(Ed.- I am beyond pleased to present the serial of the story A Singular Couple written by A Lady™. Jane meets the Angelus’ while in Bath and well, their friendship goes in a direction most unexpected. If you’re a fan of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, well, you can only guess where this goes. Check in every Thursday for a new chapter!)
Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four
August 13, 1805
My Dearest Cassandra,
How lucky you are to have once again escaped the dreary society of Bath! Do tell Fanny she is free to have as many life-threatening fevers as she wishes, that will call her dear aunt to her side. Next time, perhaps, she could convince her sister to join her so that two aunts will be necessary.
But all is not tedious here, though the heat makes society insufferable and the beige stones make one feel one is in a clay-lined oven. I have taken to late walks along the promenade to cool myself, mostly with dear M. Lefroy, who has chosen to summer here with all her family. They are the brightest spot in our little society, and what is more, Madame has recently met the most singular couple! Mr. and Mrs. Angelus are also fond of the river walk and after exchanging greetings on a few occasions, Madame furnished an introduction. Since then there has hardly been a ball or party they haven’t attended. They seem intent on knowing every last tedious section of Bath society. I can’t imagine why, as they are the least dull people I have ever met, and I find myself eager to converse with them. I shall have to draw a portrait for you in words.
Mr. Angelus is exceedingly handsome, tall & broad, and has all the self-possession of a man who unfortunately knows he is handsome and wealthy besides, but is saved by his inexplicable lack of boasting. He rarely talks of himself at all, but converses nicely and respectfully on art, music, and books, without the overbearing attitude of most men when discussing such matters with women – those charmless fiends who expect one to have no opinion of her own but to praise his. I feel he (Mr. A.) genuinely values my opinion. As for his opinions, they are refreshingly direct, and his reaction on disagreement nonplused. Mr. A. fears the loss of no one’s good opinion. His taste in books parallels mine, dearest Cassandra, and he is nearly as scathing a critic as myself. We are quite pleased to be displeased together and hope never to be satisfied with the state of English writing! His taste in music, however, I shall have to charitably call “fashionable” and leave it at that.
Mrs. A. is American! And not, as one would expect, a barely-clothed savage – except insomuch as fashion dictates. Last night she wore a pink dotted silk that seemed to adhere to her bosom by magic alone. The neckline was a heavy breath away from non-existent, and the sleeves quite short, decorated with rosettes of satin. Complexity and volume are assiduously avoided. (I hope Mrs. A is as prescient about coming fashions as she claims to be, the affect was striking and looked comfortable to wear.) Her hem had a thin satin border worked most cunningly in a pattern she called Egyptian. (Mr. A had words to day about its authenticity.) I would have thought it too frivolous a style for a quite married woman, but she carries it exquisitely. Her hair is as golden and her eyes as blue as ever M. Radcliffe would want in a tragic heroine.
I was wearing your grey muslin, the one we cut down, which I confess to feel is my least horrid dress presently, particularly with the new percale ribbon we added. Mrs. A allowed that it was a fine dress, but not the equal of my features. Can you imagine? I cannot decide whether to be quite cross with her or pleased with the compliment. She felt a green trim would have been more fetching than the peach we purchased. She says that colors are not so dull on the continent. Apparently, they have recently been there and enjoyed their stay immensely. They did not appear to be the least afraid of Napoleon, which is praiseworthy, and spoke eagerly of returning after their sojourn in Bath. I can only presume that Mr. A has some high commission with the Army. He has traveled extensively, talking of the Americas and East India with equal aplomb and relish. Most people when discussing the vistas and balls of their travels are painfully dull, but Mr. A made these far-flung, wild locations sound enticing, and spoke with delightful disdain of persons he has met, some of them quite famous. We shall find ourselves once again very happy in disapproval. I was quite glad to hear that M. Lanval is as odious as I had hoped.
Mrs. A has urged me to address her as Darla, and to dress more becomingly. I think she has fastened upon me as a matrimonial project, though you should hear her words about marriage. She owns that to marry is better than not to marry, “But not so much better that I would be bothered ordering a cake.” And this right in front of Mr. A., who laughed brightly and said he would never bother attaching himself to a woman stupid enough to want to be a wife. I must say M. Lefroy was not pleased with this exchange, and said so at great length. She owns they were attempting to be shocking, in the most unbecoming way. Though they are clearly quite wealthy, Madame suspects they both began their lives in Trade. I did not say, but rather thought that money gotten in trade is just as handy as that received in rents when one wants a new gown.
Either way, Mr. and Mrs. A have invited me to ride with them into the country this evening. We must leave at dusk for they have always some engagement during the day. I feared my mother’s poor opinion, informed by M. Lefroy, would cause her to disapprove. However, she has given her blessing. (She suspects Mrs. A’s matrimonial plans and approves heartily. I daresay the woman could be the ruined daughter of laborers, wealth and matrimonial prospects for an aged bloom such as myself raise her in esteem.) Mrs. A says that she is a great collector of marriageable young men, who mistake her married state as safety. I would not be surprised if she receives an hundred offers of marriage a day, even with her imposing husband upon her arm. And so, dear Cassandra, I hope before your next letter arrives to be happily affianced to a Count, or at the least have more scandalous stories to tell of the witty Mr. and Mrs. Angelus. Really, with such engaging companions, I can foresee nothing but a most pleasant country sojourn.
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