Saturday, October 29, 2011

"Time for a smackerel of something." Winnie the Pooh would say. I apologize in advance for any formatting issues, but the layout of the blog means the paragraphs will be somewhat long. Please do your best to read it anyway.

Here follows an excerpt from Chapter 9 of A Widow in Waiting. Eleanor, the title character, has just received a letter from the man she loves, or rather she would have received it if her overprotective father had not opened it first. She must think quickly, or risk losing her one link with her love...


Eleanor lowered the letter, an icy coolness taking possession of her mind. "What was it you wished to know, Papa?" she asked with a calm which astonished her even as it penetrated deep into her consciousness, shielding her frantic longing and her wild, snarling anger beneath its bulk.

"If you've given this—this puppy some encouragement, some grounds for thinking he can say such things to you!" Mr. Langley snatched the sheet back from her and glowered at it, starting to crumple it into a ball. "Because if you have—"

"Of course I haven't," Eleanor interjected. "Papa, please, you're being ridiculous. Don't throw it into the fire, I need something to have a good laugh over." She held out her hand for the letter again, and Mr. Langley, looking much astonished, deposited it in her palm.

"And here I thought—" he began, then rubbed his chin. "Well, Nora, it seems I misjudged you. You've some sense after all. I thought you'd ruined your disposition once and for all, having something so like a trashy romance happen to you. Husband shot by highwaymen, sheltered by a handsome young devil—for I won't deny Byrne's handsome in his own way, just like his sister's quite well to look at, quite well indeed—but you're no green girl any longer, Nora. I should have known better than that."

"Yes, Papa." Eleanor nodded serenely. "John may be older than I am, but you know boys grow up more slowly than girls, and I've had my seasons in London, while he's lived all his life mewed up in that little place, with never a chance to see anything in the way of a lady but his own sister. I came running literally into his arms, a classical damsel in distress—what could be more natural than for him to fancy himself in love with me? And you know there could be nothing worse than for me to try to tell him it's all a bag of moonshine, because then he'd be sure to lay snares for me to try to make me love him. No, the best way is for me to let him write me mad letters for a while, then slowly forget all about me."

"And so it is!" Mr. Langley laughed aloud, delighted. "So it is, by Jupiter! He'll soon think better of it when he gets no replies to all his fine lovemaking at a distance, and will his pocket stand the expense of another trip all this way in that half-a-year he was talking about when he's had no reason to think he'll find a welcome here? No, out of course it won't. And back he'll go to his own little life with his horses and his acres, but with always the sweet memory of my Nora to brighten his days." He patted her cheek. "There's my good girl, so wise in the ways of the world so young—you'll find a man soon enough who'll be able to value you at your true worth, and maybe not so very far away, hey?"

Dutifully, Eleanor smiled at this sally, and began to flatten the paper mechanically, as she would have played with any small item she happened to have in her hands.

"I'll leave orders he's not to be admitted to the house, just in case he's more stubborn than reasonable," Mr. Langley went on, half to himself, bustling back around his desk. "And you know, of course, Nora my love, if there had been something in all this—if you'd been bird-witted enough to lead young Byrne on, give him false hope, or even fall for his bouncers yourself—why, then, of course I was leading up to telling you that devil a penny of mine you'd ever see if you got yourself leg-shackled to him. But I'm sure you knew that, and it don't signify in any case!" He waved a hand at her grandly. "Run along, now, and go have your laugh over the high-flown language the boy thinks proper for lovers. I daresay you can find a few of the best bits to make us all merry at dinner!"

Since "us all" would include only her father and herself, Eleanor was sure she could manage this, as she knew exactly which turns of phrase Mr. Langley would find most amusing. Dropping him the tiny curtsey proper from a lady of quality to her father, she turned and left the study, moving at the grave and measured pace of a woman with much on her mind.

She didn't start running until she reached the upstairs corridor.


Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Any or all of the above will be read, appreciated, and responded to as time and other abilities permit.


  1. love it love it love it! can't wait till i get to read more... and sorry if my replies to your other blog post havnt been showing up... ive been reading them at work and they've got an outdated version of the internet browser... but i do assure you i have read them all and enjoyed them all!

  2. Hmm hmm, very interesting indeed, and all the more fun for being a slight departure in style. It rather reminds me of The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, which I read and enjoyed recently. Not in content really, as the heroine didn't have quite these sort of troubles and had quite a different family group, but the environment was meant to be a sort of Austen-with-magic, so stylistically they're similar.

    In an case, good and intriguing work; now I must head back and read the posts I've missed in the past few weeks!