The Art of Deception 15 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

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Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. One more posting about Alice before she and Roderick meet. Last week we found Alice in training at Mrs Hudson’s academy in Chipping Sodbury, and in trouble. This week she’s on an errand of mercy. There’s a veiled reference to a Jane Austen book in here. Can you find it?


Later that afternoon, Lucy fell ill, and Alice was detailed with a trip to the druggist. Unfortunately, his response wasn’t helpful.

“If it were a sleeping potion, or a poison, say some hemlock or arsenic … I could help you, but rhubarb; what’s that for?”

“Settling the stomach; I mean everyone knows that.”

“Do tell; I’m sorry, are you sure you don’t want hemlock or maybe morphia?”

“It’s for a friend; A good friend.”

“Oh well then I have the miraculous cup; guaranteed to purge every time … Jalap or Calomel maybe?”

“She just has an upset stomach, rhubarb.”

“Sorry I can’t help you; Did you try Allinger’s? Just down the street from us, or maybe Smith’s in Yate?”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


 

One reviewer for Dr Craven took me to task for the incompetence of medicine in 1805. (Couldn’t they tell someone was dead? In short, no. At least not until the body started to smell.) Jalap, calomel and “the miraculous cup” (tartar emetic or spirits of antimony in wine), are at the standard of care at the time. I think the idea was that if you survived the purging, whatever it was that ailed you felt good. They did have morphia or opium in various forms. Powdered rhubarb root, imported from China, was used to settle stomachs. We don’t use it today because it was at best a placebo. Interestingly the first controlled clinical trial had been done forty years before (willow bark or salicylates) so there were the very beginnings of modern medicine. Only radical doctors used this discovery. Still twelve years after this, Princess Charlotte would die in childbirth because the doctor refused to use tongs and straighten out her breech birth in what was otherwise an uncomplicated delivery. Even in Victorian times infants died from “teething,” or more likely the overdose of opium, various mysterious patent medicines, or even lancing the gums that were standard practice at the time.

I skipped the chapter where Lord Grey deposits Alice at the school.

I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

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

Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble. (Although there are issues about ‘creative teams’ that still need to be settled.)

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

The Art of Deception,

The Finishing School.

The part I skipped.

Lord Grey and his niece Alice rode in his carriage from Easterly to the London road. It was, due to the poor quality of the thoroughfare, a painfully slow and tedious trip. The team tired far more quickly than it would have on the excellent post highway that connected London to Bristol. So they stopped at a hedge inn to let the team rest, as hiring a quality replacement team was out of the question until they reached the post road.

“Alice,” Lord Grey said, “this is a low hostel. Undoubtedly without the quality of ale I am used to, let alone a mode of refreshment suitable for a young woman of quality.”

“I’m rather fond of farm ale, Uncle.”

“Indeed.” He paused, “Still, I should like to walk with you. I need the exercise, and a pleasant stroll in this beautiful countryside with my niece is perfect for that.”

Alice shrugged, long walks in the country held less fascination for her than riding in a coach and four. “If you wish, Uncle. It’s a shame Sally fell ill and cannot come with us.”

“Yes, isn’t it?”

“I hope she’ll recover.”

“I’m sure she will, just a touch of an upset stomach.” Alice gave her uncle a sharp glance. No one had said what was wrong with Sally, just that she was too ill to come with them.

He led her away from the inn and its prying ears. Once out of earshot he said, “Alice, there is something I must ask you.”

“I thought as much. It was obvious that you needed or wanted to talk with me away from the servants.”

“In a few miles, we will come to the London road.”

“I know, it’s so exciting. I dimly remember the city from when I was little.”

Lord Grey coughed, then he said, “There are two ways we can take when we get to that turn. To London or to Bristol.”

“Bristol, why Bristol?”

“That’s what I need to discuss. I’ll dub you the readies for your season one way or another, but I have a request, an important one.”

Alice glanced daggers at him, “You’re not proposing to set me up in an establishment, are you?”

“God no! I know you’re observant. Can you be discreet, keep a quiet, still tongue?”

“Yes.” Alice studied her uncle’s face for clues to his meaning.

“We’ll see. What I am going to ask you to do cannot be discussed with anyone other than me, or my direct superiors. Please understand that if you tell anyone, ever, about what we are going to discuss, you can be, will be, thrown in the tower. Do you agree to these terms?”

Alice’s jaw dropped, then she said, “You’re a spy, aren’t you Uncle?”

He wouldn’t say one word about that, but simply repeated, “Do you agree?”

Alice nodded, then squeaked out, “I agree.”

“Good. Excellent, capital indeed. No I’m not a spy, but I run agents. That’s not quite correct, but it will do for the moment. I’m recruiting you to help me.”

“Doing what? Madame Renne says my French is tolerable, but I don’t have the accent.”

“Identifying French spies. I’m, well, my colleagues and I are involved in the defensive part of intelligence. Sniffing out their spies.”

“Their spies?”

Her uncle smiled, “We run agents. The French have spies. Although, I suppose they see it the other way around.”

“Is it safe?”

“Most of the time. Did you think I’d sign my sister’s only child up for something that I thought would get her hurt?”

“Is this what you, mother, Mr Willis and Madame Renne were talking about the other afternoon? I distinctly had the impression that my mother did not want you to ask me to do this.”

“Little escapes your notice, does it?”

“There’s a corner of my room, where, if I lie on the floor, I can hear everything that is said in the front parlour. Sally was most amused to watch me at it.”

“Then you heard me when I promised her, on my honour, that I would not ask you to do anything I would not do myself.”

“You’ve done this yourself?”

He nodded, “That’s how I know Madame Renne.”

“It’s also why she warned me about you. She said you weren’t to be trusted.”

“She has her reasons. I’m afraid we failed her, badly.”

“Tell me the truth about what happened to her.”

Lord Green paused, looked up at the sky for a few moments while he thought, and then said, “She and her husband ran a safe house in France, near the Belgian border. Their ‘Directory’ decided to clean house. We got her out in time, but not him.”

“A safe house, what’s that?”

“That’s what they’ll teach you in Bristol. It’s a place where agents can meet, and relay messages.”

Alice thought for a few moments, then asked, “Why me? Surely you have suitable men.”

“Yes, and no. We have reason to believe.” He paused, “Good Lord, how pompous I must sound. An occupational hazard I suppose. Alice, we know at least some of the French spies are female emigre’s who work in the dress trade. Can’t sent a dashing young man into a mantua makers, can I?”

“No, but I gather sending a stylish young lady wouldn’t raise anyone’s suspicions.” Alice smiled at him, “I’ve so longed to shop for stylish dresses at all the best places.”

“Precisely. So which will it be Bristol, or London?”

“Why Bristol?”

“Training. You wouldn’t think I’d just let you loose on the world without instruction. You’ll learn the latest dances and practice your manners at either place. It’s just that you’ll learn a few other things in Bristol.”

“Bristol it is.”

“Excellent. Shall we see if the horses are rested?”

“If not, I could use some refreshment as well.”

“Even execrable country ale?”

“Even that.”

They had returned to the inn and sat drinking their pints. When they were nearly finished, Alice said, “By the way, what did you give Sally?”

“You figured that out?”

Alice stared at him, “Yes. It was rather obvious.”

“A pinch of Jalap resin and calomel, in several of those Turkish Delights. I’d be surprised that she’s not better already. How did you guess?”

“Madame Renne was right, you aren’t to be trusted.”

“Then why did you agree to my proposal?”

Alice smiled at her uncle. “Must be my father’s reckless blood. What a jest it would be to spy on everyone.”

Lord Grey gave his niece an intense stare and then said, “Mark this Alice. It’s not just fun, and you’re right you should not trust anyone in the business.”

“Not even you?”

“Not even me.”

Alice shrugged and then said in a deadpan tone of voice, “You know, two can play at that.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’ll find out.” Alice tilted her head and smiled at her uncle. “I hope you enjoyed your bitter.”

He looked at the dregs at the bottom of his pint. “You didn’t?”

Alice simply smiled at him once more. More of a knowing grin that just a smile.

Lord Grey slowly turned greenish, and then dashed off for the necessary. Half an hour later he returned, having thoroughly evacuated himself.

“I should say, Miss Green. That was uncalled for.”

Alice continued to smile at him and said, “I didn’t do anything, but you’re right when you said I shouldn’t trust anyone in this business. Neither should you.”

Lord Grey would have had further words with his niece, only one of the drivers came in and said, “My Lord, if we are to make the city tonight, we had best be on our way.”

Lord Grey rose, then said, “Alice, shall we? No more of your tricks, please.”

“Yes, Uncle James.”

As they walked out of the inn, he added, “It seems to me, niece, that you are a natural for this role.” Then as they were boarding the coach, when the driver inquired, “Where to, My Lord?” he replied, “Bristol, Mrs Hudson’s.”

“As you desire.” The driver tipped his hand to his hat in a salute.

They rode on slowly, until they reached the main road. Then they turned right, towards Bristol. Neither Lord Grey nor Miss Green felt like talking to each other.

A few miles before arriving at Bristol, the carriage took a road to the north. Alice asked, “This isn’t the Bristol road, we just turned off it. What’s going on?”

Lord Grey replied, “Miss Green, the start of your training. Mrs Hudson lives in Chipping Sodbury.”

Even in the afternoon, market day at Chipping Sodbury filled the wide street of the village with noisy and noisome crowds when they arrived. It also made driving directly to Mrs Hudson’s rooms impossible. So Lord Grey had the carriage stop at the edge of town, and escorted his niece on foot. Eventually, and with no little difficulty, they threaded their way to the side street where she lodged and knocked for admittance.

A slatternly maid opened the door and said, “Who is it?”

“Lord Grey, with a new,”

He didn’t get to finish before the maid broke into a smile and said, “New blood. Come in.” She started to lead them upstairs to Mrs Hudson’s rooms. The dirt in the hall and on the stairway did not inspire confidence.

Alice whispered to her uncle, “New blood. What’s this about?”

“Nothing, my dear.”

Upstairs, the hall opened into a set of clean, well-lit rooms. The maid led them to the last room and curtsied, “Mrs Hudson, Lord Grey is here. He has a new victim.”

Mrs Hudson, a tall, older woman with grey-streaked brown hair frowned at her maid, “Lucinda, please get cleaned up and back into your normal clothes. Then report back here to help me orient our new student.”

“To hear is to obey,” Lucinda curtsied and left.

“How is Miss Haytor working out?” Lord Grey asked, “She should be nearly ready.”

“Other than her deplorable wit, I should think she will be an acceptable agent. She needs to control that tongue of hers. Though I have my concerns about her seriousness.”

“Uncle,” Alice asked, “That maid, I don’t understand.”

Mrs Hudson answered for Lord Grey. “Miss?”

“Green, Alice Green.”

“Miss Green, one of the skills we will teach you is the art of blending in. There are times when looking like a servant means the difference between success and,” she paused, “not success.”

“Oh.” Alice paused, “So it’s like playing dress up.”

Miss Haytor, dressed as a respectable gentlewoman and with a clean face, knocked on the door.

Mrs Hudson said, “Enter.” Then she inspected the young lady. “You’ve done well enough, but it took you two whole minutes to change.”

“I wasn’t hurrying.”

“I should make you repeat the change until you are faster, but there isn’t the time right now. Miss Haytor, I should like to you meet Miss Alice,” Mrs Hudson paused, “Alice, do you have a preference for a last name?”

Alice answered, “Mapleton.”

Remembering the name of her unsuitable mill-owning suitor, her uncle cast her a sharp glance. Alice added, “It’s a name I can remember. Not fondly, but well.”

“Miss Alice Mapleton.”

Alice asked, “Why don’t we use my true name?”

“Security. Miss Haytor and the other students won’t be able to identify you.”

“They will, if they remember my face.”

Miss Haytor added, “It’s to help you get used to using a work name.”

“That will do, Miss Haytor.”

Lord Grey coughed and then said, “Mrs Hudson, I shall leave Miss Mapleton in your care. She is to send me weekly letters, unsealed, by express.” He pulled a sheaf of papers from his coat and handed them to her. “These will do for her to get started, and I’ll see that other, suitable, letter drafts are sent to you. Keep me informed on her progress.”

Then he bowed to his niece and said, “Miss Mapleton, I hope you have an interesting experience. Miss Haytor, I expect I shall see you in London shortly.” With those words he left.

Alice shouted after him, “My trunk, what about my clothes?” The sound of the door to the house closing was all the answer she received. Almost involuntarily, her face started to frown, the first signs of a cry.

Mrs Hudson ignored the incipient signs of Alice’s distress and said, “Lucinda, will you see Miss Alice to her room. Number 5 is open. Lessons will start in the morning.”

Lucinda led Alice down the hall to the rooms where the students slept. She asked, “Lonely or homesick? I was.”

“Not yet. Worried, maybe. Angry and upset, a little. I didn’t expect to just be left here.”

“Mrs Hudson will see that you’re rightly set up for the game. It’s fun.”

“You were dressed as a servant. I’ve done my share of sweeping up, why more, why here?”

“That’s boring enough, I’ll admit. That’s just the start.”

“The start? What else is there?”

“Codes, dead drops, the quick change, oh various interesting things… and how to kill someone.”

“Really?”

Lucinda smirked. “You’ll see.”

Moments later she threw open the door to room number 5. It was sparely furnished, with a bed, a table, a dresser, a chair and little else. Except, maybe a ewer and a gazunder.

“You’ll have to get your own water in the morning, and the gazunder. That’s your responsibility too.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

“Cheer up, it’s worth it. Supper’s at six. They ring a bell. See you.”

Alice sat on the chair, and stared at the wall. Tatty stained wallpaper sagged from the damp. What have I let myself into? She tried to look out the window, but the warped glass panes, all made from the cheapest bullseye panes, made it impossible to see out. Nor for that matter was it possible for anyone to see in.

Her dark thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of a bell. I’m not hungry, I’m angry. Lucinda peeked around the door, “Coming?”

“Do I have to?”

“Come on. The food’s not bad, and the company’s better.”

Rising like an old woman, stiff and in pain, Alice joined her. “Hey, that’s good. You’ll be a natural agent.”

Downstairs, the students and their instructors ate at a large table. When Alice entered, Mrs Hudson rose and told them, “I should like to introduce our newest member, Miss Alice Mapledurham.”

“Mapleton.”

“That’s right, Miss Alice Mapleton.”

Someone at the table whispered, sotto voce, “Fresh meat. Who’s for the chop?”

Mrs Hudson glared at the speaker, “Mary, if you cannot keep a civil tongue, then maybe you are.”

“Sorry.”

“Remember, it’s not just a civil tongue you will need to survive but a quiet one.”

Alice found the conversation bewildering. Words like rectangular grid, ink, developer, dead drop and safe house floated around her. Terms she, presumably, would learn. Her neighbours wrote out a rectangle of letters and one showed the other some detailed way of using it to hide a message.

Her request, “Can I see?” was met with stony silence. “Guess not. I’m the new girl.”

****

Alice awoke in the morning, having slept surprisingly well for her first night in a new room, a new bed and an uncertain future. She rose and after pulling the blinds open, herself, annoyed that there was no servant to do it, saw that the only dress for her was a maid’s. It lay, neatly folded on the chair. A note, saying ‘wear this’ was pinned to it. There being no other choice, either dress as a maid or wear her nightdress, Alice put on the clothes.

Wearing that dress, Alice stormed into Mrs Hudson’s room. “Mrs Hudson,” she demanded, “why do I have to dress as a maid? Surely you have maids, and this is beneath my dignity.”

Mrs Hudson ignored her and continued reading her correspondence. Alice stood, fuming, and ignored.

“This is the ultimate limit. Are you deaf?”

“No.”

“Then why don’t you answer me?”

“I’m busy. Now be silent, like a good housemaid.”

Eventually Mrs Hudson put her work away, taking care to lock it in a strong box, and looked up at Alice. “Are you ready to converse like a rational creature or are you still ranting?”

“I’m still angry.”

“I’m not surprised, new girls usually are. Please control it. There is a reason.”

“A reason, for what?”

“For all this. I see you can control your anger. Good.”

“I’m surprised, I presume it’s not simply to humiliate me. Can you tell it to me?”

“Certainly. First, why are you here?”

“To learn to be an agent, a spy.”

“Very good. Now what is the first thing you must do to survive?”

“To watch, no,” Alice studied Mrs Hudson as she thought, then said, “To not be noticed.”

“You really are your uncle’s niece. Exactly. Now who can pass unnoticed almost anywhere?”

“Servants?”

“Precisely. Before I, we, can teach you anything else, you must learn to blend in, to hide in plain sight.”

“Oh.”

“Did you notice the servants on your way to twit me?”

“No. There weren’t any.”

“Are you certain?”

Alice thought for a few moments, “Actually, there were three, two housemaids sweeping the hall and another carrying a basket.”

“Very good. But not good enough. There were four. You missed -”

A knock on the door interrupted her statement. It opened and the senior instructor, Miss Aldershot said, “Mrs Hudson, Miss Jones is feeling ill. I’ve let her rest this morning.”

“So there were three after all.” Mrs Hudson paused, then added, “Miss Aldershot would you see that Miss Mapleton is instructed in Miss Jones’ duties. You will find her a willing pupil. That is unless Miss Mapleton desires to return home.”

Miss Mapleton nodded, rose and the followed Miss Aldershot.

 

The Art of Deception 14 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. We’ll leave Roderick with the Clinton’s in New York as he awaits his packet home (were this set in Victorian times we’d say he was “working his ticket”) and pick up with Alice. Alice is in training at Mrs Hudson’s academy in Chipping Sodbury, and in trouble.


A month into training, Alice was busily sweeping the front steps when new friend Lucy interrupted her, “Alice, the head wants to see you.”

“What have I done now?”

Lucy shrugged, “Does it have to be bad?”

“Hasn’t been good yet,” She gave Lucy the broom and walked into the building, up the front staircase and down the now all too long hall to Mrs Hudson’s room. It seemed like her steps echoed behind her without stopping.

“Close the door behind you and sit down,” Clearly Mrs Hudson wasn’t amused, “Alice I am glad to see you understand your lessons in concealed communications.”

“You are?”

“Yes. However, you will not apply them on your letters home.”

“Oh, It’s just I thought mother would -”

“You didn’t think; that’s the problem,” Mrs Hudson handed her yesterday’s missive, “Make a clean copy.”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


The cover image is Chipping Sodbury in 2004. This broad street was the market in the 19th century. Mrs Hudson’s academy was down a side street, to the right in the picture.

I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

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

Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble. (Although there are issues about ‘creative teams’ that still need to be settled.)

The Art of Deception 13 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will now won’t come out via booktrope (they’re shutting down). It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. We’re following Roderick, Lord Fitzpatrick for the moment. Last week found Lord Fitzpatrick in New York as consol pro tem and landed in a sticky situation. The governor of New York, George Clinton, and his cousin the mayor of the city, summon him to make an official complaint. For what it’s worth neither Hillary nor Bill are related to George and DeWitt.


The secretary led him to a front parlour where the Governor, George Clinton, and the Mayor, his cousin DeWitt Clinton waited. George, consistent with his age and looming infirmity remained seated when Roderick entered. He was still an impressive figure, white haired and almost regal. DeWitt was younger, in his forties, and like his older cousin an experienced and skilled politician and diplomat. Both had fought in the revolution, and neither were inclined to be friendly to British interests.

DeWitt started off, “Ah, Mr Fitzpatrick, glad you could make it.”

“As His Majesty’s representative in the city what else could I do; I presume this is about the Leander.”

The older man said, “Intolerable interference with the commerce of our state and city … we saw your lot off in ’83 and will do it again.”

“I have communicated your objections to Mr Merry in Washington in an express, and will escort the diplomatic communications to London on the next packet … may I add my personal observation that our navy’s actions are stupidly and unnecessarily provocative?”

“You may, but it doesn’t matter, does it?”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


The Clinton’s were major politicians at the time. George Clinton was a leading light in the Democratic-Republicans (Today’s Democratic party). He came out of retirement specifically to keep Colonel Burr from becoming governor of New York. Neither of them was a fan of slavery, and their opposition to it is part of why we didn’t have a ‘President Clinton’ in 1812. They were also important factors in introducing manufacturing and technology to the Northeastern United States. Their insistence on rebuilding harbour fortifications is a major reason that the British did not burn or occupy New York in the war of 1812.

That’s DeWitt Clinton on the 1880 thousand dollar bill.

Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble. (Although there are issues about ‘creative teams’ that still need to be settled.)

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

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

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

The Art of Deception 12 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will now won’t come out via booktrope (they’re shutting down). It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. We’re following Roderick, Lord Fitzpatrick for the moment. Last week described the immediate consequences of his practical abolitionism. He’s in New York this week, having fled Washington. Unfortunately the British consul has decamped with a local beauty and instead of taking his ease while waiting the monthly packet, he is pressed into service. He’s also been landed dab in the middle of a diplomatic crisis brought about by an overzealous Captain. He’s dressing down a midshipsman in this section.


 

“What was your Captain thinking? Assuming he is capable of thought. Chasing a merchantman into New York harbour and then firing on her; let alone killing the helmsman – a Mr Pierce. There were riots in the streets yesterday.”

“She didn’t stop when we hailed her … the ball hit a different ship, the sloop Richard.”

Roderick rose and escorted the young sailor to the front window of the British Consul’s house in Brooklyn; the tip of Manhattan was visible, across the river, “Do you see that? The battery … the blasted Jonathans are rebuilding it … all the harbour defences … it’s now only a matter of time before we’re at war.”

The midshipman nodded, “How many guns?”

Roderick said, “It’s in the letter ;I know he won’t but I’m demanding that Captain Whitby leave; he’s causing more harm to the crown by stopping ships than the contraband he confiscates could ever do; you’re already banned from resupplying in any United States port.”

“Halifax isn’t far.”

Roderick quietly ground his teeth in frustration, “Why couldn’t the admiralty see that they were driving the American’s straight into the willing arms of the French? “

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


The date is shifted, but they are discussing the Leander affair. The British Navy stationed two warships outside New York harbor and intercepted American merchant ships. The ships were searched for contraband and often taken to Halifax as prizes. Eventually even the tax-averse Democratic-Republicans had to rebuild the navy and chase them away. Roderick is right, war with the Americans was only a matter of time after that.

Booktrope shuts it’s doors May 31. This opens a whole slew of questions, including whether to return to an earlier pen-name (R. Harrison being dead common.) It also means that come June 1, the current version of “The curious profession of dr Craven.” will be unavailable. I will get the rights back without trouble.

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

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

Fort Pulaski, shown as the cover image, is a third generation coastal defense fort. I don’t have any pictures of Battery Park or Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which are second generation forts built at the time of the story.

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

The Art of Deception 11 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will eventually come out via booktrope. It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar Last week, Roderick Lord Fiztpatrick’s story continued. He proposed to demonstrate some practical abolition. This week describes the immediate consequences of his actions.


The British Minister was summoned to the President’s House the next morning; Captain Lewis met him, and he was not pleased.

“Where is Lord Fitzpatrick?”

“Lord Fitzpatrick, may I enquire why you wish to see him?”

“Someone burned down the slave pens at the Yellow House; thousands of dollars of property has gone missing, vanished into the night.”

“It has … What possibly could this have to do with him?”

“One of the chattel who disappeared was the wife of his servant; Mr Jefferson wanted her out of the President’s House; we also found the remains of a phosphorus jar … it was used to start the fire.”

“Indeed, I still fail to see how that is relevant,” Mr Merry was a master of obtuseness. It stood him in good stead, especially in times like these.

“Isn’t it obvious?”

Mr Merry stared at him, and completely missed his point; again he said deliberately, as he was being annoyingly obtuse and enjoying it, “That reminds me, we’re looking for a housekeeper … you wouldn’t know of one who is available?”

 

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


Both Robey’s Tavern and the ‘Yellow House’ were notorious examples of slave pens. They were roughly located where the FAA offices and/or the Air and Space Museum are today and were in plain sight of both the White House and the Capitol building. While the white Southerner’s claimed that slavery was natural and good, a real benefit to mankind, it is interesting to note that the documentation about its practice is sketchy at best. Even the ‘fire breathers’ weren’t proud of it in the end.

On a non-literary note, one of my students, Brendan Benshoof, just defended his Ph.D. Tuesday. It’s been a flurry of activity (to be honest, a blizzard of activity) getting the last little bits of papers and dissertation complete before he takes off for a job at Google.

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse. However, Dr Craven is on sale this week.

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

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

The Art of Deception 10 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

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Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will eventually come out via booktrope. It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar Last week, we left Alice to her Uncle Grey’s tender mercies. This week we resume Roderick, Lord Fitzpatrick’s story. He’s just told his African American manservant that he is returning to England, but that he has arranged for his servant’s wife to be freed. There is a complication.


“They’re sending her South.”

“Bugger it! Where, when?”

“Today, she’s in Robey’s warehouse, chained; auction tomorrow.”

“Robey’s tavern?”

“Either that or the Yellow House next door.”

Roderick paused, while he claimed crude methods were beneath him, there were times, and this was one of them, that they were appropriate, “Thomas, I think a change of garment is in order; lay out the gentleman’s ken cracking clothes; I’ll need my screws, the phos bottle and … whatever happened to my jemmy, by the way?”

“I was visiting Hannah.”

“Thought as much; that was a tad sloppy of you; if you’d see that our mounts are ready, and I’ll need a light travelling bag packed; can Hannah ride?”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


The cover image shows a map from 1856 that shows the scene of the action. The Smithsonian, wasn’t yet there.

I’m on a trip to Tybee Island and may be a little late at replying.

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse.

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

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Art of Deception 9 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will eventually come out via booktrope. It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar Last week, the day before they departed for London, Lord Grey had a present of Turkish Delights (from Gunter’s) for Sally. The reasons he gave it to her become apparent this week. Lord Grey and Alice intend to pick Sally up on the way to London when a messenger from the Willis’s arrives.


“Well,” Lady Green sniffed, “It’s for the best; be a good girl Alice … oh I shouldn’t say that, I know you will be … Let the Willis’s know I’ll be round to visit today.”

Lord Grey and Alice were boarding the box, ready to ride to the vicar’s and pick up Sally, when the vicar’s groom rode up.

“Lord Grey?” He tipped his forehead in a salute, “I have a message from my master.” He handed Lord Grey a sheet of paper, and then respectfully bowed and stepped back.

Lord Grey read it aloud, “Miss Willis is ill and cannot come with us. She is devastated … Sister dear, it seems your visit will be a visit of mercy; please send my regards.”

Lady Green may not have noticed the smile flicker across Lord Grey’s face, but Alice most certainly did.

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


Lord Grey’s offer to Alice isn’t quite what it seems.  Don’t take candy from strange men.

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse.

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

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Art of Deception 8 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will eventually come out via booktrope. It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. Last week, Alice’s Uncle Grey found her tutor, a Madame Rene. Madame Rene made it very clear that Lord Grey is a slippery character, and not to be trusted. I skip where Madame Rene and the local vicar Mr Willis confront Alice,  her mother, and Lord Grey with their concerns. As a matter of insurance, since a season in London is something that cannot be lightly refused, Alice’s bosom friend Sally Willis is to accompany them. Alice also agrees to write at least weekly with letters that must be posted from London. The day before they depart, Lord Grey has a present for Sally. Lord Grey takes a package from his saddlebag and Alice asks him about it.


“For Miss Willis, you greedy girl; some Turkish Delights from London.”

“What a good present, she adores them.”

“And you?”

“No, too sweet for me; I can barely stand them.”

“So I remember.”

Alice puzzled out her uncle’s face.

“What’s that about, Niece?”

“Nothing, it’s just odd that you’d choose a present that Sally loves and I loathe.”

“Well, I try to meet the tastes of my recipients; all the more for her.”

Sally was overjoyed to receive the candy; she immediately had a piece, and then offered it to both Lord Grey and
Alice; Alice politely refused, while Lord Grey took one particular piece, from a corner of the box.

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


Lord Grey’s offer to Alice isn’t quite what it seems.  Don’t take candy from strange men.

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere Miss_devere_1 This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven THE CURIOUS PROFESSION FINAL” seems to not carry a curse.

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

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Art of Deception 7 #wewriwar #amwriting

The Art of Deception

or Pride and Extreme Prejudice

12241791_735836876546522_6197947469406170479_n

Welcome to Weekend Writing Warriors. This week I continue another book, that will eventually come out via booktrope. It’s a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. Last week I returned to Alice’s story. Her Uncle Grey has found her tutor, a Madame Rene. He has a few questions for her, about Alice. What started out as a friendly reunion becomes a tad tense. It continues so in this snippet.


The piano music, that had been playing in the background stopped, and Alice walked out of the door, down the hall, and over to them, “Uncle, do you know Madame Renne?”

Madame Renne said, “We’ve met.”

“Oh,” Alice tried to keep her curiosity from her voice.

Answering Lord Grey’s question, Madame Renne continued, “Son français, il est bon aussi longtemps qu’elle prétend être de la Normandie.

“Why would I have to pretend to be from Normandy?”

Her uncle answered, “Alice, my dear, you still have a touch of an English accent; the Parisians would know in a trice. Shouldn’t be surprised, I’ve had to do the same; anyway, niece, I thought I should escort you home.”

“You have, when?”

“It’s a long story, maybe I’ll tell you some evening.”

Madame Renne looked sharply at ‘Monsieur LeBlanc’, and then at her student; “Miss Alice,” she said, “This man, he is not to be trusted.”

Please see the other talented writers in Weekend Writing Warriors.


Lord Grey’s offer to Alice isn’t quite what it seems.

The cartoon is another famous one by James Gillray. It shows his take on the ‘Ton’ – the high society of the time. It got him into more than a little tiny bit of hot water as the powerful people he caricatured were in the words Queen Victoria never uttered “Not Amused.” The plump man who needs a shave near the middle is Mr Fox, leader of the opposition, his wife is next to him with a picture of Napoleon on her fan, the Prince (not yet the Regent) is at the far right and cut in half, the tall man is Lord Spencer, the Duke of Buckingham is wearing a blue sash and bending over, his brother Temple is behind him, and the two curmudgeons enjoying a brew are the Dukes of Bedford and Norfolk. (And yes I had to look this up.)

I’ve also released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere This is a fun read, and unlike “The curious profession of dr craven” seems to not carry a curse.

Miss_devere_1

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

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

Follow my blog with Bloglovin