(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved) [(1) story cover below left]
[Illustrations: I cast my stories as I write them. So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors and such, including: Richard Armitage as Lord Edward Carlisle, Daniela Denby-Ashe as Lady Emily Creighton, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton the Earl of Stoke, and others as noted.]
[Author’s Note: This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes or other descriptions were made at the creative discretion of this author. And this is a gentle romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect. This is my disclaimer.]
Ch. 09: Courting Couple
Whereas most fiances court each other before they become engaged—in order to ascertain their suitability for each other–Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle’s and Lady Emily Creighton’s formal courtship was so quickly over taken by their betrothal/engagement that they missed doing the usual courting activities niceties. So Lord Edward vows to correct that deficit and to woo his Lady Emily with courting activities the week before they are wed.
In part, Lord Edward wants to woo Lady Emily in order to firmly establish that she wants to be his wife. He wants no repeats of the last time he wed—with a reluctant wife who ran away to her death in a carriage accident as she eloped with her lover. Though it was not Lord Edward’s fault, the tragic end to his late wife Lady Edith Lawrence Carlisle still haunts him. Had Lady Edith’s parents—so eager were they to claim a Viscount and Earl in waiting for their daughter–taken into account their daughter’s wishes of loving another, then the whole result of their not doing so could have been avoided.
However, there is an initial hiccup in Lord Edward’s courtship quest to woo Lady Emily. After their most satisfactory dowry and marriage settlements negotiations on Saturday, Lord Edward and Lady Emily took a light luncheon with her parents. This allowed Lady Creighton to observe him and to own that Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle has gentlemanly manners and uses the proper cutlery set before him—and his napkin rather than his sleeve. But then Lady Creighton whisks her daughter Lady Emily to the modiste’s for the afternoon for wedding gown fittings to temporarily shorten the length of Lady Creighton’s own decades old but still lovely wedding gown for her daughter to wear on her wedding day. There are also one or two ladies delicate unmentionables that will also be created for Lady Emily, that were not already found within her new wardrobe this year.
So this leaves Lord Edward and his best friend Lord Kittredge Wells with a spare Saturday afternoon to fill in which to entertain themselves—but seven days before Lord Edward’s and Lady Emily’s wedding. And Lord Kitt takes his role as Lord Edward’s Best Man attendant very seriously—not the least of which is due to the fact that Lord Kitt has never been this close to a wedding party before. Nor is he likely to be ever again—with Lord Kitt disavowing himself from ever seeking the marital state.
So these two gentlemen head to their tailor’s for them each to have new wedding suits made for themselves. Of course, Lord Kitt’s wardrobe is so vast that there is no need for him to expand his wardrobe for several years—unless he wishes to keep up with the fashions of the day, which he does.
And Lord Edward’s muscles have grown in the five years since his first marriage—through exercise to exhaust himself, to keep his masculine nature needs at bay. So now with his Lady Emily soon to be his bride, Lord Edward needs to have a new wedding suit made for his broader shoulders and muscled arms and legs. And not so unnaturally, Lord Edward views his previous wedding suit attire to be tainted by association—with his first marriage that did not last long. So Lord Edward is starting fresh—with a new wedding, a new wife, and a new wedding suit.
But the real pre-wedding ceremony week courtship begins upon Sunday of the following day when Lord Edward joins the Creighton family at church, sitting with Lady Emily in their pew box. Of course, Lord Edward has his own sponsored pew box, but he usually sits there alone, except when Lord Kitt rarely joins him. And until Lord Edward and Lady Emily are wed, they may not even sit alone together within his pew box at Church. Her parents are seeing that she is well chaperoned to avoid any unfortunate talk that might damage Lady Emily’s sterling reputation.
So Lord Edward will just have to put up with it—the chaperonage–if he wants to court and woo his lady this week. Though the nosegay he selected for and gave to Lady Emily before church is lovingly clasped by her throughout the worship service. She would not even put her nosegay of down when holding the hymnal in song. Lord Kitt had helped Lord Edward with the nosegay’s floral selection for their floral meanings [(2)]—bluebells for constancy, and gillyflowers signaling bonds of affection amongst several mixed greens. So Lord Edward achieved just the right sentiments of enduring love and faithfulness, without overpowering Lady Emily with his fervent hopes for a successful and happy marriage to her.
However, Monday afternoon is indeed a very pleasant prospect, with Lord Edward and Lady Emily, her Mama, and Papa—as well as Lord Kitt—all converging upon Rundle & Bridges for their wedding ring set selection. Lord Edward also plans to give Lady Emily a Carlisle family heirloom engagement ring that will need to be sized for her small and delicate hands.
Lady Emily is both excited and thrilled to be wedding ring set shopping with her Lord Edward this day. So much so that her cousin and friend Lord Kitt admonishes her as they enter the jewelry store.
Lord Kittredge: “Now remember Emmy, set your eye to the quality of jewels and their settings that you view this day. Just because a ring or brooch is large, does not make it elegant and refined.”
Lady Emily: “But Kitt, some larger pieces of jewelry are quite pretty. One only has to look at my Dear Mama to see that is so.” They both turn to smile at Lady Creighton while observing her pearls and diamonds and ruby rings, earrings, brooch, and bracelets that she wears—for a mere afternoon shopping outing.
Lord Kittredge: “Indeed!” His eyes widen at the gauche display of jewelry worn by his maternal Aunt. All Lady Creighton would need to complete her wearing the full parure would be for her to don the matching tiara and necklace. And with no royal audience expected this afternoon, the brooch should have sufficed her.
Lord Edward: “So my Lady Emily, do you see a wedding ring set that tempts you?” Lord Edward [(3) left] asks Lady Emily with a bit of trepidation, hoping to please her. Then she smiles charmingly cordially at him. And he sighs relievedly and believes that he is enjoying being engaged to Lady Emily. And it is a revelation to him that married couples—or soon to be in their case—can take such joy in the small things that they do together. Though selecting a wedding rings set together is very important.
Lady Emily: “Oh Lord Edward, there are so many lovely sets here. But perhaps I may try on my heirloom engagement ring that you promised to give me—to see which wedding ring set complements it the best?” She smiles warmly at him, her being eager to see the lovely heirloom ring that he has chosen for her. For the jeweler had taken her finger measurement without her trying the ring on yet.
Lord Edward: “Let us see if the jewelers have finished resizing your heirloom engagement ring to fit your delicate hand.” And Lord Edward lifts Lady Emily’s delicate hand to his lips for decorous kiss.
And since Lord Edward’s Grandmother Elizabeth Fitzherbert Carlisle–who had bequeathed her engagement ring to him for his future bride–was a ring size bigger than Lady Emily’s finger, the resizing was very necessary. Lord Edward raises an eye brow to the Clerk hovering in the back ground—who had no doubt heard Lord Edward’s suggestion to Lady Emily—the Clerk then goes to do Lord Edward’s bidding in retrieving the resized engagement ring.
And when Lady Emily views her betrothal/engagement ring [(4) left] in all of its dazzling glory and thence upon her finger after Lord Edward tells her to open her eyes, she is delighted with his choice of ring for her. Tilting her hand to see the antique gold figured band from each angle, as well as the central 1 carat round diamond sparkling in its olden gold prongs cradle in the well lit jewelry store show room, Lady Emily smiles wide.
Lord Edward: “So, you like your betrothal ring, Lady Emily?” He asks hopefully.
Lady Emily: “Like it? Oh Edward!” Lady Emily [(5) left] gushing informally to him due to her unbridled happiness. “Like does not begin to cover my delight in this ring. It is exquisite! And the ring looks of quite ancient design—almost Roman, even.” Not that Lady Emily is completely conversant with the jewelry customs of ancient Rome, her betrothal ring’s clean elegant figured lines in the gold band cradling a magnificent diamond make hers a most beautiful betrothal ring. “You could not have chosen a more perfect betrothal ring for me!”
Lord Edward: “Thank you. I am glad that you are happy with it. And your betrothal ring is a Carlisle family heirloom. I was told that this ring has a long history of Carlisle brides—back at least five generations. And that each marriage was a long and happy one.”
Lady Emily: “And hopefully, this ring will bring us glad tidings for our marriage, Edward.” She smiles up at him, but with a slight questioning look in her piquant face.
Lord Edward: Lord Edward guesses her unspoken question, but allows her to voice it or not. “You may ask any manner of question of me, Lady Emily. We will have no secrets from each other.” Yet, Lady Emily is still too shy to ask her question. “Would you like to know that the last owner of this ring was my Grandmother Elizabeth Fitzherbert Carlisle?”
Lady Emily: “Oh!” She sighs girlishly relieved. “So, it was not … I mean, you had not … given this ring to anyone else?” She finally asks her question most obliquely.
Lord Edward: “No, I did not. You will be the first Carlisle bride and wife in over 20 years to wear this ring.” He states proudly.
Lady Emily: “Thank you, Edward!” Lady Emily gushes. Were they not in public, Lady Emily would literally jump into her betrothed Lord Edward’s arms. And she hopes that they might later find an unchaperoned corner of her home’s garden, where they might kiss again. And she trembles with anticipation.
Lady Emily’s parents smile and nod at their daughter’s beautiful betrothal ring. Except, of course, her Mama Lady Patience Creighton is also a tad critical of the ring.
Lady Patience: “It is a pretty little ring, My Dear. The diamond stone itself is of good size, though the setting is a bit plain. That was the style then, I suppose. Hhhh!” She sighs mournfully. But her disdain does not have its desired effect—as Lady Emily is jubilant over her ring.
Lady Emily: “I will not be dissuaded, Mama. My betrothal ring is lovely!” She holds her hand out in front of herself to admire her ring even more.
And Lord Kitt smiles at his cousin Lady Emily, giving her a silent cheer of Brava! And yet another quarter not heard from yet also verbally states his verdict about the ring—in the hopes of blunting his wife’s criticism.
Lord Creighton: “My darling daughter, your betrothal ring is a beautifully elegant choice. Well done, Lord Carlisle!” Lord Creighton grants that his future son-in-law seems to have good taste.
Lord Edward: “Thank you, Lady Emily, Lady Creighton, and Lord Creighton. It is a graceful ring for a graceful lady.” And then he lifts Lady Emily’s hand to his lips and kisses her ring finger, near her new betrothal ring.
And Lord Edward also hopes to find a quiet garden hedge corner in which to seal him giving her his betrothal ring, with a kiss.
The remainder of the week, Lady Emily finds herself in a whirl of final wedding gown fittings, wedding reception details, and such, But the three of them—Lord Edward, Lady Emily, and Lord Kitt as their chaperone—do manage to steal away to Gunter’s for ices Wednesday afternoon. Though Lord Kitt sits at a completely separate table to give the courting couple their privacy to converse, while he sips his tea and peruses the newspaper. No sticky ices for him—his valet always complains that it is difficult to remove the ices stains from his cravat—let alone that until Lord Kitt would be able to go home and procure a fresh neckcloth for his cravat, the ices stain would blemish his overall elegant presentation.
Lord Edward: “Do you not think Emily My Love, that Kitt is being very kind to us this afternoon, by sitting at another table to give us our privacy?” Lord Edward asks smoulderingly as he gently stroke’s Lady Emily’s hand graced with his betrothal ring.
In fact, Lady Emily has eschewed gloves the last two days—well, her wearing only her right hand glove for propriety’s sake and carrying her left hand glove–precisely to admire and to display her lovely betrothal ring to all whom she might meet.
Lady Emily: “Kitt is usually kind, Dear Edward. Though sometimes, I would allow that he can be a trifle …” She searches for the proper word to convey her thoughts, while at the same time not disparaging her much admired and loved cousin Kitt.
Lord Edward: “Pushy or forthright?” He jests with a winning smile.
Lady Emily: “Oh, forthright, of course—and dismissively selective where ladies are concerned.” She demures. “It is just that, I so wish to see him happy. Yet, he has not seemed to like any of the young ladies that I introduced him to at ton parties—in the past six years!” She pouts.
Lord Edward: “Kkkhh! Ah, yes.” He blanches, because as Lord Edward is Lord Kitt’s best friend, Lord Edward understand’s Lord Kitt’s reluctance where ladies are concerned. “My Dear, some men are not … the marrying kind. And I believe that Kitt is one of them.” He states delicately.
Lady Emily: “And you are, Edward? The marrying kind, I mean.” She smiles while blushing charmingly pink.
Lord Edward: “Oh, indeed! So much so that I wanted to make certain that my next marriage will be a happy one. And then you and I met again, your eyebrow sacrifice, and bosom chilling for my sake have utterly charmed me—and we fell in love.”
Lady Emily: “Ha ha ha ha ha! I am ever so glad, Edward. Well, not about my ball gown’s low neckline, but that you appreciated my eyebrow transforming efforts. And you truly love me?” She asks hesitantly—they are quite a pair in that regard—being shy about their feelings and the feelings of others about them.
Lord Edward: “I do. And I cannot wait until we are married, in three days, on Saturday—when I can tenderly hold you in my arms and cherish you for the rest of our lives.”
Lady Emily: “Yes, please!” She whispers delightedly to him.
Of course, Lady Emily believes that Lord Edward cherishing her will be a very good thing–by the deepness in his voice and smouldering gaze in his eyes toward her. Though she is still innocent of the particulars of him cherishing or ravishing her, she trusts him implicitly. And she looks forward to her and Lord Edward’s carriage ride in the park later this afternoon—they had already had this courting ritual, but now, Lady Emily is a bride to me, she so wants to show off her husband to be.
And Lord Kitt sitting at a table off to the side smiles, glad that his matchmaking efforts between his cousin Lady Emily and his best friend Lord Edward is a success. He believes that their happiness will help to make his own happiness—if only vicariously as an honorary brother , honorary brother-in-law, and future honorary uncle to their children.
And now they have only got the wedding ceremony and wedding breakfast to get through on Saturday—hopefully without mishap. Lord Kitt crosses himself superstitiously for worrying about Lord Edward’s and Lady Emily’s upcoming wedding.
To be continued with Chapter 10
References for the Ch. 09 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, June 12, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1389)
- My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover illustration is comprised of: a) ivory lace background with Grati edit, found at torrid.com; and a b) Victorian roses bouquet painting by the Boston Public Library, via Atlas Obscura (with some Grati edits ), found at https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-flowerobsessed-victorians-encoded-messages-in-bouquets; and with c) the text in deep pinkish coral in a Vivaldi font.
2. Flower meanings were courtesy of The GardeningChannel.com, found at https://www.gardeningchannel.com/flower-meanings-dictionary-from-a-to-z-the-secret-victorian-era-language-of-flowers/
3. Lord Edward Carlisle looking hesitantly at wedding ring sets image is represented by Richard Armitage in in “North & South” (2004) 2013-03-28GratiCap_Jun12-2021szd-clr-brt2-crop
4. Lady Emily Creighton’s betrothal ring image is represented by an antique gold figured band with a 1 carat round cut diamond was found at https://www.filigreejewelers.com/jewelry-time-periods_2019/
5. An elated Lady Emily Creighton is represented by Daniela Denby-Ashe in “North & South” (2004) Feb03-2014 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-sized2; June12-2021clr-crop
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 09 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog post #1387 link for Ch. 08 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: