Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Progress on Cynthia.

I've updated the files on Wattpad and added the first part of chapter 3. It's about 18300 words right now. Moving right along.

Here's the start of chapter 3. There's more of it written, but I have a gap that still needs to be filled.

Adapting to Country Life.

The daylight streaming into her room woke Cynthia. More accurately re-woke her after the dawn chorus of bird calls had so rudely woken her earlier in the morning. She sat up in bed and tried to remember what she should do. The chamber pot beckoned first, then she pulled a bell rope for her maid.
Hannah timidly knocked on her door.
“Come in.”
Hannah carefully opened the door, unsure of what she'd find. Her imagination was filled with distressing visions of terrible creatures or obscure dark satanic rituals. To be fair, she had been borrowing Alice's copies of Mrs. Radcliffe's works and enjoyed intense Gothic romance novels every bit as much as her mistress. What she found was an impatient young woman who said, “Hannah, despite what you may have heard or seen, I'm neither a witch nor a dragon.”
“Yes, Ma'am.”
“What I am is a hungry young woman, who needs her morning water and help with her hair and dressing. Like any other gentlewoman.”
“Yes, Ma'am. It was just last night when I was unpacking, I thought that day book of yours spoke to me.”
“Of course it didn't. I neglected to tell you that my bag has a device in it that makes a sound like speech. A bladder and reeds. It's there to scare thieves.” Cynthia didn't elaborate, and Hannah, grateful for a rational explanation, didn't demand further information.
An hour later, Cynthia appeared in the morning room, only to find that breakfast was a mid-morning affair and she had risen far too early in the morning. She asked Hannah if there was anything available to eat and ended up settled in the library with a cup of chocolate. The library was a large room with one imposing wall of bookshelves. Like most libraries in country estates it was more for show than for actual reading. The books were removed once or twice a year for dusting, then carefully returned to their places. So she started carefully searching for something she could stand to read. In the end she discarded 'Fordyce's Sermons for Young Women' in favor of a volume of Coleridge’s poetry.
Alice found her there, still immersed in it an hour later. A cup of cold chocolate sat, untasted, next to her. “Cynthia, I didn't know you liked poetry.”
“I didn't either.”
“Anyway, if you can break yourself away from Coleridge, we are assembling in the morning room for breakfast. I thought it might be fun to ride after we break our fast.”
“Go explore the local countryside, and get a little exercise.”
“Sounds like fun. I was wondering what you got up to for enjoyment.”
Breakfast sped by. Lord Wroxham quizzed Cynthia about riding.
“Do you ride much, Miss Morris?”
“Surely you can be more informative than that. Have you joined a hunt?”
“A hunt?” She paused, “Hunting things is one of my specialities.”
“I was talking about wearing the pink and riding to hounds.”
“No, my guardian won't let me.”
“Lord Peter's is an intrepid hunter.”
“That is as may be, but Lord Petersborough isn't. It's his gout, you see.”
“I'm sorry to hear that. Should I send condolences?”
“I wouldn't bother. He doesn't like to be pitied.”
“So were do you ride?”
“Petersborough park. Nothing special, and just a dear old pony.”
Lord Wroxham found himself thinking, “I wish you wouldn't prevaricate. Petersborough wouldn't waste his pony1's on a pony for you.
There was a minor complication after breakfast because Cynthia had neglected to pack her riding habit. Alice offered to let her borrow an old one. Together they walked out to the stables where the grooms had placed sidesaddles on two mares.
Alice practically skipped in to the stable. Her season in London was enjoyable enough, but she missed her special horse. She patted her mare on the nose, and nuzzled it, then easily mounted her.
Cynthia stood there, in front of her horse with her jaw dropped in amazement. “You ride these? They're so big.”
“Of course. What else do you ride?”
“I don't know.” Well, actually she did, but neither spaceships, racing hover bikes, nor near-orbital scooters were available.
“Come on. Time is passing and I want to get out before it gets too sultry.”
Cynthia stood there with her hand on one earring. She stood there with her eyes flickering from side to side. After a minute, Alice asked, “Cynthia are you well?” Cynthia impatiently waved her hand in reply and returned to what she was doing.
Eventually, Cynthia moved. She gave Alice a tentative smile and said, “Sorry about that. I needed to steel myself.”
“If you're scared of them, we can read instead.”
“No.” Cynthia pulled her head erect and her shoulders back. “One thing I've learned in my travels, is that the fear of something is usually worse than the experience.” She smiled, and added, “Doesn't make it any easier.” Then she cautiously walked to the front of her horse, took the bridle from the groom and stroked the horse's nose. It whinnied and twitched. Cynthia jumped, but immediately returned to the horse's side. Alice was showing signs of impatience to get going when Cynthia finally said, “That's enough. I'm ready.” Then she confidently stepped back to the saddle, put her foot in the stirrup and sprang up. She asked Alice and the groom, “Is this right?”
“Yes. It looks like you're mounted properly. Is it comfortable?”
“Not really.”
The groom adjusted her saddle, and then they rode out of the stables and into the fields beyond.
1Slang for twenty-five pounds.