Readers are warned that this extract, from correspondence between Miss Amabel Pryke and her friend, Letty, was sent to the ‘Tattler’ by one Aggie Whitshaw, a maid employed in Miss Pryke’s house. We cannot be certain, given the source that the contents are genuine or complete, and so we append the maid’s own missive to assure you she didn’t write extract.
My dear Letty,
You will not imagine in your wildest dreams the most Shocking and Scandalous goings on we have had, and my poor sister Sarah actually Assaulted! Yes, it is true – poor Sarah was escorting her latest pupil to school, and planned to come and live with me, offering music lessons to the pupils of the same school, as a visiting preceptress. Well, the first horror was the accident on the road, some miles short of York, and Sarah so fortunate as to be taken up into the coach of Lord Hesterley and his bride, having broken a leg, Sarah that is, not his Lordship nor his bride. They kindly took her charge on to the school as well, and brought Sarey to me. Such a handsome young couple, and so kind! And there was poor Sarey, lying on the day bed and that idiot maid let in some fellow who said he was from Bow Street, and he started pulling Sarey’s clothes off, if you please, and accusing her of being Hesterley! And his colleague apparently tried to abduct Sarey’s charge, thinking her to be Lady Hesterley. It turns out that Lord and Lady Hesterley were no such thing or rather, she was not Lady Hesterley at the time for they were eloping and Sarey perfectly aware of it, and not ready to give them away!
Well, later, the lady’s proper bridegroom, who turned out to be a most improper bridegroom if you ask me, and not just because he is older than sin and twice as wicked… where was I? Oh yes, he broke into the ladies’ academy and was hit on the head by one of the little girls there, and serve him right.
So when you tell me how boring it is in York, let me assure you it is nothing of the kind.
Your dear friend,
“So you see, Mr. Clemens, this is wot woz reelly going on when Lord Hesterley runned off with the heiress, affore there was such a to-do about how there was an attack on the yung cupple in London. Oh, Mr. Clemens, does you think it might be a conspirrysee by the peeple wot said they was Bow St. Runners, trying to get their hands on Lord Hesterley’s rich bride, and that’s why they shot at him too? I read all about it in the paper, and then I remembered this letter wot my mistress got a few months before. Now you can see yore way to paying a pore girl a few guineas for something hot like this, can’t you?”
About the Book: Elopement of Convenience
Laura is an heiress seeking to avoid forced marriage to her stepfather’s crony; Simon is an impoverished lord seeking an heiress. They plot to elope together, leaving Simon’s coachman, Ned, and his lady-love, Ellen, leading Laura’s stepfather on a wild goose chase.
Of course, things are never that simple … especially with Laura’s propensity for finding waifs and strays.
And of course, a journey shows the best and worst of people. Whether Simon and Laura draw closer and find love, or discover that they loathe each other cordially will be tested.
Two couples on their way to Gretna, one decoy couple but planning to wed anyway, Ned and Ellen:
Ellen was not impressed by Manchester. Smoke hung over the ugly blackened buildings in a foetid miasma of foul feculence, making everywhere grimy. The grime settled on the skin, got up the nose with the stink of soot, and invaded the mouth with a gritty, sour feeling and taste.
“It’s even grimier than London,” she said, severely.
“It’ll be the mills,” said Grimshaw. He was not impressed either, but saw no point complaining.
“Ooh, Ned! It’s just like Mr. Blake’s pome!” said Ellen, who was a dissenter.
Fortunately Grimshaw was familiar with ‘Jerusalem’, which Ellen had quoted before, and was not, therefore, confused by a poem written by a dissenter, and not widely known outside the poet’s own circle. Not, that is, beyond the reasonable confusion of a plain man for the symbolism in the poem and its connections to the story of Elijah and to Revelations.
“’Dark satanic mills’ it is, me girl,” he said. “But don’t you go expecting me to lark abaht wiv a bow o’ burnin’ gold nor arrers of desire like some overgrown cupid, and how that would solve matters in any case beats me.”
“Oh, Ned, it’s an allegory,” said Ellen.
“I seen one o’ them at the menagerie at the tower, all big teeth and scales,” said Ned. “I don’t think an allegory set loose on the mill owners would help neither.”
And the couple learning whether they want to be a couple or not, Simon and Laura:
“My lord, I think it would be appropriate for you to be less business like about things and to … to start to woo me so that the marriage bed is less of a … a shock.”
“By Jove!” said Simon. “Well, if you don’t mind, I should like of all things to stop and remove that fetching, but provocative bonnet, and kiss you.”
Laura’s flush deepened.
“I believe I might like that,” she said.
Simon found a cart track on which to get mostly off the road and carefully undid the strings of Laura’s bonnet. He would have dropped it, but she took it firmly from his hand and laid it down.
“It is my only bonnet at the moment, my lord,” she said, sternly.
“Oh, yes, quite. My apologies,” said Simon. He cupped her chin in one hand and put the other behind her head to draw her to him, and brushed her lips with his.
Laura felt her lips cling to his, opening slightly and she reached up to capture his head. The kiss was lingering but fairly chaste.
Laura was faintly disappointed when it was over.
“I hope that did not disappoint?” asked Simon.
“Oh no! It was most pleasant,” said Laura. “I hope we might do it again … and for longer.”
About the Author
Sarah Waldock grew up in Suffolk and still resides there, in charge of a husband, and under the ownership of sundry cats. All Sarah’s cats are rescue cats and many of them have special needs. They like to help her write and may be found engaging in such helpful pastimes as turning the screen display upside-down, or typing random messages in kittycode into her computer.
Sarah writes largely historical novels, in order to retain some hold on sanity in an increasingly insane world. There are some writers who claim to write because they have some control over their fictional worlds, but Sarah admits to being thoroughly bullied by her characters who do their own thing and often refuse to comply with her ideas. It makes life more interesting, and she enjoys the surprises they spring on her. Her characters’ surprises are usually less messy [and much less noisy] than the surprises her cats spring.
Sarah has tried most of the crafts and avocations which she mentions in her books, on the principle that it is easier to write about what you know. She does not ride horses, since the Good Lord in his mercy saw fit to invent Gottleib Daimler to save her from that experience; and she has not tried blacksmithing. She would like to wave cheerily at anyone in any security services who wonder about middle aged women who read up about gunpowder and poisonous plants.