This is Peter Pritchard of Regency Morning Gazette, and I am reporting today from the Crock and Bull Inn, a mysterious accommodation house that has appeared in a number of counties simultaneously, and that is currently providing lodging to a vast cast of characters written by the eight Bluestocking Belles and their guests.
Part 1 of my report will be on Sherry Ewing’s blog, and part 2 on Jude Knight’s.
I am with Amiria of clan MacLaren and wife to Lord Dristan, first Earl of Berwyck, and Anne, Countess of Chirbury, wife to Stephen Redepenning, eighth Earl of Chirbury. Lord Dristan is also known as the Devil’s Dragon, and Lord Chirbury as The Wild Trapper Earl.
The two noble ladies normally inhabit different fictional worlds and different eras. Lady Amiria is normally found in the twelfth century and between the pages of If My Heart Could See You by Sherry Ewing. Lady Anne is from the early nineteenth century, and Farewell to Kindness (to be published 1 April) by Jude Knight.
Thanks to a magical time-spanning ever-expanding coaching inn, and a shared adventure in the nearby woods, the two ladies have found much in common and have become friends.
Amiria: Indeed. When my new friend Anne’s twin sons were kidnapped, I could not stand idly by and do nothing when I could be of some use. ’Tis a good thing I brought my sword and crossbow so I could assist the dear lady. I am an excellent swordswoman.
Do all women of the twelfth century carry such weapons of war?
’Tis most unusual, but I have been practicing with my brother since I was but a child. My father indulged me, since I seemed to thrive in the lists. Then, Dristan himself presented me with this very sword as a wedding gift. He is quite sentimental in offering me presents that are more useful to my skills and talents. I am not one to sit in a solar with needle and thread, you see. (Amiria leans forward to whisper softly) But do not mention that I said such about my husband. He has a fierce reputation to uphold, after all.
And, Lady Anne, I am told that you did not sit idly by.
Anne: I am not the warrior that my new friend Amiria is. But when those at love are at risk I will not stay at home weeping and wringing my hands. Happily, I had my archery equipment with me, and was able to make a contribution to the task of bringing my little boys safely home.
This is not the first time you have drawn your bow in the cause of your family’s safety. The Battle of Abbey Farm? The incident with your guardian?
You have been talking to the servants, I see. I cannot discuss those past matters, Peter. Archery has been my hobby since I was a young girl. And, yes, I have had cause in the past to… defend those I love. And will do so again if their safety is threatened. Or, Peter, their reputations. Let us say no more of that.
Were the kidnappers apprehended?
Amiria (with a scowl): I do not have much patience with those who would steal children to retrieve a ransom from their parents. I, too, am a mother so I know how I would feel if someone dared such an offense with mine. Dristan would not be so lenient as to just let someone who took his children wallow in our dungeon. Nay…he would have their heads sitting on a pike outside our gates as a warning to any with such foolish thoughts.
Dristan and Riorden were not pleased that they were not allowed to kill off at least one or two of the villains who were involved with the escapade. Even a bit of torture to glean information would have made them happy, but times are apparently more civilized here than where we come from.
Anne: I was well satisfied to have my children back and the kidnappers imprisoned. I believe that even their leader, who was injured in the rescue, will live to go on trial. Indeed, (here Anne looks down at her hands and colours slightly) I discovered once again that the veneer of civilization is thinner than we care to think. I hardly like to think of what I said and did to get the information we needed to find the villains and my babies.
But make no mistake. I would do it again.
Were the kidnappers given a ransom?
Anne: My boys must have been fed, for they were in good spirits. Whatever her sins, she looked after them. And she returned them safe and sound. I am grateful that they were not at the apprehension of the villains, where they may have been hurt.
Amiria: Since Mrs. Angel had a daughter, Connie, I can only pray she will use some of the coinage in taking better care of the young girl and show her a better life. I may live my life in hose, boots, and tunic on most days, but I am still a lady and my mother’s daughter, and I am able to show a fair bit of compassion now and then.
Anne: Her Grace of Wellbridge invited mother and child to stay at the inn, and will undoubtedly help the woman to find respectable work, should she want to do so. My husband suspects that she is seeking work of a quite unrespectable kind, but we shall hope for the best.
At this point, a servant comes to tell the ladies that their husbands are waiting for them to join the wedding party, and they leave.
So this is Peter Pritchard, signing off from the Crock and Bull inn.