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Category: Regency (19th century Britain) (Page 1 of 7)

Musings of a Motley Meddler: Complicated Stuff. Wink. Wink.

5 January 1815
Bath, England

Dear Interested Parties,

Today’s Topic: Classical Mechanics or the Magic of Numbers. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure which.

It is with great honor that I announce that none other than the reclusive Dr. John Edward Hartwell has agreed to give a lecture on Mathematics and Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Classical Mechanics as well as discuss his own theories, recently printed, with regards to chaotic tendencies in orderly systems, at my home near Bath on Monday the 9th of January.

Perhaps, after I attend his lecture, I will understand what, precisely, all that means.

In the meantime, my guests and I await with baited breath, the arrival of our mysterious genius. Never fear, dear readers, for you will be the first to hear all the delicious details regarding this elusive man. Here. In the Teatime Tattler.

My Umbrella is at the ready.

Signed,

Lady Harriett Ross
—Self-proclaimed Matchmaking Motley Meddler
—Mistress of Destiny
—Wielder of the Infamous Umbrella

Bloomfield Place
Bath, England

I’m just an old woman with opinions. On everything.

Editor’s Note:

  1. More Information to follow as Lady Harriett Ross and author Amy Quinton reveal more of what’s to come in the 3rd Installment of the Umbrella Chronicles: John and Emma’s story. Due in time for Valentine’s Day, February 2019.
  2. The image is an engraving of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), English scientist and mathematician. It captures the story of Newton’s dog, Diamond, who once knocked over a candle while Newton was out of the room, causing the papers piled on Newton’s desk to catch fire. Those papers contained some pretty important information – they were filled with calculations which had taken him twenty years to make! Upon finding nothing but ashes remained of all his hard work, he cried, “Oh, Diamond! Diamond! Thou little knowest what mischief thou hast done!”

 

Pandora’s Box

32 Leicester Square

London

10 April 1806

“There is a young lady to see you, miss. I believe she gave her name as Miss Fallon.”

“Frederica? She must have finished early at the modiste’s, then. I’ll go down, Brown.” Cornelia placed a ribbon in the book she was reading and placed it on the table next to her. “The blue parlor?”

“Yes, miss.” He held the door open for her as she sprang up and dashed through the door before she recalled her mother’s warnings and slowed her pace No need to rush. Ladies carry themselves with dignity and grace at all times. 

Ladylike behavior did not come naturally to her. From the day she was born she was her papa’s favorite, and the two of them had romped and sported together everywhere, even after her brother was born. At least whenever he was home, which wasn’t often, seeing that he was a naval officer. After she turned sixteen, however, her mother had taken her in hand and set about transforming her hoyden daughter into a young lady, and Cornelia complied, reluctantly at first, but with time and maturity, she settled peacefully into young womanhood.

Her descent down the stairs was far from ladylike, however. When she reached the landing, a door opened and her friend rushed to embrace her.

“Cornelia! Wait until you see it! It’s the most beautiful gown that ever was!”

“Did you bring it?” Cornelia glanced around in search of a dress box.

Frederica shook her head. “No, there are minor alterations to be done, but Miss Gill promised it would be delivered tomorrow. It’s white crape over white satin, with rows of pearls on the bodice. You must come over and see me in it. Mama says it becomes me well.” She clutched at Cornelia’s arm. “But what about yours? It came yesterday, did it not?”

Cornelia grinned. “Indeed it did. Come up and I’ll show you. Mine is the very lightest peach color. I wished for coquelicot, but Mama said it was too dark for a girl my age.”

Frederica’s eyes sparkled. “We two shall be the belles of the ball.”

Cornelia smiled. “At our own balls, I should hope. I should not like to be a wallflower at my own presentation ball.”

The two girls made their way upstairs to Cornelia’s bedchamber, and Cornelia opened the door of her wardrobe and sifted through the garments. “That’s odd. It was here this morning. Norton!”

A short time later, her maid appeared. “Yes, Miss Hardcastle?”

“My gown. The peach one? It’s not here.”

“Oh yes. I believe your mother has it. She had some lace and ribbon she wanted to match with it.” Her eyes narrowed. “I laid it out on her bed. But then she had to go out…”

“Very well. Come, Freddy. We shall go there to find it.”

Frederica hesitated. “She won’t mind?”

Already out the door, Cornelia threw back. “Of course not. I do it all the time.”

Well, that wasn’t strictly true. She might be sent to her mother’s room to fetch something, but she didn’t usually go in there by herself when her mother was not present. But her mama wasn’t the sort to take exception to such things, and seeing as it was Cornelia’s own gown they wished to see, it seemed only natural that they go there to find it.

The gown was a peach crape robe over white satin, with long sleeves ornamented with simple bows of ribbon and pearls crossing the bodice. 

Freddie’s mouth formed an O. 

“You must see it on. It truly does become me. Undo my dress, if you please.”

Cornelia turned her back, and soon the two of them had her day dress off and began to slide the elegant gown over her head. But before the operation was completed, there were footsteps down the hall and Freddie jerked at just the wrong time, sending Cornelia crashing into her mother’s nightstand. 

The footsteps continued on past.

“The dress!”

Freddie rushed to pull it off so they could assess the damage. Other than a few wrinkles, it appeared to be unharmed. Cornelia let out a huge breath, and turned to right the nightstand that had been knocked over in the shuffle and replace the items that had spilled out from the drawer. Her eyes lit on the pages of a small brown book that had opened. The writing was her mother’s, and it was dated about the time her parents had met, when her father’s ship had taken on French royalists being pursued by the vicious Republican army, and they had fallen in love at first sight. 

“What is that?”

Cornelia picked it up and turned the pages. “My mother’s journal. I never knew she had one.”

A pale Freddie made a move to take it from her, but Cornelia waved her away. “I know. I should not read it. But I’ve always been curious… Was it fate that they met, or mere coincidence? I should like to know more. Mama doesn’t talk about that time much, at least not before they were married.”

Freddie shook her head. “There must be a reason for that, Cornelia. Put the journal back in the drawer and let’s get out of this place. I have a bad feeling about it. And your mother could return at any moment.”

Cornelia grimaced and reluctantly returned the book to the drawer. 

But she couldn’t stop thinking about it. It haunted her thoughts for several days until she couldn’t bear it any longer. She had to read that book. And as soon as the opportunity presented itself, she did.

And that’s when her world exploded. If only she had not read the journal. But now that she had… nothing would ever be the same.

About The Marriage Obligation

Confirmed spinster meets thrill-seeking former British spy. A match made in heaven?

At eighteen years old, Cornelia Hardcastle discovered an ugly family secret that caused her to decide against ever marrying. Now that she’s reached the age of twenty-four, her parents have decided it’s time for her to marry. The sooner the better.
The second son of a viscount, Preston Warrington has always been content to leave the estate business to his older brother so that he could follow his penchant for adventure. Now that he has returned home from his service to the Crown as a spy, however, his family has decreed that he must marry and settle down.
The notorious Marriage Maker suggests that these two marriage-averse individuals should marry each other, and after the initial shock, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Little does anyone know that their whirlwind courtship and marriage is not what it seems.
The book releases July 31st. Pre-order available now.

A Kidnap Threat To The Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples!

Despatches from Palermo (1810)
by Lord William Bentinck, English Ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples

Lord William Bentinck, pictured here as Captain in a portrait painted by George Romney. William Bentinck was ambassador to the Kingdom of Two Naples 1812-1816

My dear Lord Chamberlain,
I enclose this letter to you privately, so it will not appear in official correspondence.

I find myself the subject of a most extraordinary plot – one of kidnap on the high seas.

As you know, I have entered delicate negotiations with the Bey of Tunis for the release of more than three hundred Sicilians who were forcibly abducted from their home by the corsairs of the Barbary Coast.

Not only is it a matter of justice, but freeing of these unfortunate souls would also build immeasurable goodwill among the people whose interest I am trying to further with my reforms.

So far, standard diplomatic tactics have proved fruitless with the Bey. I don’t know if you are familiar with this culture but it appears to be the custom for the all the promises in the world to be made but when it comes time to deliver, it is a never ending litany of excuses.

With Napoleon’s Empire at my back in Naples and the Barbary Coast Pirates at my front, it is no easy task set before me. You know of my penchant to follow my intuition and I have done so once again with two young men.

Let’s hope Captain Hardacre can deal with the captured French Frigate in a less spectacular manner.

Captain Christopher Hardacre is an Englishman who runs a merchant vessel out of Palermo. He’s come to me with the most extraordinary tale. It seems one of the pirates has acquired a French frigate and he harbours ambitions to abduct me and my wife and hold us for ransom.

It sounded like a ravings of a mad man – and I have to confess that if was just his testimony alone I’d ignore it, but in Hardacre’s favour is one of his men, an African by the name of Jonathan Afua who I’ve come to learn is a son of one of Ethiopia’s most aristocratic families. He strikes me as being a much more steady character than his captain. It is his grave assessment I’ve learned to trust.

As for the abduction threat, Hardacre has hatched an audacious plan to keep me safe in exchange for the claiming the French frigate for himself as spoils.

Whether Hardacre succeeds or not is immaterial as I have appraised Admiral Freemantle who has agreed that the next meeting with the Bey of Tunis should be done as a show of force so we will be arriving in Tunisia with a fleet that also contains the flagship The Milford.

I’ll write when I have more news,

William

 

Excerpt

Shadow of the Corsairs

Bagrada

Shadow of the Corsairs – out June 26 2018 – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DM9VJ5Z

Jonathan’s stomach soured.

Even though it had been more than a year since his captivity there, the very sound of its name reminded him there was work still to finish, a past that could not draw to a close until he had answers.

“Bagrada. Are you sure?” Elias asked. “We’ve sailed by several times over the past six months and there’s no noteworthy activity there.”

Hardacre looked up from the map of the Tunisian coastline. “Sharrouf is certain.”

Elias snorted and folded his arms. “I think you put too much stock in what that man says. He’s a snake, Kit, and he’s not to be trusted.”

“I never said he was to be trusted. He might very well hate Kaddouri as much as we do. But so long as he is a member of the inner circle, then he is useful to us.”

“Unless Kaddouri is using him to lure us into a trap,” countered the first officer. “We’ve stopped three of his raids over the past twelve months and helped free more than a hundred enslaved souls. He’d be just as keen to see the end of us.”

Jonathan shook his head. Kit and Elias bickered like he and his older brother used to. It was time for him to step in.

“What’s Sharrouf getting in exchange for telling you the location of Kaddouri’s fleet?” he asked.

“Information here and there to help with something.”

“Which is?”

“Kidnapping Lord William Bentinck.”

“You jest!”

Hardacre said nothing for a moment. The upturn of his lip was trouble, Jonathan knew that, and so did Elias who turned away with an exaggerated groan.

“Go on,” said Jonathan. “Tell us the whole thing before you make Elias’ head explode.”

“I might not have been completely honest with Sharrouf,” Hardacre confessed. This time, both ends of his mouth lifted and there was a twinkle of manic glee in his eyes. “I told him Bentinck plans another trip to Tunis to petition for the release of the Sicilian slaves, but I neglected to tell him Bentinck’s going with a show of strength instead of taking one ship with a single escort. Accompanying The Milford will be a dozen heavily-armed ships from the Royal Navy.”

“And both Bentinck and Admiral Fremantle know to expect an attack,” Jonathan concluded. “That’s a good plan. What makes you sure Kaddouri will take the bait?”

“Oh, he will. Sharrouf has told me he’s just managed to acquire a double gunned frigate.”

Elias rocked back on his feet. “How has he managed to get one of those? That would carry almost as much firepower as The Milford.”

I only sought a lady’s maid… and now this…

Such goings-on in the manor of Lord and Lady M–!

I had it from Lady M– herself!

A faint rapping came upon the door. The soft voice of Emma, the parlour maid, followed. “My Lady?”

“Enter,” I called.

Emma entered and curtsied to me. “Pardon me, My Lady, but the young woman is here about the position. Would you like to see her in the morning room?”

“Yes, thank you. I’ll be there presently.” With a sigh, I stood from my seat at the desk and stretched, glancing around my bedroom with a wince. Dresses, chemises, ribbons seemed to have strewn themselves over every available surface. I was sorry for Hannah, my maid, but she truly was not well, and the trip away with her daughter would do her the world of good. I desperately needed a lady’s maid.

Never mind, perhaps this one will be suitable.

I straightened my bodice and patted my hair back into position. Earlier this morning, Emma had tried her best with my coiffure, but she had never been trained as a lady’s maid.

C’est la vie.

My husband Lord M—’s ancestors frowned down from their portraits at the picture I must make with my less than salubrious attire, but I was, indeed, trying to remedy that situation this morning.

Emma stood beside the closed door to the morning room, curtsied and opened it. I entered, and the portal clicked closed behind me.

The girl, dressed in a tidy shirt and skirt, stood beside the fire in the grate, her pelisse over her arm. She curtsied, then looked directly at me, which I found refreshing.

“Good morning, and you would be Rachael,” I said, as I seated myself in one of the comfortable French chairs.

“Yes, My Lady. Good morning to you. Thank you for seeing me today.”

“Mmm. You understand I seek a lady’s maid. Have you a character?”

She handed over the single sheet of paper, folded and sealed. I glanced at the seal. Sutherland, no less.

“And what was your position at Sutherland’s?”

“If it pleases you, My Lady, I was a parlour maid there, but me mum trained me to be a lady’s maid since I was young.” She dropped her eyes to her wool-lined pelisse and the fingers of one hand crushed her carefully pleated skirt as she stood waiting for my next question.

“And you do not wish to continue as a parlour maid?”

She swallowed hard and looked back at me. “No, if it pleases you. I wish to better myself, to honour the memory of my mother.”

“You’re well-spoken. Your mother’s doing?”

She nodded. “Yes, My Lady.”

“And why do you wish to leave the employ of the Sutherlands?”

She took a deep breath and tightened her jaw. She finally answered. “Do you wish to hear the acceptable answer to that question or the truth?”

I smiled at her. The girl had gumption. “I appreciate being given the choice,” I said, with a wry grin. “The truth, please. Always.”

“It’s to be the truth, then.” She tightened her jaw for a moment. “I’d aspired to the position of lady’s maid there, but one young Master Sutherland… he was a bit free with his hands on more than one occasion, and… well, luckily, I was blessed to be holding a hot warming pan in mine, and… no one was injured, but the noise was tremendous.” Her lips twitched, but she kept a straight face. “Several other servants rushed to the room. I escaped and stayed as far away as possible from the young master. Fortunately, or unfortunately,” the girl looked down at me with a grimace, “on the same day, a young girl from the estate, Sofia, came into service as a tweenie.” She looked at me again, her brow wrinkled.

“Go on, please,” I said.

“Not only has her whole family been sent out to the coast in the Clearances, but Sofia was waiting for her young Robert, the son of the old Tacksman, and the love of her life, to return from his military service, but, well, things have gone badly for the young miss. Very badly. I know it is just a matter of time before…. well, before she is dismissed… and then his attentions could return to me. I’m a good girl and don’t want to go that way, if it pleases you, My Lady.”

I frowned at the character in my hands, as yet unopened.

Was there any point opening it?

 

Author’s note:

For those of you who have read the first book in The Long Trails series, A Long Trail Rolling, this is the first of Scotty’s stories. As you may remember, Scotty is the trading post proprietor in A Long Trail Rolling, my award winning debut novel. Scotty’s real name is Robert, not Scotty, but you’ll have to read the as-yet unwritten books to find out the reasons he changed his name!

I invite you to wait to hear the rest of Scotty and Sophia’s story in the boxed set by the Bluestocking Belles, coming later this year!

Meanwhile, check out my other books on my website!

Thanks so much for coming by today!

xx

Lizzi Tremayne

 

About Lizzi

Lizzi is one of the newest Bluestocking Belles!

Lizzi grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and practiced in the Gold and Pony Express Country of California before emigrating to New Zealand.

Busy raising two boys, farming, and running her own equine veterinary practice, she never thought she’d sit down long enough to write more than an article. A serious injury, however, changed all that, and planted her in one place long enough to jump-start her new career as an author!

With Lizzi’s debut historical romance, A Long Trail Rolling, she was: Finalist 2013 RWNZ Great Beginnings; Winner 2014 RWNZ Pacific Hearts Award for the best unpublished full manuscript; Winner 2015 RWNZ Koru Award for Best First Novel and third in the 2015 RWNZ Koru Long Novel section; and Finalist, 2015 Best Indie Book Award. Her newest novels and novellas, all released in 2017, are currently entered in more contests, and she’s working on her next novel!

When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding or driving a carriage, playing in the garden on her hobby farm, singing, cooking, practicing as an equine veterinarian or teaching high school science. She is multiply published and awarded in special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.

Lizzi is new to the Belles, but she’s loving the friendships she’s already developing with the rest of the ladies. She adores how they’re so progressive, organized, and fun. Best of all, they are all willing to put themselves out there, together, to achieve more, create more, than would be possible going it alone.

Lizzi loves to connect with her readers!

You can learn more about Lizzi and her books here or on these social media sites:

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An Interview with Mrs. Barlow

Susana’s time-traveling Regency lady, Lady Pendleton, came down with a stomach ailment and was unable to travel to Oxfordshire to complete the series of interviews she agreed to before returning to the 21st century. (Prior to that, however, she did manage to interview Jane Livingston the hero’s sister, while they were both enjoying the Little Season in London.) And she somehow contrived to send Mrs. Barlow, Lucy’s mother, to Susana at her winter home in Florida for a brief interview. Susana is determined that someday she’s going to find out how Lady P manages to do these things.

Susana: Welcome to Florida, Mrs. Barlow. I hope you enjoy your stay. May I offer you some refreshments?

Mrs. Barlow: [looking around her in wonder] No thank you, Miss Ellis. My stomach is still a bit queasy from the journey.

Susana: Oh dear, I hope you are not coming down with the same ailment that has sidelined my friend Lady Pendleton.

Mrs. Barlow: Lady Pendleton? Oh yes, the woman who sent me here. She’s a bit-er-eccentric, is she not?

Susana: [hiding a smile] Indeed she is, Mrs. Barlow. But kindhearted and quite harmless, really.

Mrs. Barlow: [looking relieved] I’m glad to hear it, Miss Ellis. This is all quite a shock, you know. She said you wished to inquire about my daughter Lucy?

Susana: Er, yes. It’s research for a story I’m writing. I understand you have five daughters?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing] Indeed I do. Five daughters to marry off and no sons.

Susana: And Lucy is the eldest?

Mrs. Barlow: Yes, she is already eight and ten years of age and of an age to make her bow to Society, but unfortunately, her father and I have not the means to stake her. [Shaking her head] A house in London with servants is enormously expensive. We cannot even stand the cost of providing her with a suitable wardrobe. [Sighing] It is very sad, really. Lucy is a delightful girl who would be a splendid wife, but there are few eligible gentlemen here in Charlbury.

Susana: I understand the young man next door recently returned from service in the Peninsula. Livingston, I believe. Andrew Livingston. Could he be a prospect, do you think?

Mrs. Barlow: [Sighing deeply] No, unfortunately he’s betrothed to some London chit. Since before he took up his colors two years ago. I suppose they’ll be marrying posthaste now that he’s returned. A shame really, because Lucy has always had a tendre for him. The Livingstons are an unexceptionable family and quite well-to-heel, and it would be a great thing if Lucy were to be settled so near, but no, he’s never seen Lucy as anything but a child.

Susana: What a conundrum! Are there no other ways for young ladies to meet eligible gentlemen in the country?

Mrs. Barlow: Occasionally, someone’s cousin or nephew comes to town for a visit, but there are few eligibles in that lot. There are assemblies, of course. Oh, that reminds me. [Perking up] There was a quite agreeable viscount at the last assembly who seemed quite taken with Lucy. He danced twice with her. Perhaps he will come to call soon. Oh my, that would be a marvelous thing for my girls! To have their sister a viscountess who can sponsor them in London when the time comes! I must urge Lucy to encourage him!

Susana: Was she equally taken with him, then?

Mrs. Barlow: [shrugging] These things resolve themselves over time. I don’t believe she was repulsed by him. He looked well enough, for an older gentleman, and his manners were unexceptionable. It is said that he was a considerate husband to his late wife, and seems to be devoted to his three daughters.

Susana: Oh, he’s a widower. No doubt looking for a mother for his daughters.

Mrs. Barlow: And an heir, of course. He still needs a son to inherit the title, and Lucy is young enough to manage that.

Susana: [Doubtfully] I suppose so, and yet—one could wish a love match for her.

Mrs. Barlow: [Stiffening] Lucy is a practical girl, and not at all the sort to waste time dreaming of the impossible. She will make a wonderful wife and mother and take great pleasure in using her elevated circumstances to assist her sisters.

Susana: I’m sure she will, Mrs. Barlow. I did not mean to imply otherwise. Please forgive me if I offended you.

Mrs. Barlow: [Relaxing] Of course. I’m afraid this is a topic about which Mr. Barlow and I frequently cross swords. He says Lucy is still young and will find her own way. But he’s never been the most practical man, and I suspect he’d be just as glad to have all of them at home with us forever.

Susana: An indulgent father then. [Glances at the clock]. Oh dear, it’s almost time for our visit to end. I wonder if you’d like to take a walk around the park, Mrs. Barlow. It’s such a lovely day, and you might enjoy the flora and fauna here in central Florida. Perhaps we’ll even see an alligator in the lake.

Mrs. Barlow: An alligator! Goodness!

Susana: From a distance, of course. But there are palm trees and snake birds, and plenty of sun to warm you before you go back to chilly England

Mrs. Barlow: [shivering] Chilly indeed! The weather has been exceptionally cold this year. By all means, let us walk a bit in the sunshine.

And so ends the interview. It may interest you to know that the winter of 1813-1814, when A Twelfth Night Tale takes place, was one of the coldest on record, so much so that in February the Thames froze and a frost fair was held for four days, during which an elephant was led across the river under Blackfriars Bridge.

Leah Barlow

Introducing Mrs. Barlow

Mrs. Leah Barlow, mother of five lovely daughters herself, has graciously condescended to provide Susana’s Parlour (see today’s post here) with some of her tasteful advisements on housewifely matters, such as meal planning and the rearing of children, in hopes that our readers will find them informative. Having recently set up a Twitter account where she will be sharing her most treasured household tips, she hopes many of you will follow her: https://twitter.com/lucybarlowsmom

Much of her advice comes from this manual, which she insists should be in every housewife’s possession:

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual, Containing the Most approved Modern Receipts for Making Soups, Gravies, Sauces, Regouts, and All Made-dishes; and for Pies, Puddings, Pickles, and Preserves; Also, for Baking Brewing, Making Home-made Wines, Cordials, &c.

Mrs. Margaret Dods (Christian Isobel Johnstone), Edinburgh, 1826

Available free on Google

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Without dowries or the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. When Lucy, the eldest, attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, she knows she should encourage his attentions, since marriage to a peer will be advantageous to all. The man of her dreams was Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and now he’s betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to accept reality… and Lord Bexley.

Andrew returned from the Peninsular War with a lame arm and emotional scars. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend, “little Lucy”—now a strikingly lovely young woman—who shows him the way out of his melancholy. But with an eligible viscount courting her, Andrew will need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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