Pride and Precedence: Combat Shopping


A continuing series by Persuasion’s Mary Musgrove

It’s Black Friday, and for those who live in cities, it is a day of never-ending shopping. My husband calls this Retail Therapy. (Can I help it if purchases cheer me up?)  Bless me, I’ve told him countless times that we would be happier and save money by traveling to the Metropolis for Black Friday. As usual he will not listen.

The men who are the most stubborn are those who are easygoing and agreeable. Smiles and sallies conceal a heart of stone!

Even though I am stuck here in Uppercross, I do know a thing or two about Combat Shopping. Serious bargain hunting is not for the faint of heart.

It’s not about Christmas gifts.  This is what everyone says, but I know the truth. Black Friday is all about shopping for yourself!

Definitely hit the designer boutiques, because you must look your best. The rector claims that Christmas is about peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind. It isn’t. Christmas is about parties! And a girl needs more than one new outfit.

  • A ‘more-prosperous-than-you’ gown for the hunt club and philanthropic dinners
  • A swank ‘elegant-casual’ outfit for in-home entertaining
  • The sleek, on-trend New Year’s Eve party dress
  • New shoes and a handbag for each of the above
  • An elegant dressing gown and slippers for Christmas morning with the children

Britai97Bruises and shouting are worth the trouble. Look, markdowns feature clothes that other women have rejected, so why should you buy? Ah, but if customers are fighting over a garment, this shows its value. Elbow in and start grabbing. Use pepper spray only as a last resort.

The battle is real, so dress the part. Since you won’t be seeing anyone you know, swallow your pride and wear yoga pants and a leotard. Why waste time waiting for a fitting room?  Slide on that gown right in the crowded showroom! Boots are a help in holding your ground and for treading on toes. Or for delivering a well-placed kick.

Carria76Hire a driver for the day. Crowds are impossible and so is parking. Why be frazzled and risk having your packages stolen from your car?

Meet friends for mid-morning coffee to display your purchases. Study their reactions. If there is no glint of envy, return the item at once.

It is dangerous to carry cash. Thieves and pickpockets are everywhere! It is therefore prudent to use credit. If you find bargains that you cannot pass up, you won’t be hobbled by regret.

The tobacconist is your friend, and so is the proprietor of the gun shop.
 Nothing says “I love you” better than a timely purchase of manly gear for your husband. Men will forgive much if there is something for them among the pile of packages. “But I could not pass up this big screen television!” is something your man will certainly understand.

But alas, I cannot partake in your national day of shopping. Such a pity, for there is nothing like new merchandise to put heart into a weary wife.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross

Have you discovered Mercy’s Embrace?
Romance, adventure, and Admiral Patrick McGillvary are waiting …


Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini

Wentworth Wednesday

Chapter 10, part 2

We do so wish that Charles had married Anne instead. I suppose you know he
wanted to marry Anne?”

After a moment’s pause, Captain Wentworth said–

“Do you mean that she refused him?”

“Oh! yes; certainly.”


Wentworth asked when this happened and was told events but no years or dates of any sort. He did not know how long the Charles Musgroves had been married but by the ages of the sons, it was not likely to be more than four, at the outside, five years. Anne could have been safe and cared for by a decent man, and respected by his family.

But she turned him down. Lack of love on her part? Thoughts of him perhaps.
No matter how he calculated, Frederick must give Anne credit for not escaping their engagement and leaping into a more suitable match with another man.

“Well, that is Miss Elliot’s loss. Your brother is a fine man. And while she would not have stepped up in rank, she would have improved her lot immensely.”

Louisa paused and tossed some shells into the shrubs. “Surely, yes. My brother is indeed a fine man. And, unfortunately for her, there has never been another offer. Not as far as any of us knows, anyhow.” She started back. “I hear Charles. And our cousin!”

It would seem that, perhaps, the couple had smoothed out the knots, proving it was possible.

If only both parties had the desire.

At this point, Frederick is still angry with Anne. Everything he hears rubs the sore spot. Though, that spot seems to be building up a callus. When they have opened up to one another in Bath, Frederick tells her wondered if she had thought of him when she was refusing Charles. I think that is the hope of all of us in love, that we are enough to hold them and their affection through time.

Anne and Frederick at the end of Persuasion, I’m sure, are thankful for their second chance at happiness.

At this holiday (in the U. S.), I am thankful too. Thankful for a talent and a venue to use it in. I’m also thankful for readers who give me their time when they read my stories. I can’t thank you all enough.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Take care—Susan Kaye

Thanks for the Memories

My family has been celebrating Thanksgiving for over two hundred years. My mother’s family emigrated in the early 1700’s from England, Scotland, and Ireland, and my father’s ancestors came in the 1800’s from England.

Mother and Daddy 1

My parents, Archie Melvin Mills and Norma Lynne Griffin Mills, married in May of 1943. This photo was taken on their wedding day. Snazzy, huh?

Our Thanksgiving table grew as the family did. By the time we had all married and had children (and grandchildren), there were fifty or so family members and friends dropping by on Thanksgiving day to visit, laugh, and sample Mother’s famous cooking. Her turkey stuffing was legendary.

Mills family

My parents with their six children in September, 1955, on Layne’s birthday. From the right: Layne, me (The Naked One), Gayle, Brian, Marlin, and Lyndon. Lyndon took the original picture, so mother had him photoshopped into this one a few years before she died.

Now that my parents have passed away, my extended family no longer meets more than once a year. My children are in California and Japan, and they cannot come home. Our elder daughter is expecting our second grandchild any minute, and our younger daughter’s husband plays for the 49ers. It may be another year before we see the elder one, and it will certainly be the NFL offseason until we can expect a visit from the younger.

We cannot go to them at this time either, but I’m thankful for all the good memories I have of previous times together.

I’m thankful to have been born into a family who valued family relationships and honored those ties. I’m thankful to have had Godly parents who reared me in their faith.


Larry and I are pictured with our two daughters, granddaughter, and son-in-law at the younger daughter’s wedding in June, 2015.

Our celebration may be small this year, but I’m thankful that my daughters are happy and married to men who appreciate and adore them.

Most of all, I’m thankful that however many miles may separate us, we all love each other.

Pride & Precedence: The Root of All Evil?

An advice column by Persuasion’s own Mary Musgrove


Recently our rector delivered an homily on the evils of money. According to the Bible (he quoted some dreary text), the love of money is wrong. He had the nerve to call money-love the root of all evil!  There sat the congregation like sheep, nodding their heads as they listened. And then he added this bit of so-called wisdom:

“Money cannot buy happiness.”

Bless me, I am unable to count the times I’ve heard this tired chestnut trotted out. Commoners, with no experience of elegance and style, repeat it to comfort one another, I am convinced. Of course money buys happiness. Our rector is quite wrong.

Money makes life comfortable. Hats and coats and well-made shoes–all these are necessary to guard against the dreary English climate. This isn’t Italy! It is not as if we can skulk about in animal skins, with wooden shoes on our feet, like barbarians! And since we must wear clothing, why not wear something attractive and stylish?

Speaking of presents, a silver tea service would be nice.

Speaking of presents, a silver tea service would be nice.

Money contributes to peace in the home. It hires a French-trained chef, for instance, so that meals become delectable instead of dull. It buys better cuts of meats and expands the menu to include sweets and imported cheeses and fruit and fine wines–and hothouse flowers for the table. With full bellies, there is harmony among guests and family members alike–think of Christmastime! Peace and goodwill abound, and why? Because delicious food is plentiful! And so are presents–and who doesn’t love receiving presents? Why not live like Christmas every day?

Money nourishes one’s self-esteem. When people look their best, they are in happier spirits. Ask any wife. When she knows that her lace cap is the prettiest, and that her costly gown (made in the latest style) is lovelier than any of the others in the room, she is so much easier to live with.

Even authors write books for money!

For goodness’ sake, even authors write books for money! Even Ms. Hile!

“Money cannot buy health,” people will say. As you know, I am often ill and I will admit that this is somewhat true. On the other hand, money can pay for a competent and cheerful nurse, instead of the horrible widows our apothecary employs. It can also bring in a medical specialist from London. Commoners and the elderly repeat this saying because they are often ill and must remain at home. There is nothing more lowering to the spirits than having to be at home all the time. If these people had money to travel, I bet they would feel better in a hurry. I know I would.

Money buys peace of mind. Indeed, when one has plenty of money, one never has to worry or even think about it! If one does not think about something, one cannot be guilty of loving it.

But will my husband ask his father to enlarge our allowance? It’s not like Charles should become the greedy Prodigal Son by asking for his inheritance now. I am willing to wait. It’s just that the elegancies of life are so extremely expensive. And his father continues to be as healthy as ever.

I ask you, is there anything wrong with wanting to live my best life now, while I am young enough to enjoy it? To do so requires money.

Most cordially,

Mary Elliot Musgrove
Daughter of Sir Walter Elliot, Bart.
Future Mistress of Uppercross

Have you discovered Mercy’s Embrace?
Romance, adventure, and Admiral Patrick McGillvary are waiting …

Mary’s “portrait” is Afternoon Stroll by Giovanni Boldini

Wentworth Wednesday

Readers, I am mortified that my representative, Susan Kaye, is late posting up her weekly missive which bears my name. I have handed down a fitting discipline, picking oakum for the foreseeable future, and am sure this will teach her to better manage her time. Please accept my kindest regards, F. Wentworth, Cpt.

Chapter 10
“…for while she considered Louisa to be rather the favourite, she could not but think, as far as she might dare to judge from memory and experience, that Captain Wentworth was not in love with either.”


I know, this is post Lyme but it includes a lot of the usual suspects.

Anne settled into the corner chair for another evening of watching the Musgrove girls flit and flirt with the Captain. Thankfully, Charles Hayter was not present to glower through dinner and pace the room after. His sisters though would easily take up the empty space.

There had been talk of dancing as everyone left the table. She held her breath, practicing a smile and gracious nod for when she was asked to play the piano. Before she was even moderately prepared, Frederick said, “If this entertainment is for my sake, I would thank you but must cry off. I went riding this afternoon and want nothing but a comfortable chair this evening.” Louisa attempted more than once to tease him onto the floor, but he repelled each sally with firmer and firmer refusals. The young woman took his last refusal with a frozen smile and deep sigh. It was then Anne turned away and decided on her seat for the evening.

Occasionally Mrs Musgrove or Mrs Hayter would come and take a short respite with her. The conversations were short and polite. When their duty to a favorite guest was fulfilled, off they would go to join the young people again. Mrs Hayter had just left her and Anne was getting anxious to leave for home. She looked to the clock and relaxed. Mary and Charles would not wish to leave for several more hours. There was nothing to be done except settle back and observe.

Only seconds passed before Anne noticed Louisa and Frederick standing off from the others.

Louisa was talking quickly and fanning herself. Whatever they spoke of was exciting to the girl. That is what Anne thought until she noticed Frederick’s right hand. He was worrying the seaming at the corner of the pocket of his blue coat.

He is bored.

She is boring him!

The rest of the evening she watched him move and talk. By her memories of things Frederick had told her in the past, he was bored a good portion of the evening. On the ride home, Anne took great satisfaction, and relief, in a dawning belief that Frederick was not in love with Louisa or Henrietta Musgrove. He certainly did not love her, but she was growing certain he did not love anyone else.

Winter and Writing

Winter has finally come to the South. My husband mowed the leaves in our yard this past Saturday. When we were younger, we raked them a few times, but now he takes the easier route, and mowing the leaves is actually good for the soil.

I brought in all of my porch plants Friday. The temperature was forecast to dip to 31 degrees on Friday night, so I cut back their overgrowth and hauled them into the living room, dining room, and garage. Southerners and plants don’t like weather that’s below freezing. Lizard

This morning, as I looked at my plant-filled house, I noticed a stowaway. A lizard had hitched a ride in on my philodendron basket. Larry will have to catch him and take him back outside, or he’ll starve. My reflexes have never been fast enough to catch a lizard, even if I’d ever wanted to do so. Larry is the champion of lizards, spiders, and crickets. He won’t kill them, because they’re good. My thoughts hop from one thing to another.

This is good writing weather. My mind drifts. It’s too cold to enjoy being outdoors for very long, so I’ll sit at my laptop and work on my latest effort – Understanding Elizabeth. This odd story just keeps winding through my mind. What if Darcy knew beforehand that Elizabeth had overheard him at the Assembly? What if he knew what she thought of him? What if he could change that? What would he pay to change it?

If you could go back and change the course of your life, would you? What would you be willing to pay to do that? If the lizard had understood what it could cost him to hitch that ride, he might not have chosen to hide in my plant. Would you make a different choice if you knew the outcome beforehand?