis, and have that man be quiet. Poor discipline.”

The men frog-marched Rupert off to await his trial. Red drops of blood showed where Lewis walked as he stumbled after them.

Rachel looked at the destruction, watched the men escort Rupert off, and started to sob. Quietly, but definitely.

George patted her, perhaps too familiarly for an uncle-to-be, on the back and then said, “I’ll follow them. See what I can do. Habeas Corpus is still in effect, despite what General Byng says. I’ll find a magistrate.”

“You will?”

“Yes, now dry those tears. Keep busy and try not to worry. You know and I know this was a low attempt at revenge. It will be fine. Worse comes to worse, I’ll send an express to the General’s cousin Poodle. He’s well connected – something to do with the F.O.”

Rachel nodded her agreement. George headed for the stables, which consistent with his statement about revenge, were untouched. Even though they’d be an excellent place to store explosive compounds or gunpowder.

Rachel headed for the library. She would start on the books. Unlike many of the servants, she could easily read the titles.

[1] A friend of mine at university did this. He thought a small amount of sodium, ‘borrowed’ from his organic synthesis lab, would be useful for a prank. He was OK. Needed a new set of trousers, though.


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.

Then as now, science was transforming the world. We see the changes that happen today as happening at a breakneck pace. Even though the pace was slower then, it appeared just as fast as today because before that time the world was thought to be static. You knew your place and you stayed in it – none of those things like getting rich by building a steam engine or worse a train or a “Puffing devil.”

A reconstruction of the Puffing Devil.
A reconstruction of the Puffing Devil.

Some issues resurface from time to time, but the “cow-pock” or vaccination (derived from the latin for cow vacus) has made a real difference in our lives.the_cow_pock