Money—or our modern equivalent, the stable income stream—is important. It represents security and trust and future provision. Romance readers like these, and no wonder. Even if the hero isn’t rich (or even well off), the reader needs to know that he will be able to provide. Enormous wealth is a popular romance element, particularly with historicals. Not that wealthy men are better men—they’re usually not! But that’s a subject for another post.
Keep in mind that those who are born into wealth don’t think about it. Not any more than you, as a healthy person, think about your health. Ha, until you lose it. Then you—like the newly-impoverished well-to-do—whine like anything! Financial provision simply IS. The wealthy do what they like, and they assume the money will be there to pay for it.
But neither do they flaunt it. That’s insecurity screaming, a characteristic of the newly rich. You know, the ones you see on magazine covers. Take my uncle, a self-made multimillionaire. His children—one of whom married extremely well—are not nearly as concerned about appearances as he is. Because for my cousins, money and social position simply ARE.
I had this in mind when I wrote today’s excerpt. McGillvary is cheerfully posing as Mr Gill, the hardworking clerk. But there’s more to it than simply wearing a shabby tweed coat. As he discovers when it’s time to pay for tea.
He raised an eyebrow, but did not press her. As he reached for his wallet, he said, “Is this location convenient for Thursday, Miss Elliot?” There seemed to be no question that they would meet again.
Elizabeth hesitated. “Perhaps it would be better,” she said slowly, “now that Lady Russell has returned. And the prices here are quite reasonable. You see? I do know something about retrenching.”
McGillvary was about to reply, but his attention was arrested by the condition of his wallet. He turned away so that she would not see and quickly sorted through the bills. His smile disappeared.
He checked a second time. There was nothing smaller than a five-pound note. He searched his pockets for stray pennies. There were none. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Miss Elliot place something on the table. It was a handful of coins.
“Let this be my treat today, Mr Gill. It is only fair, after all.” She smiled brightly. “A lesson in, how did you say it? Pecuniary management?
McGillvary was struck speechless. Yes, she was paying with his money, but that did not remove the sting.
For tomorrow, we’ll look at Need.
[excerpt from Mercy’s Embrace: So Rough A Course by Laura Hile, 2009]