The story will culminate in a competition to write the final instalment of the serial. The competition will only be open to season ticket holders of JAFA – full and concession – and will be judged by me (decision will be final). The last instalment of the serial that I will write will be on March 19, so that will give contestants over two weeks to complete their entries. I will be looking for an entertaining, inventive, well-written, (and reasonably logical) finale to the serial. You can find the conditions of entry at the end of this first instalment.
The winning entry will be announced at the JAFA Friday Regency Variety Night and, if the winner is agreeable, will also be read out by me to the audience. The winning entry will be posted on the JAFA blog. Please note that by entering the competition, you have agreed to have your writing posted on the JAFA blog, should you win.
Along the way, I will also be posting some writing tips on this blog to help you hone your story writing skills.
So, welcome to the adventures of Anthea Stanwell. Prepare to have fun and maybe find some inspiration to release your own inner Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer!
Chapter 1 – Wherein the Stanwell ladies receive a letter
“Well, what is it, Mama?” Lily, her sister, asked.
Mrs Stanwell ignored her younger daughter and read on, giving a soft double click of her tongue. Anthea knew that sound. It meant her mother was facing a dilemma.
“Mama, please tell us,” Lily said. “We are dying to know.”
“Let mother read it, first,” Anthea said. “Have some more bread.”
Lily sat back in her chair, her fair skin flushed. “How can you eat when something exciting might finally happen?”
“Like this.” Anthea took a deliberate bite of her buttered bread and chewed theatrically.
“You have no sense of destiny,” Lily said.
“Girls!” Mrs Stanwell looked up from the letter.
Many of the Stanwell’s acquaintances had remarked upon the startling similarity between the lady of the house and her two daughters. It was generally agreed that they all had fine dark eyes, very good noses and excellent chins. Both Anthea and Lily had also inherited their mother’s dark hair and pale complexion, but Anthea, to her chagrin was tall and built more along their father’s angular lines, whereas Lily had also inherited their mother’s soft roundness. All in all, the Stanwell sisters were considered to be handsome girls, with Lily, perhaps, edging out her elder as the beauty in the family.
“As you may have guessed, the letter is from Lord Rydges,” Mrs Stanwell said.
Lily straightened, all her attention on her mother. Anthea wiped her mouth with her napkin, feigning indifference, but privately she had to admit to some anticipation. Their dear father – may his soul rest in peace – had been aide-de-camp to Lord Rydges and had perished three years ago on the Spain campaign against Bonaparte. On occasion the Earl took a kindly interest in his aide’s widow and two daughters. The last interest had resulted in the house they now lived in, at a very minimal rent. Perhaps, Anthea hoped, this new interest may bring a much needed horse and gig.
“Lord Rydges has written to invite us to his estate, Lakeside –” Mrs Stanwell was stopped by Lily’s sharp squeal of delight. With an admonishing glance, she continued, “–where he says there will be a small party of guests and some diverting entertainments including concerts, a fair, picnics and promenades. There will also be a ball hosted by their friends, the Garden-Gardiners.”
“A ball?” Lily’s delight could, apparently, not be contained, for she stood up from the table and, holding up the plain hem of her white muslin day dress, waltzed around the room. Stifling her own excitement, Anthea looked across at her mother, intuiting the dilemma.
“But can we afford it mother?” she asked softly.
Mrs Stanwell turned her attention from her younger daughter’s joyous dance. “Yes, I know. It will mean more gowns and outerwear, travelling expenses, not to mention the servants’ vails.”
Anthea calculated they could possibly afford to refurbish their gowns and even manage the travel with the goodwill of some friends, but the tips required for the servants of a great house would, she absolutely knew, be beyond their means.
Her mother looked down at the letter again. “I do not want you and Lily to miss this opportunity.”
Anthea leaned across the table and briefly clasped her mother’s hand. She did not want the miss the opportunity, either, but she could see no way to manage it. “We will be all right, mother. We have the village society, and it is not so bad.”
“Yes, but as we know there are no eligible young men in this vicinity.”
“What about Mr Pitwater?’ Anthea said, trying not to smile. Mr Pitwater, the local vicar, was a constant and somewhat adhesive visitor to their house, his interest ponderously pointed in Anthea’s direction. Although eligible in terms of income and rank, there was a heaviness and lack of empathy in his nature that rendered the Stanwell ladies morose after every call. Lily called him the Pit of Despair.
“Do be serious, Anthea.” Mrs Stanwell eyed her older daughter and nodded as if making a decision. “You are almost one and twenty, my dear, well able to travel by yourself and look after your sister for a time. I want you to both take advantage of this invitation and I will stay here. I know Lady Rydges will ably chaperone you. We should be able to manage it with that saving.”
“Go without you? But mother –“
“Hush now. This is my decision.” She patted Anthea’s hand. “We will start preparations immediately.” She beckoned to Lily. “Darling, go upstairs and make a thorough inventory of all your and your sister’s gowns. You have the best eye among us and we must plan how to make best use of them.” Lily blew a kiss to her mother and ran from the room. As the door closed behind her, Mrs Stanwell said quietly, “Anthea, there is something else we must discuss. Something that pertains to you.”
Anthea, always sensitive to the tones of those she loved, heard the anxiety in her mother’s voice. “To me?”
“Lord Rydges has written about who else will be in the house party and I saw a name that we all know: Lieutenant Hayden.”
“Although,” her mother continued, “the Earl writes that he is no longer Lieutenant. He is Commander.”
“I see,” Anthea said, but her mind was living a moment three years ago. The last time she had seen Lieutenant Hayden.
It had been at the end of her one and only season in Town, at a ball, given by Lord and Lady Rydges. During the weeks before, Lieutenant Hayden had become particular in his attention to Anthea, calling almost every morning to take her riding in the park or for walks. It was generally agreed, by those who watched the couple, that an announcement would soon be made. Anthea recalled the dance where he had said goodbye. One of the scandalous new waltzes. His arm about her, his hand encasing hers, eyes sorrowful. No reason, just a regret for any false hopes his behaviour may have caused. And at the end of the dance, he had left.
“I know how he treated you,” her mother said. “If you do not feel you can see him again, I will understand.”
Although Anthea was not yet sure how she felt – lost somewhere between pain and resignation – she said, “It is all right, mother. He made no declaration. No professions of love or references to a future. I cannot hold anything against him except my own foolish imaginings.”
“But, my dear –” her mother protested.
“No, it is fine. I have no anxiety about meeting Commander Hayden.” She smiled and retreated to the doorway. “No doubt he has long been married and has a parcel of children. I will go up and help Lily sort through our gowns.” She opened the door and was over its threshold before her mother could see the truth breaking across her face.
Next week: An enlightening evening of entertainment.
Visit Alison’s website at www.alisongoodman.com.au
Alison Goodman holds the Intellectual Property rights to the Trust and Tribulation serial, but acknowledges the right of 2012 JAFA season ticket holders to make use of the characters and situations in the serial to fulfil the conditions of the competition. Please also note that the use of brand names in the serial has been used in the spirit of fun and is not meant, in any way, as product placement. The author has, alas, not been offered any terrific freebies to use these names.
Competition Conditions of Entry
The competition is only open to season tickets holders of 2012 JAFA (full and concession).
All entries to be:
· a maximum of 2,500 words.
· due by 5pm Thursday 5th April, 2012. Unfortunately no late entries will be accepted.
· typed, double-spaced and in either Word or RTF format. Also, I will be judging the entries without names attached in the interest of impartiality, so please include a cover sheet with the title of your “chapter”, your name and your contact number on it. Please also label each page of your actual entry with only your chapter title so that I can, at the end of judging,finally match up cover sheet to story. Remember to include page numbers too!
· emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
A bit more About Alison:
Alison Goodman is the author of EON and EONA, a New York Times Bestselling fantasy duology which has sold into 17 countries and been translated into ten languages. EON was shortlisted for Victorian, NSW, and WA Premier’s Literary awards, and won the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Alison’s other novels are the award-winning Singing the Dogstar Blues, and her crime novel Killing the Rabbit which was shortlisted for the 2007 Davitt Award. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and their Machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier, and is currently working on a new series.