Friday, August 1, 2014

Chapter 3 complete draft

More or less complete draft of the chapter. As an added bonus you get a couple of stanzas of Walter Savage Landor's poetry.  Vain may rhyme with pain, but 'eye's' and 'arise'?

3. Cecelia's Recovery.

True to Mr. Landor's promise, Mrs. Landor showed up at Penyclawdd house early the next morning in her gig. She rode with a groom in tow to look after the horses while they looked after themselves. She waited inside, and chatted with Jane until Cecelia slowly descended from her bedroom. Cecelia took up a position of state on a sofa in the front parlor. Heulwen lay at her side and accepted her due share of attention. Julia asked, “Cecelia, how are you today? Mr. Landor said you were alive, but frail yesterday.”
“Better, but my head still aches, and I feel dreadfully tired.”
Jane asked, “Will you be fine alone?”
“Captain Wood will read to me while you're gone, and Heulwen will keep me company. I won't be alone.”
George reassured them that he would be pleased to look after his cousin. Since there were a couple of maids, anything feminine would be dealt with in perfect propriety. Besides, his valet Meadows was a stalwart fellow and should any emergency arise be up to the challenge of it. Cecelia, herself, had the last word of a convincing argument, “Jane, please go with Mrs. Landor to Abergavenny. You've hardly stirred from the house since you arrived, and must be terribly bored.”
“If you're sure that you'll be fine.”
“Of course I will. Go enjoy yourself in the big city.”
It was late in the afternoon when the gig pulled up outside of Penyclawdd house. Jane and Julia were chattering happily away when the noise of Heulwen barking disturbed them. George called “Heulwen, Shh!” and the dog quieted. Captain Wood came to the door and met both his wife and Mrs. Landor. “Please be quiet, Miss Wood is asleep in the parlor.”
“All day?”
“No, I read most of 'Count Julian' to her. Sometime about three fourths of the way through she started snooring.”
“Mr. Landor will not be amused that his book sent Miss Wood to sleep.”
“I doubt he'll mind that it helped a good friend get through a fretful stage of her recovery.”
Jane added, “Nice recovery, my dear. I see you're finally learning to be tactful. How is Cecelia?”
“As I said, sound asleep. She was a bit twittery and restless all morning, didn't want to drink that potion the apothecary left. Then when I read to her she lay still and eventually went to sleep. If you're quiet, I can offer you some tea in the dinning room, and you can tell me how you found Abergavenny.”
Julia replied that she was not sure she should stay, but Jane insisted that she take some refreshment before proceeding up Cwm Bwlch to Llanthony. “It's at least we can do since you were so helpful to me.”
The noisy arrival of Mr. Landor on horseback put their attempts at silence to flight. He cried, “Captain Wood, the weather bodes well for a shooting party tomorrow. Are you interested?”
Julia added, “Why Mr. Landor what a good idea. Perhaps Miss Arnold would care to visit Llanthony and keep me company while you shoot.”
Jane hesitated, “Someone should remain with Miss Wood. At least until she's clearly on the mend.” A scrambled, barking noise, coupled with a clear command of “Heulwen quiet!” presaged the invalid's arrival. Cecelia stood in the doorway. Still pale and a bit shaky she asked what they were discussing.
“Captain Wood, if you feel up to it, shooting with Mr. Landor and the local huntsmen is an excellent idea.”
Jane reiterated her concern, “But my dear, will you be well without us?”
“My head feels much better, and I won't be alone. Meadows and my maid will be here. I might need to send for you to keep them from cosseting me too much. Did I hear someone mention tea, or was I dreaming?”

The next morning, after Miss Arnold and Captain Wood set out together in the gig for Llanthony, Cecelia found Meadows.
“Mr. Meadows,” she began, “I'd so much like to know more about Captain Wood.” She paused, then hastily added, “and Miss Arnold, of course.”
“It's simply Meadows, Miss Wood.” He paused, then carefully chose his words, “I valeted for the Captain before he left for Spain. Then I valeted for his father in between, and so naturally when he returned I resumed his employment.”
“Meadows, that's not what I was asking about.”
“Miss? I must be discrete about my employer's interests. Otherwise, I'd be a very untrustworthy valet.”
“Oh, I suppose you know what you're about. It's just I'd like to know my cousin, and, I suppose Miss Arnold better.”
“An admirable objective Miss Wood. I'll endeavor to comply with your interrogations.”
“Where did they meet and how long have they been engaged?”
“The captain returned from Spain in March. They met at an 'at home' in London and were engaged almost at once.”
“He seems a bit shy around women, at least he was around me at first. I'm surprised he was such a fast worker.”
“Miss Arnold isn't shy, Miss.”
“She is rather forthright in her opinions, isn't she?”
Meadows nodded, but replied, “That's not for me to say, Miss Wood. Do you have any other questions?”
“It sounds like she scooped him up before he even found his bearings.”
Meadows simply looked like a stuffed frog.
“I see, that is a bit over the line.”
“I would appreciate it, Miss if you don't pursue that line of questioning any further.” Cecelia noticed that he didn't say 'no'. Clearly Meadows had his misgivings about his master's helpmate-in-waiting.
“He mentioned that he has other estates, and might sell Penyclawdd. Would he?”
“His father is still living, but the estate in Berkshire is heavily mortgaged, and not as well managed as this one.”
“Thank you, I've managed this estate ever since my father first fell ill.”
“You have? I'm sorry to say that I don't know what he will do to it.”
“Oh.” Cecelia's worries about Penyclawdd, the place she loved more than any other were writ plainly on her face. “I suppose there are other places I could learn to love.”
“Have you traveled anywhere else?”
“Not really. We traveled to Bath for a few days when my uncle took orders, but I was a little girl then.”
“Then, miss, I suggest you see some more of the world.”
“I'm going with the Captain and Miss Arnold to Bath.”
“That's a start, miss. Bath, however elegant, is hardly the chief city of England.”
A commotion at the front entrance to the house broke their discussion. Meadows and Cecelia went to see what was happening. Captain Wood found the shooting too much for his nerves and was escorted back to Penyclawdd by one of the beaters. Cecelia immediately took charge. “Mr. Meadows, would you take the Captain to the front parlor, while I deal with this young gentleman.”
“Miss,” Meadows bowed in salute and helped George to a seat in the parlor. In the meantime Cecelia rewarded the beater with a couple of shillings. This would make up for the time and payment he lost escorting Captain Wood home. The beater pocketed the money then said, “Miss Wood, that Captain he was shaking from the noise, not very brave at all.”
Restraining her impulse to clump the little blighter on the head, Cecelia replied, “Alwyn, Captain Wood fought the French in Spain for our good King George.”
“What did they fight with? Sticks? He shook because of the noise of guns.”
Cecelia's hand twitched to clump the boy again, yet somehow she restrained herself to reply in a lady-like manner. “Guns and cannon. The French destroyed Captain's division at Badajoz, and he was badly wounded.”
“Doesn't show. Where's his limp. Does he have a scar? My brother had a big scar.”
“It's inside him. Now get back to the other beaters before I clump you.”
Alwyn knew Miss Wood's threat was rhetorical, although he wouldn't have used such a word to describe it. He grinned at her and then ran back towards Hatterrall hill and the grouse shooting. There were still tips to be had for helping the shooters.
Meadows was standing next to the Captain when she returned to the parlor. George was sitting on one end of the sofa, quietly sobbing to himself. “Miss Wood, if you would stay with the Captain, I will return with a glass of restorative brandy.”
“No. Go find my maid to chaperon us, then send for Miss Arnold. I'll comfort him meanwhile.”
“Miss, the brandy usually works wonders.”
“Do you remember what Mr. Landor said about drink? He may be a hopelessly romantic poet, but his practical advice is usually sound. I'd like to see how the Captain does with a little kindness first.”
“Yes, miss.”
Cecelia, with no little trepidation, sat next to George on the sofa. She asked him, “What is it Captain Wood?” He gave only a stifled sob in response. So she tried again, “Is there anything I can do to help?”
His reply took her by surprise. His reply was conventional enough, “Nothing you can do, just sit with me.” However, his actions weren't. He turned, hugged her for reassurance and sobbed for few minutes on her shoulder. It was a good thing that she was a tall girl with big shoulders as well as a sensible female who was not given to vapors. Her maid, Martha, entered the room. Seeing her mistress receiving a close embrace from the Captain left her shocked and speechless. Embarrassment fought with pleasure for the dominant place in Miss Wood's expression. After a few minutes the Captain stopped, seemed to regain control of himself, and said, “Thank you, Miss Wood. I'm better now.”
Cecelia wasn't sure that she was feeling better. She felt a little breathless. Being held close by a man left her feeling more than a little odd. Once she recovered her breath and then her composure, she told him, “You should rest for the afternoon, why don't we read one of my books together?”
“As long as it's not one of Mr. Landor's.”
“He does tend to the obtuse, doesn't he?” She looked at her maid who was sitting in a chair across the room with a mixture of sympathy and shock on her face. “Martha, would you get the two books I just received from the circulating library?”
“Miss, will you be safe? Here alone with Captain Wood?”
“I'm sure he will be have like a gentleman while you are gone.”
“That's what I'm worried about, Miss.”
“Please get them. I'm sure Captain Wood can restrain his baser urges for a few minutes.” She thought, but didn't add, “I'm not as sure that I can control mine.” Fortunately for her domestic tranquility, she was not put to the temptation. Meadows, ever vigilant for his master's safety, came into the room. He held out the books and said, “Miss Wood, here are the two volumes you were referring to. Might I suggest the novel, 'by a Lady' as more calming than the volume of Lord Byron's poetry.”
Jane arrived back from Llanthony two hours later. Captain Wood's mellifluous deep voice was reading, “Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song.1” She entered and found him and his cousin seated close together on the sofa and reading aloud from a book that they held between them. They were sitting against each other as they leaned over the book to follow the story. Just as Cecelia was about to start with,” and as loud” she voiced her disapproval.
“George! Cecelia! What are you doing?”
George jumped up and replied, “Nothing, I mean, just reading with each other.”
“I can see that.”
“It's only a novel.”
“I disapprove of novels.”
“Jane the alternative was Byron's poems.”
“Those too. Don't you have any wholesome literature in this house?”
“These are from the circulating library.”
“Captain Wood, I will have some words to tell you about this later.”
Cecelia rose to defend her cousin, but George motioned her to sit down. “Jane, I was over-set by the shooting and Miss Wood was simply helping me calm down.”
“Couldn't you have just had some brandy?”
“I was following Landor's advice to not drink to dim my memories. He was right, I feel better for living through them rather than running into a bottle.”
“That is as may be. I am most displeased with your conduct, but will not berate you in public. Upstairs.”
George shrugged and followed the light of his life to his doom.
Cecelia heard the start of her lecture before they walked far enough upstairs that it faded into silence. “Couldn't you wait to set up a flirt until after we were married?”
“Miss Wood, a flirt? No she's not a flirt.”
“Think of me at least, and don't seek your entertainment in public. Why don't you read with me?”
“I didn't think you liked novels, or Byron. I'm sorry, would you like me to read them to you?”
“Don't read them to Miss Wood.”
Cecelia turned to her maid, who had not left the room through all this and said, “Martha, I think the sooner I'm away from this the better it will be for George as well as for me.”
“Miss, mayhaps you'll be lucky in Bath. I do hear that there are balls and concerts for the gentry like you to meet.”
“I hope so.”

Meadows entered the parlor followed closely by the ubiquitous Mr. Landor. He bowed to Cecelia, and said, “Miss Wood, Mr. Landor wishes some conversation with you.”
“I can see that. Mr. Landor?”
“I came to see how Captain Wood is doing. Had I thought he would be so affected by the shooting, I would never have embarrassed him.”
“He's upstairs with Miss Arnold. I believe they are having a discussion about that now.”
Mr. Landor could hear the muted and indistinct voices from that heated discussion despite the closed hall door. “What happened?”
“Captain Wood returned from the shooting visibly upset, almost crying.”
“So you nursed him to health and she took it the wrong way?”
“I'm sorry, but it seems I have been the cause of some domestic tension.”
“Miss Wood, I like your modesty. What were you and him up to? If it upset Miss Arnold so much, it must have been interesting.”
“Mr. Landor, why are you visiting?”
“Two reasons. First to check on George, and second to see what you thought of my latest poetry.”
“I thank you for your vigilance, but do you have to read me your poetry?”
“Yes. I value your opinion.” He waited until she sat and began.
She I love (alas in vain!)
Floats before my slumbering eyes;
When she comes she lulls my pain,
When she goes what pangs arise!
Thou whom love, whom memory flies,
Gentle Sleep! Prolong thy reign!
If even thus she soothe my sighs,
Never let me wake again!2
He stopped, and waited for Cecelia to comment. After a few moments she replied, “Very moving.” She kept her thoughts, that she'd prefer if she could move out of earshot to herself. Summoned by Meadows, the Captain and Miss Arnold entered the room. The tension between them was palpable, but Mr. Landor continued. “Excellent, more people to hear my next verse. I think this one is truly excellent.”
Past ruin'd Ilion Helen lives,
Alcestis rises from the shades;
Verse calls them forth; 'tis verse that gives
Immortal youth to mortal maids
Soon shall Oblivion's deepening veil
Hide all the peopled hills you see;
The gay; the proud, while lovers hail
These many summers you and me.

Jane sniffed, “Very moving.”
“Funny, that's what Miss Wood said.”
“I see that we agree on several things then. I wish there were one less of them.”
George added, “Mr. Landor, I apologize that you find us at a moment where it is difficult to offer you hospitality. What was the purpose of your visit, besides giving us the pleasure of listening to your verses?”
“I was just checking on you George. It looks like you have recovered from the morning's exertions.”
Jane shot George a jealous look, “Which ones?”
“The shooting, of course, what did you think I meant?”
“You know.”
“Miss Wood and I were reading together when Jane returned. My fiancĂ©e thought it implied more than just a friendly gesture on Miss Wood's part. It wasn't and it doesn't.”
Mr. Landor became aware of the tension between them. “I see. I hope this won't upset my plans for tomorrow.”
“What plans?”
“There will be a livestock fair tomorrow in Raglan. Much closer than Brecon. Won't get as good a price but that Ionie is eating her way through my hay-store, and I want to get her sold.”
Cecelia brightened, “So you would like it if I came with you?”
“Not just you, Miss Wood, but Miss Arnold and the Captain as well.”
Jane answered for both her and George, “We should be happy to come with you, especially if Mrs. Landor is included in the party.”
“I should hope she is. Especially since I'm counting on Miss Wood's horse sense to find her a suitable mount.”
1End of Chapter 7 of Sense and Sensibility.
2This poem and the next one are from Walter Savage Landor's 'Imaginary Conversations'.