Project: Julia and Mary (Regency lesbians)
Market: Storm Moon Press, An Improper Arrangement open anthology call
Deadline: June 30, 2013
New words written: This is a little tricky, as my running tally doesn't reflect editing-on-the fly.
Present total wordcount: 12583
Mean things: Incompetent postillions
Fun things: Getting to use actual routes & inn names
Stimulants: Goat cheese & onion marmalade sandwich for lunch
Before I could write narrative today, I had to blow 40 minutes on notes-to-myself. I shared them on tumblr. Here, watch my brain ramble:
Okay, so. Julia and Mary are going from London to Brackley Hall. It’s a journey of about fifty miles. They plan to do it in one day: six hours is long, but they’ll arrive in time for a late supper. (So they think. A minor carriage accident will force them to make an overnight stop at an inn.)
Julia came to London in her personal travelling-coach, which, unlike the post-chaise pictured above, has two benches facing each other. She did not, however, use her own coachman and horses for the journey; doing fifty miles in easy stages that the same four horses could handle with appropriate resting periods would have made the journey long and tedious. And she doesn’t travel regularly enough to keep more horses of her own stabled along the roads. She may be rich, but not THAT rich. So they’re using hired post-horses and postillions. She probably brought a groom or footman with her (having one’s own manservant has its uses, and her hostess in London wouldn’t have found it a burden to house & feed him for the duration of the visit) but not a coachman. I note this only to remind myself that the outside seat is occupied. He’s not really a factor in this story, or at least I don’t think he will be. He might add a comment or two on the condition of the carriage post-accident.
Anyway. What I really need to sort out is whether there’s a second vehicle involved in this journey. People besides the aforementioned manservant:
- Julia’s five-year-old son Richard
- Richard’s nursemaid (she’ll need a name. Are nursemaids high enough in rank to go by their last names, or are they addressed by first names? I think they’re typically last-named; Caroline is rather informal when she calls her lady’s maid, her son’s nursemaid, and her cook-maid all by their first names, but Caroline’s first married establishment is very small compared to the grand houses she’ll be mistress of later. Julia’s late husband was a middle-aged marquess, twenty years older than Caroline’s titled army major stationed at an encampment. Yeah. A last name for the nursemaid. Back to the MBTA maps, as I’m out of Lexington elementary schools.)
- Kendall, Julia’s lady’s maid (see what I mean about the MBTA maps? I’ve already used up the Red Line; I think I’ll hit the Green Line next.)
That’s five. Five all fit inside her coach. Julia and Mary have their belongings in the rooftop imperial (think cargo box; the added weight of Mary’s belongings is what will change the maneuverability of the coach). Mary’s empty trunk is being lashed beneath. (She is leaving London with a LOT more clothing than she arrived with; Caroline really rigged her out.) The servants would likely all have traveled with just a box or grip, equivalent to carry-on size, because they only need a change or two of outer clothing and several changes of linen, not a fashionable wardrobe. How much clothing would the five-year-old have had, and what about his toys? I know he has a wooden sailboat. Proper Teddy bears weren’t made until 1903 but I can’t imagine that there weren’t SOME forms of soft toys in 1810, right? Add in some lead soldiers, a kite(that’s collapsible though), would he insist on his Noah’s Ark? Hoop is too big to go in a box but would be easy to lash next to a trunk or over the top of the imperial. Hm. But for clothing he really only needs several skeleton suits & about a week’s linen. So a half-size trunk, say.
Oh, hey, look at that, this photo is labeled “carriage imperial” and it’s on a smaller chariot and it has TWO boxes. Good. There’s room for everyone’s stuff: Julia’s and Mary’s clothing goes in one box, the servants’ grips and Richard’s half-size trunk go in the other. Julia’s and Mary’s dressing-cases go under the seats, that’s standard.
YAY THERE IS ROOM FOR EVERYONE’S STUFF WITH A SINGLE LARGE COACH. I don’t have to have a separate vehicle with servants and baggage.
Does Richard get car-sick travelling backwards, or is he one of those little kids who begs to sit in the rear-facing seat of a nine-passenger station wagon? (Remember those?) Do either of the maids get carsick? Julia and Mary have to be sitting next to each other, for my purposes. If they had someone squished next to them, it would improve my situation even more.
Authorial fiat: Richard gets carsick and so needs to be facing forward, with a window seat. Therefore Julia is in the middle and Mary on her other side. PERFECT.
So after that I did three writing sprints and then dipped into Cary's Itinerary as a reward.
I AM SO GLAD I DID.
Now the whole sequence, instead of being a few dull outlines of a journey that they could have taken anywhere, has real inn names, real geography, real travel times, and a much better sense of how the accident happened: the Crown at Dunstable was very backed up, so they changed horses at the Sugarloaf, whose postilions and horses were NOT AS GOOD, and when they turned off the stick-straight old Roman road (which is now the A5) towards Woburn at Hockliffe, the incompetent post-boys couldn't manage the turn, and oopsie.
I found a pub that was not a coaching inn that was very close by, and had existed in the right time frame, give or take a few years, and would serve to slow them down enough.
And now the journey and the accident and the little boy running around while they're waiting for the postilion to come back with the landlord's gig & get all their stuff TO the pub-that-has-a-couple-small-bedchambers-
but-no-spare-horses and the general exasperation all feels REAL to me, where before I was just "okay, I have to get them to the Enforced Bed Sharing SOMEHOW."
Also, one of the three inns at the St. Albans change was a White Hart, so I got to put that in as a present for angevin2
I hope someday I earn enough from my writing to VISIT all this stuff.