Please welcome my guest Kathryn Kane, at Barbara Edwards Comments. She did fascinating research for her book and shares a portion with us.
Barbara, thank you very much for the opportunity to be a guest here at your blog. I thought you and your readers might be interested in a bit of flower history which I incorporated into my debut Regency romance. It is titled Deflowering Daisy, and as a play on the title, I have included a number of snippets of floral history into the story. Today, I would like to tell you about Corporal Violet.
Corporal Violet, or, to use the French term, Caporal La Violette, was a code name by which many Bonapartists referred to Napoleon Bonaparte when he was in exile on the island of Elba. Napoleon had begun his career in the French army as a corporal and many of his men still affectionately called him the Little Corporal, even after he had become Emperor of France. Most people who knew him well were also aware that violets were his favorite flower, probably because his beloved Josephine had been very fond of violets, both the flower and their scent. She wore violets at her wedding to Napoleon and he sent her a bouquet of violets every year on their anniversary.
In April of 1814, when Napoleon was forced to abdicate his throne and went into exile, he told his supporters that he would “return with the violets.” They all took that to mean the spring, since violets typically first bloom in mid-March. Soon, Bonaparte’s loyal supporters in France used the code name, Caporal La Violette, to talk about him when there was a chance they might be overheard by the Loyalist supporters of the restored Bourbon king, Louis XVIII.
Apparently, the Bourbons and their supporters were never enough interested to learn very much about Napoleon’s personal likes and dislikes and were quite unaware of his fondness for violets. There is also the fact that, since he was considered first and foremost a military man, very much focused on warfare, who would have thought he might be given a code name based on a small flower, even if that little flower was known to be very hardy and persistent?
And so it was, for nearly a year, Bonaparte’s supporters in France could freely discuss him and even raise a toast to him by using the name Caporal La Violette, while they hoped for his return from exile in the coming spring. During that same time, the violet itself became a symbol for those who still supported him. Though the violet as a species blooms in a number of different colors, the most well-known and most common color was the blue-purple flower which gave its name to that same color, violet.
Gentlemen might wear a ring with an enameled blue-purple violet, or a stick-pin with a carefully wrought violet nestled in the folds of their neck-cloth. Others carried a snuff box decorated with violet motifs. Lady Bonapartists had even more elegant options, for soon it was possible to find pendants, broaches and earrings with violet designs, in addition to delicate ladies’ rings with the same violet motif.
That special blue-purple color, violet, also began to appear as part of the wardrobe of dedicated Bonapartists. Ladies might wear a gown or saucy bonnet trimmed with ribbons the color of violets, while others preferred to wear a violet-colored scarf or shawl. Some gentlemen sported a waistcoat which was violet-colored or might be embroidered with tiny violets in blue-purple threads. Others might carry a violet-colored pocket handkerchief.
It was not long before the life-cycle of this small but hardy flower was used to develop a code phrase by which Bonapartists could identify one another upon first meeting. Those who knew about violets were aware that they first bloomed in the early spring. Upon encountering a stranger, a loyal Bonapartist would ask the question, “Aimez vouz la violette?” (Do you like the Violet?) If the response was a simple yes or no, it was clear the person was not a member of the secret network of supporters of Napoleon. However, if they prevaricated with “Eh bien” (Well), they showed themselves to be a confederate, and would go on to say “Il reparaitra au printemps!” (He will reappear in the spring!) Thus would one Bonapartist be able to demonstrate their loyalty and commitment to another whom they had just met, even in the presence of Bourbon Loyalists.
Even after his defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon never lost his fondness for violets. He grew them in his garden on St. Helena when he was sent into his final exile there. Upon his death, in the spring of 1821, in addition to being buried with the locket which contained the violets he had picked from Josephine’s garden at Malmaison on his last visit there, records suggest that violets from his own garden were placed in his coffin before he was laid to rest.
David, the hero of my Regency romance, Deflowering Daisy, has learned the importance of violets to supporters of Napoleon. He uses that information to foil an attempt to free Bonaparte from English custody before the defeated emperor could be sent into exile on St. Helena. Unfortunately for David, though he is successful in preventing Bonaparte’s escape, the event ends in a tragedy which haunts him for nearly a year. It is only after he meets the heroine, Daisy, that she is able to help him come to terms with what happened and he is finally able forgive himself for the outcome.
Deflowering Daisy by Kathryn Kane Blurb
“She cannot remain a virgin!”
For so she was, after nearly a decade of marriage. When she was sixteen, Daisy had willingly, happily, married a man more than fifty years her senior, to escape a forced marriage to a man she abhorred. Though Sir Arthur Hammond had been a wild rake in his youth, he was so deeply in love with his late, beloved first wife that he never considered consummating his second marriage, certainly not with a woman he considered a daughter. But now, knowing he was dying and that he would be leaving sweet, innocent Daisy ignorant of the physical intimacies which could be enjoyed between a man and a woman, he felt that it was imperative she be given the knowledge which would prepare her for the life of a wealthy widow. Armed with the knowledge of physical intimacy, she would be much better prepared to deal with any fortune hunter who might try to seduce her into marriage for her money. And who better to initiate Daisy into the pleasures of the bedchamber than his godson. David had become nearly a recluse since a tragedy which occurred while he was serving the Crown against the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. Prior to that, his skill as a tender and considerate lover had been bruited about in certain circles. Therefore, Sir Arthur believed that David was just the man to introduce Daisy to physical pleasure. And what might spending time with true and gentle Daisy do for David?
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Deflowering Daisy- Excerpt
CHAPTER ONE, London, May 1816
“She cannot remain a virgin!”
“You want me to rape your wife?” David Everard rose from his chair, shocked to his core. Sir Arthur Hammond, a man whom he had admired and respected all his life, his godfather and the man he loved as dearly as a father, was asking him to deflower his wife.
“No!” exclaimed Sir Arthur. “No, of course not. She is as dear to me as a daughter.”
“And yet, in six weeks’ time, you propose to give this young lady into my keeping for the express purpose that I violate her person and take her virginity. A young lady, I might add, whom I have never met, a young lady to whom I will be a complete stranger.” His eyes narrowed as he fixed his godfather with the same withering stare which had broken more than one enemy agent under intense interrogation. “She does not know who I am?”
“No, I am sorry to say, she does not,” the older man responded with equanimity, and a note of sadness. Sir Arthur met his gaze without flinching. “I have not spoken of you, David, to anyone, even George, from the day I gave you my word I would not. I keep my promises, young man!”
“Yes, sir, I know. It gave me hope you would be safe.”
“I made that promise to you only because you asked it of me. I was never afraid.”
“But I was,” he admitted. “It was necessary that everyone believed my friends and family had cast me off. I did not want to take the chance anyone might think they could get to me through you or George. I wanted the world to think I was nothing to you, nor you to me. I had to know you were both safe in order to do what I had to, for England.”
“And you have, my boy,” Sir Arthur said. “But the war is over now and Boney is put away for good, in no small part thanks to you, I am sure.”
“Don’t try to make me into a hero, Arthur,” he said. “I am nothing of the sort.”
“Hrrmph! I will never think you anything else, no matter what you say,” came the staunch rejoinder.
Though he did not reply, deep in his soul, David felt again a wave of infinite gratitude for his godfather’s unconditional loyalty to him. Without it, he was not sure he would have been able to endure these past few months as the social exile he had become since that day on Beachy Head.
“You have spent most of this past decade risking life and limb here and on the Continent, to protect England. Have you not the courage to spend one week to protect a kind and gentle young lady and a host of orphans?”
“Protect her by taking her to bed? If she is as you say, I am sure you can find any number of men willing to bed her”
“There is no one else I can turn to, no one else I can trust. You are like a son to me.”
“So, now you are advocating incest?” David asked, his voice thick with sarcasm. “You want a man you consider a son to violate the woman you consider a daughter?” Was it possible for this to get any more repugnant, he wondered to himself.
“God’s teeth, David!” the older man shot back. “You bloody well know that is not what I am asking. Or why.” He took a long, slow, deep breath. “You have a reputation for having a way with women. It is said you give your bedmates pleasure equal to what you take, that you are a kind and considerate lover. That is what I want for Daisy. She is a complete innocent. She should be initiated tenderly, gently, by a man who will appreciate her quality.”
“Then find a man of quality to initiate her, not some spawn of hell unfit to associate with civilized people.” David walked the few paces to the fireplace as his bitter words fell into silence. When Sir Arthur did not speak, he turned. “I have not touched a woman in nearly a year and I have never taken a virgin,” he admitted. “I am the last man of whom you should ask this.”
“You are the only man I can ask, David,” the older man replied. “Despite your words, I know you to be the most decent and honorable man of my acquaintance. And Daisy is a very special girl, a loyal and generous soul whose sweet spirit should not be crushed by a cold-hearted bedding. I know you would never do that to her.”
“She is your wife. You can do the deed yourself,” David reminded him.
“No, my boy,” Sir Arthur said on a sigh. “Even if I were not much too old for her, there was only ever Millie for me. From the day I met her I never wanted another woman. Even though she is more than eleven years gone, there will never be anyone else.”
“Then encourage her to take a lover,” David suggested, trying to keep the desperation from his voice. He dropped back into his chair.
“I have tried for years, but she has never shown interest in any gentleman to whom I have introduced her. Of which there are few, near our estate in Kent,” he admitted. “And I can seldom get her to leave the country in order to broaden her acquaintance in London. She is determined to be a devoted and faithful wife, even though I doubt she has any concept of what unfaithfulness would entail. And now, it is too late. I cannot leave her so exposed, at such risk.”
“Why? What is so different now?”
Sir Arthur seemed to slump in his chair. “I am more than three-and-eighty, my boy. I am not well. I could cock up my toes any time. You know my wretched relations would instantly plot to snatch my property any way they can. They already suspect my marriage to Daisy is chaste, which means they know the poor child is completely ignorant of the ways of the world. She is as innocent, perhaps even more so than, the new crop of debutantes which are paraded on the marriage mart each year—but without the protection of an eagle-eyed mama to shield her. As a wealthy young widow she would have no protection at all. She would be easy prey for any smooth and experienced Lothario which Gladys might set at her. And mark my words, that profligate wife of my lazy nephew will find such a one before I am cold in my grave!”
“But if she has shown no interest in men up to now, what makes you think they will have any success?”
David caught what could only be an expression of guilt on the older man’s face before he spoke again. “I have wronged her David, though I never intended it to be so. She was treated very badly before she came to me. Even so, she was so young and sweet-tempered, so much the daughter I would have liked to have had with Millie. I shielded her from the harsh realities of life in every way I could to preserve that sweetness. Though I have established a number of foundling homes, I only let her visit the one in Kent, near our home, and I made sure only the very youngest children were sent there. The older children, who had had too much experience of life on the streets, were sent to other homes.” He smiled for a moment. “You should see her with the children, David. She is very kind and caring, yet she can be quite firm when they don’t do their sums or won’t eat their vegetables. Even so, they all adore her.”
“It sounds to me like you have given her a very good life. How can you say you have wronged her?”
“I have left her in complete ignorance of physical relations between a man and a woman. She will be vulnerable, defenseless in the face of any man determined to have her. Once a woman has given herself to a man and has experienced all that entails, only then does she truly understand her own body, her own physical reactions to a man who attracts her. Until that time, she is at the mercy of her body’s responses without the knowledge to understand and control them. There are men who prey on such innocents for that very reason. I do not want Daisy to be one of those helpless innocents. There is too much at stake, both for her and for our charities. Gladys will find some handsome, practiced gallant to seduce Daisy into marriage in order to get her hands on my money. Once Gladys is in control, Daisy will have nothing. She will be left destitute, or worse, bound in marriage to a man who does not care for her. Gladys and Cyril will stop funding my charities. My life’s work in memory of my dear Millie will have been for naught.”
“Arthur—” David began.
“Please, David,” Sir Arthur cut in, leaning forward. “I have wronged Daisy. But you can make amends for me. I have never begged anyone for anything in my life. But I am begging you now. Spend a week with Daisy. Teach her the pleasures of the bed-chamber, teach her to understand the sexual responses of her own body and all those tender intimacies which can be shared between a man and a woman. Please, do this for me. For Daisy.”
David leaned back in his chair. He owed Arthur more than he could ever repay. He was the one person who had always stood by him. How could he refuse him now, when the man was begging? He could not. “All right, Arthur. I will do as you wish,” he agreed, with great reluctance. “But you must prepare her beforehand for what will happen. And she must agree. I will not take her against her will or by force.”
Kathryn Kane, Author of Deflowering Daisy-Bio
Kathryn Kane is a historian and former museum curator who has enjoyed Regency romances since she first discovered them in her teens. She credits the novels of Georgette Heyer with influencing her choice of college curriculum, and she now takes advantage of her knowledge of history to write her own stories of romance in the Regency. Though she now has a career in the tech industry, she has never lost her love of the period and continues to enjoy reading Regency novels and researching her favorite period of English history.
Web Site: http://kathrynkane.net/index.html
Kathryn Kane Romance: https://kathrynkaneromance.wordpress.com/
The Regency Redingote: https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/