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Ransome Sequel Story Ideas (including latest/newest!)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I didn’t quite meet my goal of posting a new Ransome sequel/spin-off story idea every day for the last nine days of the FirstDraft120 challenge. But I have worked on these ideas most days for the past week and a half or so. My (revised) goal for FirstDraft120 was to relearn that writing can be fun. And you know what? It’s working!

You may not have seen most of the others, as I posted some of these in the comments section rather than in designated posts, so here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

Working title: Her Independent Heart
This is the story that’s hinted at in the epilogue of Ransome’s Quest—the romance between Eleanor Ransome (older daughter of William and Julia) and James Yates (only son of Colin and Susan).

James Yates = Arthur Darvill
Eleanor Ransome = Karen Gillan (adjusted for hair/eye color)

Working Title: Secrets of His Heart
The romance story for Edward Ransome (older son of William and Julia), which involves the daughter of Sir Drake Pembroke, Cordelia (Pembroke) Eckley-Hibbitt.

Cordelia Pembroke Eckley-Hibbit = Holliday Grainger
Edward William Ransome = Tom Mison
Clara Eckley-Hibbitt = Catherine Steadman

Working Title: An Antiquities Affair
Telling the story of the eldest child of Ned and Charlotte (Ransome) Cochrane, Charles Lott Cochrane.

Charles Lott Cochrane = Chris Hemsworth
Olivia Ahern = Elsa Pataky

And now for the story that I’ve been working on for the better part of the last several days. (Please note: if I do ever write this story, this will definitely not be the title—I just think it’s funny and fits the story idea.)

Working Title: My Fair . . . Lady?

Michael Edward Witherington, Jr. = Michiel Huisman
Lady Marianne Yates = Sophie Turner

[Begin Backstory]
Michael Edward Witherington grew up in Philadelphia as the heir apparent to Declan Importing. As his father’s eldest (of 4 sons) and because his uncle (_______ Declan) had no children (only daughters/never married?), Michael has been groomed to take over the offices of Declan Importing/the extensive family business empire in England. Michael cannot imagine spending the rest of his life in one place and, thankfully, with his cousin Edward’s agreeing to take over the combined businesses’ (Witherington Sugar and Declan Importing) operations in Portsmouth, Michael strikes a deal with his parents to be allowed to take one of the ships to “scour the Old World” for the antiquities, arts, and collectibles that have made the business, and the extended Declan-Witherington family, quite successful/wealthy. He will travel though Europe and contract with merchant ships to send the goods back to England and Philadelphia for the company to sell.

After three unremarkable Seasons—at least as far as she is concerned, she wouldn’t remark upon any of the several proposals she received from men more interested in her dowry and her father’s title—The Lady Marianne Elizabeth Yates convinced her mother to allow her to leave London early to spend the fall, winter, and spring on a Grand Tour of Europe. After all, she elicited a promise from her parents at a very young age (before her father inherited his brother’s title/estates) that she, like they, would be allowed to marry for love. And since love hasn’t found her in England, maybe it will find her abroad. With their fair skin and ginger hair, Marianne and her mother, Susan Yates, Countess Childers, make quite the splash (outside of the English enclaves where they stay) on their visits in the South of France, Greece, and Italy. And Marianne racks up several more declined proposals before they arrive in Florence in the spring.

Marianne has high hopes for Florence—the music, art, culture, history, architecture . . . but once there, she discovers it’s to be just like all of the other European cities they’ve visited. Surrounded by other temporary British expatriates, hearing only English spoken, participating in only the customs of the Ton—everything Marianne had hoped to get away from by convincing her mother to come on this Grand Tour. Rather than spend the last six weeks before they return to England being bored out of her mind, Marianne tells her mother she intends to avail herself of what the city has to offer—she’s going to take voice and painting lessons. She hires a tutor to teach her about the art and architecture while also teaching her Italian.

Four weeks in, Marianne has learned enough Italian that she can barter in the market with the best of them (because, of course, she’s a pretty Englishwoman who tries speaking Italian, so the men give her just about anything she wants), and she’s mastered putting on an Italian accent for the afternoons when she and her maid go out around town when Marianne is supposed to be taking lessons—with Marianne wearing a dark wig and her maid’s dress and her maid pretending to be her wealthy employer.
[End Backstory]

Two weeks before they’re supposed to return to England, the Yateses hear through the British grapevine of the handsome and wealthy American treasure hunter who has just arrived in Florence to acquire objet d’art for the prestigious Declan Importing company. However, no one has, as yet, actually met him—all invitations, cards, and calls have gone unanswered. Which just makes everyone all the more anxious to make his acquaintance. As soon as Susan Yates learns his name, though, she sends a card and an invitation to tea.

Michael immediately recognizes the name on the card and knows this is the opportunity he has been waiting for. He accepts Lady Childers’ invitation to tea—something he knows will cause a stir and generate even more interest in the items he’s been collecting around Italy and sending back to London. If he can convince Lady Childers to become his patron and host a gallery showing in her home in London just after Easter—as the London Season is at its height—he will prove to his father and uncle that he should be allowed to remain in the field instead of being stuck in an office forever.

When Marianne hears her mother has a young, wealthy, handsome man coming to tea, she dons the dark wig, maid’s dress, and false Italian accent and escapes the house before her mother can force her into the sitting room for an introduction. But she’s curious about this Michael Witherington—she’s been hearing his family name her whole life. So she arranges to bump into him (literally) on the street in front of her home as he’s arriving. And as soon as she sees him, she recalls all the stories she heard as a girl about his namesake father’s colorful past as a privateer. For Michael Witherington, with his unkempt, curly dark hair, scruffy face, and fancy suit, looks every inch the pirate his father was purported to be. She’s so startled by her initial reaction to him that she completely forgets to use the fake accent and must quickly amend her cover story about being a maid traveling with one of the other British households (thus excusing her for being British rather than Italian). It’s a brief encounter, but all-too-unsettling for her liking.

After tea with Lady Childers, Michael’s success in London is virtually assured. Yet it’s not the high-born in London who occupy his mind. The maid with the black hair and skin far too pale for these southern climes haunts his waking—and sleeping—mind.

Marianne, too, cannot stop thinking about the momentary encounter—and is bothered by it. However, she is certain that if she sees him more—perhaps even talks to him—she will find him to be just like every other man who’s ever tried to pay his addresses to her. With the freedom that her mother’s near-daily social activities affords her, Marianne—still dressing as a maid and with her own maid along for propriety’s sake (introduced as a friend/coworker)—begins to haunt the markets, shops, and galleries where she has heard Michael Witherington is regularly spotted.

Michael has several brief encounters with the mysterious “Mary”—who Michael is fairly certain is not a lady’s maid as she claims—and he finally convinces her to evade her companion and spend an afternoon exploring Florence with him. From architecture to art, her knowledge of the city, its history, and its culture, he knows she’s high-born—the kind of young woman he’s always tried to avoid. He’s unsure of why she’s hiding her true identity, but believes that she’s perhaps come to Italy in disguise to escape an unwanted suitor or a malevolent parent. He gives her every opportunity to come clean with him—dropping hints about honesty and how much he prefers it when people have open honest communication between them. He knows he should walk away before he gets hurt by whatever she’s hiding, but he can’t help wanting to spend more and more time with Mary. He’s smitten and must get to know her better.

Although she knows she shouldn’t, Marianne continues to sneak out to meet Michael during the day. She tells herself it’s to see all of the sites of Florence she otherwise wouldn’t get to. But she honestly can’t remember one fresco from another. Not when Michael is nearby. But the time the two weeks are up and she must say goodbye, she’s tempted to tell him the truth—because she knows the next time she sees him, it will be as herself in London. And he won’t want her anymore. Just as she’s about to test that theory and reveal her true identity to him, he kisses her and proposes. Devastated by the assumption that he only loves the maid, Mary, and would loathe The Lady Marianne, she flees, giving no explanation, leaving behind the plain gold locket he’d given her and into which she’d placed the miniature sketches of each of them that they’d had drawn by a street artist.

Michael is determined not only to give the locket back to Mary but also to marry her. With her knowledge of art and her keen eye for beautiful objects, she’d make a perfect partner for him to travel the world with to find items for the business to sell. With her quick wit, sunny disposition, and constant thirst to know more about the world around her, she’s the perfect partner for him to spend the rest of his life loving. When he arrives in London, he pays some of the boys who loaf around the docks that Declan Imports uses to scour the city to find Mary, the housemaid with the dark hair, and pale skin and silver eyes. He’s even had one of the company’s catalog artists recreate the miniature sketch of her and print multiple copies of it to assist the lads in trying to find her. (He hangs the locket with the fob on his watch chain so that he can pull it out and gaze at the original drawing whenever he feels the need.)

      Susan isn’t as oblivious as Marianne wants to think she is. She realizes that Marianne is sneaking out to meet a man (and is proud of her daughter for doing so—it’s something she knows she would have done herself had she not fallen for Colin the moment she met him when she was but sixteen and married him shortly thereafter). But she realizes on the way back to England that Marianne and this man (she hopes it’s Michael, since Marianne tries desperately not to react whenever Susan speaks his name) have parted ways. She doesn’t understand why, not knowing that Marianne was hiding her identity. So, naturally, as soon as she finds out that Michael has arrived in London, she takes every opportunity she can find (or make up) to invite Michael to social gatherings. Including planning a “family” dinner party that includes James and Eleanor, Edward and Clara Witherington, and Michael. It’s the first time that Marianne cannot get out of coming face-to-face with Michael, because Susan made sure of Marianne’s commitment to the dinner and then neglected to tell her Michael will be there.

Marianne is sitting with Eleanor and Clara showing them her sketch book containing many of the wonders that they saw on their travels, wondering why her mother has not yet called dinner, when the butler enters to announce a late arrival. At Michael Witherington’s name, Marianne is certain she will disgrace herself by fainting, fleeing, or cursing in one of the many languages she learned while abroad. She’d sincerely hoped—prayed—that she would have a chance to visit him at his company’s offices so that they could have privacy upon their first meeting, upon his learning her true identity. The last place she wanted it to happen was in front of her family.

The ruse had been so thorough that she’d used something to darken her eyebrows along with her hair. But the woman sitting on the settee across the room, with her bright ginger hair and pale brows, is most definitely his Mary. No, not his Mary at all. She’s The Lady Marianne Yates, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Childers. No wonder she’d left the locket he’d given her behind. She’d played him for a fool and never had any intentions toward him other than alleviating her own boredom while abroad. Knowing that anything between them had been as false as her hair and name, Michael feigns ignorance and allows himself to be introduced to “Lady Marianne” as if meeting her for the very first time. Thankfully, he and his cousin Edward need to discuss a business matter before dinner, and at the table, he is seated so that he must spend the first part of the meal conversing with Edward’s wife, Clara. When the table turns, however, he must find some way to make polite conversation with Lady Marianne. So he keeps up the pretense of not knowing her and asks her about her travels.

Marianne cannot eat. She can hardly breathe. She isn’t worried that he will reveal her unconventional activities in Florence. She is worried that she will not be able to make it through dinner without completely disgracing herself by bursting into tears at Michael’s continued coldness toward her. She wants to excuse herself on the very real threat that her stomach is upset and her head is pounding. But she cannot let him think that she’s hiding or running away from him. She must talk to him, privately. But even when the splitting of the men and ladies of the party after dinner affords her a moment alone with him in the foyer, he is unwilling to listen to anything she has to say. Nothing, he tells her, can excuse the way she deceived him and made him think she returned his feelings.


And that’s as far as I’ve gotten up to this point. This is one of those story ideas that I’ve been pondering over, savoring, thinking about, brainstorming, and debating possibilities as to which way it could go. It’s also, as you can see, one of the longest/most detailed I’ve come up with so far.

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