Thursday, January 4, 2018

Sneak Peak at a Deleted Scene

Many things about Courtly Pleasures changed throughout the writing process. The first version started out with a heavy focus on Frances's battle with depression and was written with all dialogue in Elizabethan (BBC style) dialect. I probably cut twenty or so pages of dress description. There was a maidservant named Bessie who's speech was so indecipherable that Frances, Mary, and Jane would just nod and pretend they knew what was being said. There have been a lot of changes, all for the better.

One such change was the removal of Blanche Parry's point of view. I consider her the fairy godmother of Frances's story. Blanche was a real historical character and I did my best to portray her with respect to the accounts of the type of woman she was. Her effigy at Westminster is featured to the left.

I cut this scene from the start of chapter fifteen, the morning after the masque on the river. If you haven't read Courtly Pleasures yet, do not read any more here unless you don't hate spoilers with the fury of a thousand suns like I do.

If you are interested in reading Courtly Pleasures, there is an Amazon link in the right side bar.

Cheers.

Click the "Read more" link below to read the deleted scene from Courtly Pleasures.




Sunlight poured over the tiled rooftops surrounding the Queen’s privy garden as Blanche Parry plucked a sprig of rosemary and crushed it between her gloved fingers. The tangy scent woke her senses just in time for her to hear the light footfall behind her.
“Is Frances truly dallying with Kit Hatton?” The Countess of Spencer didn’t bother with a formal greeting.
Blanche gave a courtly reverence anyway, her skirts brushing the still damp cobbles of the privy garden. “Bess, if you had told me you would be joining us at court, I would have left Frances’s care to you.”
“Oh pish,” Bess shook her head at the comment and took Blanche’s arm, leading them between two hedgerows of juniper. “You love it. And she would not be as honest with me or allow herself to be guided. Besides, you are part of the court and know everything.”
“True.” Blanche felt herself being manipulated, but did not mind. The power was in knowing the motivation and goal of the manipulator. Bess’s goal, as always, was furthering her family’s consequence. Certainly she loved her daughter, but affection came second to ambition.
“I did not raise Frances to be a trollop.”
“No, you raised her to make the family proud in all things.”
“I raised her to be a lady.”
“And at fourteen, was she a lady ready to wed?”
Bess waived away the less than subtle criticism. “I wed my first husband at fourteen.”
“And was that a happy marriage?”
“He died too soon for either of us to know.” Her voice held no hint of emotion, but then it wouldn’t. Bess’s first marriage had been arranged, much like Frances’s. It was her second marriage that held any part of her heart. Now on her fourth husband, Blanche wondered if Bess had anything left of herself to give. “Henry and Frances have three living children and run a thriving estate in Nottinghamshire. In all ways that count, it has been a successful union. There is no reason for her to be ill-content with her lot.” She sat down. “It might be better if she was to have another boy child,” the spare to the heir, “but I would not press her on this, especially after her losses.”
Bess released Blanche’s arm and spread her heavy damask skirts before perching lightly on the edge of the fountain.
Blanche murmured, “How benevolent of you.”
Bess raised a brow, her lips pursed. “Blanche, if you have something to say, I prithee, say it.”
Blanche sat beside her, putting them again on equal levels. She may not be a countess, but she had the ear of Queen Elizabeth and that counted for everything.
“Frances and Henry are trapped in the marriage between children. They may be more mature in years, but in the way they relate to each other it is as if they are still fourteen and frightened.”
“You must be mad, Blanche. Frances is every bit the lady. The Queen Herself has written to me about her wit and sway with the court.”
“She has certainly spread her wings since she arrived. It was a challenge that, I think, she needed. For goodness sake, she’s been living in a bubble out in the country, the same day in and day out for over ten years now, the monotony only broken by tragedy.” Blanche raised her gloved hands to her cheeks, pressing against the tension in her jaw. She'd had no idea she felt so strongly about this. Drawing a deep breath, she smoothed her forehead and straightened her already perfectly positioned French hood, and continued. “Court woke her up. It gave her a chance to become her best self. Whether or not she and Henry reconcile, whether or not she decides to return to the life the world proscribed for her, she will have found herself. Found purpose. She is no longer the fourteen-year-old bride determined to make her mother proud.”
“So then you are saying that she is dallying with Hatton.”
Fie, the Queen would have Blanche’s head if she were to condone such a thing. But irking Bess was almost worth it. “And if she was? What then?”
Bess stared at her for a millisecond before donning the pleasant, ladylike expression Blanche had seen so many times on Frances.
“You toy with me, Blanche.” Bess chuckled under her breath. “I know you wouldn’t let Frances put a slippered toe into the muck any more than I would. You want me to regret or feel badly over something, but I cannot see what. My decisions in regard to Frances and Henry have always been proper.”
“Proper, yes. But has she been happy?” Blanche asked.
Bess answered without batting a lash. “Happiness is a luxury not even the Queen can afford.”
No truer statement had ever been uttered.
“So we make the best of what we have and Frances,” Bess finished, “has Henry.”
Blanche nodded. “Yes, she does. He has indeed risen to the occasion,” Bess tittered at Blanche’s unintended innuendo. “She has a chance to see the man he has become instead of the boy she knew. What she does with that is up to her. She has changed so much in her time here, grown in confidence. She may not need his affection to validate her the way she might have before.”
“I have heard that there is something afoot here at court. Another plot.”
“There is always a plot.”
“But this time Frances might be at risk.” Bess stated matter of fact. “There is nothing quite like the urge to protect what is yours to spur a man’s passion. Henry, as you say, has risen to the occasion.” She cocked a brow. “Mayhap the threat to his wife was the fire under his arse that he sorely needed.”
Blanche paled and shifted on her hip to face Bess fully. “Pray tell me that you had naught to do with the violence here at court. The dead rat and the rosary, the attack on young Mistress Radclyffe...” she swallowed against the bile rising in the throat. “Please Bess, tell me you did not orchestrate it.”
Bess blinked, having the good grace to look shocked. “No, of course it was not I. But you must admit that is an excellent conceit. To create a situation in which Henry and Frances must cleave to each other. I wish I had thought of it, but I would never have caused harm to anyone. Poor Mistress Radclyffe has been through enough already. I would not wish that upon her.”
Either Bess was lying or there still remained a threat against Frances at court. Neither option was good.
“So,” Bess stood and shook out her skirts, the deep amber embroidery framing the damask print catching the morning sun, “Frances is not dallying with Hatton. Or anyone else, aye?”
Blanche nodded, no longer having the energy to toy with the countess. “No, the man she has dallied with is merely Henry. He is masked, a mystery lover. Mistress Mary says it is like Frances is playing pretend, that she is finally being wooed and having romance, pretending it’s not the husband she is not ready to accept.”
“Goodness. That sounds even madder than your statement about Frances being stuck at age fourteen.”
Blanche remained seated on the edge of the fountain as Bess strode away. She’d gotten the information she came for, much good may it do her. Ultimately everything was looking like Frances and Henry would heal the rift between them and learn about each other as partners instead of an obligation. Still, Bess’s callous disregard for her daughter’s happiness rankled. How could a mother put status above contentment? Then again, Blanche had never been a mother. Not by the conventional definition, anyway.
Two crimson clad guardsmen entered the garden and stood at attention beside the gate posts as Queen Elizabeth and a select group of courtiers entered. Blanche looked upon the Queen, taking in the ostentatious style and the strong set to Her shoulders, but still saw the sweet toddler holding on to her thumb as they looked in the bushes for fairies. Queen Elizabeth would never be able to be truly happy.
But Frances just might.



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