My Pamela is not the shameless manipulator of Shamela, but she isn't the coy, demure miss of Richardson either. Without taking undue license (as with Pride & Prejudice, I am writing with the text directly in front of me), I have created, I hope, a woman who wants more from life than country poverty, is terrified of that poverty, but honestly doesn't want to be a gentleman's mistress.
My Mr. B, though an alpha like Darcy, is far more extroverted and domineering. However, unlike the writers of too many romances, I didn't want to excuse his domineering behavior; just because he has the hots for Pamela doesn't mean he should be an overbearing jerk. I have hopefully created a voice that indicates a wry, even cynical individual who has no compunction about seducing a young, bored woman but must undergo a necessary change of heart before he can win her for real. (The double problem is that he has to be someone Pamela could reasonably go from fearing to loving: we'll see if I succeed!)
As with A Man of Few Words, I will be publishing individual sections before creating one final complete document.
The rangy, dark-haired man lounging in the parlor raised a brow at the grad student.
"Do you know how many of you come through here for every reading?" he said. "Wanting to understand the social-geopolitical matrix of Richardson's work? It would be so much easier if the poor man wasn't dead."
"His work lives on," the grad student pointed out.
"I know, and the marvels of science have made us characters live his stories over and over. I'm not bitter, you understand. I just don't understand what you expect me to say. Why not just decide that I'm a callous, chauvinistic ass and let it go?"
"Because your story isn't the one being told."
The dark-haired man laughed. "My wife doesn't consider me a callous, chauvinistic ass," he pointed out. "Not any more, at least."
"But her perception of your actions is still a limited one--"
"I know, I know. The woman wrote for posterity, not the bedroom."
"Can I quote you?" the grad student asked, and the dark-haired man laughed again but held up his hand.
"I'm not afraid of bedroom scenes," he said. "If you really want the story unvarnished—"
"—your perspective would be enough—"
"Very well," Mr. B said. "Let's start by clarifying one thing: I seduced Pamela because she was bored."
I met Pamela several time when visiting my mother. Pamela would sit beside my mother's chair or bed, reading mostly or doing needlework. She would stop and watch us like a detached little animal. I suppose later she wrote about us. I didn't know about her writing then.
"Be good," my mother said to me when she saw me eying Pamela, and I suppose I would have been if she hadn't died and left Pamela to my care. I put Pamela in charge of my linen. She wasn't really a maid; she wasn't trained, you understand, just a favorite of my mother's. But she didn't want to go home. Believe me. She would have perished of ennui in a fortnight.
I got my first taste of Pamela's writing about then. I walked in on her finishing a letter to her parents. She twitched—she was as wary as a cat—but I got a look at the letter which was high-spirited plus full of references to me. I warned her to be careful about what she wrote, and she agreed. All good cats agree to leave the cream alone. Until you're out of the room.
I gave her access to my late mother's books. Did I mention she was bored? She got along well with the servants, especially Mrs. Jervis, but she was less busy than they as well as a cut above. At the time, I considered my mother had been careless, training Pamela to be a person of leisurely activities. Nothing absorbs Pamela more than reading and writing. Nothing bores her more than housework. She'll object to that statement, but it's the truth. She'd rather read to entertain Mrs. Jervis than sew a button.
She does like nice clothes. I suppose all women do but with Pamela it's the security they confer as much as the beauty and comfort. She would object to that statement as well, I daresay, and I'm not being entirely fair. Pamela really thought she loved her parents and wanted a simple life. She really thought she was demure and undemanding. She was never, you understand, a greedy girl—not in the sense the preachers use the term. But I don't think anything scared her more than poverty. And ultimately, she was more honest about it than most.