I usually don’t share bits from Works in Progress until they’re no longer in progress– partly because I’m never entirely sure it’s really going to turn into a book until it’s done and partly because I never know what I’m going to change or cut during the editorial phases.
But this time, I just couldn’t resist.
Remember that horrid novel Miss Gwen was working on? Well, it’s called The Convent of Orsino. (Miss Gwen knew her market: she was going for those Castle of Otranto and The Monk readers.) Poor Eloise is struggling through it, looking for some clue to the whereabouts of the lost jewels of Berar. Because, really, why would anyone have written anything that awful unless it was in code?
We’re not going to get to read the whole book– because I’m not sure my nerves would survive the experience of writing it– but all the historical chapters begin with snippets from Miss Gwen’s grand oeuvre.
Here’s one for your amusement:
“I seek my daughter,” quoth bold Sir Magnifico.
“Seek her not here,” warned the Mother Superior, “For she is not within these walls.”
She spoke him fair, but Sir Magnifico’s misgivings misgave him. “Show me to her cell,” he commanded, “and then we shall see what is to be seen.”
The Mother Superior regarded him with a weary eye. “Bold sir,” she said, “It is not what is seen, but what is unseen that we needs must see.”
“Madam,” quoth the knight. “Your speech be passing strange.”
— From The Convent of Orsino by A Lady
(and if you were any kind of gentleman, you would stop trying to enquire into her identity!)
Believe it or not, this was the runaway bestseller of 1806. Hey, it has vampires in it.