Category Archives: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 9 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

Content warning: today’s installment contains adult content.

 

Tuesday, 9th November 1920

Hardie came to see me.

I don’t know how he found me out. Perhaps he is some sort of clairvoyant–a Theosophist–a qigong master. Perhaps he asked a medium.

I am in a daze. I will try to set things out in order.

I was in our hotel room, reading. Aunt Iris had gone out to meet one of her friends.

(Aunt Iris is an odd fish: even though she makes at least three trips to France in a year, the only French person she ever goes to see is her tailor, and all her friends in Paris are English people. I suppose it is because she can only say “too expensive” and “the silk, please” in French. Perhaps I shouldn’t blame her, but I have already learnt to say “chocolate cake” and “pigeon” and “where is the station?” in French, and I have only been here a week.)

But I digress. I was reading Charlotte Bronte, and Jane was being serenaded by Mr. Rochester. (I see the source of all my problems: a Bronte was completely the wrong thing to be reading, unless it were an Anne. I should have been reading George Eliot.) Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 10 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Thursday, 18th November 1920

Our last day in Paris. Hardie took me out to lunch, then we went for a walk in the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was very very cold, but startlingly pretty despite the weather: orderly European gardens with wide gravel paths, statues, flowerbeds. It would be lovely in the summer. (How European it makes me feel to write that!)

“It is nice to meet outside a hotel room for once,” I remarked.

“I am fittingly reproached,” said Hardie. “I have not been very gallant, have I?”

“No. But you have been very instructive,” I said to comfort him, but Hardie was not listening.

“My dearest, if you would come to me in London, preferably auntless, there would be no need for these sordid assignations in hotels. Diana and I would welcome you into our own home–”

“Oh no no no,” I said, alarmed. “Of course I shan’t see you in London. I have been perfectly happy with the sordid assignations. I simply meant that it is nice to see these gardens, and not be cooped up in a hotel all day. I’ve not had many chances to see the city. Aunt Iris doesn’t much like to go out for anything besides shopping.”

Hardie looked away, so I knew I had hurt his feelings. For a celebrity he has an awful excess of sensibility, and is very anxious about one’s opinion of him. Perhaps it comes of being an artist. Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 11 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Tuesday, 1st February 1921

I bumped into Ravi on Charing Cross Road today. I went there to purchase the sequel to The Duke’s Folly. It’s called The Duke’s Delight. The Duke has procreated since the previous book, and his charming harum-scarum daughter has interrupted her primary occupation of getting into scrapes to become attracted to an ineligible young officer, thus repeating the mistakes of the previous generation. (My mother would say it was karma, dishing up to the Duke a fitting revenge for his unfilial actions in the first book.)

I came up the road with my brown paper parcel and there was Ravi standing next to a bin of discounted books, a Sanskrit grammar in one hand and a monograph on Ceylonese natural history in the other.

“Do you know Sanskrit, Ravi?” I said.

He started, came back down to Earth, and smiled at me.

“I’ve been making a study of it,” he said. “I learnt a little when I was a boy, but that was a very long time ago. I’m trying to pick it up again. Are you busy? Would you like to have tea with me?”

“Is it tea time already?” I said. “Oh!” I caught his wrist and covered his watch with my hand. “Now tell me what time it is.”

“It’s half past three,” said Ravi. “No–twenty-five to. And we’ve had a good month at the ORL. I am in a mood to spend my riches. Let me just acquire these books and then we will go to Fortnum & Mason.”

When he’d paid he swiped my parcel and put it under his arm with his usual unfussy courtesy. We went off down the street, happy as ducks in a bakery.

“It is precisely twenty-five to,” I said. “And you didn’t even look! Was there any indication that you would be a genius when you were born? Did your mother observe that the back of your head jutted out particularly, or did you perhaps have six toes on one foot?” Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 12 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Thursday, 3rd February 1921

I told Hardie and Diana today. I did it almost as soon as I had sat down, for fear that I should lose my nerve if I waited. Diana was pouring us tea when I turned to Hardie and said:

“Hardie, you have said to me before that you tell Mrs. Hardie everything, don’t you?”

“My dear,” said Diana. “Call me Diana, please.”

Hardie smiled at her. “Indeed there are no secrets between us.”

Diana put down her teapot and passed me my cup of tea.

“Is this why you don’t come to see us half as often as you should?” she said. “My dear, I know everything–everything. And I can’t say how happy it makes me that Hardie should have found a gem like you.”

“Oh, it’s not that,” I said hastily. “I’ve just been rather busy. It is kind of you to keep inviting me. But I did tell Hardie that I had no intention of disrupting your family routine.”

“She’s had her fill of me and would throw me away like an old toy,” Hardie confided in Diana.

“And it delights me that you are such an obdurate gem,” said Diana to me. “You can’t think how good it is for him. The course of life is altogether too smooth for Sebastian and a good snubbing is tremendously bracing for his constitution. He wakes up in the morning snorting like a bull and dashes to his study and writes three articles before lunchtime.”

Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 13 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Wednesday, 16th February 1921

What I did today! I have not got words bad enough to describe myself. Of all the most absurd heedless silly romantic nincompoops–

But this calling myself names is to no purpose. I shall try to record my misdeeds in as straightforward a fashion as I can. I have decided that this journal is to be an instructive text for my grandchildren, so that they may learn by my example not to be the addlebrainedest blunderer who ever lived. (I must remember to redact the bits about Hardie’s parts.)

Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 14 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Tuesday, 22nd February 1921

Well, here we are. We arrived at eight in the morning, me and the poor benighted worm who sleeps, chewing on its tail, inside me. The woman who runs the establishment is a Mrs. Crowther, a mouse-coloured lady with sharp eyes and a wobbly voice shot through with vibrato, which makes her sound as if she is always on the verge of tears.

She took my bag and led me to my room and brought me breakfast here, and now I am writing at my desk by the window, looking out at rolling green meadows.

Mrs. Crowther is a widow, but her assistants are Misses mostly. They are all very nice: they knit and are tremendously tactful. The food is British and hearty, and the furnishings are soothing, if plain. Perhaps they thought patterns might distress our minds further. Anyway there are plenty of shelves in my room, and a lending library in the village, so I’ll have enough to keep myself busy with.

I will be all right here. Diana and Hardie wanted to send me to his old nurse, who lives on a farm in Kent. I had nightmarish visions of an apple-cheeked old lady, who would feed me milk fresh from the cow and indulge me for her old charge’s sake, and call me “that poor young creature”. Horrors!

I knew I should have to come up with a plausible alternative if I were to avoid being drawn into the spider’s web. Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 15 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Monday, 14th March 1921

I have made a friend! Those of us who loved not wisely but too well are quarantined from the decent women, so there has not been much opportunity for conversation with the other half. But I was struck down by a vile cold this past week, and have only been able to creep out of my room today. I was too late for lunch, but one of the Misses took pity on me and persuaded the cook to whip something up for me.

I was gnawing doggedly on a potato, alone in the dining room, when a girl came in and sat down across the table from me. She asked if I wouldn’t mind her horning in on my bread rolls.

“Please do,” I said.

I liked the look of her at once: she had untidy brown hair, and bright dark eyes that darted as a bird’s eyes do, taking in everything about her. She looked like a nice squirrel. “Are you sure you don’t want a sardine?”

“No–the plainest possible bread. A crust would be even better, in fact,” she said, extracting one from a roll. “I have been fed on milk and fat for days. Bread and water is my idea of heaven. What is your name? I am Margery.”

“My name is Jade,” I said. I don’t tell people my real name, after the way everyone at university mangled it. It’s fortunate that my name can be translated into a name that sounds sensible in English. Imagine if I had been named Swallow, or Plum.

“That is a pretty name,” said Margery.

“So is yours,” I said courteously. “What are you in for?”

Margery cast a look around to check that none of the Misses were hovering, and swallowed a crust.

“I’m mad,” she confided. “And you?”

“I’m bad,” I said. Continue reading

Fiction: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo (Part 16 of 20)

I’m posting a section a day of my epistolary romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. You can read it online for free here (click on the “Perilous Life of Jade Yeo” category to access the other posts), or you can buy the ebook at Smashwords or Amazon. The ebook contains the complete 23,000-word novella.

 

Thursday, 24th March 1921

Today we finished Pride and Prejudice. I have been reading it to Margery for the past week, though we both know it almost by heart. When I had read the last word Margery rolled over on the ottoman and sighed.

“That is my favourite love story,” she said. “Jade, what is it like to be in love?”

“What makes you think I would know?” I said.

“Why, of course you do,” Margery said. “Why else would you be having Claude?”

Margery is convinced that the baby is going to be a boy, and not only that, but that he will be a Claude. I am not persuaded on either count, but there’s no harm in letting her suppose. At any rate Claude is better than Aloysius, which was her last guess.

“Pure wantonness,” I suggested.

Margery considered this, but she shook her head.

“No, no,” she said. “You’ve been in love. I think you’re in love even now. You have the look. I’ve never been in love myself, but I know it.” Continue reading