BLACK TULIP: Ten Years Later….
Here it is, our second Black Tulip Anniversary Month contest!
It’s been ten years in real time since The Masque of the Black Tulip was first published, but it got me thinking. When we left Henrietta and Miles in Black Tulip, it was summer of 1803 and they were both in their early twenties.
What would life be like for Henrietta and Miles ten years on, in 1813?
Are they still stumbling over French spies in the shrubbery? Has Henrietta managed to redecorate Loring House as an exact replica of Uppington House? Did Miles’s parents ever return from the Continent? (And, if so, did they survive their initial encounter with Lady Uppington, who is still exceedingly cross over their abandonment of young Miles?) And has Miles finally succeeded in wresting that ginger biscuit recipe from Cook? Inquiring minds want to know.
So here, should you choose to accept it, is your challenge:
What do you think Hen’s and Miles’s life is like in 1813?
Your answer can be as short or as long, as serious or as silly as you like. Just post in the comments section below. One person will be chosen at random to receive a first edition, signed hardcover of The Masque of the Black Tulip. The winner will be announced on Monday.
According to the Loring House Under-Butler’s cousin’s dog-walker, Miles, Viscount of Loring, was overheard to be making celebratory hoots upon the occasion of his wife, Lady Henrietta, revealing that she is increasing again. It was originally thought that the enraptured hooting was actually weeping over the possibility of having a ninth daughter, until it was seen that the Viscount was eating a ginger biscuit, and any erroneous tears were due to mild choking on pastry crumbs while making delighted noises. Lady Henrietta, who has obviously grown used to her husband’s pastry-ridden guffaws, simply pounded him on the back until he recovered and proceeded to march her feminine brood, all wearing identical dresses and carrying bunnies-named-Bunny, on their morning constitutional.
Well, I wouldn’t know, because I have had the obvious misfortune of missing out on this series. It’s apparent that I will have to rectify the situation immediately! Now where’s my wallet?
I think their life would have been full of silliness and love <3
I think they will be as happy and as in love as Henrietta’s parents were portrayed in the series!
I think Hen’s and Miles’s life is full of love and happiness. <3
Henrietta and Jane would still be making their coded correspondences. Miles would be begging their children to find and pilfer cook’s ginger biscuit recipe.
In 1813, after receiving Henrietta’s solemn promises of protection from Lady Uppington, Miles’s parents returned to meet their six grandchildren. Shortly afterwards, the shrubbery became infested with French spies. Miles needs extra ginger biscuits to sustain his efforts to determine what, if any, connection there is between these two events. Henrietta is quite certain that there is one, and has laid aside pattern-books for code books. She is quite happy to do so,as the redecorating project had lost much of its charm sometime about the eighth year and fifth pregnancy.
Mikes and Hen are reconciled with Amy and Richard!
Many, many children will have over run the house.
Miles and Henrietta have finally succeeded in luring Cook to Loring House and Lady Uppington is not pleased!
Cook has passed on to the great kitchen in the Beyond, leaving Henrietta a copy of her recipe so that she can use the biscuits to keep Miles in line. Miles swears tho’ that an ingredient was left out, and they are just not the same.
There are 4 children in the household – 2 sets of twins – who have learned coding from the cradle, so coded messages are the norm in the household – Miles & Hen have a code, the kids share a code (that the parents have yet to decode), the elder twins, Reginald and Richard, have a code and the younger twins, Amy & Amelia, a different code. It is, however, very difficult to keep Nannies and Tutors…..
They were one of my favorite couples in the series- so I hope 10 years finds them happily married with children. Miles still fussing over Henrietta.
Miles is still brushing back that floppy lock of hair, and Henrietta is trying to make their children take up interest in the family spy business. They never were able to get Cook to give them the ginger biscuit recipe, but one their children has learned to make an acceptable substitute to keep the peace.
They are all very happy and everyone is forgiven and they have exciting family get-togethers in libraries.
Only occasionally are there spies in the shrubbery. Most of the time it’s just the children playing hide and seek, or Miles and Henrietta seeking a place to hide from the children. 🙂
I think in ten years Miles and Henrietta will be very happy, still madly in love and with six children, Hen will be expecting the seventh. I think they will talking again with Amy and Richard. They will be having a valentine’s party with lots of ginger biscuits from the original Cook’s recipe.
They have three clever little girls that are running their own sleuthing club!
I think they are happily married with a few kids but still itch to have the odd adventure. Whenever Jane comes to visit she always finds ways to get them out of the house and get their blood pumping and adrenaline flowing.
I haven’t actually read the book and from the summary I can see that it would be very interesting!! I would like to meet Henrietta and Miles and read about their story!!
Henrietta and Miles are living happily at Loring House with their three children, who love ginger biscuits as much as their father. They still can’t resist getting involved in the occasional secret mission and will of course raise their children to carry on the family business.
28 June, 1813
My dearest Miles,
Well, what do you think, my love? I have been here at Bad Schnorzwald for only four days, and already I am well enough to sit up in the garden. (Have no fear — I am well wrapped up. I have made the acquaintance of an amiable young Danish countess known to her friends as Topsy. On my very first morning, when I realized that Sarah had forgotten to pack my favorite mantle — you know, the pale rose cashmere — dear Topsy immediately offered me the use of her best shawl and lap-robe, which are both toasty and elegant. I hesitated to accept until I learned that Topsy has a vast collection of cloaks, pelisses, capes, tippets, redingotes, and one marvelous plum velvet mantelet with fur lappets. Quite understandable, really, when one thinks of the weather in Copenhagen —
Oh, dear — what was I saying?
My health is much improved already, dearest. The fatigues attendant on my last confinement, though debilitating, have proven transitory. (Though of course it was lovely and sweet of you to insist on my coming straightaway to the best spa in Europe.) I rejoice to think how soon I shall be able to return to you and the children!
Despite being a continental countess, dear Topsy is not at all high in the instep. We have a delightful time taking the cure together, making our daily visit to the Pump Room (or Brunnenhaus as it is known here) and cheering one another on as we gulp down the sulfurous waters with a bold heart. I may confess in these pages that Topsy is much inclined to mischief, and that the pair of us have lately played a merry prank of her devising — involving a bedsheet and a great number of frogs — upon the Dowager Duchess of Avon, who is here for her gout.
It was during the ensuing chaos that I happened upon to observe something rather startling. The duchess’s apartments are situated on one side of a salon on the first floor. On the opposite side (Topsy had informed me) are chambers inhabited by a mysterious couple who never appear in society, but only receive private visitors. Who the reclusive pair may be, Topsy did not know: only that they seem to be acquainted with a great many physicians and an equal number of Italian gentlemen connected with the opera.
Well, last night, as everyone was shouting and rushing about, and doors were banging open, and Topsy and I were doing our best to gather up the scattered frogs to prevent their being squished — at the height of the furore, I lunged after one errant amphibian, tripped slightly, and found myself within the apartments of the unknown couple.
Frog in hand, I looked up from my semi-recumbent position, ready to apologize and withdraw. What I saw were three people, so deep in conversation that they seemed not to have noticed my intrusion.
There was a lady aged fifty or so, elegantly attired *à la italienne* in a gown of deep red velvet that somehow suggested theatre curtains. At her throat hung a cunning diamond pendant in the shape of a treble clef. In her hands she held what looked like the libretto to *Don Giovanni*, which she fondled and caressed in a most suggestive manner.
Beside her was a gentleman who seemed to be more stricken in years, though it was hard to tell owing to the voluminous cloaks and shawls and comforters in which he was swathed. Even the nose that peeked out was usually obscured by the application of a handkerchief soaked in medicinal camphor. (I could smell it all the way across the room.) Two stout sticks leaned against his chair, suggesting that the poor gentlemen was unable to walk unaided. On the table before him were a large pill box and a bottle of murky mineral water. Now and then he moaned softly and dabbed feebly at his joints.
Both the lady and the gentlemen were conversing in fluent French. Yet something about their pronunciation suggested that their first language had been English, but that it had been so long since they’d spoken in that tongue that they’d almost forgotten it. Why, I wondered, should a couple of such consequence choose to live in exile from their native land?
But now I come to the strangest thing of all. The third person present was a tall Frenchman dressed all in black, with a bunch of black tulips in his hat and another pinned to his coat with a brooch shaped like a guillotine. I think he was not quite a gentleman, for he was chewing sausage with his mouth open and he smelled rather high. There was a power-mad gleam in his eyes — as well as I could see, at least, for he wore a black mask that covered his face from brows to upper lip.
Thrusting the frog into my reticule, I crawled noiselessly backward out of the room.
I don’t suppose you have any notion who these two people may be?
I know you’ll say I’m leaping to conclusions, but could it be that their friend is, in fact, a French spy? In which case, it looks as though some dreadful plot is being hatched in a first-floor sitting room at the Kurhaus Hotel in Upper Bad Schnorzwald, Bavaria.
Topsy and I feel that it’s our duty to investigate.
With all my love,