My fanfiction and other random ramblings

Srebrna, Skald Arkadii (and thoughts on writing)

Archive for the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Category

Graph of writing progress of Double Pride Double Trouble

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A graph of how the number of words in my story changed from the beginning (2014, but I started writing it in earnest in January 2018)

The total, including unpublished parts, is now ~220 k words,

https://archiveofourown.org/works/12836949/chapters/29310237

The top speed of writing was 6491 w/day, maintained when I was writing Chapter 8: https://archiveofourown.org/works/12836949/chapters/32609778

Another on the podium is Chapter 10, writing speed 5255 w/day, and Chapter 13, the same.

So, this is what happens when slightly-OCD-affected analyst tracks her writing progress.

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Written by Srebrna

2018/07/07 at 09:01

Baking with Lizzy – Chocolate shortbread cookies – CH 17

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“I will be good! I promise!”
She turned in his arms and gave him a small kiss.
“Then you’ll have chocolate shortbread cut up into little houses” she smiled. “Deal?”
He sighed, putting all his suffering in that sigh.
“Fine” he grumbled, burying his face in the crook of her neck. “Deal.”

####

300g all-purpose wheat flour
150g unsalted butter (butter! not margarine or some other replacement!)
100g powder sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp cocoa powder

Sift the flour into a large bowl to get rid of any thicker clumps. Sift the cocoa into it.
Soft (not melted!) butter cut into cubes and drop into the flour separately (so that there is no big clump of butter).
Take hand mixer fitted with whisks and give it a stir, but don’t make an even paste out of it.
Add the yolks, mix it again for a moment.

Sift the powdered sugar in, mix again, until it’s all evenly broken into crumbs.

The dough is now a lot of crumbs and you have to process it manually, so start working it. If it’s too dry and doesn’t stick (depends on the flour), add 2-3 tablespoons of sour cream/yoghurt and mix/stir evenly. It will start to stick. Work on it with your hands, to make the dough even and smooth.

Put in the fridge for ~15 minutes.

Heat the oven to 200 C (no idea what F that is, sorry :))
Line the baking trays with baking paper

Cover the cutting board/rolling board with some flour to stop the dough from sticking to it. Take the dough out of the fridge, cut a piece off and roll it (the rest goes back into the fridge). Roll until 3-4mm thick (optionally: run once with the pattern roller), cut with cookie cutters. Put on the baking tray. They can be close to each other, they don’t change shape.

10 minutes baking time should be fine at this thickness.

It’s best to have 2-3 baking trays ready, or let the tray cool down before you put raw cookies on it, because hot tray will make them lose shape before they are baked.

Written by Srebrna

2018/06/18 at 22:20

Baking with Lizzy – Chocolate and blackberry cake – chapter 17

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Chocolate base:

3 eggs

200g cake flour (you can mix wheat flour with potato flour, although no more than half of volume may be potato)

150-200g sugar

1-2 tsp vanilla sugar

1 tsp baking powder

3 tbsp of dark cocoa

butter and breadcrumbs for the tin

Heat the oven to 200 C.

On the bottom of a cake tin (the type with removable bottom) put a large piece of baking paper. Snap the sides on the base in such a way that only the bottom is covered with the paper. Cover sides of the tin with butter and dust with breadcrumbs.

Separate the eggs and put the whites to be chilled in the fridge. Once chilled, start whipping these with a mixer. Add the sugar bit by bit during whipping. The foam should be visible, but doesn’t have to be stiff.

Slow the mixer down to minimum. Add, by spoon, flour, baking powder and cocoa mix. Once blended, add the yolks.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Should raise and show bubbles in the structure. Depending on the size of the tin, will be enough for 2 or 3 layers. Take out, remove the rim, move the cake to a cooling rack. Once cooled, cut into layers.

This goes quickly enough to let you prepare another batch when the first one is baking.

Between layers:

Fruit – a lot. A lot a lot.

Dulce de leche – a can/a jar.

When the cake is properly cold, make a mix of tea and raspberry juice (for ‘sober’ cakes) or tea and stronged spirits (for adult cakes). Sprinkle on drier parts of the cake, make sure everything is equally moist.

Cover four pieces with thin layer of dulce de leche.

Take the seasonal fruit (raspberry, bilberry, blackberry) or preserves, or canned peaches (will require cutting up into tiny pieces) and cover 3 cake layers with them evenly. Do not spread to the very edge.
In case of red fruit, set some aside now.

Make whipped cream from 0,5l of double cream (carefully, not to allow it to suddenly become butter). Divide, 1/3 put into fridge. Mash the fruit into pulp, mix well with the whipped cream. The more fruit, the runnier it will become!

Spread over the fruit on 3 layers, put the last layer on top.

Pipe the cream on the top in a ring. Put the fruit in the middle. With a straight flat knife, remove excess cream from the sides of the cake. Put into refridgerator and keep chiller until ready to be served.

Add dribbles of melted chocolate on the sides, once the cake chilled.

Written by Srebrna

2018/06/16 at 02:43

Baking with Lizzy – Cinnamon bread – ch 17

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Cake:

Cake flour: 600g

Sugar: 70g

Half tsp of salt

20g dry yeast or 40g fresh yeast

butter, melted: 100g

milk: 400ml

eggs: 2

To spread:

Soft butter: 150g

Sugar: 150g

Cinnamon: 2 tsp

Also:

1 egg, beaten, for spreading on the top

If you have fresh yeast, make the starter first. If dry, mix with the flour directly. Add other ingredients, except for the butter, and knead. Add butter only when it’s mixed and kneaded properly. Add butter. Knead again, until soft and flexible. Form a ball, cover a bowl with some flour, put the dough in it.. Let sit in warm place until it’s doubled in size (may be 1,5h)

Mix up the spread contents or just sugar with cinnamon.

Divide the dough into 20 similar-sized balls.

Line a rectangle tin with baking paper.

Each ball pull and/or roll to similar sized longer rectangle and either spread with the butter and spices, or just dust with sugar and cinnamon. Roll up and put in the pan. Continue adding, not very tightly together, but rather well-spaced in the tin. They need space to grow.

Heat the oven to 220C

Cover with a kitchen towel, let sit to 0,5 h at room temp. Should double the size.

Brush the beaten egg all over the top of the buns and place in the oven for ~20-25 minutes.

Written by Srebrna

2018/06/15 at 20:12

Baking recipes for Double Pride Double Trouble

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I’ll be posting all the things that Elizabeth bakes :)

First: The whipped cream cake from Chapter 7.

I’ve posted it on my tumblr, with all the pictures (I baked exactly that cake for my nephew):

I was asked to bake a birthday cake for my nephew. So, a fotostory. I took 4 eggs, separated yolks and whites. 125g of butter, 125g of powder sugar, 160g of cake flour, one package of vanilla sugar, 2tsp of baking powder. Butter and sugars were creamed with my mixer, then I added yolks. When this was finely mixed, I added flour, spoon by spoon, and the baking powder. Whites were whipped separately and folded into the rest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Srebrna

2018/06/15 at 19:56

Double Pride Double Trouble – CH 04

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Chapter 4: And we plan the same plans

The Plan was a simple piece of paper stuck to the wardrobe door, with each main point spawning several smaller ones. Each was carefully bulleted or numbered in thick, colourful marker and main points were underscored.
“Mom makes plans like this for every family event. She is the organiser and keeps everyone to their deadlines. Only she makes it on the computer, so she can add points when she wants, and she sends e-mails with reminders to everyone.”
Rose nodded slowly.
“Dad uses stuff like this to prepare for our trips, or when I’m training before a contest – he plans my exercise and preparation for weeks before. I used to think it was stupid because I had to spend all that time on doing unnecessary stuff long before the competition was supposed to start, but then I started getting much better…”
“Competition?”
She looked at her sister in surprise for a moment.
“Horse riding.”
Mina sat on her bed with a groan.
“Lord. Horses.”
“What? Don’t tell me you’re afraid of them!”
Mina cringed silently.
“Can’t you, like, pretend?” Rose finally asked, irritated just a bit.
“For two months? With big, smelly, snorting and stomping animals?”
“They’re not that bad! And Star is the best little mare I’ve ever seen!”
Mina groaned.
“I just hope there is no contest for me to show in in the fall.”
“Yep, you’re lucky here. You’ll just have to ride her every day, to make sure she doesn’t start growing fat.”
“Argh.”
“You just have to deal with one horse” Rose shrugged. “I’ll have to deal with the London underground.”

#

The Plan had three main headers
FAMILY
SCHOOL
ORIENTATION

Under Family, girls listed
* names
* faces
* who likes who

And that was quite enough to keep them occupied for the first week.

“Grandma doesn’t like mom, or me” Mina explained, scratching her nose and pointing to the faces on the photo she found from Jane’s birthday picnic. “Grandpa actually loves Mom the best, because she plays chess with him and reads all the same books. He is a retired engineer and Mom says he was the one who made everyone stop nagging her when she wanted to get a degree in programming. Because grandma said it was not a proper feminine thing to do. So grandma always touts how aunt Jane studied child psychology and that it is the proper thing to do.”
Rose nodded, making small notes on the thick notepad.
“And what about the other aunts?”
“This one, here. Mary is the third, she’s two years younger than Mom. She is a historian, writes descriptions of old churches and little chapels and stuff like this. Show her a ceiling painted with angels and she can spend a day analysing the colours used, the type of gilding, the size of the brush and even if the painter was standing or maybe lay on his back. It doesn’t sound fascinating when I say it, but she can make it like a story of what the painter’s life used to be in various times. Really cool stuff, she helped me with some fab school projects.”
“Next?”
“Here, Kitty. Catherine, but Mom hates… ah!” Mina’s face brightened. “That’s why!”
Rose frowned.
“You mean we have two aunts named Catherine?”
“Yep, but only one is terrible. Aunt Kitty is fun. She works at some office, but loves building stuff – like, mechanical things. Her husband – uncle Ted – jokes that one day he will buy an auto repair shop just so that aunt Kitty can get greasy up to her elbows without feeling guilty and having to wash it off before work. She loves to ride this enormous bike – and that’s how she met uncle Ted – his bike broke down in the middle of nowhere and she helped him to get it started again.”
Rose blinked.
“A bike? Like, a motorbike?”
“Duh. Sure, a motorbike. She helped him fix the engine – clear the flues or whatever it was. He was supposed to go camping with some mates but ended up chasing her for some fifty kilometers, because she dropped her documents when she was done with his bike. And she thought he was a crazy biker murderer and that he was trying to catch her. And because she went over the speed limit, the police pulled her over and asked for documents. She didn’t have any…”
“Of course.”
“And there comes uncle Ted, ‘all in shiny leather armour’ as she says, and hands them her wallet, saying something like ‘You forgot your papers again, love’ and she couldn’t even hit him because it was in front of a traffic policeman. Once the police ticketed them – both of them – he apologised for frightening her and asked her out to a dinner.”
“That’s crazy.”
“That’s what grandma says. She still doesn’t trust uncle Ted, but Mom thinks he’s great for aunt Kitty. And he promised he would teach me to ride, but aunt Kitty hit him with a newspaper and said that if anyone is teaching her nieces to ride, it will be her.”
Rose’s eyes widened.
“Aunt Catherine would have a kitten if she saw me on a motorbike.”
Mina snorted.
“We’ll have to wait three more years anyway.”
Rose sighed dreamily but quickly shook herself out of it.
“Ok, so that’s aunt Kitty, number four. And five is… Lydia?”
“Aunt Lydia, yes. She’s four years younger than Mom and she has Adele. Adele is just a bit younger than us, and we used to play together a lot when aunt Lydia dropped her at Grandma’s, but something happened and aunt Lydia doesn’t like her playing with me anymore. I think it may be because of our Dad, because every time she looks at me she says something bad about the way I look, like my hair, or my eye colour. Which, looking at the photo you’ve shown me, is what we got from Dad.”
“Everyone hates him?” Rose said morosely.
“Except for aunt Jane and uncle Charlie, I’m afraid, yes.”
“I can’t promise I will be nice to whoever tries trash-talk him.”
“Well, I can’t promise I won’t get into aunt Catherine’s face if she says stuff about Mom.”
“Deal.”
“Deal.”
“So, what about aunt Lydia’s husband? Boyfriend?”
“None. I’ve never even seen Adele’s dad. I only know that his name starts with ‘G’, because I once saw a postcard with a lot of loves and kisses and it was sent before Adele was born, so I kind of guessed it must have been him.”
Rose chewed a cookie slowly.
“That all sounds very complicated” she said at last. “OK, hit me. Who next?”

#

“I hope I won’t get lost in the gardens” Mina sighed, looking at the photo of Pemberley house. “Because, really, it looks like it needs its own satellite system to navigate there.”
“Wouldn’t help” Rose shrugged. “Dad asked Google and they de-listed our internal alleys and garden paths. You’d basically see a lot of ‘green area’.”
“Very promising.”
“Well, at least the house is so big you’ll see it from anywhere on the grounds.”
Mina blinked and rubbed her eyes.
“OK, so. Floorplan test. Doors in the middle of the house. On the right, the great hall, then the staircase. To the back, the library, then the drawing room and the music room. On the left, the master’s study – and Dad doesn’t use it anymore, due to it being too stuffy, so he keeps most house records there, and then the mistress’ study, same. Then there are the servants’ stairs.”
“Very well. The library mostly contains first editions and other stuff that can barely stay together, so the rule is ‘look, don’t touch’. The normal, readable stuff is upstairs in my room and in Dad’s study. So, what’s in the basement?”
“The kitchens and the servants’ quarters” Mina answered promptly. “The rooms are not used anymore, as they were terribly inconvenient and way too cold and damp, so all the house and ground employees live in a new building on the grounds. The rooms are now storage space and the kitchen has been vastly updated since the old times, adding electricity and other stuff that the building commission allowed, but the museum guys didn’t, and they were very unhappy once it was redone.”
“Yep. Out great-grand-father wrote them that he expects to live in this house until he dies and he intends to do this with all possible comforts, including the comfort of his cook, who wishes to have all modern amenities, and not be stuck with a wood stove.”
“Good for him. Nice that he cared for the staff’s comfort.”
“He cared for his dinners and suppers, Dad says” Rose corrected. “He knew perfectly well that unhappy cook makes unhappy meals.”
“Still, the outcome counts. He got her a better working space, instead of just demanding stuff to be done properly without upgrading the hardware. I’m sure there were many people who wouldn’t even think about how the employees get things done.”
“That for sure. Aunt Catherine, for example. She used to complain of drafts in her rooms and berating the students who were hired to clean until Dad pointed out that she can either have her room aired and fresh, or stuffy and draft-free. Because what she called ‘drafts’ was actually fresh air moving when they were airing the unused rooms next to hers. She got very angry and told him proper servants would have known how to air a room and not make it drafty at the same time.”
Mina blinked, slowly.
“Is she for real?”
Rose rolled her eyes.
“Unfortunately, very much so.”
“And she called them ‘servants’, like, to their faces?”
“Yes, she did. They weren’t happy.”
“And what did Dad do?”
“He told her to stop bothering the poor girls and to make a choice – either they clean her room and she stays quiet or they will skip her and aunt Anne’s rooms, but the two of them will have to clean after themselves. She was quick to pick the first option.”
“Poor students. They would have been happier with the second one, I suppose.”
“Sure. There was enough to do in the whole house anyway. But Dad paid them enough to make sure they didn’t just quit when she became more annoying, Mrs Reynolds said.”
“Mrs Reynolds, the housekeeper?”
“And cook, and aunt Georgiana’s babysitter, long time ago.”
“At least you won’t have to learn all the staff names. It’s just me and Mom at the flat and grandma has just one lady who helps with cleaning after parties, a kid next door who mows the grass and a part-time gardener who only works in spring and summer.”
“But I will have to learn all the little cousins.”
“True. And it may be harder to fool kids than grownups, too.”

#

“Schoolmates will be a challenge. I have my form picture here, so we can print it in the computer room and I’ll sign them all and mark who is who. However, the important one is Annie, here. She is an annoying pest and she will try to get on your nerves. Just avoid her, or she will make your life hell.”
“Annie, avoid. OK.”
“Also, don’t try it with any of the guys, please. One, they are all at the grabby stage. Two, I’d rather not be pressed to follow through later.”
“No problem, but same to you.”
“Sure. I’ll be spending all my time adoring the most important man in my life” Mina fluttered her eyelashes and smiled sweetly.
“Dear Lord, stop that” Rose choked on her cookie. “You look like some of my classmates when Dad picks me up from school. Half of my form salivates – and some of the teachers, too. Three tried to get me to set them up on dates with him.”
Mina sat for a moment, looking at her sister with round eyes.
“I’m not sure if it’s better or worse at my school” she uttered finally. “Mothers from my class basically either hate Mom or look down at her. You know. The only unmarried mother in the whole year.”
“Statistically impossible” Rose bit into another cookie. “How many kids?”
“No idea…”
“Because in an average class in normal society there should be at least two kids from partial families. If not orphaned, then parents divorced or otherwise split.”
“Well, there are some divorced parents, but at least everyone knows their both parents” Mina shrugged and started playing with the blanket edge. “And I…”
“Well, at least Dad doesn’t get shamed for having me alone” Rose licked her fingers to clean them of all crumbs. “But if I had a quid for every time I’ve heard kids snickering that my mother must have hated me, and that’s why she left me…”
The moment Rose’s eyes filled with tears, her sister was already hugging the breath out of her.
“I’m sure she loved you. She must have an explanation to all this.”
“I’m planning to ask her” Rose mumbled quietly. “Because…”
“We have to get to the bottom of this. She is perfectly lovely, and if you say Dad is a nice guy, too, then something very weird must have happened.”
“I wonder what he did to make her leave and take you away.”
“Actually, it might have been Dad that had left her” Mina pointed out suddenly. “We don’t know where they were living when…”
Rose nodded reluctantly.
“Maybe they were moving? Because it seems my side knows Mom, and your side knows Dad, which means they must have met ‘the other side’ at least once. If grandma criticises you for being too similar to him, she must have spent enough time to get to know him. And aunt Catherine…”
“Which means that we don’t know where they lived, but definitely we know they moved between London and Lambton.”
“At least visited the ‘other’ place for long enough to leave a lasting impression. I wonder when it was, actually. When they started, when – whichever it was that left, left.”
“We’ll have to make a proper investigation. Like, point one, check our birth certificates. There is always a place of birth written there. At least we’ll know where they were living at the time.”
Rose chewed on her thumb for a moment.
“I think it was Mom that left Dad, and not the other way round” she said finally. “Because Dad once said he would never imagine living anywhere but in Derbyshire. And we do have a house there and all that stuff. And in London, you two live in a flat, which is, you know. Temporary.”
Mina nodded slowly.
“And we can google for Mom’s master thesis” she said softly. “Because she didn’t to it in London, that much I know. So if she did it in Derbyshire…”
“And it was sometime when we were born…”
“Then we’ll know where they lived, for sure.”
“I wonder what Dad did to piss off the other half of the family if they lived that far away.”
“They had to spend some time in London, definitely. I can’t imagine my whole family travelling north to visit” Mina suddenly bit her lip in thought.
“What? You asleep?”
“I… Wait a minute” she shook herself awake. “Aunt Jane’s wedding! That’s why there are no photos!”
Rose frowned, but Mina explained immediately, raking her hair with all fingers, as enlightenment hit her suddenly.
“They were married like a year before we were born. There are no photos of their wedding, nowhere in the house. Even at grandma’s. Only two of just their faces. But usually people have a ton of photos, even special albums, and they make videos, and…”
“So our parents were together at that wedding.”
“I’d say so. Even better, if Dad is uncle Charles’ best friend, and Mom and aunt Jane are the closest sisters…”
“They were the bridesmaid and the best man” Mina concluded. “And that’s why all the shots from the church and from the reception would include them.”
“So the whole family is hiding the photos from you.”
“Maybe that was the time when he managed to annoy them that much? Because if they were organising the wedding and he was the best man, he would have been there all the time to help and to keep uncle Charles calm and so on.”
“And with everyone already nervous about the wedding…”
“I’d say it wouldn’t take long for grandma to get mad at anyone who opposed her, and from what you’re saying, Dad isn’t quite like uncle Charles when it comes to talking to people.”
“The only person he allows to boss him is Aunt Catherine, actually.”
“He must have done something that made grandma hate him – and us, now.”
They stretched on Mina’s bed, side by side, pulling a blanket over their legs.
“What a mess” Rose sighed.
“I wonder what they will do when they have to meet to exchange us.”
“I guess kissing and making up won’t be on agenda.”
Mina licked her lips and worried the lower one with her teeth for a moment.
“Maybe we could make them make up.”
“Dad is like the most stubborn guy I’ve met. I mean, whenever he argues with uncle Richard, he always wins. Always.”
“Maybe he’s always right?”
“That’s what I told uncle Richard and he looked at me funny and said he knows about one effing mistake my Dad made and it’s enough for uncle to think about Dad as an idiot. It wasn’t ‘effing’ of course, but Dad expects me not to use the ‘f’ word too often.”
“Not that I’m a betting girl, but I would bet that it has something to do with Mom.”

#

“I just hope we can get them to let us meet later on.”
“We’ll have our phones, you know.”
“That won’t be enough.”
“If they don’t let us meet, phones are better than nothing.”
“We have a class trip to London planned in November.”
Mina’s eyes widened.
“Let me know when – I’ll see if I could sneak out, at least for the afternoon!”
“We could freak out my classmates.”
“We could freak out anyone. Especially if you let me know what you’d be wearing. We could pick similar outfits and mess with everyone out there.”
“And since you’ll be already after spending two months with them, you will know everyone, so it will be even better!”

#

She pinned the pattern to the big corkboard, aligning the partial printouts with each other and stepped away to see the whole. She chose two coloursets – one in floral yellows and another in geometric greens. She had enough pieces for both items, but still missed a few darker accents in the green set. Ordering them online was much less fun than buying in an actual fabric store, but there wasn’t enough time. If she was to finish before Mina came home at the end of August, she had to hurry.
The oven beeped.
It was three o’clock in the morning and Elizabeth felt more alive than during the day. London was stifling and stinky that summer and she vastly preferred sleeping during the day and working during the night.
Sometimes the modern construction didn’t sound all that attractive and she felt a wave of nostalgia for the good, proper country mansion with two-foot-thick walls, dim rooms and cool stone floors. It would have been much more comfortable to spend summer in…
She stomped on the thought with vigour.

#

ORIENTATION
Mina underlined it a few times in thick marker.
“You will have to learn the basics of big city navigation. I suppose Dad never took you to London – and I kind of can guess why – but it means you’ll have to memorise the underground lines now, at least the ones that are most important to us – from our place to the school, from school to the museums, to aunt Jane’s and to grandma. At least to grandma it’s a bus, not underground. Let’s start with Oyster card…”
Rose nodded, her eyes growing with every explanation of the names, colours and variations of the underground lines that Mina pulled up on her tablet.
“I will need some help with this” she said morosely. “I had no idea this would be that complicated. I’ve heard jokes about that stuff, but… how can one line be still called one line when it goes to six different places?”
Mina huffed and closed her eyes.
“The main part of the line stays the same, it’s just that it forks at the ends. You have to take the Northern and pay attention…”

#

“There is a bus that goes from school, all across the town and out to the villages and bigger houses. You have to get off it by the church in Kympton and then walk ten minutes to the house. The morning will be easier, as Dad always takes me to school on his way to the office, but in the afternoon you have to manage yourself unless someone is in town and can pick you up. That would be either Dad on Fridays, when he tries to finish early, or Mrs Reynolds when she goes shopping – but then you’ll be expected to spend time with her picking groceries, or aunt Georgi if she picks up the post, and she will tell you in the morning.”
“Fine. And how will I know the right church?” Mina rubbed the bridge of her nose. “At least in London, all the stops are being read aloud, and you won’t have to guess.”
“It’s big, red and half of the bus will be leaving at that point. I will mark the place on my Google Maps so you can check it on the bus and you will know when to be ready to go. From the church, it’s just a straight road up to the house, through the grounds – not the front entrance, because that is a two-mile drive, but from the side. You can still enter by the main door, obviously, but the better way is to go by the kitchen entrance” she pointed to the side of the house schematic “and leave all the outside stuff in the cloakroom. If it gets rainy, everyone goes through there, except for aunt Catherine, who insists on always using the main door and being waited on by someone from the staff.”
“She definitely is annoying.”
“Tell me about it. You will just have to survive two months, I’ve had my whole life with her.”
Mina pressed her sister’s shoulder briefly.
“Wait till you meet grandma. Then we can talk.”

#

“The school has an old gym, a new gym, a stadium and a few additional courts – tennis, volleyball, whatever. Normally P.E. starts in the gym and then we are divided into groups to do various stuff, or we run laps around the whole area. For swimming, we have separate outings, once every two weeks, and we go by the bus to the municipal pool. There will be a schedule given at the beginning, so you just have to remember to pack the swimsuit, towel and flipflops.”
“Ok, and for gym?”
“Just shorts and a t-shirt, there should be a bunch in my wardrobe. School logo on the front and everything. Standard uniform issue. Lockers suck, because the door doesn’t close properly, but there is always one girl who guards them, so she will make sure everyone can change safely. Each week someone else, of course. Anyway, it’s not like the guys will run in, because Coach Warbert would have their heads for it, but they ‘can’t help if the door is open’, you know.”
“Sometimes an all-girl school sounds a little more attractive.”
They both laughed into their soup.
The quiet, out-of-the-way table that was appointed as theirs was actually a blessing. They could safely exchange even more points of their everyday life than they would normally be able to put in their rather busy schedule.
“Ah, food! We didn’t discuss that yet. Mrs Reynolds cooks, and the general idea is that what she cooks, we eat. Except for aunt Anne, who complains about everything that contains too much saturated fat or whatever the current fad is and then anyway eats cookies for the whole day and is always very surprised she can’t eat supper later. You can skip some disgusting stuff, like Brussel sprouts, if you eat enough of everything else – so pick another vegetable and say you just want a lot of that, and Dad won’t mind. There is always something to choose from. And there is always something to eat left in the kitchen, so if you’re late for whatever reason, like the bus going slower, or a school outing, you can take whatever is in the fridge and microwave it. And there is always something sweet unless Dad gets to it first.”
“Anything else? I mean, I saw you’ve like never touched anything in the kitchen, so I’m guessing you can’t do much…”
Rose rolled her eyes.
“I’m pretty much abysmal. Dad’s skills are up to frying an egg or making some toast, but not much more. Aunt Georgi can cook, actually, because she used to be a girl scout. But she always says it’s a skill she’d much rather not be forced to use on daily basis, and she doesn’t feel proficient enough to make others eat whatever she makes.”
“OOkk” Mina rubbed her face. “That has to change. Mom actually started teaching me stuff last year, but we’ve had home ed for two years now, so she expects me to be able to feed myself in a reasonable way. Can you make sandwiches without cutting yourself bloody?”
“I suppose so.”
“Heat up milk for cocoa?”
“No problem.”
“Remember to take it out before it escapes the cup?”
“I think I can manage.”
“Fry scrambled eggs?”
Rose grimaced.
“Not happy with having to crack them open. I don’t like the way raw eggs look inside.”
“Squeamish?”
“It’s just gross.”
“OK, moving on. Chopping onions? Peeling carrots? Cooking pasta?”
“Yes, yes if there is a proper peeler, no.”
“As long as it’s warm you can always say you didn’t want a cooked supper or something. And eat yoghurt or sandwiches. But you’ll have to catch up by mid-October, when it goes colder.”
“I’ll try, but I really don’t like using a gas stove. I’m always afraid there will be something stuck in the pipes and we’ll blow up at the smallest provocation. The ones we used during home ed looked like they had been there when our grandma went to that school.”
“Geez, living in the countryside must have affected your brain. It’s the twenty-first century and there are options. We don’t have an actual gas stove at the house, it’s fully electric. I’ve cooked my first soup on it. No matches, no open flame, no risks.”
“I’ll try to convince Dad to maybe switch one of the stoves in the kitchen to electric then” Rose sighed. “It would be good to have a chance to, maybe, do stuff for myself.”
“And it’s much more ecological” Mina added. “OK, next. Washing machine!”

#

“Mucking out the stall is normally done by one of the grooms, but if you manage to annoy Dad enough, you will get stable chores. First, you have to take out all the dirty stuff…”

#

“Water the herbs, once a day, in the early morning. They droop immediately if you forget.”

#

“My bike is in the shed, next to the stable. You can use it on the property, but not on the public road, Dad gets really antsy if I do that.”

#

“We don’t have an electric dryer, so all the clothes have to be put either on the balcony, on the lines, or inside, on the fold-out dryer.”
“And then taken down, folded…”
“Yep. My stuff to my room, Mom’s stuff on her bed, linens to the hall cupboard and kitchen stuff to the big drawer under the oven.”

#

“First weekend after school starts, Dad will take me – you – for a trip. No idea what that will be, it’s always a surprise. Might be hiking, might be an astronomical observatory, might be a road trip to some weird monument. Last year we went to Devon to see the traditional dairies and old workshops in the area. Just because there was a mention of them in my history textbook and Dad decided I should see some of that stuff with my own eyes.”

#

“Mom does most of the shopping, but if she forgets something, or if she has to work through the whole afternoon, she will give you money. The Sainsbury is just around the corner, on the left from the house. It has everything you’d need. We don’t have any specific preferred brand, except for bread, tea and Mom’s favourite crackers, but these she buys at M&S. Bread is this one” Mina tapped on her tablet “and tea is either M&S – and that one Mom will buy herself – or Twinings. Earl Grey or English Breakfast. Sometimes she drinks green, but that one she buys in a tea shop somewhere near Camden Town.”

#

“The bathroom is your own, and you should clean it. It’s theoretically shared with the room on the other side, but nobody uses it. So you have your own. I think long ago it used to be a dressing room, or something. There is a mop and there should be some wipes there, you just need to make sure all is dry when you’re done. Tiling is OK, but Dad says the walls can’t cope with that much moisture and if we don’t take care, the house will collapse on our heads one day.”

#

“And for my birthday, I always bake cookies for my whole class. With Mom, so don’t worry, she will help you. Tell her you want to try something completely new and she won’t expect you to do it perfectly at first attempt. Pick something that can be prepared in the food processor – chocolate chip cookies should do. I was picking them for the next time. You just put stuff in the bowl in the correct order and make sure it’s blended well. Ask Mom to help you chop the chocolate or buy the ready-made chocolate chips.”

#

“My bigger headphones are in the drawer of my desk, next to the computer. Earbuds I’ll give you when we pack so that we don’t lose them.”
“My charger and the whole set of cables are in the box below my table, next to the art supplies crate. There is a duplicate cable for everything, from my old phone to the mp3 player.”

#

“Password to my school account, to my e-mail and PINs for my phone and ATM card.”
“You have an ATM card?”
“You have a facebook account.”
An ATM card?!
“Shh. Dad said I should have one, just in case I get stuck somewhere and don’t have money to get back. I can withdraw fifty pounds a week, and if I hit the limit, it will be flagged as an emergency and Dad will get a notification where I was.”
“So if something weird happens, I could actually alert him by withdrawing the money?”
“Kind of, I suppose.”
“OK, so PIN for my phone, the unblock shape is like this. Password for the school account, my Gmail and my facebook. Don’t accept any new friends. I added everyone I cared for and really don’t want to get spammed with random crap. The PIN to the main door is here, and if you forget, the doorman will let you in, but you’ll have to wait for him a bit. Tablet has the same unblock shape as the phone. Also, don’t log any game in to Facebook. I don’t feel the need to share my results, and Mom would have my head – or yours – if I let some crappy company get my private data.”

#

“Locker combinations change every year, so you will get yours on the first day.”
“Same for you.”
“At least that will be new for everyone.”

#

“The ballet lessons” Mina asked uncertainly. “Do you still take them?”
Rose blinked.
“No, no. Thankfully, no. I asked Dad to stop it two years ago. It was too much, too late in the afternoon and the girls were so catty I frankly hated going there. The exercise itself was fine and if I could get individual lessons, or in some other group, I’d be OK. But there is no other club in Lambton, so…” she shrugged. “You?”
“No, we used to do dance classes, but the teacher got into trouble with some mothers when she allowed girls to dance in pairs to practice waltz. Mom said she just can’t understand people sometimes and had uncle Charles give me dancing lessons for a few months.”
“I can waltz, but only slowly” Rose admitted. “But I also learned rumba and samba last year, Dad signed me up for summer lessons.”
“I can do both slow and Viennese” Mina bit into a cookie. “And they taught us Polonaise and Laendler.”
“And what? I know what Polonaise is, but Laendler?”
“Austrian folk dance. Ever seen Sounds of Music?”
Rose sat back for a moment.
“Aaah! That’s what Maria is dancing with the Captain!”
“Yep. So we did this. No modern dances, though.”
“As long as there is no school dance, you’ll be fine.”
“Don’t even start.”

#

“Volleyball.”
“Basketball.”
“Crap.”
“‘A lot can change during the summer, Miss. I’d like to try volleyball this year.‘”
“I hope it works.”
“Well, and I hope we will manage to switch stuff back in November, once we are back in our own schools. I don’t relish the idea of being stuck in volleyball club for the rest of the year.”

#

“There are a lot of similarities between Italian and French, that saves us. Otherwise, we fail all tests and we excel at homework assignments. It shouldn’t be that hard to undo the damage in November.”
“The grammar references are all on the shelf above my desk, you will see them. Verb conjugation is in the thin red one, Bescherelle. If your Italian is on the same level as my French, you should be able to pick the idea up.”
“Mine are all on the bookshelf, green cover. Full grammar reference, with conjugation, articles and stuff. And the dictionaries.”

#

“Mom loves Terry Pratchett.”
“Dad says fantasy is an escape from real world. But he buys me Discworld, too.”
“Tolkien?”
“Hardy?”
“Gaiman?”
“Yes. Rowling?”
“Yes, but rolling her eyes.”
“Same.”
“Andrew Norton?”
“Meh. McCaffrey?”
“Cool. Montgomery?”
“Yep. Emily or Anne?”
“Pat.”
“Emily.”
“Dumas?”
“Too thick. But OK.”
“Verne?”
“Eighty Days.”
“Journey to the Centre of Earth.”
“Thackeray?”
“Definitely. Lindgren?”
“Who?”
“Astrid Lindgren. ‘Bullerby Children’, you know?”
“Never heard of them.”
“You have some catching up to do.”
“Edith Nesbit?”
“Yep.”
“‘Borrowers’?”
“Not so much. ‘Mary Poppins’?”
“Very much. Twain?”
“Not really. Burnett?”
“‘Little Princess’ or ‘Secret Garden’?”
“‘Little Princess’, Mary annoys me too much.”
“If we manage to make them let us meet, we can try to make a trip to Yorkshire. I went with Dad last year and it was just… perfect.”
Mina sighed.
“Let’s hope we can get this to work during this year. I really don’t want to…”
“I know.”

Double Pride Double Trouble – CH 03

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Chapter 3:  We think the same thoughts

The cabin wasn’t very big. Two beds, a dresser, a table, two rickety chairs and a wardrobe left very little free floor space – just enough to move one of the chairs to the middle of the rug and put a box of cookies on it. It was just close enough to let them reach towards said box comfortably from both beds. They sat in silence, munching the cookies and looking suspiciously at each other across the tiny room.
Mina gathered her courage first.
“So… Your aunt Jane gave these pliers to you?”
“Aunt Jane.”
“And she was the one who told you about this camp?”
“Yep.”
Mina reached behind her bed and picked up her tablet.
“And does your aunt Jane have a husband?”
Rose frowned.
“She does. Actually, it’s more like that husband is more my so called uncle, because he’s Dad’s best friend, and aunt Jane is just his wife. They aren’t like, related to us, or anything, but Dad always said that uncle Charles is like a brother he could freely pick for himself, instead of being assigned one at birth. Will you please explain what this third degree is about?”
Mina nodded slowly and turned the tablet on, then spent some time swiping through screens.
“Would that be aunt Jane and uncle Charles Bingley?” she handed the tablet to Rose, showing her a photo of a group of people sitting to a Christmas dinner. “These two? Because I know them as my Mom’s oldest sister and her husband. And the people responsible for me being here, on this camp.”
Rose grabbed the tablet, gasping.
“That’s… That’s my aunt! And my uncle! And… I never knew they had that many kids! Dad always says they don’t bring any because aunt Catherine hates toddlers.”
“Grandma would go bonkers if they ever decided to come to any family party without them. I may be the eldest in the whole generation, but she says that the more, the better. She loves aunt Jane more than my Mom because of this” Mina made a face.
Rose hiccoughed.
“Now” Mina hugged the tablet to herself “you see where this is going, don’t you?”
Rose nodded slowly.
“You think that if my aunt Jane and uncle Charles – who are my Dad’s best friend and his wife – and your aunt Jane and uncle Charles – who are your actual aunt and her husband – are the same people, then…”
“Yep. My Mom and your Dad are actually our parents. We’re twins. And Mom and Dad have some explaining to do.”
“Also, aunt Jane will have some explaining to do, when our p-parents” Rose stuttered here “find out that she manipulated both of them into letting us come here.”
Mina clasped her hands over her mouth.
“Mom will kill her. She wanted to take me to the seaside and take aunt Kitty and her kids with us, to see local fairs and markets. She only gave up after aunt Jane told her it’s healthier for me to finally go somewhere without family.”
“Dad will stop talking to uncle Charles” Rose whispered. “It was uncle who managed to get him to agree. Aunt actually just proposed it at some dinner and told me all about it before Dad had time to react. It took two more hours for uncle to convince Dad that I’m old enough to go on my own..”
Again they sat in silence for a moment.
“This is going to be a mess” declared Mina.
They looked at each other with wide eyes.

#

They sat on Mina’s bed, shoulder to shoulder, hands clasped over a scratchy blanket covering their legs.
“Do you think, if you asked, father would let you come to visit us?”
Rose slowly shook her head.
“Don’t think so. Or, even if he did, aunt Catherine would do something to make it impossible.”
Mina frowned.
“OK, first things first. We have to make a list of all family members so that I can understand what you’re talking about. Who is aunt Catherine and why does she sound like a right nightmare?”

#

“Anne is our father’s cousin?”
“Yes.”
“Like, actual cousin, parents were siblings?”
“Yes, Dad’s mother – I’ve never met her, she died when aunt Georgiana was born – and aunt Catherine were sisters.”
“Gross. I think that’s against the law or something…” Mina scrunched up her nose.
“I’m sure if aunt Catherine can do anything about it, she will” Rose shrugged. “She gets what she wants, and from what aunt Georgi told me, she wanted Dad and aunt Anne to get married for, like, ages.”
“I’d like to see her try” Mina said quietly. “She can’t do this if Mom and he are still married.”
Rose shrugged.
“I can definitely imagine her trying to. She’s been at it far longer than we’ve been alive. Aunt Georgi says she started at Dad when he was only in high school.”
“It’s like, disgusting.”
“You’ve said it, girl.”
“I wonder what made her so… why would she even want this for her daughter?”
Rose snorted and whipped out her phone, pulled up a picture and handed it over to Mina without a word.
“Wow” was the only thing her sister managed to say.
“Yeah. Half of my class is like, in love with him.”
“He looks like a movie star.”
“He’s your father, mind you.”
Mina snorted.
“I can only say, at least now I know where my looks come from. Most of our side of the family is blonde, only Mom is a bit darker, but no black hair on anyone there.”
“OK, your turn” Rose looked at her expectantly.
Mina made a quick choice, picking a photo she liked the best.
“This is Mom. Last Christmas, she…”
Rose’s eyes teared up.
“God, she’s lovely” she whispered. “I…”
“Yep” Mina popped the ‘p’ happily. “And she’s fun. And she loves making stuff. You’ll love her, just wait. We’ll think of something.”
“You’ll love Dad, too. He… He would do anything for me. I mean, for us, I suppose. We have to make this happen.”

Between them, a screen showing Elizabeth Bennet hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree slowly darkened.

#

“How many?!” Rose’s voice rose in pitch.
“Four. Not counting the second-degree-whatevers, because grandma has two siblings and they also have kids. Granduncle Eddie has four and grandaunt Phil has three. Plus there is a cousin of our grandpa’s, who’s like a lot younger than him and is kind of always visiting and trying to ask one of Mom’s friends out, and she’s always blowing him off. She doesn’t really like him, but she says she just can’t tell him to get lost because her mother keeps setting her up with some weird guys from her church, so she prefers Bill because she knows what to do to keep him at a distance.”
“So, what, four aunts, plus their cousins?”
“Yes, uncle Eddie has two daughters and two sons and aunt Phil has two daughters and one son. So in total we have eight aunts and three uncles, well, the ones that are kind of our Mom’s generation. Plus husbands, meaning, Mom’s brothers-in-law. Also, Tommy, who is Mom’s oldest cousin, is getting married next year, so we’ll get another aunt. She’s nice and she loves crafts, just like mom.”
Rose wrapped a blanket around herself more tightly.
“I thought a big family is when you have, like, two siblings” she mumbled slowly.
“Well, now you know what it means to have an actual big family. And Grandma has the biggest house, so she invites everyone for every holiday possible, and usually everyone comes. So there’s me, aunt Jane’s five, aunt Kitty’s twins and aunt Lydia’s Adele, who’s kind of our age, and aunt Mary’s Jimmy. Jimmy is not our actual cousin, because aunt Mary adopted him, but he’s been with her since he was like two or three months old, so he’s family anyway.”
Rose nodded mutely.
“And our cousins are mostly girls, because it’s just Jimmy and Jonathan, aunt Jane’s youngest, for boys. Grandma is very worried about us all, because she says nobody will be able to afford all these weddings once we’re all grown up. Grandpa then says that he hopes we all elope and let our parents keep the money, and usually then there is a row and uncle Charlie has to do something to make them stop.”

#

Rose sighed, swiping through Mina’s photoalbum on the tablet.
“I wish I could convince Dad to let me visit” she said dejectedly. “But I wouldn’t count on it. And if aunt Anne hears about it, she will run to aunt Catherine and she will do anything she can to stop me.”
“Why would she want to? I know you told me she wants father to marry aunt Anne, but this doesn’t make sense…”
Rose turned to face her sister, who was busy crocheting a bag from a ball of string for her craft project.
“Because they both like to make me not do stuff. I only learnt how to swim because the school requires it, even though we have a pool and a pond on the property. But aunt Anne said that she always felt that it is not ladylike to swim, and aunt Catherine agreed. And they said I can’t go to the public pool with other children from my school, even when aunt Georgiana went herself.”
“That’s stupid. Swimming is useful. Our coach says it can save your life someday.”
“Well, I suppose aunt Catherine would sooner die than be seen as unladylike.”
“Or she would wait for rescue and then complain that they were late.”
Rose snorted and nodded.
“And then there was this camp. I almost didn’t come because aunt Anne imagined that I would be mixing with inappropriate element. They nearly got Dad to switch my school to the very posh one on the other end of town. I’d spend whole morning every day just getting there. And I know some of these girls from my ballet classes, and I tell you, they are a nasty bunch. I wouldn’t want to sit by any of them for the world. Also, it’s segregated.”
Mina frowned.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a girls school. No guys.”
“Geez. What are they afraid of, that you’d get boy-cooties?”
“Inappropriate element, again. Apparently school dances are a sin. Or something.”
They sat in silence for a moment, looking at a photo of Elizabeth sitting by her sewing machine. Rose zoomed it in to get a better look at her face and sighed.
“Maybe you could come to us?” she suggested. “Would your… would mother allow you to come?”
Mina frowned.
“I don’t… I’m not sure. I could maybe convince aunt Jane to ask her to take me when they visit you, but…” she bit her lip.
“What?”
“I don’t think Mom likes father very much.”
Silence fell for a moment.
“Why?” Rose finally asked in a small voice.
“She never mentions him. Even when she once listed all her ex-boyfriends to a friend, she never said anything about him. I know because that friend asked which one of these was my father and Mom said ‘none’. So you see, she doesn’t even mention him, like, in normal way.”
“Dad never mentioned mother either, but…” Rose thought for a moment. “I think I once heard aunt Catherine rant about her, mostly about someone’s ungratefulness and aiming too high for their own good. And Dad said ‘not one more word about her, aunt’ and suddenly she went so silent.”
“And grandma doesn’t like him either” Mina said morosely. “Like, when I do something she doesn’t like, she says stuff like ‘so much like him’. I’m guessing father got on her nerves somehow.”
“I wonder how they managed to stay together long enough to have us” Rose sighed, rubbing her eyes. “Because it seems like nobody from one side has anything good to say about the other one.”
“Except for aunt Jane and uncle Charles, because they still visit both of them.”
“Yeah, but only you get to play with their kids.”
Mina nodded slowly.
“I think I know why they don’t ever take them visiting to you.”
Rose ate another cookie, waiting for Mina to proceed.
“It’s… If they brought them to a dinner and one of the little ones said something about meeting me with my daddy, I’d know there was something wrong. So they had to choose one house they don’t bring kids to.”
“And that was our house…”
“Because grandma would be furious if they tried coming without her grandbabies. So they had to choose our side as the ones to be visited in full cast.”
Rose groaned.
“I want to meet my cousins. I want to have more aunts! I just have Anne, who is stupid and always goes tattling to her mother, and aunt Georgiana who is like the sweetest thing ever, but she’d never do anything like aunt Jane, to argue or talk over Dad. She’s mostly sitting in her room and working on her articles and historical papers.”
“You have aunt Jane, too” Mina pointed out. “You can talk to her about stuff, I guess. I do.”
“But she lives closer to you, so it’s not like I can talk to her very often.”
Mina sighed.
“I’d like to see your house. And meet aunt Georgiana. She sounds nice.”
“If aunt Jane ever brings you, we could spend time together, I’d show you the gardens and everything. And you know, the best part would be, you could meet Dad. He’s…” she shrugged. “I don’t know. Other kids always complain about their Dads, but I’ve never understood why. My – our – Dad is just great, and he loves doing stuff with me, like riding horses. Or playing chess. He takes whole days off work, just to go with me somewhere. Last spring he took me to Bronte Parsonage to show me where they lived, when we were reading Jane Eyre at school.”
“I wish you could come to London and meet everyone” Mina sighed. “We have fabulous fun, playing in grandma’s garden. And we could go see all the good things in the city. There are all these museums I love, and the shops, and everything. Mom actually promised to take me for brafitting when I’m back from the camp, and if you could come, that would be even more fun.”
“Dad promised me a weekend hike in the mountains, once I’m back from the camp. That would be more fun with the two of us, too” Rose added. “And then we could…” she broke off. “You know what?”
“Hm?”
“I just imagined what fun we could have if we managed to get them to send us to the same school – I’d actually agree to a boarding school, if we got them to send both of us. Would you?”
Mina nodded slowly and then smiled.
“Oooh, can you imagine what kind of confusion we could cause? Like, if we cut our hair the same way and tried talking the same?”
“We anyway talk almost the same – Dad makes sure I don’t speak too much like a local girl – he said people used to laugh at him when he did it by accident at the Uni.”
“Wow. I can’t even start on the stuff we could do…”
“We can try now” Rose suggested suddenly. “Like I… I could cut my hair, you know. It’s not like I love this braid, but aunt Catherine insists on me having long hair. So if I cut it during the camp, she can’t do anything about it, right?”
Mina’s eyes widened.
“That would be so cool” she gasped. “And then we could just mess with everyone’s minds for the rest of the camp!”
“Wow.”
Mina felt her mouth suddenly go dry.
“Rose?”
“Hmm?”
“How would you” she swallowed “How would you feel about going to London after the camp is finished?”
Rose propped herself on one elbow and looked at her sister.
“That would be fab, but I don’t think Dad would agree, like I said.”
“Dad wouldn’t have to agree, you see. He wouldn’t even notice you were gone.”
“Wh… oh, wow.”
“Yep. I’d take all your stuff…”
“And I’d go to London and you to Derbyshire…”
“We could switch and nobody would notice!”
“You could say that you had to cut your hair because… because someone stuck chewing gum in it!”
“And you’d just have to play along and stop biting your nails.”
“What!?”
“I don’t bite mine” Mina waggled her fingers towards her sister. “And you do. So you have to stop and let them grow properly.”
“You’d have to start” Rose pointed out.
“Let’s say we claim I grew out of it, OK? Gross.”
Rose frowned.
“But what about houses? And school and people?”
Mina smiled.
“Totally covered. We still have six weeks of camp to make a proper, what Mom calls it, Knowledge Transfer. You teach me about Pemberley, I teach you about our flat, and building and stuff. So. You game?”
Rose grinned and sat up straighter.
“Oh yea. The biggest performance of my life! And you know what? We have all these lovely photos on our tablets and phones, right? It’s like a real life cheat sheet! We can learn faces and places and things, so you’ll show me all the cousins and I can show you everyone on my side and the gardens and my schoolmates. This way once school year starts, we can keep it up for some more time.”
Mina stiffened.
“School, yes. We have to make sure we know everything… Lord, I hate studying during summer!”
“For higher good” Rose said piously and kept her very serious face until they both collapsed with laughter. “OK, let’s start at home. If we don’t cover that, we’ll be found out immediately.”
“And what if we aren’t found out? We can’t keep it up infinitely.”
Rose pondered the question for a moment.
“If we aren’t found out by Halloween, then we tell. Once they switch us back, we’ll have enough time to correct all tests we flunk and get the grades up. Because, come on, how good is your French?”
Mina snorted.
“Probably about as good as your Italian.”
“I suppose so. OK, time to make a plan.”

Double Pride Double Trouble – CH 02

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Chapter 2: While still being so different

Their things were packed in a matter of minutes and their cabin mates regarded them sorrowfully (some, however, with hidden relief) as they trudged down the lane to the last cabin of the camp. It was separated from the other, lived-in cabins by a few empty ones and had the form of an old farmhouse – it had been there since the camp had been built, just after the war, most probably.
Mina crawled up the stairs, dragging her backpack, her shoulder bag and the guitar and immediately deposited them on the bed closer to the door.
Rose had to pull up a rolling suitcase, which took her more time and much more sweat. She made an annoyed sound, seeing the closer bed taken, but silently marched to the other bed and flopped bonelessly on it.
“You are expected in the kitchen in twenty minutes” they heard from the outside and groaned – for once in total agreement.

#

Mina was heroically chopping the cabbage for the big soup pot, trying not to smirk in amusement as Rose was getting dressed down by the main cook for being unable to peel potatoes. The poor girl apparently had never ever done anything in the kitchen but was more than unwilling to admit it.
Well, the cabbage was all chopped, and the carrots were waiting, but Rose was pouting in the corner, being set to wash the apples for the afternoon. Mina couldn’t really imagine a house in which a kid would not be able to peel a stupid potato by the age of fourteen.

#

Rose took delight in watering the plants. There was something immensely satisfying in tending to a garden. She was never allowed to do this at home – not since Aunt Catherine found out that one could actually get dirty in the gardens. Ever since, trying to get something to grow was a battle Rose waged on her own windowsill, covering the attempts at making a beanstalk climb with “school project”.
Mina wasn’t doing quite as well. She had managed to drop her seed packet, step in a molehill three times and almost sat on a rake. She was muddy, dirty and rather annoyed. And what was worse, Rose was absolutely perfect at that stuff, while Mina couldn’t wait to get away from the dirt, the poking tools and the weeds she was supposed to magically distinguish from carrot.

#

Rose was dying of boredom. Sewing. SEWING. There were machines in the world for a purpose. She couldn’t keep an even stitch and she never planned to need one. The idea of sewing a plush toy “for a sister or a cousin” was making her actually angry. She didn’t have anyone to give a plushie to.
Mina was in heaven. This was like all the times when Mom allowed her to dig up the bags of yarn and patchwork pieces and pick her own design. Mom never used faux fur, so this was even better because once she came home, she would be able to show Mom something only Mina knew how to do!

#

And so it went, hour by hour, sports, crafts, singing, field trips and kitchen duty. Each trying to talk to the other as little as possible, despite the fact that mostly they had only each other for company – including meals, as Mrs Hill managed to set up an isolation table only for them, too.

#

Mina was on a verge of strangling the pouty, huffing and mumbling Rose, especially during meals. She had never felt as much under scrutiny, even during the family dinners when Grandma discussed everyone’s manners with relish – usually focusing on Mina’s lack thereof – as when Rose looked at her elbow propped on the table with such revulsion.
On the other hand, Rose seemed quite unable to do anything by herself that was more complicated than brushing her hair. Every stuck window was a reason for complaining.

#

Rose wanted nothing more than for Mina to get lost in the woods. The superiority of the girl was getting on her nerves each and every second. She could do everything. Pull a splinter out with her tweezers – she had special tweezers in her backpack! Hang a rope to dry her clothes. Open stupid stuck windows.
Still, she ate like a little kid, forgetting to use her knife and sometimes trying to cut with her fork, being obviously too lazy to behave properly.

#

The cabin was rather draughty and they both sat on their cots, carefully wrapped in layers of blankets.
The day promised to be ugly and all sport and activities were cancelled due to the risk of heavy rain. Even the computers in the rec room were shut down, just in case a storm came later. Everyone took their food from the cafeteria and skipped trying to eat it in the windy barn of a dining room, taking the plates and cups to their cabins, with adults carefully not noticing that breach in camp rules.
Rose was nibbling on a sandwich, typing something on her tablet at the same time, when a gust of wind across their floor actually moved her slippers.
“All right, enough is enough” Mina said and stood up. “Come on, we need to fix it.”
As Rose stared at her in wonder, she pulled on her boots and marched out. Rose caught up to her at the back of the cabin.
“What are you doing?” she asked, looking at Mina in surprise.
“I’m quite sure that draught is not supposed to be that strong. Ah, you see? There is a plank that doesn’t sit between the others properly. Good thing the nail is still in it. Wait a moment. I’ll try to find another, so it sits better.”
She was back in a minute, holding a rather rusty nail and a complicated tool.
“That’s a multi-hammer” she explained. “Got it for my birthday, from my aunt. Best gift ever.”
She carefully placed the plank back where it was supposed to be and hammered the nail home, adding a few taps at the end to drive it as deep as it could go.
Rose nodded.
“I got pliers like this. But aunt Anne took them away. She’s not really that big on me doing stuff by myself. She fought against me coming here, too. I think she still feels I’m just a kid.”
“Crazy. We’re fourteen. It’s not like we’re toddlers or babies. I feel quite up to the challenge of spending two months away from home. And of using a hammer.”
Mina lined up the second nail and bashed on its head in satisfaction until it was flush with the wood.
“This should do it” she wiped her hands on her knees. “Dear auntie Jane, I have to tell her I used it for something serious, finally.”
Rose licked her lips.
“Aunt Jane?”
“M-hm.”
“Funny thing” Rose said “I got my pliers from an aunt also named Jane, just before she told me about this camp. And…” she pulled the hammer from Mina’s hand slowly. “My pliers look like they came from the same set…”
Mina frowned.
“Like what?”
“Well, they have the same kind of decoration and the handles are pink with these holes in them” Rose pointed. “That’s weird.”
She handed the hammer back to Mina, who looked at it, frowning.
“Let’s go inside. I have some cookies from my mom if you want…?”
Rose’s eyes widened.
“Sure!”

Double Pride, Double Trouble – CH 01

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Chapter 1: Because we are too similar

“Darcy! Get off her this instant!”
Everyone froze. Two bodies, just a second ago entwined on the soft surface, went rigid.
“Get. Off. Her. Now.”
The trainer’s voice was ice calm.

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Manners

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“So this is the famous good breeding and proper manners that are so important in the Town?” she asked, both brows high on her forehead. “I’m so happy we don’t have these in the country. We wouldn’t know what to do with such a treasure.”

He stifled a giggle and made a choking sound.

“How terrible, Mr Darcy! You are already ill of it, I’m quite sure!”

“Thank you, Miss Elizabeth, but I’m quite well. However I’d like to see some members of the ton reacting to your statement. I’m almost certain the spectacle would be… interesting.”

“Oh, la, sir” she waved her imagined handkerchief and rolled her eyes heavenwards. “I’m perfectly aware of my status as a poor, unsophisticated small-town girl – practically a country savage! I’ve actually walked on an unpaved path at least once and most probably got sunburnt doing it! All town ladies would eat me for breakfast with their accomplishments, education and vast knowledge of topics most suitable for morning visit discussions.”

He executed a slight bow in her direction.

“I would however place my bet on you – if any bets were placed on ladies in situations such as these – to be able to survive any conversation on good walking shoes, ways to evade unruly horses and which trees are the best cover from rain.”

She blushed so hotly he could well nigh feel the wave of warmth coming from her.

“Please, Mr Darcy. These are hardly the topics for a proper morning visit in the Town. They aren’t even quite proper for a visit in the country, especially if one’s mother is sitting in on said visit and making various remarks about the fate that awaits the girls who climb trees.”

“So you also climbed trees, how interesting. Which kinds?”

“Mr Darcy! I’m not going to discuss the theory and practice of climbing trees in the middle of the park!”

“Would you rather discuss it in the middle of a drawing room?” he frowned in mock non-understanding. “I have not the pleasure of comprehending your unwillingness in this subject.”

She closed her eyes for a second, making the face of a person praying for patience.

“I’d rather not discuss my few painful and traumatic – at least to my mother – attempts at climbing trees with anyone and at any time or place. I’d rather not discuss the state of my dresses afterwards, either. Or the talking to I received from my father on each of these occasions. Or the one time that I managed to fell down a particularly tall chestnut tree and land on young Tom Lucas who was standing there and shouting encouragements all the time.”

“Ah” he inhaled slowly. “Did you break anything?”

“Yes. His left ankle.”

“Ah. Did it hurt?”

“From the way he screamed, a lot. He was, however, a rather plump boy, so my landing was soft.”

“May I inquire as to your age at that time?”

She stretched her gloved palms and counted silently.

“We must have both been about seven or so.”

“Did he keep accompanying you on other excursions?”

“I’m afraid sir William thought I was a bad example to his heir and he sent him away to school as soon as the ankle healed. That was the only way to make sure we won’t come into any contact before we’re both quite grown up.”

He smirked and looked down at the top of her bonnet.

“I’m finding such astonishing new things about you, I’m quite scared of the idea of introducing you to my sister. She’s but fifteen and could probably happily climb numerous trees in our gardens, had she ever had this kind of idea. I may want to keep the two of you separated so that she doesn’t get too… well. Just thinking about the cost of gowns she could shred to nothing if she took to climbing pines…” he shuddered theatrically.

She sighed.

“What can I do? You’re already committed to accompanying me to the dinner at your aunt’s tomorrow, and your sister will certainly be there. We will have to speak a little, and as we’ve already ascertained, I’m unable to keep to the correct topics. So I will either be absolutely dull and speak about weather in Hertfordshire as compared to the, most probably, superior weather in Derbyshire, or we’ll stray into the dangerous subjects of walking the stony paths and getting our dresses muddy.”

He smiled, unseen by her. Quite happily. She was holding his heart in her slender palm, not even knowing it. From the moment he almost run her over with his horse and she told him off so soundly he almost fell from his saddle, he admired her wit and vivacity and willingness to experience life in all its aspects. Their paths crossed again and again, as he met her ruining her parasol to fish someone’s purse from stinking river water and that someone turned out to be his own aunt Theresa, or when she snatched the last copy of a book he was looking for and paid for it before he managed to protest. He followed her, begging to let him buy the book off her, even for double or triple price, until she was joined by an older couple who looked at him with visible surprise – and a bit of apprehension, even though she was laughing all the time.

He felt like a fool. He was talked about in the Town and he hated the feeling, but he couldn’t help himself and keep away from her. Her relations in trade, her position in life, everything should have helped him to rein in the feeling of being pulled towards her, but every time he thought about them, they seemed somehow unimportant. His aunt was all for the match, as Elisabeth made her recall her own young years in her family’s estate. His uncle kept wisely silent on the topic, probably recalling the same. His cousins… He didn’t care what they thought. He thought she was perfect and this small walk in the park only made him even more sure, especially watching her trade barbs with some of the fashionable wannabe-Mrs-Darcys that accosted her just before he arrived.

“Mr Darcy?”

“Pardon?” he blinked and came out of his reverie. “I’m so sorry, I was just a bit lost in thought.”

“As long as we don’t get lost in the park, I’m quite happy” she smirked. “I was thinking about manners and wanted to consult with you, you having much more experience in the way the Town works in these matters.”

“Anything I can do to help. I’m yours to command.”

She tapped her lips with a finger.

“I was trying to work out the proper way for a lady to determine whether a gentleman’s intentions towards her are serious or not. Is there a savoir-faire solution for this kind of quandry?”

Written by Srebrna

2014/02/05 at 02:08