Welcome to weekend writing warriors. Many fine authors, and me, contribute short snippets for your delectation.
Since it seems that our Regency spy romance is much more popular than our science fiction, this post introduces the sequel to The Art of Deception. Amanda’s reading was interrupted by a summons to attend on her mother. Amanda’s mother made it clear that she must attend the assembly. After a short carriage journey, it only being six or so miles between Coalpit Heath and Chipping Sodbury, they have arrived. Mr Jameson just asked Amanda to dance, despite her interest in a mathematics problem. The set over, Amanda wants to return to her usual pursuits when her mother stops her. Amanda has just said a biting remark about the mysterious Mr Jameson, and her friend Louisa wonders why she is so sour.
Amanda asked him, “What college are you with?”
“New college, why?”
“That’s where my Freddy is,” Louisa almost shouted; she added, quietly, “Though he’s not quite my Freddy.”
Amanda noticed her father, bludgeoning his way through the crowd to join her.
Once he arrived within hailing reach, he said, “There you are lass; I thought you’d enjoy the evening, despite those megrims.”
Amanda said, “Yes, you are right, as usual,” She paused, unsure of precedence, and then introduced her companions, “Louisa you know. This is Mr Jameson.”
“I saw you dancing with my lass; hope she didn’t disappoint, she gets so little practice.”
Mr Jameson nodded to him, “It was my pleasure.”
Amanda continued, “and this is Miss Mapleton – Are you with Mrs Hudson’s academy as well?”
Alice replied, “I’m a governess there.”
My sincere apologies for abusing semi-colons.
We had the power go out last night in Atlanta’s “Snowmaggedon II – the blizzard strikes back.” No big deal in itself – this time the roads didn’t freeze so people weren’t stuck – and it’s already back on. It was a decidedly cold and dark evening, although not more than a one dog night.
It raises the question, “How did you keep clean, when like most people, you couldn’t have a hot bath or shower?”
The answer turns out to be a mixture of techniques. One, quite obviously, is to use a cold wet cloth to wash the “pits and smelly bits.” That works, but isn’t actually how people usually cleaned themselves – or at least the rest of themselves. Dry linen cloths are surprisingly good at absorbing oils and grime. Through the end of the Victorian time – when geysers (a temperamental point source of hot water that used gas) and soap were introduced (or in the case of soap re-introduced, Boudica and her merry gang of blue woaded Briton’s used it) – people dry-toweled themselves with scraps of linen. I haven’t tried this, but have it on good authority that it works.
Hair, however, is a different story. A regency gentleman’s father had it easy – shave his head and wear a wig. By the early 1800’s this wasn’t an option for men, and it had never really been one for women. Hair powder and brushing served the needs. Somewhat imperfectly. You would dust your hair with an absorbent powder and brush it out. The iniquitous tax on hair powder to help pay for the war may have lead to a change in style – moving from powdered and massive constructions to more natural looks, but the basic techniques survived until late in the 1800’s. There is a reason Regency Heroines spend so much time having their maids brush their hair. Shampoo is much faster.
Of course, if these fail, there’s always perfume.
In fairness, I should point out that soap and soap-like compositions were highly caustic until the later years of Queen Victoria (1870’s). They’d have eaten your skin and dissolved your hair much like drain cleaner does today. So there’s a reason that soap wasn’t used for cleaning people.
This snippet continues formal connection to the previous book in the series (the art of deception). Mrs Hudson’s academy doesn’t just teach deportment and other social skills.
I’ve put up a couple of things on instafreebie. The first is a short story, To Court a Dragon.
The second is the start of a science fiction story in the same universe as Cynthia the Invincible, but set in 1893 Dartmoor, The Curious Case of Miss James. It’s available on Amazon.
The Art of Deception, first in a series of late Georgian/early Regency spy novels is now up.. You can get the first part here.