I like the idea of a sport that stops for tea, and while I’m by no means a cricket fan in the proper meaning of the word, I have sat on a lawn in the sunshine and watched chaps clad in white battle it out between the wickets. If nothing else, it makes for a peaceful, relaxing afternoon… as long as nobody in your vicinity starts to argue over the umpire’s decisions.
When I came up with the idea for Frank and Frances’s stories, I didn’t need to hunt around for the beginning. I was looking at Edwardian promenade dresses and walking suits, and this scene was right there in my mind.
So imagine a balmy day in England in early summer. Lilac and lindenblossom scent the air, the first roses add colour and the air has that silky quality that I don’t remember from anywhere else.
Then picture yourself going back in time to 1912, remove much of the noise we’re so accustomed to and replace it with nothing but gentle applause and the thwack when ball and bat connect, add a tea table groaning under the most delicious cakes and pastries… and you’re all set for today’s WiP Wednesday Snippet!
From Under False Pretences
Mallory soaked up the sun in front of the pavilion, enjoying a well-earned cup of tea. He was not as immaculately turned out as was his wont, but the cricket match had ended on an exciting finale and both grass stains and streaks of red clay marred his formerly pristine whites. On any other day he’d not have cared about that, nor about his hair flopping this way and that without a comb immediately to hand to tame the unruly curls, but on any other day Captain Dunhenning wouldn’t have arrived escorting the most stunning woman Frank Mallory had ever seen.
Dark hair curled becomingly under the brim of her wide hat and a distinct twinkle lit the depths of her violet-blue eyes. She stood maybe a head shorter than he did, and in her pale linen and lace walking suit she looked cool and serene, like a slim column in front of the verdant green of the hedge.
“Miss Richardson, may I present Mr. Mallory?”
“Mallory, Miss Richardson. I think you attended some of her father’s lectures.”
Her gloved hand lay cool in his, and he was aware that he wasn’t suitably attired for a proper introduction. Instead of kissing her hand, he merely shook it before letting go. “Professor Richardson? Yes, I heard his lectures on cryptography.”
“Did they make sense to you?” Her voice was a pleasant alto, and her eyes sparkled as she spoke. “I do well enough with the substitution ciphers, but I lose the will to live when he starts in on probabilities.”
Mallory gaped and, quite aware that he wouldn’t do himself any favours looking like a landed trout, he turned quickly and headed for the pavilion, where the tea was laid out.
He couldn’t quite believe that he had just been introduced to a lady who understood cryptography, and who didn’t mind admitting as much in conversation.