Austen’s World Wrap Up. December 31, 2015

Looks What’s Brewing in the Regency

  • Reading about Emma
    The theme of the 2016 JASNA AGM is Emma. Consider what some of JASNA’s authors have already written
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  • Holidays Happy and Merry
    Holidays of the season are right behind us — Happy Hanukah — and just ahead — Merry Christmas. Please lets share with each other a gift of the season. Tell us your favorite holiday romance, historical, contemporary and/or Paranormal. I’ll … Continue reading

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Gossip about the Duke – 2015 Reflections

Vanessa here,

As I reflect on 2015, I am thankful. This has been a year of building an audience for multi-cultural Regency Romances, ones where faith and passion for life and love are central. Today, I am showcasing one of the stories, the award winning, Unmasked Heart. Meet the duke and his problems.

Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility - What I think Cheshire would look like.
Colonel Brandon from Sense & Sensibility – What I think Cheshire would look like.

William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, leaned against the mantle of his study, resisting the urge to bash his skull against the fretwork trim. He looped his finger into the carved maple and pushed himself upright, allowing the rag of a society paper to slip to the ground.

That hateful gossip would stop at nothing. The woman or her army of wenches would even invent whale-tales to quell his investigation. With a side kick from his boot, he pushed the awful page onto the braid rug, one of the many items of his late wife’s choosing littering the London townhouse. The only good thing produced by Elizabeth was their precious daughter asleep in the nursery.

He craned his ear, but no shrieks sounded. His little Mary had no nightmares, tonight. Maybe she’d dream peacefully until the morn. If only God would allow it.

With a shake of his head, he smacked his skull. If prayers had true answers, not just a means to express contrition or condemnation, then maybe he’d drop to his knees, dust his breeches, and give it ago, again. But that wasn’t his lot any more. A backslidden fool his father would call William.

Well, that didn’t matter. He’d stopped listening to the man years ago. And now William just savored the music of calm, the absence of noise. The little hiss from the hickory in the firebox metered an occasional refrain.

His chest filled fully, maybe for the first time since arriving at Mayfair. What a horrid day, one filled with no answers or true name or names of the blackmailer discovered. And this…warning.

1778 James Gilroy caricature.
1798 James Gillray caricature of Prince William Harry and Mulatto Woman

“Wowski’s song

White man, never go away;
Tell me why need you?
Stay with your Wowski, stay;
Wowski will feed you.
Cold moons are now coming in;
Ah don’t go grieve me!
I’ll wrap you in leopard’s skin;
White man, don’t leave me.”

 

A groan welled inside as his gaze focussed on the reprint of the 1778 James Gilroy caricature. The scandalous drawing of Prince William Henry, the Regent’s brother, caught in an affair with an enslaved Jamaican woman. At least the poor woman wasn’t made grotesque like others had done when characterizing dark-skinned females.  But Gilroy still mocked her, calling her Wowski.

“Wowski,” William said with a groan. It was the name of a black servant in the play Inkle and Yarico, in which Inkle falls in love with an Indian maiden who saves his life but then sells her into slavery for profit.

Rubbing the stiffness from his jaw, he headed for the sideboard. The housekeeper had left him a sweet biscuit and mug of coffee. The coffee had to be cold with his hours of pacing the length of the room, but the fragrant bits of fresh crusty pastry still clung to the air. Suddenly hungry, he popped a flaky morsel into his mouth and let the buttery goodness melt upon his tongue. With his thumb, he traced the edge of the silver tray. Slow, steady circles, he made and listened to the small squeaks formed betwixt his flesh and the shiny surface. The chirps would make his beloved daughter clap her hands and smile. Would she try to imitate the sounds as she once did? Why couldn’t her rose-petal lips push out a syllable?

Nothing but hellish cries. A child of four should be able to speak.

His throat dried. His gut ached as if he’d been stabbed by a dull knife. He dusted off his hands and returned to the paper’s garbage and her parting thrust.

“Seems there’s a cheshire cat who grins like the Prince, but which Wowski will he choose?”

He scanned it again and crumbled the page, throwing it into the fire. The flames blazed and spit for a moment, then quieted. Truth had that affect too, coming from nowhere, torching the land, then settling into place. He had to be honest with himself. William did fancy anything that was the opposite of the lithe blonde deceiver formerly called his wife. That included honest eyes, a non-lying tongue, and silky skin that didn’t shun his touch.

Mary’s cry pierced his fogged mind and his heart. He trudged out of the study toward the stairs. London, this house, everything that screamed Elizabeth, he needed to be away from it. If he couldn’t stop the rumormongers, maybe it was time to leave. Retreat wasn’t an option that set easily on a military man’s shoulders, but this time it might be for the best. The gossips wasn’t above lies or innuendo. And if his clumsy attempts at finding the gossips set the dogs chasing Mary’s paternity, he’d never forgive himself.


William’s story released June 15th, Unmasked Heart.

unmasked_bookpicShy, nearsighted caregiver, Gaia Telfair always wondered why her father treated her a little differently from her siblings, but she never guessed she couldn’t claim his love because of a family secret, her illicit birth. With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Ex-warrior, William St. Landon, the Duke of Cheshire, will do anything to protect his mute daughter from his late wife’s scandals. With a blackmailer at large, hiding in a small village near the cliffs of Devonshire seems the best option, particularly since he can gain help from the talented Miss Telfair, who has the ability to help children speak. If only he could do a better job at shielding his heart from the young lady, whose honest hazel eyes see through his jests as her tender lips challenge his desire to remain a single man.

 

 

Get your copy of Unmasked Heart now at Amazon. It is available in Print, ebook, and audiobook.

 


References:

http://www.greatcaricatures.com/articles_galleries/nypl_gillray.html

Peter Pindar‘s Pair of Lyric Epistles (1792): “Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin.”

http://www.spanglefish.com/slavesandhighlanders/index.asp?pageid=222459

Caricature: (1788) by James Gillray from La Rochelle Museum of Slavery showing a young European with his ‘wousky’ – a term also used by George Pinckard in his Notes on the West Indies (1796), p317. The man is, in fact, Prince William Henry, the younger brother of George III.

 

Saving Miss Caulfield, Part 2 ~ A Regency Short Story by Kristi Ann Hunter

To celebrate our third year of sharing inspirational Regency fiction with our readers, we are giving them brand new short stories. Today we present the conclusion of Saving Miss Caulfield.

Part 1 can be read here

Saving Miss Caulfield, Part 2

Bianca stomped through the main hall, wishing she had on something more substantial than satin slippers. Their soft slapping against the marble floor was decidedly unsatisfactory.

She heard Landon exit the drawing room behind her, his boots thudding against the floor with confident solidity. One more grievance for her to lay at his feet. The urge to run up the stairs was strong, but she forced herself to take the steps at a sedate pace.

“Are you going to answer me?” Landon stood in the hall with his hands on his hips and his head dropped back to look up at her.

Arrogant man. Did he expect her to be delighted about his willingness to sacrifice himself because he couldn’t imagine foisting her off on some other poor bloke?

Bianca did her best to arrange her features into a mirror of his frustrated countenance “Are you going to ask me a question?”

She gripped the banister until her fingers turned white and her arm started to shake. Of all the times she had imagined Landon speaking of marriage between the two of them, not once had he suggested it in the guise of a martyr, with a resigned sigh punctuating the moment instead of a passionate kiss.

He shook his head. “Is that what has your dander up? Come back down then, and I’ll ask properly. Would you like me on one knee perhaps?”

A noise gurgled in the back of her throat, begging, threatening to escape. A growl? A scream? A cry? Some terrifying combination of the three? She swallowed it down and continued her trek up the stairs, pounding each step with enough force to jar her knees and echo through the house.

Quick, light taps indicated Landon was running up the stairs behind her. She would have to abandon pique to obtain speed if she wished to attain privacy before he reached her.

Her brother, Giles, stood in the hall at the top of the stairs, blocking the way to the private salon.

“Step aside, please.” She made to step around him, but he dodged, placing himself in her path once more. Bianca’s eyes narrowed. “Step. Aside. Please.”

“No.”

Had he truly just denied her retreat? His eyes left her face to look over her shoulder. No doubt Landon had reached them.

Giles cleared his throat and looked between the two of them. “May I ask what brings you visiting so early in the day?”

“I asked your sister to marry me,” Landon growled. “Then she left the room.”

Bianca’s laugh was short and rude. “You did not ask.”

He stepped forward, a ruddy splash along his cheekbones matching the angry heat in his gaze. “Will you marry me?”

“No!” Bianca shoved past the two men, fighting the tears. She didn’t want a miserable marriage with Theodore, but she didn’t want to be pitied either.

How could she possibly have a real marriage with Landon when he saw her as a little sister? Would there even be children? How could she be expected to move past her adoration and love for him if she saw his name every time she signed her own?

If her marriage was doomed to be an arrangement for survival, then she would make it one she had a hope of surviving. Marriage to Landon when he didn’t love her back would destroy her.

A strong hand wrapped around her arm and pulled her to a stop. Her momentum swung her around until she faced her captor.

Landon’s face was set, the lines around his mouth deepening as his lips flattened. “Earlier you were resigned to a fate with that cad, Theodore. Give me one good reason why you’d choose him over me.”

Bianca stared at Landon, blinking slowly. Landon sucked his breath in through his teeth, breathing unaccountably fast.

Giles waved a hand at the door next to him. “I’ll be in my study. With the door open.”

Landon didn’t even glance back as Giles departed. Bianca frowned.

“One reason, Bianca.”

What could she say? She could hardly tell him it was because he didn’t love her because she was under no illusion that Mr. Theodore loved her either. Telling Landon that she was in love with him would only make him pity her more.  She opened her mouth, praying inspiration would strike if she started speaking. “You’re… That is to say…”

He leaned back, crossing his arms over his chest with a look of confidence. Was he convinced she couldn’t come up with a reason?

“You’re too tall.” She wanted to crawl under a table. Too tall? That’s what she came up with? She deserved his pity for that lack of creativity.

He blinked. “Too tall?”

Her eyes fell to the left. His boot made a fascinating contrast with the polished wood floor.

Then he advanced and her gaze shot back to his face in apprehension. “Too tall? You’ll have to come up with something better than that, Bianca. You’re too smart to throw away your future on something so meaningless.”

Bianca felt her nails cut into her palms as she curled her fingers into fists of determination. He would not pressure her. “Why would I want to marry a man I have to break my neck to look at?”

“Better than a man you’d have to break your soul to live with.”

“My soul is stronger than you think, and it’s much easier to protect than my heart.”

He scoffed. “You think Theodore will have a care for your heart?”

It was Bianca’s turn to look superior. “Of course not. But he’ll get nowhere near it so it’s hardly in danger.”

He leaned forward until his breath bounced off her face. “Why would you marry a man who at best will ignore you?”

“Why would I marry a man who pities me?” Bianca’s eyes widened and she resisted the urge to clap her hands over her mouth. She hadn’t meant to reveal that insecurity, but now that it was out she felt better. There had always been honesty between them.

“I don’t pity you.” His voice was quiet, barely above a whisper.

“Are you saying you want to marry me because you love me?”

His mouth opened, but nothing came out. The heat in his eyes seemed banked by fear, giving credence to her assumption that his proposal was prompted by something other than romantic notions. The victory felt hollow.

“You know I love you, Bianca.”

Her eyebrows shot up even as her heart plummeted. He loved her like a sister, had mentioned that often when he teased about needing to soak his feet in chilled water after helping her learn to dance. That he use such a phrase when he knew she meant something different hurt.

“Then kiss me.” It was hard to tell who was more stunned by her challenge. It felt right, though. There was no better way to call him on his manipulation.

Landon looked awkward as he reached a shaky hand toward her cheek. He gently brushed the curls back, laying his hand along the side of her neck.

Her heartbeat increased. Was he going to take her challenge? Was it possible he felt more than she realized?

Ever so slowly, he leaned forward, bending his head toward hers. Their breath mingled, his spicy scent filling Bianca’s senses until air backed up in her lungs. Her eyes drifted shut of their own volition, despite her desire to see every emotion in Landon’s eyes.

His lips connected with hers in the softest caress imaginable, like a butterfly floating by. She waited for more, for him to sweep by again with a firmer pressure, to send her heart fluttering again, but it never came.

Then his hand was gone, leaving her neck cold. By the time she forced her eyes open, there was nothing to see but Landon’s back as he fled down the stairs.

###

Landon paced his study from door to bookcase, seven long strides eating up the floor before he turned and did it again.

His staff was beginning to gather outside the door, occasionally sending someone to peek in on him and ask if he needed anything. They were beginning to look worried. Not that he blamed them. He’d been pacing since he fled here from Bianca’s house hours ago.

This morning it had seemed so simple. He had gone to Bianca’s house, determined to help her work out a plan for escaping Theodore. He’d had no intention of proposing she marry him. Had he?

As soon as he’d made the suggestion, he knew it was the right solution, the only solution. He was a viscount, outranking Theodore’s potential barony. Not to mention he was a friend of the family and more of a gentleman than Theodore ever pretended to be. If she was looking for a practical match, he was a much better choice.

So why had she turned him down?

He changed direction and strode to the window, bracing his hands on either side. His reflection wavered in the glass as evening crept in. The face was one he’d seen every day of his life, but he didn’t know the man anymore.

Since the first inklings of manhood he’d prided himself on keeping his eyes on God instead of the women that distracted so many of his friends. He’d called them fools, knowing that God would provide the right woman in time. Had he been too focused? Like a horse with blinders, so set on moving forward that he missed his destination?

Because he never expected the thought of kissing little Bianca Caulfield to shake him to his very core.

The kiss had been fleeting. He wasn’t positive his lips had even touched hers, but from the first mention of marriage to the moment he’d rested his hand on her cheek, everything he knew about his life had crumbled in on itself. He’d never felt so out of control.

So why did the thought of putting everything back the way it had been tie his stomach in knots?

Even considering what he would need to do to put their relationship back on a friendly level sent panic to his toes.

He looked past his reflection to a couple walking down the street below his window. Their heads tilted towards each other in a sign of intimacy despite the proper amount of space between their strolling bodies. They were obviously in love.

Love.

The panic flowed from him like water. He loved Bianca. And not in the family way he’d always teased her about. Somewhere along the line as she’d grown into womanhood she’d made her way into his heart while she lowered her hemlines and put up her hair.

“George!” he bellowed.

The butler was instantly at the door. How many people were lingering out there? Why did he even care?

“My horse. Now.”

Fifteen minutes later, he found himself in front of Bianca’s house again, determination of a new kind driving him to knock with more force than necessary.

The door unlatched and Landon pushed his way in even as the butler opened it. “Where is she?”

“My lord!”

“Bianca – Miss Caulfield – where is she?”

“The drawing room, my lord, but I must protest –”

Whatever else the man said was lost as Landon’s long legs ate up the floor to the drawing room he’d earlier made a fool of himself in.

There she was. Pretty as a painting with her blonde hair in a simple braid wrapped around her head, still in a plain afternoon dress.  His heart threatened to beat its way out of his chest, but a sense of rightness that filled his soul made everything right. Brought peace to his soul.

Her bright blue eyes widened as she rose to her feet. “Landon?”

He didn’t know how he crossed the room. He could have walked, run, or flew for all he knew and he truly didn’t care, because whatever he’d done had brought her within reach. He leaned in even as he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into his chest, his heart, where she belonged.

There was nothing hesitant about his kiss this time. The press of his lips to hers felt like coming home. Her fingers dove into his hair and she sighed into his kiss, relaxing into his arms.

He pulled back, but only far enough to see into her eyes. He rested his forehead against hers, fighting to steady his breath enough to speak. This precious girl, no, this precious woman had always been there for him. He couldn’t imagine his life without her in it.

“I love you, Bianca.”

She bit her lip. “Why now? You didn’t this morning.”

He smoother the curls back from her face with a smile. “I think I did. I was just too thick to know it. You’ve always been part of my life, Bianca. I couldn’t imagine building a life, having children, growing old with anyone else by my side. You are my beloved, my darling. Please tell me you’ll be my bride.”

Her eyes glistened with tears as a wide smile stretched across her face. She nodded, her hair rubbing against his forehead like silk. A light laugh escaped her lips even as a tear ran down her cheek. “Yes, my love. I’ll be your bride.”

Landon picked her up and spun her around, spying Giles leaning in the doorway.

With a bit of heat in his cheeks, Landon placed Bianca back on the floor but kept her close to his side.

“Finally,” Giles said with a smile. “Welcome to the family.”

Surprise caused Landon to go a bit slack-jawed. Giles had known? How could the man know something Landon hadn’t even realized about himself? He looked down at Bianca with her bright smile and loving eyes, and decided he didn’t care.

Austen’s World Wrap Up. December 24, 2015

Looks What’s Brewing in the Regency

  • Happy (belated) National Tea Day
    Yesterday was National Tea Day, and it of course got me looking at period tea resources. One of the things I found was a small pamphlet from 1785 called The Tea Purchaser’s Guide; or the Lady and Gentleman’s Tea Table … Continue reading
  • Celebrating Jane Austen’s Birthday
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Today in 1820 – Discovery of a Statue

Greece_location_map.svgImagine a clear day on the Aegean Sea, the sea an indigo blue, the sky azure. You are a twenty-three year old French officer aboard the naval schooner Estafette. The vessel drops anchor at Melos one of the Greek isles littering the sea.

This young ensign, Olivier Voutier, who knows a bit about antiquities, as a well-educated gentleman of the regency era would, takes a pick and shovel and hikes up a hillside with a couple of sailors toward the remains of an ancient theater, hoping to find antique statuary near the ruin. Already, Thomas Bruce, seventh Earl of Elgin had brought back sculpted friezes and statues from the Parthenon, known as the “Elgin Marbles” to display at the British Museum.

220px-MilosNapoleon, another lover of antiquity, had purchased many Roman sculptures when he conquered Italy and brought them to the Louvre in Paris.

All things Greek, Roman and Egyptian were highly valued in Europe at the time of the regency.

On this 8th of April, 1820, young Voutier noticed a peasant farmer in a nearby field. He was digging around an ancient wall to use its stones in a structure he was building.  Voutier noticed he stopped and was staring at something in a niche in the wall. Voutier drew near and saw the partially buried statue of a female torso.

Despite her broken arms, chipped nose and other imperfections, Voutier was enthralled by the statue of the nude. Along with the farmer, he was the first person to gaze upon the Venus de Milo since it had graced an ancient Greek wall.

The farmer, who had no use for such statuary, was ready to shovel earth back over it, when Voutier recognized the beauty of this classical sculpture and persuaded him to dig it out.

Eventually Voutier was able to bring other French officials to see the statue. Another naval officer, Jules Dumont d’Urvilles, went to Constantinople, the head of the Ottoman Empire, which controlled Greece and the Greek Isles at that time, and persuaded the French Ambassador to purchase the statue for France.

It was brought to France in 1821 and presented to King Louis XVIII, who donated it to the Louvre220px-Paris_Louvre_Venus_de_Milo_Debay_drawing. The statue was not found in one piece and was broken in parts. The torso was carved from one block of marble, the draped legs from another, smaller blocks for each arm and the left foot. Fragments of the right arm were unearthed as well as the left hand holding an apple, but they were later discarded as not being part of the original statue because the carving was rougher.

The original plinth or pedestal it rested on was also found nearby but because the inscription carved in it with the artist’s name dated it to the Hellenistic period, rather than the earlier Greek Classical, it devalued the statue in the eyes of scholars at the time, so they discarded the plinth and continued to claim it as a statue from the Classical Greek period.

Today, millions of people visit the Louvre to view the Venus de Milo, along with the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, another Greek statue.

Aphrodite_of_Milos
Aphrodite (Venus) of Milo

 

The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #5

Vanessa here,

Welcome to this 5th stop on the Wassailing Tour.  If you’ve missed some of the others, please don’t hesitate visiting. Here are links to all of the Belles’ holiday wassailing stops, with different Regency era Christmas carols, dinner selections, beverages including wassail recipes at every blog hop.

Bonus Question for Belles’ Give Away: Which member of Lady Pendleton’s family suggested they sing “I Saw Three Ships.”

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The Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour: Course #5
Dec 14
Welcome to the 5th stop of the
Belles’ Holiday Wassailing Tour!

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14th of December, 1819 Port Elizabeth Colony, South Africa

Precious Jewell swatted her brow as she stirred the huge pot of wassail swinging upon the hearth. It smelled better than it looked with the flecks of cinnamon swimming in the murky brown liquid. Anything had to be better than the ginger beer Gareth brewed at the blacksmith’s. The two were going to lug it here for tonight’s dinner which would be serve to all of the Margeaux’s crew.

Christmas in Charleston or London was cold, double shawl, stiff britches cold. This was so different. Most of the men Gareth captained were as new to this place as she. Would they like the spending the Yuletide here?

Stirring again, she shook her head. Men and beer. The crew would enjoy themselves.

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Gareth’s Ginger Beer (Martha Lloyd’s Ginger Beer Recipe)

  • Two gallons of water,
  • two oz. Cream of Tartar. T
  • two lbs of lump sugar. T
  • two lemons sliced,
  • 2 oz. of ginger bruised.

Pour the water boiling on the ingredients, then add two spoonfuls of good yeast; when cold bottle it in stone bottles, tie down the corks. It is fit to drink in 48 hours– a little more sugar is an improvement; glass bottles would not do.

Recipe from: Martha Lloyd’s Household Book With thanks to the Jane Austen Society.

 

Precious’s Wassail – Best Ever Hot Wassail Recipe

Recipe by: Jen Nikolaus

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • 4 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 12 whole cloves, or 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a large pan. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat.  Reduce heat and continue simmering for 45 minutes.  Ladle into cups or mugs and enjoy!

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With a final stir, Precious wiped her damp hands with her apron. Her gaze went to the window. The bright green grass and distant palm trees and no snow didn’t quite look like Yuletide either.  Well, this is what Gareth wanted and truthfully, she do anything to help him. How could love be so much, so overwhelming, so covering and smoothing all the scarred places.

“Precious, how are things in here?”

Speak of the devil. Gareth, and that deep voice of his, dared to enter her kitchen again. The second time in twenty minutes. Weren’t there some Xhosa to go chase, or something?

She turned to him, waving her big wooden spoon. “Things are as good as the last time you dragged in here. You’re probably ready to spout some more nonsense about English vittles.”

Folding his arms against his brilliant white shirt, he leaned against the door frame. “You sound a little perturbed, my dear. Are you sure nothing is amiss?”

“Nothing. Now go on.” She waved her hand to shoe him like chickens, but that dumb old rooster came forward.

Close to her side, he flashed that pompous, wonderful heart-in-her throat grin. “You seem a little on edge.”

Lowering her spoon, she released a sigh and turned back to her pot. “I know how to cook, you know. You’ve been eating well haven’t you? Don’t have to keep checking up on me.”

He stood directly behind her now, and lightly fingered her neck and gave a rub to her sore shoulders. “You do many things well, my jewel. But this is an English meal, and my men are looking forward to it. It’s a touch of home for them.”

“Do you miss London, Gareth?” Her pulse stopped moving. She could hear every creak of floorboards of the sailors gathering in their parlor. If he missed London, maybe he didn’t like it here, or maybe he had regrets.  She stiffened and edged away. Tossing the spoon into her apron pocket, she picked up her oven paddle and went to the fiery brick oven. Sticking it into the hot box, she stabbed at her loaf pan and removed it. “Is that why you keep checking, so you can tell me you want to return?”

He followed and took the paddle and set the steaming loaf on to the table. “You’ve done well with the English Bread. The men will enjoy it, and the rest of meal. Collards and whatever else you’ve created. You’re food is always delicious.”

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English Bread

Recipe from The New London Family Cook; Or, Town and Country Housekeeper’s Guide, by Duncan MacDonald

Put a bushel of good flour into one end of your trough, and make a hole in the middle. Take nine quarts of warm water by the bakers called liquor, and mix it with a quart of good yeast; put it to the flour, and stir it well with your hands till it is tough. Let it lie till it rises as high as it will, which will be in about an hour and twenty minutes. Watch it when it comes to its height, and do not let it fall. Then make up your dough with eight quarts more of warm liquor, and one pound of salt: work it up with your hands, and rover it with a course cloth or sack. Put your fire into the oven, and by the time it is heated, the dough will be ready. Make your loaves about five pounds each, sweep your oven clean out, put in your loaves, shut it up close, and two hours and a half will bake them. In summer time your liquor must be lukewarm; in winter, a little warmer, and in hard frosty weather as hot as you can bear your hand in it, but not hot enough to scald the yeast, for should that be the case, the whole batch will be spoiled. A larger or smaller quantity may be made in proportion to these rules.

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Precious laid a thin cloth over the bread allowing it to cool, but not dry out. “You didn’t answer my question.”

A smile kissed his lips, and he hummed a tune. What was it?

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While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

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Precious plodded back to hearth and started stirring again. The clove and cinnamon smell of the wassail wafted. It stung a little bit upon her weak eyes. And that poor her heart of hers had lodged right against a rib. It was probably the the only thing keeping it from falling out onto her freshly swept floor.

Gareth’s big hand clasped hers, and he spun her to him. “I have Christmas everyday with you and Jonas, but my men don’t. I just want to give them a special day.”

It was Christmas everyday, being loved by the good captain in Port Elizabeth.

separatorDon’t miss the next stop.

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Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem: A Bluestocking Belles Collection
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after.

***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***

Goodreads Reviews

Amazon | Smashwords | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia | Amazon Canada | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

Read more about Precious and Gareth in Season One of the Bargain. The first episode is free.

Season finale, Episode IV is available. http://bit.ly/1REcdnf
Season finale, Episode IV is available. http://bit.ly/1REcdnf

 

More about Flowers

I really enjoyed Laurie Alice’s post on flowers in regency England in springtime. It dovetails well with the post I’ve been thinking about, which is on the meanings and legends of common flowers during both the regency and Victorian eras in Britain.

May Flowers in a Teacup
Forget-me-nots and white lilacs in spring

The forget-me-not, a common flower in regency gardens was called by Coleridge “blue and bright-eyed flower of the brook.” It’s official name “myosotis” actually means the not-so-romantic “mouse ear,” so named because of the shape of its leaves.

A German legend has it that a knight fell into a swift stream while picking the forget-me-not for his lady. He had only time to toss it to her and cry, “Forget-me-not!” before he was swept away. British king Henry IV chose it as one of his emblems, and it was often embroidered on the king’s robes.

It was not until the regency that it became a garden flower.

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Foxglove in a Maine garden

Ever wonder why foxgloves are called by that name? Digitalis, the official name, is not nearly as descriptive. The old English name of foxes-glofa means foxes’ gloves. The fable is that foxes were hunted for their tails, which were considered amulets against the snares of the devil. In order to hang onto their furry brushes, they appealed to the gods for help, who gave them bells to hide in the fields. The bells would sound a warning when hunters were about and become silent when the coast was clear.

All that ducking and dodging the hunters had given the foxes rough paws, so that when they went hunting in the chicken coops, the chickens would squawk when seized by them. This time the fairies gave the foxes gloves to cover their paws with, and these became known as fox gloves.

Digitalis, which the leaves yield, is a recognized heart stimulant, which was used by American Indians before it became known in Europe. It is also a poison, so it was only used externally by Europeans until the 18th century. It then began to be used in the treatment of fevers, insanity and heart disease.

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Red roses in a park in Brooklyn in June

Roses cultivated in Europe before 1800 are usually referred to as “old roses.” Not until 1792 when a rose from China was introduced into Europe did any of them bloom more than once a year. (The only occasional exception was the Damascus). Rose water was used for cooking. Vanilla supplanted it as a flavoring extract in the 17th century. Rose oil, rose water and rose petals continued in British pharmacopoeias but more and more for use in cosmetics. Attar of roses, the essential oil, took 60,000 roses to make one ounce!

One of the earlier spring flowers, the pansy, goes by many names including “Kiss-Me-Quick” and “Johnny-Jump-Up.” The word pansy is derived from the French penser, to think, which is why Ophelia said “Pansies, that’s for thoughts.” Legend had it that to pick one with the dew upon it would cause the death of a loved one. If picked on a fair day, it would rain before night. Pansy juice squeezed on the lids of a sleeper would cause her to fall in love with the first person she saw on awaking, as Titania discovered in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

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A Heart’s Rebellion, London Encounters #2

The hero of my upcoming regency, A Heart’s Rebellion, is an amateur botanist, so he will usually refer to a flower by its official name. The system of classifying plants into genus and species was still a new science in the regency era. The heroine’s name, Jessamine, is a form of jasmine, which the hero is fond of calling by its official name, Gelsemium sempervirens.

Bibliography: Flower Fables by Geraldine E. Nicholson, Mid-America Publishing Corp., Kansas City, Missouri

 

Austen’s World Wrap Up. December 12, 2015

Looks What’s Brewing in the Regency

 

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