Beautiful People - Rosemary de la Mare

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
    No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
    In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
        She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
                The same that oft-times hath
    Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
        Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 
Ode to a Nightingale, Keats

 I had already decided that I would do at least one other Beautiful People post this month.  I had another unexpected character for Plenilune show up and, since The Penslayer has had a lack of light-hearted posts recently, I thought I might as well get to know the character better here.  She is not of magnificent importance to the plot, but as we all know from "It's a Wonderful Life," even one person's existence can make a world of difference.  This character is a generation back from when Plenilune takes place; she is the now-deceased matron of Marenove, which makes her both important and irrelevant.  But I found her interesting all the same.

Rosemary de la Mare


1.  What is her full name?

Lady Rosemary Laronne Incharness de la Mare—that is to say, her title, her given name, her maiden name, her family home, and her married name and residence of state.  For brevity’s sake we will just call her “Rosemary” from here on.

2.  Does she think inside herself more than talk out loud to her friends? (more importantly, does she actually have friends?)

Originally Rosemary was a very quiet person, strong-minded and forceful when she spoke, but typically one to keep quiet unless she had something of very importance to say.  After her illness she could talk almost constantly, to herself or anyone else; her voice, though not monotone, could maintain a steady low murmur that was very pleasant to listen to, whether she happened to be chattering to you or to herself. 

3.  Is there something she is afraid of?

Being left alone, a fear aggravated by the onset of night.  During the day, like a child, she was content to patter about and entertain herself, and would be for hours on end if she pleased.  But on rare occasions—again, especially in the evening—she would run about the house until she had found her husband Richard, cast herself into his arms and beg him not to leave her alone.  While no one in her family had  given her cause to fear this, it was an irrational fear she could not shake.

4.  How old is she?

At the time of her death she was only forty-one years old.

5.  What does her handwriting look like?

Rosemary’s long fingers were always deft with the quill.  Handwriting, a course all high-born children must take, was a difficult subject for her but she managed to conquer it.  She wrote in high, italicized cursive script, very distinctive and very distinguished.  After her illness she was known to scribble patiently at seeming nonsense, though her eldest child remains convinced that she was making up poems in the Golden Tongue.

6.  Does she have any siblings? How many? Where does she fit in?

Rosemary Laronne was, for all intents and purposes, an only child.  Her mother had several miscarriages and three other children who died young.  Only Rosemary survived, though she did not, in the end, outlive her own parents.

7.  What type of laugh does she have?

To put it poetically, Rosemary’s laugh was like a cascade of water or a thrush singing from the top of the elm tree on a blustery autumn day.  This was a feature she managed to keep.

8.  Who is her best friend?

This is a difficult answer to explain.  While Rosemary could always be friendly, she was not always ready to be a friend, and so had almost none outside her family.  Inside one’s family one isn’t supposed to have favourites, but it is a little hard to hide the fact that, after her illness, she was most pleased to be in her eldest child’s company, who was really a playmate for her.  Her husband was her only real friend.

9.  Favourite kind of weather?

Rosemary preferred blustery, sunny days when she could keep out of doors for hours on end and come back in feeling as if all her veins and bones had been blown clean by the wind.

10.  What kind of music does she like?

Her favourite music was birdsong, and she was a great imitator of it.

11.  Does she like to go outside?

I fear I have already answered this question.  Rosemary could be found outside even on damp days, though when it got really wet she would perch indoors by the fire.

12.  Is she naturally curious?

Rosemary was the very soul of curiosity.  She was a great student of astrology and natural philosophy, a slow but ardent learner of language, and would always be on hand when the cook was making something new to ask, “What is that?” and “Why does it do what it does?”

13.  Right, or left handed?

Rosemary was right-handed. 

14.  Where is she from?

In the interest of not repeating myself too often, Rosemary Laronne comes from Incharness, a sea-side demesne of the Mares.

15.  What kinds of things get on her nerves?

Damp cold, really wet days, thunder, headaches, scratchy linen, harsh noises, dogs, and spoons.

16.  Is she independent, or needs others to help out?

I would say Rosemary was pretty fairly normal as regards dependence and independence.  Naturally, due to her illness, she had lost some capacity to understand some things, but other than really difficult things like getting dressed or making a fire (which, as a lady, she always had help with), she retained much of her natural independence.

17.  What are her quirks?

Well, apart from the obvious one, she had a great love of cinnamon and liked it particularly on pears, she had been known to slide down the banister of the Marenové grand staircase (she was put up to it by her sons), and she had a seemingly innate dislike of give direct answers—a trait her eldest son inherited.

18.  Has she ever been in love?

While her husband Richard was some years her senior, the two of them loved each other very much.  During the first near-dozen years of their marriage her liveliness, cunning, and loyalty were a very good thing for him; after her illness these traits were not diminished, though she was considerably less able to help him in politics.

19.  What is her comfort food?

Pears with cinnamon in one of the three Pheasant Dishes, which are family heirlooms.

20.  Does she play a musical instrument? If so, what?

Rosemary played both the harpsichord and the flute, both of them remarkably well; also, having stood outside in the garden in the same spot for three hours listening to a nightingale, she developed an astonishingly good singing voice and a great ear for a tune.

21.  What colour are her eyes? Hair?

Her eyes were a very pale blue—a characteristic that overrode the dominant brown gene and gave both her sons pale blue eyes as well; her hair was thick and honey-coloured, a trait which she did not pass on.

22.  What is her favourite place to be?

Up in the elm tree, on very fine days, or curled up on an ottoman at her husband’s feet, her head and arms in his lap, watching the fire.

23.  What kind of home does she live in?

Marenové is a pretty solidly-built house, its main body very nearly square with an adjacent kitchen wing and a newer solarium on the south side.  On the north side stands a tower, an addition in the middle years of the house’s life, which is now used as Rupert’s study.  The grounds are pasturage, paddock, and half-wild garden, with the forestry of Glassfell encroaching on the bee-skeps in the back. 

24.  What does she like to wear?

What Rosemary liked to wear depended largely on the weather.  Usually a simple yellow frock would do, but on some occasions she got it into her head to be really fancy and would truck about the garden in her scarlet and miniver like some kind of displaced bird of paradise.  In bad weather she kept indoors and went about in a surcoat of fawnskin and ermine.

25.  What do your other characters have to say about her?

“But she was not always harmless.  On very bad days, which were very rare, she would fly into a passion and think she was a hawk, and come at me and my brother so that our menservants would have to rush us away and my father would have to shut my mother up until the spell passed.  I always came to her afterward and found her crying, and would do my best to make her sing mocking-jay songs again, which always cheered her.  Poor thing.  And she was so beautiful.”

26.  What is her back-story and how does it affect her now?

Rosemary grew up in Incharness in the south of the Mares overlooking the sea.  It is a very different place from manor-style Marenové, which lies inland in Seescardale and whose biggest body of water is a major lake.  She married well—into the family typically chosen to be Overlords—and did both her family and her husband proud at home and abroad.  Her beauty was a little austere for the preference of Plenilune, but it could not be denied that she was breath-taking.  Her manner, if not always winsome, was always gently effusive, and she was always considered a leading lady among the Honours’ Elite.

Unfortunately, when her eldest child was ten years old, she contracted brain fever and never quite recovered.  She retained her beauty and, for the most part, her sweet nature, but for her few remaining years was convinced that she was a bird.  She was largely harmless unless circumstances conspired to agitate her madness, and though she was no longer a member of Society was still treasured by her family as a sweet, melancholy creature.

27.  How does she show love?

She loved giving hugs.  She would gather her children under her surcoat, bend down close with an arm about each, and press their cheeks to hers and sing a snatch of song she had made, just for them, to tell them how much she loved them. 

28.  Does she prefer the country, or the city? 

She much prefers country life.  She does not mind going in to the towns, but she feels a little cramped by and does not really like the noise of them.

29.  Does she have a sweet tooth?

Incorrigibly. 

30.  What colours are in her bedroom?

Her bedroom was in the southeast corner of the house and overlooked the front park, lower garden, and solarium.  Her chamber was a combination bed- and sitting-room with a peacock-colour palette and a predominance of carnelian and green; furniture was done in maple, chair-rail panelling and ceiling in oak, all stained.

31.  Favourite kind of tea?

Her favourite tea was “red coffee,” a red tea made in a highly concentrated dose and served with a vanilla-milk mixture; she would often take it with coffee cake.


"Thou art a naughty boy, still I love thee, son."
"Th'art a clever woman, still I love thee, mother."
Memoirs of Plenilune

1 ripostes

  1. She makes me want to cry - that is the best summation of my feelings I can give. Poor lady! It is a pity she's not alive when Plenilune itself takes place; I want to know more about her, although she sounds as though she would be an pleasantly eerie, heartbreaking sort of person to meet.

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