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Snowy Scandal, January 20, 1814

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I realize that your readers prefer scandal of a more salacious nature than that concerning which I  pen this missive. But conditions exist throughout London that endanger all. Some background first.

As with much of London’s populace, I have eagerly anticipated the debut performance of Mr. Edmund Kean, actor, at the Drury Lane Theatre, Covent Garden on 26 January. Mr. Kean’s reputation precedes him from his stellar performances in Mr. Samuel Butler’s provincial troupe. How the proprietors of Drury Lane managed to lure Mr. Kean from a very comfortable position with Mr. Butler is a tale untold. For everyone knows that the Drury Lane Theatre is on it’s last legs and without a miracle of sorts will close it’s doors within the month.

However, I digress. The scandal to which I refer earlier was initiated by the present dire weather. All know how frigidly cold it has been. Too cold for decent folk to travel more than a few feet. Nonetheless, the problems created by the weather have been compounded by the neglect of the city to properly maintain the streets during this climatological crisis.

Ice and snow that have fallen since late December have been problem enough. Now to my dismay and the endangerment of all, snow is being removed from the rooftops in order to keep those rooftops from collapsing upon the residents below. I am delighted with the preservation of life. Be that as it may, no care is being taken with the placement of this excess snow. Workers simply push it from the roof willy nilly onto the streets below with no regard to objects or persons below. I know personally of three carriages that have been damaged from this practice. Friends have reported injury to family members and much difficulty ensues in getting aid to those so injured. ‘Tis a grievous scandal when the city cannot maintain safety in the streets. I know of no person who wishes to perish beneath a roof-load of snow and ice.

Sensible persons must of course remain indoors. But on January 26, Mr. Kean will perform Shylock at the Drury Lane Theatre. I have great concern that the streets around Covent Garden and the theatre will no be cleared sufficiently to allow ticket holders to attend this reputedly stellar performance. It is the duty of every London citizen to demand action from the city government to address this scandal promptly and make the streets safely passable.

Please, Mr. Clemens, as a person dedicated to spreading the news far and wide, do all that your prominence allows to see this dangerous and scandalous situation corrected.

Sincerely, your loyal subscriber

Lady Eloisa Harbinger,

Scandal for the Scions of Hawksedge

Dear Readers, The letter below was dated 1294 and sent to us anonymously. We are investigating the authenticity of the letter as I write this week’s column. However, publishing this epistle quickly was an opportunity not to be missed, since the letter contains information that will shake the foundations of one of England’s oldest and most noble family’s.

Dear Friend, I’ve written to you before of the young girl who some years past came to the abbey injured, alone, and unable to speak. We treated her as well as possible, helping her to learn skills that would prove useful should the time ever come when she might need to leave the abbey.

Two days past, she recovered her speech. I was called immediately. The girl, she is a young lady now, confided in me the secret of her identity. ‘Tis a secret which could get her killed, because it would destroy the current Earl of Hawksedge and make a scandal of the title and his family.

I chose to keep this information secret from the Earl despite his visit to witness the miracle of the young lady’s regained speech. The Earl would not tolerate any threat to his title, and I therefore feared for her life. Yet this young woman has done no wrong. Indeed much wrong has been done to her. I helped her to flee from the abbey, to find a home safe from discovery, and the means to earn a living.

But now I hear that the Earl has been found dead in a locked room, and the young woman, we’ll call her Larkin, was discovered wandering the keep shortly before the earl’s death was discovered.

Fortunately the man who found Larkin, Sir Talon Du Quereste, was once a herald for King Edward I, and is therefore completely trustworthy. He will discover the truth of the Earl’s death and whether or not poor Larkin was involved. There is more to the story, my dearest friend. But I dare not put the tale on ink and paper when Larkin’s life stands in the balance. ‘Twould be too easy for my words to be mis-interpreted. Then justice would never be done. I will write again when I can.

With love and affection,

Teresa Marie Clement, Abbess

Our Lady of Sorrows Abbey, Northumbria

Rue Allyn, is a Bluestocking Belle and award winning author of historical romances. You may find Rue on line via her website. Her newest release, The Herald’s Heart, is available for pre-order via this universal buy link or through Amazon. You may read an excerpt from The Herald’s Heart here.

Overheard at Gunters

Dear Readers,

The Teatime Tattler prides itself on bringing you the latest news. This fascinating conversation about an old scandal resurfacing was overheard by our intrepid reporter.

“It was all her fault.” With a superior smile, Lady Samantha Ridgewater lifted a spoonful of raspberry sorbet and popped it into her mouth.

“No, really?” queried her companion, this season’s toast, Miss Cecile Ambrose. “Are you sure?” The fair Miss Ambrose, twirled her spoon in the vanilla ice she’d ordered.

“As certain as I am that I look better in strong colors, like this sorbet, than in the pastels we young ladies are cursed to wear.”

“That much is certainly true. Pastels do your complexion no favors. You should have your maid trim all your outfits in ribbons of dark shades so you still have a strong color near your face.”

“What a splendid idea. I shall give that a try the moment we get home.”

“Now, please tell me how it is that Lady Mary Percival Cummins is at fault for the death of her parents.”

“I shouldn’t gossip.”

“No one will know, and I did tell you how to solve your wardrobe problem.”

“You are a true friend, Cecile. It really is a cautionary tale from which we can all learn a lesson.”

“Then it isn’t gossip at all. You’re passing on wisdom to a friend.”

“It happened when Lady Mary had her come out three years ago.”

“I was still in the schoolroom, but my sister Mavis was out and she told me everything. I don’t recall any mention of Lady Mary or a scandal.”

“That’s because Lady Mary, who was bold as brass, never got to London. She disgraced herself and her family before leaving that backwater where she grew up.”

“She must have done something terrible.”

Lady Samantha leaned forward, “She was found kissing a stable lad shortly after her parents announced her engagement to a local gentleman.”

“Who was the gentleman, and how did this cause her parents deaths?”

“I don’t recall who the man was.” Lady Samantha dismissed him with the wave of a hand. “But her father shot himself the next day.”

“Why in the world would he do that? The shame was his daughter’s.”

“It seems that Lady Mary’s wedding would save the family fortunes which her papa had lost through bad investments. Her mother went into a decline and died a few months later.”

“I’m sorry for the death of Lord and Lady Cummins, but their daughter got everything she deserved. Imagine risking your entire family’s well being for a kiss from some smelly stable lad.”

“That isn’t the worst of it.”

“What more could she have done?”

“When her father passed, his cousin inherited. The new Lord Cummins refused to have such a brazen wench in his home. He cut her hair and threatened to have her whipped at the carts tail if she did not leave. Lady Mary was put out to the road like so much rubbish with only the clothes on her back and not a pence to her name.”

“This was after her parents passed?”

“No, her mother was ill, but still living. I understand the new Lord Cummins allowed the woman to remain at the dower house, but because of her daughter’s reputation he refused to see the mother or speak to her.”

“What happened to Lady Mary?”

“No one knows. At the time speculation had it that she ran off to the former colonies with the stable lad. Other rumors said she’d gone to Scotland and become a whore. I only know that she’s never shown her face in London.”

“She wouldn’t dare.”

One would not thinks so, but a friend of a friend says he saw her at the kitchen door of Haverford House.

Dear Readers,

The above conversation will introduce you to the heroine of my next novella with the Bluestocking Belles. As yet, I have no title for the story, and I am just beginning to discover exactly who Lady Mary Percival Cummins is. By next month, I should know much more about her and the eventual love of her life, Major Lord Arthur Trevor PenRhydderch. Until then, keep reading.

Rue Allyn

Hazardous Carriage Racing on the River

Dear Mr. Clemens

I urge you to print a severe warning to all. With this horrible weather that we have been having it is bad enough that many foolish folk wander out onto the frozen Thames in search of entertainment. All must be aware that several have fallen through the ice to the detriment of their health and for some the loss of their lives. However, even more dangerous than those who traverse the ice are the young bucks who undertake to race their curricles upon the frozen waters.

As evidence of the hazards I provide you this drawing of a typical carriage accident (this one on a road). One can easily imagine the peril of such an encounter on the slippery and fragile surface of the Thames Ice.

Please, sir, urge your readers not to venture onto that treacherous surface for fools abound and those in carriages will cause much damage and sorrow.


A Very Worried Lady.

Scandalous Doings at Dungarob Keep

Dear Mr. Clemens,

Several weeks back you presented your readers with an interview of a member of the infamous MacFearann clan. I read the interview with interest because the man you featured, Caibre MacFearann, spent the winter here. His presence was a mixed blessing, for he managed to bring our Laird, Baron Steafan MacKai, back home. He also managed, and I cannot begin to imagine how, to return the Brother Blade to Clan MacKai. Your readers may not know that the Brother Blade is a legendary sword that represents the close relationship between Clan MacKai and the Earls of Strathnaver. But that’s where the blessings ended.

This horrible man, for everyone knows MacFearann’s are kin to the devil, took shelter under our roof, ate from the MacKai clan’s table, and pretended to have our clan’s best interests at heart, and all the while he was seducing Baron Steafan’s sister, Miss Aisla MacKai. Why our own Mrs. Grogan caught him kissing Miss MacKai. Miss Aisla protested of course that nothing untoward had occurred, but we all know that kisses are only the beginning. And with a MacFearann involved, a kiss is more than enough to ruin our beloved Aisla.

What will become of her, I cannot say. Her brother may be home, but he is very ill and cannot look out for his sister as he should. Someone must step up and compel the nefarious MacFearann to do the right thing. It is my hope that exposing his devious seductions will result in MacFearann offering for her hand so that Miss Aisla’s good name is restored. Public opinion is a strong force, and is desperately needed in this case. I beg you and your readers to demand Caibre MacFearann take the appropriate action and make an honest woman of Aisla MacKai,

A concerned member of Clan MacKai

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