Ms. Friedman: It is an honor to host you both and I’m truly humbled by your visit today. Thank you for making time in your busy schedules for this interview. Please, make yourselves at home and we shall begin….
Lady Serena: You’re welcome.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: No, thank you. It’s so kind of you to invite us.
Ms. Friedman: [checks her notes; smiling as she looks up] Now, the questions I have are quite personal, but fun nevertheless. But before I get to them, tell me how have you both been since last I saw you? I believe it was raining and muddy that day?
Lady Serena: [blinks] I’m sorry, have we met? I’m terrible with faces.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [puts an arm around Serena] We’ve been doing splendidly, haven’t we?
Lady Serena: [smiles at him] Well, yes, of course. I think our biggest news is that my hotel, the Ravenshaw Arms, is running a promotion in honor of our marriage. For the next six months, catering for a wedding breakfast is five pounds off on an order of twenty-five pounds or more. Tell your friends.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: So that’s our biggest news, is it? Well, if you don’t want to tell them…
Lady Serena: [puts a hand protectively over her stomach] Tell them what?
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [grinning broadly] Nothing.
Ms. Friedman: [grinning at both of her guests] That’s wonderful. Congratulations are in order, I see. My felicitations…for both… [looks up at Lady Serena and meets her stare]…to both of you. [coughs] Well, where was I? Oh, here we go. Your childhoods were vastly different, so I hoped you would share with us a childhood memory that brings a smile to your face or makes you tear up?
Lady Serena: [long pause] I can’t think of anything.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: My favorite story is the one about how you wouldn’t let anyone feed you.
Lady Serena: [makes a face]
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: When she was a baby, she wouldn’t let the nursemaid feed her. If the girl tried, Serena would just spit it back out. She would only eat things she could pick up with her hands and feed herself.
Lady Serena: [strained smile] I ate a lot of boiled peas, as you can imagine. Oh Solomon, do tell that adorable story your mother told at our wedding breakfast, about you and Elijah and that churchwarden’s daughter?
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [turns bright red] We were five years old! And it was all Elijah’s idea anyway.
Lady Serena: That wasn’t my understanding.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [flushes even redder]
Lady Serena: I do like a precocious child.
Ms. Friedman: [looks to one then the other, smiles at both] I was so happy to see that some of your wishes came true, but do either of you have a wish or a dream unfulfilled and what would that be?
Lady Serena: I’m hoping the Duke of Wellington will dine at the Arms when he returns to England.
Ms. Friedman: That would definitely attract the crowds…and the business will be booming afterwards, I’m sure. I would be more than willing to call in some favors…
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: That would be very kind of you. I’m also hoping the Duke will buy some clothes from my uncle’s establishment–Hathaway’s Fine Tailoring, in Savile Row. I don’t know if you knew this, but His Grace is called ‘the Beau’ by his officers. Of course he didn’t have access to town tailoring while on campaign, but that only makes it more impressive that he created a defined, clean, distinctive look using only a few basic garments.
It’s true that Hathaway’s has a good reputation among gentlemen with a less conservative style, but we can do bold, plain elegance as well. The evenness of our dyes sets us apart when it comes to a crisp silhouette; colors like gray and navy show streaking even more than bright shades. I think the General would find much to interest him in our shop. [blushes] Sorry, I’m rattling on.
Lady Serena: [looks as if she could listen to him rattle on forever]
Ms. Friedman: [looks as if she could listen to him rattle on forever; then meets Lady Serena’s LOOK] No, not at all. I enjoy…Sorry; let us go to my next question. I wondered if you would be so kind to share with us your greatest accomplishments and regrets thus far….
Lady Serena: [under her breath] My greatest regret is agreeing to give this interview.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [gives her an admonitory glance] My greatest accomplishment? Convincing Lady Serena to marry me. My greatest regret… [his expression turns somber] Can anyone really choose just one? I wish…I wish I had seen things more clearly, earlier. I wish I had seen myself more clearly: the advantages I had, that others didn’t. I wish…
Lady Serena: [squeezing his arm] [dryly] You may have noticed that Solomon is a perfectionist. My greatest accomplishment is undoubtedly convincing him to stop worrying for a quarter of an hour and eat a solid meal. [looks horrified] Not–not that I–I don’t–
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [laughing] Lady Serena’s best-kept secret is her motherly side.
Lady Serena: [looking daggers at him] Solomon. I do not have a motherly side. [to Ms. Friedman] I don’t.
Ms. Friedman: [looks at one then the other] Oh, my dear [pats Lady Serena’s hand] it shall remain our little secret… [quickly removes hand]
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [smiles all over his face]
Ms. Friedman: Now, let’s have some fun, shall we? Mr. Hathaway, you are a genius when it comes to colors, so tell us which color is in, and which is out?
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Well, I hesitate to describe any color as “out.” In the right ensemble, any shade can look smart and fresh. But I do see a renaissance for scarlet, just at the moment. People mistakenly believe that one needs striking features, coloring, or figure to carry off such a dramatic shade. But it’s surprisingly versatile, and accords with almost any complexion. [glances at Lady Serena] Striking doesn’t hurt, though.
Ms. Friedman: Oh how interesting. [smiles at Lady Serena] Lady Serena, do you have a favorite scent?
Lady Serena: Fresh-baked pear-almond tartlets.
Ms. Friedman: Speaking of, won’t you have some? This was my Aunt’s recipe [hands her guests plates and points to the napkins] My next question is for both of you. What is your favorite mode of transportation?
Lady Serena: I prefer to walk. I used to be fond of riding, but I don’t have much opportunity anymore.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [lets the silence drag out]
Lady Serena: [glares at him]
Ms. Friedman: [looks from one to the other]
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: I like walking best, too. Fortunately in London it’s often practical. I don’t do too well with horses, I’m afraid.
Ms. Friedman: Actually that is what Mr. Friedman and I like the best. We take long walks together, and …never mind [blushes and pats her hair] Here are some questions that would make all young debutantes blush, but never the less all want to know:
Silk or cotton? Outdoors or indoors? Top or bottom?
Lady Serena: [rolling her eyes] I’m sure I don’t know what you’re referring to.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [with a look of false innocence] It entirely depends on context. I don’t think silk will ever really go out of style for formal occasions, but cotton has a greater durability and washes better. Add to that the ease with which it can be dyed or printed on, and I think we’ll see cotton’s role expanding. It might even replace linen for underclothes, bedding, and the like. [smiles apologetically] I hope I don’t offend you or your readers by mentioning such personal matters.
Lady Serena: Solomon–American cotton.
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Oh yes, thank you for reminding me. My uncle’s shop prefers to use Indian muslins and other cottons, and I would encourage any of you to do the same. American cotton is tended by slaves, and we are firm supporters of Abolition.
Lady Serena: Who knows if it’s any better in India, of course?
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: [sighing] “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes: but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” [to Ms. Friedman] Well, does that answer your question?
Ms. Friedman: Never mind. I would like to thank Ms. Lerner for making the introductions and to both of you for being so gracious to indulge me with this visit. Please be sure to convey my regards to that rascal Rene and let him know that he is welcome to stop by my At Homes any time.
Lady Serena: [in freezing accents] I hope you don’t mean to suggest that I keep up a correspondence with a known traitor.
Ms. Friedman: [looking crestfallen] Not at all. I just thought…
Mr. Solomon Hathaway: Thank you so much for having us, ma’am. It’s been a pleasure. We must do it again sometime.
Ms. Friedman: That would be lovely. [looks at Lady Serena’s stomach] Maybe…
Lady Serena: [insincerely] Yes, indeed we must.
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For all you bookworms out there,
Ms. Rose Lerner has a Giveaway of her new book
‘A Lily Among Thorns’ for one lucky commenter.
Rose Lerner in her own words: “I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was thirteen, and wrote my first historical romance a few years later. My writing has improved since then, but my fascination with all things Regency hasn’t changed. When not reading, writing, or researching, I enjoy cooking and marathoning old TV shows. I live in Seattle.
I would love to hear from you–about my books, about my blog, about my website, or about anything else you think I might want to know. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you e-mail me directly, please put something specific in the subject line so my e-mail knows your message isn’t spam. Thanks!”