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Author: Rue Allyn Page 1 of 8

Overheard in a Parlor

Dateline late March

Gentle Readers,

To protect our reporter from reprisals, we dare not reveal the source of the conversation related below. However, we can tell you that our intrepid employee is safely away from Stonegreave Priory, where the conversation occurred and is hot on the trail of the nefarious person under the protection of Her Grace of S.

“My dear Marielle, you cannot possibly expect me to chaperone a person you yourself suspect of underhanded dealings and lax morality.” Miss Verity Walford protested.

“Verity, I understand your reluctance.” Her Grace handed her friend and protégé a cup of tea. “However, I owe this young woman a debt of gratitude. Her quick thinking saved my life and others when Richard and I were at Fontainbleau last April to rescue my cousin.” The duchess grimaced and pressed a hand to her swollen belly.

Verity put her tea aside. “Are you well? Should I call for the doctor? Richard?”

“No, thank you.” Her Grace released a long breath. “It is just the baby kicking. He or she delights in disturbing my peace at every opportunity, and I understand this is just the beginning. Disturbed peace is normal, I hear, when a household includes children.”

“If you say all is well, I believe you. You’ve never been a fool about your health.” Verity sipped her tea. “As for children and lack of peace, being an only child and a spinster, I could not say.”

“And I would not expect it of you, although I do hope someday you will find the kind of love Richard and I have.”

“The two of you are to be envied.”

Her Grace of S.

Her Grace picked up her cup and took a cautious sip. “Quite possibly, but we owe our lives and our happiness to the young woman I wish you to chaperone. Esme is quite unusual, and I suspect you would be best off not to question her too deeply about her actions or her background.”

“Such a warning makes me even more reluctant to do this little favor for you.”

The duchess leaned forward and took Verity’s hand. “You must. It is obvious that in my condition I cannot, and were I not enceinte, I would not cause Richard to worry by attempting to aid Esme. If you cannot, I will have to hire a stranger, whom I could not possibly trust as much as you.”

“Very well, since I’ve nothing of import on my calendar for the next two months, I will help you.”

“Excellent.” Her Grace’s face glowed. “She’ll be traveling under the name Eugenia Fynlock and will meet you at The Queen’s Barque Inn of Fenwick on Sea.”

The Queen’s Barque Inn

Verity’s brows rose. “Why such a backwater? Won’t two strange women draw attention in such a place?”

“I cannot say why that particular inn and town were chosen, but that is the information I received. I will cover your expenses, of course, and provide you with transport both to and from Fenwick on Sea. You’ll be bringing Esme back to me for a visit.”

“Then I hope I like this unusual young woman. Sharing a room with a stranger for three or four days is stressful enough. Add in a journey of the time from here to the coast, and we would both be miserable, if we cannot become friends.”

“Even if you cannot like her tremendously as I do,” the duchess said. “You will find her highly entertaining. Now ring for a maid, please. I find I tire easily and need a nap before dinner.”

“Certainly.” Miss Walford put action to words then returned to her seat. “When do you think I should leave for Fenwick on Sea?”

“Within the week. As long as the winds are favorable, Esme expects to arrive at the village no later than March 31st.”

“Favorable winds? Is she arriving by sea?”

“Oh dear. Please forget I said that. The less you know about Esme, the better.”

At which point our reporter was compelled to depart the premises, having learned all that could be learned about the mysterious Miss Eugenia Fynlock—or whatever the woman’s name might be. We can only speculate at this time what sort of person might have a duchess in her debt and be visiting an out of the way corner of England such as Fenwick on Sea let alone be in need of a chaperone.

Dear readers, look for more information on this intriguing tidbit. Our reporter will be writing from Fenwick on Sea and dishing out all the dirt—so to speak—that may be found in such a place.

About Storm & Shelter: When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel. One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

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Interview with a Pirate

Dear Readers,

We have a treat for you. One of our reporters was able to secure an interview with the infamous pirate, Irish Red. Because of the interview format, the article is a bit lengthy. We hope you will read the entire piece for we anticipate interviewing a hero of the Royal Navy for contrastive purposes. As always we appreciate your time and support.

Samuel Clemens

Tattler:  So, Miss . . . uhm . . . Red, how does one normally address a pirate?

Miss Red: Mr., Mrs., or Miss, depending on one’s marital status is usual. However, I must remind you that I am not a pirate.

Tattler: Ah, my apologies. However, according to a spokesperson from His Majesty’s Royal Navy you “habitually, without authority and by violence sieze or interfere with ships and property of others on the sea.”

Miss Red: “The spokesperson is incorrect. I have letters of marque from the United States which permit me to attack and subdue any ship perceived as an enemy to that country—specifically the ships of Britain and her allies.”

Tattler:  Have you those letters of Marque with you?

Miss Red: I did not imagine I would need them for an interview. You’ll have to accept my word.

Tattler: Tattler: (aside to our readers) I doubt very much that anyone would take the word of a person reputed to be a pirate. (To Miss Red) I return to the question of correct address for persons in your profession?

Miss Red sighing heavily: In formal situations such as this interview you may address me as Miss Red.

Tattler, chuckling: Oh come now, surely your surname is not ‘Red.’

Miss Red: Believe what you like, but address me as Miss Red, please.

Tattler: As you wish. Miss Red, how did you come to Captain the ship Erie Mist.

Miss Red: My adoptive father was Captain before me. He taught me his trade, and when he passed I became Captain.

Tattler: It is unusual for ship’s captain to be a woman.

Miss Red: Unusual yes but not unheard of. In the past century there have been more than nine women who distinguished themselves as ship’s Captains. Anne Bonny and Mary Read come immediately to mind.

Tattler: I’ve heard of them, but were they not pirates?

Miss Red: That is how history has labeled them. However, history is written by men. I firmly believe these brave sailors were vilified because they were women who excelled in a profession dominated by men. The myth that women bring bad luck aboard ship is also perpetuated to suppress the wishes of women who long to captain ships.

Tattler: Those are fascinating beliefs, Miss Red, but difficult to prove.

Miss Red: I need not prove my personal beliefs. What you think of them is a different matter and of no great import to me.

Tattler: Really. Then tell us please, what is of import to you?

Miss Red: God, family, country, truth and justice.

Tattler: You do not mention love of a man and woman for each other, which is of great interest to many women.

Miss Red: I have not encountered such, and so cannot comment on it.

Tattler: Hmmm. Please recount one of your more interesting adventures for us.

Miss Red: That may take some time. And most of my ship’s encounters are rather boring.

Tattler: This interview will be presented in print, Miss Red. Our readers enjoy having as much of the story as possible.

Miss Red: One incident sticks in my memory. During the recent war between Britain and the United States, the Erie Mist came upon the Wanderer—a British ship of the line, carrying troops to New Orleans in the Louisiana territory.

The Wanderer had us outgunned by about ten guns and was much larger. Size worked to our advantage in the battle. We outmaneuvered the Wanderer and were able to land a number of shots that destroyed its main mast and started fire in its powder magazine. When the magazine finally exploded, a number of the Wanderer’s crew were killed. We took on all survivors. Their leader—I believe the man was a Lieutenant chose to fight. He was attempting to overtake the Erie Mist. He and his crewmen were defeated. Many privateers in my situation might have hung the entire lot. I gave those men the opportunity to swear allegiance to me and join my crew, or be stranded.

Tattler: Did all of them accept your offer?

Miss Red: Many of the conscripted sailors did. Those ‘regular’ sailors and all the officers elected to be stranded.

Tattler: That was generous of you, to leave your enemy alive. Did you not fear reprisals once they were rescued?”

Miss Red: The ocean is a large place. While repeated encounters with the same ship are possible when at sea, they are not common. Any reprisals would come when the Erie Mist is docked. Fighting on land is very different than on ship. There is usually some place to escape to if the fight does not go well.

Tattler: So you would turn coward and run away if you thought you were losing the battle?

Miss Red: Hardly. Seamen, regardless of rank, are highly skilled fighters and will battle to the final breath.

Tattler: How would you rate your crew?

Miss Red: The best on the seas or on land.

Tattler: And they are loyal?
Miss Red: Because I treat them fairly, yes. Most mutinies come about because the captain or his representatives cheat and lie to the crew as well as employ extreme cruelty for small infractions. Now I regret I must leave. I have another engagement at some distance to the north and must be on my way.

Tattler: You have been a fount of information about non-naval shipboard life and thinking. Thank you for permitting us this interview.

Irish Red is the alter ego of my heroine in Wait for Me, a novella that is part of the Bluestocking Belles’ boxset Storm & Shelter, currently available for pre-order.

About Storm & Shelter: When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.

One storm, eight authors, eight heartwarming novellas.

Pirates Terrorize British Mariners Again

Dear Readers,

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Numerous sources report to The Teatime Tattler of dangerous criminals roaming the once peaceful waters of the Caribbean Sea. Piracy was at its height nearly one hundred years ago. However, a resurgence of this foul trade has occurred giving rise to murderous characters such as Jean LaFitte, Robert Cofresi, and the infamous Irish Red. Why? Why is the Royal Navy not doing more to protect British Citizens.

One lady wrote of her recent travels/travails to a relative. “I was in fear for my life when the captain of our merchantman surrendered his vessel to this scurrilous pirate with little more than two shots fired—and those by the pirate ship. In our captain’s defense, he had very little in the way of armament. Attempting to battle with the criminal crew could well have sunk our little ship. I must thank God that the pirates took only our valuables and the cargo, leaving us with our lives and the clothing on our backs. The kindness of the residents of Jamaica—when we at last made that harbor—is unparalleled in my experience. Nonetheless, I pray that I never encounter another pirate as long as I live.”

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

A second voyager wrote The Tattler directly. “Because I witnessed a filthy pirate crew murdering any innocent who opposed them, II cannot state this warning strongly enough. DO NOT travel to the Caribbean or any of the British West Indies. Not until the Royal Navy is no longer battling the former colonies and is recovered from losses taken in defeating Napoleon.

We must pray that the treaty negotiations beginning in Ghent conclude swiftly and successfully, so that Royal Naval vessels can once again hunt down and erase the scourge of piracy from the sea.

A note from Rue Allyn. Friends, this week’s Tattler article is based on research done for “Wait for Me,” my contribution to The Bluestocking Belles’ next box set, Storm & Shelter, debuting on April 13 2021. I was so fascinated by what my research uncovered that I decided to continue the adventures of Brandon and Esme from “Wait for Me” and expand their story into a full length novel tentatively titled The Pirate Duchess. You’ll be hearing more about Brandon and Esme in the weeks leading up to release day. For now, if you are interested in more about Storm & Shelter follow these links: Excerpts Pre-Order.

*Other than the cover art for Storm & Shelter, all images in this post are from Wikipedia articles about Pirates and Treaty of Ghent.

National Scandal

Dear Editor,

I wish to alert your readership to a scandalous situation occurring in Wiltshire as I write. The London to Bristol road—much used by our military during the hostilities—has suffered a great degree of damage from the demands for rapid delivery of armaments and troops from the West of England to the Capitol and beyond.

Stock image from Tattler files

I cannot describe the number of serious accidents that have occurred with increasing frequency. From personal experience, I can relate that ruts as deep as ditches wander the road in all directions, causing all sorts of mayhem. I myself was so badly tossed about when traveling to my cousin in Chippenham that I was unable to walk for a week after arriving. My daughter-in-law suffered the deep embarrassment and pain of being forced to deliver my grandchild at the side of the road, when driving conditions became so terrible as to make forward progress impossible. Our local newspapers are filled with tales of businesses and even schools that are forced to close because of the poor condition of the road.

Now I have learned that a dastardly plot is afoot to prevent the much needed repairs. Several months ago, when the Corsican Monster was finally defeated, a proposal was made in Parliament to spend monies no longer needed for war on improving the roads between London and Bristol. These turnpikes have needed improvement since before the turn of the century. However, any monies available for such necessary improvements was diverted to our military efforts in more than ten years of war with France.

The MP for Wiltshire has made a valiant effort to see success for the proposal to allot national funding to aid the various turnpike trusts with direly needed improvements. Most of these trusts are as impoverished as the general citizenry of Wiltshire. Else I am certain that improvements would have been made promptly.

However, I digress, despite all the efforts of our MP to see that right is done, the proposed allotment has been diverted to fund another canal. Another canal is not needed. This diversion is simply an attempt by coal companies and barge owners to line their pockets at the expense of the good citizens of Wiltshire.

Worse yet is the financial speculation that the government has allowed for what are clearly spurious canal companies. I have it on good authority that Lord L W. and Earl F—among many others—are deeply involved in speculative investments in the canal companies. No doubt in an attempt to repair the fortunes they each lost to gambling and extravagance.

This cannot be allowed to continue. I urge you, sir, and your entire readership to protest most vociferously to Parliament against allotment of funds for mere speculation when British citizens are suffering.

Most Respectfully Yours

Lady R. N.

Dear fans of The Teatime Tattler, I wrote this fictional letter as I began research for a new novel involving a lady engineer and the man she comes to love. I am still in the midst of drafting The Pirate Duchess, so this new book is a year or so in the future, but I enjoy sharing the possibilities inspired by research. The images and factual information that this letter is based on come from Wikipedia and Shutterstock. Thank you very much for reading,

Quaint American Custom Has Religious Foundation

Dear Readers,

One of our correspondents, Mrs. B-W, has been visiting relatives in the city of Boston in the former colonies. She sends us this fascinating tidbit about a local tradition.

Dear Mr. Clemens,

I have very much enjoyed my visit with my American cousins. Boston is a lovely and propsperous town with a cultured society such as I never would have expected. We’ve had no end of balls, routs, salons, concerts and informative lectures. Politics is much discussed, and Bostonians do not hesitate to express their opinions and argue when they differ. Such contention did not prepare me for the custom of Thanksgiving Day. A day that celebrates the good fortune and blessings bestowed by God upon the former colonies.

When I first heard of the event, my cousin expressed surprise that I did not know of it and gave me some of the writings from my ancestor, one William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation. I found these texts informative not just of the celebration, but of an American cultural element no usually seen by English visitors. Mr. Bradford describes the inciting events for this Thanksgiving celebration as follows. words follow:

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.[27]

And afterward the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with the interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving … By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty … for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had … pretty well … so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day.[35]

It would seem to me, Mr. Clemens and dear readers that such a celebration is well worthy of emulation. I hope to have more historical items of interest to pass along in the future.

Respectfully,

Mrs. B-W

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