Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen’

I’m Back….mostly

December 19, 2012

This is not the way to keep a blog going—posts every six months—but the obstacles are mostly behind me and I will try to inject a bit of life into The Wildcat’s Victory.

The first obstacle was the passing of my brother-in-law and my duty to pay most attention to my wife as we cleared the house and consigned most of the surviving artifacts of her family either to the landfill or to storage at home and a pending garage sale to clear them out.

The writing surrendered its prime place to all this. Poor Masquerade, that had just been released had absolutely zero help to make its way in the world. I have seen nothing in the way of royalty statements for it yet, but they can hardly be good. I will do some catching up there.

I have started to prepare a new project—a novella in honour of the 200th anniversary of the release, in January 1813, of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. How does a writer of SF and fantasy  find his way into Austen country? Well, by unleashing his fascination for the Regency world and a secret trip into a totally unsuspected multiverse. Gisel Matah, my feisty protagonist of the Iskander series comes along to help.  Stay tuned and thou wilt see.

 

Last Post:

December 6, 2011

This is the present ending of Regency Bagatelle that I began with a post last May. It may not be the best ending I could find but it is getting close to time that I should be discussing the next Iskander series novel and Gisel’s adventures in “Masquerade”. Farewell, Pemberly, for the time being.

Regency Bagatelle:

As it transpired, the discussion between Mr Author and Miss Matah met several delays…first the late serving of the dinner cook had had to put aside to prepare for the babe, then the lengthy family discussion into the measures they needed to take to care of the mother and child—where Miss Matah’s advice was widely sought. As a result, the next day they walked out into a brisk December morning to a terrace adorned with an overnight coating of snow before finding the time and place for the discussion intended.

“I know you have been anxiously looking for an opportunity to whisk me away from these people,” Gisel said, “but now it seems I must stay…at least until they have some better idea about the care needed by a premature baby. From what I hear, preemies usually die, here.”

“My own understanding as well, but we must not contravene the regulation that forbids the dissemination of anachronistic information. You have already gone way over that boundary, but I would not condemn you for it.”

“For what it’s worth, I did send Mr Bingley to Lambton to fetch the physician, but the birth would still have happened before his return…if he had been sober anough to attend.”

“That was probably a fortunate accident— Haggerston intimated to me that he is an incompetent drunk. But you turned out to be a fine midwife—I never knew.”

“I had never been the midwife before, but I did help my mother attend several births when she donated her time to the charity clinic. With those poor Dalits in the Mumbai slums, every birth seemed a crisis—at least to me. I was only thirteen at the time.”

“Good grief, it’s a wonder you weren’t scared off romantic affairs for life.”

Gisel laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “I might have learned to be more cautious, at least.”

“You said that, not me.”

“Hello, can I join you?”

They turned to see Miss Austen stepping carefully across the snow, wrapped in a huge travelling cloak. “We are discussing plans for our departure,” Mr Author answered, “but perhaps we will need your advice.”

“Anything I can offer is willingly given,” she said, “but first let me remark upon that wonderful, full bodied laugh that greeted me as I stepped onto the terrace. How I wish I were free enough to give vent to such an uninhibited burst of merriment—at least to do so in public instead of in carefully modulated tones in the privacy of my or my sister Cassandra’s bedroom. It must surely tell me that women are as free as birds in the world you live in, Miss Matah. I might even suggest that the loss of a measure of decorum is a fair payment for such privilege. Would it possibly be appropriate for me to ask the cause of such a laugh…it is so welcome after the cautious bravery that the family has adopted this morning.”

“Well…” Mr Author began.

Gisel dismissed his caution with a careless wave. “It is completely scandalous, Miss Austen—even though it only hints at the romantic adventures I have had since becoming a character in Mr Author’s tales.”

“Good gracious.”

“And you don’t know half of it, from your current perspective.”

Gisel smiled. “Oh, there’s more? Do tell me if the affairs end in happier circumstances than those in my past.”

“You know I cannot do that, but I can at least tell you that you will meet someone who will become a life partner.”

“That’s good to know. I presume our partnership will not be as reckless and notorious as those in my past. Lord Ricart is an exciting lover but as unfaithful as an alley cat.”

Miss Austen placed her hands over her mouth. “Enough, Dear. You must certainly not add to my embarrassment and confusion by revealing any details. Consider the achievement of a comfortable partnership to be more than enough happiness for this earth…this is all that young women here look for.”

“Let’s get back to the topic we were discussing,” Mr Author suggested. “Who can you instruct in caring for a premature baby, that you might safely leave in charge? Did your mother instruct you in that?”

“Not to the necessary degree…good lord, she trained as an obstetrician/pediatrician for eight years. Only a fraction of that rubbed off on me. I’ve prettywell come to the end of my knowlege already. Keep the child from infection and feed her up with the nutrition she needs and everything we can do will have been done. As far as I can tell, she has no congenital defects, but it’d take a hospital’s diagnostic lab to search as thoroughly as would be done in your society…or mine.”

Miss Austen stared at them in surprise. “You speak of great knowlege and wonderful techniques, but are we so backward here in England?”

“Let me put it this way, Miss Austen. In England before the Regency there was very little sound understanding of disease and treatment and a great deal of ignorance-driven superstition, but it is the time from whence great advances in medical sciences begin. New knowlege takes generations to become established. For example, the microscope dates from 1620 and yet the pivotal discoveries of van Leeuwenhoek—blood corpuscules, capillaries, and the structure of nerves— were not made until almost a hundred years later.”

She seemed appalled. “Oh dear, you make me quite apprehensive of my health already. How does one learn about these great advances?”

“The first changes has to be in the training and licensing of doctors. While they trained in theory rather than practice at first, the practical changes gradually made better medical treatment more accessible.”

Gisel took her hand reassuringly. “Every community knows its best healers…the power of word of mouth is the soundest test. But some benchmarks exist, and the strongest is likely the doctor’s unwillingness to implement the harmful practice of blood-letting. It is in the blood that the body’s best defenses…its immune system…reside. The sick and injured cannot afford to lose any of it.”

“Dear me. Your words make me think my writing had been better aimed at studying those topics instead of the idiosyncracies of family and social mores.”

“Not at all. Miss Austen. You have provided a grounding in understanding the sources of our current manners and civility—or perhaps more properly, our lack of them.”

Gisel nodded. “And in my age, even less social gentility. I would suggest a return to your age, its manners, its careful correspondence, its acceptance, and its slower pace would do the present worlds, whatever they may be, a great incentive to live on a more human and less technological level. It may be a great wonder for us to be able to journey through time and space, but no real benefit is derived unless we might return to our own with the incentive to bring our learning back with us.”

Mr Author decided upon having the last word. “Indeed, it is only by retreating from the frenetic pace of our own worlds that we find a quiet place to stand, where we can evaluate what we, collectively, are doing.”

Gisel surprises

November 14, 2011

The continuation of A Regency Bagatelle follows. I started this in May (see the first post here) as an exercise in writing a somewhat Regency style to practice my 19th century sense and sensibilities. The cast includes myself and Gisel Matah, my kick-butt security officer from my Iskander series novels, the Darcys and the Bennets…and now the Bingleys…from Pride and Prejudice—and of course, their author Jane Austen. It was never intended as a work for publication, but…one has to fill up a blog with something. It has to be coming close to an end as I have other projects requiring more attention. Any suggestions are welcome.

And now….Gisel surprises everyone:

After about an hour, the returning carriage was spied in the distance where the driveway crested the distant hill. Those with the best eyesight pronounced that Mr Darcy was at the reins, as he had been when they left, and another gentleman, likely Mr Bingley, rode Agamemnon beside the carriage. No one knew whether to be reassured or dismayed to note that the party proceded at a very measured pace. Was haste no longer necessary…and why?

Again almost the whole household gathered at the front door and down the entrance steps to be there at the moment of arrival. All save Mrs Bennet, it must be noted, because she had taken to her bed where she waited in great fear for the bad news she expected.

Mr Author stood at the bottom of the steps with as much apprehension as the others. When Mr Bingley leaped from Agamamnon to go to the door of the carriage as soon as it stopped, the whole company of watchers emitted a long sigh.

Mr Darcy paused before tying the reins. “Everyone is well,” he called. “Mr and Mrs Bingley have a healthy baby daughter.”

The servants and some of the family broke into applause, and then cheers as the swaddled babe was passed from inside the carriage into Mr Bingley’s waiting arms.

Noting that Agamemnon was now loose and starting to move away, Mr Author nudged one of the stable lads to go and catch him. “Right yer be, Sir. I has’n.”

Mr Bingley stood waiting while Mrs Bingley was helped from the carriage and into the arms of her sister and Miss Matah. Then the entire group moved to the steps and slowly ascended to enter the house. Mr Darcy climbed down from the box as another stable lad came forward to catch the headstalls of the lead horses.

He went to the carriage door to help another young lady dismount. Miss Georgiana turned away from the first party to hurry forward to greet her. “Miss Bingley, I hope you are not too fatigued from all the troubles. Come with me, we must find a comfortable place beside the fire for you.”

The footmen hurried forward to carry off the luggage that had been transferred from the broken carriage as Mr Darcy stopped beside Mr Author to introduce this new arrival. “This is Miss Caroline Bingley, Mr Bingley’s younger sister. Mr Author is a house guest visiting with Miss Matah, Miss Caroline.”

Mr Author bowed slightly in answer to Miss Bingley’s slight curtsy. The ‘charmed to meet you’s were carelessly spoken. He was intrigued to meet the Bingley sister who had set her heart at Mr Darcy long before Elizabeth Bennet had ever met him and who had waged a bitter battle of rivalry with her. Now a house guest—how would the two get on under Mr Darcy’s roof?

Once inside the house, Haggerston urged the guests to gather in the front parlour where a good fire blazed, but Mr Author turned aside to follow the birthing party up the stairs so he could tell Gisel what measures he had taken to prepare sterilised containers and boiled water. He caught up to the kitchen girl who had carried out the work as she ascended at the rear of the group with two of the china jugs.

“I’ll explain to Miss Matah what you have prepared, Ruby. If it is not exactly to her wishes the fault will be mine.”

He followed to the door to the room Mrs Bingley and the babe were to have, but did not enter into this decidedly female sanctum. Mrs Darcy bent over a small crib tending the the child who sobbed softly once or twice. He did hear some of the discussion, that seemed to be about the need for the midwife, still expected to arrive, and the desirability of hiring a wet nurse.

“I don’t recommend using a wet nurse if Mrs Bingley is able to feed the baby,” he heard Gisel say. “The child is about four weeks premature, as near as we can ascertain, which means she is deficient in the nutrients essential to her final development. However, nature has taken measures to help—the mother’s milk will be especially rich in those nutrients.”

“Then we will do our best to accommodate that need. Is that acceptable, Jane?”

Jane Bingley, looking somewhat tired and dishevelled as she sat on the edge of the bed, smiled and nodded her head. “Whatever needs be done, Lizzy. I am in your hands as well as in your great debt, And Miss Matah—I do not know that I can do enough to thank you.”

Gisel looked toward the door, and seemed surprised to see Mr Author there with Ruby.

“I had Ruby, here, prepare some boiled water and sterilised containers. I thought you might be needing them.”

“Thank you, I will. Bring them in, Ruby.” She grinned at Mr Author. “I will see you downstairs when we have settled the mother and child.”

Mr Author backed away from the door, making room for Miss Georgiana and Miss Austen to enter. Miss Austen paused in the doorway to speak to him.

“I’m sure you didn’t plan your young lady to be a midwife,” she said softly. “Her knowledge is sound?”

“I did have her memory of her mother’s expertise help her at other times. That the two volunteered in a clinic for the poor is a reasonable extention of my author’s intention. Gisel must have been quite young, though.”

“The mother would have wanted her daughter to become a healer as well, I expect.”

“Yes, Gisel was expected to follow her mother’s profession at one time. I’ve decided that Gisel’s own daughter will one day take up the calling,”

That was the end of the conversation as the door was closed to allow Mrs Bingley be prepared for bed.

More of Regency Bagatelle

July 27, 2011

They had barely reached a point close to the gatehouse, where they could take a direct walk back to the house, when the two following appeared just a short distance behind, and so they waited for them to catch up. After the polite bows, Miss Austen greeted them with more joviality that had been evident in her manner these past thirty minutes. “Ah, to be able to progress through the countryside on such young legs—I must admit to envy you both. Hills do seem steeper than they did when I was your age.”

“I am sure you took a more observant view of the walk than did we,” Elizabeth Darcy replied with a smile. “I fear Miss Matah and I talked most of the way and our pace increased as our conversation progressed.”

“Then it might be a good idea to exchange partners—if that would be agreeable to you,” Miss Austen suggested. “Since the way ahead of us is now mostly downhill and I feel sure Miss Matah will slow her march to accommodate my step.”

Gisel flashed Mr Author a quizzical glance. “Of course, Miss Austen, but you appear by no means fatigued from attaining to this hilltop. I would relish a stroll and an opportunity to see the this part of England under your guidance.”

Which led Mr Author to extend his arm to Elizabeth Darcy as they walked in the direction of the drive, about ten paces ahead of the others. “I too would enjoy the rest of the walk with the lady of the house as my guide,” he said. “I don’t doubt but that my young friend has already accomplished a whole day’s exertion in the past hour and a half.”

Mrs Darcy‘s eyes affirmed the mild reproof. “I confess that a year’s familiarity is nowhere near sufficient for me to pretend an expert authority on the beauty of Pemberly, but I will be sure to point out those aspects that I have already come to love. In her defence, I must own that your young friend has already been of valuable service to the family this morning—her energy is quite prodigious.”

“Did she look at Mr Darcy’s letter?”

“Indeed she did and has been most helpful in preparing an answer. It seems that an Englishman that Mr Darcy’s father had set up in overseas trade has rather come to grief in the Peloponnesus, and his wife has persuaded someone to write a letter with a request for help.”

“No doubt addressed to Mr Darcy’s father.”

“Indeed. You are correct, but Mr Darcy is inclined to offer some assistance to his father’s friend.”

“Mr Darcy is very generous with his time and resources. These people must be complete strangers to him.”

“Yes, the wife is Greek and cannot read or write; she had to secure the assistance of a fellow trader in olive oil to write the letter for her. It seems that Mr Burke, Mr Darcy Senior’s friend, had a dispute over a shipment of oil that he had already paid for, and has been thrown into prison.”

“A very bad situation in any country, especially one so far from home.”

“Yes, Miss Matah suggests writing to the English consul in Athens—we assume there should be one—to ascertain the truth of the affair, but will translate a letter my husband is preparing to send to the wife and her penman, to apprise them of his action.”

“And any assistance Mr Darcy provides will be through the consul, I assume?”

“That is what she suggests. I gather that you too have experience of other lands?”

“I have spent time in four during the course of my life and have some familiarity with four others. One needs to be counted as a person of consequence in order to dispose the local inhabitants to your favour. The English consul should be a person of some significance, even to the Turkish authorities.”

“One must hope so, although of course he too must be a man of business in the country and not a gentleman…Not that I would consider him to be any less an Englishman for that.”

Mr Author had to smile at the chauvinism, common when he was a boy, but much reduced once Britain ceased to be an owner of colonies. The designation gentleman meant a great deal more in Regency times than it did in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—the difference between someone one might trust on his word and a fellow one might consider it best to keep at arm’s length. But then everyone in the twenty-first century made sure to engage others with a waterproof contract, because the surety that one could be sealed with a handshake vanished with the rise of neoliberalism.

He smiled a little nostalgically at the memory and turned his head to regard his resplendent companions in their warm walking dresses. The word Lady, too, had not survived the times in the best of senses, but even in earlier centuries it had often meant no more than it did later. The world had always been unkind to women.

“I did query Miss Matah about her voice of experience and she intimated that she had been advised to speak as little of her career as was polite. She did tell Mr Darcy that she would be more than pleased to prepare his Greek letter, because she had performed the same duty often for her people…Iskander, they’re called? I suppose this location and these duties are best not mentioned.”

“Yes, it is better not to stray too far beyond the boundaries of Regency England. I can say that her people found themselves stranded in difficult circumstances when she was but sixteen, and when it became evident that a form of Greek was the lingua franca of the place and she, despite her youth, was the only one of them fluent in the language— she became their official interpreter.”

“Her care with her words suggested she might have had more…unladylike duties than that. Not that I intend to pry…I would deplore any attempt to gossip, but I have yet to speak to Miss Darcy, who, as you will have noticed at dinner, is inclined to a too romantic vision of the world. I hope to speak with her on the matter later today.”

Mr Author increased his pace to get farther ahead of the topic of their conversation. “I could tell you some of the less wholesome things that have happened to Gisel, but I’m not sure whether it would be better for her or one of us to tell Miss Georgina. From Gisel the words might still have the attraction of bravado—these things have happened to me and yet I am still unbowed.. Coming from someone more sober…perhaps you or her brother could relate the unattractive side of being a woman of her own making.”

Mrs Darcy’s frown grew. “What things, prey?”

“She was not quite seventeen when she and a male friend twice her age planned an elopement. The only action that stopped it was an urgent message to her father, who, when heard of it whisked her away to Sweden.”

Mrs Darcy’s face became very grave. “We must have no mention of that.”

“I agree, but it would be very awkward to forbid their private conversations. Gisel can be very responsible when an appeal is made to her reason. I would speak to her about the socially valuable experiences I hoped she would derive from your hospitality, but Miss Austen pointed out to me this morning that Gisel is more inclined to challenge my cautions. Your conversation this morning has, I feel quite sure, already been most beneficial. I suspect Miss Austen is even now reinforcing your words.”

“I expect so, I derived all my understanding of the prime value of safeguarding the integrity of our social values from her. The history of great events is universally interpreted as the framework of our lives, but it is in the smaller happenings of families and social congress that the warp and woof of human existence is fabricated.”

“Quite so. I believe I have never heard the sentiment expressed better. I hope you conveyed this to Miss Matah this morning.”

“Perhaps I did in some degree. If you think the sentiment of value I will do my best to raise it in a future conversation.”

As they descended the hill they met the curve of the driveway and then followed it across the bridge to the house, and so entered to sit with the rest of the family in the south drawing room until lunch.

What am I doing with Regency Bagatelle?

July 19, 2011

Since I started posting excerpts of Regency Bagatelle on May 31st I have used the exercise as a simulator and stimulator for a more serious work—which may possibly emerge as a Regency novel or a suite of novellas. If you want to see the whole set so far, you might look for the May 31st post and follow from there. (I don’t know how bad it sounds if read backwards.)

Having not long finished a Virtual Blog Tour for my fantasy novel “Rast’s” release and done character interviews, author interviews, guest blogs, and whatever else might come to mind, I thought I might try a glorified character blog for my own general interest. Bagatelle’s cast consists of myself, Mr Author; Jane Austen; Mr and Mrs Darcy; Georgiana Darcy; Mr and Mrs Bennet; and the glaringly un-Regency protagonist of my Iskander series novels, Gisel Matah.

After writing a few pages, I found I needed something other than more novel material to share with one of my local writers’ groups—so I took the first few pages of the Bagatelle. They seemed to elicit some interest. Shortly after, wondering with what to keep this blog alive, I decided to post the material here. Since then I have started on the aforementioned Regency work, which has anachronistic elements (greater progress with steam development and a Napoleon who successfully extricated his army from Moscow, won the Battle of Leipzig, and now threatens England with another invasion); a very Regency-paced romance; and spies, warships, and (perish the thought) people who make their fortunes by industry and commerce.

Anyway. Time for another post of Regency in an Austen-ish style.

After breakfast next day the sun consented to shine and offer enough encouragement for the house guests to venture outside. Mr Author and Miss Austen took a walk about the grounds, crossing the lawn to the path beside the river. “Your Miss Matah is certainly an outspoken and provocative young woman,” Miss Austen averred. “I suppose your description of her to me was considered accurate in your eyes, but I should have been wiser to have enlarged upon all your words of qualification.”

“I beg your pardon, Miss Austen, I dwelt too much perhaps upon those times when she had ingratiated herself with people of modest fame and too little upon those when her appearance and bearing had challenged important people with the earnestness of her business.”

“And her fierceness,” Miss Austen said with a smile. “I can quite picture such concern among her interlocutors—you have crafted her as a most energetic and provocative person—all qualities a young woman of the English gentry in this day and age is not permitted to display.”

They had now entered a beautiful walk by the side of the water, and every step bringing forward a nobler fall of ground, or a finer reach of the woods to which they were approaching; Mr Author felt a resurgence of optimism in such surroundings. “I hope the Darcy’s are not regretting issuing the invitation. I fear some of their opprobrium could attach to yourself.”

“I rather fancy not. Mr Darcy’s true nature was concealed by my circumlocution for three fourths of the novel, but his even and liberal nature can come to the fore on ground of his own choosing—in this case, Pemberly. Mrs Darcy has always been quite open minded for her background, and most generous in her regard for others—for all save Mr Darcy when they first met. I’m sure you understand that as a technique of fiction craft.”

“Yes, your technique has become a standard, but critical readers have become suspicious when they find strong animosity at such early acquaintance.”

“Ah, I must own that you surprise me. My writing is known?” They paused at a higher vantage point and looked back toward the house where two ladies could be perceived starting across the lawn.

“Known and admired, Miss Austen.”

She smiled, perhaps a little absently. “Can you tell the identities of the two ladies beginning their walk, Mr Author? I do hope your Miss Matah is not walking with Miss Georgiana before Mrs Darcy has spent some time in conversation with them both.”

“Yes. I understand your concern. One is definitely Gisel and the other does not look tall enough to be Miss Darcy.”

“I hope your eyes do not deceive. I fear Miss Georgiana will be too influenced by your young lady’s novelties and strong opinions. Such freedom of speech is frowned upon in our society, and would do her reputation no good service.”

“I will be sure to speak to Gisel about it.”

Miss Austen smiled. “I hope those are the sentiments Mrs Darcy will be able to convey during their walk this morning. I do believe I perceive a strong readiness in Miss Matah to challenge your authority—perhaps enough that she will attempt to see how provocative a manner she can display.”

“I intended her to be a strong character who would not back down to anyone.”

Miss Austen laughed. “I would suggest, if I might venture to criticise, that you have rather exceeded your intention.”

“In her dangerous career she needs to come across as a person one would be well advised to avoid tangling with.”

“Your idiom is strange to me—it must be of your world and age, is it not? I do comprehend the tenor of your response, but perhaps the most scandalous secret of her life we must keep unspoken is her employment in some enterprise. A young lady in Regency England does not work for a living, nor does she enter into any gainful activity.”

Mr Author smiled. “Such as writing fiction, perhaps?”

Miss Austen laughed. “That was always my secret. Very few members of my family circle ever knew of my predilection.”

They spoke little more as they entered the woods, and bidding adieu to the river for a while, ascended some of the higher grounds. Mr Author would have liked to converse further but his anxiety over Gisel’s outspokenness filled his mind. His pace slowed enough that Miss Austen commented that the two ladies might soon overtake them; whence, in spots where the opening of the trees gave the eye power to wander, they looked for them coming nearer as well as enjoyed many charming views of the valley, the opposite hills with the long range of woods overspreading many, and occasionally part of the stream.    Cont…

More from Regency Bagatelle

June 8, 2011

 

<This piece of Regency nonsense continues from the May 31st post below.>

“A king?” Miss Austen’s eyes brightened. “Even if monarch of some minor kingdom in a distant eastern land, I am perhaps somewhat reassured that you will find a ready acceptance of your foreign customs. While the owners of Pemberly are most respected county gentry they are not accustomed to being received at Court—although they have been presented to the Prince of Wales when attending a function in the city.”

Author quickly cut off Gisel’s darkening response by interjecting, “Is that Pemberly House?” drawing Miss Austen’s attention to the first view of Pemberly House offered by a bend in the drive and a gap in the formal row of beech trees.

“Yes. That will be the house. Perhaps you might request the coachman to pause here a few minutes.”

“Good idea.” Author let down the window of the door and leaned out. “I say, old chap. Will you stop here a moment so we might look at the estate?”

The coachman pulled back on the reins. “Right yer be, Sir.”

Author reached out to the handle and opened the door. “Would you like to step out a moment to look?” he suggested to Gisel. No response. “Miss Austen?”

“I think not. I believe I feel quite a chill in the air.”

“Yes of course, the nasty frost at Christmas in 1813,” Author remarked. “How about it, Miss Matah. I think it a good idea to stretch our legs.” He followed that up with a meaningful glare.

“Oh, all right.”

Author gave a hand to Miss Matah as she alighted and they walked a few yards away from the carriage without speaking. When they reached a place where they could see the house in the hillside opposite, Gisel began speaking in a low voice. “If I have to be exhibited as a throwback from some goddamned savage kingdom almost too, too coarse to speak of in polite company I’m bailing out of this horseshit right now. Turn this boneshaker around and let’s go back.”

“We can’t. Not without insulting our hostess and her people. This is a great opportunity to broaden our treatment of the culture and polite society of Lingdon and Tarnland. I don’t mean Gaian society to be anything inferior to Regency England.”

“I don’t see why I have to be included in this.”

“If I can put up with wearing this uncomfortable and damned cold monkey suit without complaint I’m sure you can practice your genteel discretion and modest silences when they are appropriate in formal society. You could find it useful.”

“Bullshit!”

“Don’t speak so loudly. Look at the scenery.”

From the edge of the wood the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the drive, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; — and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned.

Author turned his attention to his companion. “Miss Austen described the house, as seen for the first time by the mistress to be— “

Gisel waved her hands at waist height, as if conducting a very short choir. “Although she didn’t know she was going to be, then – did she? You’re not the only one who’s read the book.”

“Right. ‘She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste’.”

“Okay. So I promise not to make a scene. Let’s get going.”

They climbed back into the carriage and resumed the drive—descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, the front door opened and a footman approached to speak with the driver.

Author heard the exchange as, “Yers, ‘tis the Austen party o’ three.”

With that another footman and three maids appeared from a side door and came to assist the travellers’ dismounting, removal of the baggage, and sundry other attentions that characterized an arrival of unfamiliar guests. The front door was opened by yet another footman who, with one of the maids, took their outer travelling garments and carried them away. An older man, the butler, met them in the foyer and with great dignity said, “If you’ll kindly come this way, Ladies, Sir, the family are gathered in the South drawing room,” and led them across a tiled hall and past a grand staircase to a door which stood partly open.

As they filed in the butler stood by the open door to address the family. “Your guests, Sir, Madam… Miss Austen, Miss Matah, and Mr Author.”

A tall man standing by the fireplace bowed, and the three responded. Fitzwilliam Darcy was every bit as imposing in appearance and manner as he had appeared in the novel: tall and handsome and of noble mien. “Miss Austen, Miss Matah, welcome. I hope you are not too fatigued from your journey. Mr Author, thank you for your diligent care of the ladies. I trust you found our county facilities adequate and easy of access. I hope we can find something to amuse you while the ladies are visiting. Do you shoot?”

“Not lately. I was somewhat of a marksman in my army service, but restrict myself to more social entertainment these days.”

“Quite. Quite so.” Mr Darcy dismissed the topic with a wave of a hand that scattered the grouse and partridge into far distant coverts. “You have not actually met any of the family before, I understand.” He proceeded to point everyone out by deferential but slight bows. “My father in law, Mr Bennet; my wife Mrs Darcy –“

That lady looked up and smiled. “Elizabeth, please. Let us be more hospitable than formal.”

Mr Darcy leaned back and raised his chin. “Very well. Elizabeth Darcy, then: My mother in law, Mrs Bennet; and my sister, Georgiana Darcy. Please take a seat— Miss Matah, beside me at the fire?” He turned to the butler still standing by the door. “Perhaps our guests would enjoy a glass of wine, Haggerston – the family also.”

How time flies.

May 31, 2011

I didn’t post much here while the VBT for Rast was going, because I used my blog at http://trailowner.blogspot.com/ as designated Muse/Rast site. Then, I took a hiatus to unwind which grew into some computer work which put me mostly off-line.

Anyway, no excuses. I have some editing to do with my recent Iskander series novel, Masquerade, that I’ll be mentioning as time goes by. The preparations for the VBT and the stimulus of writing character interviews, guest interviews, and me interviews prompted me to try my hand at a new twist in the format. What if I wrote a visit by me and Gisel, my Iskander series protagonist, to some other literary venue and author? So I decided to take us both to visit Mr and Mrs Darcy one year after their wedding along with their author, Jane Austen.

I’ll give a bit of it here. Remember that Gisel, from the Iskander series, is a 23rd century young woman and is about as far as one could get from the formal ladies of Regency England. Should be fun, eh?

A Regency Bagatelle:

A tale made possible by the organisation Time Travel for Authors and Characters of Fiction — TTFAACOF provides a grant of temporal distortion in order to enlarge the interaction of fictional modes.

Three personages rode in a rented barouche drawn by two matched chestnut horses; an older gentleman in a blue frock coat, tight white breeches reaching to the mid-calf, a top hat resting on the seat beside him, and a cravat of grey silk at his throat, sat beside the door facing forwards; a young lady of almost twenty, wearing a travelling outfit of deep burgundy showing under a pelisse of heavy wool, and with a poke bonnet covering her long dark hair sat opposite him beside a somewhat older lady muffled in a dark grey cloak of wool topped by a cornette of pale yellow fastened below the chin. They look tired, although they have not made a long journey, but are perhaps feeling the cold this late-December day.

As the carriage turned into the gates of Pemberly House the bumps and potholes of the thoroughfare gave way to a steady rumble and spraying of crushed gravel. Miss Austen smiled at the guest of honour for the visit, Lieutenant Gisel Matah of Iskander Security.

“Mr Author advised me of your rolé in his fiction, Miss Matah,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. “I must confess to being somewhat amused and intrigued, but trust you will speak as little of  that as courtesy and decorum will allow. I fear the Darcys, my characters, would be somewhat dismayed … yes, even shocked … should they be apprised of your career and reputation. It is not only that a young woman of breeding and sensibility does not enter into any form of employment – the character and scandalous nature of yours would cause them great disquiet. I believe Mrs Darcy’s parents are visiting at the moment — I’m sure you would cause Mrs Bennet a great deal of agitation should she hear of it.”

Gisel nodded. “I understand, Miss Austen. I will be as circumspect as possible.”

Author looked at her with a degree of concern. Regency society had one priority – to maintain decorum – and that wasn’t Gisel’s strong suit. “I’d hope you’ll remember the a lady’s stratagem in this society if you feel the strict formality and social etiquette getting to you. A headache and a degree of discomfort that causes you to offer your apologies and to retire to your room.”

She cast a baleful look at him. “Sound’s charming. Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time in that room.”

“That need not be so,” Miss Austen suggested. “I did warn the Darcys that you were from a foreign family. I expect they will be most condescending to your foibles —“

Author cut in hastily as he saw Gisel’s eyes darken. “That’s meant in the nicest way; condescension is regarded as a generous social asset in this society.”

Gisel shrugged. “If you say so. I will remind you that I have not been entirely living among savages. I was presented to the King of Lingdon; and his Crown Prince is always very friendly toward me. Countess Felicie DeBormond of Burgendene is a close friend.”

Continued…

I have quite a bit more—I was beginning to enjoy writing in Regency idiom, and when I next post it, you’ll see the fun I had with Mr and Mrs Bennet from “Pride and Prejudice”. Especially the Mrs.


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