Sunday Snippet, Something Fishy.

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 (however well-cooked), take a look at the better authors in Snippet Sunday.


A hundred yards further, That’s all, only a hundred yards, the dock. There a fisherman talked to the three men. Those three men. Them. All of them, and they did not look happy.

She waited while the fisherman and the men seemed to have an argument. The wind carried the sound away.

Then the men stalked off.

Good, I can breathe again, Rachel straightened up. Squish, squelch, and squish again, she walked to the dock.

The gulls finally paid attention to her and circled. This strange creature didn’t seem good to eat, but maybe it carried food.

That brought unwanted attention from the other predators. “La! Lars Regarde! L’femme.”

The men ran towards her, fortunately, the fisherman did too. He reached her first. Rachel’s French wasn’t up to understanding the words, “Chienne!, Vache!, Petite Chatte!, Merde” or “Poutain!” Somehow, I doubt they’re complimentary.

The fisherman’s English was within her vocabulary. He shook his fist at them, waved his boat hook and they appeared to decide that digression was the best part of valour.

Henri shouted, “Nous serons de retour pour vous.

Damn Frogs and Dutchmen. Whose bloody country do they think it is?” The fisherman paused, then turned to Rachel, “Begging your pardon Ma’am.”

Rachel laughed, “Those words were elegantly spoken.”

You’re that Lady staying with Dr Fowler, aren’t you? Saw you at Compline.”

Yes.”

What did those … men have to do with you?”

You know the boat that Captain Lewis …”

Aye, were they the crew?”

Rachel nodded.

He continued, “A bad lot.”

I think they said they’d return.”

Most likely not, Ma’am. I know that sort, more bluff than bluster.”


 

My intermittancy, a consequence of family matters, appears to be settling down. With that comes a sincere apology for spotty answers and returns.

Swearing in French is much less simply scatological than English. The various “four letter words” (Work is a four letter word, you know), in English tend to reflect anatomical features, biological processes, and somewhat impossible activities. The French have those, too, but tend to use animals.  While my reading comprehension isn’t completely terrible, my spoken vocabulary is not at all good and my accent is even worse. I speak like a Spanish cow (je parle comme une vache espagnole).  Andouille (Chitterlings, and a sausage made from them (recursive sausage)) can mean a you’re bone idle.  Calling someone a badger (blaireau) is an insult.  “Tu me gonfles” (you’re inflating me) seems likely to be useful at the next faculty meeting (especially as the only other person there who knows enough French is a friend). In the immortal words of Bart, “n’a pas de vache, mec”

One of our books, set at GSU, made it to the university reddit. No sales, but still a nice thing to have happen.


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.

Sunday Snippet, Mud.

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.


She turned and ran. They ran faster. With no other choice, she cut across to the riverbank and slid behind a willow. The branches tore at her and the mud squeezed between her toes on her right foot. The shoe was somewhere. She waited, breathless, squeezing herself into the smallest ball she could.

The men, Henri, Lars, and the other hand – whose name she never learned, stopped on the lane. “Damnation, Lars, we almost had her. I’m sure she was that chit.”

Lars chuckled, “Shit you mean.”

Henri disapproved, “This isn’t the time for japes.”

Well, Mi’lor what should we do?”

Nothing for it, but to keep walking. Monsieur Oliver must be nearby. He said.”

Lars groaned, “I know. He said he’d meet us in Hook. That was days ago, and when we still had the copy.”

And the money to pay for the original. We’ll just have to persuade him by other means.”

Rachel heard the men chuckle at the joke.

Then they walked on, slowly, down the lane.

Rachel cautiously unrolled herself. She saw the missing shoe, and picked it up. I can’t follow on the lane. They’ll see me.

She worked her way along the bank back toward Hook, staying low and watching for the men. The mud sucked at her shoes. Eventually she took them both off and held them. The cold slime engulfed her feet and squished up to her ankles. If Rupert could see me now. Doubt that precious Charity could do this.

Rachel followed the bank, bending low and dodging from bush to bush, hoping to be unseen. Her dress dragged in the ooze.

A hundred yards further, That’s all, only a hundred yards, the dock. There a fisherman talked to the three men. Those three men. Them. All of them, and they did not look happy.


While the UK in general, and England in specific, has many miles of lovely sandy beaches, it also has many miles of shingle (stony beaches) and even more miles of muck. Black stinking oozy muck.  Great stuff for the kids. Great stuff, that is if you have a modern washing machine.

One of the many big differences between the Regency and now is the ease of cleaning clothes. Bung them in the machine with a dash of persil, press the button, wait, and they’re clean. Through the end of the Victorian period laundry was difficult, dirty, and not at all fun. Rachel is not doing Elizabeth any favors by getting her gowns so mucky. Someone will have to pay for their cleaning.  It was not uncommon for guests to receive a laundry bill when they left. Something like, “Sorry Lord Percy, the bread, the wine, and even the thou are free, but your clothes are going to cost you.”  A laundry bill plays an important role in “Northanger Abbey.” when the heroine, Catherine, thinks she’s found a compromising paper in a nighttime excursion. Only it’s a laundry bill – for Eleanor Tilney’s erstwhile fiance perhaps, but still only a laundry bill.

One of our books, set at GSU, made it to the university reddit. No sales, but still a nice thing to have happen.


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.

Sunday Snippet, A Sea-side stroll.

A Formulaic Romance

This is the start of another story Amelia and I are putting together. There’s a pun in the title that will become obvious in time.

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.


The sounds grew, if anything, louder. “I only hope she’ll finish soon.”

Will she ever stop? Rachel said, “Do you mind if I go for a walk? For an hour or so.”

I’d come with you, except I shall have to talk sense into two silly women. At least Mrs Fowler is rational.”

Rachel put on her, actually Elizabeth’s pelisse and bonnet that she’d borrowed, and then stepped out the front door. As she walked out into Church Lane, the sun warmed her face. The smell of nettles and blackberry bushes mingled with the traces of horse from the lane. A chilly breeze brought the sea smell in from the river. She took a deep breath and relaxed. Turning right, towards the river, she listened to the sound of Elizabeth’s sobbing wails. Poor girl. To be so overcome by feeling. Good thing Rupert and I are rational beings. The wailing faded as she walked to the river, replaced by the sound of gulls. They circled about a fishing dock at the end of the lane.

Part way to the dock, she turned up a farm lane. I like this solitude. What am I to do about Rupert and Charity? What about George? She stood and watched the wind play in the corn. Last year was so wet, the crops rotted and the poor starved. She continued along in the warm sun, with the cool breeze ruffling her bonnet. Charity’s so clearly in the same. No. I’m his fiancée. The lane approached the bend in the River Ouse, and away from the sea breeze, the insects rose to meet her. The rank smell of the marsh replaced the fresh smell of the ocean. Time to walk back to Hook. Rachel swatted at a biting fly. She looked up. There were three men, struggling in their muddy clothes. They were walking towards her.

They saw her too.

She turned and ran. They ran faster. With no other choice, she cut across to the riverbank and slid behind a willow. The branches tore at her and the mud squeezed between her toes on her right foot. The shoe was somewhere. She waited, breathless, squeezing herself into the smallest ball she could.

 


One of our books, set at GSU, made it to the university reddit. No sales, but still a nice thing to have happen.

Rachel is referring to the unfortunate combination of the “Corn Laws” – a tariff imposed in 1815 that raised the price of wheat – and the eruption of Mount Tamboura which lead to crop failures around the world. The target price (80 shillings per quarter) was so high that it was never reached. Malthus (yes, the Malthus Malthusian limits) thought it a fair price. The market disagreed. Further punitive laws were passed in the 1820’s and repeal took until 1841 when Robert Peel became PM. He’s the Peel who inspired “Peeler’s” as a term for policemen.


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.

Sunday Snippet, Consolation.

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.


 

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.”

Rachel rushed to follow George, only to see him sprint away along the High street. She turned and ambled her way back to the vicarage. I suppose he knows what he’s about.

Dr Fowler waited at the front door for her to return. She said to him, “It looks like Miss Fowler won’t be eloping after all.”

The faint sounds of a young woman sobbing could be heard from upstairs. Mrs Fowler’s plaintive bleating voice, dimmed only by the distance, said, “Elizabeth, dear, what is it?”

The wailing only grew louder, Elizabeth less consolable.

Rachel continued, “I’m sorry Dr Fowler, if I caused distress. It is a horrible way to repay your kindness.”

He nodded, “Did you say this Mr Richards was also known as Mr Oliver?”

Yes. That and Mr Harding. Likely other names too.”

A thoroughly bad piece of work.” He clicked his tongue, “She’ll forget him soon enough. Silly chit.” He motioned towards the parlour, “Let me show you something, from the Leeds Mercury.”

Rachel followed him.

He pulled a newssheet from his desk and pointed to a column by Mr Baines, correspondent from Wakefield. “This week’s paper. I’d say she’s had a lucky break. Thank you.”

Rachel read the column. It was about the recent Pentridge riots. “It says, he, Mr Oliver, was an agent provocateur. That he arranged the whole thing, together with General Byng and a Lord Sidmouth.”

Dr Fowler coughed to clear his throat and said, “Men, good men, otherwise innocent men, will hang because of him. Not what I want as a son-in-law.”

They both listened to Elizabeth’s sobs, muffled by the walls, but real enough evidence of her distress.

He continued, “She’ll cry herself out. Poor lass.”

The sounds grew, if anything, louder. “I only hope she’ll finish soon.”

Will she ever stop? Rachel said, “Do you mind if I go for a walk? For an hour or so.”


 

It’s been one of those “interesting” times. Hence the gap of almost two months. I … we could do with less excitement in our lives at the moment.

One of the better excitements was one of us winning an award for best paper at an IEEE meeting (NAFIPS). It’s crazy technical stuff, but here’s a link to the slides if you’d like to see them.



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.

Sunday Snippet, Complications.

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.”

“What!”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“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?”

“Something?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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.”

“No chaperone?”

“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.

Sunday Snippet, A Familiar Face

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.

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


Rachel finished her letter the next morning. She folded the letter in thirds and thirds again; then looked up from her desk. “Oh, Elizabeth, I didn’t see you. Is there a wafer?”

Elizabeth rather shyly indicated where the coloured wafers were. “What is his favourite colour?”

“I don’t know … but this will do.” She chose a pale red one and sealed the letter with it. While she addressed the other side, she asked, “Will a servant take these to the post?”

“I thought … if you might … well, maybe we could walk together.” When Rachel studied her face, Elizabeth quickly, all too quickly, added, “I’d like to show you Hook.”

I’d wager a monkey to a farthing you have another reason. “Sure, it would be my pleasure, but I will need to borrow a bonnet.”

Elizabeth gushed her agreement and pranced upstairs to retrieve a spare bonnet and pelisse from her closet.

“Are you ready?”

“I’ve just finished the address.”

“Then what are you waiting for? Let’s go.”

Rachel followed Elizabeth out of the house as she raced off. It’s only a letter, what could be so important?

“Elizabeth, please slow down. I haven’t even had time to adjust this pelisse or properly tie my bonnet.”

“Yes, yes, it’s just.”

“Let me guess, a letter from an admirer, one that Dr Fowler does not approve?”

Elizabeth slowly nodded, “You won’t tell him?”

A clandestine communication, how improper … I sound just like an aunt. “No, but please remember your decorum. If anyone saw you racing off like this, they’d know what you were about.”

“Oh, I hadn’t thought that.”

It seems to me you hadn’t thought much at all. “Tell me about him, while we walk to the posting inn.”

“He’s tall, handsome.”

Aren’t they all?

“And he’s working as a spy. To uncover those awful rebels and machine breakers.”

What? Rachel interrupted her, “His name wouldn’t be William Oliver?”

“William’s his first name, William Richards. William J Richards, my sweet William.”

Stunned, Rachel stopped where she stood. I know that name, Richards, that was the other alias.

Elizabeth asked, “What’s wrong, do you know him?”

“Maybe. Is he an older man, about 35?”

“Why yes, I’m so proud to have conquered such an accomplished man. It was when we, my mother and I, visited Leeds last month. To shop and dance at the assembly. He visited two weeks ago.”

“Does your mother approve of him?”

“It’s my father who objects. He’s just being stubborn. That’s what fathers are for, isn’t it?”

I’d say wise, a good judge of character. “I’m sure he only wants the best for you.” Damn, now I am going to have to tell your parents.

“I know what I want. My darling William.”

When they arrived at the inn, just off High Street in the centre of the village, Elizabeth found a letter waiting for her. She gladly paid her shilling, quickly gave it a kiss and went off to read it, alone.

Rachel asked, “Is there a pen I can use? I need to add a line to my letter.”

“Might have one.” The innkeeper replied, “Don’t know that it’s a good one.”

“I just need to add a small note to the back of the letter. Only a sentence.”

He led her to the back of the inn and showed her a desk. “You can try.” He was right, the pen had a poorly sharpened point and the ink had dried bits floating in it. Still Rachel managed to scratch out, “Come at once, Mr O. is here.”

Finished with the letter, Rachel stopped on her way back to the front when she heard a voice, the last one she wanted to hear, right this instant or for that matter, ever again. “Is Miss Fowler here?”

It was Mr Oliver, or Harding or Richards.

“I’ll see sir.” Rachel heard the innkeeper say. “She picked up a letter this morning. Should be in the garden.”

“Excellent.” The man said, “I’ll find my own way.”

Rachel did her best to step back into the shadows, to blend into the wall. After the man passed by, Rachel brought her letter to the innkeeper. “This is for the next post, to Leeds.”

“Ah, Wakefield,” the man said, “On the way. Be there tomorrow.”

I hope that’s in time.

“Would you tell my friend, Miss Fowler, that I’ve returned to the vicarage?”

“Of course, Miss. Anything else?”

“That man who was just here, did he give you a name?”

“A Mr Harding, he said.”

Rachel nodded, “It would be just as well, if you didn’t mention my name to him.”

The innkeeper nodded, “Good thing I don’t know it. Avoiding an old acquaintance?”

“You might say that. He’s not the most honourable of men. Do you have a maid who can chaperone Miss Fowler?”

“Ah, I see. Seemed dashed odd when she picked up that letter of hers. I’ll have my Elaine watch them. Can’t have the Vicar’s daughter get in trouble, now can we.”

“Thank you.” Now to warn Dr Fowler.

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.”


It’s been more than 200 years since Waterloo and people tend to forget just how wrenching the Napoleonic wars were. It truly was a world war with the same dislocations and disruptions that occurred in the 20th century. To support this effort the British government re-organized in ways that would have been unbelievable in the 18th century. Clerks had to pass civil service exams – no longer could you be appointed based on who you (or your father or uncle) knew. You actually had to be literate. Supporting a world war required minimizing (although not eliminating) a great deal of graft and jobbery. Reforming “purchase” would take another 60 years or so, but the reforms made the British soldiers and sailors the best fed and supported fighting men that the world had seen. It showed when the tide turned against that dastardly Corsican.

This Gilray cartoon shows the political storm – figuratively bees fighting wasps (and other creatures) to preserve good governance.


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.

Sunday Snippet, Psalm 23

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. This week she gives thanks for her deliverance.

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


The ceremony proceeded, and when it came time to read a verse or psalm, Dr Fowler cleared his voice; then said, “In light of our visitor’s harrowing experience, I thought a different psalm might be appropriate. Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me.”

Now everyone really did turn and look at her. The shuffling noise drowned Dr Fowler’s voice. Rachel smiled back, weakly.

“Yeah though I walk the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for” for I’m the toughest woman in that valley.  “Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” Could have used that staff or that rod. Would have been very handy.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:” Like I did, Thank you Lord for the Calomel. “thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” Rachel smiled, Their bowels certainly did.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

I was lucky. May not be next time.

“Amen.”

The service over, Dr Fowler waited at the church door, and after talking with all the other parishioners caught Rachel. “I am glad to see you’ve recovered Miss.”

“Mostly.”

“That preventive said you were a heroine, but he didn’t know your name.”

“I’m sorry. Rachel, Lady Hayforth. My fiancé is Lord Hartshorne from Oulten Hall, near Wakefield.”

Dr Fowler bowed, “I’m honoured to have you share my humble vicarage.”

“No, I’m honoured that you found a room and a dress for me. Can we send a letter to my fiancé? He’ll be worried.” I hope so. Charity won’t.

“Yes, but I should tell you that the preventive officer caught the post to Selby. There’s a good chance Lord Hartshorne already knows. The officer said they were tearing up the town to find some gentlewoman.”

“Even better, still I should write.”

“Certainly. We should dine first.” Dr Fowler turned and introduced another young woman to her. “This is my daughter Elizabeth. One brother is at Cambridge and the other.” He paused; then glanced at the churchyard. A sad expression flickered across his face.

“I’m sorry.”

“Yes. The ways of the Lord are mysterious. It’s kept me from seeking preferment, but then I like Hook.” He continued to gaze across the graves.

“Father,” Elizabeth said, “I’m sure Lady Hayforth is famished, and I, for one, would like to hear her story.”

“Oh. Yes, of course.”


There is an echo of more recent experience in Rachel’s interpretation of the 23rd psalm. (not mine I must add, being to young for the pleasure.)

Speaking of sheep and shepherds.
One of the joys of walking in the English countryside is the presence of livestock. Sheep, here ewes and their nearly grown lambs, contribute their own … distinctive ambience to the experience.

I shouldn’t complain, however, as cattle contribute a similar ambience too. At least the sheep won’t chase you. One actually has to be careful around cattle. If they’re not used to human contact they can be surprisingly dangerous. They’ve been known to trample incautious walkers. Still, if you didn’t have farmers, you wouldn’t have footpaths – so it’s a worthwhile bargain. Just be careful around the stock.


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.