“And you wish to serve your country in a different way.” Darcy was not unaware of Richard’s desire to enter politics.
“I do, but I cannot. Not yet.”
“You need land.”
“Land and money. Obtaining a seat is not without costs.” Indeed, plenty of votes and, therefore, seats were purchased. It was not a thing of which he approved, but it was the way things were.
“With your father’s backing, I should think you will find a place in the House without too much trouble.”
Richard shrugged. “Perhaps, but I still need land.”
“So we are back to marrying an heiress.”
Richard drained the liquid from his tumbler. How he was beginning to hate that word and the fact that he was reliant on it. “Yes.”
“There is no other way to get land?”
“None that I know of.” Richard rose to refill his glass.
“Unless someone gives it to you.”
Richard turned toward Darcy and shook his head. “No. I do not care how many acres you own, I will not be accepting any of it.”
Darcy’s brows furrowed. “Is there anyone from whom you would accept such a gift?” Darcy knew that there was one person who seemed determined to help Richard in such a fashion, and he worried that it would be a struggle to get Richard to take the assistance. Not that Lady Catherine would settle for a negative reply.
Richard shrugged and shook his head. “No, I cannot think of anyone, save, perhaps my father. But he is not likely to divide up the estate, nor would I expect him to do so.”
“Have you met any ladies that have interested you?”
The right corner of Richard’s mouth tipped up. “None that will provide what I need.” And therein lay the frustration. He knew exactly the lady he wished to take for a wife. A lady who was likely chatting with Darcy’s wife at this moment. Unfortunately, that lady was not an heiress.
Darcy blew out a breath and scowled. “Politics are not worth such a cost!”
Richard watched the contents of his glass swirl up around the edge and fall back down. “I did not say I was denying my heart.” He had not said it, but it was true.
As you can see from this little excerpt, the hero in my upcoming release wishes to take a seat in parliament. However, he has a couple of issues standing in his way — he needs money and, most importantly, land in order to stand for such a position. To be precise, he needs property valued between £300 – £600 and enough money and influence to guarantee him enough votes.
You can find some interesting articles on Parliament, which I read as I was preparing to write this novella, at these links:
Both of these issues could be remedied by donations to him through family, but he would rather not live on the charity of others. Instead, he has decided that he should marry a lady with those particular qualifications. It was a brilliant plan until he met her — and lost his heart.
Now, he must decide between ambition and love.
“You know why I wish to enter politics, so it is only fair that I know why you wish to marry a parson.”
She tilted her head and looked at him. He was handsome in broad daylight, but in the soft glow of the two candles in the room, he was downright enticing. “For many of the same reasons you wish to serve in parliament. I wish to help those who are less fortunate.”
His left brow rose high in interest.
“Consider to whom people go when they are in need.” She shifted to face him more fully. “The church. And who will be able to best help the women of a parish? The parson’s wife.”
“Could you not do more good if you were to marry a man of wealth?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Men of wealth are often tightly bound to their wealth, but I will grant you that being the wife of a generous landowner might give me more opportunity. However, there are inherent divides that arise between the needy and the wealthy. A woman in need might not be as willing to seek out the mistress of the estate as she would the parson’s wife.”
What she said made sense. There were class divides and sometimes those divides not only kept people apart but also created tension and strife. He had witnessed the plight and anger of the labourer who saw a landowner or manufacturer as the source of his destitution. He had even seen some of them hanged for having acted on that anger. It was these memories that moved him to attempt to bring change to the way things were through acts of government. She, on the other hand, wished to bring comfort and assistance through small acts of one woman to another.
“We are much alike, are we not?” he asked with a smile. They would suit well and do much good if they were to work together, whether in the realms of government or some lesser, more direct way. Perhaps he did not require a seat in parliament. And if he did not require a seat, then he did not require an heiress.
“It seems we are.” She rubbed her arms. She was beginning to feel a chill from the dampness of the weather. Spring rains were not always warm.
“Come here.” He motioned with his head for her to moved closer to his side. “I can spare some heat to keep you warm…”
Why did Richard wish to enter politics? I hope you can tell from the excerpt. He has seen the plight of the labourer, some of whom have been provoked to action. For this little bit of comment in the story, I read about several uprising that happened in various years. Of course, that included this information on the Luddites:
The British Army clashed with the Luddites on several occasions. At one time there were more British soldiers fighting the Luddites than there were fighting Napoleon on the Iberian Peninsula. Three Luddites, led by George Mellor, ambushed and assassinated mill owner William Horsfall of Ottiwells Mill in Marsden, West Yorkshire at Crosland Moor in Huddersfield. Horsfall had remarked that he would “Ride up to his saddle in Luddite blood.” Mellor fired the fatal shot to Horsfall’s groin, and all three men were arrested.
Lord Byron denounced the plight of the working class, the government’s inane policies and ruthless repression in the House of Lords on 27 February 1812, “I have been in some of the most oppressed provinces of Turkey; but never, under the most despotic of infidel governments, did I behold such squalid wretchedness as I have seen since my return, in the very heart of a Christian country.”
The British government sought to suppress the Luddite movement with a mass trial at York in January 1813, following the attack on Cartwright’s mill at Rawfolds near Cleckheaton. The government charged over 60 men, including Mellor and his companions, with various crimes in connection with Luddite activities. While some of those charged were actual Luddites, many had no connection to the movement. Although the proceedings were legitimate jury trials, many were abandoned due to lack of evidence and 30 men were acquitted. These trials were certainly intended to act as show trials to deter other Luddites from continuing their activities. The harsh sentences of those found guilty, which included execution and penal transportation, quickly ended the movement.
Parliament subsequently made “machine breaking” (i.e. industrial sabotage) a capital crime with the Frame Breaking Act and the Malicious Damage Act 1861. Lord Byron opposed this legislation, becoming one of the few prominent defenders of the Luddites after the treatment of the defendants at the York trials.
This and other information, as well as a list of resources at the bottom of the article, can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite#Government_response
For my story, I imagined that Colonel Fitzwilliam had taken part in at least some conflict with the Luddites, and I allowed him to have feelings similar to Lord Byron in that he felt compassion for the less fortunate and wished to see things changed.
Our heroine — Miss Mary Bennet — is also in possession of a compassionate heart, but her desired course of action cannot be through government reform. She must seek other ways to help the poor and has landed on the idea of being a parson’s wife — which was a brilliant plan until she met him…and lost her heart.
And now, because of the devious actions of a particular schemer as well as both Richard and Mary’s inability to resist desire when placed in a compromising position, goals and ambitions will seemingly need to change.
Lady Catherine lowered her voice to a hushed but not altogether soft whisper. “The library has windows, and I have eyes.”
“You saw…?” Richard could not bring himself to ask the full question.
“You were sleeping contentedly.”
Richard breathed a sigh of relief that she was not going to say more. However, her next comment proved it might have been too early to relax.
“A quick wedding might be best, might it not?” she asked with a flutter of lashes.
“Indeed, it might,” Richard agreed.
Not an Heiress is currently available on preorder with a release day of June 20, 2017.
Keep an eye on Facebook for a Launch Day Giveaway.