Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some more draft writing.

More draft manuscript. This fits in before the last post and describes the developing relationship between Elizabeth and Charlotte. The manuscript is just about 20,000 words.

// Elizabeth and Charlotte have largely buried the hatchet by now. Charlotte isn't sure about the rest of the Oswiths, especially Freddy. But Elizabeth is a good friend.
// Freddy is already in London, having argued, if it rose to that, with Charlotte. Elizabeth will go join him when Charlotte goes there. He always is on her wrong side. Somehow this bothers him. He's not sure why.
// Freddy will be surprised, pleasantly when Elizabeth shows up.
While Dr. Answorth was consuming his prescribed morning dose of the hot sulfurous brew dispensed in the pump room, Miss DeVere and Mrs. Answorth were introduced to a distinguished looking woman of an uncertain age. She wore fine clothes, was heavily powdered and wore a colored wig over her close cropped gray hair. The woman began,“Why Mrs. Answorth, what brings you to Bath?”
Seeing that Mrs. Answorth did not quite recognize her, she continued, “It seems so long since we met, but it was only last year. Have you been keeping well? No don't answer for I can see that you have.”
Mrs. Answorth searched her memory and put a name to the face. “Are you Carol? Lady Maplerod?”
“The same.”
“It has been a long time since we last met. You should visit us more often, Maplerod isn't far from Staverton. What brings you to Bath?”
“The waters, and the company. London is so gauche nowadays. I don't know why I spend so much time there.”
“My husband, Dr. Answorth is here for his gout.” She pointed to Dr. Answorth as he grimaced and tried to swallow more of the water.
“Is that so? Mine has long since departed to meet his maker. I suppose that is why I spend so much time on diversions in London.”
Mrs. Answorth remembered Lady Maplerod as a flighty young woman, and replied, “Diversions? Surely by now you have begun to settle down, to reflect on life.”
“I still feel the need for entertainment, it helps the time pass. Otherwise life would be so tedious and dreary. Who is this beautiful young lass that you have attending you?”
“Miss Charlotte DeVere, Lord Staverton's daughter. She has been kindly lending us her continence.”
Lady Maplerod immediately attached herself to Miss DeVere with an inspired devotion. Her devotion was inspired by her fond remembrances of Lord Staverton. He was a sure mark for a sucker-bet, and remarkably generous when he was in funds. She hoped his daughter was a similarly inclined. There was one way for her to find out so she talked to Charlotte.
“Miss DeVere, I knew your father and mother. Back in the '90's.”
“Really? I barely remember my mother. She died when I was not long out of leading strings. You must tell me about her.”
“She was one of my best friends. Both she and your father.”
Charlotte's naive response played right into Lady Maplerod's wishes. “What did you do together? I've never been to London, I'd like to see the sights. See where they lived.”
“Miss DeVere, next week I am headed to London. Would you like accompany me? You can stay in my town house.”
“I would love to, but I should ask my companions, Dr. and Mrs. Answorth.”
Elizabeth came into the pump room in search of Charlotte. “Miss DeVere, I hoped I would find you here. Would you like to ride up Claverton Down this afternoon, maybe a bit beyond if we have the time?”
Charlotte introduced her friend to Lady Malperod. “Lady Maplerod, this is Miss Elizabeth Oswith.”
The two women coldly examined each other. Lady Maplerod, because she knew that the Oswiths were a difficult nut to crack, and Elizabeth because Lady Maplerod plainly bore all the hallmarks of an adventuress. She had seen enough of them in London for her tastes. Lady Maplerod was the first to speak. “Miss Oswith, I was just telling your friend that I knew her parents, and invited her to stay in London with me next week.”
“Really, have you met mine?”
“Maybe, but I don't mix in social circles that are below my rank.”
Elizabeth gave her an ambiguous response, “Neither do I.”
Charlotte replied to Elizabeth, “I'd love to come riding with you. Lady Maplerod did you wish for my company?”
Lady Maplerod replied, “Go ride with your friend, my pretty one. There is plenty of time to arrange our trip later. There is so much I should discuss with my old friend Mrs. Answorth.”

Riding together up the Claverton Down with Elizabeth's groom discretely in tow, Charlotte turned to Elizabeth and asked her, “Lizzie, I had the impression that you were not overjoyed to meet Lady Maplerod. Why is that?”
“Nothing I can say directly, with those manners, that dress and that horrible wig she doesn't move in the first circles of London society, at least not the parts of those circle I inhabit.”
“You move in the first circles?”
Elizabeth blushed, “Well, Charlotte, I think I do, or at least as much as I want to.”
“As much as you want? What wouldn't you want to do?”
“I don't gamble, at least not for real stakes in a gambling hell. When I'm there, Freddy and I get invited to so many balls, that I have to turn some down.”
“Turn down an invitation?”
“It's either that or be very rude and just show up for a few minutes, then leave.”
“I do wish I could persuade Lady Maplerod to invite you to come with me.”
“You can try, but I doubt you'll succeed.”
“Oh, but you were so helpful here in Bath, and London is ever so much bigger. I'd be lost without a friend.”
They looked out over Bath from the top of the down. Elizabeth replied, “You don't get such a good view of the city. Should we try a ride to Farely Castle?”
Her groom coughed, “Ma'am it's a three hour ride from here.”
“Darn. That is too far. Is there anywhere closer? I am so enjoying this ride. It's far too soon to return to Bath.”
“Monkton Coombe is not too far Ma'am. We could return by Warminster Road.”
“That's on the canal, isn't it?”
“Yes Ma'am.”
“Charlottte are you game for it?”
“I've been so idle these last few weeks that any ride will do.”
“Then Monkton Coombe it is.”
They worked their way down the other side of the down to the small town of Monkton Coombe and the Somerset Coal Canal. Charlotte was surprised at the level of traffic.
“Good Lord Lizzie, it is so busy.”
“It is, isn't it.”
The followed the towpath towards the junction with the Kennet and Avon. Part of the way there, Charlotte suddenly asked Elizabeth, “Lizzie, have you ever been in love?”
“Where did that question come from?”
“I don't know, it's just, well I don't know what it feels like, and since you seem to know so much, maybe you'd know.”
“Charlotte how old are you?”
“Twenty three.”
“I'm only twenty two. So why do you keep making me feel like an ancient crone?”
“Lizzie, you've done so much more than I have. So what's it like to be in love?”
“I don't know. I once thought I was in love with one of Freddy's friends. He visited while he was in college. Freddy in college, that is, his friend was in the army. I doubt he even looked at me. I was a gangly young girl at the time. Still I wonder from time to time.”
“So you think about him?”
“Not often, anyway he's either a casualty in Spain or happily married by now. I'm sure when I really fall in love, my fantasies about him will evaporate like the dew.”
“I don't know. I've met many men in the last few weeks, but somehow they just don't make an impression. Not even a bad impression like Freddy.”
“Now you're being silly, Charlotte. If you expect to meet the love of your life during a few weeks in Bath, I think you will be disappointed.”
“I don't know. It's just I keep thinking about your annoying brother. Why can't I get him out of my thoughts?”
“Don't ask me about that. I can't get away from him either.”
“But you're his sister. Why would you want to get away from him?”
“Didn't you ever want to get away from, what was it, John?”
“Yes, but he wasn't as nice to me as Freddy seems to be to you.”
They reached the junction of the two canals, and much to their surprise there was a party of men examining the aqueduct and the locks around it. One of them was Freddy.
Elizabeth shouted, “Freddy! What are you doing here?”
He walked over and greeted them. “Inspecting one of father's special investments.”
“What is it this time?”
“This damned canal. It's making a decent return for now, but I don't think it's a good long term solution to moving goods. We've put too much capital into it, so now the question is how to get some of our money out without crashing the company.”
Charlotte quietly watched as Elizabeth queried her brother.
“What's the problem with it?”
“High maintenance costs, and the damp.”
“The damp?”
“Everything has to float. Just try keeping your grain dry in one of these barges.”
“I see. Also, if everything is horse drawn.”
“You're right Lizzie, it can't go any faster than a wagon, and the horses themselves will wear out. It's just too expensive to last.”
“So is there any alternative?”
“Stephenson, Trevithick. Steam engines.”
“Sounds risky.”
“It is. The trouble is doing nothing is even more risky.”
Elizabeth remembered her manners. “Freddy, Charlotte and I were riding on the downs. We'll return to Bath presently. Would you or your party care to dine with us this evening?”
Freddy finally seemed to notice Charlotte, but unfortunately he had to reply, “I'm sorry Miss DeVerre, I'm due to take the next boat back to Reading. I'll probably be dining, if you can call it that, in a canal-side pub at Chippingham, if not Devizes or some other such damned place.”
Charlotte wondered why, despite her nominal antipathy to this bounder, it was a disappointment that he wouldn't be dinning with them. “I'm truly sorry to hear that Mr. Oswith. I'm planning to visit London in a week or so, could we dine then?”
“It would be my pleasure.”
The two women bid Freddy adieu and headed back to Bath.
As they approached the town, Charlotte asked Elizabeth, “Lizzie, is it my imaginings or did your brother seem more tired, almost worn down and drawn than when we last met?”
“I think he is. The weight of responsibility is on his shoulders now and it shows.”
“Is it that bad?”
“Can be. Charlotte I've just had an idea. How about I post down to London next week? You and Lady Maple-what'sit can ride with me. That way I can surprise Freddy and cheer him up. You're welcome to stay with us, if you want.”
Charlotte looked dubious, “I'm not sure Lady Maplerod will accept your offer.”
“Want to bet?”
“You don't gamble.”
“Except on sure things. She'll hem and haw about it, but in the end a free ride in a luxurious post chase is something she won't miss.”
“I thought you and your family always rode the mail?”
“Freddy does, but he likes it.”
“Really, Lizzie? I've never done it, but John did. He said it was awful, full of common folk and smells. Very leveling.”
“I expect he does it to show his employees he will do anything he asks them to do. Besides, we're common folk too.”
“I thought you said you moved in the first circles?”
Elizabeth laughed, “It's amazing what money will do.”
“Remember I once told you that I was only accepted as a wealthy heiress?”
“Yes, but that was long ago.”
“Only seems it. One reason I've not 'fallen in love' is most of the men seem more interested in my cash than me.”
“That cannot be true.”