Home of the Bluestocking Belles

Because history is fun and love is worth working for

Tag: Jennifer Mueller

Refugee from the Indian Mutiny arrives on English shores

Bristol Docks, by William Matthew Hale 

Mrs. Kittridge, mother of the recently titled Viscount Glyndon for his service in the Crimean war, reports to the best circles of London that her neighbor Mr. Cameron, who saved her brother the Baron Canmore during the peninsula campaign, has himself died in the rebellion gripping the Indian peninsula.

The news has reached our ears with the arrival of Mr. Cameron’s daughter, Mrs. Tara Montague. Her mother, we are informed, was one of the famous courtesans that entertained the courts of Lucknow even now laid siege to by the mutineers. Her father, while an agent for the Trowbridge Shipping Company whose office in Madras he ran, met the accomplished dancer while on a trading mission to the famed city.

Tara, we are told, means star in Sanskrit and Mrs. Kittridge informs us she has completely captivated the Princess of Kapheira who runs Trowbridge Shipping. Her daughter-in-law, the future Princess, has invited Mrs. Montague to spend the season with her in London.

A young widow of a private of the Madras Army, Oliver Montague, she will be certain to enchant the ton this spring. She is not unconnected in these parts; her father was first married to the aunt of Sir Thaddaeus Meredith the MP from Totnes. They went out to India when their finances failed in the well-reported collapse of the Longfield Bank in 1821. When Jane died shortly after Mr. Cameron never returned to English shores, marrying Tara’s mother some decades later.

Coromandel House outside Falwood, that great estate of the Kittridge family, was fortunately still here to provide refuge to his daughter in fleeing the chaos that afflicts her homeland. With such patronage as the Princess of Kapheira we can only imagine her time will be productive and with Mrs. Ferrell already working on her wardrobe well dressed indeed.

The Secrets of Coromandel House

Tara Montague arrives on the Bristol docks 4 months after her father pushed her on a cargo ship…the day the Sepoy Mutiny started in India. The first word she receives from home is her father is dead; and the second, the aunt she was supposed to live with has died two years before. Not the best start when living in two worlds. The horrors of Cawnpore and Lucknow are filling the papers and she had an Indian mother. Both sides have reason to want her dead.

Why has her father sent her to a country she has never seen? Feeling betrayed yet again after he already arranged a disastrous marriage, on the verge of being a penniless widow, Tara is alone. Her main concern is survival in a strange country where most look at her with suspicion. Tara has questions and suspicions of her own…but who can she trust?

https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Coromandel-House-Jennifer-Mueller-ebook/dp/B07DDPSLX2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Excerpt

There was a reason she was on a ship of theirs: her father worked as their agent in Madras, having left the East India Company decades ago, for the new office Trowbridge Shipping had opened in one of their towns. Well, they stole him, offered him twice as much if he would start the office in Madras from scratch. He hadn’t gone native at that point, that was a decade before she was born, she wasn’t sure what they would say at her sudden appearance.

“How can I help you?” A clerk said the moment she stepped through. His mutton chops were impressive indeed. There was little in the way of grandeur there, walls of cubbies holding each ship manifest that spread around the world, like a vast web. America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. They covered the world. Her father’s office in Madras had the same setup, he only handled the ships going in and out of that office though. Not hundreds, not the thousands that surrounded her there.

“I was told you could change rupees. I wanted to get a paper to see what is happening in India. Has the mutiny ended?”

He turned away in the dim office, the faint light of daybreak didn’t reach that far yet. “Sorry, we don’t help your kind. There’s usually some punters down the dock. What makes you think you can come in here to a place of business?”

Tara felt her stomach hurt at hearing such words. They were the insults that the women threw at her. The fishing fleet that came from England looking for husbands among the rank and file saw her as a threat. Her kind, as if it was her fault her father went native. Or worse yet, her kind that married one of their prospects. The insults truly came thick when that man married her, that too not her fault. “If that’s what I asked, I can assure you I still wouldn’t give you business, no matter how much you paid.”

“Sawyer!” A voice yelled from the back.

“It’s a black woman—with a ring in her nose even, you know what her kind did in Cawnpore.” The way he said woman was as much an insult as any other.

She looked no different than those around her in wide skirts, not even more colorful. Just a dark red cotton dress with a paisley border, long sleeve of course to hide the scars. Maybe if she was wearing her sari, but this was only her skin giving her away, the nose ring was hardly noticeable unless close. Her father had forbidden her from wearing one of late, but the hole had never closed up and her father wasn’t there to see anymore. The only thing was her skin.

“Yes, and we had a boat arrive from India not 20 minutes ago. How exactly does a woman stepping in our door make her a prostitute, no matter her color. Do you ask the same of every woman that walks in?” A head appeared from the back room frowning, female shockingly and dressed in black. She was probably in her 50’s, her blond hair shot with white. A lovely woman still. “Get out, Sawyer!”

“What?”

“Get out! I will not have employees that cannot treat everyone with respect no matter what shite is in that head of yours. Even less one that is our customer. Miss…”

“Cameron, Ma’am,” Tara said quietly. “Sorry, Mrs. Montague. He died so quickly I hardly feel it.” If that were the only reason she wanted another name.

“I apologize for my former employee… Cameron? Our Madras agent is a Cameron and his daughter is reported missing. Are you she perhaps?”

“Yes, but I can hardly be missing.”

The sigh said everything. “Get out Sawyer! You have your notice without a reference.”

“My lady, you can’t let me go!” He shot out of his chair… hands poised, Tara didn’t need to see anymore. The pistol came from her pocket and touched his forehead, a Colt Dragoon Revolver. The sort of gun men carried when they went tiger hunting, a wounded animal was the one to worry about. Howdah pistols, named for the guns carried in the baskets on elephant backs, a howdah, the gun itself didn’t matter. Just big. They were .60 caliber in some cases. There was a reason the sailors on the Eliza Anne left her alone once they knew she had it. Inches was all that separated the woman from the air being squeezed out of her body.

That was not the thing to do. The woman went into a fury. “I know I am just a lowly woman. But, last I knew I owned Trowbridge, not my dead husband, last I knew at the very least when I say get out you get out, you do not attack me like I am some slattern you want to bed who has turned you down.”

Owned the company? If she did, then the woman was the Princess of Kapheira. Working in an office of all things? Her father had mentioned the woman who owned the shipping empire. Tara had pictured anything but a slight woman who must have been a great beauty when she was young. For she was still, truthfully, a beauty. Despite that, no one would mistake her for 20.

A man appeared at the door. “Mother?” He was in his 40’s. She didn’t look old enough for a child that age even if Tara knew it had to be true. The woman, herself, had hired father in 1821 and she was married with a child then. Surely not this one though. There had been no talk a child hired him. Sawyer cowered at that. A man made him cower the way a woman never would, even with a gun to his head. Granted he was an impressive man. One that could hurt a woman he was married to. “Why do we have a revolveress in the office?”

“Sawyer is discharged, get him out of here. I will not run a company with offices around the world when the man greeting them treats my business associates or clients like they are dirt. Nor one that has such little concern for life that he would dare to choke me, eliciting our guest here to defend my life. Miss Cameron has come.”

The son straightened up.

“What has happened? Every time you say Cameron, everyone acts…?” It sank in as she said the words. “The steamer route across the Suez has brought word faster than I arrived? The mutiny has gotten worse, something at Cawnpore by his comment.”

Meet Jennifer Mueller

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya a few years back I traveled quite a bit and now I just wish I was. A lot of the places I’ve written about I’ve been to, a lot of them I haven’t. Rafting on the Nile in Uganda, living in a Montana ghost town, Puerto Rican beaches, African safaris, Mayan ruins, European youth hostels, forts on the Ghana coast all fill my scrapbooks. I still travel in my head every time I write even if I don’t get out as much as I wish. I currently live in the Pacific Northwest and look forward to filling many more pages.

http://www.jennifermuellerbooks.com

Will the young lady leave London in disgrace—again?

It has come to the attention of the ton that the Honorable Miss Sophie Greenwood has returned to London accompanying her cousin Miss Mariah Randolph.  I’m sure all our dear readers remember her scandalous departure from London two years ago, but for any newcomer to these pages, her father the Baron Canmore took the 20,000 pound sum he had promised on her marriage and sent it abroad on a venture to the spice islands.

Who marries in their first season, even as accomplished and lovely as this diamond of the first water? But when the ship went down taking her sum with it, the girl’s mother rushed to secure a match before the news reached all of London’s ears that the family is utterly broke.  London has not forgotten her attempt, or the ignominious flight that follows.

Lady Sandbourne has the young cousins at her Mayfair home this season and declared she shall have them both married off by the end of season.  An admirable sentiment, but Miss Sophie is working on leaving London in disgrace again, as all of Mayfair is discussing her attack on her person outside the homes of the city’s most illustrious residents.

assault

As seen on the streets of Mayfair just yesterday

Anjanette’s cry was the only warning Sophie had before powerful arms closed around her throat. Sophie could do nothing as she watched Anjanette hitting the ground hard. A nasty voice filled her ears. “Tell me where to find Greyfriars and you’ll stay alive.”

The smell of the man was bad enough, something good came from being choked so she couldn’t breathe. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Don’t lie to me, I’ve seen you wearing your finery. Tell me where to find him.” His hands tightened. “I’ve seen the letter. Tell me where he is.”

Just as she was about to run out of air, Anjanette finally found her tongue and started yelling. Sophie sank to the ground when she could suddenly breathe while the sound of heavy uneven footsteps ran quickly away. Strong hands helped her up as Lady Sandbourne and Mariah came at haste, along with most of the other residents of the street. Their manservants at any rate.

“Get away from her, you blackguard,” Roberts, Lady Sandbourne’s butler, ordered.

Sophie’s voice strained, the words unable to form.

Anjanette spoke instead. “He’s the one that saved her.”

Turning to look at her savior, it was no wonder Roberts was skeptical. The man’s strong jaw was covered in stubble, tanned as few gentlemen are in England making his piercing blue eyes stand out all the more. Sun had bleached his dark hair and she could smell the sea on him. Somehow, she couldn’t pull her eyes away from his.

“Thank you.” Sophie was finally able to whisper.

“You’re sure he isn’t the one?” Lady Sandbourne pressed.

pnp-ladies-in-white-dressesSophie shook her head forcing the words to come. “The man that attacked me stank. I’m sure you can smell it even now on my clothes. It was not the sea I smelled.”

Her rescuer smiled faintly. “Are you quite well? Nothing was stolen?”

A neighbor’s servant sniffed disdainfully. “Not from her, nothing to take.” The group broke up without orders, she was certain, so they could go report to their ladies how she made a spectacle of herself by being attacked.

Lady Sandbourne slipped in at her side fretting and clucking like a hen as Mariah helped Anjanette. “I can’t believe you were attacked outside my own home. Mayfair is supposed to be above that sort of thing.” She was escorted away from her mystery rescuer before she could find out his name to thank him properly.

“Did you see the one that saved her? He looked as disreputable as the man that attacked her must have,” Mariah announced once the door was closed.

Sophie saved her throat though Mariah’s disdain was unfounded. Sophie would stake the last of her reputation on that fact. A long sea voyage perhaps and he had just docked by the smell he carried. Not yet had time to shave.

“Fearful handsome, though.” Lady Sandbourne commented leaving Mariah to be scandalized, never expecting such a thing from her aunt.

All Sophie could think of in order to forget almost being strangled was the look in the man’s eyes. Even after it was mentioned she had nothing, those eyes kept smiling at her.

A Ruined Season

a-ruined-seasonSophie Greenwood went to London to have her season hoping to find a husband. If only they had told her that her father had lost all his money, but gossip spreads quickly around London and already everyone knew Baron Canmore’s scandal.

Now two years later, will Sophie ruin another season? No one seems to want to make staying scandal-free an easy task. Almost everywhere she turns someone is trying to make her the laughing stock. Fleeing London once more seems to be her only option. What hope is there for a life of her own?

To read all the latest gossip about Sophie soon to be ruined season, visit http://www.jennifermuellerbooks.com/rooms/id599gqj18/A-Ruined-Season-England-1814

Meet Jennifer Mueller

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya a few years back I traveled quite a bit and now I just wish I was. A lot of the places I’ve written about I’ve been to, a lot of them I haven’t. Rafting on the Nile in Uganda, living in a Montana ghost town, Puerto Rican beaches, African safaris, Mayan ruins, European youth hostels, forts on the Ghana coast all fill my scrapbooks. I still travel in my head every time I write even if I don’t get out as much as I wish. I currently live in the Pacific Northwest and look forward to filling many more pages.

Scandal in the wake of the Delphine

ShipwreckAll of London has read about the HMS Delphine, the naval ship grounded off the coast of Cornwall a few weeks ago carrying the contract for steel from France.   The Delphine’s captain James Dunham is currently under investigation for the ship’s loss, the proceedings have entertained all since the inquiry started.

Such a vital income needed to help recover the country’s finances after the war with Napoleon going missing is a disaster.  He claims it was the navigator’s fault, of course.  Since none of the officers survived the night after most the crew left in the nighttime grounding, it’s only his word, of course.  Being found on the shore stabbed is all that has saved him so far.

The scandal rushing through London of late is nothing to the real story.  I have it on the best authority from the captain’s own aunt, Mrs. Belle Quinn, the most well-known of matchmakers in London, there for a house party.  The gossip running through the house in the midst of Captain Dunham fighting for his good name and career is he was forced to marry Miss Balaton who saved him from the sea.  They were caught in the most delicate of positions which, of course, meant he was unable to form an attachment to any of the other ladies of the house party who were far more suitable.

What else would a shopkeepers’ daughter on St. Michael’s Mount do when presented with a ship’s captain on her front door?  Despite the captains’ good friend Mr. Sinclair arriving with his wife and they became such good friends, Mrs. Quinn is certain he regrets the marriage. Why else would he throw Mrs. Quinn out of the house?

Granted, another rumor leaving the house in the last few days is Mr. Sinclair is actually the Duke of Cairnmuir traveling incognito as he visited his friend to try and fix the court martial proceedings.  After all, he was the one that secured the contract with the French and sent Captain Dunham back with it to England as he finished his honeymoon to the charming Mrs. Rose Beaufort, as she was.  As it was a secret mission, there might be far more politics involved than marriage mart gossip, Mrs. Quinn intimates.

Captain Dunham is after all a well decorated naval officer, running with Cochrane in his impressive haul of ships as well as several on his own merits.  The Captain made a fortune in his career up until he washed up on the shore of Cornwall.

Overheard at the house party…

“Could I ask you to introduce us?” Mrs. Quinn asked almost immediately. “It seems that my nephew invited a great many people to the ball without asking my opinion on the matter.”

Without asking her opinion in his house. “Mrs. Sinclair, this is Captain Dunham’s aunt, Mrs. Quinn. Mr. Sinclair is an old friend of the Captains.”

Mrs. Quinn fanned herself hastily. “You’re here for a long visit? James hadn’t mentioned you coming.”

“No, we heard he was in London, but he left town before we could see him. He couldn’t imagine us leaving with a ball so soon. Edward sees him so little what with us up in Scotland.  We’ve invited them north to stay with us this fall.”

Mrs. Quinn puffed up. “You’ve become great friends in so short a time, Mrs. Sinclair.” She said. Something in the tone spoke everything. Her friendship was put in the wrong person and she knew nothing of her other than gossip.

“Why, Mrs. Quinn, I should not be embarrassed to introduce her to the Duchess of Cairnmuir herself. The Duchess prefers friends who can hold a thought in their heads. Money can’t buy that.”

“You know a Duchess?” Mrs. Quinn gaped.

“Heavens, the Sinclair’s are related to half of the nobility in Scotland. But that birth doesn’t mean they can hold a good conversation.”

Mrs. Quinn turned red and trounced off. It took a moment, but finally Mrs. Sinclair laughed out loud.

“And they say I have a tongue on me. You’re just wicked.” Tanley murmured and Mrs. Sinclair only laughed harder. It wasn’t hard to notice that the woman steered them further out from the house. They were well in the center of the lawn where no one could jump out from any hedges there.

The Sailor’s Wife

The Sailor's WifeTanley’s boring life on Saint Michael’s Mount gets a lot more complicated when a man is washed up on the beach. With her father dead, the neighbor smuggling, and a knife wound in the man’s shoulder she’s all alone with a whole lot of trouble.

At least she’s not stuck getting rid of a body when he wakes up at long last, but delivering papers for the government to help pay the debt after the war with Napoleon makes the stakes higher than just a little smuggling. Alone with James, though, temptation is hard to resist, if only getting caught didn’t bring up a whole new set of problems.

Buy on Amazon

Meet Jennifer Mueller

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya a few years back, I traveled quite a bit and now I just wish I was. A lot of the places I’ve written about I’ve been to, a lot of them I haven’t. Rafting on the Nile in Uganda, living in a Montana ghost town, African safaris, European youth hostels, the Black Hills of South Dakota all fill my scrapbooks. Now a daughter takes up most of those pages, but I still travel in my head every time I write.

For more by this author visit

http://www.jennifermuellerbooks.com

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén