I also started reading Georgette Heyer's Black Sheep. Miles Calverleigh is absolutely hilarious. Particularly when the heroine, Abigail Wendover, accosts him (believing he is someone else) and he bemusedly goes along with her - all the while thinking she might be quite mad.
I continue to maintain it is patently ridiculous that I am writing a Regency (well, Late-Georgian, Early Victorian) novel when I hate Jane Austen. But it was the costumes that lured me in. The nipped belted waists and short skirts. The late 1830s sleeve is also very dramatic - after the leg o'mutton of the late 20s and early 30s.
Since my hold on English composition is quite tenuous at the moment, here is an excerpt from tonight:
“What do you keep looking at out my window?” Cassandra asked, deep in the feather mattress of the room she’d taken near Anne’s. It was just half eleven – close to a luncheon she had no desire to partake of – and her third visitor of the day was decidedly not paying attention to her.
The heavy curtains – parted to reveal the grayish light that constituted sunlight in the Western world – twitched as Anne’s guilty hand pulled back from them. It was apparent that she had thought Cassandra too far gone in her bottle to notice her. Cassandra humpfed, the movement of her head teasing out a feather fluff that danced around her head before drifting off to settle in the heavy curtains – also parted – that thronged the bed. She was clearly waiting for a response. One that seemed to take an inordinate amount of time in coming, which to Cassandra signified evasiveness. And by default that there was something to evade.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Anne said somewhere near the window – trying not to sound found out. “It’s not like watching you groan is terribly exciting fare.” Cassandra could have arched a brow in touché – if doing so didn’t require moving. She didn’t at all think she could move.
“I can purge in the bowl again if you’d like. All you have to do is sit on the bed.” The bed that was suspended on some sort of rope contraption and swung like a sea berth everytime she breathed. Not for the first time, Cassandra wished she’d been the Sebastian of the pair.
“I’m sorry.” Anne offered, noticeably more contrite than a moment ago. “I just seem to be poor sickbed company today.” Cassandra moved her head – slightly, tentatively – to allow herself to actually look at her half-sister and companion. There was something in her voice that Cassandra had never quite heard before. Something that verged on heartsickness. She was on intimate terms with the tone herself, owning to the sensation that still trembled on her heart, echoed in her eyes, whenever she thought of Lucimar, the mother she hadn’t quite mourned for yet.
In the gray light – generously, Cassandra could have termed it silver or watery blue – Anne’s hair had been picked through in whites and blondes. Somehow, she had managed to stand in a ribbon of light without being aware of the way it turned her skin lucent. If she didn’t know better – and Cassandra had had years to know better – she would have accused Anne of purposefully finding the only patch of sunlight in the room. But Anne was no more aware of herself than she was of Cassandra’s assessing look. She never felt the weight of eyes the way that Cassandra did – self-contained in a way that was strange and almost artless. As if standing in a puddle of sunshine rife with swimming dustmotes was the work of all flowers that sought out the sun. Even the hot house variety like the daughter of Ralph Edwardes. Cassandra decided to capture the moment in her head – the way Anne seemed to belong in just such a light, which revealed Cassandra’s skin as interloper. Of course then she’d have to label it Inattentive. “As I am quite sure I’ll not be able to eat anything that Nell is going to bring in at lunchtime, why don’t you do something more productive than listening to me groan?”
“But I’m taking a study of your groans,” Anne quipped, more focused on Cassandra and less involved on whatever was going on outside the window. Not much, by Cassandra’s unfortunately jaded eye. A lot of overgrown grasses, rocks and gray sky. And sometimes a horse. Cassandra hated horses.
“That sounds…lovely.” Cassandra said, turning ‘lovely’ into ‘wretched,’ her breath catching as the two sips of tea she’d bothered with earlier threatened to reintroduce themselves. “You know what I think?” Anne didn’t bother to answer as she knew Cassandra would continue on regardless. They were equally and in turns ill-mannered, but only in the privacy of their rooms. “I think you should go do some area studies for me.”
“Oh?” Anne said, slightly distracted as Cassandra was quite sure now that Bown must be running the horses outside.
“Yes. You should, in my esteemed estimation, get on the mare they borrowed from that Lodge and ride over there to properly thank them.” Cassandra had a leading way of talking that cued Anne into the plots brewing in her head. There was always a plot. “Oh and you can find me something out there to sketch. Like a very large rock or something.”
“I cannot comprehend that this is all you intend me to do. This is sounding positively all above board.” Cassandra had a tendre for schemes almost as strong as her desire to meet the man who had made Anne aware – if only for a moment.
“While you’re there, you will have to make your thanks to Permancie of course.”
“And then ask after any extraordinarily well-formed gentlemen in his knowledge who might have visited Roseward summers ago.”
“So let me clarify this proposal,” Anne held up a hand to stop Cassandra from further clarification of her own. “I am to ride over to Roseward Lodge in my outdated tweed – and dusty to boot from grousing around after large rocks you wish to draw. Introduce myself to a Baron I met only once and ask him, ‘Do you happen to know of any extraordinarily well-formed gentlemen with a penchant for libraries?’” She had added an extra flourish to the word extraordinarily, imparting in sound the ridiculousness of the entire scenario.
Cassandra scowled. “If you say it like that of course it’s going to sound a little ridiculous.” But she had moved too much, the bed giving an ominous sway, and her face lost all of its color completely.
“That is probably on account of it being ridiculous,” Anne raised the porcelain basin near Cassandra’s bed, looking away in politeness as Cassandra emptied her stomach. When she was finished, Anne drew a scented cloth over her mouth and forehead. “But since my presence has riled you up entirely too much for your health – I will leave you in the capable hands of Nell,” who had appeared with the hot cloth as if out of the woodwork at the first sound of Cassandra’s distress. “And I will enjoin myself to locate the best outcropping of rock to be found in the area. Although the ruins may be more picturesque.” Cassandra scowled. “In the direction of Roseward Lodge.” Cassandra offered a weak smile.
“Expect me back before dinner however. I am not asking anyone after extraordinarily handsome men,” and with that promise, Anne was off.
“If you ask me,” Nell offered, ringing out the hot cloth and settling Cassandra in tighter in the bed, “I would say the most ‘andsome man in the area is Permancie ‘isself.”
“Is that so?” Cassandra asked, scheming. “His Christian name wouldn’t happen to be Robin or some derivative, would it?”