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Loved and Lost

Fira poured the last of the ale into a goblet held out in front of her, yet her attention remained on the man across the Great Hall who paced in front of the turret stairs. A pinch to her already bruised back side tore a snarl from her lips as she swatted away the outstretched hand of a knight.

“Not tonight, Sir Turquine,” she bellowed, causing the knights at the table to chuckle.

“I told you ’twas a lost cause, brother,” Taegan laughed. “She has her mind set on another this eve!”

“You cannot blame me for trying,” Turquine retorted. “Be a good lass, Fira, and bring us more ale. We have a long night of drinking afore us.”

Grumbling to herself, Fira returned to the kitchen to refill her pitcher. The knights had a mighty thirst this night and she would be lucky if she saw her bed afore the dawn. Her gaze traveled through the doorway and her heart flipped with his nearness. No other man in the hall held her interest, although she had taken several of them to her bed at one time or another. Nay, the only one she cared about was the clan’s piper.

He was a handsome man with his tawny colored hair and bright green eyes. She had thought she had a chance with Garrick of Clan MacLaren. After all… he had never once made any advances towards her, not like the rest of the men she had bedded. Mayhap ’twas why she was attracted to him… he had never been anything but respectful towards her and because of this, he had unknowingly slipped into her heart.  They had been on friendly enough terms for a while now and she had thought she was making progress in possibly wringing a proposal from him, or so she had assumed. Then she arrived at Berwyck and everything had changed.

’Twas as though the other women in the kitchen knew where her thoughts had led as she began overhearing their conversation about her nemesis.

“She be a true lady, that one is. No uppity airs, no demanding ways. She does her deceased brother proud, she does,” boasted one of the serfs.

“Do not forget she is Laird Dristan’s cousin and as such ’twould be wise tae treat her with respect lest ye wish tae feel the heat o’ the Devil’s Dragon’s wrath,” another replied with a shudder.

“Bah!” Fira fumed. Slamming the pitcher down upon the table, she wagged her finger at the women who had no issue gossiping amongst themselves. “She doesna belong here and should go back tae France or wherever Sir Morgan found her.”

“Yer just jealous because ye have lost the favor o’ our handsome piper.”

“I havena lost him,” Fira boasted, “and I can have him in me bed with a crook of me finger, I can.”

“Ye may get him in yer bed, but yer reward will likely be a babe in yer belly and nothing else,” another called out.

“He willna marry ye, ye silly girl.” A chorus of laughter erupted from those near enough to hear the conversation.

“Besides, I have heard Laird Dristan say he will look no lower than a knight fer her husband.”

“Then ’tis settled. Since Garrick holds no title, he is considered beneath her station in life so our laird willna let them marry,” Fira retorted with a smirk.

“Ye think that matters when yer in love? Ye best set yer sights on someone else fer ’tis plain fer all tae see Lady Coira has won Garrick’s heart.”

“Ye know nothing of Garrick’s heart,” Fira yelled.

“Then take a look,” the woman mocked, taking Fira by the arm and pushing her towards the doorway to observe what was taking place inside the hall.

Fira’s heart lurched when she espied the Lady Coria and Sir Morgan descend the stairs and Garrick bowed low afore the lady. Their conversation was brief but ’twas enough to see for herself the man she wanted for her husband had eyes only for another. Even whilst he took his place at the table to break his fast did he continue to stare upon Lady Coira. Only when the lady raised her chalice in a silent salute and Garrick returned the gesture with a smile did Fira finally begin to realize she had lost him.

“Heed my words, Fira, and leave him be. Another has already claimed him,” the woman taunted afore returning to the kitchen.

A sob tore from Fira’s lips. Life was so unfair and more so for someone in her position. She ran from the Great Hall to find her home, not caring if she would be punished come the morn for leaving the hall without finishing her duties for the night.


This original piece is a companion to The Piper’s Lady by Bluestocking Belle Sherry Ewing. The Piper’s Lady is one of eight novella’s within the Belles’ 2017 anthology, Never Too Late.

Never Too Late
A Bluestocking Belles Collection

Release Date November 4, 2017
Special Pre-order price ~ $0.99
25% benefits the Belles’ mutual charity The Malala Fund

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You can learn more about Sherry on her page here with the Belles or find her on her website here. Sherry loves to interact with her readers so be sure to sign up for her newsletter or join her Facebook Street Team to keep up-to-date.

 

Whispers in a Corner of Cairo

The dining room of the Hotel des Anglais in Cairo hummed with conversation and bustled with activity. Waiters in white saw to every comfort. Gentlemen in formal dress surveyed the diners from their perch near the door, ready to step in if needed. Della Faulkner thought that they well should. A baronet’s granddaughter, she had fine sense of what was due her sort.

Cairo

The Dining Room, Hotel des Anglais, Cairo (later Shepheard’s Hotel)

She huddled at a table in the far corner with two other ladies in perfectly proper English dress, and perfectly proper English bonnets, their faces bright with a sheen brought on by Egypt’s oppressive heat. They lingered over after-dinner cordials, their husbands having departed in search of something more fortifying. After a voyage on the new mail steamer and a harrowing trip across the desert from Suez, they were in great need of civilized comforts.

“Tell me exactly what you heard Mr. Badawi say,” Della demanded for the second time. As the eldest and, in her opinion, highest ranking of their number, she assumed the right to demand. Frustration that she had missed a confrontation between the Egyptian manager for the Nile and Oriental Company, their local contact, with a scandalous fellow passenger gave her voice more force than normal.

Alice Fuller, the nervous woman next to her, jumped at the sound. A tiny woman, she blinked several times while she babbled, “He said, ‘if you are not married.’ I heard that distinctly, didn’t you Bertha? ‘If’ he said.”

Cairo

The Lobby, Hotel des Anglais, Cairo (later Shepheard’s Hotel)

The third woman, a sour-faced matron of indeterminable years glowered at Alice and sighed deeply. “We weren’t eavesdropping, mind, but when we saw Captain Wheatly conversing with Mr. Badawi in the lobby, we feared yet more difficulties and moved closer. This entire journey has been a nightmare. I so regret letting Albert talk me into the overland route.”

Della brushed that aside. “Yes, yes, but what did you hear?”

“He all but accused Wheatly of lying to him, but I did not hear the proof.”

“Tell me ladies, did the couple act as if they were married when aboard ship?” The speaker, the lone man in their company, leaned forward. Della detected an unattractive eagerness behind his air of unconcern. Egbert Weaver appeared encroaching to her, though the others professed to find his quiet manner charming. Quiet he may be, but the man didn’t miss much that went on, always hovering nearby listening.

“Well, the way they carried on on deck, they should be married,” Alice giggled. “Remember Bertha? Right there in front of us?”

Della sniffed. “No better than she ought to be if you ask me, latching on to an officer and pretending to care for those children of his.” She shuddered.

“Is there something odd about his children?” Weaver asked, his face a mask of sympathy.

Alice leaned toward him to whisper, “They are dark. Indian, no doubt. His but not hers—you know…” She raised her eyebrows.

“Oh say the word, Alice! Bastards, Mr. Weaver. I would bet my bonnet on it,” Della proclaimed. “And if he isn’t married to the woman traveling with them—well!”

“We don’t know that, Della. He told me he was widowed. As to his current companion, they had two cabins, as I recall,” Bertha pointed out.

cairo steamship

Della rolled her eyes. “You are too softhearted, Bertha. None of that means squat and you know it. Who slept in which bed and why, I should like to know,” she hissed under her breath.
“Are you saying they are married, but slept apart,” Weaver began, “Or—”

“Look!” Alice said bouncing in her seat and wagging her head toward the door. All eyes followed her direction. The subject of their little talk, Captain Frederick Wheatly, led his “wife,” Clare into the dinning room. Two dark-skinned girls followed, gazing around at the room and the diners.

“Who is that young man who stood up to greet them?” Alice whispered, when the boy seated the two little girls as if they were grand ladies.

“I don’t know, but the fool acts like they belong here.”

All four pairs of eyes watched the tableau on the far side of the room, as if trying to ferret out the truth. Moments later, an older man with the air of great consequence entered accompanied by an outburst of excessive bowing and fussing on the part of staff. He stood well over six feet tall, his white-blond hair reflecting candlelight. He walked directly to the Wheatlys’ table, and the diners rose to greet him.

Della gasped.

“What is it?” Bertha asked anxiously.

“Not what. Who. Wheatly just introduced that woman to the Duke of Sudbury. I believe that young man dining with them is his nephew, Richard Mallet.”

Alice covered her mouth with her serviette, eyes wide, unable to speak. Bertha, too, stared back at the group. Before their fascinated eyes, the duke smiled at the children, spoke briefly with Wheatly and his companion, and left, taking the captain with him.

“Well!” Della declared. “I should like to hear that conversation.” She turned her attention back to her companions only to sigh with an irritation she didn’t attempt to disguise. “Mr. Weaver, what are you scribbling?” The little man bent over a small notebook writing rapidly.

“Merely taking a few notes, ladies,” he said ,snapping the notebook shut and rising to his feet. “If you will excuse me, I think I’ll have a chat with Badawi before I turn in to catch up on my correspondence.”

“Correspondence with whom, Mr. Weaver?” Della demanded.

A slow smile lit his face. “Why, with my friend Mr. Clemens, editor of The Teatime Tattler. He will love what I have to share.” With a tip of his hat, he left them.

cairo empire reluctant About the Book

The Reluctant Wife:  Children of Empire, Book 2

When all else fails, love succeeds…

Captain Fred Wheatly’s comfortable life on the fringes of Bengal comes crashing down around him when his mistress dies, leaving him with two children he never expected to have to raise. When he chooses justice over army regulations, he’s forced to resign his position, leaving him with no way to support his unexpected family. He’s already had enough failures in his life. The last thing he needs is an attractive, interfering woman bedeviling his steps, reminding him of his duties.

All widowed Clare Armbruster needs is her brother’s signature on a legal document to be free of her past. After a failed marriage, and still mourning the loss of a child, she’s had it up to her ears with the assumptions she doesn’t know how to take care of herself, that what she needs is a husband. She certainly doesn’t need a great lout of a captain who can’t figure out what to do with his daughters. If only the frightened little girls didn’t need her help so badly.

Clare has made mistakes in the past. Can she trust Fred now? Can she trust herself? Captain Wheatly isn’t ashamed of his aristocratic heritage, but he doesn’t need his family and they’ve certainly never needed him. But with no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above past failures to forge a future together?

Find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Reluctant-Wife-Children-Empire-Book-ebook/dp/B06XYRRR1R/

Children of Empire: Three cousins, torn apart by lies and deceit and driven to the far reaches of the empire, struggle to find their way home. The first book is The Renegade Wife

About Caroline Warfield

Traveler, poet, librarian, technology manager—Caroline Warfield has been many things, but above all she is a romantic. Having retired to the urban wilds of eastern Pennsylvania, she reckons she is on at least her third act, happily working in an office surrounded by windows while she lets her characters lead her to adventures in England and the far-flung corners of the British Empire. She nudges them to explore the riskiest territory of all, the human heart.

Caroline is of course, a Bluestocking Belles. In addition to  The Teatime Tattler, she regularly writes for  History Imagined.

Website http://www.carolinewarfield.com/

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Email warfieldcaro@gmail.com

 

 

Someone Always Sees

Lady Constance Whittles made her way across the crowded ballroom after finishing a lively dance with none other than the dashing Lord Digby Osgood. She had taken delight with the free time allotted her since she no longer worked at the bookshop. She was more than please with any opportunity to get to know the gentleman further. She might as well take advantage of every moment she could spend in his company before she began her new position at Miss Clemens’s Oxford Street Book Palace & Tea Rooms.

Digby led her over to a chair near a window where a slight breeze blew in through the open balcony doors. “Wine or punch?” he asked once she was seated.

“Punch would be divine,” she said with a parched throat.

“I will be right back. Do you mind if I have a brief conversation with Frederick before I return? I see he just arrived with Margaret?”

“By all means, go right ahead. I shall be fine here watching the dancing until your return.”

He gave a brief bow and disappeared through the crowded room while Constance snapped open her fan to bring relief to her flushed face. She was not sitting alone long before she heard the quiet whisperings of two women behind her in the darkened entryway. She did not mean to overhear their conversations but they made no attempt to quiet their voices. Most likely they thought the music would dim their gossiping from traveling any further than between them.

“How could you not have heard such distressing news, Abigail?”

A loud sigh was heard. “Good heavens, Prudence. You have the latest news on any given hour of the day. How am I supposed to keep up with you on whatever bit of gossip that is none of my business in the first place?”

With a discreet glance behind her, Constance held back the urge to roll her eyes. The Danver sisters… She had met them on several occasions in the bookshop. They were relatively harmless creatures, yet the elder of the two had a penchant for wanting to share whatever tidbit was been bandied about without much thought. Thankfully her younger sibling kept her in check.

“This is not gossip but fact and is regarding the son of our hosts,” Prudence continued.

“Lord Drayton?”

“His brother is too far young to be of much interest… yet. Of course this is about none other than Neville Quinn.” The sound of a small slap was heard. “What was that for? You hurt my arm.”

“You are over exaggerating, I barely touched you. Besides, beware you are not overheard addressing him so informally lest you wish to be the next one people are talking about,” Abigale scolded.

“Pish, posh! I think not. Besides, I would not dare let my reputation be ruined because I was having an affair.”

“Whatever are you talking about, Prudence?

“Honestly, Abigail, do you know nothing of what is going on around you?”

“Apparently not, but I have the distinct feeling you shall fill me in.”

“Lord Drayton is having an affair with a married woman.”

Laughter came from the younger sister. “Is that all? Look inside, sister. Half the men in that room are probably having an affair or have taken a mistress.”

“But Abigail, do you not wish to hear with whom he─”

“No, not really,” Abigail stated. “Let us return to the ball. I am sure we can find something more interesting to converse about.”

“No husband of mine would ever dare have an affair on me,” Prudence muttered.

“If my husband attempted such, I would see him gelded. He would not be much use to anyone after such a fate,” Abigail added with a laugh.

The two women moved on leaving Constance to ponder their words, not that she would be one to spread their tale further. She noticed when Lord Drayton entered the room with two other gentlemen Constance was unfamiliar with. He looked on edge as though he took no pleasure at being in attendance at his parent’s event. He gave a meager smile towards his mother before moving from Constance’s view.

Lord Digby returned with her punch and after a few sips, they moved onto the dance floor. The Danver sister’s conversation still lingered in her mind causing Constance to wonder the fate of the poor woman who must have stolen Lord Drayton’s heart.

This is an original piece by Sherry Ewing for her upcoming release. Nothing But Time: A Family of Worth, Book One is available for pre-order for $2.99. Release date: May 16, 2017. You can learn more about Sherry on her page here with the Bluestocking Belles or on her website at: www.SherryEwing.com.

Blurb:

They will risk everything for their forbidden love…

When Lady Gwendolyn Marie Worthington is forced to marry a man old enough to be her father, she concludes love will never enter her life. Her husband is a cruel man who blames her for his own failings. Then she meets her brother’s attractive business associate, and all those longings she had thought gone forever suddenly reappear.

A long-term romance holds no appeal for Neville Quinn, Earl of Drayton until an unexpected encounter with the sister of the Duke of Hartford. Still, he resists giving his heart to another woman, especially one who belongs to another man.

Chance encounters lead to intimate dinners, until Neville and Gwendolyn flee to Berwyck Castle at Scotland’s border hoping beyond reason their fragile love will survive the vindictive reach of Gwendolyn’s possessive husband. Before their journey is over, Gwendolyn will risk losing the only love she has ever known.

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Bio:

Sherry Ewing picked up her first historical romance when she was a teenager and has been hooked ever since. A bestselling author, she writes historical & time travel romances to awaken the soul one heart at a time. Always wanting to write a novel but busy raising her children, she finally took the plunge in 2008 and wrote her first Regency. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Beau Monde & the Bluestocking Belles. Sherry is currently working on her next novel and when not writing, she can be found in the San Francisco area at her day job as an Information Technology Specialist. You can learn more about Sherry online here:

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The Dias Imposter

Fazenda Oliveira, Sao Paulo State, Brazil, 1872

Join me behind the slightly ajar larder door as I spy on two Fazenda Oliveira kitchen maids discussing their new colleague.

The Fazenda

Celina wiped her hands on her apron and glanced over her shoulder toward the kitchen entrance. Thinking they were alone, she turned back and smirked at Estela across the large kitchen worktable. “This new maid is going to be trouble for sure. Have you noticed how all the men simper when she’s around? Where on earth did they find her?”

Estela waggled her eyebrows. “Well, she’s supposed to be old Adriana Dias’s niece raised in the Falkland Islands.”

Celina frowned. “Where?”

“You know. The Islas Malvinas. The Falklands, as the English call the islands now.”

“Uh-huh.” Celina snorted and winked at Estela. “If she’s Adriana’s niece, then I’m Imperador Dom Pedro Segundo’s lady, Princess of the Two Sicilies, Teresa Cristina herself! A red-haired, green-eyed Dias? Such a thing does not exist.”

The Coffee Plantation

“True.” Estela spread her arms in an imitation of grace and poise. “If she’s a Dias, I am Senhora Consuelo, Monarch of Fazenda Oliveira. All must bow to before me.”

Celina lifted her wooden spoon like a scepter. “Pleased to make your acquaintance, Senhora.”

“And yours, Imperadora.” Estela’s curtsey dragged the hem of her skirt against the floor.

A serious expression replaced the mirth in Celina’s eyes. “Silliness aside, have you listened to her accent? She doesn’t speak like anyone I’ve ever heard, not even the English gentleman who visited last month. Grew up around the English? I do not think so.”

“Well,” Estela replied, “I heard that she just appeared at Adriana and Ricardo’s house. Popped up out of nowhere. One day it was just the two of them, the next they had a niece. No one seems to know how she got here.”

“Really? She’s a strange one for certain.” Leaning over the table, Celina continued in a whisper, “Have you noticed the way the young master looks at her? She better watch out there.”

“Why?” Estela’s voice held a note of indignation. “Senhor Gustavo is so handsome and rich and nice.”

Celina raised her brow and tilted her head. “He may be beautiful to behold, but be wary. Have you not heard the story of why he was sent away for all those years?” Estela shook her head and stretched closer to Celina, who continued, “Rumor says he got one the maids with child and then killed her out of fear that Old Dragon Lady Consuelo would disinherit him for consorting with a peasant.”

A pink glow crept across Estela’s cheeks. “I can’t believe Senhor Gustavo could do such a terrible thing. He’s always been kind and polite to me.”

“That’s because you look like a cow.” Celina pursed her lips. “Believe me. If you looked like this Maria, you would have much to fear.”

Estela scowled. “As if you look so much better. You’re just a jealous cow yourself. Senhor Gus would not hurt a dog, much less kill someone.”

“So you believe, but what I know is that the girl disappeared. When her family came looking for her, they were sent away under threat from Consuelo.”

“That doesn’t mean the girl’s dead.”

“Perhaps.” Celina straightened up and placed a fist on each hip. “What I know for certain is this. We already have enough Oliveira bastards littering the ground and Senhora Consuelo is determined there will be no more. This Maria will be trouble. You can count on it!”

About the Book

Set during the aftermath of the American Civil War, Confederado do Norte tells the story of Mary Catherine, a child torn from her war devastated home in Georgia and thrust into the primitive Brazilian interior where the young woman she becomes must learn to recreate herself in order to survive.

October, 1866.
Mary Catherine is devastated when her family emigrates from Georgia to Brazil because her father and maternal uncle refuse to accept the terms of Reconstruction following the Confederacy’s defeat. Shortly after arrival in their new country, she is orphaned, leaving her in Uncle Nathan’s care. He hates Mary Catherine, blaming her for his sister’s death. She despises him because she believes Nathan murdered her father. When Mary Catherine discovers Nathan’s plan to be rid of her as well, she flees into the mountain wilderness filled with jaguars and equally dangerous men. Finding refuge among kind peasants, she grows into a beauty, ultimately attracting the attention of the scion of a wealthy Portuguese family. Happiness and security seem within reach until civil unrest brings armed marauders who have an inexplicable connection to Mary Catherine. Recreating herself has protected Mary Catherine in the past, but this new crisis will demand all of the courage, intelligence, and creativity she possesses simply to survive.

Buy it on Amazon

~Excerpt~

I dreamt the dream again last night. In the small hours, I awoke in a tumble of bedclothes and bathed in perspiration despite the howling snowstorm blanketing the city. I rearranged quilts and plumped pillows, but sleep remained elusive. My mind refused to be quiet.

As often happens after such a night, I felt unable to rise at my usual hour and remained abed long after the maids cleared breakfast from the morning room. My daughter-in-law, bless her heart, meant well. I told her it was ridiculous to bring the doctor out on such a frigid day, but apparently the very old, like the very young, are not to be trusted in matters of judgment. After the doctor listened to my chest, a studied sympathy filled his eyes and he gently suggested that perhaps I should get my affairs in order. No doubt he wondered at my smile for he couldn’t have known I have no affairs other than my memories and the emotions they engender.

Unlike most elderly persons, I don’t revel in slogging through the past. It isn’t wrapped in pretty ribbons or surrounded by a golden aura. Instead, its voices haunt my dreams, demanding and accusatory. Until recently, I’ve resisted their intrusion into my waking life, but I now believe the past can no longer remain buried in nocturnal visions. It must be brought out into the light of day. From its earliest moments onward, the past’s substance must be gouged out, pulled apart, and examined bit by bit until its truth is exposed. While total objectivity may not be possible, I have concluded that committing the past to paper is my best hope for sorting facts from imaginings. Perhaps then I will achieve the peace that has so long hidden its face from me.

You see, when I was quite young—only a girl really—I killed four people. Two were dearly beloved, one was a hated enemy, and the last was a dangerous criminal.

About the Author

Linda has been in love with the past for as long as she can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws her in. She supposes it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on her grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the American South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into her work.

As for her venture in writing, she has this to say. “Writing has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself, ‘Let’s pretend.’ ”

Linda resides in the Houston area with one sweet husband and one adorable German Shorthaired Pointer who is quite certain she’s a little girl.

“History is filled with the sound of silken slippers going downstairs and wooden shoes coming up.” Voltaire  

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The Passionate Mr. Gilbert

Your intrepid reporter, Saralee Etter, is here in Yorkshire at the beautiful ancestral castle known as Snowden Hall, speaking with Mr. William S. Gilbert. When he is not (as he is now) a guest at an exclusive country house party, he works for the Department of Education while also preparing for a future career as a barrister.

William Gilbert as an ensign

Mr. Gilbert is over 6 feet tall, slender, and possesses a lounging grace in his movements. You might think him German, because he is fair with tawny mustaches and blue eyes. Quick-tempered and quick-witted, he has an amazing talent for clever wordplay. He places a high value on honor and loyalty. His natural reserve makes him appear almost brusque toward strangers and those he doesn’t like, but no one could be kinder or more generous to his friends.

WSG: (looking over my shoulder) You might want to mention that I’ve written a few play reviews and comic pieces for Fun.

SLE: For fun? Have they been published anywhere?

WSG: Yes, in Fun! Fun magazine. I write a weekly column, accompanied by a half-page drawing. And you might remove the adjectives “amazing” and “clever” from your descriptions above. That’s a bit too too, as the Aesthetic types would say.

SLE: And you also write burlesque plays, I hear. Aren’t they a bit risqué?

William S. Gilbert

WSG: My dear lady, you’re thinking of the American burlesque. In England, a burlesque is a comedy based on puns, nonsense and extravagant wordplay, similar to a Christmas pantomime. They are often parodies of well-known operas. I’ve written a dozen of them – you may have heard of my version of Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore? I called it Dulcamara! Or the Little Duck and the Big Quack. No? How about Robert the Devil, or the Nun, the Dun, and the Son of a Gun? Well, you are American, after all.

SLE: Tell me what brings you to Snowden Hall, up here in Yorkshire.

WSG: The North Eastern Railway. Very well, I came here because my two sisters, Maude and Florence, were all in a lather to visit the place. Both of them cherish hopes of marrying our host, baronet Sir John Snowden, although I can’t see how they’ll manage it. Generally a fellow is limited to only one wife at a time, and the law prohibits him from marrying sisters one after another. So at least one sister is bound to be disappointed, and most likely both. Furthermore, they aren’t the only young women here who are angling to wed a baronet.

Lucy Turner

SLE: Are you referring to Miss Lucy Turner?

WSG: (laughs) Little Lucy! If anybody could win a fellow over, it’s her. I call her Kitten—she’s an adorable little ball of fluff with a surprising streak of temper and willfulness. People underestimate her. She may be tiny, but like any kitten she can do a lot of damage with those razor-sharp teeth and claws.

SLE: So you think Sir John might ask for Miss Turner’s hand in marriage?

WSG: I hope not! That is, Kitten’s much too young for me, but I don’t fancy that Sir John as a husband for any young woman I care about. He’s far too slick and ingratiating. The danger is, she might accept him if he offers for her, because of that wretched curate.

SLE: Which wretched curate is that? You don’t mean Rev. Reed Niemand from the Victoria Road Church in Kensington?

WSG: That’s exactly the one. He used to mope and sigh and pant over little Kitten, and then suddenly, poof! One morning, he became another girl’s love-sick boy.

SLE: The curate fell in love with another woman? Who?

WSG: My sisters report that his new love is none other than our host’s sister, Miss Tallullah Snowden. And now they’re all here together at this blasted house party! I don’t envy Mr. Niemand at all. That curate is going to be one sorry fellow when Kitten catches up with him.

SLE: But I heard that Mr. Niemand had not promised to marry Miss Turner.

WSG: That doesn’t matter. Every female in Kensington knew about it and were loud in their pity, so Kitten was as good as jilted. I just hope I can stop her before she does something drastic.

SLE: Thank you for your time. I hope that this country house visit is pleasant and uneventful!

About the Author

Saralee Etter is the author of three traditional Regency romances. She’s presently working on A SHORT SHARP SHOCK, the first novel in a Victorian-set mystery series featuring sleuth Lucy Turner and her friends, William S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. You can visit her on the web at www.saraleeetter.com, or check out her blog, A Fine Mystery Indeed, at www.saraleeetter.com/blog1

 

 

 

 

 

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