The Anonymous Amanuensis
Regency England is a man's world, until one woman decides to write her own rules...
eBook ISBN 978-1-60174-042-7
"Fans of Shakespeare know that this isn't a new plot, but it is a fun one. It's told with a light touch that makes the story seem fresh. Eve's feelings ring true, as does James' confusion. 4 STARS!"--Michelle Loseke, Affaire de Coeur
"I am not quite sure how to state it, Tom," Eve said hesitantly. "I have a problem that I cannot solve and I need your advice."
"Advice I have in plenty. The first of it is to be done with this masquerade. I still cannot like it," Tom said, reminding her of a subject of frequent disagreement between them.
Eve shook her head. "No, dear friend, that is not a thing I will do. I am earning my living. I am happy with Mr. Quinton. And I particularly enjoy my freedom from the strictures which surround young women."
She skipped a little ahead of her companion, then turned and bowed extravagantly to him. "Give up all of this? Give up being able to walk in the park of an evening, to explore London freely, to go about on my own without a chaperone, and to be free from unwelcome advances by drunken-and sometimes sober-gentlemen? No, I would not willingly relinquish my trousers, not now."
She became serious. "But that is what I wish to speak to you about."
"You need more trousers," Tom ventured.
"No. Well, yes, I would like another outfit. One that is perhaps less worn than those I have. If I were to give you the funds, could you, perhaps..."
"I will, though I should not."
"Thank you. You are a true friend. No, Tom, what I wished to say is how am I going to avoid going to Mrs. Storridge's so often?"
"Why should you?"
"It has become very uncomfortable. I no longer have to think at all times of how to behave, how to move as a man. I sometimes go on for hours at a time forgetting that I am anything but a young male. I will not say that I always think as a man, for I do not. But I almost always behave as one now. On those days when I return to skirts, I must constantly remind myself that I am a young woman."
"I don't understand. You are a young woman. Why should it be uncomfortable to act as one?"
"When I first put on trousers, I was constantly aware of them. Every moment, I worried that I would do something, make a motion or react in a manner out of character. I observed Mr. Quinton and his servants, trying to ape their motions and their turns of phrase. The first few Wednesdays I was free, I found myself watching other young men, storing away how they moved and how they laughed, their language and their mannerisms, so that I could imitate them. Gradually it became easier to act...to be the young man I appeared. "
Eve walked a few paces in silence, seeking the right words. "Eventually I found that I had developed a...a masculine personality of my own. But on the days when I become female again for a few hours, I am thrown into confusion. All my carefully cultivated manners, the very way I walk, has to be suppressed. And the next day is even worse, for I have to change personas and become a man again.
"It is very trying, Tom. I fear that one day I will forget who I am. "
"Well, I cannot understand how you could ever forget that you are a woman," Tom said, a note of criticism in his voice.
"Well, I do not exactly forget. I just do not remember. Can you not see the difference?"
"How can I explain it? Look, Tom, Papa had a friend in Hamburg who was an actor. I remember him telling us one evening that he 'slipped inside the skin' of the characters he played. He tried to see the world from their eyes and to react to it as they would have. I recall clearly that he said it was sometimes difficult to remember who he really was, once he was thoroughly inside one of his characters."
Stopping, she turned and faced Tom, holding his eyes with her gaze. "I am no different from an actor in that I am playing a role. But I must play it all the time. I must forget that I am Eve Dixon, the girl who grew up in Europe and who once dreamed of silken ball gowns and a husband and children. Now I am Eve Dixon, a young man who wishes to get on in the world, possibly become a merchant like my employer. I study the issues before Parliament, the profits to be made on this cargo or that, even the stocks on 'Change, just like any other ambitious young man."
She laughed, somewhat ruefully. "Why, the other day I found myself telling Mosely with all sincerity that I had an urge to go to the Indies and make my fortune."