As I promised yesterday, today I'm thrilled to share an exclusive excerpt from Ross Poldark with you as part of the Ross Poldark Blog Tour! Following the excerpt, read on for information on the blog tour giveaway hosted by Sourcebooks Landmark. Enjoy!
Excerpt from Chapter 2 of Ross Poldark:
Ross came into a company quite unprepared for his arrival. When his figure showed in the doorway, one after another of those at the table broke into words of surprise. Elizabeth and Francis and Verity and Dr. Choake were on their feet; Charles lay back grunting and inert from shock. Cousin William-Alfred polished his steel spectacles, while Aunt Agatha plucked at his sleeve mumbling, “What is it? What’s to do? The meal isn’t over.”
Ross screwed up his eyes until they grew used to the light. Trenwith House was almost on his way home, and he had not thought to intrude on a party.
First to greet him was Verity. She ran across and put her arms around his neck. “Why, Ross dear! Fancy now!” was all she could find to say.
“Verity!” He gave her a hug. And then he saw Elizabeth.
“Stap me,” said Charles. “So you’re back at last, boy. You’re late for dinner, but we’ve some apple tart left.”
“Did they lame us, Ross?” said Dr. Choake. “A pox on the whole war. It was ill-starred. Thank God it’s over.”
Francis, after a short hesitation, came quickly around the table and grasped the other man’s hand. “It’s good to see you back, Ross! We’ve missed you.”
“It’s good to be back,” said Ross. “To see you all and—”
The color of the eyes under the same heavy lids was the only mark of cousinship. Francis was compact, slim, and neat, with the fresh complexion and clear features of handsome youth. He looked what he was: carefree, easy-going, self-confident, a young man who has never known what it was to be in danger or short of money, or to pit his strength against another man’s except in games or horse-play. Someone at school had christened them “the fair Poldark and the dark Poldark.” They had always been good friends, which was surprising, since their fathers had not.
“This is a solemn occasion,” said Cousin William-Alfred, his bony hands grasping the back of his chair. “A family reunion in more than name. I trust you’re not seriously wounded, Ross. That scar is a considerable disfigurement.”
“Oh, that,” said Ross. “That would be of no moment if I didn’t limp like Jago’s donkey.”
He went around the table greeting the others. Mrs. Chynoweth welcomed him coldly, extending a hand from a distance.
“Do tell uth,” lisped Polly Choake, “thome of youw exthpewiences, Captain Poldark: how we lotht the wa’, what theethe Amewicanth awe like, and—”
“Very like us, ma’am. That’s why we lost it.” He had reached Elizabeth.
“Well, Ross,” she said softly.
His eyes feasted on her face. “This is most opportune. I couldn’t have wished it different.”
“I could,” she said. “Oh, Ross, I could.”
“And what are you going to do now, my lad?” asked Charles. “It’s high time you settled down. Property don’t look after itself, and you can’t trust hirelings. Your father could have done with you this last year and more—”
“I almost called to see you tonight,” Ross said to Elizabeth, “but left it for tomorrow. Self-restraint is rewarded.”
“I must explain. I wrote you, but—”
“Why,” said Aunt Agatha, “Lord damn me if it isn’t Ross! Come here, boy! I thought you was gone to make one of the blest above.”
Reluctantly Ross walked down the table to greet his great-aunt. Elizabeth stayed where she was, holding the back of her chair so that her knuckles were whiter even than her face.
Ross kissed Aunt Agatha’s whiskery cheek. Into her ear he said, “I’m glad to see, Aunt, that you’re still one of the blest below.”
She chuckled with delight, showing her pale brownish-pink gums. “Not so blest, maybe. But I wouldn’t want to be changing just yet.”
The conversation became general, everyone question-ing Ross as to when he had landed, what he had done and seen while away.
“Elizabeth,” said Mrs. Chynoweth, “fetch me my wrap from upstairs, will you? I am a little chilly.”
“Yes, Mother.” She turned and walked away, tall and virginal, groped with her hand for the oak banister.
“That fellow Paynter is a rogue,” said Charles, wiping his hands down the sides of his breeches.
“If I was you I should throw him out and get a reliable man.”
Ross was watching Elizabeth going up the stairs. “He was my father’s friend.”
Charles shrugged in some annoyance. “You won’t find the house in a good state of repair.”
“It wasn’t when I left.”
“Well, it’s worse now. I haven’t been over for some time. You know what your father used to say about coming in the other direction: ‘It is too far to walk and not far enough to ride.’”
Ross thanked her and took the seat offered him between Aunt Agatha and Mr. Chynoweth. He would have preferred to be beside Elizabeth, but that would have to wait. He was surprised to find Elizabeth there. She and her mother and father had never once been to Nampara in the two years he had known her. Two or three times he glanced up as he ate to see if she was returning.
Verity was helping Mrs. Tabb to carry out some of the used dishes. Francis stood plucking at his lip by the front door; the others were back in their chairs. A silence had fallen on the company.
“It is no easy countryside to which you return,” said Mr. Chynoweth, pulling at his beard. “Discontent is rife. Taxes are high, wages have fallen. The country is exhausted from its many wars, and now the Whigs are in. I can think of no worse a prospect.”
“Had the Whigs been in before,” said Dr. Choake, refusing to be tactful, “none of this need have happened.”
Ross looked across at Francis. “I’ve interrupted a party. Is it in celebration of the peace or in honor of the next war?”
Thus he forced the explanation they had hesitated to give.
“No,” said Francis. “I—er—the position is—”
“We are celebrating something far different,” said Charles, motioning for his glass to be filled again. “Francis is to be married. That is what we’re celebrating.”
“To be married,” said Ross, slicing his food. “Well, well, and who—”
“To Elizabeth,” said Mrs. Chynoweth.
There was silence.
Ross put down his knife. “To—”
“To my daughter.”
“Can I get you something to drink?” Verity whispered to Elizabeth, who had just reached the bottom of the stairs.
“No, no… Please no.”
“Oh,” said Ross. “To…Elizabeth.”
“We are very happy,” said Mrs. Chynoweth, “that our two ancient families are to be united. Very happy and very proud. I am sure, Ross, that you will join with us in wishing Francis and Elizabeth all happiness in their union.”
Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes
In celebration of the re-release of Ross Poldark and Demelza, Sourcebooks Landmark is offering three chances to win copies of the books or a grand prize, an Anglophile-themed gift package.
Two lucky winners will each receive one trade paperback copy of Ross Poldark and Demelza, and one grand prize winner will receive a prize package containing the following items:
(2 ) Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Mugs by Johnson Brothers
(1) Twelve-inch Old Britain Castles Pink Pottery Plater by Johnson Brothersr
(1) London Telephone Box Tin of Ahmad English Breakfast Tea
(1) Jar of Mrs. Bridges Marmalade
(1) Package of Duchy Originals Organic Oaten Biscuits
(2) Packets of Blue Boy Cornflower Seeds by Renee's Garden Heirloom (1) Trade Paperback Copy of Ross Poldark & Demelza, by Winston Graham
To enter the giveaway contest simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on the Ross Poldark Blog Tour starting July 06, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, August 10, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the entrants and announced on the Buzz at Sourcebooks blog on August 13, 2015. Winners have until August 20, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to US residents and the prizes will be shipped to US addresses. Good luck to all!