Now for some comic relief. Who’s for a Gothic historical romance, full of anachronisms (which the re-cycled characters know too well).
Scene: A castle in the wilds of Yorkshire, UK, on the moors. Date – Regency
[ A darkly handsome and brooding man appears at the bolt studded door holding a modern electric torch. Although it is October and there is a force eight gale blowing, he wears breeches but no shirt.]
Dastardly Duke: Damn me! Where is the chit? She’s late.
[A footman appears. He, too, is dark and handsome. On seeing him, the Duke starts.]
Dastardly Duke: Devil take me, not you!
Footman: It ain’t my fault. I’ve been demoted from being hero, see, for refusing to chase after the heroine after I packed her off, so there wasn’t a Happy Ever After. The punishment was to be a wretched servant. So you’ve been promoted from Dashing Villain to hero? Well, in this story, there ain’t much difference. It’s not fair. I’m better looking than you, too.
Dastardly Duke: I can soon remedy that, you whoreson. I always hated your damned smug face and uneering aim with your flintlocks when you were the Earl of Darlington. [Makes to seize him, but a sudden flash and jolt makes him drop the torch; the bulb goes out. He lets out a terrible oath] Ouch!
Footman: [Addressing the sky) Is that the best he can do for foul
language? That’s the punishment for an anachronism in Historical Romances, Your Grace. New rules.
Footman: We’re out of tallow candles.
Dastardly Duke: Then you’ll have to go down in the dark, and if you happen to slip in the dark and break your low born neck, what care I!
Footman: Come to think of it, I don’t care either. The sooner I get to the end of this one, the better. Maybe by the next story, I’ll be allowed to be the Heroine’s Hopeless Admirer or her rakish brother instead of a mere commoner…[Goes off]
Dastardly Duke: Do I hear horses hooves? Yes, it’s the Heroine
arriving at last. Hmm. I wonder who they’ve sent me? To tell the truth, ha, ha!
I’d like a voluptuous doormat by way of a change from these sharp tongued hoydenish redheads who’re the fashion these days. I haven’t had a Doormat Heroine in years, and that sort was such fun for a sadist like me. [Looks about almost nervously] Well, the term hasn’t been invented when this story’s set, even if old de Sade had been at it, but I’m talking off camera, or microphone, as it were…And yes, I know they hadn’t been invented either.
[The Ducal carriage appears, accompanied by a roll of distant thunder. The Duke moves, with lithe, almost feline grace down the steps to hand down the heroine when the footman opens the door.]
Spirited Heroine: Hello, there! Sorry, anachronism. Good morrow, Your Grace. I fear you must have interrupted your toilette, to be gracious enough to greet me, for you wear no shirt.Unless you’ve lost it from your back through desperate gambling.
Dastardly Duke: [ Sourly] No. I’m never gracious. That was just for the cover. Do you think I enjoy standing about half naked in this cursed climate? [Lets out another terrible oath as he takes a closer look at her.] Don’t say it is that awful six foot redhead with the smart repartee? Hell and damnation, it is.
Spirited Heroine: Well, I can’t say I’m exactly ecstatic to see you, either. No matter; we’ll be falling in love before we are halfway through the book [here they are interrupted by one of the horses speaking before they are taken on to the stables].
Horse: Can’t I have a foaming jug of ale?
Spirited Heroine Lud!
Dastardly Duke; &*^&&^(!!!!!!
Coachman: He’s been doing that all the way from the coaching
house, Your Grace. It seems he was one of those
abusive heroes with the –ahem – I don’t like to say
in front of the young lady – ‘bruising kisses’ and
worse, back in the 1970’s, and so he’s been paying
his debt to the Romance Society ever since they went
out of fashion.
Spirited Heroine: Is that so? [Rushes forward} The swine! Give me that whip!
Dastardly Duke: [Catches her arm] No, Miss Er, I can’t allow you to flog a dumb animal.
Horse: We Alphas must stick together. Anyway, who’s a dumb animal? [Neighs piteously at a sudden flash and jolt] Ow! That hurt! That’s so unkind. Abusers need love, too…[The coachman cracks his whip and sets them off towards the stables].
Dastardly Duke: Well, shall we get on with it? So, you are the new governess. I hope you won’t find it too lonely in this isolated spot, with only a grim widower for company, and a few retainers.
Spirited Heroine: [Helping him on with his shirt] Not at all, Your Grace. I like the country. Besides, the handsome renumeration you offer, merely for the coaching of two small daughters …
[More distant thunder]
More Next Week…