Tidbit Tuesday

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz... I wonder where my writing is?

For those of you patiently waiting, I am writing again! Winters are very hard on me. I have a skin condition (dishydrotic eczema) that precludes me from writing as I wear moisture gloves nearly 24/7. However, I began taking hyaluronic acid a month ago, which maintains and helps keep moisture in the skin, and the gloves are off - as are the moisture socks I've worn for over twelve years. Hallelujah!

Also, our granddaughter is thriving after her major surgery, so another load off my heart and shoulders. I am so thankful. Now I just have to get my brain back into writing mode and finish The Wager (which is nearly complete, only a few more chapters to go) and then I shall work further on the little piece of fluff I began on a lark - A Rose by Any Other Name.

Today I am sharing from Chapter Four of my Rose story and I hope you like my heroine's sense of humor. She's a tad snarky and a tad opinionated. We know her as Miss Grantley but can you guess her true identity? Let me know in the comments.

1811 London

There are times when I am dressing, or walking by a pier glass, that I sometimes startle at the person I see reflected. Do not think me mad. I know it is me, but I still do not recognize the lady who stares back, if that makes any sense.

I stand at five feet four inches, which is about two inches shorter than Mother. In my previous life, that is what I call my time before Father found me, I wonder if I have siblings and where I fit in the midst of them. I am not beautiful in the classical sense, but flatter myself that I am quite pretty and Mother says I have a lively playful disposition. Father calls me his ‘impertinent Miss’, but always with a gentle smile so I know he does not mean it in a spiteful way.

My figure is light and pleasing, which makes the modiste extremely happy. That, and the bonus Father pays her to finish my order promptly. I have dark blue eyes, giving a hint of a Nordic ancestor, framed by ridiculously long lashes. Mother has never seen the likes. My eyebrows frame my eyes satisfactorily, thank goodness. Penelope Hardcastle has her maid pluck unwanted hairs from between her brows and also to thin them. Danvers once plucked an errant strand and it was unexpectedly painful. I would not wish to have to do that regularly.

My nose is not too large and my mouth… well, other than my hair which is a luxurious mahogany, it is my favorite thing. Lusciously plump is what Wickham whispered in my ear at Lady Creighton’s ball before I tamped my heel down hard on his toes. I believe that is the only time I left a dance partner standing, or limping alone on the ballroom floor. For some unknown reason, that trumped-up son of a steward believes he has carte blanche when it comes to society functions. I am still angry at him. The way he leaned over and whispered in my ear in front of society’s prolific chin-waggers could have led to a disastrous compromise, and I have no intention of having my choice of husband taken from me. I have lost too much already in my life.

My internal musings were cut short by our butler informing me that Mrs. Louisa Hurst and her sister, Miss Bingley have presented their cards and wish to know if I am home to visitors. I hesitated briefly. I met them six months prior at a tea held by Mrs. Carmichael, a close acquaintance of Aunt Lucinda and now the sisters dogged my steps at every function we happen to attend at the same time. Lately, they have upped their pursuit and make a point of attending our townhouse weekly for tea.

Mrs. Hurst is a compliant lady. She does not say much and when she does, it is usually to agree with whatever her younger sister blathers on about. Miss Bingley is an avid social climber and at this moment in time, she believes my marriage portion along with my family name, is a rung in her ladder and she hopes to increase our connection by me falling in love with her brother, Mr. Charles Bingley.

That will not happen. We are a mismatched pair.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not a society maven. For all I know I might very well be the daughter of a wealthy tradesman as easily as the daughter of a gentleman. My clothing from my previous life, which Mother preserved very carefully, indicates a gentle upbringing. So, it is not like I am thumbing my nose at Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst because I believe I am better than them, it is just that their brother… he is… I sighed. He is an adorable puppy. Amiable, fun-loving, wanting everyone to get along. He is a wonderful dance partner and when I am seated next to him at a ball or dinner party, I am tempted to pat him on the hand and praise him for being a good boy. When I meet the man I wish to marry, I definitely do not want to give him a lolly and tell him to go play with his toys in the next room.

At times, I do not believe he wishes to become leg-shackled to me either. For one, he has not once called me an ‘angel’. It is his favorite attribute to any lady he fancies himself in love with. Clarissa Hornblower comes to mind. I truly hope she marries soon and retires that name to her marriage lines and the family Bible, poor girl. Mr. Bingley was mad about her for at least three weeks before he discovered another golden-tressed angel, Tiffany, or was it, Theodora? They have all blended into a mish-mash of fair beauties over the few months in which I have made the acquaintance of Miss Bingley. Regardless, I welcome his friendship as it is unassuming and I know my honor is never in jeopardy with him. I think he would rather swallow his tongue than compromise a young lady. Unlike that toad, Wickham.

Goodness, I truly am angry with that… that man. I refuse to call him a gentleman. Firstly, he does not behave as one and secondly, he was not born into the station nor has he the funds to purchase an estate. I believe he thought my marriage portion of thirty thousand pounds, along with being the sole heir of Father’s estate and holdings, would pave his way into the card rooms of Boodles or Whites. The only place I see him residing, given his penchant for gambling and carousing, is debtor’s prison. I have no idea where he has gotten the funds to wine and dine society’s elite, but however much he had in his pocket at the beginning of the year, it has been lightened quite substantially. I overheard some gentlemen talking about the high-stakes card game he lost back in March and still shake my head at the thought of a thousand pounds flowing through his fingers over the course of a few hours. This would explain his unwelcome attempt to woo me on the dance floor. I shudder to think what would have happened if he had stumbled across me in an alcove, or when I stepped outside to cool my cheeks on the terrace.

Mother is correct. I must be aware of my surroundings at all times, much like now. Our butler awaits me patiently as I hesitate over whether I am home or not to the Bingley sisters. As it is threatening to rain, curtailing my walk through Hyde Park, I tell Pritchard I am home to the ladies and ring for tea.

Tidbit Tuesday ~ Did we just hear Wickham choke?

Today's excerpt is from my Work In Progress - The Wager.


The officers of the ___shire Militia, also in attendance, presented themselves in a favorable light with polite manners and gentlemanlike behavior. Not much time had passed before Mr. Wickham, a handsome, congenial man to whom almost every female eye was turned, asked for introductions to the ladies of Longbourn and immediately fell into an agreeable conversation with them. Elizabeth was not surprised by this request, nor when the gentleman’s attention became more focused on her eldest sister. Jane’s beauty was a beacon of light that called many to make her acquaintance, but few withstood the pointed questions the sisters had learned to ask in order to determine if a gentleman was worth their attention.

The first thing Elizabeth determined was that flattery, coupled with a winsome smile, was Mr. Wickham’s secret weapon. She surmised even the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the speaker's skill.

How many young girls have fallen for your charm? she wondered. An elevated brow directed toward her eldest sister, who returned her silent query with a slight, elegant shrug of her shoulder, told Elizabeth that Jane was also leery of the officer.

Barely any time had passed before Elizabeth tired of his prattle and decided to begin what she and Jane jokingly called The Inquisition. Over the next quarter hour, they discovered his father had been a steward of a vast estate in Derbyshire, and the master of that same estate was also his godfather. What surprised them most was learning Mr. Wickham’s godfather had ensured his godson received a gentleman’s education, sending him to the best private schools, including Cambridge alongside his own son. More questioning revealed the dapper officer had, for a brief time, entertained the thought of being a barrister.

“I found the law was not to my liking,” Wickham said in a firm voice. “I am an active person and could not bear the thought of being tied to a desk for all hours of the day.”

“Forgive me for being indelicate, but given the great education you received, what enticed you to join the militia at this stage of your life?” Elizabeth asked when he paused for breath.

“It was the prospect of constant and good society which was my chief inducement,’’ he began. “I knew it to be a most respectable, agreeable corps, and my friend Denny tempted me farther by his account of their present quarters, and the very great attentions and excellent acquaintance Meryton had procured them.”

“Thank you, sir,” Jane said in her calm, serene manner. “On behalf of the citizens of Meryton, we hope you will enjoy our society, small and unvaried as it may seem.”

Elizabeth inherently knew her sister referred to Mr. Bingley’s sister’s lamentations of lack of good company in Hertfordshire. 

“Society, I own, is necessary to me. A military life is not what I was intended for, but circumstances have now made it eligible. The church ought to have been my profession. I was brought up for the church, and should at this time have been in possession of a most valuable living, had it pleased the son of my deceased godfather.’’


“Yes, the late Mr. Darcy bequeathed me the next presentation of the best living in his gift. He was my godfather, and excessively attached to me. I cannot do justice to his kindness. He meant to provide for me amply, and thought he had done it; but when the living fell, it was given elsewhere.”

Both Elizabeth’s and Jane’s eyes widened at his mentioning the name of Darcy, but Mr. Wickham did not notice as his attention became riveted on some guests who entered the room. His face paled and Elizabeth turned to see who had generated such a response to find herself looking directly at Mr. Darcy, whose own face was flushed an angry red.

Wickham turned to face the sisters. His eyes flicked every which way, as though looking for an escape, his upper lip dotted with a thin sheen of perspiration.

“Pray, excuse me. I must find my friend Denny and make plans for tomorrow’s drill exercise.”

Elizabeth shot out her hand and latched onto Mr. Wickham’s left arm, forestalling his exit.

“May I assume your godfather’s son is none other than Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy?”


Wickham attempted to slither from her grip but she held firm.

“Well then, how fortuitous that we are here with you now, in front of all these guests.”

“How so?” Wickham asked, shuffling as though to hide behind her because Darcy was bearing down on them with the speed of a violent summer storm.

“We must decry your terrible treatment and have Mr. Darcy fulfill his father’s dearest wish.” Elizabeth tightened her hold. “If nothing else, he must give you the pecuniary value of the living. It is only right and just.”

“That is not necessary, Miss Elizabeth. I have learned to forgive and forget.”

By this time, Darcy had reached them. He towered over Wickham, his fists clenching and unclenching. He was – Elizabeth thought with a small frisson of awareness – quite magnificent.

“I invite you to join me outside, Wickham.”

“I am here with my compatriots, Darcy. I have no need to leave the party at this juncture.”

Elizabeth dared to engage the glowering bear.

“We are so glad you arrived when you did, Mr. Darcy,” she began.

“You are?” he asked without once removing his gaze from Wickham.

“Most assuredly, for Mr. Wickham shared with us how he was unjustly kept from receiving a living your father, his godfather, had promised to him.”

“Is that so?”

“Yes. He was very clear in most details when telling us his version of events.”

Upon hearing the inflections in Elizabeth’s voice, Darcy cut her a quick glance. She was able to wink with either eye and as one side of her face was concealed from Mr. Wickham, she used the left eye to do that very service. Mayhap it was her imagination, but she thought Mr. Darcy’s shoulders physically relaxed. By this time, the viscount and Bingley had joined them.

“Did you inform these fine ladies that in lieu of the living, you asked for and received three thousand pounds, on top of the one thousand pounds settled on you by my father at the time of his death?” Darcy asked, his voice as hard as peaks of Derbyshire.

“You arrived before I had a chance to share that part of history.”

“To be fair,” Elizabeth interjected, the imp of mischief settled firmly on her shoulders. “Mr. Wickham did inform us he had been brought up for the church and having received a Cambridge education I am certain he must have used those funds toward receiving holy orders.”

“I truly must leave. I see my fellow officers waving me over.”

Elizabeth released her hold and Wickham tugged down his new red tunic before giving all of them a polite half-bow. He turned to leave but halted midstride when Mr. Darcy spoke again.

“I shall give your regards to my cousin when I write him tonight,” Darcy said, his tone almost conversational. “Richard is most anxious to make your reacquaintance. You should know he was exceedingly upset that we had just missed you by a few days this past summer.”

Elizabeth thought Mr. Wickham was about to faint, and found it very interesting that the gentleman bypassed all his fellow officers and fled the house completely without saying farewell to anyone.


Snippet Sunday ~ Twin Tentacles of Doom


Sometimes when writing, I surprise myself. In writing this next scene, little did I know I was about to gift the Bingley sisters with a new moniker to proclaim as their own. This snippet is from my Work In Progress, The Wager.


“I understand you have family here in Meryton, Miss Hamilton.”

“I do,” Jane replied. “My mother’s sister is married to Mr. Phillips.”

“How lovely, and is Mr. Phillips busy with his little shop?” Miss Bingley asked before raising her fingers to hide a smile.

“My uncle is an attorney. He is the one who negotiated the lease your brother signed to rent Netherfield Park.”

Miss Bingley pursed her lips at being reminded they did not own the estate where she rested her head at night but rented it from another. Regardless of this annoyance, she continued with her line of questioning, solidifying Elizabeth’s belief she had a nefarious purpose for the unexpected invitation to tea.

“Does this same uncle have his own estate?”

“His eldest brother inherited the family estate in Surrey.”

“Our dear Uncle Phillips is a second son,” Elizabeth interjected, not wanting Jane to reveal their beloved uncle’s father was a baron. “He chose to follow the law instead of taking orders, which brought him to our corner of Hertfordshire.”

“A choice Aunt Martha is very glad of,” Mary added before she took a small bite of her cake.

“Your other uncle,” Caroline continued as though neither Elizabeth nor Mary had spoken. “He is in trade, yes?”

Jane nodded in the affirmative.

“Our uncle is very successful. He and his wife live in London.”

“In Cheapside, I heard.”

“Near Cheapside, on Gracechurch Street.”

“I imagine he lives there in order to keep a watchful eye on his property,” Miss Bingley tittered and slid a sly glance toward Mrs. Hurst.

Elizabeth’s anger began to simmer. What was supposed to be a pleasant tea had turned into an inquisition where the perpetrator believed she had all the answers and only wished to humiliate her guests.

“Speaking of property, remind me again Miss Bingley,” Elizabeth began with false sweetness. “In which county we can find your father’s estate?”

She would have gone further, but Jane laid a warning hand on her forearm.

“Enough, Lizzy,” she said in a soft undertone.

An odd sound came from Mary and both turned their attention toward her.

“Jane,” she said in a small voice. “I do not feel well.”

Mary then doubled over and struck her head hard enough on the floor to render her unconscious. Both Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst emitted tiny screams.

“Miss Bingley, is there any fish in these cakes?” Jane demanded as she hurried to Mary’s side, gently lifting her sister’s head to rest on her lap.

“How would I know?”

“Please find out if there was.”

Miss Bingley continued to gape and cast panicked glances toward her eldest sister. Mrs. Hurst seemed to grasp the gravity of the situation and hurried to the bell pull. Only when a footman stepped into the room did Miss Bingley snap out of her stupor.

“You there,” she demanded and pointed at the footmen. “Have Mrs. Nickers attend us and send a maid to ask the cook what was in the cakes she sent up for our tea.”

The footman cast a quick glance at Mary lying on Jane's lap before hurrying from the room. Elizabeth heard Mrs. Hurst murmur to her sister, “Her name is Mrs. Nicholls.”

“Oh, who cares. She is just a housekeeper.”

At that moment, the butler entered the room. Most likely to investigate why some of the ladies had screamed.

“What may I do to help, Ma’am,” he queried, addressing Jane, not Miss Bingley.

“Send Jeremy for Mr. Jones, he is the fastest rider of all the footmen. Tell him Miss Bennet is having one of her reactions and we need him post haste.” The butler turned to do her bidding, stopping when Jane called out again. “Cardston, after that, please find Mrs. Nicholls and tell her I need water for drinking as well as to wipe Mary’s face, it will help cool and relax her.”

Cardston withdrew to do her bidding, completely ignoring the gaping mouth of his temporary mistress.

“Who do you think you are, to order about our servants as if they are your own?” Miss Bingley demanded. “It is not as though your sister is dying.”

Jane’s eyes flashed with anger upon hearing such a callous comment. Elizabeth was not at all surprised by her sister’s reaction. She and Jane could and did withstand the barbs and insults of ignorant people, but woe betide the person who attacked her family. Fortunately, for Miss Bingley, Mary stirred and her eyes fluttered.

“Relax, dearest,” Jane soothed as she gently stroked her sister’s cheek. “You hit your head on the floor and were rendered unconscious.”

“Jane…” Whatever it was that Mary wished to say would never be known because she promptly rolled to her side and vomited onto the carpet.

The outraged gasps of Miss Bingley would sustain Elizabeth for days, but only after her sister recovered. Any further outbursts were stymied by the arrival of Mrs. Nicholls, who bustled into the room with a couple of maids, bringing water and clean rags.

“Thank you, Mrs. Nicholls,” Jane said, overriding any comment Miss Bingley or Mrs. Hurst may have made. “Prepare the green guest room for Mary and have Cardston direct Mr. Jones there when he arrives.”

“Right away, La−, Miss Hamilton.”

“Who are you to give orders to my servants?”

“I have neither the time nor the inclination to answer your questions, Miss Bingley.” Jane caressed Mary’s brow with tender affection. “My sister’s recovery is my only priority.”

Although she wished to lend comment, Elizabeth stayed quiet. This was Jane’s fight, not hers. Two hours later, an exhausted Mary lay sleeping in one of the guest rooms after a thorough examination by Mr. Jones. Fortunately, she had only taken a bite of one small cake.

“Will she be able to come home tomorrow, Mr. Jones?” Jane asked, her attention riveted to the still form of her sister lying in the bed. Elizabeth sat by the side of the bed, holding Mary’s hand in hers.

“Miss Hamilton, your sister has suffered one of her Idiosyncrasy’s. It is as I told you when she had her last spasmodic symptom, her body reacts in a different manner to some foods. The last time it was lobster. Do we know what she ingested today?”

“Miss Bingley learned some of the cakes had crab in them,” Elizabeth offered in reply.

“Ahh…this is good to know. It seems Miss Bennet must avoid ingesting any type of fish.” Mr. Jones paused, as if in deep thought. “Has she ever reacted to lake trout?”

“Not that I am aware of,” Jane said. “We have trout regularly during the summer months. My Uncle Gardiner is an avid angler and loves to fish our stream, allowing us to enjoy the spoils of his labor.”

“Fascinating. It seems Miss Bennet only reacts to oceanic species of shellfish,” Mr. Jones murmured. “I will write one of my friends in Town and see if he has any further insight into these types of maladies.”

“So, Mary can come home tomorrow?” Jane asked.

“As far as her reaction to food, she is fine. However, she struck her head quite hard, which is the reason she became violently ill. She must rest quietly, and it is imperative she is awakened every four hours.”

“I shall stay with her, Jane,” Elizabeth offered.

“Are you certain?”

“After your little dust-up with Miss Bingley, I believe a strategic retreat is called for you to regroup your serenity.”

Once Mary rested quietly, the remaining sisters returned to the drawing room. Jane to say her goodbyes to Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, and Elizabeth to see her safely off and confer with their hostess about what Mr. Jones had requested regarding food and drink for Mary. The doors to the drawing room remained partially open and the strident tones of Miss Bingley clearly carried into the hall.

“What did Miss Hamilton mean? Ordering our servants around like this was her own home. I declare those Bennet sisters are the main reason I wish to quit this horrible place.”

Quick footsteps could be heard and a low murmur from Mrs. Hurst.

“I do not care, Louisa. They are below us, practically dirt farmers with two impoverished step-daughters and their estate entailed away. We must get Charles away from Miss Hamilton. She will drag him down into the mud with her and ruin my chances of making a successful marriage.”

Elizabeth not only felt Jane stiffen but saw her draw back her shoulders.

“Do nothing you will regret later, Jane,” she cautioned. “Words may pierce our pride and sting our memories but they cannot change who we are and the life we will lead once Trenton comes home.”

“While our lives will alter when our brother returns in a few short weeks, I am tired of the snide remarks and underhanded comments that perpetually spring forth from Mr. Bingley’s sisters.” Jane turned cerulean blue eyes toward her sister and smiled wide enough to crinkle their corners. “I believe it is time for those two ladies to be schooled in proper etiquette.”

“As you know, there is no love lost between Miss Bingley and me, and in most circumstances, I would wholeheartedly agree, but – think on this – if you reveal our rank, are you prepared for that woman and her sister to grovel and toady for your attention.”

“Now that I am aware of their true sentiments, I have no desire to acknowledge them in any form.” She paused and her expression turned thoughtful. “Unless I continue to accept Mr. Bingley’s attentions.”

“Is his affection worth the twin tentacles of doom waiting for us in the next room?”

“I confess I am uncertain.” Jane took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “I suppose we shall find out over the next few weeks.”