A Formulaic Romance
This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.
The story starts with Rachel, Lady Hayforth, throwing the dice in a desperate try at the marriage mart and coming up short when her carriage breaks down in the middle of nowhere. After a complicated string of happenings, she ends up engaged to Rupert, Lord Hartshorne, an aspiring chemist who did mysterious things for the war office in the recent past. His notebooks have gone missing, and a mysterious Mr Oliver is involved. Last week Rachel and her friends went to look at the stars after an eventful afternoon. George has left for the village. One might think that Rachel’s life would get simpler without this distraction, but that would be no fun.
Rupert showed he has something that connects his shoulders to his hips. Last week, the start of a new chapter shows that another of his talents is important. We discovered why it was so important that Rupert come with Sir Roger recently. Rachel awoke below decks in a ship (a channel barge). Despite the sterling reputation of the English as cooks, the crew ask Rachel to cook for them. Her choice of seasonings has their desired effect. The morning after she gave thanks for her deliverance she writes to let her friends know where she is. Things, however, are afoot and the game is on – especially with the reappearance of Mr Oliver.
When you’ve finished with this tripe, take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.
Rachel’s resolve to warn her host grew as she walked back to the vicarage. When she opened the door, the sound of two familiar voices greeted her. Dr Fowler and
“George! You’re here.”
“I came as soon as I could. I must say you’re looking radiant. Simple muslins become you.”
“Yes, yes. Thank you for the compliments. Oliver is here.”
“Mr Oliver, or Harding or … Dr Fowler, you and your daughter know him as Mr Richards.”
“Him, here? I forbid her from talking to that man.”
“At the inn. A clandestine communication.”
“And you know this, how?”
“We went there together so I could post my letter to Lord Hartshorne.”
“Lord Hartshorne, yes,” George said with a peculiar dry tone to his voice.
“How is he? Healthy I hope.”
“Badly shaken. Char- Miss Deacon is attending him. Much to my mother’s distress.”
Rachel thought However apparently not yours.
Dr Fowler pushed himself back into the conversation, “You can talk later, what about my disobedient little Miss?”
“I think they were planning an elopement. At least your daughter was. Mr Richards, who knows?”
“Did she say anything?”
“No. But she was far more excited about a letter than I’d be.”
George coughed, “You, Lady Hayforth, are an exceptionally level-headed woman. At least that’s what Captain Lewis said. It’s how I knew to find you.”
“Who is Captain Lewis? Oh the preventive. You know, I didn’t ask his name. How is he?”
“Basking in the glow as the man of the hour.”
Dr Fowler rather abruptly said, “I must find my daughter before she makes a fool of herself. The inn, you said?”
“If you’ll pardon me, I.”
“No,” George said, “Please don’t. I’m afraid this is a matter for the crown. Lady Hayforth, did they mention something on that ship?”
“I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Was there a Frenchman, or did they talk about one.”
“Oh … yes. Henri, they never used his last name. They said something about … similar to ‘Vive L’emporer’ and talked about Saint Helena. I don’t understand.”
Dr Fowler paled, “I do. That’s where Napoleon is in prison. Isn’t it?”
George said, “Yes. I’m afraid Mr Richards is involved in a plot to free him.”
Dr Fowler put his face in his hands, “Oh Elizabeth, what have you gotten into? I don’t want to lose two children to this war. I thought it was over.”
“It shouldn’t come to that, and yes, it is over.” George paused, “Ra- Lady Hayforth, do you mind waiting a day before I return you to Oulten Hall? I need to alert … some friends of mine.”
“No. It won’t do.”
“I can’t stay. If Mr Oliver sees me, he’ll know he’s been seen.”
“Damn. Sorry. I didn’t bring. I mean I rode. I mean.”
“Yes, and I drove a curricle. Not exactly suitable.” George drew a deep breath, “Though I should think you’ll be safe with me. I am a gentleman, after all. Almost a married one.”
Alone with you? I trust you; it’s me I don’t. “What would people say, especially people like Miss Deacon?”
“Charity won’t mind. She likes you.”
And Rupert even more. “It’s not her I’m worried about.”
Dr Fowler interrupted them, “Lord Bedlington, I can lend you a maid.”
“Don’t bother. No one could possibly think there’s anything improper with my driving together with my intended niece.”
This discussion would have continued, but the front door to the vicarage slammed. Then the door to the parlour burst open and Miss Fowler shot in.
“You!” she pointed at Rachel, “You, you viper, you heartless … vixen!”
Then as suddenly as she appeared, she retreated. They heard her run up the stairs to her room, then the door slam behind her.
“What was that about?” Rachel asked.
“I think our cover is blown.” George replied, “If you’ll pardon me, I must dash.”
No history this time. Instead, a question about writing. It’s beginning to look like Amelia and I are really writing a series. “The art of deception” is volume 1, “The Divinity School” (working on a cover) is volume 2, Volume 3 – tentatively called “O Zeitung O Mores” is about half complete. This work is volume 5, and volume 6 “Freddy and the Bird of Paradise” is well underway. No idea what we’ll call volume 4, but since volume 3 takes place in 1811 Hamburg and parts beyond – including Aarhus, and this one is 1816 or so there’s a gap.
Is it ok to release a series out of sequence?
By the way, O Zeitung O Mores, is a bad pun on the epigram O Tempora O Mores (The Times, The Morals).
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 sale
with an extract on instafreebie
as a teaser.