That ^ post title is a play on words. But then, I do like titles where there is a play on words or at least a theme or particular meaning or two behind the words. Let me explain this post’s title and a bit about another title. Stay with me. I think that will all become clear by the end of this post. 🙂
Let’s start with why Caroline’s name is in the post title:
I have a book coming out later this month called Confounding Caroline, which was my most recently completed Thursday’s Three Hundred story on my blog.
And then, let’s move on to the taking a ride portion (this one has a double meaning, so read on to the bottom of the excerpt):
In that story, there is a scene — a rather important one — that takes place at the park, Hyde Park. The exact place of Bingley and Darcy’s ride is not specified, but it should be assumed that it was Rotten Row, a place in Hyde Park with an interesting history. Quite a lot of Rotten Row’s history can be read in the article on The Regency Redingote from which the following bit of information is extracted:
“Rotten Row during the years of the Regency was about 75 to 80 feet wide, a mile and a quarter long, bordered on each side by wooden fencing, probably about three feet in height, the surface covered with a mix of gravel and tan. Both riders and carriages had the use of the bridle path, and it was the most popular venue for social hacking and driving in all of Regency London. During the afternoon promenade, it was expected that all riders and carriages would travel at a sedate and decorous pace. But early in the morning, when horses were often exercised along the Row by the grooms of the aristocracy, there were those gentlemen, and some ladies, who took their horses to the Row, gave them their heads and enjoyed a good gallop. There were grassy walkways along each side of the Row, outside the wooden fencing, where the common folk might stroll, particularly on a Sunday afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of a member of the bon ton or even of the royal family.”
It was a place to see and be seen, a sort of club for the well-to-do. The place where you might meet other men and ladies of your rank and enter into conversations with them, which is what happens in the scene below:
As the sun was beginning its journey to its height, warming the earth and the people who had ventured out into the crisp air of a clear winter’s morning, Darcy and Bingley came upon a solitary rider loping his way through the park with a groom trailing at a good distance behind him. Bingley, as he always did, tipped his hat and wished the gentleman a good morning.
The gentleman returned the gesture and then slowed his horse as he drew nearer Bingley and Darcy.
“I do not believe I have had the pleasure of making your acquaintance,” he began. “I am Sir Matthew Broadhurst of Stoningham in Surrey.”
“Charles Bingley,” Bingley returned, “and my friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
“Indeed, it is,” Darcy agreed.
“I have not been to many soirees yet, and it seems I like to rise earlier than most. I believe, you gentlemen make six whom I have met since arriving in town. May I join you?” Sir Matthew drew his horse alongside them after Bingley had assured him that they would be delighted to have his company.
The gentleman appeared to be everything that Georgiana had said he was. His dress was impeccable. He appeared to be of an acceptable stature, neither too tall nor too short. He was handsome with a very pleasant and amiable, if quiet, air about him.
“I have heard that you have just recently come into your title,” said Darcy. “My condolences on the loss of your uncle.”
Sir Matthew’s gave his thanks softly and somberly. “He was not the friendliest of men at times, and he could be demanding. However, my uncle was a good man who took my mother, my siblings, and myself into his home after my father died.” He glanced over at the men beside him. “My father was the rector of the parish near Stoningham.”
“Do you have many siblings?” Bingley asked.
“A younger brother and two older sisters,” Sir Matthew replied. “My sisters are both married and happily settled, and my brother is studying to take orders. He is much like my father. And you, do you gentlemen have siblings?”
“I have a younger sister who has been left in my care,” Darcy answered. “She is just sixteen.”
“Both of your parents are gone?” Sir Matthew’s voice was once again soft and soothing as he inquired.
“For several years now,” Darcy answered. “It is something Bingley and I have in common.”
“You do not have a parent remaining either?” Sir Matthew asked, turning to Bingley.
“No,” Bingley replied. “My father died three years ago, leaving me a fortune and the care of my sisters. Louisa has married, but Caroline has not.” He noted how Sir Matthew’s expression spoke of the gentleman’s interest in that last fact. “My father was a tradesman.”
Sir Matthew’s brows rose. “You do not own an estate?”
There was no censure in his tone. He seemed genuinely interested.
“Not yet,” Bingley replied. “I have let an estate in Hertfordshire and am looking to purchase one in the near future.”
“I wish you well in your endeavour.”
There was again a genuineness to the man’s words that impressed both Bingley and Darcy.
“I cannot claim my estate until I marry.” Sir Matthew shook his head. “My uncle knew that if he did not force me out of the house and to seriously consider taking a wife, I would bury myself within the walls of the estate, seeing to the needs of it and my mother and brother and naught else.” He shrugged. “I can be too focused on duty at times.”
Bingley laughed. “Darcy can be the same.”
“He speaks the truth,” Darcy agreed. “Until recently I had only considered marriage in the light of duty just as I considered everything else.”
Sir Matthew smiled knowingly. “You have found a lady who makes you question your view of duty, have you?”
“Indeed, I have,” Darcy replied.
“I wish you joy,” Sir Matthew said.
“I have not won her yet. In fact, I am not entirely certain I will win her.”
“He will,” said Bingley emphatically. “I know he will.”
Sir Matthew’s head cocked to the side, and curiosity suffused his expression. “I should enjoy hearing the tale, but I will not ask as it is not my place to be informed of your private matters,” he said. “I will only wish you success.”
“And I shall wish you the same,” Darcy returned. “Do you have anyone in mind for the position of Lady Broadhurst?”
Sir Matthew shook his head. “I do not. It is perhaps unkind of me to say, but the few ladies I have met have been nothing more than a pretty face with feathers for brains.” He shook his head. “Such giggling!”
“What do you wish for in a wife?” Darcy asked, casting a sidelong glance at Bingley.
Sir Matthew shrugged. “I likely know better what I do not want than what I want. I suppose I should like someone who would be a good hostess and manager.”
“Does she have to be a gentleman’s daughter?” Bingley asked pointedly. Caroline was proficient both at hosting soirees and managing everyone’s affairs.
“You wish to be rid of a sister?” Sir Matthew asked with a laugh.
The man did not lack perception. That was a point in his favour according to Bingley. He would need to be a man who could see through Caroline’s scheming and airs.
Sir Matthew eyed Bingley cautiously. “What is wrong with her?” he asked.
Bingley chuckled. “I am not certain I should answer that, for we have had a falling out recently over her disapproval of my choice of bride, and even though she is my sister, I do not know that I would be the most charitable of persons to describe her.”
“You are to be married?”
“Eventually,” Bingley replied. “As soon as I can rid myself of a sister and help Darcy secure his heart’s desire.”
Poor Sir Matthew could not hide his confusion, though he did an admirable job in trying to disguise it.
“We are attending the Taylor’s ball this evening,” Bingley said. “Caroline will be there. You can meet her and judge for yourself if you might be persuaded to consider her.”
“She is not hideous,” Bingley added in response to Sir Matthew’s continued look of skepticism.
“No,” Darcy agreed. “She is quite handsome.” He smirked. “She has the same colouring as her brother, but is much, much prettier.”
Sir Matthew’s features relaxed into a smile at the comment. “Very well, if it is just a meeting,” he agreed.
“It is just a meeting,” Bingley assured him. “And if you are interested, then I will explain over a bottle of Darcy’s finest port how both my happiness and that of Darcy hinges on my sister.”
“My port?” Darcy said in surprise.
Bingley shrugged. “Very well, we will discuss it at my house over the best I have.” He turned to Sir Matthew. “Do we have an agreement?” He held up his hand. “I neglected to mention she has twenty thousand pounds. She does not come empty-handed.”
Sir Matthew drew his horse to a stop. “Yes,” he said, nodding his head. “Yes, we have an agreement. I will meet your sister and then, if I find her to my liking, you may attempt to persuade me to aid your cause.” He held out his hand, which Bingley gave a hearty shake, sealing the deal.
Can you see how this ride during the early hours of the morning on Rotten Row could lead to Caroline being “taken for a ride” in the sense of being deceived or tricked? I hope so.
Now that you know why this post is named as it is, let me move on to the title of my new book.
In Confounding Caroline, Darcy and Bingley have an obstacle standing between them and their happily ever afters. That obstacle is Caroline, and the book’s plot centers around confounding her — surprising her and bringing some confusion to her life. (I shall not say more than that. 😉 ) Unlike my other books, this one does not end with Darcy and Elizabeth being either engaged or married. Instead, it ends where their new understanding of each other is set to begin. That means, of course, that there is a sequel to Confounding Caroline. That sequel is called Delighting Mrs. Bennet and is in the process of being written. It will be another Thursday’s Three Hundred story which begins posting this Thursday, May 10, 2018.
Be watching my blog and social media accounts as well as your email, if you’re on my mailing list, for a cover reveal, advance reader copy opportunities, and details regarding preorder and release dates.
Before I go, I want to include another small bit of information that I found while researching about Rotten Row that I found rather interesting.
“In 1861, a livery stable owner in Bruton Mews, London needed a way to expose and sell his horses to the wealthy and titled who rode in Hyde Park. He arranged that a stunning girl and courtesan Catherine Walters would ride his horses and drive his carriages in the Park. He had her dressed in tailor-made habits in the “Princess” style that were fitted like a glove and with her ability at riding and driving his plan worked like a charm. Catherine Walters was staggeringly good looking and a fine horsewoman and his horses sold. Catherine Walters became known as “the most celebrated hooker on horseback.”
Discovered in a skittles alley (original form of bowling) Catherine Walters aka Skittles was the last of the famous “demimondaines” of the 1860’s. She was discretion itself and became mistress to many notables such as Lord Hartington, heir to the Duke of Devonshire; Napoléon III; French finance minister Achille Fould; and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).
The idea took off and more high-class courtesans rode horses for sale in Hyde Park and were permitted to do so as long as they dressed in proper riding outfits and behaved appropriately. And while the gents loved chatting to these courtesans who rode in “the Row” the true ladies of society turned a blind eye and feigned ignorance regarding these women who came to be known as horse-breakers.”
Now, isn’t that filled with some story possibilities? Hmmm…if I change the date to 1812…and twist the pretty girl’s job, and maybe bring a sister or two of Elizabeth’s to town… Who knows? (I’m not saying I will do that, but then again, I’m not saying I won’t 😉 )