Friday, October 24, 2014

The Real Prime Minister of Britain in 1894

When writing historical fiction, there is a cautious line between fiction and fact. There are some historical people that cannot be ignored in my stories, yet even as I attempt to portray details of their lives accurately in my characters, at some point my assumptions of their personality takes over and they are characters of my imagination and are no longer the real person.  

Queen Victoria is certainly an example, and the First Minister, the Earl of Roseberry is another.

In my series, I take certain facts about the person, then create my own character, which is not the real person, but only a character inspired by certain details that intrigued me.

Today, I would like to share the real facts that led to the creation of my character playing the part of First (Prime) Minister of Britain in 1894.

True Facts of The Earl of Roseberry

Archie was a goal oriented Scotsman. Early in life he set upon 3 goals:
1) To marry an heiress
2) To win the Derby
3) To become Prime Minister

He achieved all three.
1) He married not just an heiress, but the richest heiress in Britain: Hannah, the only child of the Jewish banker, Baron Mayor de Rothschild. 
He described her to a friend as: "Very simple, very unspoilt, very clever, very warm hearted and very shy."  Clearly, he was in love...with the word 'very'. And in case you are wondering, they had a Christian wedding.

He was also hounded by the obnoxious John Douglas, the Marquess of Queensbury, who accused Archie of having a bi-sexual affair with his male secretary, Francis Douglas  (who had the misfortune to be one of John's sons). I'll discuss this Jerk in a later post. Right now, let's return to Archibald, the Earl of Roseberry.

Archie's second goal was to win the Derby.
Through his marriage to Hannah, he acquired some very fine race horses. With her money, he extended his stables. While he had winning horses in many prestigious races, he won the Epsom Derby three times: In 1894 he won with Ladas, 1895 with Sir Visto, and then after a ten year drought, 1905 with Cicero

His final goal was also achieved along side his first two Derby wins. In 1894, he became First Minister (Also known as Prime Minister) and held the title for a bit in 1895 as well. 

Can you imagine succeeding at such impressive goals? Thus, I made my  First Minister intolerably arrogant. But honestly, how could he not feel pride and arrogance? He had set high goals and achieved them beyond belief.

In real life, Archie's time as the First Minister was considered a failure and he quickly grew disenchanted with his position. He and his cabinet resigned in June 1895 and allowed the other party to take over. 

In the next book of my series, Archie resigns a bit earlier, and a fabricated minister not resembling any real prime minister takes over. This is necessary because the new minister is very bad and does shocking things that I hope no real minister has ever done. However given England's lack of protection of young girls, it is not beyond the credibility of belief that such a thing could happen. So in book 4 it does, but in real life there is no evidence that it ever happened. But it is an interesting tale of the difficulties when a man of power loses his mind and does horrible things.

But in book 3, I do incorporate many of the real Earl of Roseberry's astounding achievements into the story. However, my character remains a character and should be read thus.

And now I give you a scene in which Xavier & Archie have breakfast with the Queen:

Queen Victoria first acknowledged the First Minister, but only smiled when her focus turned to Xavier. “Finally, I am to meet Sherlock Holmes.”

Xavier’s jaw locked, preventing him from correcting the woman. Damn Doyle and his fictional character!

“Xavier Thorn,” the earl said.

The Queen ignored her First Minister and remained focused on Xavier. “I am pleased you have indulged me with this early morning breakfast. I wished to give you a more formal reception, but I was told it was inadvisable, although why, I cannot imagine.”

The earl’s owlish eyes fluttered in agitation, but he made no other response.

The Queen took her seat at the head of the table, nearest the fireplace and invited the men to select their breakfasts. One of the many servants brought her a plate.

Once they joined her, the earl to her right, Xavier to her left, she spoke. “While the earl insists I cannot recognize you publicly, I did want to commend you privately on saving all those young people from a life of horror and shame.”

For a moment, Xavier had no idea what she was talking about, but then he realized her error. “I fear you have called the wrong person to court then, ma’am. It is my partner, Victor Hamilton, who deserves the credit for rescuing the hundred servants. I was at death’s door at the time, requiring rescue myself. And due to Your Majesty’s willingness to send troops in to search for the lost servants, Victor gained clues needed to discover my whereabouts before I died from an infected bullet wound.” He then smiled. “So I should thank you for helping Victor save my life.”

The Queen’s eyes rounded at his words. “Well, that is most delightful.” She then glared at the earl. “Why did you not tell me I saved Sherlock Holmes?”

The earl ceased to eat and met her glare. “I was unaware of the connection.”

With a huff of dissatisfaction, she returned to Xavier. “Tell me exactly how I assisted in saving you?”

Xavier ran through the clues left in Dragons Cloud and how Vic had used them to find him in a tenement building nearby.

The Queen then repeated the story to the earl as a statement of fact, leaving no doubt he should have known it before.

Xavier had seen Archie burst into a temper for much less, but he held his tongue admirably. 
When she finished her lecture, Archie turned to Xavier and held up his glass of water in a toast. “You’ve trained the fellow most impressively.”

“He’s been exceptionally easy to train. He comes to the trade with natural ability.”

“Tell me about this young man,” the Queen demanded.

“He’s twenty-three years old, educated at Oxford—”
The Queen glanced at the earl. “Oh, that’s much better than Eaton.”

Xavier suspected she meant that as a jab, but Archie had attended both Eaton and Oxford.

“What is his name?” she asked. “Perhaps I know his parents.”

“Victor Hamilton. His parents died in a shipwreck as they traveled from their home in America to England. Madeline Hamilton took in the two children.”

The Queen frowned. “Hamilton…where have I heard that name?”

Archie stabbed a sausage with excessive energy. “She was a leader in the New Woman movement, demanding changes in estates laws and the right for women to vote.”

The Queen pressed her hand to her heart. “Oh dear!” She then looked at Xavier. “But the boy turned out all right, did he not?”

How shocked the Queen would be if she knew the truth. “He’s a very fine young man who has dedicated his life to helping others.”

If you haven't begun this fabulous series, now is a great time to begin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liza investigates Cherry Jubilee

In book 3, The Mesmerist, Xavier & Vic fall into a 'battle of the spoons' over a single bowl of Cherry Jubilee which results in their poor driver thinking they'd both been shot.

Cherry Jubilee was a dessert created by Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria for one of her Jubilee Events. She had so many events that there is confusion as to which one it was created for. 

The main ingredients is cherry and the liqueur Kirchwasser, which is flambeed. The original is said NOT to have been served over vanilla ice cream. That concept came a bit later but before Vic and Xavier fought to death for the last spoonful in 1894.

Try Rachel Ray's 5 star recipe for creating this masterpiece in 15 minutes.

It sounds much like the original, only you don't have to pit the cherries. Instead you can use a jar of bing, pre-pitted cherries. 

Here's the excerpt from The Mesmerist where Xavier & Vic fight over the dessert.

Once they were both in the carriage, and Davy had his instructions, Vic and Xavier sat side by side, as their spoons battled to death for Mrs. Yarrows’ excruciatingly delicious Cherry Jubilee.
When they arrived at Adelaide’s Lace, neither wished to leave the carriage to retrieve the flyer.
“You go,” Vic offered. “I’ll refrain eating while you are gone.”
“Not likely,” Xavier snorted and leaned out the window. “Davy, grab the flyer off that post.”
“Why can’t you get it?” Davy demanded.
Vic chuckled with delight. Finally, Xavier would experience what she had to put up with all the time from their cantankerous driver. She took advantage of Xavier’s momentary shock and outrage at Davy’s impertinence and spooned a heaping spoonful of cherries and ice cream mostly in her mouth.
“That is not your concern!” Xavier snapped as he discovered half the dessert now missing. “Damnation!”
The carriage wiggled as Davy climbed down and ripped off the flyer. When a second later, he opened the door of the carriage, horror replaced his petulance. “God Above! I’ll get you help at once. Why didn’t you let me know?”
Before Vic or Xavier could make sense of their driver, they were sailing full speed down the pitch-black streets. Xavier ordered him to stop, but he evidently couldn’t hear or had stopped taking orders all together.
Vic pressed her feet against the other seat to prevent from flying forward and her hands gripped the side to prevent flying about. “Maybe we should retire Davy.”
Already in a foul mood at having lost the battle of Cherries Jubilee topped with insubordination, his temper blew. “Davy will not be retired until he wishes it.” His hand flew out and gripped the side as the carriage flew about a corner. “I blame this entirely on you. He never gave me the least bit of trouble until you came and taught him your bad habits.”
“Then I’ll hire a second driver whom we can use when we actually wish to go where we request. Were the bloody hell is he taking us?” She was thankful she’d eaten the last of the dessert, since the bowl flew off her lap and onto the floorboards. Vic wiped her mouth with her sleeve and stared out the window. “We’ll be passing Scotland Yard soon. Shall I jump out and see how the warehouse watching goes?”
“Not at this speed. You’ll just have to gloat from afar.” As they passed beneath a streetlight, Vic noticed bright red cherry juice splattered her sleeve. She was glad she had several new shirts on order. This one would never be white again. As they passed beneath another streetlamp, she saw her chest looked as if she’d taken a gunshot at close range. Glancing at Xavier, she burst into laughter. “I know where we are going.”
“To Dr. Connors.”
As Xavier focused in on her as a passing light shown with the carriage, he understood Davy’s misconception. “For the love of God.” He leaned out the window. “Davy, we are not injured. Leave Dr. Connors alone and take us home.”

If you haven't begun this fabulous series, now is a great time to begin.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bobbi Romans kidnaps my site.

Happy October Everyone!
I’m Bobbi Romans and the sometimes crazy always whimiscal Liza O’Connor is letting me kidnap her blog!
Its been NUTTY but I’ve several releases to mention.
Dead Man Rising

The Society had come to hurt her. Planted a bomb
They failed.
He’d saved her and died doing so. Or so they thought.
He’d been buried and mourned over.
None knew ...  he’d only been playing possum.
*Available in BOTH Ebook & Print*

Buy Link:

*Come explore the creatures of the swamp...and discover a NEW breed of hero!*

Also, recently released and just in time for the upcoming holidays....

An American Holiday

Ahh, Thanksgiving… complete with ghosts of holidays past. Those being humiliating memories of last year's revelry gone wild: jail cells, a tattoo and rose left on Kristi James pillow by someone she can't remember.
Toss in two brothers who, while loving, had needled her with vivid imagery on what might have happened during that fateful rendezvous at the local HoJo's. Seriously, what's a girl to do? She'd run like hell from Harpers Ferry back to her apartment and job in Alexandria.

She's praying this year's holiday ends a bit more traditional. But between exploding turkey's, cranberry fights, and the winter storm threatening to lock them all together for God only knew how long, she's fairly certain her Norman Rockwell hopes have flown the coop.

Adding another layer to this casserole of disaster, the high school boyfriend—who'd cheated on her two days before prom—returns, claiming to have made a horrid mistake all those years prior.
Amid all this, what has her heart flip-flopping is catching her best friend Simon getting cozy with his latest girlfriend.

Thing is, she isn't sure why its bothering her so badly.

Sometimes it takes coming home again... to discover how lost we’ve really been.

Buy Link:
*Also available in BOTH Ebook & Print*

            A Halloween Short--OUT TODAY!
                     Fangs  for Everything


Sabrina Miller normally loves fall, the upcoming holidays and especially the big annual Halloween bash. This year she feels itchy for something more, something different. Magical even. Might just be she’s hornier than a hound dog in heat during the longest dry spell she’s ever had. Though she has high hopes for the party, she fears the night might turn out to be no more than a dirty trick.

In a town where everyone either dresses as cheerleaders, football players or vampires, she spots him.

Van Helsing!

Van only intended on popping in to the party for a quick bite. But among the many sexily, scantily clad cheerleaders one woman stood out.

The Bride of Dracula, no less.

When the woman and her friends are attacked, Van knows he’s the only one with enough knowledge about the attacker to save them.

But saving his heart from the young woman fate lured him to will be another battle.

Sometimes in order to win the battle, one must lose the war.

Exclusively Available,
                  * Trick or Treat *
One winner to receive choice (ebook) from any of the 3 above stories.
Just tell me... what scares you most? Zombies? Spiders? Snakes? What makes you scream?

                      ~ Happy Upcoming Holiday Season ~
Bobbi Romans


Monday, October 13, 2014

Liza investigates The British Railway System

Today, I'm discussing the creation of the oldest and possibly the best railway system ever built.
Britain's Railway system.

And how did it get to become the first and best?
Did great minds come together in parliament and make it so?
Did the Queen foresee a future where trains would carry not just iron, but people?

Did someone realize the preference for people to segregate into groups of their own status and commute to their jobs instead of living close to their jobs?

Not at all.

It's foundation was foolishness, greed, & fraud, followed by opportunist and survivors.

After a false start in 1835, the English railway system began it's life in 1843, after England ended it's outrageous Opium War with China, causing the banks to raise their interest rates, which resulted in people putting their money in the banks rather than the economy.

Once they finally killed a great deal of Chinese and stole their ports, they signed a treaty and stopped the war, thus the interest rates lowered, and people sought somewhere else to put their money.

The word on the street was you couldn't go wrong investing in Railways.  

At first, it was an incredibly successful investment. And you know what success breeds, right? That's right: A flock of sheep to be sheared.

For only 10% down, you could buy a share of stock (the remaining amount callable at anytime by company) In modern terms, this is called buying on margin. 

Sadly, two things happened: 

1) The burgeoning middle class would not just invest in railways, but they would buy more shares than they could have ever bought outright, since they paid only 10% of the cost. They were assured the stock value would continue to soar to infinity and thus the other 90% would never be an issue.

2) Making a profit on 'margin' is hard enough, but impossible when Scam artists proliferate the market, which was the case. Mostly, because the Parliament made it easy.  While Parliament had to approve each request to build a railway, they did not bother to verify if the person requesting the permit had a viable business plan, sufficient capital, nor knowledge or experience necessary to build the requested railway. 

The only time a project got rejected was when a) no parliament members where invested in it AND the project was clearly a scam since it was impossible to build a railway in the location they wanted.

With such a low bar to jump, in two years, over 8,000 miles of railway were authorized by the Parliament. 

Chart Source: Andrew Odlyzko
Thus, a great deal of stocks were sold at 10% down and never a link of rail was laid for 20% of the companies. When they grew short of funds to pay dividends, they just called in some of the bonds and demanded payment in full.

It was the middle-class who bore most of the pain of these swindels. They would have no recourse, especially since one of the early 'investors' in the scam would probably be a parliament member who paid little to get in and made a fortune with the inflated stock prices.

Amazingly, 6,220 miles of railway were actually built, which means some companies were truly serious about creating a business and not just about scamming people or they were scamming people but built the railroads to provide credibility and increase the price of their stock.

Whichever the case, the rails were created.

In 1845 the banks once again raised their interest rate, and finally, in,1846, Reality burst the Railway bubble and stock prices plummeted overnight. The least savvy investors, the middle class, were also the least likely to get out before they lost everything. The companies would demand the remaining payments at once, and many a middle-class man went destitute in paying it. What had just been a small amount compared to the price value of his stock, was now an astronomical debt and a complete loss of savings.

Chart Source: Andrew Odlyzko
For the railways, the result was a massive consolidation in which the larger, stronger, real companies would offer to buy investors shares for pennies on the dollar. But pennies were better than nothing at all, so they sold, and these surviving companies acquired railways for far less than it would cost them to build their own. However, they did have to mesh all these railways together and that meant Parliament approved a great  many new track requests in the years following the fallout to the surviving railway companies. 

The consolidations continued until there were only four strong companies.

So who actually built England's fabulous railway system?

The British People who were conned into believing railways were a risk free investment and invested.

The incompetent Parliament who made no effort to protect the investors from scams and fraud and approved almost anything that was requested.

Or the savvy Railway operators who had sufficient funds on hand or loyal wealthy investors who provided the cash flow to buy out the majority of competitors who did not have the means to survive the bubble burst.

I believe the answer is a little of all three. Had the Parliament been more diligent in their approvals, the industry might have grown slower, with fewer peopled fleeced of their savings, but I believe the bubble would have formed in either case. It is very hard not to invest in something with such potential, that continues to soar in market value.

Once you have success in creating easy wealth, you don't want it to end. Instead of selling out and saying "I am lucky to have earned far more than I thought possible", you are more likely to say, "if I buy more stock, I can earn enough to own a house in a better section of town".

And you think of those who got in before you and had now accumulated such wealth. You wish to follow their footsteps. So you do...right off the cliff.

So in my opinion, the British Railways was built, despite Parliament incompetency on the backs of naive investors of the middle and upper classes.  I expect most savvy investors got out in 1845 when the banks raised the interest rates. If you look at the price chart, there's a small dip in the price then, which means for a brief moment, there were more sellers than buyers. But soon after, anxious buyers desperate to get into the game sent the price rocketing.

I would be very surprised if ANY parliment members still owned stock at this time. If they did, they were incredibly stupid, because they had to know the shaky grounds of these companies.

And thus concludes my discourse of how the British railway came to be.

By the time Vic and Xavier are solving crimes in England, the railway system carries nearly a million people/year. I believe it and the automobile are the reasons why London segregated so that people lived among other people of their own status, rather than homogeneous groups. 

Finally, the poor could move to lower cost areas and commute to work by trains in the 3rd class coach for only a penny. 
This is the only image I could find for 3rd class. It appears the railway companies didn't wish to take pictures of their lesser sections. 

The rich could move to wealthy areas with better lighting and policing, where the people they met on the street were their own kind, while traveling locally via horse carriage, electric carriage, or the automobile. And when traveling afar  they could enjoy their elegant first class sleeping car and meet others of their class in the parlor car and have finely cooked meals in the dining car.

Liza O'Connor is the author the oft humorous, romantic, delightful, Late Victorian sleuth series, The Adventures of Xavier & Vic.
Xavier is the finest sleuth in all of England and
Vic is a young woman who dresses as a man so she can do interesting things, like assist Xavier in solving crimes.
The Troublesome Apprentice

The Missing Partner

Friday, October 10, 2014

Liza O'Connor reviews Taming the Ringmaster by Aleah Barley

Today, I'm reviewing Aleah Barley's Tempting the Ringmaster.

Peep Rep: Are there angry, pugilistic clowns?

Liza: In fact, there are.

Peep Rep: And a vicious white poodle with a grip like a pitbull?

Liza: yes.... how would you know this?

Peep Rep: I may have read it after you stopped.

Liza: I stopped because the book was done. Enough with your silliness. Let's share the cover and blurb:

Tempting the Ringmaster ~ Blurb

Welcome to Buck Falls, Michigan, where the gossip is fresh, the people are feisty, and the circus has pulled in for a limited engagement. 

The last thing police chief Graham Tyler needs is a ragtag bunch of circus freaks rolling into town. 

Then he meets sassy, spirited, ringmaster Belle-Anne Black. 

Belle-Anne's got a rule against dating townies, and she's not about to break it... even for the spicy hot lawman who makes her insides sizzle. Then Graham makes her an offer she can't refuse: one night only, no repeat performances. 

Of course, in the circus nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

Liza’s Review
Aleah Barley has written a delightful romance between a circus boss and a gilly. (that’s a non-circus person).
Only the young woman is the circus boss and a handsome small town chief of police is the gilly.

When a circus act shows up in a small Michigan town Police chief Graham is pressured by his father the mayor to scare them off. While Graham has no intention of scaring off the circus, he does stop by…
And gets the crap beat out of him by a bunch of clowns.

By the time circus owner Bella intervenes, Graham is barely conscious. She takes him to her trailer and when he wakes, the sparks start to fly. But still, they are from different worlds. How is this ever going to work?

Aleah Barley brings in the most delightful characters: Angry clowns, terrifying poodles, an abandoned elephant that can dance. Seriously. I’m not making this up.

Also someone is trying to destroy the circus,

I couldn’t stop reading. It was delightful, crazy and romantic throughout.

I give Taming the Ringmaster 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Liza interviews The Doppelganger's Dance by Libi Astaire

Today, I'm most excited to be interviewing a mystery book in the Regency Era

The Doppleganger's Dance by Libi Astaire

Peep Rep: Hold on. You can't interview your own book!

Liza: I'm not! This is not my book. I've got the Victorian era.

Peep Rep: But the book refers to Sherlock Holmes. How do I know for sure this is not your book and you're just dragging your favorite author (Jane Austen) up a half century?

Liza: Look at the cover. Would I ever create something so tasteful and yet inviting?

Peep Rep: Good point. I'll send for the book.
Ah. Here it comes now.

Liza: Welcome The Doppelganger's Dance, may I call you Dop?

Book: What? Good heavens, NO! That sounds like a shortened version of the word 'DollyMop' and I, sir, am no lady of the street!

Liza: I think you need glasses, because I'm not a sir.

Book: I spoke to the fellow behind you laughing himself into a convulsion.

Liza: Oh, that's Peep Rep. You can ignore him entirely. He's just here to annoy me. I do understand your objection to Dop. How about Dance? And before you ask for your full title, I'm a terrible speller so we need to keep names short.

Dance: Call me Dance then.

Excellent. Let's move on to the interview...

The Doppelganger’s Dance: 
A Cozy Regency Mystery
Liza: It is a lovely cover.

Dance: Thank you.

Liza: First things first. What is Sherlock Holmes doing in the Regency era? I'm not complaining, mind you. My character Xavier Thorn would love for the fellow to disappear in the past. Clients are constantly calling Mr. Holmes.

Dance: It's not THE Sherlock Holmes. In fact, the sleuth's name is Ezra Melamed and the lady who writes of his adventures is Miss Rebecca Lyon.

Liza: Yes, of course. It all makes sense now. So tell me about this book.

Dance: Well a crime wave has been sweeping through the early 19th century London's Jewish community.

Liza: Do they call on the services of Scotland Yard?

Dance: No. If they had paid a morning call to Scotland Yard, no one would have been at home since it hadn’t been created yet. In those days, you were pretty much on your own, so people in the community seek the help of wealthy-widower-turned-sleuth Ezra Melamed.

Liza: And where does the girl come in?

Dance: Miss Rebecca Lyon, a young lady not quite at the marriageable age, is an aspiring author who takes on the “job” of recording Melamed’s cases for posterity.  

Liza: Excellent. Is this book one?

Dance: No. This is book four.

Liza: Will you come back with your buddies books one, two and three? 

Dance: That depends. Will you let me tell you about The Doppleganger's Dance? 

Liza: Sorry. Please proceed.

Dance: David Salomon, a young violinist and composer, has left New York to find fame and fortune in Regency London.

Liza: Good. Does everything go well for him?

Dance: Unfortunately, no. Someone is stealing and publishing his compositions before he can perform them and soon he is the laughingstock of the beau monde that he had hoped to conquer. 

Liza: But how are they doing that?  Does he have any friends he can use to watch his rooms day and night?

Dance: He has few friends and even fewer resources.

Liza: Then what will he do?

Dance: He turns to Ezra Melamed for help with finding the thief.

Liza: Good! Because I want to find out who would wish to harm a young stranger. The boy just arrived. Who would have reason to destroy his name and reputation?

Dance: Excellent questions. The deeper Mr. Melamed looks into the violinist’s story the more jarring notes he finds.

Liza: What exactly does that mean?

Dance: It means The Doppelganger’s Dance will be one of the most discomposing mysteries of his career. 

Liza: Just so you know, when I interview a book, especially one that sounds this good, I want clear answers to my questions, not jarring notes and discomposing mysteries.  Now open your cover and allow me to read an excerpt.

Dance: My apologies, please be gentle with my binding.

REBECCA STARED UNHAPPILY at her reflection in the mirror. “I do wish we had known beforehand that there was going to be a concert. I would have brought my nicer hair ribbons with me.”
Harriet, who was already dressed, pinned down another curl on the side of her friend’s head. “I am surprised there was not more selection at the shop we visited this afternoon,” she said, by way of consolation.
“It was not the fault of the selection, Harriet. I do not wish to speak disrespectfully about my father, but I do not think a man, even the most generous of men, can ever properly understand that a young lady can never have too many hair ribbons.”
Rebecca sighed. Her father usually did not quibble over the price of a ribbon. But this afternoon, after he had learned that the ribbon was being bought specifically for the concert, he became unaccountably irritable and refused the purchase. She would therefore have to compensate for the loss with extra curls and she only hoped that she, who was from London, would not disgrace her city in front of the ladies of Leeds.
Fortunately, by the time they reached the concert hall Rebecca, who had never been to a public concert, was much too excited about the event to think about how she looked. Their party was seated with Mrs. Salomon, and so they had an excellent view of the stage, where the musical instruments had already been arranged. The evening promised to be a great financial success, since the hall was completely filled with ladies dressed in their finest gowns and jewels, accompanied by their husbands and sons, who were also smartly attired.
Rebecca thought to count the number of candles that illuminated the room—she had never seen so many before—but gave up when the musicians took their places. To her surprise, Mr. Salomon was not there. Since Mrs. Salomon did not appear to be perturbed by the absence of her son, Rebecca—who was a novice in the mysteries of the grand entrance—assumed that there was nothing seriously amiss.
The program began with the Clementi Sonatina, a piece that Rebecca was familiar with. Like most young ladies, she had been instructed in the art of the pianoforte; like many, if the real truth were to be told, she had given her instructors more grief than pleasure. It was not the fault of the young lady, of course, at least not in her opinion. In far too many compositions there were so many musical notes on a page that it was nearly impossible to keep track of them all; and during an especially difficult passage, composers did have a distressing tendency to change their minds about whether or not to flat the B or sharp the C.
Tonight, though, it was not she who must do battle with Mr. Clementi and his Sonatina. She was free to watch the pianoforte player, which she did with pleasure since she had never before seen ten human fingers fly about the keyboard at such an amazing speed.
During the brief interval between the second and final movement, she and Harriet whispered their thoughts about the playing so far, both agreeing that it was wonderfully quick and lively. Then the first notes of the Rondo were sounded. Rebecca turned with wonder at the slow rhythm of the opening notes. For a moment, she worried that the musician seated at the pianoforte had taken ill.
She was not alone. From the sound of the murmurings, it seemed that everyone in the audience feared that something had gone wrong. Mr. Grimm gave a quick glance in the direction of the ladies and gentlemen. Rebecca noticed that his lips began to curl into a sort of sardonic smile.
And then she heard it. A sweetly plaintive note, rising from somewhere in the darkness at the back of the stage—a sound that seemed to come from a place that was not in this world. One heavenly note followed after another, and then the player began to slowly emerge from the shadows.
It was Mr. Salomon—for who else could it be playing the violin?—and yet it was not he. Rebecca could not find words to adequately explain the phenomenon. She thought she knew the Mr. Salomon that she had observed seated at the Deares’ supper table: a young man with proper, albeit somewhat reserved manners, who might be considered handsome if a person’s taste ran to chestnut-colored hair that was a little too long and a complexion that was a little too pale. This person standing on the stage seemed not to be a man, but music itself. His entire body bended and swayed in graceful movement, as each wistful note of the Rondo’s melody was magnificently revealed by the unexpected slower tempo.
Gentlemen raised their quizzing glasses to their eyes and ladies fluttered their fans as the initial murmurings of disapproval gave way to excited whispers of pleasure. The whispering soon faded into silence as all were transported willingly by the elegant player to the Kingdom of Song. The sweet longing of the opening refrain was repeated, and then it dissolved into something more passionate—a dazzling crescendo, an outpouring of musical fire. One woman fainted, overcome by emotion. Another followed. They were left to revive on their own, without their vials of hartshorn, which remained in their reticules, for no one could tear away their eyes from the mesmerizing musician and his enchanted violin.
Then the final note sounded, poignant and plaintive. 
Slowly, Mr. Salomon lowered his violin. Slowly, the ladies and gentlemen returned to life. Then there was music of a different kind, the thunderous applause and cheers of the crowd. Mr. Salomon acknowledged the adulation with a graceful bow and turned to salute the other players. Only one did not return the gesture, Mr. Grimm, whose face was a perfect reflection of his name.

“He must take care of the receipts and pay the players,” said Mrs. Salomon, explaining her son’s absence after the performance, as the group waited for their carriages. “A concert is much more than what you see on the stage.”
“And that was exceptional,” said Mr. Lyon, who wished to make up for his past abruptness now that he had seen with his own eyes that David Salomon was a true artist.
“I think I liked Mr. Salomon’s own composition the best,” said Rebecca.
“Yes, it is wonderful,” replied Mrs. Salomon. “Of course, that piano player made a muddle of the Adagio, but what can one do? I don’t think too many people noticed.”
“Is the score available for purchase?” asked Harriet.
“That is one of the business matters we must apply ourselves to when we reach London, finding a publisher.”
“I assume Mr. Melamed will be able to help you with that,” said Mr. Franks.
Mrs. Salomon smiled. “Do you think so? It would be wonderful if David could receive help with establishing himself. He is quite clever at business, not at all like his mother in that area, but I begrudge every mundane act that takes him away from his art.”
Their carriages arrived and soon they were on their way to the Deares’ home, for the final night before the entire party’s return to London.
A man dressed in shabby clothes watched them go, and then he turned into the dark alleyway. He already knew that there was a back entrance to the building—he had scouted out the area before the concert—and he correctly surmised that at the present hour the entrance would be unattended. He entered the building and noiselessly slipped down a corridor which led to a still brightly-lit room. Inside the room, the treasurer of the Leeds Musical Society, Mr. Miller, was counting out the proceeds of the concert’s ticket sales. The shabbily dressed man did not enter the room. Instead, he found a spot where he could see and hear without being seen or heard himself.
“A very successful evening, Mr. Salomon,” remarked Mr. Miller, as he straightened the columns of shiny coins. “Should your path ever bring you back to Leeds, you will be very welcome, I am sure.”
David Salomon glanced at the other musicians. Despite the concert’s success, it seemed that the treasurer’s sentiment was a minority opinion. Yet he knew that, as the organizer of the evening, he should end the venture with a few words of praise for each of the musicians. Therefore, as each man stepped forward to receive his pay he forced himself to recall some musical phrase that the player had executed well.
When it was the turn of Mr. Grimm to receive his money, Mr. Salomon hesitated. The animosity between them had been too bitter to be sweetened by a few meaningless words. He therefore said, “If we should meet again, sir, I hope it will be a more agreeable experience for both of us.”
Mr. Grimm pocketed his money and placed his hat on his greying head. “I very much hope there will not be a second meeting, Mr. Salomon. I was brought up to always remember that the player is the faithful servant of the composer. He must never trample upon a composition’s intended tempo just to make a shameless exhibition of himself—and make a few foolish women faint. Good night, sir.”
Mr. Salomon watched the pianoforte player leave the room, and he too hoped it would be the last time he would set eyes on the man. Then it was his turn to take possession of his money.
“Can we lock up the building, Mr. Salomon?” Mr. Miller inquired. “Have you got everything?”
The young man realized that he had left his music in his dressing room and he went to retrieve the manuscript. It was then that the man keeping a silent watch saw his chance, and he followed Mr. Salomon down the dimly lit passageway.
The pages of music were still sitting where they had been left. Mr. Salomon was in the act of picking them up when he happened to glance in the mirror and saw, to his surprise, that there was another man in the room.
“Don’t pretend you don’t know me,” said the man, quietly closing the door.
At first, David Salomon was about to protest that he did not know the wreck of a man that was confronting him. But the voice, with its American accent, was strangely familiar, as was the scar on the man’s upper lip. 
“Jonas?” he said, finally. “Jonas Street?”
“So you do remember me.”
“What are you doing in Leeds?”
“What do you think, Davey?”
“My father is dead, Jonas.”
“And ain’t that just too bad. I was right sorry to miss the funeral. I’ve never seen a man go to his grave all dressed up in furs.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think you do, Davey. Where are they, boy? Did you sell them? Is that how you and that mother of yours managed to slip out of New York without paying me for my work trapping them? Those furs were top quality. You must have gotten a pretty penny for them.”
Before Mr. Salomon could reply, Mr. Miller opened the door and entered the room. “It is getting late, Mr. Salomon,” said the treasurer. “Have you found what you were looking for?”
Mr. Miller then noticed the other man, regarding the stranger with a mixture of surprise and distaste.
“I believe he has mistaken his way,” said Mr. Salomon. “If you would be so good as to show him to the door, I will follow in a few minutes.”
Mr. Miller nodded and said, “This way, if you please.”
“I’ll see you in London, Davey,” Jonas said, before being shoved through the door. “And remember me to your mother. Tell her I’ll see her, too.”

Peep Rep: Oh dear. It seems like David has brought trouble all the way from America! This sounds great. I'm going to locate the buy link.
Found it!

Liza: Well done, Peep Rep. And well done, Dance!
Tell us a bit about your author who had does such a fine job of weaving a tale.
Dance: Libi Astaire is the author of the award-winning Ezra Melamed Mystery Series, a Jewish-themed historical mystery series set in Regency England. Earlier books in the series include Tempest in the Tea Room, The Ruby Spy Ring and The Disappearing Dowry, as well as the novellas Too Many Coins and General Well’ngone in Love.
Liza: Want to share any of Libi's secrets?
Dance: Never!
Liza: Oh well. I'm sure when you return to Libi in three days, she'll be pleased with how you comported yourself.
Dance: Three days? Why must I stay here for so long?
Peep Rep: The Carriage Horse is exhausted. It needs lots of rest.
Dance: Three days it is then. I miss you already Libi. Please write to me!