Christmas in Regency Wiltshire
My novel, Perfidy and Perfection, is set immediately before and after Christmas in the middle of Wiltshire, near the town of Middleton (based on Devizes). Then in January to Eastbourne, Sussex for the delights of sea bathing. Yes, in January because the colder the sea, the more effective, apparently.
I shall post about sea bathing in January, but back to Christmas time in Wiltshire...
An excerpt from Perfidy and Perfection:
Immediately after Christmas, Ben, Lord Hart, goes to visit Sophy Grantchester.
Ben looked up at the squat parsonage, bent and flicked the small gate open, reached the front door in six steps. He raised his knuckles-
The door opened. Ben lowered his hand. She stood there before him, with gold flecks in her eyes that made him blink, and wearing… some brownish material. Well, it was a dress he supposed. And on her head, a frilly white spinster’s mob cap. It was hideous. ‘Miss Grantchester. What a pleasant surprise!’
‘How so? I do live here after all?’ She tucked a loose tendril of hair behind a soft-looking ear. ‘I suppose you are here to see my father? He is out at present. If you wish to wait-’
‘I am relieved to hear he is feeling better, but no.’
It was a very small word but it hung in the air like a travelling show’s largest puppet. Ben watched as her eyes narrowed and then widened. He wondered what she was thinking. If he had been on a doorstep somewhere in Mayfair he could have asked the girl to join him for a spin around Hyde Park on his high perch phaeton. Now that he was on a doorstep of a parsonage in Wiltshire he suddenly had no idea. ‘I’m very bad,’ he said. ‘At planning things, and I also suffer from a lack of imagination. However, there is something I wish to discuss with you. And I brought your books.’
Her face brightened as he handed her the basket he’d been holding behind his back. Ben swallowed. She had not looked so happy to see simply him.
She stared down into the basket and then rifled her slim hand down past the books piled therein. Said, ‘Was there nothing else? No… letters?’
‘Letters? No.’ Ben shook his head. ‘Were they important?’
‘Important? No.’ She turned and placed the basket down in the hallway behind her. ‘You’ll be wanting a cup of tea, I suppose?’
Not particularly, Ben thought. Said ‘Yes, please.’
Then, just as she had half turned and he was in the middle of taking a step forward to follow her into the cottage, he said, ‘Wait! Would you, by any chance, care for a stroll? It is cold, but not so very cold.’
‘Is there a history of insanity in your family?’ Her eyes had most definitely narrowed. ‘Or are you courting me? If the latter, I must certainly obtain my father’s permission.’
‘The very devil! What would you say if I slung you over my shoulder now and to hell with all the rest of it?’
She stared at him. Quite rightly, for he wasn’t entirely joking.
‘Well?’ Ben pressed.
‘I don’t know. I never considered the possibility would come about for a parson’s daughter.’
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