Clarissa: Chapter Fifteen

The uncertain pace of letters and her own worries led Clarissa to become very concerned about how Roland was doing, and so she went to Lord Lipton to talk. One evening, after supper was finished, she asked to speak to him in his library, and concerned about how she was doing, he agreed.

“Have you ever been in a siege?”

“I have, actually.”

“You did? When was that?”

“It has happened to me three times. Once, the siege was more of an informal siege, when I was in Charleston, South Carolina, during a time when it was the last area in that state held by the British during the end of the rebellion. The second time was when I was called to New Providence when it was put under siege by the Spanish. The third time was when New Providence was besieged and successfully retaken by the English just before peace had been agreed to in the war.”

“What kind of experience is it?”

“It’s a pretty nerve-wracking experience. There are often cannons firing and defenders firing back. You are stuck inside the city and can’t go out, and sometimes food and water are limited. Attacks can come at any time day or night, and there is often constant bombardment. None of those aspects are very fun.”

“So you don’t think it’s a bad thing that I’m anxious about how Roland is doing while he is fighting in a siege?”

“Not at all.”

“You’re not going to make fun of my womanly weakness for being afraid for someone’s safety?”

“No, plenty of men are frightened about sieges as well. I am sure that if you were in a siege you would bravely deal with the conditions as best as you were able, but I have known men whose nerves were shattered at the thought of defending a city against larger numbers of attackers, so it is not something that is determined by your sex.”

“What can be done about it?”

“That is the critical question. I think, and this is my own private theory and not something that is known for sure, that anxiety most often results from our inability to feel as if we are doing anything about something negative that may occur. When we are dealing with negative things that are occurring, there is usually something that can be done, and doing that thing relieves the anxiety and worry. Once bad has happened, you can take various steps and make the best of it. It is the anticipation that makes things harder.”

“Well, what can I do about Roland’s safety?”

“Right now, you can pray for him, you can send him encouragement in letters, and that is about it. Do you mind if I talk to some other people about how you feel? I suspect that there are women whose loved ones have been in war who have figured out ways to cope with it as best as possible.”

“Can I come with you if you talk to them?”

“If you wish. I will write some letters first, and then it may come to ghat if we talk about some suggestions that people have based on what they have done themselves.”

Lord Lipton was good to his promise to do something to help Clarissa figure out how she may best deal with the fact that her beloved Roland was fighting in a dangerous siege and was off to war. Lord Lipton’s query of the War Department on what kind of advice that ladies had to other women concerning their loved ones fighting in war and how they relieved the anxiety and worry of the experience had a surprising result, since few people had thought to ask the question before, apparently. Generals and admirals asked their wives how they had best dealt with stress while the husbands were away at war, and got some striking responses about how the women had busied themselves with campaigns to ensure the well-being of the troops, and how some had sought to be closer to the front, so as to be less subject to the delays of knowing what was wrong. Some admirals’ wives reminded their husbands about the worth of a wife sharing the experience of being on the seas, so as to not worry about the storms or battles their husbands faced. Generals’ wives as well commented that it could be less stressful being on a post than it was back at home where one might have to wait for weeks or months to hear reports about what was going on.

Lord Lipton was told these responses, and gathered that what inflamed the stress of many wives of these high officers in the army and navy–and no doubt what the wives of lower ranks thought as well, although they were not here consulted–was the lack of knowledge of what was going on with their loved ones. This was as Lord Lipton figured, that it was ignorance and not a weaker nature which made women a prey to their emotions. He brought up the matter with his wife.

“I hope I have not been boring you with the reports I have heard from the War Department about the experience of women in the home front.”

“Not at all. It seems to have been exactly what you expected, and that is a credit to you.”

“If I were posted as a governor in some distant colony, would you want to be there as well?”

“I would absolutely want to share in the experience. If the place was not very healthy, perhaps I would prefer for the older children to go to school here in England while we roughed it abroad, but I would want at least myself and the younger children to share in the experience and in each other’s love.”

“I am glad you have such a sense of adventure.”

“I think most of us would feel that way. We women are not delicate flowers who need to be kept from the dangers of the world. If we do not want to share in your battles, we at least want to share in your experience of the difficulties of the world, that we may provide encouragement and support to you in your struggles and not have to weep and mourn over your broken bodies and minds when you return home.”

“I do not think that is an unfair or unreasonable position to take. I do not think one should be so harsh on those men who wanted to protect their wives and daughters and mothers from the horrors of war. War is horrible, for any of us who have seen its results. But you are right that as women are not shielded from the aftermath of war, they ought to give encouragement, and ought to be in a place where they feel they can do something and not be paralyzed by worry and anxiety.”

“Are you still thinking about what Clarissa can do herself?”

“I am.”

“And what do you think she should do?”

“I think she should go to be as close to him as possible.”

“Where would that be?”

“I don’t know right now, but when we find out, I think we can act then.”

“Are you going to let her know what you have found out.”

“Indeed I will.”

And indeed he did. The next day, Lord Lipton called Clarissa into his library to talk during the morning.

“I wanted to let you know about the information I received from other women whose loved ones have served in warfare abroad on land and sea.”

“What did you find out?”

“I found out that there were a few things that such women did to ease the anxiety. For one, they tended to try to live as close as possible to where their loved ones were posted, so as to have the best information about conditions and the last amount of time spent waiting and worrying. And for another, they sought to involve themselves in causes to help the well-being of their loved ones, to give them something to do.”

“But I thought that a lady was not supposed to have too much to do.”

“Well, it is true that most of us are an idle sort of being. The goal of being a gentleman or gentlewoman is to put oneself beyond the need to labor. But when one’s loved ones are in danger, it is precisely having something to do that is necessary for us to find purpose. A man can find something to do easily enough, no matter how rich he is, simply by running for Parliament or joining some sort of civic association. For women, though, it is often more difficult of a task to do something while also remaining ladylike, though here too civic associations can help with the need to do something.”

“Are there any associations you think I should help out with?”

Lord Lipton did, and gave her the names of several associations related to the well-being of soldiers as well as the French emigre community.

“Is there anything else you think I should do?”

“Yes, there is. I think you should marry Roland, assuming things work out well, and then try to make sure you can live at his base if possible. I’m not sure if the conditions will be what you would be used to, but living off your four percents you should be able to live well wherever he is posted, especially if he is promoted to higher rank.”

“Do you think that likely?”

“I think he has the skills and the connections to rise in the ranks, certainly.”

“Do you count yourself among the connections?”

“Indeed I do.”

“So is he based in Gibraltar now?”

“He is, at least from what he has said in his letters. Who knows how long he will be posted there, though?”

“Do regiments move around a lot?”

“They do indeed. I have seen cases where regiments have been transferred from Canada to the West Indies, from Europe to India, all over the place really.”

“So you do not know where he will be moved next?”

“I do not know, no, nor do I know where he will be posted, as it is not always the case that people are sent where everyone else goes.”

“You will always keep me as well-informed as possible.”

“I will indeed.”

“Do you think I should go to Gibraltar then?”

“You wish to marry him as soon as his present campaign is over?”

“What needs is there to wait for him to be posted here to England?”

“I do not suppose there is any need to wait, so long as you are sure that you can make a home with him where he is posted.”

“I am sure I can deal with whatever conditions exist. If my beloved Roland can endure the conditions, I am sure that I can manage.”

“I admire your courage. I will see which of the servants of the household are willing to accompany you. At least one gentleman and lady should be sufficient to start.”

“Do you think there will be any willing to travel like this on such notice?”

“Let us ask.”

Lord Lipton called his chief housekeeper to the library and discussed with her what Clarissa planned to do. The housekeeper was similarly impressed and talked about the matter with the other servants in the household. After the matter was sufficiently well discussed among the servants, it was determined that one of the young manservants who had been working alongside the butler as an assistant was willing to work with Clarissa as her butler and Clarissa’s lady maid was likewise willing to continue working as her maid and to add to her tasks, if necessary, by overseeing a local cook assuming one could be found. Before too long the housekeeper returned with the two servants to Lord Lipton and Clarissa, and everything was accepted. Lord Lipton wrote a few quick notes and sent them off to make sure that Clarissa would have access to her funds in Gibraltar when she landed, and handed her another note and some money so that she would be able to get a ticket to Gibraltar from Hull, the nearest port to their estate, and one that Lord Lipton knew well from his own travels. As Clarissa prepared to pack her chest and the household whirred into action to send the young lady on her way into the world, Clarissa hugged and kissed her family goodbye for she knew not how long, and then bravely set out in Lord Lipton’s carriage for her travels.

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Clarissa: Chapter Fourteen

After some time to prepare in Gibraltar, it was time for Roland and his regiment to move to Toulon. It is not my purpose here to describe the famous beauties of that well-known city in the south of France, or describe in detail the chaos and confusion that the city suffered when its highly royalist population sought to rebel against the revolutionary government. What was of interest to the British military during this time was the fact that the French navy was based out of this city, and its possible combination with the Spanish navy in an attempt to rule the Mediterranean was obviously unacceptable to British military and political leaders. On the other hand, a Toulon that was hostile to the revolution and was able to resist French control was very much in the best interests of British security, and so it was that a substantial body of British troops when to assist the citizens of the city in their efforts to resist the revolutionary army.

Equally naturally, as Roland was a capable messenger and a native speaker of French, it was unsurprising that he would be so frequently used to transfer messages from the British military command and the French royalists. This proved to be a worthwhile position, for it allowed Roland to gain an understanding of where the people of Toulon stood, and recognized that there were plenty of other Frenchmen like himself who wanted to be free of revolutionary misrule and anarchy, and it was beneficial to the French leaders of Toulon to recognize they had a faithful messenger and translator in young Roland, who although he came from a different region of France, was certainly a kindred soul to them and someone who understood their cause and felt the same sorts of feelings as they did.

The first part of the siege did not offer anything that was impossible for the people of Toulon to manage. The British were able to continue provisioning the city as well as sending troops and ammunition, so it did not appear as if the revolutionary forces were able to get a quick victory. Sieges in general were difficult and stressful, and the flying of cannonballs brought the threat of being gutted or decapitated or incendiary shell to burn down the wooden buildings of the town, all of which could bring sudden death, lingering incapacity, or the threat of ruin and homelessness. Even in the best of times such things brought unhappiness and anxiety to those subject to such conditions, and these were far from the best of times.

Roland was unable to convey the fulness of his feelings in his letters back home. He did not have the language to describe the sensations of being under constant threat but not suffering any physical pain as a result of the battle going on there. He did not know enough about sieges to determine whether or not Toulon could hold out against the French. Such matters were, as might be imagined, well above his paygrade. He simply delivered messages back and forth about what the citizens of the city needed, the reports of those on the walls about where the shots were coming from and where the French siege weapons were placed, and from his own observations of their effects within the city walls. And for a long time the city seemed like it would be able to stand.

It greatly surprised Roland to read, as he saw in the military classics he was reading from his superiors, that a siege was considered to be a certain victory for the besiegers, so long as they were able to completely cut off the supplies of a city. However hard a city tried to prepare enough food supplies, once it was cut off completely from outside support, so long as the besiegers were able to supply themselves, the capture of the city or fortress was considered to be inevitable. Roland tried to think of why this was the case, and it led him to understand that although sieges could last for many years, eventually food supplies would run out. Cities, after all, were not self-sufficient. They depended on food coming from the countryside or from trade, and if those were cut off, no amount of rationing could allow cities to sustain the amount of food necessary to keep citizens fed and keep soldiers fit to defend against the attacks of the armies outside.

Not only tactics and strategy, then, filled Roland’s studies of the military arts, but also the more subtle work of diplomacy and logistics. Diplomacy came somewhat naturally to him, and he was well practiced in being able to convey the goals of both the British army, which sought to deny to the French revolutionaries control of Toulon or the ships of the Royal Navy there, as well as the French citizens who wanted to be free but who did not have the strength to defeat the French army in the open field of battle. It remained to be seen whether the French had enough skill to bring the battle to its natural conclusion, at least natural in the sense that a siege was expected to either fall apart on a lack of will or cohesion on the part of the attackers or a lack of supplies and troops necessary to completely interdict the city.

Roland himself found the city of Toulon to be an immensely beautiful one. Many of the buildings were stone with the red barrel tiles that he associated with the beauties of the Mediterranean. The city itself surrounded a natural port of considerable importance that was filled with many boats, and was surrounded itself by hills upon which the town’s safety from attack by land depended on controlling. And so far, at least, the town had been able to hold onto that ground and secure itself from the armies of the Revolution that had been sent out by Paris. And as long as morale was high and the city could not be bombarded from above, there was hope, at least, that they would be able to remain free from the revolution.

From his conversations with the people of Toulon, it was also clear that the folly of Revolutions had no end. People claimed to be hostile to tyrannical authority until it became time for them to become tyrants themselves over others. Those who ruled over others strutted like kings, even if they were sans coulettes, while cringing if they should find themselves at the mercy of some other faction. Among those who had united against the ancien regime, the Girondins were the first to rule over the French revolutionary state, and they were irritating enough, although they were at least somewhat moderate and somewhat reasonable in their aims when compared against their more irrational and extreme rivals, the Montagnards. And, of course, to France’s shame and the horror of its own people, to say nothing of its neighbors, it was these more extreme elements that started to take power in the aftermath of the King’s failed flight, and that in turn precipitated more revolt among the different parts of France, and more efforts on the part of the French government itself to purify itself of impure elements.

Roland was a sensitive enough person, spiritually speaking, to know this was impossible. Revolutions inevitably ate their own, as disputes over power could not be seen in their proper light as competition over offices and spoils, but had to be seen as some sort of deep evil that must be eradicated. Once one got into the habit of lopping off the heads of one’s enemies, it was a hard habit to break when that habit was extended to former friends who had turned rivals, to those of slightly different political beliefs and emphases, and was a weapon that could even turn on the hand of those in power when they sought to extend their murderous ways beyond accepted streams. Anyone threatened with being considered to be hostile to the revolution and unworthy of drawing breath could turn and seek to overthrow those in charge with the combustible materials of violent and desperate people that were all around in cities like Paris and elsewhere. Enough information filtered through the good people of Toulon to let Roland know that France was like a patient in the advanced stages of cancer, with tumors spreading everywhere. What surgery would be necessary to bring it once again to health and stability? It was almost too much to comprehend.

Still, Roland was for his part too busy to be paralyzed by anxiety and fear about the dangerous situation he found himself in. There was always something that had to be taken care of, some message to deliver, some response to translate, some observation to be made, some requisition to deal with, something that could be done to bring food and arms and hope to the people of the revolting city, some means of countering the cannons that were being ably placed by the French troops by a Corsican of whom the world would later hear much, but who was making his military debut in this campaign. These efforts allowed Roland to be doing what could be done over the course of weeks and months, and so there was no time to be paralyzed by fear, because one had something to do.

And so long as action could be taken, one did not feel the despair and the anxiety of hopelessness that came about when one had nothing that could be done. If the military and people of the town had something that could be done, that thing was done. If it meant delivering food and ammunition to those fighting for their freedom and even perhaps their survival against revolutionary terror, that food and ammunition was delivered to make it possible for the resistance to survive. If it meant delivering messages that allowed troops to be moved here and there in places to best provide for the safety of the town and its people, those messages were delivered and those troops were moved. If it meant asking for certain buildings and ships to be used as hospitals for the wounded and sick, those buildings and ships served the cause of the well-being of those people who were fighting bravely. And that was as it should be.

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Clarissa: Chapter Thirteen

In his first letter to Clarissa after arriving at Gibraltar, where much of his regiment was posted, he called it one of the most un-English cities to be a part of England, and the more he spent time there, the more he felt like this was both true but also not nearly complete enough of a description. It was not as if Gibraltar felt like a colonial town, although Roland had not traveled the world enough to know how such a town would feel like. Gibraltar was not a bastion of English culture in the midst of a downtrodden local population, it was rather a town of an extremely small area that combined the features of the Mediterranean world of various Semitic peoples like Jews and Maltese living among a similarly diverse population of English naval and military types.

While Roland was a part of an army regiment, it seemed to him, the more he understood about his regiment and its duties, that he was really what other nations would consider to be marines. To be sure, the English did not seem to label their various expeditionary forces as marines, but Roland understood that his regiment was attached to various ships, that the places where the regiment was posted were not based on what areas were most convenient for armies to be posted but rather for quick access to ships to engage in littoral combat, and that much of British activity in the area consisted of holding onto or gaining island and coastal basis.

This was not something that Roland happened to mind, it was just something that was unfamiliar to him, but which he figured would become more familiar. He tried to explain to Clarissa the insights he was gaining about the way that the British army gained considerable power, from what he could see, through their possession of various island and coastal bases, and how useful these were in protecting against the forces of heathen pirates as well as revolutionary upstarts. He did not know how Clarissa felt about the desirability of living on the coast or of traveling frequently on ship from place to place. It did not appear, for example, that Gibraltar was the sort of town that would be most fit to purchase an estate, but much to his pleasure he found that living there attached to the British military was convenient for him and not particularly expensive living.

Clarissa herself was glad to receive such letters as she received frequently from Roland’s posting. Her questions to Lord Lipton allowed him to gain a more complete understanding of the British military’s efforts in the Mediterranean than he had previously had cause to know, since his own normal interests were in other places. He was able to inform her, though, of such matters as the availability of housing for soldiers and sailors in Gibraltar, about their safety from Barbary pirates and the threat of Spanish invasion, and also about the general range that the regiment was expected to serve, which had a fair amount of possibilities in the Mediterranean, North Sea, West Indies, and Indian Ocean fronts. Though Lord Lipton had never been a particular patron of the admiralty or the army, he was intrigued by the cooperation between the two services in certain areas and praised the ability of land and sea to work together for the best interests of English trade, diplomacy, and safety. The material he learned from his discussions not only aided the peace of mind of his ward but also allowed him to make such material part of his patriotic speeches given to audiences in Yorkshire as well as in the House of Lords.

Unbeknownst to Lord Lipton, or to anyone else within his household, Lord Lipton’s increasingly effective and knowledgeable defense of British war efforts against Revolutionary France drew increasing discussion within the palaces of state as well. Lord Lipton was known and praised for his relative lack of personal interest in war contracts, and in providing an example of someone with elevated interests in removing slavery and in his own high moral strivings but also someone who supported the patriotic well-being of his country and providing a reliable vote in the House of Lords for efforts to pay for military efforts as well as for efforts at expanding British trade and influence abroad. Indeed, it was the reliability of his vote that provided the chief reason why his name, though frequently referred to as being a possibility for various colonial posts of importance, was not awarded with such a position, because it was thought that in such tumultuous times that it would be better to appreciate his speeches and his vote to support government efforts to counter the spread of the French Revolution rather than to use his considerable talents in ruling over English provinces, at least at this time. If a greater government majority prevailed that did not need so much help, then perhaps conditions would be ripe to reward his loyal service with some sort of high office of that kind.

Not only matters of state were of interest, though, to Roland, as he walked through the streets of his home for now in Gibraltar. He thought of something that Lord Lipton had asked him concerning spiritual advice, and he was led to talk things over one afternoon with the chaplain for his regiment, who was, of course, surprised to see him.

“Is something wrong?”

“I do not think so.”

“I must admit I am not used to seeing many of the officers or soldiers on a daily basis.”

“I have a question for you.”

“I assume it is a spiritual question?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Very well, then, ask away. I relish the opportunity to talk about matters of the spirit.”

“When I was still in England, I spoke with a gentleman who asked me what sort of spiritual adviser I had, and I admitted to him that I had not heard of such a figure. In discussing the matter with him, I found that he viewed questions of spiritual discipline in his daily life as being of immense importance, but these were not matters I had been led to think about often. I wondered what your own thoughts were of spiritual discipline.”

The chaplain looked thoughtful for a minute. “I am not certain about how I ought to respond. Are you asking me to be your spiritual advisor, or asking what I think the scope is of spiritual discipline?”

“A bit of both, I must admit. Given the peripatetic nature of life in this regiment, I did not think that a local clergyman would be fit for the office, and I figured that you would have insights that would be lacking in someone who was not familiar with the ways of military men. Also, though, I was curious if your ideas as to what spiritual discipline involved were as extensive as the gentleman I was talking to.”

“I do believe that spiritual discipline is extensive in its scope. Most of the time soldiers tend to think that spiritual discipline simply involves temperance in drinking, avoidance of swearing and whoring, and matters like that, but I agree with your gentleman friend that it is quite a bit more extensive. It is by no means easy to be a genuine Christian in the military life, though some people do manage such a task well, especially those who are officers like yourself who volunteered for the military life and were not forced into it by an absence of other options, or by the effects of drunkenness and being placed in a regiment by impressment.”

“What sort of advice would you give to someone like me concerning matters of spiritual discipline?”

With this request the chaplain was most willing to oblige. And so it was that in addition to walking around Gibraltar and thinking about his military efforts, that the young officer found himself with some reading material, not only a daily Bible reading program, but also some books on Christian maturity and spiritual disciplines to read to discuss matters like prayer and fasting as well. The increased studiousness of the young officer did not fail to attract notice, mostly of a positive kind though sometimes of a gently ribbing kind as well.

Before too long, in fact, Roland found himself talking to General Powell once again.

“Did you have a minute, sir?”

“No problem, Lt, what did you have in mind?”

“I wondered if there was any study that you think would be worthwhile for a young officer like myself.”

General Powell reflected to himself. “Are you familiar at all with the military classics?”

“Regrettably not, sir. Who did you have in mind?”

“I think I have a copy of Vegetius. That would be a good place to start.” He handed the young officer a well-worn copy of a translation of the classic text going back to the Roman empire.

“Some old books never go out of style, sir?”

“Not at all. What is a classic remains so.”

“I appreciate it, and will give it to you when I am done.”

And with that, the brief interview was over. Roland’s desire to learn more about his profession, both his earthly profession and his profession of faith, was noted by his superiors, who were always pleased to see people be conscientious about their lives, especially when it increased the knowledge and effectiveness of someone’s behavior in general. While at first some people were prone to wag tongues about Roland’s behavior, it became clear that he had a noble background, a firm attachment to a good English young woman, and the approval of the regiment’s higher officers, and these had the desired result of reducing the teasing that Roland was subject to and indeed making him somewhat of a source of envy among his fellow soldiers, some of whom came to him for matter of advice.

In such areas Roland was gentle and discreet, all that could be wished. Not being a person who tended to look down on others, and being secure in his status as an emigre noble whose hostility to the current French government could not be doubted, and whose commitment to self-improvement was viewed as admirable, he was also someone who combined a strong sense of personal purpose with a lack of interest in dominating others. His advice was sound, if not quick. He was patient in listening to others, and preferred to let his example do more of the talking than his speaking, and this led him to have an influence upon others that far exceeded his own notice and awareness, for though he was young and still new in his profession, he was a person whose seriousness led people to expect great things of him in the future. And as is often the case, before too long it became time to see how the promise of his skill would relate to the problem of actual military combat.

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Clarissa: Chapter Twelve

General Henry Watson Powell smiled as he looked up from his letter. He had not even had the chance to meet his new French emigre officer who was joining up with his regiment and already the young officer had managed to inspire some conversation. Though he was by no means a personal friend of Viscount Lipton, he of course knew the noble by reputation as a patriotic man who had served his country loyally during the American Revolution, albeit in a different theater than he himself had been a part of, and he also had to hand it to the man for his sense of style in writing a letter.

One might not think that the romantic lives of young army officers and even younger women would be worth the time spent writing about it for a titled lord, or in reading about it for the leader of a regiment of troops, but the general found such correspondence to be worthwhile. Any letter, or any other form of communication that was sent to him, was information that was useful to know about the behavior of his officers and how they reflected on the regiment as a whole, and indeed on the British Empire as a whole. Powell had served a long time in the army, and like many career officers, he had a high view of the moral importance of officers in a regiment. It did not bother him in the least that a young officer had formed an attachment with a young woman, this was to be praised, as it gave such people a tie to life and to moral decency. It would, of course, bother him a great deal if he had to report that such an officer as had formed an attachment with a noble’s ward, on the other hand, ended up with some kind of pox from a prostitute, and so he wanted to see what sort of man his new officer was.

Roland, of course, was unaware that his reputation had preceded him with his new regiment, and when he arrived at Newcastle at the makeshift barracks where he had been called to join part of his new regiment and get up to speed on what was going on with them, he was a bit surprised to be called into the office of his commanding officer. He entered into the office, was introduced, and made a quick bow.

“Roland de Villebois, reporting for duty.”

“Come, sit. I have already heard of you.”

“Is it good news or bad, sir?”

“As far as we are both concerned, it is good news. You did not rush to get here, but spent some time getting to know a young woman.”

“Ah, I assume you are talking about Miss Clarissa Bennett.”

“You remember the name, this is very good.”

“I would hope to, since I spent a considerable time around her and her family.”

“You only had two weeks to report here. How much time did you spend with them?”

“I spent an evening at a dance with them, a night at the assembly, and a bit more than the following day with them.”

“That is certainly long enough to form an attachment, in my observation. How often did you dance with the young lady. I assume not above a dozen times?”

Roland blushed a little. “At the assembly I may have danced with her a bit more often than would be considered normal.”

“Did no one tell you that if you danced more than twice with someone you might as well get down on one knee and propose to the girl?”

“Not in those words, exactly.”

“Still, you did not do too badly for yourself. You would not have stayed at Orient House if you had not made a positive impression on the family.”

“Lord Lipton has been very generous to me, without a doubt.”

“I suppose you are inclined to be worthy of that attention.”

“As worthy as I can, sir.”

“Very well, then. I have nothing further of that nature to discuss with you further. We will be heading out soon to post in the Mediterranean, and I hope you have your sea legs before too long.”

“I have seldom been on sea, but at least so far I have not found myself struggling with seasickness.”

“That is good to hear. I hope you will be able to keep the contents of the mess inside of your belly while we sail to Gibraltar. Once we are there, there will be more to discuss.”

“Is there any sort of training that I will need to do?”

“Not at present. When we get the battalion together, there will be more time for some marching and some training. Our regiment is used to being combined between old dogs and new pups, and people get into line before too long.”

“I am glad you express such confidence in me.”

“You will be motivated in the fighting we do, and that will count for a lot. We want you to survive and be of service to His most Christian majesty.”

“I intend on surviving.”

“Very well then, welcome to the regiment.”

“Thank you, sir.”

Truth be told, Roland had not expected to have such a consequential discussion with his commanding officer, and he was glad to be dismissed to go to his quarters. When he arrived at his quarters, he found it to be much like the housing he shared with his father in London. It may indeed be a dashing thing to be an officer in the military, and the uniform may be a benefit to one’s romantic hopes as opposed to the more boring and mundane jobs that other men had, but the life of a soldier was hardly the life of luxury that people wished for. This is not to say that soldiers never lived such a life, for one gained a fair amount of luxury if one had the chance to loot a defeated city, but that sort of luxury came after a great deal of peril, and no one looked forward to sieges.

As far as his part was concerned, General Powell was pleased with his new officer. If he was a gallant Frenchman, all the better in these times where Frenchmen were viewed not as gallant and polite Chrisitan gentleman but as revolutionary brigands and would-be terrorists, he was by no means the sort of person who seemed accomplished at seduction. He seemed to be a conscientious young man, and just the sort of person who was wanted in such dangerous times as these. One could drag up any number of debt-ridden ne’er-do-wells to serve as officers, and many regiments were driven to such lengths, but when one had someone with genuine counter-revolutionary fervor, that was to be celebrated and appreciated, and certainly taken advantage of.

And so it was with no degree of difficulty or negativity that General Powell corresponded in return with Lord Lipton. He was able to say with confidence that Roland was a decent and upstanding young man, had spoken creditably about the young woman and his feelings for her, as well as showing due appreciation for the generosity shown by Lord Lipton to someone who was comparatively of little importance in the world at present. He promised that he would take an interest in the well-being of the young man and keep watch over him as best as possible, and he was glad to give any sort of report that Lord Lipton would want. This letter, like Lord Lipton’s previous letter, had the desired result on both sides, as it brought together the interests of a successful British officer and that of a noble English lord, who both had more reasons then they had previously had to correspond to each other and to ensure conversation about their common interests.

Had Roland known it, he might have been able to reflect on the similarities between his own experience and that of Clarissa’s next older brother, who was himself a young officer in the Madras regiment. Perhaps had Clarissa been on better terms with her brother, he could have shared a discussion of what it was like to be posted in one place as opposed to another, and how an officer dealt with the life of a soldier in spending most of one’s time in camp and the rest of one’s time in mortal peril in battles and sieges. As it was, Clarissa had not been in touch with that brother for some time, and knew only that he was alive and serving the interests of king and country and family in the East Indies interests of the family, while his older brother was learning how to serve the West Indies interests of the family, a pretty typical division of labor, it must be admitted.

Lord Lipton was pleased with the correspondence as well. He had managed to confirm his view that Roland was a decent young man and would hopefully make a fine officer. He had also managed to form a new and worthwhile connection that, if cultivated, could lead to further intelligence about the British military for use in Parliamentary speeches and votes. Clarissa received some comfort and encouragement that Roland was being looked after and had spoken well of her to others, something that proved of great comfort in coming weeks, as opportunities for soldiers to write letters, especially when posting to dangerous areas, was admittedly somewhat limited, and those letters, it must also be admitted, took a long time to reach Orient House. Here too things were done to Lord Lipton’s satisfaction, as the first letter which came from Roland was addressed to him personally, and with his permission, Roland was allowed to correspond directly with Clarissa and share his impressions of military life without the pressure of direct supervision. Lord Lipton figured, even if no mischief was planned by the young people, that an absence of obvious surveillance was for the best, as young people deserved not to be treated like prisoners when they had been guilty of no crime.

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Clarissa: Chapter Eleven

It was afternoon when Clarissa and Roland, accompanied by a trusted servant to keep watch on them and ensure that nothing untoward happened, rode around Lord Lipton’s estate.

“Does this estate remind you at all of where you grew up?”

“The countryside of the Loire looks much different, but in some areas there are broad similarities. Your tenants live in better houses than ours did. There is more economic health here than where I grew up, but you and your family live much as we and our family did, that is true. In that sense, yes, in staying with your family I am reminded of the sort of life that we had before the Revolution.”

“Does that make you sad at all?”

“Only a little. In some ways, this current life feels like a dream, or perhaps a nightmare that one wishes to wake from. Much of the time I hope that I may wake up some time and find my family back in its estate, but such a time has hot happened yet.”

“Would that change how your own life would be?”

“In some ways, I suppose, but not in others. I am not bound to inherit the estate as long as my elder brother lives, and he is safe and sound in Vienna, and so even if my family’s estates were restored to us tomorrow, I would still have to make my own way in the world.”

“How do you plan on doing that?”

“I am a soldier, bound to report to my regiment soon.”

“I know that, Roland, but what about after that. Soldiering is for young men. What do you plan on doing after that?”

“I am not sure.” He frowned thoughtfully.

“What kind of life would you want to live?”

“I would like a quiet estate of my own. It would not have to be too big, but something that can allow me a pleasant garden and enough to live on. One might not need the highest society, but it would be important to have the respect of one’s neighbors and a settled place in this unsettled world.”

“How much would such a life cost?”

“I do not know how much it would cost. I know the English are keen on determining the worth of someone by how much they have in lump sum or in annual equivalent, but such ways have always mystified me.”

“It is not so complicated as you make it out to be. If someone has a cash inheritance or prize money of some kind, their money is given out as a lump sum, for example, the dowry that a woman like me would bring into a marriage. If someone owns an estate, though, or has invested that lump sump into the four percents as most sensible people do, then their income is given as an annual amount, and from that it can be determined what sort of living they are to have off of that.”

“How much does Lord Lipton make?”

“It depends a bit from year to year, but it is twelve thousand or so even in the worst of years, and in the best of years considerably more so based on the proceeds of his business with my father.”

“And that is very well off?”

“Absolutely. There are only a few hundred families in the entire nation as well off as my family is, and he is titled as well.”

“But you are not?”

“No, I am not titled like Lord Lipton is. I am not even a legitimate-born woman.”

“Your parents were nor married?”

“No, my father never married my mother. He carried on some sort of long-term relationship with her after his wife died while giving birth to his younger son, but my mother was some sort of actress or singer in London and there was never any hint or thought of marriage between them. While my mother lived, we were well supported by him in town, but when my mother died I came to live with him, and that presented difficulties. Fortunately for me, Lord Lipton was willing to take on my maintenance even though I was almost a stranger to him, and has served as my faster father now for nine years.”

“Does that bother you?”

“It does, when people look down on me as being some sort of agent of immorality and corruption. I cannot blame my father for keeping my mother, but I wish it did not make people think less of me or encourage them to be rude.”

“On the continent, you might guess, it is not uncommon for a gentleman to have a mistress and raise up a family, and no one thinks to look down on someone simply because they come from someone’s secondary family. It was never the habit of my family to engage in that behavior, but certainly many people did and do.”

“Lord Lipton has never been the sort of man to do that, credit be to him, but I hope you do not think less of me for my upbringing.”

“Hardly. I would not wish to torment you with the thought that there were other women and children in my life, but you certainly have been raised up to be someone’s wife, that is clear, and you deserve respect accordingly.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“We as men essentially look at women and see them as one of two types of people. There are some women whom we see as being like our mothers, our sisters, or our wives, women who live with certain standards of decency and are treated by us with considerable respect, to the point where anyone who insults the honor of such women is to be responded to with violence and hostility, and there are other women who are clearly not the sort of people who behave with honor and dignity and to whom we see ourselves as having no such obligations to protect and defend.”

“Is it related to money?”

“Some people are so vulgar, but I was not raised that way. A peasant’s daughter may, if she has been raised by people with real moral sensitivity, be the sort of person who could be respected as someone’s future wife or present sister or daughter, for example, even if her family lives in a hovel and lacks even livestock for property. Similarly, the daughter of a noble family may be so wild and without restraint that she is not seen as wifely material no matter how much wealth her family possesses, because she lacks the right sort of moral excellence. Whatever the circumstances of your birth, you clearly have moral sense and Lord and Lady Lipton deserve credit for having encouraged whatever native characte3r you were born with.”

“I do feel myself as owing them a great deal, in that they have always treated me as their own child, never made me feel inferior to their children by birth, and never tolerated anyone socially cutting me by giving credence to the view that I was somehow less than other young women in my position as wards of a noble house. They always treated me as a young lady, worthy of honor, and taught me how to conduct myself accordingly, and set a good example of honorable treatment in their own behavior.”

“Yes, Lord Lipton reminds me a bit of my own father.”

“I hope that is something to be celebrated.”

“It is a very positive statement. My father is a great and noble man; I only wish that he could live out his old age surrounded by his family in peace and prosperity, but it does not appear that he will be that blessed.”

“Why not?”

“My brother early joined the counter-revolutionary forces in Vienna alongside the Emperor when things started going downhill in France, but the rest of my family stayed behind and hoped that things would improve. Word came to us suddenly through discreet sources that my father and I were wanted for arrest for our lack of enthusiasm for the revolution, and so we quickly fled to the coast with what we could bring with us while my mother and sister kept things going at home. We have, of course, been unable to return home or even to send much in the way of messages back and forth, so it seems unlikely that we will be able to enjoy a reunion anytime soon.”

“That is a great shame. I would hate to be so entirely cut off from the rest of my family.”

“I can understand that. Where would you consider yourself to be cut off, though, from them?”

“Behind enemy lines, certainly, but so long as there was a way between where I lived and here that could be traversed I would not feel myself to be so forsaken.”

“What areas of this land do you know?”

“I have spent most of my time over the past ten years or so here in Yorkshire, though I spent the entirety of my first few years in life in London, and since living with Lord and Lady Lipton I have traveled between here and our townhome in London. I have not had the opportunity to travel wider than that, at least not yet.”

“Do you think you would like to?”

“I think it would be great fun. I know Lord Lipton has talked about his own travels as a younger person and even now I think it would appeal to him to take a trip to see the mills that my father and him have been setting up in the West Indies in preparation for emancipation. Perhaps he will be made governor of some island and can take up an estate there to be served by freedmen and freedwomen while pursuing such interests more closely.”

“Is that kind of position available to people like your foster father?”

“Very much so. He is known to be gouty so his health is not the best, but yes, he certainly has the rank and the personal experience to serve in such an office, and to do credit to it.”

“As a soldier, we can be posted to all kinds of postings. Do you think you would appreciate living where my regiment was stationed if we wed?”

“I do not know if that would be appreciated, but if it would be dignified and proper, I am sure it would be great fun.”

“I am sure such a thing could be arranged, at least at some point. I am only a lowly lieutenant now, but such a position may improve and I know of captains and majors, to say nothing of colonels or higher, who live well and have households of their own.”

“Perhaps we may be permitted to dream of such splendor, then.”

“Indeed, you may dream away about such things. I know I shall.”

“I hope when you are faced with life in some barracks that you can dream of returning by a ship to spend time with me.”

“I shall think of such things often, I think.”

“Do you know where you will go after you report to your regiment in Newcastle?”

“Not at all. I am sure we will have some action, seeing as England and France are at war, but where that action is, I do not know in the least.”

“Will you tell me, insofar as it is not some sort of government secret?”

“I will do so, though I have heard that the letters of those returning home are often censored for the interests of safety and security.”

“I suppose I shall have to put up with it if such letters are censored, though I am relieved that you will tell me all that you can.”

“Do I have permission, then, to write you?”

“I hope you shall. If you feel constrained to write only to Lord Lipton as a potential patron in your military efforts, feel free to write him, as he will tell me that which is of interest to me.”

“I am glad you trust him in such matters.”

“I believe he knows my feelings, and that your being here and able to enjoy some private time with me, with only one solitary witness, is a sign of his trust of both you and me.”

“I do not wish to betray such trust and confidence, my dear Clarissa.”

“Nor I, my dear Roland. Nor I.”

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Clarissa: Chapter Ten

When Lord Lipton and his party returned home, Roland asked Lord Lipton if he wanted to talk in his library now, and Lord Lipton agreed. Lord Lipton replied, surprising Roland by asking if he wanted Clarissa there or not, and Roland said he would prefer if it was just the two of them. Lord Lipton assented and walked to his library, showing Roland the way as the rest of the party made their way to various activities. They arrived at the library and Lord Lipton pointed to a chair and sat down at another one.

“Well, you wanted to talk to me. What did you want to talk about?”

“I had been told something about you and your efforts at self-education, and I wanted to make sure it was true.”

Lord Lipton looked at Roland thoughtfully, but Roland was busy looking at the books in the library, his face brightening when he saw a row of books containing the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

“So what I heard was true.”

“What did you hear?”

“I heard that you were deeply interested in self-education and were immensely interested in the writings of Thomas Aquinas.

“That was not something I think would be wisely known.”

“I am sure that at least some people are interested in your reading habits.”

“I suppose you are right about that, but how many people would know about them?”

“Are you bothered that such a thing would be told to me?”

“I have nothing to hide concerning my reading habits, and read nothing that would be objectionable, at least. It is just surprising that such a thing would be known widely.”

“I do not mean to say that it is known widely. I heard about it myself from your uncle.”

“I am glad you heard from such an unobjectionable source, namely someone who has been in this library many times talking to me face to face and has quite a solid knowledge of the books I enjoy buying and reading. Thank you for easing my mind.”

“Do you consider yourself a Thomist?”

“That is a hard question to ask.”

“On the continent, we have no difficulty in considering ourselves so. I was educated, for example, at a Thomist institution in the Nantes area.”

“I am somewhat envious of you, for I acquired a knowledge of his thinking via books that I have read on my own, struggling mostly with the Latin.”

“Do you read Latin?”

“I do, but not as naturally as others do. My education was slightly defective in that regard, which I have been but imperfectly able to correct on my own.”

“Why would it be hard for you to consider yourself a Thomist?”

“We do not have much of a Thomist tradition here in England, and there was even less of such a tradition where I grew up in the American colonies. It might seem natural for the well-educated Catholic to consider himself to be a follower of the great scholar, but for an English-speaking Christian, it is not natural to think of himself that way.”

“Do you respect his thinking then?”

“I would say that I do. This is not to say that I agree with his thoughts completely. For example, I think he gives too much credence to the speculations of Greek philosophers, to the extent that it leads him into false conclusions where he could have been more cautious and stuck more closely with the Bible and been on far more solid ground.”

“I do not think that people consider themselves followers of Aquinas because they agree with everything he said, but more so because they respect his approach to learning and knowledge.”

“I have a great deal of respect for the thinking of Thomas Aquinas. If one wants to combine the Jewish and Christian understanding of the scriptures with the insights and perspectives of Greek philosophy, one has to create something that strongly resembles Thomism in its amalgam. And even if I am critical of some of the conclusions that Thomas Aquinas himself came to, I do not think that I could criticize the way that he seeks to go about dealing with questions in his great commentaries as well as in his focus on dialogues and sound reasoning and honestly dealing with the arguments of one’s opponents.”

“That sort of approach appeals to you?”

“It does.” Lord Lipton paused for a bit. “Before I was elevated to the position of viscount, I frequently worked as an advocate in British courts in the American colonies, and Aquinas’ attention to the arguments of his opponents was a useful approach to me when I was constructing my own arguments. I found I was able to speak better in court on my feet, to say nothing of writing opening and closing statements, when I was able to think about the sorts of arguments my opponents would make. I have always regretted the contemporary tendency that people have to disregard that which they consider to be obsolete or hostile rather than to seriously address the reasoning behind it, and the often faulty assumptions and premises that lead people astray.”

“Do you consider yourself to be a philosopher then?”

“I suppose so, inasmuch as any person who thinks and reads seriously must be in some way a philosopher. Would you consider yourself a philosopher as well?”

“I suppose I have dabbled in philosophy and been interested in it, but I would never think of myself as a professional in the field.”

“Nor I. I am an unlettered noble of limited education, and certainly no professional scholar of any kind.”

“But you obviously enjoy learning and are passionate about intellectual improvement.”

“Very much so. One cannot neglect learning and education in times like these.”

“I wanted to speak to you in order to determine how you felt about my own background.”

“I know that you have some attachment with Clarissa, and she is certainly attached to you.”

“I figure that would be obvious.”

“It is obvious to anyone who has seen the two of you together, or seen the way she blushes when anyone talks about you.”

“You don’t mind that I am French?”

“Not at all. Even in, perhaps especially in, times like this, one should not be hostile to people simply because they come from another country.”

“But some people will be hostile to me simply because I am French. You have already seen that.”

“I have,” he said. “But I don’t think the opinion of small-minded people necessarily matters, so long as you avoid being at their mercy.”

“And how do you plan on me avoiding the mercy of others?”

“Well, you are aware that she has a dowry, right?”

“I figured that at least something like that was the case, but I am not out here trying to marry someone simply because of the money that they bring into it.”

“I have not assumed that to be the case.”

“Are there any concerns you have about us?”

“I do have one concern.”

“What is it?”

“What is your spiritual life like?”

Roland paused for a bit, taken aback.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you studied philosophy as a Thomist, but what sort of spiritual life do you have?”

“Are you asking if I go to church?”

“Not exactly. That is certainly part of it, but not the whole part.”

“What do you consider to be aspects of a spiritual life? Do you conceive a lot in it?”

“I do. Perhaps it is not something that people think about often in France, but in England it is something that people write books about. The main part of it is the way that one’s belief system pervades throughout someone’s entire life.”

“That is a hard question you ask.”

“I do not demand that you answer the question right now, but I would like an answer about it at some point.”

“That is a fair enough request.”

“I imagined that you thought seriously about religious matters.”

“I do indeed, but religion for a Frenchman is not a straightforward matter.”

“Why not?”

“Many French people, even nobles, have prided themselves on the independence of their behavior from religious standards.”

“That is a lamentable tendency among elites everywhere.”

“Yes, but with the French Revolution being so openly against Christianity in general it has put those of us who are exiles in a delicate position.”

“How so?”

“Well, most of us have lived our lives in such a fashion that would not be in accordance with the laws and ways of God as taught to us by our priestly educators and confessors, and yet we feel it necessary to stand up in favor of Christianity as a bulwark of our stability.”

“It is a bit late, I imagine, for that to be happening now.”

“But that is the way that the French emigre community behaves, at least. There are many who believe that if we turn to God that we may be able to restore our situation.”

“I will not pretend to enter into that sort of discussion. What God has planned or will allow is not something that I claim to be an expert on. As a practical concern, one would have thought that repentance and a devotion to God might have helped to alleviate some of the evil reputation that French nobles and royalty had in the eyes of their people and in other countries. Avoiding that evil reputation may have improved the willingness of the French people as a whole to endure their rule, with them setting a godly example.”

“It is indeed too late for that to be happening, unless all of this should be restored once again.”

“I pray, for the sake of you and your father, that such a restoration is possible and desirable.”

“I appreciate all the prayers that I can get.”

“I’m glad that you do. I would as well in your position and I do in mine as well.”

“Do you think Clarissa is a religious young woman?”

“She has never wanted to be a nun, but she does take the Bible and good living seriously.”

“That is a wonderful quality.”

“I believe such a quality is important in a wife, but I do not think it should be taken advantage of by a husband either.”

Roland fell into a thoughtful silence at this.

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Clarissa: Chapter Nine

When he woke up the next morning, Lord Lipton kissed his wife on her head and changed into some clean riding clothes, as he expected that there would be time for conversation on horseback. He went into his dining room to grab a quick bite to eat and saw Roland waiting for him, dressed nicely as well.

“Lord Lipton.”

“Yes, Roland?”

“During the course of the day, would it be acceptable for me to talk to you in your library?”

“I think we can find the time to talk. I hope we can, at least.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“No problem.”

Lord Lipton invited him to eat a bit and the two of them walked outside to see Clarissa dressed for riding as well. She smiled at the two, blushing a little, and went to eat a bit herself. When she was done, Lord Lipton looked to see William and Henry coming in their own riding costumes, as well.

“Does everyone want to go riding today?” Lord Lipton asked.

He turned his head to see a variety of nods, and smiled to himself, waiting until everyone had eaten a little before the troop walked out of Orient House towards the stable. Lord Lipton’s chief groomsman looked with some concern at the troop, and Lord Lipton ensured that everyone had a suitable mount to ride, even if he had hoped to have a bit more privacy for his conversations with Roland and Clarissa. Sometimes privacy was not to be, though, since it appeared that everyone knew that something was up and wanted to hear what was going on.

Lord Lipton took the opportunity to play tour guide to Roland, riding gently around the estate and showing the various locations of importance, from the commons where the Lord’s tenants farmed to various villages within the grounds, the economic buildings of importance like mills, and finally the parish church where the family attended services. Roland seemed intent on observing the scene with considerable seriousness. When they arrived at the church, Lord Lipton was somewhat surprised to see a conversation already taking place between the rector and some of the Lord’s tenants.

“What have we here?”

The group of people discussing matters, apparently somewhat heatedly, turned to see Lord Lipton, with evident surprise on their faces. One face seemed a bit red, others more than a bit white.

The rector gathered his thoughts and replied. “Lord Lipton, I have two things to discuss with you this morning.”

“And what would those be?”

“First, and least important, have you read the papers this morning?”

“I have not. I simply grabbed a quick bite to eat and then rode with my family and our guest,” he pointed to Roland, dressed in his officer’s uniform. The faces that were white turned considerably more so.

“Then you should probably take a look at this.” He handed the newspaper over to Lord Lipton, who saw with concern an article about the dance the previous evening which seemed to indicate that it was a good thing that bastard girls and unwanted immigrants would seek each other’s company and favor and affection rather than spoiling good moral English households with their corruption. With pursed lips he handed the paper back to the rector.

“I must admit I have no interest in gossip rags.”

“You do not see the harm in what it says?”

“My dear ward Clarissa cannot help the circumstances of her birth, as much as we all might wish that was the case. And as she had no say in the matter, she has no blame in the matter. Concerning Roland, I have gone on record in supporting the need for England to be hospitable to all those who are fleeing from revolutionary anarchy and terror, and especially for those who are willing to risk their lives in our own military forces to fight against the contagion of revolution that threatens all good government here and elsewhere, and not only in France.”

“So you wish to say nothing more about how your foster daughter and guest are seen by your neighbors.”

“If they harbor bitterness and hatred in their heart for their neighbor, they will have to answer for it themselves when they stand before the eternal judge who holds us all accountable for how we live our lives.”

“Very well then. There is another matter, though, more serious I think, that needs to be discussed. These men here represent your tenants, and they might wish to present their concerns and demands before you directly.”

“We do,” the spokesman said.

“Demands?” Lord Lipton asked, his lips remaining pursed. “I did not know that my tenants were in the position to make any demands.”

The Lord’s party blinked, and an uncomfortable silence hung over the discussion for a bit. Finally, feeling the need to speak, the spokesman for the tenants spoke up, albeit ignoring the pregnant question, “A significant number of your tenants are concerned that the behavior of lords elsewhere will be copied here.”

“And what behavior would that be that you are concerned about?”

“We are concerned that we will be burdened with rack rents, that the commons will be enclosed for the profit of Lord Lipton, that the ancient woods will be cut down for profit and denied for firewood for our cottages, and that we will be cast aside from our homes and forced as vagrants to flee to the city to beg and scrape for our daily bread.”

“Have I ever alluded to any desire or plan to conduct my affairs thusly?”

“No, sir, we have not heard of any plans that you should do so, but we have read and heard that these are common practices and we wished to keep them out of our area.”

“And so you wished to demand that I keep up the customary terms that I and my grandfather before me have kept here with you all, to allow you to farm the common land on generous rents, to allow you to pick up the sticks that fall in my forest for you to burn in your fireplaces to keep warm during the winters, and to pay rents at fixed rates for several years at a time, or even at times for an entire generation for those who have long been here?”

“Yes, we wished to make that demand.”

Lord Lipton paused, evidently unhappy. “Such a demand is not necessary, but if you wish to turn our customary verbal contracts into written ones, that can be arranged. He turned to the rector. “Would you be willing to write out and keep a record of the terms that these tenants have with me, and make three copies of each document for all of the tenants, one copy for them to keep and hold themselves to, one copy to keep at the parish church along with the records of births, marriages, and deaths, so that anyone can go to the church to see that everything is in order about the rights and obligations of my tenants, so that no one need be afraid of any evil innovations, and the last copy to remain with me?”

“I can do that, but it will take some time.”

“I understand that such writing cannot be the work of an instant, but does this sound fair to you all?”

The rector nodded and so did the spokesman and the remaining tenants.

“Are the rights that you mentioned–the right to have level rents over a defined period, the right to farm in the commons undisturbed, and the right to glean firewood from the lord’s forests unimpaired–the rights that you are most concerned about?”

“That we are, sir.”

“Very well, let them be written. Let us also not forget to ensure that included in the terms is the tithe that is owed to the rector, so that this custom is not neglected in being written down.”

This too proved to be agreeable to all, and the spokesman and the group of tenants prepared to leave.

“I am not done yet, though,” Lord Lipton said, startling the crowd.

A brief silence hung over the crowd. Lord Lipton then continued. “It is all well and good that you should seek to improve your own security in these troubled times. But in improving your own security I will not neglect my own. I am appalled that instead of asking me whether I planned on changing the ancient and established terms by which my family has always dealt with you as tenants you sought to make demands of me, probably threatening the rector by assuming he was my agent in this matter. Do you believe in a time when lords in France have been threatened with their lives and freedoms by revolutionary mobs that such effrontery would be borne?”

The spokesman and the tenants, seeing the sort of trouble that now threatened them, begged the pardon of the Lord and hoped that he would not be too angry with them.

Lord Lipton was having none of it. He continued, “Let us also include a guarantee that prohibits any revolutionary combination among any tenants, or any aiding and abetting of crimes against the person or property of Lord Lipton or any members of his household. Should any rumor reach our ears about there being something of that nature being afoot, or if any tenants of ours are reading revolutionary tracts or giving safety or succor to those who have committed crimes elsewhere, and such a thing is found to be indeed true upon investigation, the lease of the tenant or tenants responsible and their whole families is to be null and void and they are to be removed from the protection of this parish and are to be tried and punished for their crimes to the fullest severity of the law.”

There was silence at this. The rector was the first to speak. “Do you wish this to be written as well?”

“I do.”

“And for the written terms to be acceptable to you, it must include the guarantees made to you, to me, and to all your tenants?”

“That is correct.”

“You wish to make it publicly known and acknowledged that the spirit of the revolution is unwelcome and seen as an enemy on all of your lands?”

“I do indeed wish that to be openly known and publicly acknowledged.”

“Very well then, I will write it, and will make an arrangement for all tenants to sign their terms.”

The spokesman, somewhat shaken, but not entirely cowed, took this as the chance to speak up. “How often are such terms to be reconfirmed?”

“How often would you wish them to be reconfirmed?” Lord Lipton queried.

“I think it would be good to have these terms read aloud and reconfirmed every year, so as to provide comfort to the residents that they will be safe and secure in their ancient rights and freedoms for another year.”

The Lord and rector looked at each other, pleased with the suggestion. Lord Lipton replied. “Let us take the chance every year during the fall harvest, to call every tenant together in a feast where we will slaughter animals and cook from the food that we have harvested and reconfirm these terms, so that before winter comes everyone may know that they will be able to survive in peace and comfort for another year.”

“That would be much appreciated,” the spokesman replied.

“So let it be done,” Lord Lipton answered. And with that, the spokesman and tenants nodded, glad to have remained in possession of their necks and leases for at least the moment, and moved to return to their cottages. The rector stayed behind, wondering if Lord Lipton wished to say anything more, but Lord Lipton appeared to be lost in his thoughts. The rest of the party, seeing Lord Lipton so distracted, fell into a quiet reverie of their own. Roland thought about the heavy burden dealt with by a lord in uch revolutionary times, and how it was that Lord Lipton sought to maintain both a sense of justice as well as his own dignity, while William and Henry themselves pondered how they would deal with the peasants when they were older. Clarissa looked between Lord Lipton and Roland and saw the same kind of look on their serious faces, and made the gentle suggestion that perhaps they should all return home, a suggestion that was accepted graciously but also quietly by all of them.

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Clarissa: Chapter Eight

Lord Lipton smiled when he saw the note arrive via a rider. He showed the note to his wife, and Lady Lipton got a smile out of it as well. They looked at each other and then pondered how it is that they would deal with this news. They had already discussed how they would manage to go to the Assembly tonight, and this added another wrinkle to it.

“I think I should bring the landau.”

“I can see why that would be useful.”

“If I am going with Clarissa and the boys, and Lottie wants to come as well, that would be a bit snug in the barouche.”

“That is certainly true.”

“I know you would like to come as well, but you should really stay off your feet.”

“I know, and I’m glad you are willing to take the kids. I am sure they will all have a great time.”

“We might need to discuss who is coming home with us, though.”

“I can see what you mean.”

“If we invite Roland back with us, he will need to have a room prepared for him.”

“I think we can arrange that without any difficulty, as long as the housekeepers know to prepare a room for a gentleman.”

“I think that would be easy for them to manage.”

“Why do you think the inn found it worthwhile to let us know that Roland had come?”

“It makes the most sense that Roland arrived at the inn and asked about us, and that the innkeeper thought it would be best to keep us in the loop.”

“If he arrived at Market Weighton, he may have been clued in to look for information about the Bennetts.”

“And he may have already talked with my uncle.”

“That seems quite likely.”

“I think we should discuss with the kids what we are doing tonight, so that everyone is aware of expectations.”

“I think that would be good, yes.”

The bell was pulled, and before too long four young people found themselves in the sitting room where Lord and Lady Lipton had been discussing matters. Quickest to come was Clarissa, who was holding some work in her hand. Rushing about behind her were William and Henry, aged eight and six, who were Lord Lipton’s heir and spare to his family estate, and who looked much like younger versions of Lord Lipton. Following the boys was Lottie, age 3, whose curly blond hair and generally sweet ways made her a favorite of all of them, though fortunately not spoiled rotten all the same. Lord Lipton smiled when everyone was assembled.

“I would like to briefly discuss our plans for the assembly tonight. As much as Lady Lipton would like to come with us, she has decided it would be best to stay off her feet and rest here tonight, as she does not have much time left before she will come to full term. All of you children are therefore coming with me in the landau this evening to Market Weighton for the Assembly. Lottie will stay close to me while we sit and talk, and William and Henry, you are free to run around outside the inn or talk with others around me. I assume you will not make a scene.”

The boys gave him a stiff nod, glad to have freedom and be able to go out and determined not to mess it up.

“That leaves Clarissa. I hope you have a wonderful dance. I know you have a lovely dress planned, but I also wished to inform you that I have just received word from the host of the assembly at the inn that Roland has arrived and checked into the inn, and so I expect that we may be bringing him home with us this evening.”

Clarissa blushed, and William and Henry looked at her and each other significantly.

“Though there will be some food at the assembly, it will be shared among many dozens of people, and so I think it would be best if we dine at home a bit early, dressed for the assembly, and then head out immediately after our meal in the landau to Market Weighton. We will be coming back tonight, though it may be a bit late. Of course, tonight everyone will be free from bedtime, though if you need to sleep, Lottie, I will be happy to hold you while you doze.” Lottie gave a satisfying nod to that. She didn’t want to miss anything but she was, even at three, smart enough to know that sometimes you are too tired to stay up anyway. With that the family meeting was adjourned.

Lord and Lady Lipton sat down in the sitting room to look at the rest of their notes and letters. Most of them concerned various mundane business and the two of them wrote replies as necessary after dividing the letters and notes by priority as to how urgently and importantly they needed to be answered. Before too long, it seemed, the housekeeper came to let them know that dinner was ready for them to enjoy and they got up to enter into the dining room.

As it turns out, the children had spent their time profitably. Lord Lipton was already dressed as he wished to attend the assembly, not being either a fussy or particularly fashionable man, but also being someone who dressed normally as he wished to be seen in public. William and Henry were dressed in a similar fashion to their father, albeit in smaller size, and no one who say them would doubt to which family they belonged when they attended the Assembly. Lottie was dressed in a cute baby dress that she much enjoyed. And Clarissa was dressed in a very beautiful powder blue dress that left everyone else in the party impressed. It was a simple dress, but elegant, and well suited for her slightly darker complexion and brown hair, and one that set her off as being a bit more exotic than most of her Yorkshire neighbors by a considerable degree.

They all sat down to eat in their somewhat dressy clothes, and enjoyed some greens from the garden as well as a hearty soup. After that came a dish of potatoes and meat, and with full bellies and content appetites, Lord Lipton took his troop of young people out of the house, giving a kiss to Lady Lipton along the way, and getting into the landau to head to Market Weighton, a couple of hours or so away at a reasonable pace.

The drive was, as always, a beautiful one. Lord Lipton and Clarissa, both of whom were fond of looking at the woods and admiring the fine quality of trees to be found, were accompanied by younger children whose fondness for useful and beautiful creation had not been fully formed yet. The boys were at least old enough to start picking up some of the habits of their father, while Lottie was too young to do more than to notice and try to understand what the big people around her were doing and to be, at least for a little while longer, the center of attention and affection, at least until the new baby came along.

Before too long they had managed to arrive at the _________, and to make their appearance to the crowds that were already gathering there. They were introduced and made their bows and found suitable places to sit along with the leaders of the town and the other nobles and gentry of the area, who were pleased to see Lord Lipton arrive with his children. While some tongues wagged about the absence of the pregnant Lady Lipton, her situation was explained easily enough by those who knew the family. Clarissa’s beauty similarly attracted its fair share of notice, and it was especially striking how quickly Roland came up to claim her hand to dance, which was accepted with a smile and blushing cheeks.

The boys watched the way that their father examined the room, making sure to talk to his uncle and cousin, who were happy to talk to him about their common business efforts in the West Indies with some of the freed blacks who had small farms of their own, with plans to expand the operation if abolition ever took hold in the area, as it was thought that freed workers would need a good deal of help if they were to grow sugar and other crops to the same level as before when they were driven to produce by the lash. William and Henry saw the way that other adults deferred to their father, even if their father was not a particularly bossy person, he clearly commanded a room without very much effort, and they thought to themselves that it was not a bad thing to be treated with such respect.

Lottie was played with by the girls who were not quite old enough to be seen as out, but who still wanted to enjoy the public attention for being ready for adulthood soon enough, and she was well-behaved and easy for the girls to pet and hold and talk to. Lord Lipton and the boys, and Clarissa herself, paid attention to her from afar and saw that she was having a good time and were largely left free to their own social business, which gratified all of them.

William and Henry were particularly pleased to find that among the other gentry and fine folk there a few boys of similar age were interested in playing some baseball outside, which occupied the hours while the older people talked and danced, and such social ties gratified the adults who watched over them to make sure that the play was fair and avoided descending into violence. Fortunately for all involved, it was as orderly a game as could be demanded of boys of that age.

Clarissa herself was asked to dance every dance, dancing enough with Roland to draw the attention of the others there, who recognized some sort of prior attachment between the two. It was not enough to be thought of as rude by others, and if some of the young men were disappointed that Clarissa was so occupied by her French officer, and some of the young women were a bit disappointed that the officer did not ask them to dance because his eyes were only for Miss Bennett, the parents of the young people involved were pleased to see that two outsiders who could have threatened their own plans for happy matrimony for their sons and daughters were so obviously enamored with each other that their presence did not disturb the matchmaking efforts of those around them. It was as it should be, at least in their eyes.

When the dance was done, before it became too late, this being a public town and still subject to various curfiews, the good men and women of the town bid farewell to each other and to those who like Lord Lipton and his family had come from outside the town, and Lord Lipton helped his family, and Roland, into his elegant carriage. He praised the innkeeper for his information and gave him a tip for being so hospitable to Roland and to everyone else, and the group of them, all of them tired after the long day, rode for Orient House. It was too dark to do more than notice the trees as they stood against a glorious sky full of stars, and when the landau arrived home, everyone was happy to go to bed without any further conversation, too overjoyed to complain, and too tired to talk. Lord Lipton came into his room to see his wife sleeping happily, and he smiled and got into bed beside her.

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Album Review: Points On The Curve

Points On The Curve, by Wang Chung

Although they are best remembered for their smash hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” so much so that the band has often been labeled (incorrectly) as a one-hit wonder, in reality the band had four albums in the 1980s that all spawned at least one song on the Hot 100, and that hot streak started right from the gate when the first song from this album became a moderate hit. “Dance Hall Days” seems like a quirky enough hit, one that was not intentionally made to be hooky and a smash, but a song that captures a certain vibe, one that reflects nostalgia and itself seems to have spurred a certain amount of nostalgia later on. If this is the only track going into the album that I am familiar with, it offers a good start to see if Points On The Curve offers a concept album of sorts or merely a (hopefully) enjoyable listen. Does this album have the ambition to aim for something greater than a collection of pop-rock songs or not? Let’s find out.

The album begins with the aforementioned hit, “Dance Hall Days,” with its driving beat and relaxed lyrics that express an enjoyment of love and dancing. It’s an easy song to appreciate and pretty relatable, even if some of the lyrics are a bit darker than one would expect. “Wait,” a song with a rather nervous musical background, later appeared on the group’s second album, “To Live And Die In L.A.,” and has a spare musical production while its lyrics talk about waiting for people and being impatient about it. “True Love” gives comforting lyrics about the power of love, but in a disturbing, almost industrial sort of beat that undercuts whatever romanticism it might provide. “The Waves” has an inviting instrumental sound, with lyrics that reflect a sense of anxiety and ennui about life, including a call back to the previous song. “Look At Me Now” has a brave sound to go with its lyrical shift between seeking to disguise the self but also demand attention. “Don’t Let Go” is the second most popular song on this album on Spotify, and provides a nervous song about devotion and persistence in love, making it a pretty relatable song. “Even If You Dream” reflects an ambivalent sense of wanting to be close to someone even if they are dreaming about someone else, with the same sort of angular production that the album as a whole has. “Don’t Be My Enemy” is a bit repetitive but its sentiment is easy enough to understand and provides an ominous sort of warning about how relationships can go sour. “Devoted Friends” focuses again on the complications of relationships and the contrary pulls of desiring to be happy for friends while feeling sad for oneself, because of the way that romantic love shifts a friendship to different terrain. “Talk It Out” ends the album with a boldly generous offer to be a sounding board for someone to communicate with in the recognition of the difficultes of life.

Points On The Curve shows Wang Chung at the very beginning of their career. It is fortunate that “Dance Hall Days” was so accessible as to hit the charts and give the band some early momentum, because the rest of the album is made up of rather reflective and often melancholy songs with austere 80s production that deal with the subjects of love and relationships. This is not necessarily groundbreaking material, and Wang Chung would become far more ambitious about their song material in later albums, but even at their beginning they offered a complex emotional approach to subjects of widespread interest. If this album’s production is particularly dated and features a sometimes jarring mix of synthetic sounds and industrial beats and more organic instrumentation, to say nothing of the group’s thoughtful lyrics, this is still a solid debut that is worth checking out if you like where Wang Chung ended up.

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Clarissa: Chapter Seven

It was just after noon when Roland de Villebois pulled into Market Weighton, to the __________ inn there. He tipped the driver of the chaise and then walked up to the innkeeper to get a room and also to ask if he had any information about where the Bennetts were in town, as he was a recent friend of the family. The innkeeper looked at him with considerable interest, and wondered if he could send a message to Orient Hall on his behalf. Roland smiled and agreed that such a note would be worthwhile, and was told that he was in luck as there was to be an assembly that night in the inn that would be celebrating the young women of the area, and that it would be good for him to enjoy the dance. He agreed that this would be worthwhile, and said that after having a nuncheon he would enjoy walking around the town.

He had his nuncheon, enjoying the fare at the inn, which proved to be hearty and filling, exactly what one would want after having spent hours traveling, and with a smile and another tip, Roland got up from his chair and went to take a walk around Market Weighton. He looked around to see the sturdy buildings of a town that represented the sort of place that Clarissa came from. It was by no means a large city, but it was a friendly one, and as he was well-dressed and smiling, his appearance as a stranger in their midst proved to be something that drew the curiosity of the people around rather than their hostility as might have been the case in less friendly areas.

It did not take too long of a walk before Roland found himself standing before a finely built home at the edge of town that was labeled as the Bennett House. He figured it was worth a shot and so he walked up to the front door to knock. He was greeted by a butler.

“This is the Bennett house, may you state your business?”

“I am a friend of the family on my way to Newcastle, but hoping to get to know the family a bit better here.”

“And who are you, sir?”

“My name is Roland de Villebois. I met a Clarissa Bennett in London recently at the ball which introduced her into society after she was presented at St. James Palace.”

The butler here paused. “Please wait here.”

“No problem, sir.”

Roland waited at the door while the butler closed the door and then went inside. Before too long, a stout gentleman came to the door and invited Roland inside to sit in the reception area not too far inside the house on one of the comfortable chairs.

“I am always pleased to meet a friend of my daughter’s.”

“Clarissa is your daughter? I assume you are related to Lord and Lady Lipton, then?”

“Ah, you know my nephew and his wife as well?”

“Yes, I have met your nephew on a couple of occasions, once at his home in London and another time when he came visit our anti-Jacobin club in London.”

“You are recently French then?”

“I am indeed. My father and I heard a tip that the revolutionaries wished to put our heads on a pike and decided that exile was a fate preferable to death, and so we fled to London with as much as we could bring with us in a hurry, which was not as much as we would have preferred.”

“I hope that England has been welcoming to you, then. You did well in befriending my nephew, who is quite intensely anti-revolutionary.”

“So I have heard. Is there a reason why?”

“He has personal experience with revolutions that have been less than enjoyable. He grew up in East Florida after my late sister and his late father married, and had a difficult time dealing with the revolutionary fervor in our American colonies. If you want to know more details, you will have to talk to him.”

“That would make sense, then, that the French Revolution reminded him of his own troubles, and that he feels kindly to those who suffered as he did.”

“You are indeed right there.”

“I am pleased to know at least something of his background. Lord Lipton seems to be a bit of a mystery.”

“He will likely remain so. He is a mystery to me, and I have known him all his life. That is not to say that he is an unpleasant mystery, though.”

“A great many mysteries can be enjoyable, so long as one does not feel that one understands everything.”

“That is precisely the right approach to have when dealing with complicated people like Lord Lipton.”

“I appreciate any such insight as you can give.”

“Now I would like to know more about you.”

“Ask away.”

“What is the level of relationship that you have with my daughter.”

“I have danced with her a couple of times after having been invited to her ball and spoken with her and Lord and Lady Lipton, for some hours, and dined with them at a family supper.”

“That is to say that you are interested in knowing her better but are not yet a close friend of the family.”

“That would be fair to say.”

“And what is your profession?”

“I am a newly minted officer in the Lincolnshire regulars, due to report in Newcastle in a week and a half or so.”

“So you do not have much time at present to know her as well as you would like.”

“That would also be fair to say.”

“But though you have only a little bit of time, you have wished to spend it by getting to know an old man like me and other relatives of hers.”

“Yes, simply because one does not have much time does not mean that one should waste what little time one has.”

“That is a wise philosophy, and rare for one so young as yourself. Most of us, you know, waste far too much time and then find ourselves missing it when it is too late to do anything about it.”

“I am aware that this is a common problem. None of us know, though, whether we have a lot of time or only a little bit of time.”

“You are quite right there. Are you a student of philosophy?”

“I suppose you could say that,” Roland said, pursing his lips a little.

“Come now, there is no need to be ashamed of having studied.”

“When I was younger, before the world was turned upside down, I had spent some time studying Thomist thought not too far away from where my family lived along the Loire, near Nantes.”

“I cannot imagine you will find much study of Thomism here.”

“You are familiar with it?”

“Not as much as my nephew thinks I ought to be. He is always the one reading books about law and philosophy and seeking to understand how the wise have seen the world. It has come up in conversations with me, though, so I am familiar with the name, and when I have visited Orient Hall I have seen volumes of Thomas Aquinas on the shelves, and even more remarkably, looking as if they had been read.”

“That makes me even more interested in getting to know your nephew better.”

“I am sure he will enjoy having someone to talk about philosophy with. He is, like some people, rather self-taught. Due to the early death of his father and his need to support himself, he did not have the sort of education in Europe that he would have received otherwise as a member of his class, but he has always sought to increase his own knowledge and demonstrate his credentials as a Christian gentleman.”

“I can relate to the sentiment, and share it.”

“That is a relief to hear. I hope you do not find me too tiresome in that I lack such familiarity with high culture. To be sure, my sister’s connection with that family has been of great benefit to me in opening up many horizons, but such gains took a long time to happen, seeing as I had to spend most of my years as a merchant learning and mastering the ways of making money to support myself and my family and did not have the leisure to study as some have.”

“I may have lived my youth in some leisure, but my adulthood has pressed upon me the need to support myself as best as I am able, so I will not criticize someone for having to make the best of the life that providence has proved for them.”

“I must say, I am impressed at your English.”

“When I studied with the Thomists, I was not only a student of philosophy. As it happened, they had a very international student body, and there were some Anglo-Catholics I befriended, who taught me their native language, which has been of great use to me.”

“It is worthwhile to make useful friends.”

“It has always been the case that good friends can provide much unexpected help, and sometimes the benefit that they provide becomes fully evident only later.”

“I trust you have heard about the assembly that is tonight?”

“I was told about it by the innkeeper at the ____________.”

“Oh yes, that is a wonderful place. Do you know that my nephew stayed in that very same inn the first night he had returned to England?”

“Ah, so the inn has a bit of family history for you?”

“Very much so, I have always been fond of it, and seeing it connected with friends and family only makes it more so.”

“It is good to be at a place where one is sure to be taken care of, then.”

“Yes, they will take care of you well, and hopefully you may enjoy the opportunity to dance with my daughter a couple more times this evening.”

“She will come here?”

“My daughter dearly loves to dance and socialize. She has attended the assemblies here for many years, long before she was able to stand up and dance, enjoying the conversation at the table with me and with Lord and Lady Lipton. She will enjoy it even more being able to dance, and may perhaps be surprised at your arrival, unless she knows you have come.”

“I suspect she may be aware of it, as the innkeeper offered to send a note to Orient House.”

“Ah, yes. If they get a note about a gallant French gentleman dressed in officer’s clothes, they will likely be able to determine that it was you who have arrived.”

“I hope it will be that clear.”

“I hope so too. In the meantime, I await the report of my eldest son on how business is doing, and look forward to dining with you this evening before the assembly. You will be taking your supper there, I assume?”

“I plan on doing so.”

“Very well, I hope you will not mind having my eldest son and I as guests.”

“Not in the least. I look forward to it.” And with that he was graciously dismissed to return to the inn and to ponder over what he had heard.

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