“But I cannot do that.”
Adira stared at him, horrified.
“I cannot. You cannot say so. I can’t. Not and hold my head up in public.”
“Oh, my dear, I don’t think it necessary to go all the way to that degree of … um … well, no, but that does not mean you cannot expound on the matter in your fiction, or, rather, I will.”
“You?” shock stopped her tears. “Truly?”
“Yes. My dear girl, I enjoy your stories. I have faith in your imagination. There is nothing wrong with your writing, only, as the publisher has pointed out, your books are incomplete.”
“He implied my book is more than incomplete.”
“He does not know you as I do. Or your writing. No, I think you should take the time to read Camilla again, and spend more time with the most dreadful of the dreadful novels in my library. You will find the hints of the more that the publisher wants.”
“Oh.” Adria considered this for a moment. “Do you truly think so?”
“Yes, I do. Now, come, give me the first chapter and we shall go through it and see what you have for us to build upon.”
“Well,” Adria opened the damaged packaging. “I had a small accident. The first pages are a little out of order.”
“It doesn’t matter. I am certain we can make it over better.”
“No. No, Uncle Burnside. It is pointless. A silly childish whim. I should pay attention to more important matters.” Adria stared into the fireplace as if considering throwing the thing in complete or tearing them into firetwists and prolonging the agony of destruction.
“More important than what, my dear?” demanded Uncle Burnside. “Shall you prepare a speech for the House of Lords? Go and give sermons to heathens? I know you have strong opinions and a particular turn of phrase that is admirable.”
“You know I cannot do that. I am not a lord, nor a vicar.” Adria paused and glared at the old captain. “Nor I am a man.”
“Exactly so, my dear. I know that. But, have you considered that when you write your novel you must write the words of nobles and commoners and vicars -” he smiled. “Saints and sinners. If you cannot give a speech on the rights of women before the House of Lords the next best place to give it is in a horrid novel!”
Adria gaped at him, unable to draw breath as she considered all the offenses and petty irritations facing one of her gender when making her way in the world.
“I had never thought of that,” she whispered.
“I didn’t think you had,” said Uncle Burnside with a smirk. “Makes the blood and bone a better idea, don’t it!”