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Tag: 17th century historical fiction

Storm Chasers are Coming!

Have I got a story for you, my dear readers. Over here at the Teatime Tattler the ladies are a buzz. We’re excited to tell you about an event you will not want to miss. Storm Chasers are coming to Wentworth Hall, I tell you. What are Storm Chasers you ask? All I can say at this time is they’re very much what you might already be thinking. However, I’ve been warned by none other than the Prince Regent himself not to reveal a word to anyone. I’m taking his warning serious. However, what I can tell you is that everything you may be curious to know about can be found inside the pages of Storm Chasers of Wentworth Hall.

Yes. Your vision is not impaired. That is a hot air balloon. It’s no secret that this correspondent was more than a little concerned when this particular on dit was first revealed. After a fair amount of research, believe it or not, there are actually two types of balloons in competition with each other so to speak. Hydrogen gas and hot air balloons. Research on the feasibility of hydrogen gas balloons dates as far back as 1662. Hot air balloons date all the way back to 220-280 A.D. in China, no less.

Needless to say, the hot air balloon is this correspondent’s preferred choice. The first unmanned ascension was attempted by Joseph-Michel and Jaques-Etienne Montgolfier. The French! Who can believe it? And not too long ago either. September 1783 to be exact. The balloon was called Aerostat Reveillon. It took flight in Versailles and was manned by three non-human living creatures. Yes, you heard right. A sheep called Montauciel meaning “climb-to-the-sky,” a duck, and a rooster. Their journey lasted eight entire minutes with a safe landing. I say, they should have included a pig in the ranks. Or maybe a frog?

As diverting as this may be, these accomplishments are of the utmost importance. The first tethered flight also happened in 1783, one month later, in October. Those pesky Frenchmen powered on until the first untethered, manned flight happened also in France. That is Paris, France on November 21, 1783. This balloon was piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent le Vieux d’Arlandes. How, you might ask, is all this possible? A smoky fire under the neck of the balloon in an iron basket. That’s how.

France refused to stop there because only a few weeks later, the first manned hydrogen balloon flight occurred on December 1, 1783. This flight was piloted by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert. They carried a barometer and thermometer making this the first balloon flight to provide meteorological measurements. Storm chasers indeed!

Take a look at the photos this correspondent went to great lengths to acquire:

Hot Air Balloon                                              

Hydrogen balloon

Explaining the science behind hot air and hydrogen will have to be left to the experts. It’s no wonder Prinny insists on complete discretion. Readers be warned. The Crown has plans in the works.

And what about England? The first balloon flight in England actually happened in 1784 not too long after France. This correspondent has reservations on that account in any event. One cannot believe everything one hears regarding the French.

Until next time…unless, of course, too much has been revealed in which case this correspondent will be answering to the powers that be.


Storm Chasers of Wentworth Hall releases on April 18, 2019. It’s currently on pre-order at: Amazon but soon to be available across all digital outlets.

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The mistress and the wife

“Have you heard the way the master’s wife snaps at Katarina?” Sara asked. “Katarina not only has to listen to her complaints, she has to do all sorts of senseless chores.”

Anna set two mugs on the table in the kitchen of the workers’ house. “I just made some tea. Set yourself a moment.”

Sara crumpled up her soiled apron, threw it in the basket and joined Anna on the bench. “Katarina is not coping well at all. She usually enjoys the run of the house. Who would have thought that Herr Tucher would allow his wife to come out to the farm for such a long stay?”

Anna slid a wooden plate with fresh-baked honey cakes in between the two of them. “The last time Frau Tucher came to visit, she hopped right back into that coach of hers and ordered the driver back to Nuremberg. The fine lady would never live in the country.”

“Tanner said Nuremberg is much too dangerous for her and the children. The city is full of all sorts escaping the war. That’s where she really wants to be.”

“Have you heard the tone the two take when they speak to each other?” Anna asked. “I thought Frau Tucher was sharp with Katarina, but she’s worse with Herr Tucher!”

Sara took a sip of tea. “My husband would never talk to me like that.”

“Tanner’s father says she never wanted to marry Herr Tucher,” Anna said. “He says the only reason she married him was because her father forced her, to secure business ties. She wanted someone with a bit more status, not this dreamer who lives on a farm.”

“Well, Herr Tucher was also a bit of a carouser when he was younger,” Sara said. “When Tanner and I lived in Nuremberg, he was always in the Stork’s Nest tavern. Likes his drink, that one. And, Katarina was the barmaid there. Herr Tucher won her in a dice throw.”

“That’s not what Katarina says,” Anna said. “Katarina acts like they were truly in love. She says they had a proper courtship. I say she forgets who she is. Herr Tucher is a married man!”

“Herr Tucher was always smitten with Katarina,” Sara said. “He hated the way her fiancée treated her.”

“Bjarne said Herr Tucher had the man killed so he could have Katarina.”

Sara laughed and shook her head. “He wished him dead but that’s not how it happened. Don’t listen to Bjarne.”

“Well, Katarina should remember her place here.” Anna poured the rest of the tea. “She’s his maid. She must do what the master’s wife says. Frau Tucher could make her life hell.”

“Katarina knows she’s only his maid but she has been too comfortable,” Sara said. “He gives her too much freedom to speak her mind…”

Sshh! someone’s coming….”

Excerpt from The Soldier’s Return:

“I hate that boy!” Isabeau said, stormed into the kitchen of the workers’ house and shoved the door closed with a fury.

Katarina managed to stop the door with her foot before it hit her in the face. “Isabeau, you almost knocked me over!”

Water spilled out of Katarina’s buckets and onto the front step outside. She kicked the door and it swung open, banging against a chair. Sara and Anna sat at the table, heads together. They stopped their whispering abruptly and looked at Katarina. They had obviously spoken about her.

It had been two weeks since Frau Tucher arrived with the children. Over the years, Isabeau had always been patient with the spoiled Christoph Tucher, who was only a few months younger than she was. When Christoph stayed on the farm without his mother, he was a cordial boy. But Frau Tucher’s influence and the intrusion her indefinite stay posed on Katarina and Isabeau was now apparent. Isabeau was used to being Herr Tucher’s little girl and had all of his attention. She was not coping with her displacement out of Herr Tucher’s daily life any better than Katarina was.

“Would you mind…” Katarina huffed and glared at Isabeau.

“He’s horrible,” Isabeau ranted on. “He spilled wine all over the kitchen floor and when that thin horse woman came in, he blamed it on me!”

“Then stay away from the main house,” Katarina yelled back.

“Herr Tucher called me in,” Isabeau said. “He had a book for me. But his wife took it away and gave it to Christoph. Then they left and Christoph spilled the wine. Not me. Then that thin horse woman came in. I would have gotten the whip if Herr Tucher hadn’t come back down and stopped her.”

“Just stay away from them altogether,” Katarina said and sat down on the bench.

Anna quieted Elsbeth’s fussing baby by putting her finger in the baby’s mouth. “Just keep your head down, do what they say,” she said to Isabeau.

Elsbeth’s girl Hannah sat at the table and sucked her thumb, her face lethargic, gray and sunken. Sara poured Katarina a mug of tea and turned away.

“Yesterday Christoph wanted to play Executioner again,” Isabeau said. “He wants me to kneel down and beg for my soul. He says he’s Meister Franz. He said I’m no better than a dirty wench.”

Sara fingered the white cap on the table, her face almost pitying. She set the cap on her head and pushed a few of the loose strands of hair back under it. Suddenly her face sparked up as she got an idea.

“Katarina, it’s going to be a lovely day.” Sara pushed one of the baskets on the table towards Katarina. “Bjarne needs help with the sheep up at the pasture beyond the North Hill. And he needs his lunch. He could use some company, too. Take his bread to him for me. And a bit of meat, too. Get out and get some air.”

Sara stood, grabbed a huge knife and sliced a hunk of bread from the round loaf. “Isabeau will stay here. She can go with Albin and help him find some tinder.”

“I want to go out with my horse!” Isabeau said, her face red and shiny.

“You have work to do, young lady,” Sara said.

Isabeau tried to stomp away but Sara caught her by the elbow and spun her around. Dragging Isabeau behind her, she opened the door and whistled. Albin appeared within a moment. She grabbed the other basket from the table, handed it to Albin, whispered to the two and they ran off.

“That settles that!” Sara smiled, satisfied with herself.

Sara set a thin slab of dried meat on the table and Katarina packed that and the bread into the basket. She filled a jug with beer and Katarina packed that as well. Anna, still holding the baby, grabbed Hannah by the hand and disappeared behind the wood stove into Sara’s room. Katarina lifted the basket and headed for the door. She looked back at Sara, who absently brushed some bread crumbs from the table into her hand. Sara’s smile was gone and the pitying expression was on her face again. Katarina felt an instant pang of anger.

“What’s that look supposed to mean?” Katarina moved back to the table.

“Oh, I’m just so sorry. I know you’re upset.”

“I can’t believe he’s doing this to me.”

“But she’s his wife,” Sara said. “You’ve always known this could happen.”

“But why now?” Katarina said. “After all these years.”

“Don’t act so surprised. You…”

“But that’s my house!”

“It is not,” Sara said. “You’re just his…”

“Say it.” Katarina slammed the basket on the table. “Just say it. I’m his mistress. I’m his whore. What else do you think I am?”

“You’re his maid, Katarina!”

Katarina closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“Do you love him?” Sara said.

“Hmpff,” Katarina said.

“Do you?” Sara said.

“Do you love Tanner?”

“Of course, I do. He’s the father of my children. He’s my husband!”

Katarina grabbed the basket. She walked back to the open doorway and hesitated. She turned back to Sara, wishing Sara would make this all right again, the way she settled fights between children. Sara just whispered an apology and turned away.

Katarina made towards the North Hill, taking the time she normally didn’t have to appreciate the spring day. She had no reason to rush. No one was waiting for her. The day was cool and the birds were twittering and flying about. Pale blue sky struggled to show itself from behind stubborn clouds. Katarina strolled along the path up the North Hill observing the changes spring had made. Tiny green shoots peeked through the compressed earth. She picked a twig from a willow tree and rubbed the furry catkin on her cheek. A slight breeze fluttered through the dried leaves that had refused to fall from the trees.

Her heart pounded empty, heavy beats. Of course Katarina loved him! She loved him more than she could allow herself to feel. Her love for him encompassed her and overwhelmed her and the thought of being away from him even for the afternoon made her sick. Now she wanted to wretch. She felt like her best friend had died. Maybe, in a way, he had.

The Soldier’s Return Book Trailer:

The Soldier’s Return is book 2 in the Heaven’s Pond trilogy.

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