Maurice was in some puzzlement as to how, having courteously regretted he could not receive Lady Trembourne back into his establishment, he might bring her back without having to humble himself and ask her. The solution to the problem was, fortunately, put into his hands by her sister-in-law.
The Countess of Pockinford was a long-cherished patron: still a pretty little dumpling after a fruitful marriage bearing a fine thriving family. Alas, she still posed the problem of how to dress her in the crack of style without offending the Earl’s Evangelical strictures upon the necessity for womanly modesty in dress – that meant that she was more modestly dressed even than her sister, a clergyman’s wife: but the Reverend Mr Lucas did not think that a low-cut neckline in keeping with the dictates of fashion was the debauchery that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. But Maurice contrived, and no-one considered the Countess a dowd.
Maurice was busy about checking that her measurements were still the same when she said, nervously, O, Maurice, I know you must have a deal on hand, so many clients and coming up so near to the Season, but Lady Trembourne has been in a most exceeding taking over the shocking business with Madame Francine.
Could you fit her – o, and Lady Sarah – I should be most exceeding grateful.
Well – Maurice began, and saw the famed trembling of the Countess’s lower lip and the air of impending tearfulness, that could cause the most disagreeable of ladies in the philanthropic set – if not her sister-in-law – to fall in with her wishes. Do you ask it, Lady Pockinford, I will see can I make a little time when I might undertake the two of 'em. I daresay I shall be able to find enough hands - sure the seamstresses at Madame Francine’s found themselves cast out and, I hear, wages unpaid.
O, 'tis quite shocking! cried Lady Pockinford. Is not the lot of a seamstress hard enough already? Lady Bexbury and I were discussing the matter only lately. I am sure you treat your needlewomen well, but I daresay that you are obliged to turn the majority of them off for a good part of the year?
Indeed 'tis so – worked to rags during the Season, alas, and then having to make do on piece-work at home –
Or indeed, said Lady Pockinford, falling into vice.
So 'tis given out. If you would just turn around a little and raise your arms?
So we are thinking about a plan, for there is a matter about making clothes for the orphans, and ladies say, would it not be a fine thing to have a working-party? but then there is ever some reason why they may not come work, and Lady Bexbury said, sure there are women that need such employment, did we get up a fund for a work-room, where they might come and be in good conditions and be paid, and mayhap get a meal, and their moral character would be preserved –
Why, 'tis a most excellent plan, and I daresay Lady Bexbury is already about writing some pamphlet upon the matter, I will certainly take a few to lay about the receiving-room so that the ladies that come here may learn of this enterprize.
O, cried Lady Pockinford with her pretty dimpling smile, O, that is so very kind.
He smiled and shook his head after she had left. One would say she deserved better than a husband with such narrow views, but 'twas entirely known within Society that they doated upon one another.
He made the final notes for her gowns, including the need to make some alterations to her mannequin, tidied everything away, looked about the room, put on his hat and coat and picked up his cane, and with a slight sigh departed for Basil’s studio.
For Basil had been most pressing among their set for a party to come see the unveiling of his latest large painting – the Theban Band at the Battle of Chaeronea – and seemed in a somewhat touchy mood at present. Mayhap – if there was no re-opening of this foolish suggestion that he should come act as Basil’s factotum – he might even remain behind when the company had departed.
Or maybe he would not, he thought, when he observed Basil making up to Tom Tressillian, even if 'twas only so that Tom would commission a painting of himself in some telling character. And – good heavens – was that young Orlando Richardson? Sure he bore a considerable resemblance to his late great-uncle Elias Winch. Had his doting mama not complained to Maurice at her fittings that in spite of being educated up a gentleman by her doting all-but-husband Danvers Dalrymple, nothing would do for her son but to go on stage? – in the tones of one that felt she should make some complaint but was rather pleased than otherwise.
Maurice went over to desire an introduction and discovered that the person obscured behind an easel with a half-finished canvas upon it was MacDonald. They exchanged civil nods. Do you know Mr Richardson? Permit me to introduce you.
O, indeed I have heard of you! said the young man. Mama will ever sing your praises.
I see, said MacDonald, that our host neglects his duties. Let me get you a glass of wine.
Maurice took the wine and wondered, could it be that Basil was deliberately snubbing him, rather than merely momentarily dazzled by the handsome young actor?
Indeed, Basil’s manner to him seemed unwonted brusque, compared to his attentions to the rest of the company. If he was going to behave thus, Maurice was not going to linger. He took his outer garments from Basil’s man, and went out into an evening that had turned to pelting sleety rain.
Here – a hand grabbed his arm – I have just managed to wave down a hansom, get in before you are drenched.
Maurice allowed himself to be thrust into the cab and sat down. He relished the prospect of getting thoroughly soaked even less than sharing the narrow space with MacDonald.
MacDonald remarked that he now apprehended why Lady Bexbury called Linsleigh that great bore - while he will never rival Mr Nixon of the Home Office, he is still a very tedious fellow. But, he went on, I fancy he is a friend of yours – perchance he may show better in different company?
Instead of saying in waspish tones that doubtless Basil was not up to Mr MacDonald’s most exceeding exacting standards, Maurice replied that indeed, Basil was wont to run on without noting whether his listeners were interested or not.
(Damn. He did not want to find himself agreeing with MacDonald over such a matter.)
Where should you like to be dropped?
Maurice gave the direction for his lodgings – I hope 'tis not out of your way?
Not in the least. But – since we are met thus – I mind that there was a matter I have been commissioned to investigate, that you may have some intelligence concerning. He looked about for a moment and said, I do not suppose the cab-driver goes spy, but yet I had rather it were a little more private. Is there some time we might –
Maurice, who was already feeling those sensations that he had become accustomed to experience in close proximity to MacDonald, bit his lip and then said, why do you not step up to my lodgings, have you no engagement to be at –
Why, should only take a moment or so, but is very gracious of you.
Of course he was only going to ask whatever question it was, and then go away again. He would not stay.
They ascended the stairs in silence, and Maurice unlocked the door. Latching it behind him, he turned to where MacDonald was looking about him with interest, entirely intending – no, only that – to ask what his investigation was, and found himself going lean up against him.
A hand stroked down his back and then MacDonald said thoughtfully, we are both standing here with our hats still on in rain-splashed coats that we should take off. That is, if you have any desire for me to linger beyond the five minutes I think my question like to take.
You must know I do. Do you wish to stay?
In answer, MacDonald began to remove his coat.
Maurice swallowed. I will just go and light the fire, he said.
He was still kneeling by the hearth when MacDonald came in. He stood up and said, I only have gin, would you care for anything to drink.
Not in particular, but do you do as you would like.
Maurice went and poured himself a glass of gin. So, he said, what did you wish to ask me?
Firstly, do you dress Lady Sarah Channery?
Maurice turned around. I used to, she then followed Lady Trembourne to Madame Francine’s, and I have been beguiled into saying I will go dress the two of 'em again. Why?
Did she ever make use of your discreet chamber?
Maurice snorted. Lady Sarah? Why do you ask? – O, I apprehend what this is about. Sir Stockwell thinks she has took a lover: if she has, must be very recent.
Oh, she has, I have it on the very best authority. But I thought it possibly material to discover whether she was in the habit.
I confide not. But has she admitted to you - ?
Not she; the gentleman that has been enjoying her favours.
There is some fellow going around boasting upon the matter?
Not in the least, I am sure he is entire discreet and would not at all desire to have a crim. con action brought against him: but is a good friend of mine, and disclosed it to me because the lady had received a note demanding recompense for silence. The danger is probably passed, now Mrs Fanny has disappeared, but I wonder if ‘twas an accustomed practice with Lady Sarah to enter upon such liaisons; also whether any ladies that have returned to you have said aught of similar demands?
Not so far. But – at least, as he has given it out – Sir Stockwell is not in any jealous passion in the matter, merely wishes ascertain whether there will be any scandal –
But does Lady Sarah apprehend that?
Perchance not! I fancy 'tis not such a case as the Zellens, where they have come to a mutual understanding.
He gulped down the last of the gin and walked across the room to where MacDonald was sitting. I should say that now these questions are asked and answered, you should go.
Yes, of course you should. And do you ask me to, I will.
Maurice straddled the outstretched legs and stooped to kiss that mouth that was so very lovely when it smiled as it was doing now.
Here's what we are looking at:
EXPENSES 6-12 MONTHS
$120 for the next round of bloodwork, either in 12 months or if he starts declining again, whichever comes first.
$100 for in-office euthanasia if necessary (I always want to have this amount on hand, even if he seems totally okay)
$60 for tending to his body respectfully.
$120 for what I think should be 3 months' worth of dry AND wet foods, and kidney-safe treats. (I'm having trouble with this math, since I don't know exactly how many servings are in this bag, or how much he will eat.)
$70 for his regular anxiety meds and lysine treats.
= $470 as a cushion against the most likely expenses over the next year or so, plus the non-negotiable meds and food, and the mercy fund in case he needs to be put to sleep.
$230 for an "optional" X-ray, which I very much want to get so we can check for other things like tumors. I REALLY want this quite badly, but it IS optional.
$400 for a full-body clean at Skulls Unlimited, like I did for Tazendra. This is genuinely optional. I'm not expecting this. Just the skull is $60.
= $630 extra, for stuff that would be good or cool to have.
TOTAL, that would be $1,100.
That is doable with a head start and help from y'all.
If you are comfortable donating a few bucks outright, I take paypal at email@example.com.
If you want something concrete, I will be posting some art stuff, listing some ponies on eBay, and maybe taking some small art commissions. I will try to get that stuff up on Monday, as well as bumping this post.
I am very optimistic after my talk with our vet today. I have a lot of hope, and overall this isn't looking too bad right now. I just want to build up a cushion so that we can keep him safe.
Thank you all for your kind words of support, which have been worth my stupid cat's weight in gold. It's good to see that there's hope. <3
Thank you for having my back, and his.
Here he is being stinky and beautiful:
He says thank you. <3
i'm watching battlestar galactica the miniseries, and everyone looks so young! aaron douglas is a baby! i never saw the miniseries and i think i started watching the series in the middle of s2 so i was always a little confused, but a lot of this is familiar, and mostly it's nice to see how thing started. i always liked how the space battles were shot, and i loved that your superior was always "sir", even if they were female - like, the pilots all called roslin "sir", and i thought that was great - and baltar is still nuts. i think there's a bsg marathon all weekend on the syfy channel.
spn_reversebang claims open tomorrow morning and i may or may not have set my alarm clock to guarantee i get my ass out of bed on time. there are a couple of pieces i really like as art but have no story ideas for, and a couple more i totally could write for. one of them is so far in my wheelhouse it isn't funny. fingers crossed i get one of the arts i want.
now the dark knight returns is on and i'm always so disappointed they covered tom hardy's face with a mask. i know it's part of the character, but still. his face! also? i hate christian bale's batman voice.
Hopefully will feel good enough to go to work tomorrow as it's supposed to *not* be raining.
Sir Stockwell had indicated to Sandy that he would be extremely grateful for some private discourse at a time when fewer fellows were about the club, so early one afternoon Sandy made his way there, was admitted, and shown to a sanctum where Sir Stockwell was smoking a pipe over some papers.
MacDonald! he rose to shake hands. Good of you to come. He gathered together the papers on his desk, placed them in a drawer, and locked it. 'Tis a quieter place to study over complicated matters than the Admiralty, he said by way of explanation.
He offered Sandy sherry, but was entirely equable when he suggested a preference for coffee, that was brought hot and strong, if not quite as good as Euphemia’s.
Sandy said somewhat of what a fine club it was, excellent set of fellows, greatly gratified to be admitted to membership, as Sir Stockwell relit his pipe and seemed somewhat self-conscious.
'Tis given out, he said at length, that you have a particular talent for finding out hidden matters with extreme discretion.
Sure I think repute somewhat exaggerates my capacities, but I have a great fondness for delving into mysteries: there are those have said I am as curious as a mongoose.
Only, said Sir Stockwell, there is a certain private matter I should desire discover, but indeed it is a matter demanding very great discretion, and I minded that, could you not come at it, you might open it to the wisdom of Lady Bexbury, for 'tis a matter of women -
Sandy lifted his eyebrows and looked sympathetic.
- in short, 'tis my wife, that I am in some suspicion takes a lover. Have no firm evidence, does not give scandal, but should like to know what she is about, who the fellow is. For indeed, there are fellows will go make up to wives, when they wish to come at the husband and his affairs –
Sandy let out a suitable groan and confided that alas, 'twas so, keeping his face exceeding straight. For he was in no inclination to betray Geoffrey Merrett’s confidences without he at least consulted Clorinda as to the wisdom of doing so; and perchance he should let Geoff know what was afoot. It disposed him to think that the extortionist had been very much making a shot at venture: though presumably Lady Sarah was not apprized of her husband’s complaisance - ? but also to consider further the notion that it might have been one sally in a wider campaign to milk adulterous wives.
Why, he said, will go see what I may find in the matter. Does your wife have any confidantes?
Goes about with that harridan Lady Trembourne: but she is a fool does she disclose any secrets to her.
Sandy grimaced and agreed that secrets would not be safe, and like to be used to as much damage as possible, in that lady’s hands. But, he went on, the matter may be one that is in constant discourse over tea-tables, so I would purpose an initial sounding of whether Lady Bexbury has heard aught.
'Tis wise, and she is given out extreme discreet.
Sandy rose to go, they shook hands once more, and he left, with the most urgent desire to communicate the entire imbroglio to Clorinda.
However, when he arrived back at her house, when Hector let him he sighed and said, we have company - family company –
Indeed Sandy could hear an agitated voice within the parlour, quite loud enough to be heard in the hall. He raised his eyebrows in query.
Lady Ollifaunt, said Hector, in a considerable taking.
Sandy sighed. He had left Clorinda in a happy anticipation of an afternoon scribbling at her new tale, being given out not at home, but there were ever those to whom that could not be said, and the Ferrabys were of that number.
He was in some inclination to go hide in the library until Bess might be gone, but perchance that was not the most manly course of action. He entered the parlour, and saw Clorinda’s glance of relief.
Bess Ollifaunt was storming up and down in a fury. But is it not entirely beyond everything, dear Aunty Clorinda, that Harry should go talk to some fellow at the Admiralty about the provision of iron and not tell me beforehand? Am I not entire partner in the ironworks? Was it some matter of engineering, mayhap somewhat to do with steam, I could understand it. But no, 'tis some question of iron, and very particular specifications, and he goes think he may deal entire by himself on the matter, does not need to inform me –
Dear Bess, said Clorinda, with the air of one who had been hearing the same complaint reiterated several times over, sit down and take some tea and try calm yourself. Sure I think 'twas a little ill-advized in Harry not to open the matter to you well beforehand, but I daresay the Admiralty are in somewhat of a habit of dealing with gentlemen rather than ladies. Calm yourself and tell me the story in a little better order, and also, show civil and greet Mr MacDonald.
Oh! cried Bess, I am indeed sorry, I did not see you come in, delighted to see you.
She sat down and accepted a cup of tea and Sandy did likewise.
Why, she said, Harry came to me the morn and said he had lately been asked to go see Sir Stockwell Channery – Sandy lifted his head and then looked down into his teacup – at the Admiralty, that is in charge, he supposes, of improving steamships &C, and he dares says that it is a matter of boilers and degrees of tolerance, for he was asking might we be able to provide iron to such and such specifications, and really, 'twas most out of the common, one would need go talk to Mr Dalgleish about the practicalities of the matter, and sure, 'twould do us no harm whatsoever to have an Admiralty contract, but I think Harry should have spoke to me first.
La, said Clorinda, but he did come tell you quite immediate afterwards.
Indeed not so, Bess said fretfully, waited until he might convoke with me face to face in private, would not put the matter in a letter. But, she conceded, did so quite as soon as he was able to contrive that. But it put me in a great fret that he might go commit us to something we might not be able to fulfil – or would mean putting back other orders, a thing I can never like – and I said he should show me the papers. And he said, that there were no papers, 'twas entire a verbal matter so far, so I hope the notes he made in his memorandum book most immediate afterwards are accurate.
Why, I think you may trust Harry for that – Bess gave a little reluctant nod – And I daresay what is ado is that the Admiralty go about to consult various fellows in the iron business, to find out can the thing be done, and what time it might take, and what 'twould cost, and ‘tis all very informal at present.
Do you think so?
Why, I think Lady Bexbury has the right of it, said Sandy. But I have some little acquaintance with Sir Stockwell and do I have any occasion to talk to him about his work at the Admiralty – though he is extreme close on the matter – will see can I sound the matter out. But I daresay 'tis indeed as ‘twere a matter of taking preliminary soundings.
At length Bess was soothed into a quieter state of mind, encouraged to say a little of how her husband and children did, and was in entire better mood by the time she left.
Clorinda leaned back in her chair and fanned herself. Dear Bess, she said. I wonder shall I have Harry coming about saying Bess is quite unreasonable – or mayhap Lou, saying, Harry is very upset, is not Bess being rather unreasonable? She sighed. But, my dear, I did not know you knew Sir Stockwell Channery.
Sandy got up to look out of the window and ascertain that Bess’s carriage had left. You do not anticipate any further company? She shook her head.
I feel I may therefore disclose to you, most extreme discreet –
Silence to the death!
- that Sir Stockwell is a leading figure in the club I lately joined.
Say you so!
And has, indeed, commissioned me to an enquiry concerning his lady.
That poor dispirited creature Lady Sarah, that is the Unfair Rosamund’s hanger-on?
It seems, says Sandy, that she has shown enough spirit to enter upon a liaison with – my dear Clorinda, sure I should have told you before, but I was not sure the secret was mine to disclose - but there are matters about it that I find I need open to your acuity.
She sat up and smacked him lightly with her fan. With who?
The Honble Geoffrey Merrett.
Clorinda laughed quite immoderately, and then said, sure I am somewhat surprized, but indeed, he is just the sort would find himself entangled with some poor neglected creature like her, would be entire moved to pity –
Sandy laughed and said, I think you hit it off very precise. But, dear sibyl, he was wont to enjoy her favours in the discreet chamber at Madame Francine’s establishment – Oho! – and she received a letter demanding recompense for silence. Geoff is sanguine that her concerns are now over, since that lady has been exposed, but I am like to wonder was Lady Sarah the only one subjected to such a demand. Have you heard aught of such a matter?
Not yet, but I will be about it. Mrs Nixon is but lately returned from Harrogate, and I will put her to the business.
And besides that, Sir Stockwell is now in some suspicion that his wife has a lover – is not jealous, I confide, but in some concern over the discretion in the matter and whether 'tis some sad rogue of a seducer. I know not what to say.
Indeed the matter is somewhat delicate! I will go consider over all this tangle. By the way, is Mr Merrett a member of this club?
It seems not. Sure there are fellows there that are married or have mistresses set up but my impression is that 'tis all entire masquerade. You would know better than I, but I think Geoff truly enjoys the other sex.
Oh yes, said Clorinda with a reminiscent smile. Indeed has no distaste at all for womanly parts, sure his tastes are exceeding catholic.
We have time yet, though. We'll do dietary management as long as we can. But because I don't know how long we have, I am having to make preparations for sooner rather than later. Because I can't afford to be caught flat-footed.
I am going to ask some questions, get a price for some things I know will be necessary, and then I am going to throw a number out there and ask y'all to help me hit it so we can be sure to have his needs covered for the next little while, including one more round of bloodwork for a re-check in six months, and, unfortunately, for the cost of euthanasia + taking care of the body. I'm working on getting figures for that. I'll know more tomorrow and should have a more complete forecast by Monday.
I knew going in I probably wouldn't have him for that long. I'm okay. It hurts, but I can do this. I can't fix him, but I can be with him til the end of the line. I just want to make sure he's taken care of.
I'm hurting just as bad for my best friend, who on the same day I heard about Smooch, learned that her Puck, my favorite dog in the world, has terminal cancer and has around a month. I can't fix him either.
We are all so fucking helpless. Life is so beautiful, I love it, but it is also completely heartless, and while I will never hesitate to make this bargain again and again, loving our pets means losing them. They are our little outboard hearts, and that makes them so precious and us so vulnerable.
I have noticed an improvement in my skin. The texture is smoother, and the brown spots from hormone wackiness are definitely lightening. They're not GONE (yet), but they don't jump out at me whenever I see myself in a mirror.
(I know, I know, probably no one else noticed them.)
So! Putting acid on your face! I totally recommend it!
“A Secret Sisterhood” examines the relationships that early female writers had with friends. Most that is written about Austen and Charlotte Bronte shows them working in isolation (aside from the Bronte siblings); in fact they both had active friendships with other women both through correspondence and face to face, where they talked about their work. Eliot and Woolf have less of a reputation for loneliness, but still aren’t considered to be extroverts. But they, too, had their special friends with whom they could talk shop.
Jane Austen was friends with her brother’s nanny (which was not looked upon well), who was a playwright when not wrangling kids; author Mary Taylor helped Charlotte Bronte; the outcast George Eliot (outcast for cohabiting with a married man for years) had a long correspondence with Harriet Beecher Stowe; and Virginia Woolf had a relationship both friendly and very competitive with author Katherine Mansfield. These friendships helped sustain the writers in their solitary work (even with people around them, a writer works alone) and provided sounding boards for their new writings.
The authors, themselves friends since the beginnings of their writing careers and who first found success at almost the same time as each other, have done meticulous research and found previously unread documents on or by their subjects. It’s an interesting read, so see how these friendships affected their writing. Much has been made of the friendships of certain male authors- Byron and Shelley, Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins- and now at last we have the feminine side of that coin – and a foreword by Margaret Atwood. Four and a half stars.
Maurice, though by now clothed, and in his right mind, lay on the bed with an arm across his eyes. This really would not do.
Once was something that could happen. Twice was – cause for perturbation. It was no longer the gratification of a passing inclination.
Why had MacDonald kissed him before leaving? Lightly, affectionately, as if they were devoted lovers facing a brief parting? It made no sense at all.
He heard several fellows come up the stairs: one, from the tittering, was Chumbell, and one – oh dear, that was Basil’s great honking laugh – and that voice that had so recently been whispering in his ear, soft words that he dared say were Scots for he did not understand them, only that from the tone, they were endearments and not the filth that some fellows liked to talk at such times – saying, oh, sure they will show the things to English milords for a little recompense – what, you have never been so far as Naples –
Basil was saying something about his desire to go to Greece - though Maurice confided that Basil liked his comforts entirely too much to undertake such a journey – and MacDonald remarked upon the very notable Greek influences in the Two Sicilies.
Oh, he would become a prime favourite in the club at the rate he was going, damn his eyes.
- you have not seen the Bexbury Bequest at the Museum? Sure, 'tis not on open display, save for a chaste vase or so, but 'tis entire possible for those of the cognoscenti to go examine the late Marquess’ very fine collections.
Chumbell was quite squeaking with excitement.
And then they were standing by the large canvas on the corridor wall just outside the door, and Chumbell murmuring about accuracy and Basil making claims for the need to make a telling composition - would they never go so that he might escape?
At length he heard them – after a deal of expatiation on various paintings – go back down the stairs. He stood up, tidied himself, smoothed down his hair yet again, and peeped out of the door to ensure that there were no onlookers.
He descended the stairs and nearly ran into Sir Stockwell. Ah, Allard, he said – he always manifested the very good ton of addressing Maurice as quite his equal, and not a fellow that he had once been wont to have for a guinea a time, when they were both younger. Come and take port with me.
Maurice had been greatly looking forward to a glass of gin – port was just not the same – but did not protest.
They went into Sir Stockwell’s private office. There was port already on the table. He motioned Maurice into a chair.
Well, he said, I am most exceeding grateful that we have prevailed upon MacDonald to join our number –
Maurice sipped his port and raised his eyebrows.
- but I confide Sir Hartley was quite right that 'twould have been premature to invite him any earlier, 'twas the proper thing to respect his mourning for Lord Raxdell. I was a little concerned about how Saythingport might vote –
Not Colonel Adams?
Adams will think any fellow that can argue about Alexander’s Greeks that settled among the Afghans and discourse on Hindu religion is a fine fellow. But I brought Saythingport to see the prudence of having a fellow so noted for sounding out mysteries among us – for sometimes we have matters we should desire to investigate but can hardly employ some private inquiry agent. I was very careful to choose an occasion when Mysell-Monting could not join us.
Maurice smiled and said he was surprised that Sir Stockwell had not joined the Diplomatic rather than the Admiralty.
But indeed, went on Sir Stockwell, I had a most particular concern of my own. He cleared his throat. I daresay, he said, that my wife will be coming to be dressed by you again, following this scandal of the silly women that were beguiled by an imposter that was neither French nor even a real dressmaker –
I should naturally be delighted, said Maurice, though I confide that she will go wherever Lady Trembourne does, and she, alas, is no patron of mine.
Frightful woman, said Sir Stockwell, if she were my wife – but that fool Trembourne quite grovels at her feet – but does my wife come to your establishment –
(Surely Sir Stockwell was not leading up to being granted very favourable terms when the bills for dressing his lady were made up?)
- I am in some suspicion that she has taken a lover. While she is at least so discreet in the matter that I have no definite knowledge as yet, is it so I should very much like to know who he is. Should not like her beguiled by some seducing rogue or brought into scandal. For indeed one would very much dislike to have to come to a crim.con. action.
Does you entire credit, said Maurice. Even does she not come to me, I daresay there may be ladies in the secret that may be persuaded to a little gossip.
Excellent, my dear fellow. He clapped Maurice heartily on the shoulder. Fellows such as we are well-advized to keep beforehand of matters.
Next morn, Maurice called in Miss Coggin to ask had they ever dressed Lady Sarah Channery, for his memory failed him in the matter.
Miss Coggin gave a loud and vulgar snort, and said, I daresay you would hardly have noticed her, for she ever came with Lady Trembourne, and even though she is better-born, one would have supposed her some poor relation or hired companion. And she is somewhat of the same style of looks –
Ah yes, now I recollect. Never required use of the discreet chamber?
Indeed not. A pathetic creature.
Maurice went to look over the books to see what further information on her patronage he might glean, and was about the task when he heard somebody mounting the back stairway with the clunking of a cane.
He looked out of the doorway. Biddy! he cried, jumping up and going to extend his arm to aid her ascent. Kissing her upon the cheek when she was panting at the top, he said, but sure we did not expect a visit from you. Here, come sit down and I will send for tea.
Biddy sat wheezing for a little while, and then said, came up to lay flowers on dear Thomasina’s grave, and do a little shopping for such matters as Worthing cannot provide. And I went take tea yesterday with dear Tibby, and sure I had heard nothing down by the seaside of this trouble you had been having.
Fie, did not wish bother you with it, the imposture is discovered, we have a deal of business on hand as a result –
I see what it is, you were ever a good thoughtful boy, did not want me to worry, bore it all on your own shoulders -
Did not so, he protested, opened the matter to Lady Bexbury –
There’s my clever boy!
- that quite entirely came at the imposture. But indeed, he said, sitting down and handing her a cup of tea, know not how I might have contrived without her intervention.
Has ever been a good friend to us, said Biddy. And her kindness to dear Thomasina – why, 'twas not even, la, can you no longer work I will go find some almshouse where you may reside so that you need not go upon the parish, no, 'twas keep her in the household among familiar faces, able advize Sophy, the best of everything. She dabbed at her eyes with a lacy handkerchief. O, sure she had savings put by, but in her state of health –
She had a good friend in you, said Maurice. And now, are you here, I should desire open to you some of my thoughts for the gowns for the coming Season, and the ladies that are coming here.
Biddy protested that sure, she was quite out of Town and knowledge of the latest styles, but Maurice confided that even did she not read scandal, she read the pages in the papers on matters of fashion more religiously than her Bible.
in sort of the same vein, you can get kosher pot products from a canadian medical marijuana company. i love that there's such a thing as kosher pot buds.
in sort of other news, my meringues came out well except they are VERY SWEET. O.O (not surprising considering they have a cup of sugar and almost nothing else in them.) they're easy to make: first, preheat the oven to 350º. then beat three egg whites (i used four but i was told three) until stiff, then slowly add a cup of sugar and a tsp of vanilla extract while still beating. when that's all mixed, fold in 3/4 cup of chocolate chips and drop by spoonfuls onto a tinfoil-lined cookie sheet. stick the cookie sheet in the oven, turn the oven off, and leave it there at least overnight. don't open the oven. don't peek. i made the meringues last night and took them out of the oven after i got home tonight, so they were in there almost twenty-four hours. and now they're nice and crisp on the outside and light on the inside and did i mention they're REALLY SWEET? but also full of mini chocolate chips. next time i'm going to use peppermint extract instead of vanilla.
i have to get up early tomorrow because my sister and i are going to the early service for rosh hashanah, and i'm not looking forward to it. well, i'm looking forward to the holiday, just not getting up early.
In New York in the late 1860s, Chris Harmony uncovers some pre-Civil War papers that hint that his grandfather could have been involved in the slave trade. He feels a need to find out what the truth is, but other family members don’t feel the same way- and even attempt to steal the papers. As he asks around, he finds clues that link other society people to the slave trade, too. And, fearing exposure now that trading in humans is illegal and looked down on in New York, those people set out to stop him.
Chris, his sister, their mother, and their cousin are all for getting to bringing it to daylight, even if it means their own family name will be besmirched. Their other relatives, and others in the shipping industry, are very much against it. They have their money, they have made their way into society, and they want the status quo held.
The story takes Chris from the docks to society balls. It’s a historical mystery, with a lot of family dynamics happening, and with a bit of a love story, too. It looks like Browder has done a lot of research into what trade and shipping was like back then. It’s pretty well written, but I found the ending very abrupt and unsatisfying – not so much of an ending so much as a “see you next week, same time, same channel”. I don’t know if this will be a series, and we’ll see the story given a better ending or not. I would have liked to have seen Chris’s sister take a more active role, too. Chris’s character is fairly well filled out, but the others not so much so. The author has promise, but this one gets four stars out of five.
now i have meringues in the oven, and can i just say, egg whites+sugar+vanilla tastes a lot like marshmallow fluff. i put tiny chocolate chips in the batter and am now wondering if i should have used peppermint extract instead of vanilla. minty!
at work i'm learning how to organize the weekly "how many hours do you have scheduled for clients" emails, which entails figuring out who exactly gets the aforementioned emails and then, you know, sending them out. the application we use to track which team is working on which client (and which returns have gone out/been extended and which haven't) is not totally forthcoming with the names i need. it's a tch frustrating. just a tch. on the other hand, i'm learning how to do something new and i've gotten a new responsibility, and i'm certainly not going to complain about that. i'm not 100% sure what i'm doing, tho.
i'm watching lawless (the perks of suddenly getting a bunch of starz channels plus the sundance channel) and i can't get over tom hardy's nose. it's a nice nose.
the business of fandom - an interesting article about how teenage girls' fannish pursuits can be predictors of the next big thing, and how girls use fandom as a way to socialize with other girls. (that second part is not going to be a surprise to anyone who's spent any time in a fandom. i mean, of course girls use fandom to socialize with people. "i love this thing! who else loves it?" that seems pretty obvious.)
(posted this to lj last night and totally forgot to copy it over. >.< )
Bernice O’Hanlon has returned to the island she grew up on. She is looking for answers- and two of the people who could provide those answers are now dead: her grandparents. The farm she feels should be hers by inheritance is lived on by a pair of brothers, who have been working the farm for her grandparents for years- and they have moved into the house. Bernice is a witch, and in this story she works with the Tarot to figure out how to proceed. The action alternates between the island and Glasgow.
This is the middle novelette of a trilogy, and while it’s said to be readable as a standalone, I had trouble figuring out who all the characters were and how their relationships worked- and there are a lot of characters. The action switches between them rapidly. I felt like I was watching a sped-up film; unable to catch up with what was going on. I enjoyed the premise that there were a group of witches on the island, and that the skills had been passed on to Bernice. I could understand her need to find out what happened to her parents and to her infant son. But with so much going on, I couldn’t form a connection to her or any other character. There was not enough time spent with anyone to care about them. I can only give it three out of five stars.
Of course Sandy had heard of the certain club. There had been that matter of the comedic actor Elias Winch, Miss Richardson’s uncle, whose perilous proceedings at public places of resort had entirely ceased once he had joined. And when it seemed that Sir Hartley Zellen, a very useful man in the Commons, might join their reforming set, it had been ascertained that he was entire discreet in indulging the urges of his disposition as a member of that club.
But it had been Clorinda who had acquired intelligence of the place. There had been no approaches during the years with Gervase.
So while he returned a civil reply to Sir Hartley’s discreet overture, he was not sure what he might do about the matter.
Is it not, he asked Clorinda, a bordello?
Why, I apprehend that there are arrangements whereby fellows may gratify their urges, but 'tis also, I confide, a place where fellows of the disposition may gather and feel they may breathe a little more freely than they may do in general society. And I daresay there is some matter of being able to assist does one of their number encounter difficulties, for there are fellows that command considerable interest among 'em. And perchance there are fellows that are not in the happy situation that you had and may not live together openly, but find it a place where they need not disguise their affections.
Indeed we were most uncommon fortunate, he said in sombre tones. But, dearest sibyl, is it foolish and sentimental in me to ask, what would Gervase say?
Clorinda smiled at him. Not in the least, dear Sandy. But I think he would wish that you did not become an entire recluse, went about in Society; and I think he would consider that your presence would be of entire benefit to the club, that must indeed be a thought of theirs as well. You are known a clever and well-thought-of fellow such I am sure they would greatly desire among their number.
Would that I had a fan about me that I might smack you with it as an arrant flatterer!
But is it not entirely so? You are still greatly valued among our political set for the acuity of your judgements, indeed there have been mutterings from Sir Barton and Lords Abertylld and Vinwich that sure you should stand for Parliament yourself.
Sandy shuddered. I think I prefer to be an eminence gris.
Or eminence rouge! Sure that better suits you, I confide. She sighed. Whereas do you not think that Susannah Wallace would show extreme well as an MP?
Without a doubt, but that in the present state of society, I fear men would not listen to her, however sound her arguments.
They both sighed.
He felt curiously agitated about the prospect of attending: there was some matter of an initiation to be undergone, and then, a deal of fellows, no doubt, that, apart from Sir Hartley, he did not know.
Do you think I am dressed entirely suitable? he asked Clorinda.
She glanced up at him. Sure, she said in a distracted fashion, these working-parties to make clothes for the orphans might answer, if only the ladies that express themselves with great enthusiasm at the prospect would ever come to 'em and work. What, my dear? Oh, indeed, you look an entire well-dressed philosopher, and I would suppose they do not expect a gentleman of fashion.
Clorinda! Please to look at me properly and tell me is anything out of order.
La, o bello scozzese, you are in a taking over this business, my dear. They have already passed you for membership –
There is some ceremony -
Swearing tremendous oaths I daresay. Mayhap somewhat like unto the Freemasons, not that I know aught about 'em. Is not The Magic Flute give out to be about masons?
You seem in somewhat of a taking yourself, o silly creature, you seem considerable distracted.
Clorinda sighed and shook her head. I think Sir Vernon is going propose to me again. Sure I should not have supposed that an occasional agreeable romp was merely all he desired.
Sandy snorted. Why, I suppose he has been about a very diplomatic wooing, to lure you into concessions step by step –
Alas, I think you have the right of it. But, my dear, you look entire well. I have told Nick to bring the carriage round for you, and then bring it back to convey me to Sir Vernon’s dinner party.
So he went off in fine style to the extremely discreet doorway where one scrutinized him through the peephole before admitting him, and he was conducted at once to a small room where he was met by and introduced to Sir Stockwell Channery, Lord Saythingport, Terence Offerton, and Mr Chumbell. They read him over the conditions of membership and the horrid warnings as to the fate of any that breached discretion, but there was no ritual to the matter and while he was required to take an oath, no-one made him swear upon a Bible.
They then all heartily wrung his hand and desired him to enjoy the amenities of the establishment.
Chumbell, that was positively bouncing up and down, put his arm through Sandy’s and said, perchance they might go take a little sherry and discourse of classics?
Oh, come, Chumbell, said Offerton, taking Sandy’s other arm, there will be time enough for that, let the fellow find his feet a little first. Though he then went on to remark on the very fine billiard-table provided for members.
Indeed it was an excellent fine club – splendid comfortable public rooms, attentive footmen, a well-provided supper-table – and more familiar faces than he had anticipated. Tom Tressillian the actor; Colonel Adams, that had given such a fine lecture to the antiquarians on certain Hindu antiquities of Bengal; Sir Hartley, of course –
Is that music? he asked.
Why, must be Herr Hahn favours us upon his flute, cried Offerton.
Well: Franz Hahn; 'twas no surprise when he came to think of it.
And, in the room where Hahn was playing, standing under a painting of a faun, that was probably a Linsleigh, and undoubtedly one for which he had modelled, Maurice Allard, looking at him with a little lift of his chin and an air of having as much right as anyone to be there: surely the case. He was dressed entirely sober, but one did not spend two decades and more in the company of such a noted arbiter of style as Gervase, that had achieved the approbation of Brummell himself, without garnering some apprehension of what fine tailoring looked like. And how it might set off a fellow’s looks…
Franz Hahn put down his flute with great care, came up and shook Sandy by the hand, murmured that he heard Lady Bexbury was likely to resume her soirées? and gave a civil response to Sandy’s enquiries after his family. Did he know everybody? Perchance he had not met Allard?
Naturally, said Sandy, as Franz Hahn made the introduction, Lady Bexbury has spoken of him, declares she would be an entire dowd without him.
'Tis ever a pleasure, said Maurice, to have the dressing of Lady Bexbury.
At which moment came up Colonel Adams, with recollections of the very interesting questions Mr MacDonald had raised at his lecture, and wondering if he would some time care to come look at his little private collection of Hindu antiquities?
Sandy made some civil reply and was very glad of the glass of wine he found in his hand. He looked about the room and said, I confide that painting is a Linsleigh?
The most of the paintings are, said Offerton. He added, with a wink, there are some particular fine ones on the upper floor – is Basil here the e’en?
Maurice shrugged. Have not seen him.
Offerton went on, you may go look at 'em – of course, do not enter any chamber that has the door closed, but is the door open you may look in.
Mayhap later, said Sandy, a little overwhelmed at the warmth of his reception – the icy gaze in those black eyes was quite salutory refreshing by comparison.
After supper, feeling in need of a few moment’s solitude, he said that he would go look at the paintings, no need to accompany him.
Some few of the doors were already closed, but there were paintings along the corridor, and he peeped inside the first open door he came to. The chamber was empty, though well-furnished, and he examined the painting, rather glad that he was alone, for he could still, he found, be brought to the blush.
There was a faint noise: he looked up, and saw Maurice Allard, in the act of closing the door.
He was about to say that he supposed that they could both maintain a reasonable cool civility to one another in public – for it looked as though that was the concern that Allard wished to disclose – and their eyes met, their gazes locked. And – oh, they had not exorcized that carnal urging, that furor, after all.
Some while later – sure these chambers were very well provided for their purpose – Maurice looked up and said, that was not what I intended.
I did not think it was. Will it be noted?
I am like to doubt it, providing we do not go downstairs together.
Well, I shall go down first, and say how very taken I was by the paintings, is that really the time, sure one might have supposed oneself frolicking with Dionysus in Ancient Greece – and then I shall go ask Chumbell about whether he considers them an accurate portrayal –
Do you do this sort of thing very often?
Seldom, said Sandy, but have long had the acquaintance of an entire mistress of the art of making people see what she wants them to see.
Maurice scowled at him. It was - endearing. Sandy kissed him and began to dress.
In 1859, Merrick Tremayne is living in the ancestral home in Cornwall, doing the best he can with a ruined leg. The leg was ruined working for the East India Company, for whom he had done such varied services as run a tea plantation and smuggle opium. No longer of use to them, he lives with his brother, to whom the house and lands belong entirely, who wants him out and gone as soon as possible. The two solutions the brother puts forward are either Merrick take on a rural parsonage, or he’ll be sent to a mental asylum. Why the asylum? Merrick swears that the statue in the garden moves, and that someone is messing about in his greenhouse.
Merrick is a plantsman (who just so happens to have had a grandfather and father who went to Peru), so when the East India Company (who desperately need more quinine for the rampant malaria in their areas of operation) needs someone to locate high-yield quinine trees in Peru, take and smuggle out cuttings, and get them started in an area the EIC operates in, they come calling in the form of Merrick’s old friend from the Navy, Clem Markham. Never mind that there have been no successful ventures into the Peruvian jungles, or that Merrick can’t walk without crutches. It’s better than the asylum or the parsonage.
The first part of the novel moves very, very slowly. Training Clem to take cuttings. The sea voyage. The mule journey to the Peruvian interior, at high altitude. The fact that the man who provides them with a guide to lead them to “frost resistant coffee trees” will kill them if he finds out they are after quinine. Thankfully, when they reach the village of New Bethlehem (“Bedlam”), the white gunmen leave them with the native guide, and things get weird. The village is on volcanic glass, with hot springs warming the river. There are trees that burst into flame from even a tiny spark, golden luminescent pollen in the air, clockwork statues that move when approached, and the forest is bordered by a line of salt that only the priest (who is also their guide, Raphael) may pass.
This story is adventure both supernatural and natural, historical fantasy, a touch of steampunk, an indictment of how Europeans treated the people of other continents, and a love story. The plot speeds up after they reach Bedlam, thankfully, but it is never a high speed story. The descriptions are beautiful. The characters are built up, layer upon thin layer, as are the relationships. I fell in love with this place and with this book. I totally forgive it for moving slowly. Five stars.
Dear Hannah! I daresay you would know best, but you do not show at all, are you entire sure you are with child?
La, Maurice, I can assure you that women – most of 'em - know the matter’s afoot. At least once they have already been about the business a time or two. One does hear tales of young girls that did not realize their state, and women at a certain time of life that supposed ‘twas the climacteric come to ‘em.
He began to drape stuff around her and take measurements. If we gather it thus - you see? – makes a pleasing effect and none would suspect what lies beneath.
Mind you do not make it too fine – I shall not be about giving speeches the while, and going to as few meetings as I may. But one may not eschew all company, and there is the matter of village gossip.
He looked at her. It was entire pleasing to see such a happy young woman in his fitting-room. So many of the ladies who came to him had some matter that troubled them, or were discontent by nature, and even a little flattery, and dressing them very well, did not entirely soothe their spirits.
You manage matters 'twixt the pair of you very well: how is Miss Ferraby?
Entire well. We are indeed fortunate. But 'tis agreeable to come to Town and see family and friends. But indeed, I should ask is all well with you – Lady Bexbury said you had been having some little trouble?
Quite resolved, he said, greatly hoping that he was not the subject of conversation over that lady’s supper-table.
She said somewhat to the effect that 'twas indeed good of you to see me now you have so much business come upon hand now 'tis all remedied.
Sure, you are family.
Why, I am daresay there are those among our connexion would not wish make that acknowledgement, was all known.
Maurice looked at their reflections in the pier-glass. Provided, he says, one does not flaunt, maintains a due discretion, so that it does not have to be openly spoke and known about –
Hannah’s eyes met his in the glass. She did not need to voice her understanding.
Some moments later, while she was putting on her accustomed garments, she said, but really I do not understand why people make such a bother about it. So unnecessary. Sure society is very cruel to unwed mothers and their offspring, but one may see that there is some reason – may not be a good or charitable reason, but if 'tis not the fear of the fathers about bringing scandal upon them, ‘tis the more general worry that they may come upon the parish and cause expense and raising of the rates. She sighed. And at least one may talk of that, and say that that harshness causes unhappy women to destroy their infants, and make arguments for more humane treatment. But when something may not even be talked of –
He patted her shoulder.
After she had left, he scribbled down a few notes and sketches for the gowns he would have made for her, and then told Miss Coggin, the head of the sewing-room, that he would be going out. Did not have any ladies coming for fittings the afternoon; did any come in hopes – vulgar creatures, murmured Miss Coggin – she might go take their measurements and requirements and ask 'em to return once they had been given appointments.
She pursed her lips in the way he knew meant that she would bring any ladies that did so to a fine appreciation of the consequence of the establishment.
He set off on a journey he did not particularly want to take, but was to undertake a prudent matter to dispatch. He took a hansom cab to some distance from his final destination: for although the tavern he sought was not precisely within the notorious rookery of Seven Dials, it was on its border. He picked his way fastidiously along the streets, keeping his walking stick in his hand in a manner that suggested it might serve as a weapon as well as a fashionable accoutrement.
From long habit he looked about before entering the place. But it was very unlikely anyone who might recognize him would see him here.
Enquiring as to whether Nat Barron was on the premises, he was directed by a jerk of the thumb into a back room.
Nat was there among various members of his gang. One of whom – presumably a new recruit – said, 'ere, oo’s the pooff: earning himself a smack or two about the head from Nat. Show some respect, Maurie may look the gent but he’s an old friend.
Nat Barron and Maurice clasped one another’s shoulder, looked into one another’s faces, and then Nat motioned him to sit down, pouring him a glass of the gin he kept for himself.
Got somebody that needs warning off? he asked.
Maurice shook his head. I think word has got about after making a few examples.
For what had gained him the position he now enjoyed at the club was this connexion that enabled severe warning to be given to any that used knowledge gained there for the purposes of extortion. In return, Nat acquired the good feeling of fellows in high places that might well be useful to him did necessity arise. 'Twas entirely mutually beneficial.
Pity, said Nat, as you see there are one or two fellows here would be the better of some occupation to work off their feelings.
Maurice took a sip of gin, and disclosed to Nat the recent trouble he had had.
Oh, and you want us to show this spying fellow the error of his ways?
Why, it might gratify my feelings did you so – Nat smiled and shook his head and says, talks as good as a play – but I thought, a fellow that has a memory like that, might be of use to you.
Nat nodded slowly. A good thought. You always did have that long view.
Maurice shrugged. If a long view was considering that luring fellows into alleys so that Nat and his boys could rob them was an occupation with a rather short future and like to end badly for him, whereas obliging gentlemen in comfortable indoor surroundings was not only remunerative but provided him with considerable insight into gentlemanly habits and behaviour, yes, he took the long view: and the even longer view had been completing his articles of apprenticeship. But he also made sure to stay on Nat’s good side. Passed on any useful gossip he learned from ladies in the course of his day, and had constructed this very beneficial alliance 'twixt Nat and the club.
Sure he owed Nat a considerable debt for the protection that in younger days his friendship had afforded an undersized pretty boy disinclined to the usual boyish pursuits and happier to play with girls.
May not linger, he said, but thought you should know of the fellow as soon as might be, before goes completely to ground.
Maurice walked to where he might find a hansom cab and directed it to take him to his lodging. Once there, he washed himself very thoroughly with the very expensive soap, to get rid of any lingering stink of Seven Dials before he went to the club, where he was bidden to a committee meeting to consider upon new members.
Smoothing pomade into his hair, he had the unwanted memory of a larger hand stroking it in a fashion it was entirely foolish to suppose affectionate, rather than the pleasure one might take in stroking a fine purring cat.
But that was past and done.
At the club he was ushered into the committee room. It was ever gratifying to him, even if these marks of respect were founded upon those early connexions.
Sir Stockwell sat at the head of the table; Chumbell at the foot; Colonel Adams, late of Bengal and with the most fascinating stories of dancing boys; Sir Hartley Zellen, whose fine looks were becoming a little florid, and his hair thinning; Terence Offerton; Lord Saythingport, that had a wife, an established mistress, and had at one time offered Maurice an establishment.
Ah, good, Allard, said Sir Stockwell. Mysell-Monting cannot come, but we have a quorum, nonetheless. Now, the matter of fellows we may solicit to join our number –
Various names were put forward, of whom Maurice knew little but any public reputation they had. Some former comrade of Adams in the East; a scholar known to Chumbell – a Cambridge man, but nevertheless a sound fellow, very sound; a naval officer acquainted with Sir Stockwell; a couple of young fellows in Saythingport’s set –
Sir Hartley cleared his throat. Has not the time come to consider MacDonald? he said. Sure it would have been somewhat vulgar to approach him very shortly after Lord Raxdell’s dreadful demise, but ‘tis nigh two years ago that the accident happened. An excellent fellow.
Is he not, replied Saythingport, given out most exceeding radical in his views?
Why, said Sir Hartley, he is a philosopher and will throw out a deal of hypotheses, but our set have always found him sensible and practical.
Is he not, squeaked Chumbell in great excitement, considered something of a classical scholar?
I would know nothing of that, said Offerton, but has quite the cunningest hand at billiards, next after Jacob Samuels.
Why, said Sir Stockwell, as to his abilities in classical learning, I was late conversing with Admiral Knighton, that says that his lady wife, that is known for her most remarkable unwomanly capacities in that sphere, holds him in quite the highest esteem. Also considers him a very clever fellow himself, that has a particular knack for sounding out mysteries.
Maurice felt his face settle into a mask as of one considering these arguments. 'Twould be entire vulgar to blackball MacDonald, that had done him such great service in his own difficulty. But one might confide that Saythingport, and possibly Adams, would do so.
But, when the balls for each candidate were tallied, there were no black balls for MacDonald.
Maurice’s heart sank.