Archive for August, 2011

Gisel frightens the Darcys

August 30, 2011

“I’m not sure what she mentioned, but I must begin at the point of most significance in Regency society. A young woman in our society who attains to a position of value, such as Miss Matah’s invaluable skill at languages, places herself in direct competition with the interests of gentlemen she may meet. A young gentleman of means and of amiable and kind disposition who might be inclined to admire her could be brought up against the very disturbing possibility that she might be called away by her political masters when a matter requiring urgent attention, within her skills, may suddenly arise. All intentions he may have toward making a fuller acquaintance may be cast aside when he addresses the inconveniences, and possibly more serious disruptions it might cause them were they to consider marriage.”

Miss Darcy stopped at the door to the conservatory while Mr Author opened it, but it seemed her eyes were elsewhere. “Hmm. I see what you mean.”

“I actually know of situations where the differing expertise of a married couple result in their spending considerable time in different cities—even different countries. Of course, this happens here as well. One could cite the situation of naval officers and their wives and families.”

“I have met ladies in that situation who have not seen their husbands for several years,” Miss Darcy mused. “What a terrible situation, I always think. With the delay in sending and receiving mail the husband could have been lost in a shipwreck for months before the family hears the news.”

Mr Author thought perhaps the message had been delivered, but, alas, it was not so.

Stopping before the first of the flowering plants, Miss Darcy sighed. “I must confess that I find the prospect of travel to distant places a very fascinating one. Fancy being born in a distant country and having been partly raised by one’s grandparents in Greece. The marvels of Athens, the mysteries of Delphi, the harsh and barren hills of Sparta—surely it would be like living in a poem of Homer’s. I can imagine sailing on the wine-dark sea to the islands on the horizon … but Miss Matah has actually done it—no wonder she can speak with a traveller’s authority on so many subjects.”

“But I perceive that you have travelled the same lands in your mind from reading the classics, Miss Darcy. In many ways that experience is more likely to stir the intellect and the imagination than the hardships, the heat and pestilential flies of the actual journey. I would suggest that the hills of Sparta are not exactly barren but I recall they were very dusty with sandy soil and not as verdant as parts farther north.”

“You have been to Sparta? Do tell.”

Oops. Mr Author realised he should not have shared that information. “I must admit to having been there once…it was a long time ago.”

“How did you come to be travelling in Greece? What was it like?” She turned to face him, her arms akimbo. “Did you visit Miss Matah and her grandparents? I must hear what you have to say. I will not move another step until you tell me more.”

“There really isn’t much to tell. I thought the place a disappointment—certainly after Athens. There was very little trace of the ancient city; no hoplites training in the olive groves—just a rather small, drab country town. I am sure you have heard more interesting tales in fashionable drawing rooms in London when people who have take the Grand Tour relate their experiences.”

“No one has ever spoken of visiting Greece to my knowledge. The Turks are Mohammedans …perhaps even Saracens—it would hardly be safe for a Christian to venture there. How was it possible for you to visit?”
“Well, I—”

At that point the door to the conservatory burst open and Haggerston rushed in, his face scarlet and his breath rasping. “I say…Mr Author! Mr Darcy asks if you … could come at once to the… stable yard…”

Miss Georgiana gasped. “Why, whatever has happened? Is someone hurt?”

“Why, no Miss…but someone very well could.” He turned from Miss Georgiana to beseech Mr Author. “Please come, Sir. It’s your Miss Matah— she is determined to ride Agamemnon!”


Bagatelle—Miss Matah troubles

August 19, 2011

After lunch, Miss Austen busied herself in conversation with the Bennets on the prospects of Mr and Mrs Bingley arriving soon with words of great praise for the property they had visited, and perhaps even an intention to purchase it. Gisel disappeared into the library with Mr Darcy to further the project of writing a letter in Greek in answer to the one he had received; and perhaps even discussing one in English that might be sent to the attention of the English Consul in Athens.

Mr Author retired to the drawing room to look at the collection of newspapers Mr Darcy took. There were many in this golden age of newspapers when everyone and his brother, literally, ventured into the business of informing and educating their readership. Most of Mr Darcy’s were local-—two from Lambton; one from Hull; another from Derby, The Derby Mercury; and another—-a prize—-a recent London newspaper, the Observer. That took Mr Author back a few years to when he always chose the Observer whenever he wanted to read a London Sunday newspaper. Good old Observer, already 24 years in publication by this date at Pemberly.

Mrs Darcy and Miss Georgiana left the drawing room to examine some blossoms in the conservatory, but he suspected some weightier considerations than flowers might occupy much of their time. When the two returned a half hour later and Miss Georgiana expressed some interest in showing him the flowers blooming in December in the conservatory. Mr Author, who had been finding a certain fascination in the tone and substance of the Observer’s reports on the serious problems of the age, thought it prudent to express a little lassitude with the world of news and agree.

“I must admit that I am no gardener, Miss Darcy,” Mr Author allowed as they left the house. “Neither do I know a delphinium from a geranium.”

Miss Darcy laughed. “I am sure that you enjoy them all, nevertheless. But I must admit the discussion of flowers and gardening were not my intention.”

She looked around at the empty terrace. “Mrs Darcy suggested that you might be able to tell me of the disadvantages of living a full and exciting life…such as the one your young friend Miss Matah experiences.” She paused as her cheeks coloured slightly. “Not that I mean to pry, you understand. I would not like her to think that I wished to trespass into her private life.”

Mr Author nodded. “I did not expect that you did, but I recall she was the one who spoke to you about the secrets it would be improper to discuss. I must admit that she has a number of secrets it is better left unexamined, so I would prefer to structure my discussion in more general terms as they affect all young women in Gisel’s society.”

At this point they reached the steps leading down to the entrance to the conservatory and Mr Author offered his arm to Miss Darcy to steady her as she negotiated the steps in a dress that extended down to the buckles of her shoes.

“I notice that you use her name very familiarly,” she said as they reached the bottom. “Is she a member of your family?”

“Extended family I like to think, but one social difference I might point out as a preliminary exploration of the world Gisel comes from is the lack of much of Regency England’s formality. The more relaxed use of another person’s given name is emblematic of the much looser social graces of that age. These can work toward maintaining an atmosphere of social warmth, but also give rise to unnecessary and sometimes unwise familiarity.”

“Who would one address in such a less formal manner, pray?”

“One would always address ones brother by his first name, for example—-“

Miss Darcy placed a hand over her mouth as her eyes widened. “I could never do that.”

“Married couples would use the spouse’s first name in public, or perhaps a variation of Mother or Father if they are used to so naming the parent to their children. In Parliament a man must speak of an opponent as ‘the Right Honourable Gentleman’, but outside would eschew the use of any honorific whatsoever.”

“Yes…I see. But I would also like to hear more of the perils my sister-in-law mentioned.”

Today is Blog Jog Day

August 7, 2011

Welcome to Blog Jog Day! Please enjoy my site then click over to to see what the next Blog has to offer! Lost in the links? You can always go back to the main Blog Jog Day Blog at and find a new link to jog from. Thank you for stopping by my site!

I have another blog on the Jog today with some money to look at. You can find it at

Regency Bagatelle–posts below–is a bit of an experiment in writing in Regency style. I find it a pleasant change from my regular writing, which is so ‘today’. The first of the posts was on May 31st.