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Local Thief Spots Apparition

Your humble correspondent, journalist for The Teatime Tattler, begs leave to draw notice to Mr. Algernon Cuffy, sometime resident of St. James’s Square, as he describes an alarming encounter with a strange apparition on the night of London’s latest fog.

apparition
Pissarro, Place du Theatre, 1897

“I’m a thief. Write that down, plain and simple. Poverty might have driven some other poor blighters to a life on the hop but I have, you might say, a natural bent.”

Though a bit of a Renaissance man in all the arts of financial misappropriation, Mr. Cuffy likes housebreaking the most.

“Pickpocketing is for children and women—pathetic types who can look sorrowful like Mother Mary or an orphaned lamb. But I got this here,” he said, tracing a finger down a four inch scar running to his left ear, part of which was missing. “Don’t look harmless enough for work at close quarters, now, do I? Anyone with any brains would know to steer clear of me.”

Your humble correspondent backed away as he continued.

“An’ then there’s highway robbery. You’ve got travel and horse fairs and boxing mills and lonely moors—all well and good,” he said, detailing his interests. “But you’d be surprised how few coves are worth getting hung for.”

Your humble correspondent could not but agree.

“The night in question—” your correspondent began, hopeful that Mr. Cuffy would return to ghosts and spirits.

“There’s an art to housebreaking,” Mr. Cuffy continued, warming to his subject. “Liking the name of a street, following a likely looking coach home to its roost… Best to stay clear of the poshest squares. That night, conditions were perfect,” he said, tugging his cap on.

Your humble correspondent dared a question and he obliged with an answer.

“Dark. Dark as coal. An’ fog like soup. I was on the damp roof tiles of Lord Fox’s establishment—”

Readers will imagine an elegant white house in the Georgian style.

“—full to the gills with lacquered snuff boxes and jeweled tie pins, and like most bachelor’s quarters, lax about the housekeeping. I was preparing to ease myself into the empty bedroom of the recently dismissed second footman. That’s when I saw her.”

“What?” your correspondent exclaimed. 

“Pretty young thing. Loose hair, white dress. I dashed near dropped forty feet to the pavement when she rose up out of mist. I could see clear as day that she wasn’t a ghost.”

“She must have been a ghost,” I insisted. “People do not fly.”

Apparition
Russolo, The Solidity of Fog. 1912

“She wasn’t flying,” Mr. Cuffy said, his look quite insulting to the junior correspondent of London’s seventh most popular daily newspaper. “Just sort of floated for a while. Took a good look towards Westminster on the river and another over towards St. Paul’s.”

“And then?” I asked, scribbling hastily.

“Then there was a shout from below and she disappeared into the fog again.”

“Where you drunk?” I asked.

Mr. Cuffy gave no proper answer but resorted to his fists. Thus concluded our interview.

About the Book: Her Caprice

A MOST PRIVATE BATTLE

Since Beatrice Thornton was 13 years old she’s been living with a secret that could ruin her family forever. Her parents are the only ones who know, and now, seven years later, they are forced to put on a sham for Beatrice’s late first Season. The plan, make Beatrice as mousy and ill-clothed as possible so no suitor would consider her. Then they can all escape back to their country home in Dorset to keep the terrible secret safe. But the unthinkable happens… Beatrice meets a man who gives her hope of a normal life, and Beatrice dares to love with horrible consequences.

Captain Henry Gracechurch has resigned his commission after living through the horrors and waste of war. Recently returned from Spain, he is cajoled by his formidable godmother to make an appearance at one of her famous balls. When he sees a young woman abandoned on the dance floor, honour commands him to save the day. Nothing could have prepared him for meeting the person who is a balm to his soul and gives wings to his heart. But winning Beatrice Thornton will take every ounce of courage he has, and this is a war he will win, no matter the cost.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07N9B81QR

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1130437723?ean=2940155962496

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/920856

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/her-caprice

Her Caprice, Excerpt:

Beatrice was left alone to take in the whole scene. It was familiar to her, in a way. She had seen illustrations of balloons before, studied them closely from books and newspapers. The flying machine could do what she did, and yet there were reasons for it, purposes, a whole science, explanations of the mechanics.

“It’s magical,” a deep voice intoned at her side. She looked up to find Henry standing next to her as if he had always been there. Beatrice felt the solid ground she stood on almost melt away.

Quarry stone, the involuntary thought flitted through her mind, and she blinked, feeling herself grow heavy and pressed more firmly into the grass. That was strange. It was not as though she had been about to float away at the mere sight of him in the middle of a bustling London crowd. What a silly thing to think. She shook her head and met his eyes.

There was the usual delight she felt each time she saw him that sent her insides spinning, but it was tempered by the knowledge that he had not called. It was the merest chance that brought him here.

“It’s not magic,” she retorted, swallowing deeply. Six days since she’d last seen him. He had no right to look like he hadn’t been wasting away. Drat. “It’s hydrogen. The gas is produced when sulphuric acid is poured over scrap iron. How did you happen across me in this crowd?” she asked, thankful for the cool morning air, which would be a plausible reason for her pink cheeks.

“Magic,” he asserted, offering her an arm, which she took. He did not lead her anywhere but stood, gazing up at the activity on the rise. “Have you been busy these past days?”

Busy? She felt the shame of returning home each afternoon, her eyes hungry for some sign that he had come. “This and that,” she answered, hoping with all her heart that her tone conveyed a calendar too full for waiting and longing.

He looked down at her. “You’ve not been at home,” he stated.

It wasn’t a question. The damp ground at the bottom of the hill began to seep through her slippers, but she would not move for anything. “No. My mother had a sudden enthusiasm to see everything in Town. I am not sure the carriage horses can take much more. You?”

“I passed your door, hoping that—”

“You called?” The surprise of it made her yelp.

“I said I would.”

Beatrice looked up at him. “You left no sign,” she stated while feeling great relief. Forgetting to leave a card—it was endearing, though it had cost her the enjoyment of racing through the maze at Hampton Court, of savouring the ice at Gunter’s.

His head cocked to the side and his brows came down. “But I—” And then his lips shut into a firm line.

Beatrice waited for him to finish and then, finally, when it was clear he would say no more, the wheels in her mind began to turn. She looked up the hill again to where the balloonist had given Penny a small parcel, some silk fabric full of hydrogen. Her sister let it go and, as it drifted up and up, it moved in easy state, tossed lightly by sudden currents of wind. The crowd let out a great cheer, and in that clamour, Beatrice whispered, “You did leave a card, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

Penny waved to her as she dashed down the hill and away toward the carriage.

Beatrice lowered her brows. She might have missed the card in her meticulous search of the entry hall, when she had turned each paper over and over, upending the tray and running her fingers along the back of the table, and then closely questioned the townhouse staff. It would not be so amazing if she lost— “Just the one?”

“One each time I visited.”

“Each? What do you mean? How many times was it?” she asked, her words tripping over themselves.

His look was keen. “Seven,” he answered and then his mouth lifted. “I’m almost out of cards.”

She answered quickly. “But it’s been six days.”

“Exactly six? Has it?” he asked, his eyes narrowing like a cat on the trail of a limping mouse. “How clever you are to know the precise number. I came twice on Wednesday.”

Beatrice put a hand to her pelisse, fastening and unfastening the button. Seven cards. Seven messages scrawled on the back. Seven times he had come. Seven times. She couldn’t let the number go. A girl might have her head turned by a thing like that.

Henry didn’t say another word, and merely waited for her to work it out—though the way his eyes studied her face wasn’t helping her concentration at all. It set her blood to warming and her mind to wondering if the world really would come crashing to an end if she leaned up on her tiptoes and kissed him on those firm lips.

About the Author

Keira Dominguez graduated from BYU with a B.A. in Humanities and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. When she is not busy avoiding volunteerism at her kids’ schools like it is the literal plague, she writes sweet romance novels.

https://www.keiradominguez.com/

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!”

 

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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