The Art of Deception
or Pride and Extreme Prejudice
This week continues a spy story set in late Georgian England, the year before Trafalgar. The conversation between Roderick, Hannah, and Alice started last week continues.
“Precisely … though you did a bit more than that; I’d say you thoroughly earned your reward.”
“Her freedom, I’d left instructions with our Minister to purchase her and then send her and Thomas north; things didn’t work out so smoothly.”
Hannah said,“Y’all can say that again; you was, what was it – person not great.”
“Persona non gratia.”
Alice asked, “Why’d you have to leave?”
“Her husband left one of my burglar’s tools in the President’s House when he visited her one night; unfortunately, it was stamped ‘Sheffield’ so I had a little meeting with one Captain Lewis, personal aide to his Excellency President Jefferson.”
“They was goin’ to sell me down river,” Hannah spat out, “Out picking tobacco in the sun, like a field nigger.”
“So I really didn’t have much of a choice … Well I did, I suppose; be completely without honour or common decency.”
Hannah explained for him, “He brought his picklocks, freed us and burnt down the slave pen.”
My apologies for creative punctuation.
Today’s snippet ties up a sub-plot started early in the story. Roderick was a practical emancipationist. One may ask why Thomas didn’t free his wife. The answer is that as a black man, he would have been shot or imprisoned or worse if he were caught hanging around the slave pens in the evening. Sir Roderick, of course, could simply be “inspecting the merchandise.”
Emancipation wasn’t yet in force in England. However, the movement to free the slaves was well underway at the time of this story. It wasn’t quite fully respectable, being associated with “non-conformists” who weren’t members of the Church of England. Without being preachy, I always remember that the hymn “Amazing Grace” was written by a reformed slave captain.
The idea of freeing slaves was not popular with the aristocracy. The lower left corner of the Gilray cartoon from last week shows an apish caricature of Africans signing an anti-slavery petition in the context of a gin-soaked and riotous assembly.
Still working on a cover idea – hard even though I’m a dashed good photographer (if I say so myself). That and editing the manuscript to put more description/reaction into it. (not to mention a few thousand words).
Frankenkitty is available.
What happens when teenagers get to play with Dr Frankenstein’s lab notebooks, a few odd chemicals and a great big whopping coil? Mayhem, and possibly an invitation to the Transylvanian Neuroscience Summer School.
Like poor Cecelia, ” The Curious Profession of Dr Craven” is back from the dead.
I’ve released a sweet regency romance, Miss DeVere This is a fun read.