Richard Armitage THUD Thursday–Holidays Style!, December 08, 2016  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1012)

This turtle neck sweater and jacket on the exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage (below, via Isabelle, Thanks!) at the 2016 Jane Hotel in NYC photoshoot (photographed by Emilio Madrid-Kuser) really does it for me.

raportrait-2016-richardarmitage-janehotel-photoshoot-sitting-looking-up_dec0316viaisabelle

And the muted and balanced symmetry composition of the background–with better lighting promoting great color shadings, especially on Richard for a natural skin tone—and with him seemingly “eagerly” leaning forward and smiling, it is a dazzling portrait of him!  Sighhhhh!  So a very well done to the photographer Emilio Madrid-Kuser!

So when you add the holidays into the mix–as with my little edit below?  Don’t you just want to have a party?  For two?   *THUD*

2016-happyholidays-fromrichard-atthejanehotel_dec0816bygratianalovelace-final

Holiday Cheers! Grati ;->

P.S.  I had gushed about another of these Richard Armitage portraits at the Jane Hotel, here.

Posted in Beauty, Fangurling, Graphic, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Portraits, Reflections, Richard Armitage, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Christmas Carol Reimagined”, Ch. 02:  The Ghost of Christmas Past,   December 06, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1011) 

a1acoverachristmascarol-reimagined-cover_dec0316bygratianalovelace(An original fan fic story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; all rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with:  Richard Armitage as Ben Scrooge, Danielle Denby-Ashe as Peggy Cratchit, Aidan Turner as Ben’s nephew Frankilin Durin, Ken Stott as the late Jacob Marley, and others as noted.]

Authors Introduction Note / Wattpad Description:  My fan fic “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” ) [(1) story cover logo left] is the tale of a miserly middle aged man—a friend to no one–who is scared into realizing the folly of his ways when he is visited by three ghosts (past, present, and future). He then vows to be compassionate toward his fellow man and through his good deeds, he redeems himself—and he comes to know the meaning of love.

And as an homage to Dickens classic tale “A Christmas Carol” you will recognize some of the basic plot premises and a quote here and there.  But there is a twist in that my story is a new telling, blending in British actor Richard Armitage’s character friends in “North & South” and “The Hobbit” trilogy of films.  So anything can happen.

Author’s Recap from the previous chapter:  We are introduced to a young middle Ebenezer “Ben” Scrooge behaving miserly and curmudgeonly, despite his mere thirty eight years.  The only one who can seem to stand him at his cotton mill or in town, is his stalwart Executive Assistant Miss Peggy Cratchit.  She is a gentle woman forced into gainful employment in order to support her aging parents,  Ben Scrooge’s nephew from his late sister, Frankilin Durin is brash and cheerful—and earning a good wage as an attorney, due to the schooling and university he attended unto the patronage of his Uncle Scrooge.  Ben Scrooge is a lonely and friendless man.  But the ghost of his late partner Jacob Marley visits him on Christmas Eve to grant Ben one last chance to mend his ways—by learning the lessons of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.  And now Ben Scrooge must wait for the ghosts to come, in order to learn his fate.

 

“A Christmas Carol Reimagined”, Ch. 02:  The Ghost of Christmas Past

Waiting is something that Ben Scrooge has never been good at.  Yet, the ghost of his late Mill partner, Jacob Marley, bade him to wait for three more ghosts to come upon each morning hour on Christmas Eve.  In his fatigued sleepiness, Ben thinks that his bed chamber will be quite crowded with ghosts by the end of the early morning hours of Christmas Day.

And yet, Ben thinks that Jacob was so insistent—not a quality he remembered in his partner of more than fifteen years, after Ben had finished at university and had a short apprenticeship with Old Mr. Fezziwig at this very mill.  Jacob had bought the mill when Mr. Fezziwig had retired–and he kept Ben on.  Ben was not quite sure why he was kept on—nor why he stayed.  But he was glad that he did.  And then he rose quickly to become the master of the mill, then partner, and now sole owner when Jacob Marley died not even a twelve months past last January.

And so, Ben waits.  The second hand seems to trudge around the dial.  Yet it is only fifteen minutes he must wait.  Fifteen years and fifteen minutes.  Ben wonders at the significance of that.  He has a keen mind—not put to much use with the drudgery of the Mill.  But his mill turns a good profit every year, so that is something.  And then the clock chimes for one o’clock.  In Ben’s distracted musings, he has lost track of the time. john-isrichardarmitage-innorthsouth-epi2-215_feb0514ranet-crop-sized-clr2

Ben Scrooge stands and looks around [(2) right] —ready to meet the next ghost, or so he tells himself, when he does not think himself run mad for talking with ghosts.  Yet he is clearly surprised at the vision that awaits him as the clock chimes one o’clock in the morning of Christmas Day, December 25.

Ben:  “Are all of you apparitions going to start out like a small ball of fire?”  He chides the ethereal glow.  Silence is the response.  “Come now speak up and say your piece.  If I am to get any rest at all, I must nap between your comings and goings.”

He then hears a tinkling laughter in jest as the ghost rises to its full height.  And though, Ben expected this ghost to also be of a masculine variety, he finds that it is not—most decidedly not.  For before him is a beautiful golden haired goddess of a ghostly womghost-of-christmas-past-iscateblanchett-asgaladrieltwirl_apr0513thorinoakenshieldfban.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  Quirking up a mirthful eye brow, she asks. “Not what you were expecting?”  She lifts her arms away from her sides—and she twirls. showing her flowing dress and cape the colors of ivory pearls billowing in an unfelt breeze [(3) right].

Ben: “Most definitely not!”  He smiles charmingly at her.  It has been some time since he felt the desire to be charming.  And he wonders if he is achieving it.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “You are.”

Ben: “I am what?”  He asks in a confused tone.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “Almost charming.”

Ben: “Oh.”  He blanches. If she can read his thoughts, that would give her power over him—something he cannot allow.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “It is not for you to allow or to disallow.”

Ben jerks his head up in alarm.

Ben: “Get out of my mind.”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “I will … when the clock strikes two.”  She smiles.  “Come, Benjamin.”

She holds out her hand to him.  It is a familiar gesture, as one does with a small child they want to keep close and safe from harm.  Ben places his hand in hers and he is instantly transported to the manor home of his childhood. He sees a younger childlike version of himself running in the snow in long pants and playing with his three years older sister Fanny.  He was home on a school break from his first year at Eton—a mere boy of eight.

Then he sees his father beckon them inside.  His father Josiah Scrooge was a tall man who towered over his children.  Benjamin was a little afraid of him.  But their father positively doted on Fanny—and as Father Josiah Scrooge took the usual interest in his son and heir, Benjamin.  However, it was their mother Grace Scrooge who was the heart of the family.  And at nine and thirty, she was soon to issue forth another little Scrooge.  So his father was quite pleased to expect another child—perhaps a spare to his heir, for girls cannot inherit.

Though Benjamin’s mother was also pleased about the coming baby, Benjamin sensed a concern in her look.   He had never been told directly, but the servants gossiped and he learned that when she gave birth to him eight years ago, it was difficult for her.  So that is why she had not had another baby until now.  And the fact that she was, little Benjamin takes to be a good sign.  As they all walk inside the Scrooge home—the family as it once was with four members, Ben as he is in the present, and the Ghost—the father leaves to attend to some business, and Fanny sits playing her piano.

So his mother calls Benjamin over—and Ben has a sense of foreboding, but he does not john-and-hannah-are-richardarmitage-andsineadcusack-innsepi3-035_may0814ranet-sized-clr2remember why.  And Ben finds that not only does he follow his younger self, but then he takes his younger self’s place looking up at his mother as she caresses his face [(4 right].

Mrs. Scrooge: “You are a good boy, my Benjamin.  And I am proud of you!”

Ben/Benjamin: “Thank you, Mama!”  I smile.  “I want to make you proud of me.”

Mrs.  Scrooge: “You always will—even if you don’t think that I would be proud of you, I am.  And you shall always have my love and support, my boy.”

Ben/Benjamin:  “Thank you, Mama.”    I smile looking up at her.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “You loved her.”  The ghost states as fact rather than a questions

Ben:  “She is my whole life, was my whole life—when I was a boy.” I purse my lips together and scrunch up my nose—as I did when I was a boy then, trying not to cry.  “But my happiness was wrapped up in my mother and my sister.  And when my mother died, my father was bereft in his grief—as was I.  And my sister’s soothing  piano playing was the only thing that gave him peace.  And he no longer wrote for me to come home at school breaks—not even Summers.  Father said that I looked too much like my mother, and that he could not bear to have me around.”  I ball my hands into fists—even now, his rejections stings.  “I was also grieving, but he did not care.”

Ghost of Christmas Past:  Redirecting his thoughts I ask. “So what did you do all Summer at the school?”

Ben:  “I read, and earned pin money and my keep by finding books in the library that the teacher scholars wanted, but were too old and infirm to look for themselves.” She looks at me as if I have more to say.  Then I add.  “The old professors where nice.  They treated me kindly and showed me how to find meaning in seemingly disparate events.”

Ghost of Christmas Past:    “But you went home eventually?”

Ben:  Yes.  It was ten years later—after my sister Fanny begged my father to let me come home to celebrate her marriage to a country doctor whom father thought unsuitable.”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “Why unsuitable?”

And then their scenery changes.  They  are still in Ben’s father’s home, but a wedding breakfast is being held for his sister Fanny and her new husband Dr. Thomas Wyatt.  Everyone is happy and celebratory.  The now almost grown up Benjamin joins in the celebration.

Ben:  “She looks so happy.”  I remember as I see her now before me.  “Thomas was a good man, and a good doctor, but not wealthy—because he treated some patients even if they could not pay.  But Fanny loved him. He made her happy.  I had forgotten that.”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “And what of your nephew Frankilin?  When did he come along?”

Ben:  “In their second year of marriage.  He was a fussy little fellow, but stout and strong.  And Fanny after several months of convalescence seemed to rally.  She and her husband had me to stay with them the Summer before my senior year at university.  They were truly happy.  And by then Frank as we began to call him, was crawling and walking around, becoming his own little person.”  I sit in a chair and Frank holds up his arms to me and I pull him up to sit on my lap.  He keeps patting my face—as if to reassure himself that I am real.  And I wonder how I could have forgotten this, forgotten him, as we were then—as uncle and nephew.

Ghost of Christmas Past: “You smiled just now.”  I smile.

Ben:  “It was a happy time.”  Then I frown.  But then Fanny became pregnant again—even though her strength had not returned to her fully.”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “And she died, in childbirth.  And her baby daughter born toon soon also died.  With your father dying soon thereafter as well.”

Ben: “Yes, yes!  Dammit!  Why do you show me happy times, only to make me remember john-isrichardarmitage-innsepi2-225_aug0114ranet-sizedthe sadness?”  [(5) right] I wail pitifully at the ghost.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “I do not show them to you, Benjamin.  You are showing them to me.”

Ben: “What?”  I look at her incredulously.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “This is your life.  And these are the moments that you wished to revisit.”

Ben: “Why would I wish to revisit my mother’s and my sister’s deaths?”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “Perhaps, one cannot have happiness without pain.  And it is the happiness that makes the pain worth bearing.”

Ben: “Plattitudes?  You give me platitudes?  Forgive me Ghost, but I find your guidance–that Jacob told me to heed–to be lacking.”

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “As I told you before, you are directing what we see and what you remember, not I.  Perhaps you needed to remember these events in their totality—not some vague and mistaken remembrance–in order to come to terms with your losses, and with your sense of guilt.”

Ben: “Guilt?  What have I to be guilty of?” He asks, but he does not wish to know the answer.

Ghost of Christmas Past:   “That you could not save them—your mother and your sister–to prevent their deaths.”

Ben:  “Of course, I could not save them!  I was but still a child when my mother died.  And I was certainly not a doctor when I was older when my sister Fanny died.  However, my brother-in-law was a doctor, and he should have saved my sister, his wife– if he loved her so much.”  Though I know that tears stream down my face, they are oddly cool and vaporize almost instantly in this hazy half wandering place we inhabit.

Ghost of Christmas Past: “No, you could not have saved them.  Nor could your brother-in-law have saved his wife, your sister Fanny—whom he loved dearly to his own dying breath.  Neither extending life, nor delaying death is within your purview—nor in your brother-in-law Thomas’ purview.   Yet you punished your brother-in-law—and by extension, your nephew Frank—by isolating yourself from them.”

Ben: “Cease, Ghost!” I wave my hand in wishing this to end.

Ghost of Christmas Past: “Soon.  We have one more stop to make.”

Ben: “Then let us get it over with.”  He breathes deeply in agitation.

As the misty haze around them begins to focus upon a different scene, we see a young early twenties Ben Scrooge sitting on a garden bench with a young lady whom he is in love with.  He has graduated from university, but has yet to be hired on at the Mill by Mr. Fezziwig.

Clara: “Benjamin, you’re not listening to me.” I gently reprimand him.  He is so burdened with is new job at the Mill.  If only my Papa could see how hard Benjamin works, and what a good man he is, … if only.

Benjamin:  “Oh?  I am sorry, Clara.  I have a lot on my mind right now.”

Clara: “And might some of it concern me?”  I smile prettily at him.

Benjamin smiles.  He does think Miss Clara Burlington to be very sweet.  But she is a bit frivolous at times with her bonnets and ribbons.  He does not envy her father for that tradesman’s bill.

Ben: “Always.”  I smile back at her.

Ghost of Christmas Past: “Clara is pretty and sweet.  And she seems to like you.  Did you marry her?”

Ben: “No!”  I recoil in replying to her.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “Why not?  What happened?”

Ben: “Her father is what happened.  I was a young man of yet to be determined prospects when Mr. Fezziwig hired me at the mill.  The inheritance I received from my father—after also selling our family home—only covered my expenses for my last year at university.  I had to make my way to earn my living if I wanted to care for a wife and for a family.”

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “Did you not ask her to wait for you?  Especially after Jacob Marley kept you on at the Mill when he assumed ownership.”

Ben: “I did!  But her father married her off to another!  As well you know, since you seem to know everything about me!”  I sigh bitterly.

Ghost of Christmas Past: “Remember, you are showing me these memories–not the other way around.”

Ben: “So you keep telling me.”

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “Clara was your great love, Benjamin. Yet there is one thing that you do not know, and that I hesitate to tell you.”

Ben:  “Why should you be hesitant now?”  I shake his head.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “It is merely because our time is short, and I wish you to understand what this fully means.”

Ben: “Well, what is this?”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “She never stopped loving you, your Clara.  So much so, that she named her second child, a son, after you.  She called him Benjamin.”

Ben: “She did?” I ask incredulously.  Perhaps Clara was not as fickle as I thought.  “Was she happy?”  I ask hopefully.

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “She was, after she reconciled herself to having a different life without you.  And she always prayed that you would find happiness, too.”

Ben: “But how could I find happiness?  Without her?”

Ghost of Christmas Past:  “That is the question that will lead you to your next ghostly visitor.  And we have almost gone past our time.  You will have but five minutes until the clock strikes two o’clock in the early morning.”

Ben: “Alright!”  She begins to fade.  “Hey!  Where are we?  How will the next ghost find me?”

Ghost of Christmas Past: “He will find you as I did, sitting in your chair by the fireplace.”

And with that, the Ghost of Christmas Past vanishes.  And Ben Scrooge looks around to find himself exactly where she said he would be.  Then he looks up at his mantle clock, it is five minutes until two o’clock in the morning.  And so, he waits again, him wondering what he will see next in this journey through his life.

To be continued with Chapter 3

 

References for Ch. 2 of “A Christmas Carol Reimagined”, December 01, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1011)

1) “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:

  1. a) the old drawing of Scrooge awaiting his ghosts by John Leech (for the 1843 Chapman and Hall published edition) was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol;
    b)  an image of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in the 2004 BBC miniseries “North & South” was my cap from Episode 1;
    c) and holly clipart found at http://cliparts.co/cliparts/rcn/Gg8/rcnGg84zi.jpg

(2)   Image of Ben Scrooge looking skeptical that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in  North &, 2004, via South, epi2, pix 215 at RAnet.

(3) The image for the Ghost of Christmas Past is Cate Blanchett as Galadriel in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films as found at ThorinOakenshieldFB Dec0513

(4)   Image of Ebenezer Scrooge and his mother are John-and-Hannah-are-RichardArmitage-andSineadCusack-inN&Sepi3-035_May0814ranet-sized-clr2

(5)    The image of a crying Ben Scrooge is that of Richard Armitage -inN&Sepi2-225_Aug0114ranet-sized

 

Something About Love, previous  Ch. 01 link:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2016/12/01/reimagining-a-christmas-carol-remake-with-richard-armitage-as-scrooge-part-1-december-01-2016-gratiana-lovelace-post-1008/

 

Posted in "A Christmas Carol Reimagined", Drama, Fan Fiction, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Period Drama, Richard Armitage, Romance, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Encouragement”, Ch. 20 (PG-13):  Providence and Fate,  December 04, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1010) 

aEncouragement-aRegencyLovestorycover_Aug3116byGratianaLovelace_180x282(An original Regency romance  copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; all rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with:  Richard Armitage as Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex, Kate Winslet and Emma Lady Hamilton as Lady Madeline Lucretia Sinclair, Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott, Jessica Brown Findlay  as Lady Elizabeth Blount, Crispin Bonham-Carter as Lord Harold Blount, Dame Judi Dench as Lady Catherine Blount the Dowager Countess of Sussex, Rupert Penry Jones as Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay, Corin Redgrave as Squire Sutton Sinclair, Amanda Root as Mrs. Russell, Hugh Griffith as Lord Christian’s solicitor Mr. Rittenhouse, and others as noted.]

Authors Content Note: “Encouragement” is a frothy love story with sometimes humorous and sometimes dramatic themes of love and relationships.  It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of:  D for dramatic emotions, and LS for love scenes that are tenderly sensuous and not explicit.  And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.  And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of each chapter.

Author’s recap from the previous chapter:  Christian Lord Sussex vehemently objected to his younger sister Lady Elizabeth’s suitor Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay—on the basis of Lord Duncan already being pledged to another by the Ducal Fathers’ pact.  So much so that that he imperiled his betrothal to his intended Lady Madeline Sinclair when she objected to Lord Christian’s high handedness.  But after much calming down—for both Christian Lord Sussex’s overbearing nature and Lady Madeline’s monthly fits of impatience and wrath—the betrothed couple mend their rift and still plan to be wed this coming Friday, February 23rd.  Assuming, that is, that nothing else happens.

 

“Encouragement, A Regency Tale of Love and Romance”,
Ch. 20 (PG-13):  Providence and Fate

The next day after the almost cataclysmic disagreement between Christian Lord Sussex and his betrothed Lady Madeline about his being overbearing to his sister Lady Elizabeth about her choice of suitor—Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay—that almost ended the Lady Madeline’s and Lord Christian’s betrothal, he wisely personally delivers a nosegay and a small love note to the Knott London Townhome.  Though it was too early for Lady Madeline to have risen—especially these days, when she is generally in such ill humor—her Grandmama Lady Knott promised to convey both to her.  Which Lord Christian thanks her for, then leaves to begin his busy day only three days before his wedding to Lady Madeline.

Though Lord Christian is sent on a commission to buy his Grandmother Lady Catherine, Dowager Countess of Sussex a packet of herbal tea from the apothecary to soothe her headache, Lord Christian Blount—the present Earl of Sussex, him having succeeded his Grandfather due to his father’s early death—makes a detour to his solicitor to ascertain the state of the family’s finances and how long they can hold on until his planned wedding to Lady Madeline two weeks hence.

The façade of the three story stone building is weathered with age.  What had been glistening light grey stone in its genesis is now soot darkened with time and the elements.  However upon entering the old and distinguished law firm of Rittenhouse and Bean, Lord Christian finds that its interior furnishings have been kept up such that its sage green velvet draperies are merely twenty years old and in good condition—despite a few moth encroachments and the natural wear and tear from beating the dust out of them over the years.

Being ushered into his solicitor’s private office, Lord Christian takes a seat in a most comfortable and man sized cushioned wing chair as he looks toward his solicitor rearranging the papers upon his desk into an order with such agitation that gives Mr. Rittenhouse a seeming satisfaction, but which puzzles Lord Christian.

Mr. Rittenhouse is a prosperous looking gentleman with slightly bushy hair and eyebrows.  The windy day accounts for the hair dishevelment—despite the obvious attempts to tame the top by patting it down.  But Lord Christian always wonders why the man does not have his barber trim his eyebrows for him.  Lord Christian had an uncle once with eyebrows of similar overgrown tendencies—except for once a month when he visited his barber, to the family’s relief.  And Mr. Rittenhouse’s pince nez spectacles add to the overall effect—along with his sturdy brownish grey wool jacket that he wears for warmth in Winter.mrrittenhouse-solicitor-is-hugh-griffith_01_446-wales_dec0316-viabbc-couk

Mr. Rittenhouse:   I look up at my young Earl client with fatherly concern [(2) right].   “My apologies, Lord Sussex.  But I wanted to make certain that I put this matter before you in an efficient, yet exigent manner.”

Christian Lord Sussex: Pinching his brows together in uncertainty, Lord Christian nods. “Of course. Please continue, Mr. Rittenhouse.”

Mr. Rittenhouse:    Then Mr. Rittenhouse, uncharacteristically blurts it out.  “My Lord, you have but this London Season to right your family finances by making an advantageous marriage.  You must find a lady whose dowry is at least fifteen thousand pounds—but more would be better.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Hhhh!  So you said before.  And I have done so.  I am betrothed to Lady Madeline Sinclair.  We are to marry in under one week’s time.  This coming Friday, to be more specific.” Lord Christian does not mention Lady Madeline’s $20,000 pound dowry, because to do so, in his eyes, would seem vulgar.

Mr. Rittenhouse:  “Oh well then!”  The solicitor smiles broadly, his bushy eyebrows straining even further upwards toward the peaks of his temples.  “The little Knott heiress.”  Mr. Rittenhouse is impressed—him having an inkling about her $20,000 pound dowry.  “May I offer my felicitations?”  He smiles and Lord Christian nods curtly in thanks.  “This providential marriage is good news, and should serve to keep your creditors at bay while you await the transfer of your wife’s dowry.”

Lord Christian winces at his solicitor stating coldly the monetary benefit that he will derive from marrying Lady Madeline Sinclair.  Though Lord Christian has become enchanted with her as his affections grow, he does not like anyone assuming that her dowry is his sole aim in marrying her. And though he is loathe to reveal his personal feelings, Lord Christian believes that it is warranted in this instance.lordchristian-disdainful-isrichardarmitage-asjohnthornton-in2004-northsouth-vlcsnap-2014-01-12-graticap-szd-crp1-brt

Christian Lord Sussex:   Bristling, Lord Christian [(3) right] clarifies his position with regard to his intended, Lady Madeline Sinclair.   “Mr. Rittenhouse, I am most fortunate in that Lady Madeline and I have developed a bond of sympathy and pleasing affection for each other as we look forward to sharing our lives together as husband and wife.”

Mr. Rittenhouse:  “Of course, My Lord.  Anyone can discern the tenderness with which you speak of your betrothed.”

The older gentleman solicitor’s words appease Lord Christian’s pride.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Thank you.  But back to the business at hand, were we to let Sussex Hall for the Summer—as we have previously discussed–might that also prove beneficial to the current financial situation?”

Lord Christian knows that several families in discreetly pecuniary circumstances have done the very same thing of letting out their country manors—thus preserving their legacies without seeming to be too inconvenienced by having lessened access to their country estates for the Summer.

Mr. Rittenhouse:  “In a modest measure, My Lord.  You would need to find someone who could pay you a fortune for the privilege of leasing your country manor home.  And you would not want just anyone to let it to and for them to be amongst your family possessions—be they family heirlooms or merely mementos.”

Lord Christian nods in agreement.  In truth, the idea of anyone other than their family inhabiting their home is only something that he is contemplating because of their desperate financial circumstances.

Christian Lord Sussex: “Mr. Rittenhouse, you suggest impediments that might not arise.  If a family of good breeding and with a sizeable fortune resides in our home for the Summer—and loves and enjoys our home as we do–that tenant would be suitable to me.  We must needs only find a family of suitable worth and connection.”  And with regard to his use of the term worth, Lord Christian refers to a family’s honor rather than to their wealth.

Mr. Rittenhouse: “Of course, My Lord.  But when you marry, would not you and your bride—the new Countess–wish to take up residence there?  And what of Lady Elizabeth and the Dowager Countess?  Surely, you cannot mean for them to spend the Summer in the intolerable London heat?”

Christian Lord Sussex: “No no.  I have thought it out.  My bride and I will be on our wedding trip for the first month.  And our family will remove to the Dower house on our Sussex Hall estates with my Grandmother.  It is smaller with only eight bedroom suites.  And with all of us there, including my brother and the inevitable guests who parade upon one’s benevolence when one has a country manor—plus my potential bride—it is likely to be cramped.  But beggars cannot be choosers.” He shrugs his shoulders.

Mr. Rittenhouse: “My Lord.  It distresses me to see you forced to entertain such a notion as letting your family seat Sussex Hall for the Summer.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “I appreciate your concern.  But it is a step we must make.  The funds we gain will help replenish our finances to finish the London Season in style and augment my sister Lady Elizabeth’s dowry—thus affording my sister a most advantageous prospect for marrying well in this or a future London season.”

I do not state that, now that I have feelings of affection for my betrothed Lady Madeline–that I do not want to instantly tap into her dowry funds like some mercenary suitors might do.  I will use a few thousand pounds from letting my Sussex Hall Estate to settle our creditors debts and keep back a few thousand pounds for maintain our house and grounds staff and our living expenses.  So I will put the remainder of Lady Madeline’s dowry of some fifteen thousand pounds safely into three banks as a cautionary measure.  And so my wish to provide for some of our families’ needs will be taken care of via the letting of Sussex Hall.

Mr. Rittenhouse: “Very well, if you are set upon this course of action?”

Christian Lord Sussex: “I am.”

Mr. Rittenhouse: “Then I applaud you for your perspicacity.”  Lord Christian nods in acknowledging the compliment.  “And in anticipation of so wise and prudent a decision on your part, I have taken the liberty and made discreet inquiries on your behalf. And there are two suitable families seeking to let a country manor.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Indeed.”  I raise my eyebrows at my solicitor’s proactive approach.

Mr. Rittenhouse: “Yes, but they each have a … well an aspect , shall we say, to their tenancy that may or may not sway or deter you from choosing to let Sussex Hall and its grounds for their use.”  Mr. Rittenhouse suggests portentously.

Lifting a paper from his desk, Mr. Rittenhouse proffers the single sheet to Lord Christian with two prospective tenants information.

Lord Christian takes the paper and begins to read the short paragraph about the first family who is unknown to him.

The Bennetts have three daughters and no sons.  The father is a prosperous merchant who desires to elevate their family’s circumstances and connections, thus making it more likely that their two older daughters of marriageable age might make an advantageous match.  The family is genteel, though not out of the common way in their social connections. 

Mr. Rittenhouse watches as Lord Christian grimaces at the notion of a merchant—prosperous or otherwise—tenanting Sussex Hall.  But it is Lord Christian’s startled look when he begins to read the name of the second family seeking to let his country estates for the Summer.

Christian Lord Sussex: “My god!  The Lindsay’s wish to let Sussex Hall?”  Why?  They have a lovely estate in Hartfordshire.”

Mr. Rittenhouse:  “Indeed!  But their castle home’s aging roof sustained damage in a snowy Winter storm that also then rained into their home’s interior.  So in addition to roof repair, several ruined family rooms will need to be renovated in the whole of the family wing—thus their need to relocate.  “Viscount Lindsay indicated in his letter of reply that he had spent many fond visits as a boy at Sussex Hall and that he looked forward to reacquainting himself with the place.  They are also willing to pay 1,000 pounds more than the merchant family.”

Stunned and not quite sure how he feels about either prospective tenant, Lord Christian fixes his stare upon his solicitor.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “There are pros and cons to both tenant choices.  But I suppose that I would rather have another noble family lease our home—and one whom we are connected to, thus making us feel more at ease for our home and our possessions—rather than to a stranger.  Please contact Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay and indicate our affirmative response.”

Mr. Rittenhouse: “Excellent, My Lord!  The Viscount Lindsay will lease Sussex Hall for three months beginning June 1st.  They will make a $500 pound security deposit—that will be returned to them upon their leave taking and we find that the house still in good order, with minimal breakage and such.  They will also pay the first month’s rent of $1,000 pounds on June 1st—and then $1,000 pounds on the first of each of the two remaining months of July and August.  Of that $3,000 pound rental sum, I will use half of each months rental to pay off some of the creditors that have been the most vocal.  And the rest you will have at your disposal each month.”

Christian Lord Sussex: Lord Christian nods with a funds management plan that is exactly as he wishes. “Very well.  Yes, that seems … adequate.”  Lord Christian does not want to shout for joy, but if he had realized that Sussex Hall could turn a profit so easily, he might have tried to convince his late Grandfather Earl to let it out earlier.  Of course, other noble families in better financial circumstances would be disdainful of such an arrangement.  But Lord Christian is pragmatic, and that overrides such prejudicial reasoning.

Mr. Rittenhouse:  Then continuing soberly, Mr. Rittenhouse adds.  That will still leave you needing $2,500 pounds to completely erase your debt—well, the Sussex family debt.”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Mr. Rittenhouse, the family debt is my debt.  It matters not that the debt was accrued by the previous Earl, my Grandfather.”  Lord Christian bristles slightly—on behalf of his esteemed Grandfather’s reputation.

Mr. Rittenhouse:  “Of course.  So you still need to marry your heiress to tide your fortunes over until this year’s and next year’s harvests can help the Sussex estate turn a profit.”

Lord Christian thanks his solicitor, leaving with a few papers of summary notes that he will review with his brother Harold and Grandmother Lady Catherine.  They will not burden his younger sister Lady Elizabeth—them not wanting to spoil this special time of being her first season.  And if Lord Christian can find a man who will love and offer for Lizzie, when he can provide a dowry for her of at least $5,000 pounds—to be paid out in two installments—then he will be well pleased.

***
Then after a brief lunch at his club, Lord Christian heads to the apothecary to purchase the herbal tea that his grandmother requested.  Thankfully or no, his Grandmother does not trust the new and expensive fashionable apothecaries on Bond Street.  So he must travel to Cheapside—the name conjuring all manner of lower class inhabitants to his visions, yet it mostly houses prosperous merchants and business men selling quality merchandise at reasonable prices.  And his earlier shopping trip there with Lady Knott and Lady Madeline leads him to perceive that there are suitable merchants of quality there.

The little ringing bell above the apothecary shop’s door signals Lord Christian’s arrival into the cramped apothecary store.  He looks around and notices a small aged man standing behind a counter with a many drawered cabinet behind him.

Apothecary: “Welcome, Sir.  And what might I do for you?”

Christian Lord Sussex: “I am sent my by Grandmother, Lady Sussex, to procure some herbal tea medicine for her.  She indicated to me that you will know the blend that she seeks.”

Apothecary: “Ah yes!  For her overall health.” He smiles and bows his head to Lord Christian.  “It will take me only a moment to prepare and to wrap that up.”

The Apothecary walks to the back where Lord Christian presumes additional supplies are kept.  So he walks around looking at some wares in the glass display cases—one of which looks like a smallish teapot, but with a strangely elongated spout.  Then he hears the tinkle of the bell with the Apothecary’s shop door opening and he turns to look at the front door out of curiosity.  duke-andduchess-ofexeter-is-a-painting-byjensjuel_dec0316viapinterest

Upon seeing a couple enter the apothecary’s establishment, Lord Christian freezes in pure shock.  For in walks his former amour, Lady Brenda on the arm of a slightly older but distinguished looking gentleman [(4) right] whom he is unfamiliar with.  Lady Brenda smiles at her companion and whispers into his near ear.  He nods and smiles.  And to Lord Christian’s horror, Lady Brenda her companion walk directly to him.
Christian Lord Sussex:  “My Lady.  It is good to see you again.”  Then he looks to the gentleman.  “Sir, I confess that I do not believe that we have met before.”

Lord William Huntsford smiles benignly at the younger man before him—with Lord Huntsford being a man of two and forty years to Lord Christian’s thirty years.  And Lady Brenda is but seven and twenty years—fifteen years younger than her husband.  She is lovely and charming as ever with her dark blond curls and naturally pretty face and figure, thinks Lord Christian.  And he cannot refrain from making comparisons to his charming betrothed, Lady Madeline Sinclair.  Though he surprisingly dispassionately thinks that Lady Brenda cannot compare with the charm of his Lady Madeline, he resolves to put past remembrances of the then Lady Brenda, out of his mind.

Lord Huntsford: “No, we have not.  I have been on the continent for some years and only returned to England in the last half year to attend to … family matters.”  The getting of an heir being chief among them.  Then he smiles at Lady Brenda.  “I believe this gentleman is an old friend of yours.  Will you be so good as to introduce us, My Love?”

Lady Brenda: She smiles sweetly. “Of course, My Dear.  “William, this is Lord Christian Blount, the recently inherited Earl of Sussex.  Lord Sussex, this is my husband Lord William Huntsford,  the Duke of …”  But she is interrupted.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “…Exeter!  Hhhh!”  Astonished Lord Christian finishes her sentence for her—since everyone among the ton knows of everyone else, even if they have never met.  And the Duke of Exeter is nearly the richest man in all of England.  Lady Brenda has married very well.  But Lord Christian recovers from his shock and responds courteously.  “Your Graces, I am honored to meet you.”  But still, Lord Christian is surprised to learn that lady Brenda is married. “May I offer my felicitations upon your marriage.”

The two men bow and the Duchess of Exeter curtsies.

Duke William:  “Thank you.  We married last Autumn, at the start of the Season—at the beginning of September 1815.  Then I spirited her away for a grand tour of Europe.”

Duchess Brenda: “It was grand, but only due to your wonderful tutelage about the places we visited that I have never been before.  Even though we had to shorten our intended trip.”  Lady Brenda smiles and unconsciously—or perhaps quite consciously—gently rests her graceful hand upon her gown covered belly.

Lord Christian’s eyes widen—especially as he does some quick calculations in his head, the outcome of which will be determined by what he learns in the next few minutes from their Graces.

Duke William:  “But it was for a very good reason, My Love.”  Duke William lifts his wife’s gloved hand to his lips and he tenderly kisses it.  Then he turns a jubilant countenance toward Lord Christian.  “As an old friend of my dear wife’s, I am certain that you will wish us well as we are soon to celebrate the birth of our first child.”

And though ladies’ gowns are rather full which make it difficult to determine their precise figure—and Lord Christian recalls from their previous assignations that Lady Brenda was always a little pleasingly womanly curvy—but he recognized no marked change in her before they parted last August of 1815.  And she does not now look to be seven months pregnant—which she would have to be were the baby his.  But still, his mind is not settled on that point.

Christian Lord Sussex: “So will this be a Summer baby?”  Lord Christian asks boldly, whilst perspiration begins to form upon his brow and upon his upper lip.  And he wonders what can be taking the apothecary so long with the blasted tea blend?

The Duchess of Exeter blushes prettily as she confers with her husband in whispered tones that Lord Christian cannot overhear.  And Lord Christian is amazed to notice the very great change in her behavior, to this meek and docile creature.  Lord Christian reasons that the Duke of Exeter must give his wife every consideration for her to act so … wifely.  Hmmm.  Lord Christian thinks that he will have to remember that—being exceedingly considerate of his wife in order to promote harmony, when Lady Madeline becomes his bride.

Duke William: “Late July or early August, we fear—my precious Love will have to suffer with the full heat of Summer.  Would that my own estate in Scotland was in order, we would welcome the cooler climate.  But the castle is in the middle of a complete reconstruction.”  He winces.  “And there are really none other castles in the area suitable for us to lease.”

Duchess Brenda: “And I want our baby born in England.”  She pouts cutely to her husband.

Then the apothecary store’s door bell rings and Lord Christian barely notices it.  That is, until his betrothed Lady Madeline joins them—with her ladies maid, Anne Trask, hanging back to allow them their privacy.  And Lord Christian wonders if this situation is fate, or what nightmares are made of?

Lady Madeline: “Lord Sussex!  I am so glad that I found you!”  Lady Madeline squeezes her intended’s  arm with girlish glee, then she wraps her arm around his—claiming him as her own.

Christian Lord Sussex: “Lady Madeline!  How did you come to be here?”  Lord Christian’s ruddy complexion has gone very pale.  It is not every day that one’s former amour and one’s future wife are about to me.

Lady Madeline: “Grandmama told me after giving me your lovely nosegay and note this morning.  Thank you for them both.”  She smiles cheerily.  All traces of her mulish behavior—Lord Christian’s description—from last night are gone.  But then, it is more in the early morning and in the evening that Lady Madeline has her ill humors each month.

Duke William: “Lord Sussex, may we be introduced to this young lady?  Is this your …?”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Ah!  Yes!  This is my …  well my …”  For some reason, Lord Christian’s throat feels very dry.

Noticing Lord Christian’s flustering about—when her granite mountain is usually in command of all of his faculties—Lady Madeline  asks him solicitously.

Lady Madeline:  “Are you feeling alright?”  She removes the glove from her left hand to lay her palm upon his forehead to test it for warmth.  In doing so, her dazzling Sussex diamond engagement ring is on full display.

Duchess Brenda: “Oh!  You are wearing a Sussex family heirloom!  Are you Lord Sussex’ betrothed Lady Madeline Sinclair whom I have heard so much about?”  Her eyes widen, because the young lady before her seems a little older than the girl still in the school room mentioned by matron with a daughter also in her first season as is Lady Madeline.  But then, cattishness is rampant in ballrooms.

Lady Madeline: “I am!”  She proudly smiles looking up into Lord Christian’s widening eyes.    Yet Lord Christian wonders critically what Lady Brenda has heard.  “We are to be married this Friday in the late morning.”

Duke William: “Then may my wife and I give you our most sincere felicitations.”  He bows respectfully.

Christian Lord Sussex: Finding his voice, Lord Christian nods in acknowledgement to the Duke. “Thank you, Your Graces.  Lady Madeline, this is the Duke and Duchess of Exeter—their Graces Lord William and Lady Brenda Huntsford.”  He omits any prior acquaintance with the Duchess to prevent difficulties.  But his luck is not with him.

Lady Madeline: “Duchess Brenda?  That is an unusual name, your Grace.  I am certain that I heard it before.  What is your family name, if I may be so bold as to ask?”

Duke William:  Answering for her, Duke William responds. “She is a Stewart.  Which is one reason why I fail to understand why you do not want our baby to born there, My Love?”  He asks his wife.  She merely shrugs her shoulders.  She feels a bit awkward now that Lady Madeline is here.

Lady Madeline: “Oh?  Do you not have estates in England, near the shore for the cooling breezes?”

Duke William: “I have my estates on the channel and on the Atlantic Ocean during my absences.  No reason why the estates should not return an even greater profit from leasing them while I am away.  And I did not want to inconvenience the families living there by evicting them to suit our whims.”

Lady Madeline: “That is most considerate of you, Your Grace.”  She smiles kindly at him.

Lord Christian: “It is.  In fact, I am in much the same situation, Your Grace—of letting out our Sussex Hall estate near Yorkton this Summer.”  Then he turns to Lady Madeline.  “So, I am afraid that our Summer, My Darling, will be spent at the Sussex Dower House on the estate—with Grandmother, my brother Lord Harold, and my younger sister, Lady Elizabeth who just had her come out.”  He explains more for their Graces of Exeter, than for Lady Madeline.

Lady Madeline: “No need to fret, Lord Sussex, I will enjoy having Lady Elizabeth about the house with us.  We have formed a sisterly bond this past month since we met.”

Duchess Brenda: “So your courtship sounds almost as swift as my dear husband’s and mine.”  She smiles sweetly.

Duke William: “Yes!  I swept her off her feet—after her previous suitor was declined by her family.”  He smiles proudly for having secured his treasured wife for his very own.  “Marrying my dear wife Duchess Brenda has quite changed my outlook on life.”

Unfortunately, Lord Christian cannot stop himself from rolling his eyes.  He was the then Lady Brenda’s previous suitor—her lover more like.  And he wonders what tale of absent maidenly virginity that she contrived to tell her husband?  If indeed, the Duke was in the dark.  However secrets are best kept in the dark.  So Lord Christian will keep Duchess Brenda’s secret—and he hopes that she will keep his secret.

The two couples part amiably when the apothecary finally presents himself with the completed order of his special tea blend—which is really just chamomile tea to Lord Sussex for his Grandmother the Dowager Lady Sussex.   And Lady Madeline also purchases a package of the special tea blend for her Grandmama Lady Knott.

***

On their shared carriage ride home–with Lord Christian conveying Lady Madeline and her ladies maid Anne Trask back to Lady Knott’s London Townhome–his betrothed asks.

Lady Madeline:  “Who is to let Sussex Hall?  You did not say.  Will they be agreeable tenants?  May hap we can invite them to dine with us some evening at the Dower House.  And I would so like to see Sussex Hall—were they to graciously return the favor and ask us to dine as well.”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Well, it is not settled yet.  But we do have a potential tenant in Lord Duncan’s family while their estate undergoes roof repairs.”  Then Lord Christian hears the most ear splitting sound emitted from his betrothed Lady Madeline.

Lady Madeline: “Eeeeeek!  That is wonderful!”  She gushes.  “This will give Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan time to get to know one another better.”

Not wanting to speak of a private matter in front of the ladies maid, but feeling that he needs to squelch Lady Madeline’s girlish romantic notions, Lord Christian tempers his response.  And Lord Christian tempering anything shows just how far he has come—as a soon to be husband.  A granite mountain he may be—Lady Madeline had dubbed him that when he knocked an ices cup out of her hand–even the wind and rain will have their sway against the stone.  It is just so for Lord Christian, and Lady Madeline is his wind and his rain.

Christian Lord Sussex: “I am afraid, My Darling, that the matter is not as simple as all of us might wish—as you well know.” He states diplomatically.

Lady Madeline nods and then they stop at her Grandmama Lady Knott’s London Townhome.  Ladies maid Anne Trask walks down the side front steps to the Servants entrance to deposit Lady Knott’s tea in the kitchens.

Lord Christian and Lady Madeline slowly walk up the front steps and he escorts her into her home with her Grandmama.  Then the Butler and footmen leave the foyer area to give Lady Madeline and Lord Christian some privacy to say a proper goodbye.

Christian Lord Sussex: “I am sorry that I cannot stay for tea with you, Madeline.  But I must take the tea package I bought back to my Grandmother for her afternoon tea.”

Lady Madeline:  “I know, Christian.” She sighs, leaning slightly toward him.  She wants him to kiss her and she lightly settles her palms upon his waistcoat and jacket covered chest, then she looks up at him.  “But I will still miss you.”

Christian Lord Sussex:   “As I will miss you.”  He smiles tenderly while gazing into her eyes.  “Only two more days, My Darling.”  He brushes the back of his ungloved fingers against her soft cheek.

Then Lord Christian leans down and gently kisses Lady Madeline’s upturned lips and she lordchristian-isrichardarmitage-andmargaret-isdanieladenby-ashe-innorthsouth-epi4-340-jan0114ranet-sized-brt-crop2brt-revjawcloses her eyes [(5) right].  They enjoy this sweet but chaste communion—knowing that their kisses will not need to refrain from deepening once they are wed on Friday.  That is, he knows.  However, Lord Christian is still altogether uncertain what Lady Madeline knows about the loving that husbands and wives share—him believing that the advanced age of her Grandmama Lady Knott might be a hindrance there, in her remembering to have a womanly talk with her granddaughter.  But come what may, Lord Christian resolves to be patient and gentle with his sweet Lady Madeline.

Then after their lovely kisses, a blushing Lady Madeline escorts her betrothed Lord Christian to the front door.  Then she reaches up on her tip toes and whisper into his ear.

Lady Madeline: “Thank you, Christian.”  She sighs.

Lord Christian smiles in bemusement.  He knows that he kisses well, and her kissing is coming along with each lesson that  he provides.  But he still has to ask her.
Christian Lord Sussex:  For what, My Darling Madeline?”

Lady Madeline: “For choosing me.”  She smiles up at him.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “It is my pleasure, and it is also my honor that you chose me.”

Lady Madeline:  “You are being kind.  But I love you all the more for you having …”  She has to phrase this delicately, so as not to offend him.  His eye brow rises in curiosity as to what she will say—which could be anything, and often is.  “Well for you having courted other ladies, but your still choosing me.”

Christian Lord Sussex: His eye brow stilled, he asks.  “Which other ladies are we talking about?”  And Lord Christian wonders if his brother Lord Harold has been exercising his mouth again.  And if that is the case, Lord Christian will help his brother to keep his mouth firmly shut in the future.

Lady Madeline:  “You know.”  She blushes.

Christian Lord Sussex:  He slowly shakes his head no.  “We promised to be honest with each other.  What is it you wish to know?”

Lady Madeline: “The Duchess?”  Lord Christian pales.  “It was she whom Lord Harold referred to as your former amour, wasn’t it.”

Christian Lord Sussex:  He pauses only briefly, then answers in a forthright manner—in a round about way.  “As a matter of honor, a gentleman does not discuss whom he was or whom he was not been acquainted with.”  Now Lady Madeline’s eye brow rises.  “But I will say that I am pleased that Duchess Brenda is happily married—as I am soon to be.” He smiles at her cajolingly.

Lady Madeline: “Hmm!”  She smiles triumphantly.  “See?  I am not the little school room miss that Lady Beaufort insinuated that I was.  I understand more than people think.”  Then she impulsively embraces her betrothed around his chest and he returns the embrace.  “And I love you, Christian.”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “And I … I love you Madeline.”  He tenderly and sincerely whispers to her.  They kiss for several minutes more.

And there it is, thinks Lord Christian.  That little ache below his middle left rib.  Though it is not so much a pain now, but rather, a happy awakening of feeling love for another person—that person being Lady Madeline.  And Lord Christian’s sweet and youthful betrothed Lady Madeline has encouraged this love to grow within him for her.  And though as enervating as she can be sometimes—do not get him started on that list of faults, he thinks—Lady Madeline still has endlessly wonderful qualities that he admires that outweighs her faults.  The best of which are those qualities in Lady Madeline that bring out the better man in himself.

And so, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline’s wedding will occur in two days’ time on Friday, February 23, 1816 at 11 o’clock in the morning—with a wedding breakfast to follow at her Grandmama Lady Knott’s London Town home.  And then?  And then, their marriage will begin.

To be continued with Chapter 21

 

“Encouragement”, Ch. 20  References by Gratiana Lovelace, December 04, 2016 (Post #1010)

1) The “Encouragement” story cover is an image representing our young heroine Lady Madeline Sinclair, is the young Emma Hart in a straw hat at 17 years old in painted by George Romney  in 1782; she was later to marry Sir William Hamilton in 1791 and become Emma Lady Hamilton, was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma,_Lady_Hamilton#/media/File:George_Romney_-_Emma_Hart_in_a_Straw_Hat.jpg ;  For more about Emma Lady Hamilton, nee Emma Hart/Amy Lyon please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma,_Lady_Hamilton

2) The image for the Sussex family solicitor Mr. Rittenhouse is that of Welsh actor Hugh Griffith that was found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/arts/sites/hugh-griffith/images/hugh-griffith_01_446.jpg

3) The image for Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex is Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in North & South epi 1 (10h59m57s35) Jan1214 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-size-brt-2
4) The image for Lady Brenda and her husband  Lord William Huntsford—the Duke and Duchess of Exeter–is by “Jens Juel, Detail of a painting showing Johan Christian Ryberg and his wife Engelke, née Falbe. Full painting here”: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/62/b1/b7/62b1b7d68b29b06ef579467646602426.jpg

5) The image for Lord Christian and Lady Madeline kissing is Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe portraying Margaret Hale in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South  found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-340.jpg

 

Previous  Blog Ch. 19  Story link with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2016/11/29/encouragement-ch-19-pg-angry-words-imperil-a-betrothal-november-29-2016-gratiana-lovelace-post-1007/

Posted in "Encouragement" a Regency Lovestory, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Husbands, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Floored Friday!  “Richard Armitage:  Fresh Face for Love, Love, Love” Jane Hotel Broadway dot com photoshoot video, December 02, 2016  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1009)

You know me, I generally don’t post on back to back days—my preferring to let a post have time to breathe.  And it gives me time to breathe also—as a lady who works fulltime at a very demanding university Staff position with long hours on various projects sometimes.

But then, this happens!  This being the Broadway.com video (below)  of their “Fresh Faces: Richard Armitage in Love, Love, Love” photoshoot and interview at NYC’s Jane Hotel.  Thanks to NoemiS and TeresaA for pointing me to that video!  And after much trial and error, I was able to wrangle the video url out of it. Ha!:

 

 

And here also is Noemi Standring’s  (Thanks!) lovely cap of Richard Armitage from that video:

raportrait-2016-broadwayworld-janehotel-richardarmitage-leaning-back-in-chair_dec0116vianoemi

On my!  The exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage—also currently starring on tv in EPIX’ Berlin Station—is one handsome maturing man of 45 years.  His slightly longer hair entices—the hair being for his Love, Love, Love role of Kenneth that has him aging from 19 to 64.  His slightly lined—crinkles are what we RA Fans call them–but utterly handsome face makes one swoon, repeatedly.  Richard Armitage’s long neck is tantalizingly encased in a charcoal gray turtleneck sweater.  He cloaks his powerfully broad shoulders in a  suit jacket fitting him to perfection!  Bravo to the clothing stylist, by the way.   And finally, that characteristic sitting slouch of his—for the invariably too short chair that doesn’t fit his tall and lean 6 foot 3 inch height proportionately. And yet, Richard looks so confident and comfortable that he commands attention—no matter that he is slouching.

And somehow, the shaft of light running down his forehead and right eye to across his chest, then continuing downward is not distracting.  In fact, it seems to be breaking the image into 1/3rds and 2/3rds horizontally (left to right)—with a pleasing and seeming adherence to the rule of thirds composition rule. Vertically in the image, that is the case as well–as Richard Armitage’s chin’s bottom edge serves as the boundary for the images top 1/3rd with 2/3rds below.  And Richard Armitage and is body are in focus, whereas the background is in hazy darkness—lending it and him a mysterious air.

Now mind you, I am a woman of a certain age.  And though barring a miracle, I am not likely to become pregnant—no matter how much my hubby and I might wish it.   *wink*

Yet after seeing this photoshoot video and the portrait tablueax of Richard Armitage (above) in this Broadway.com photoshoot and interview, the first notion that popped into my head was that my ovaries are rejuvenating. 

Actually, I didn’t think that phrase quite so sedately. It was more like MY OVARIES ARE REJUVENATING!!!  Oh, TTTHHHUUUUUUUUDDD!!!

Sighhhh!  Sorry, but I just had to get that off my chest—or my nether regions.  Cheers!  Grati  ;)

Posted in "Love Love Love" play in NYC, Berlin Station mini series, Daniel Miller/Meyer in Berlin Station, Gratiana Lovelace, Interview, play, Portraits, Richard Armitage, Romance, Roundabout Theatre Company, Society, Something About Love, Television, Theatre, Voice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

“A Christmas Carol Reimagined” with Richard Armitage as Scrooge Ch. 1,  December 01, 2016  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1008)

As of December 01 date, the Holiday Season will begin to kick into high gear.  And apart from wanting to decorate with hall trees—that will inevitably be knocked over by my doggies—I’m looking forward to the XMAS movies.

As a child, I enjoyed many a Charlie brown and Company animated or “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” stop action puppet tv show.  This little music video gives you a taste of the charm and innocence they represented:

 “A Charlie Brown Christmas – Christmas Time is Here Song” in a video  by HITSOFTHECENTURY

 

And of course, the newer holiday films such as “A Christmas Story” (1983), starring a bb gun rifle obsessed little boy, that skewer holiday traditions with humorous gusto:

“A Christmas Story (1983) Official Trailer #1 – Family Comedy” in a video trailer by Movieclips Trailer Vault

 

 

Then there are the 1940’s film classics such as “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart, “A Christmas Carol” various versions 1938, 1951, and more updated ones; and “Miracle on 34th Street” with two versions, the best with Maureen O’Hara in my mind.    And these are my absolute favorites!

***

And with that exquisitely talented British actor and gentleman Richard Armitage being stateside a little while longer, it would be lovely to see him in some of the classic holiday films if they were remade? So what follows is my first proposed classic holiday film remake—with Richard Armitage and his previous characters cast in them, and perhaps a little help from his “friends”:

 

a1acoverachristmascarol-reimagined-cover_dec0316bygratianalovelaceMy fan fic “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” (original story by Charles Dickens) [(1) left] is the tale of a miserly young man—a friend to no one–who is scared into realizing the folly of his ways when he is visited by three ghosts (past, present, and future). He then vows to be compassionate toward his fellow man and through his good deeds, he redeems himself–and he comes to know the meaning of love.

Below is an overview of my “mash up” of “A Christmas Carol” with Elizabeth Gaskell’s “North & South”, JRR Tolkien’s (via Sir Peter Jackson’s films of) “The Hobbit”, and is set in the 1850’s:

For the lead character of Mr. Ebenezer “Ben” Scrooge, we need a growling and sconsepi1-159richardarmitageasjohnthorton_dec2411ranetcropbrtwling young (rather than an old) man—so in my version, he is a growling and scowling younger middle aged man [(2) right]. And instead of being a banker, Ben needs his banker to extend his loan, or his cotton mill will fail.  If that happens–his cotton mill failing–all his years of toil will come to naught.  So in frustration, he lashes out at everyone and everything.

Only Ben’s faithful, and quite shy relationally, Executive Assistant Miss Peggy Cratchit [(3) margaret-isdanieladenby-ashe-innsepi3-198jtandmhoct1413ranet-croptomargaret-hi-res-flipright] competently and stoically goes about her duties while trying to ignore Ben’s high handedness at times.  For she is in love with him.  Though Peggy knows that theirs is a clash of stations and of cultures.

As such, they are discussing several matters of importance in the Scrooge and Marley Mill Offices (with Marley being his late partner) which  are situated upon the first floor of one of the mill buildings—but for the lack of coals to light the fires for warmth this cold December morn.  Mr. Scrooge does not believe in needless expense and waste.  The only reason his Mill workers are warm is because the steam that drives the engines for the milling machines lets off heat surrounding each loom.

Peggy:  “Mr. Scrooge, Sir, have you thought any more about my proposal to let the widow Mrs. Boucher and her six children stay in the Marlbourgh Mills Manor’s back room behind the kitchen, and serve as your char woman and such for a shilling a week?”  She asks timidly.

Ben:   “Is this the family of the mill worker from the strike who killed himself?”

Peggy: “It is.  They are destitute!”  She replies in an impassioned plea.”

Ben: “Are there no workhouses?  Are there no prisons?”  [(3b)] He scowls in annoyance.

Peggy: “Please Sir, the children could be useful as runners and such.  You will see.”  She pleads.  Peggy asks not for herself, but for the poor Boucher children

Ben: “They better!”  He grouses.  Feeling that he is becoming soft in his advancing years, he wonders why Miss Cratchit would care so much for a family that is not related to her.

And though Mr. Scrooge begrudgingly consents to the arrangement—because he would benefit from having cheap labor–she realizes that it is highly unlikely that Ben will change his harsh ways, or even look at her as more than his clerk.  She would never have willingly chosen to work for such an unfeeling man.  But she needed to earn in a job that would not debase her.  And her pay is adequate to support her and her elderly parents, if not in comfort and style, better than many who are on the streets. And so she stays, despite the longing in her heart for something she knows that cannot ever be.

***

Into this mix we have Ben’s younger nephew Frankilin Durin [(4) right]—born of Ben’s thorin-kili-fili-31oct14-thedefiningchapter_oct1216viaranet_grati-cropbeloved older sister Fanny who died in childbirth.  The twenty-five year old Frankilin is handsome, brash, and impetuous—enjoying life and wishing that his uncle would do so as well.  He feels obliged and connected to his Uncle Ben, because of his never having known his mother, but being told that he is the spitting image of her.  And because of that shared likeness between mother and son, Frankilin’s Uncle Ben has mostly avoided the younger man—even though he paid for his nephews schooling and apprenticeship at a law firm out of a sense of duty to his late sister.  And now as an on the rise lawyer, Frankilin  has grown prosperous and seeks to somehow make amends with this Uncle Ben.

Having stopped by his Uncle’s Mill, Frankilin Durin issues his Uncle Ben an invitation.

Frankilin:  “Come to dinner tomorrow midday, Uncle Ben—it’s Christmas Day—and meet my fiancé!”  He smiles winningly.

Ben: “You are far too young to take on the responsibilities of marriage.  Do not expect another farthing from me!”  He points his finger as a warning.

Frankilin:  “Uncle!  I no longer need your support.  I am earning a good wage—and I have the small inheritance from my father.  I simply wish to stay connected to you as my only family member since Papa died.  He smiles wanly.

Ben: “I suppose you still live in your father’s old home?”  He asks with disdain.

Frankilin:  “I do.  It is small, but I own it outright—along with a small piece of land for a kitchen garden in Summer.

Ben:  “Nephew, I am unavailable for this or any other Christmas.  Now get off and be gone with you. I have much work to be done before I can head to my bed.”  He grouses.

Young Frankilin shrugs his shoulders at Miss Cratchit as he exits his uncles office.  Then he  leaves, but not before saying.

Frankilin: “Merry Christmas, Miss Cratchit!”  He waves.

Peggy: “Merry Christmas, Mr. Durin.”!  She waves back.  And Peggy wonders if anyone can get through to Mr. Scrooge—to Ben.

***

Later that Christmas Eve day while Mr. Scrooge walks into town to eat a small meat pie with ale for dinner—he notices all of the building and street light decorations and the general merriment of the people he passes.  He thinks that they are all fools.  Then returning home to his manor house in the mill yards, he finds the house eerily silent—john-isrichardarmitage-innorthsouth-epi1-15h19m19s170-jan2714gratianalovelacecap-crop-sized-crop-clr-brt-txtrzrwith the whir of the loom machines stilled for the day.

Ben Scrooge gazes out of his bedroom window  [(5) right] upon his domain of the mill.  The mill  is a great accomplishment and provides him a steady income.  After settling himself into a nearly threadbare wing chair need to a mid-sized fire, he sips his hot toddy—his one concession to comfort and expense.

Suddenly, there is a scratching upon his bedroom door.  But who can it be?  Then he remembers that the Boucher mother and children are living behind the kitchen now, with her as his char woman.  May be a wee one bent on exploration found his way up  to the upper floors of the manor.  So Ben heads for his bedchamber door and opens it quickly, expecting to give a young Boucher a scolding for disturbing him.  But no one is there.  He thinks that those children should not be playing pranks upon him.

Then after closing the door and turning around, he spies a glow from the far side of the jacobmarleyghost-iskenstott_638x622oct0513dailymailcouk-crop-bkgrndroom.  It does not precisely look like his bed is on fire, so he walks over to investigate.  As he gets closer to the glow, it raises up and widens.  Then he spies his old friend and partner, Jacob Marley [(6) right]—or rather, his spirit essence, his ghost.

Ben: “Jacob!  You’re dead!”  He blinks his eyes several times, then opens them wide.

Jacob: “Yes, still dead.”  He smiles wryly.  But then his expression turns somber.  “Benjamin, you know not the peril that you are under if you do not change your miserly and ill tempered ways.”

Ben:  “Jacob, how unoriginal.  Remember, I am not some easily deceived fool.”

Jacob: “Benjamin, Listen to me!”  He shouts, making the floor boards and windows shake.

Ben is aghast—and appropriately chastened .

Ben:  “What is it you wish to tell me, Jacob?”

Jacob:  “You will be visited by three ghosts upon each morning hour—one of the past, one of the present, and one of the future.  They are your last chance of hope!”  He wails

Ben: “Oh?  And what hope is that?”

Jacob:  “To save you from the firey pits of hell, of course.  Heed well their guidance, Ben.  This will be your only chance.”  Then he turns toward the wall and begins to fade.

Ben: “Wait!”  The ghost of Jacob Marley pauses then looks at him over his shoulder.  “Why are you doing this for me?”

Jacob: “Because if I could not save myself, then the one man I counted as…” He pauses then settles on.  “. friend …and colleague—you—I would try to save.  Farewell, Benjamin.”  Then he vanishes.

Stunned beyond belief, Ben Scrooge shakily walks toward his chair by the fireplace, and sits down.  He looks up at the clock.  It is a quarter to one o’clock in the morning.  And then he waits.

To be continued with Chapter 2

P.S.  Update: I plan to post the next chapter of this short story on Tuesday.  Cheers!

References not hyperlinked above

(1)  “A Christmas Carol Reimagined” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:
a) the old drawing of Scrooge awaiting his ghosts by John Leech (for the 1843 Chapman and Hall published edition) was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol;
b) an image of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in the 2004 BBC miniseries “North & South” was my cap from Epi 1;
c) and holly clipart found at http://cliparts.co/cliparts/rcn/Gg8/rcnGg84zi.jpg

(2)  Image for Ben Scrooge is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in   North & South, 2004.

(3) Image for Peggy Cratchit is that of Daniela Denby-Ashe portraying Margaret Hale in  North & South, 2004.

(3b)  “Are there no workhouses?  Are there no prisons?” is quoted from Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol”.

(4)  Image for Frankilin Durin, nephew to Ben Scrooge, is that of Aidan Turner portraying Kili in The Hobbit films (2012-14)

(5)  Image of Ben Scrooge looking out his window is that of Richard Armitage portraying John Thornton in  North & South, 2004.

(6)  Image of Jacob Marley’s Ghost is Ken Stott portraying Balin in The Hobbit films (2012-14)

Posted in Creative Writing, Drama, Gratiana Lovelace, Holiday, Love and Relationships, Portraits, Richard Armitage, Storytelling, The Hobbit, Video | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Encouragement”, Ch. 19 (PG): Angry words imperil a betrothal, November 29, 2016 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1007)

aEncouragement-aRegencyLovestorycover_Aug3116byGratianaLovelace_180x282(An original Regency romance  copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; all rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with:  Richard Armitage as Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex, Kate Winslet and Emma Lady Hamilton as Lady Madeline Lucretia Sinclair, Dame Maggie Smith as Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott, Jessica Brown Findlay  as Lady Elizabeth Blount, Crispin Bonham-Carter as Lord Harold Blount, Dame Judi Dench as Lady Catherine Blount the Dowager Countess of Sussex, Rupert Penry Jones as Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay, Corin Redgrave as Squire Sutton Sinclair, Amanda Root as Mrs. Russell, and others as noted.]

Authors Content Note: “Encouragement” is a frothy love story with sometimes humorous and sometimes dramatic themes of love and relationships.  It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of:  D for dramatic emotions, and LS for love scenes that are tenderly sensuous and not explicit.  And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.  And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of each chapter.

Author’s recap from the previous chapter: The days following Lady Elizabeth’s presentation ball, she is flattered and flirted with—wooed, bot be more precise.  And it is high time that she received her due.  Though at seventeen years old, she is just debuting into London Society.  And among her admirers are two Dukes, one Viscount, and an Earl—fitting for the granddaughter and sister of an Earl.  However she returns her affections for only one of the suitors, Lord Duncan, the Viscount Lindsay.  Yet, she does not know that he is not technically free to pay his addresses to her since he has an obligation betrothal to fulfill—to his late brother’s fiancé, Lady Constance Knightsbridge.  So the situation is delicate—and not likely to improve.

“Encouragement, A Regency Tale of Love and Romance”,
Ch. 19:   Angry words imperil a betrothal

However, that same Tuesday afternoon of February 20, 1816 when Christian Lord Sussex,  returns home to Sussex House from his tailor for his wedding suit and then from his club where he had congratulations heaped upon him for his upcoming nuptials—with much ribald ribbing about his stamina with so young a bride that he tried his best to ignore–he learns from his grandmother the Lady Catherine the Dowager Countess of Sussex that his younger sister Lady Elizabeth has been taken on a riding outing in Hyde Park by Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay.  Lord Christian as brother and head of the family as the Earl of Sussex is livid.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Hyde Park!?!   Oh Grandmother!  You let Lizzie go with Lord Duncan to parade around the park for all to see, as if he were a suitor of hers?  As if he were courting her?”

Dow. Countess: “Calm Down, Christy!”  She bristles for his chiding tone.  Despite the fact that Lord Christian is now the head of the family as Earl, he is still her grandson. “It is Winter and very few brave the cold.  So they might not be seen by anyone.  And Lord Duncan is respectable—he is a Viscount and heir to a Dukedom.  You have known him almost all of your life.  What objection do you have of him?”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “None!  Except that he is already pledged to another!”  He blurts out without preamble.

Dow. Countess:  “No!”  She covers her mouth in shock.  “Why have I not heard of this sooner?”  She shakes her head with her hand at her temple.  “What folly!”

Lord Christian: “Well, the circumstances are peculiar.  Since Lord Duncan is to succeed his late brother Lord Alfred as the Ducal heir when his father dies, he also acquired his late brother’s betrothed from ten years ago.”

Dow. Countess:  “But I have heard nothing of this!”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “That is because neither Lord Duncan nor Lady Constance Knightsbridge, the Duke of Lancashire’s daughter, will acquiesce to the scheme.  So the two sets of parents are waiting to announce it—hoping to change their minds to accepting the arrangement.  But no manner of enticement nor coercion had proved with party pliant.”

Dow. Countess: “Well then.”  She shrugs her shoulders.  “Lord Duncan is not betrothed.  So he is free to pay his attentions to Lizzie.  And were he to ask to court her with a mind to marrying her, then she would one day become a Duchess!”  She gushes.  “Just think, our little Lizzie a Duchess!”  She sighs.

Seeing her joy and not wanting to quash so rare a thing since her husband his grandfather died but a few months ago, Lord Christian softens as he goes to kneel beside her and he takes her hand in his.

Christian Lord Sussex: “Grandmother, that would be wonderful for Lizzie, but it will not happen with Lord Duncan.  The betrothal pact is unbreakable from what my sources tell me.”  The Dowager Countess nods sadly.  Then the hall clock chimes four o’clock in the afternoon.  “Where is Lizzie?  Should she not have returned by now?”

Dow. Countess: “I suppose the snow might have delayed them.”  She speculates wincingly.  She is not concerned that Lord Duncan might take advantage of Lady Elizabeth’s relative naivete and innocence—especially since her granddaughter Lizzie took her ladies maid Hildy with her.  It is too bad, really, she thinks like a match making Grandmother.  Because if it could be insinuated that Lord Duncan had compromised Lady Elizabeth—just technically by being alone with her, not by actually ruining her—then a betrothal and quick marriage would have to occur, to the delight of both parties the elder lady surmises.

And Lord Christian and his grandmother are conversing in the small drawing room at the back of the Sussex House that is used exclusively by the family and close friends.  So they do not realize—nor have they been informed–that Lady Elizabeth has already returned home and is upstairs this very moment having a bath to prepare her for this evening’s dinner that they are hosting for their two families—the Knott’s and Sinclair’s and close friends to celebrate the upcoming nuptials, such as Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay.

***

As Lord Christian and his grandmother Lady Catherine the Dowager Countess Lady Sussex greet their guests—her sitting and him standing—Christian Lord Sussex could not look more impeccable and elegant as the youngish thirty year old recently coroneted Earl of Sussex.  His black velvet frock coat is contrasted with an embroidered silver waistcoat over ivory superfine breeches, with silk hose stockings and shiny black patent leather slipper shoes.    He is especially trying to wear in his new slipper shoes tonight, because he will also wear them for his wedding on Saturday when there will be a lot of standing about.  And he does not want to be in discomfort of any kind.  Usually he had shoes and boots custom made for his large frame—and his large feet.  But owing to the short time frame of his impending nuptials, Christian Lord Sussex is making do with a pair that were not expressly made for his size.

The first arrivals are his betrothed Lady Madeline Sinclair, her widowed father Squire Sutton Sinclair, her aunt Mrs. Russell who has arrived for the wedding, along with her brother Edward Sinclair, and her Grandmama Lady Lucretia Beckam Knott.  And Christian Lord Sussex notices that Lady Madeline seems … out of sorts?  But not with him, surely, he thinks.  He will find out that he thinks wrongly.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “My grandmother and I are delighted to welcome you for our family betrothal dinner!”

Squire Sinclair: “Thank you, Lord Sussex.  And may I introduce my eldest son whom you have not met yet, Edward Sinclair …”

The two young men bow.  Lady Madeline watches the social niceties play out with increasing annoyance.

Edward:  “My Lord Sussex.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Mr. Sinclair.”

Edward: “Please, My Lord.  As we are to be family, I am just Edward.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Very well, then you must address me as Christian when we are en famille.”

Edward: “I am honored.”  He bows again.

Squire Sinclair: “And my widowed sister, Mrs. Russell, whom you met when you visited to ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage.”  That lady steps forward and curtsies to Lord Sussex.

Mrs. Russell:  “My Lord.”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Delighted that we meet again, My Lady.”  He bows.

Then Christian Lord Sussex turns to his betrothed Lady Madeline Sinclair wearing her presentation ball gown and he smiles.

Christian Lord Sussex: “You look enchanting, My Lady.”  He sighs slightly.  He cannot seem to help himself.  As this whole betrothal, courting, and marrying scheme has progressed, he finds himself more and more accepting of it—apart from the benefit that her dowry will provide to the Sussex finances.

Lady Madeline: “My Lord Sussex.”  She smiles wincingly.  “Pray tell me.  Is Lady Elizabeth about?”  She scans the large foyer and sees no evidence of her friend.

Dowager Lady Sussex: “She is still upstairs getting dressed.  You may go up and see her if you wish.  Benton my Ladies Maid will escort you.”  Lady Sussex crooks her finger and Miss Benton appears from out of nowhere to do her bidding.

Lady Madeline:  “Thank you Lady Sussex.  But I know my way.”  Lady Madeline swishes her hand and darts for the stairs in as fast a walk that decorum permits.

Squire Sinclair:  “Is everything alright?  Lady Madeline seems out of sorts with you?”

Christian Lord Sussex: “We have not spoken yet today, so I do not know to what you refer?”  He bristles.    Yet a tiny nagging worry begins to form in his mind—and in his heart.  Has Lady Madeline had time to think and now she regrets their betrothal and swift marriage?  She is so frightfully young at not quite eighteen years of age, he ruminates.

And while they await the annoyingly for the ten minutes late Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay, everyone repairs to the Drawing room to wait in comfortable warmth by the fire.

***

That is it for Lady Madeline.  Having reached the top of the stairs and looking over her shoulder to see the others repairing to the Drawing Room, Lady Madeline lifts up her skirt and bolts for Lady Elizabeth’s bed chamber that his half way down the family bed chambers wing.

Lady Madeline:  Knocking urgently upon her friend’s door, she whispers loudly.  “Lizzie!  It is Maddie.  May I come in?”

Lady Elizabeth nods to her ladies maid Hildy, who walks to and opens the bed chamber door—with Lady Madeline rushing inside.

Hildy: “My Lady.”  She curtsies to Lady Madeline.

Lady Madeline: “Oh thank you.” She acknowledges.  Then she looks at her friend and instantly notices her tears. “Lizzie!  What is wrong, dearest?”  Lady Madeline flings herself across the room and sits next to Lady Elizabeth sitting on her bed—embracing her caringly.

Lady Elizabeth is fully dressed with her hair coiffed.  But her tears have streaked the light powder that she had Hildy apply to her face to try and smooth out her freckles.  Abominable things freckles, thinks Lady Elizabeth!

Lady Elizabeth: She looks up in abject misery at her friend. “Maddie, I am bereft!  I will never be happy again!  I may as well become a nun!  Except, I do not like their scratchy robes, nor kneeling upon hard stone floors in endless prayers, nor no hope of treats like hot chocolate.” She wails.

Lady Madeline:  “Lizzie!  Tell me!  What brought on your despair?  You have been so excited since your ball and your note said you have had suitors calling both days this week so far.”  As if the notion of suitors, plural, was an instantly cheering notion.  It is, they are–but not so, seemingly, in this circumstance. Then she pauses, nibbling at her lower lip, hoping that she can help her friend.

Lady Elizabeth: “Lord Duncan told me during our carriage ride outing this afternoon, he is betrothed to another—though not by his consent.”

Lady Madeline: “He is betrothed?  But not by his consent?  You speak in riddles.”

Then Lady Elizabeth proceeds to tell Lady Madeline about the two Ducal Fathers’ scheme to forever unite their families with the Duke of Lancashire’s daughter Lady Constance Knightsbridge, to marry the heir of the Duke of York.  Though Lady Constance wanted to marry Lord Duncan’s elder deceased brother Lord Alfred.  And it seems that with Lord Duncan becoming the Ducal heir, he also inherited his brother’s fiancé.

Lady Elizabeth: “It is a mess!”  She wails again.  “And my brother Christy forbids me from seeing Lord Duncan ever again.”

Lady Madeline: “He did, did he?”  She glowers at her betrothed’s high handed ness.  “Well, messes may be cleaned up.  And as well intentioned that your brother Lord Christian may be, he does not know everything.  And if Lord Duncan were betrothed, then he and Lady Constance should have married ten years ago.  But that has not happened.  So maybe Lady Constance will remain firm in her devotion to Lord Alfred’s memory and enter a convent herself—thereby removing that necessity from your burden.”  She smiles encouragingly at her friend.

Lady Elizabeth: “Do you think so?”  She asks hopefully as Lade Madeline nods caringly.

Lady Madeline:  “I do.  Now let us wash your face and calm those puffy eyes.”  Then she turns to the ladies maid. “Hildy?  Do you have cold water that we can apply to Lady Elizabeth’s eyes with a cloth, to bring down the swelling and redness?”

Hildy: Curtsying, she smiles dutifully. “Aye, I do My Lady.”

So between Lady Madeline’s encouraging words and ladies maid Hildy’s expert application of cold compresses to Lady Elizabeth’s face, the crying damage is lessened and Lady Elizabeth consents to accompany Lady Madeline down stairs for the family betrothal dinner.  And if Lady Madeline has her way, she will steal away with Lord Christian—to speak her mind to him about his being overbearing and brutish to his dear sister Lady Elizabeth.

***

Yet when the two young ladies join their two families in the  Sussex House Drawing Room,  Lady Madeline and Lady Elizabeth find a room under siege.

Dowager Lady Sussex: “I said leave it, Christy.  And Harold you should refrain from speaking if you have nothing to contribute to the situation.”  The steel in the elderly lady’s voice belies the frailty of her body.  But when her grandsons knock heads together—and in company—she will not have it!

Then all eyes turn to Lady Madeline and Lady Elizabeth.  Both look a bit pale—Lady Madeline’s paleness is partially due to the powder she wears and partially to do with her feeling out of sorts all day.  And Lady Elizabeth eschewed powder, but she truly has a creamy complexion.  And upon seeing her lost love Lord Duncan in a shouting match with her brother Lord Christian, Lady Elizabeth is about to faint from shock and from embarrassment.

Instantly solicitous of her well being, Lord Duncan rushes to Lady Elizabeth’s side.

Lord Duncan:  “My Lady, you are unwell.  Please let me assist you to the sette.”  He does that, but not without being criticized for it.

Christian Lord Sussex: “Unhand my sister or I will relish testing the power of my fist upon your face.”  He growls.

The two  elderly grandmothers—Lady Knott and Lady Sussex look at each other in dismay  and each shakes their heads in mortification.

Squire Sinclair:  Leaning over to his son, Squire Sinclair remarks in a loud whisper.  “And these London toffs think we are the provincial ones.  Those two are going to brawl right before us.  I would bet two guineas on it.”

Edward Sinclair: “Father, we know not the difficulties and burdens these great lords have upon their shoulders.”

Mrs. Russell:  “I agree.  Though their behavior is quite out of the ordinary.  I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Though another quarter is not willing to display such largesse.

Lady Madeline: “Christian!  How could you make such a scene at our family betrothal dinner?  Lord Duncan is our guest.  And he has been completely above board about his situation with Lady Elizabeth.  I count that as a mark of honor.  Do you not see that?”

Christian Lord Sussex: “No!  I do not!  While he lingers around my sister …”  Christian Lord Sussex points forcefully in the direction of Lord Duncan, “…—chasing off eligible suitors—am I supposed to stand back and watch my beloved sister’s prospects for a happy future with a husband and a family of her own, vanish?”

Lord Harold: “No, of course not!  But be reasonable, Christy!”  Lady Elizabeth’s other brother intones.  She appreciates it.  But her wishes are not holding sway at the moment.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “Harold, be a good boy and keep quiet/”  He sneers.  “You do not have an opinion here.”

Lady Madeline: “Papa, I … I … I wish to leave.  Now!”  Lady Madeline struggles to removeladymadeline-diamond-and-gold-filigree-betrothal-ring_nov0616blmnbeautyring-sized the long glove from her left hand and arm.  Once accomplished, she removes her betrothal ring [(2) right] from Lord Christian and carefully places it on a nearby occasional table.  The candle light bounces glowingly off of the Sussex family heirloom, at once sparkling with its portent of joy, as well as, glinting at the harsh reality of its office being no longer required.

The room stills for Lady Madeline’s quiet, yet dramatic response to Lord Christian’s outbursts.  And Christian Lord Sussex looks in horror upon the gesture.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “No!  You cannot mean it.  We are to be wed in three days on Friday!”  He states almost pleadingly.

With a composure beyond her years, Lady Madeline does not shrink from her decision—though tears are threatening to burst forth from her eyes.

Lady Madeline: With a strong yet trembling voice, she replies.  “Lord Sussex, I cannot marry you if you seek to rule by edict and decree.  That is not the life that I want for myself.  I wish not to be dictated to.  I let myself be swept away with romantic notions of the noble and handsome Earl of Sussex wanting a country maiden like myself for his bride.  I was flattered.  And you charmed me completely.  So much so, I fear that my common sense has taken flight.”

Christian Lord Sussex looks around the room at the stunned faces—none more so than his own.  His humiliation at so public a refusal is eclipsed only by the realization that he has done it to himself—in disregarding the feelings of others.

Lord Duncan: “Lady Madeline, please do not do this on my account.  For I am not blameless in stoking Lord Sussex’s ire.”

Lady Madeline: Turning to Lord Duncan, she states coolly. “No, you are not blameless.”  She glowers at him and he bows in acquiescence.  “You should have been honest with Lady Elizabeth from the start, rather than leading her to believe that you are free to court her, free to marry her.”

Lord Duncan: “But  I …”

Lady Madeline: “It is not the situation.  But I do not plan to insert myself into it.  That is for you and Lady Elizabeth—and yes, Lord Christian—to decide, calmly and rationally.”  She darts a glance at her former betrothed Lord Christian and he nods to her, bows, then hangs his head in resignation for his lost betrothal.

Christian Lord Sussex should be scrambling to regain her favor, so desperate is his family for her dowry to erase the deceased Earl Grandfather’s debts.  But he cannot.  For his betrothal and courting of Lady Madeline has long since ceased to become a means to an end for him.  And an unknown ache pulses just below his rib on his left side for the loss of Lady Madeline’s love—and the loss of her good opinion.

Lord Harold: “Grandmother?  Might we all go in to dinner and leave Christy and Madeline to discuss, what they need to discuss?”  Harold winces hopefully at his grandmother.  Then turning to his brother, he notices Lord Christian’s nod of thanks to him—and he returns the nod.

***

And Lady Madeline is still standing in the Drawing room, with her back ram rod straight, and her hands—one gloved, one not gloved—clasped tightly in front of her.  She has made public her resolution to dissolve her betrothal to Lord Christian.  And she does not know how to take it back.

Then everyone but Lady Madeline and Lord Christian file out of the Drawing Room.  There is silence, but for the crackling logs in the fireplace.  After a few moments, Lord Christian gently begins.

Christian Lord Sussex: “My Lady, I respect your decision to dissolve our betrothal.  But there are various aspects to be  addressed–so as to minimize the impact to your reputation.”  For he knows as well as she that a lady breaking a betrothal—and being but three days from the wedding—will be forever shunned in society, unless a mitigating circumstance can be put forth to absolve her of her fickleness.  Gesturing to the sette, he asks.  “Will you please sit, My Lady?”

Lady Madeline’s eyes glance over to his eyes, nods slightly and takes a seat at the opposite end of the sette from him.  Then Lord Christian sits.  Lady Madeline maintains her silence, her eyes looking forward at the fire—her not daring to look at Lord Christian for fear that she will burst into tears.  She gets so emotional every month.  But this is the worst it has been—in terms of her landing herself in a folly of her own making.  She will lose Lord Christian, be disgraced, and retire from society, becoming a spinster—since no man will ever want to marry her now.  Nor would she want to marry any man—if he isn’t Lord Christian.

The Sussex House cat Athena saunters into their end of the Drawing room—her having witnessed it all, though not with great understanding.  Athena belongs to Lady Elizabeth—or perhaps the other way around.  And Athena and Lord Christian have tolerated each other—for Lady Elizabeth’s sake.  Until now.  And Athena hops onto the sette next to Lady Madeline, who begins to pet the cat as Athena purrs contentedly.

Lady Madeline: “I will miss you, Athena.”  She states in a small voice. “Please take good care of Lady Elizabeth for me.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Hhhh!  I would not like to think that I was the cause for my sister Lizzie losing her only friend.  I should be the one to go.”

Lady Madeline: “No no.  After our break becomes known, I will not be received by anyone.  So I will retire to our country home and live a quiet life.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “But will the quiet suit you?”  He asks in earnest, concerned for her welfare.

Lady Madeline: “I have survived in the country for nearly eighteen years.  I daresay that I will for another eighteen years and more.”  She states stoically.

Christian Lord Sussex: “No, you must not suffer.  I will take the blame.  I will let it be known that your father discovered that I was only marrying you for your money and that he refused to allow the betrothal and wedding to continue. I will go abroad—seeking an ambassadorship far away so as to lend credence to the story that I was cast out.   You will be viewed as the young heroine saved from the clutches of a fortune hunter.  You will be pitied at first.  But then the matrons of London society with marriable sons will take you under their wing.  And next season it will have all blown over.  It will be as if we never met. And you will start again, and make an even more brilliant match than myself.”

Lady Madeline: “You say that all so glibly.”  I look at him with confusion and pain.  Then I ask in a hushed voice.  “Were you a fortune hunter, wanting only my dowry?”  Lord Christian does not answer at first.  And Lady Madeline gasps in surprised shock.  “Hhhh!”

Christian Lord Sussex: “I was.”  Lord Christian replies forlornly.  Honest to a fault—honorable man that he is–and knowingly burying all hope he has of reclaiming her affections.

Lady Madeline cannot contain her muffled weeping through her hand covering her mouth as she allows the tension of the last quarter hour to seep out in copious tears on her part.

Lady Madeline: “You made me love you.”  She looks at him in painful abandonment.

Chistian Lord Sussex:  “As did you of me.”  He gazes at her with steadfast devotion—perhaps for the last time.

Lady Madeline: “Why do you tell me such things now?  It is as if you are trying to destroy my good opinion of you.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “I thought that was already the case—with my overbearing and meddlesome behavior.”  He looks at her uncertainly.  “Besides, you will go forward with your life, find a good man, and be happy.  So you must have no regrets if you are to meet your future.”  He declares stoically, but his annoying rib ached is becoming more pronounced.

Lady Madeline:  “But I do have regrets.”  Lady Madeline states plaintively.

Christian Lord Sussex: “And for that I am sorry.  For your sake, I wish that we had never met.  I wish no regrets for you.  You are blameless.  I took advantage of your innocence and exploited your naivete.”  He smarts inside, because that is exactly what he did.  But he feels so different now about her, but he must make a clean break—for her sake.

Lady Madeline: “Very well.  We will do as you say.”  They both stand up from the sette.  The cat Athene looking back and forth between them.

Christian Lord Sussex: “As you wish, My Lady.”  His voice as deep as the ocean, his face as bleak as the desert.

Lady Madeline: “But I would ask one thing of you, if you would but grant me my wish.”

Christian Lord Sussex: “Of course, My Lady.  Your wish is my command.”  He bows with all of the deferential poise that he can muster.  He gazes at her, waiting for her request.  He cannot guess what she wishes—though he knows what he wishes.

Taking two steps to stand before Lord Christian, Lady Madeline gazes up at him with tear stained mournful eyes.

Lady Madeline:  “I wish …  I wish you to …”  He looks at her with such tenderness.  “I will never love another.  I wish you to kiss me—if only in good bye.”  Her voice a hushed whisper, her lips trembling at her bold request.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “I … Thank you, My Lady.  I would like to kiss you in farewell.”

Then Lord Christian clasps his hands behind his back—because he cannot trust himself not to want to claim her has his own, forever and for always—and he leans down and gently brushes his lips against her lips.  At first, it is just a gentle kiss, petal soft—neither of them feeling the kiss worthy of a substantial farewell.  So with Lady Madeline’s face still tilted upward and her eyes closed, Lord Christian presses his lips firmly upon her lips.

Then by design or by desire, Lady Madeline brings her arms up to twine around Lord Christian’s neck as they continue to kiss—now more tenderly, as their mouths open and close to each other in circular suckling motions.  And Lord Christian now brings his arms from behind his back and embraces Lady Madeline.  She clings to him and he lifts her up and brings her to sit upon his lap as he sits back down upon the setter—their lips never losing their touching upon each other.

Lady Madeline feels emboldened to expend her last ounce of decorum by whole heartedly embracing their kissing as she runs her fingers through his hair and he plunders her mouth as they share heated breaths and new loving sensations.  Though Lord Christian comes to his senses before he lies down and brings her to lie on top of him.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “We must cease, Madeline!  Hhhh!  Hhhh!”  He pants in his growing ardor.

Lady Madeline: “Why must we, Christian?  I do not want to end our betrothal anymore.  Please do not send me away.”  She pleads even has she kisses his mouth, begging him to kiss her tenderly again.

Christian Lord Sussex:  Astonished, and elatedly pleased, Lord Christian caresses her face as he gazes into her eyes.  “Madeline?  Truly?  You forgive me for all of my brutish behavior?  And of my dishonesty?” Lord Christian kisses her passionately, not allowing her to speak.

Lady Madeline:  “I do.  But only if you forgive my dramatics.  I am afraid that ill health and ill humors overwhelm me each month.  And I am not fit to be around.”  She pouts as she snuggles into his neck.

Christian Lord Sussex:  “No, no.  I deserved to have a scolding from you.  You were right.  Lord Duncan had been honest with Lizzie.  I just do not know how to save her from the heartache of her not being able to marrying him.”  He worries.

Lady Madeline:  “We do not know our limits, until we try them.”  She states firmly.  “But one thing I know that I cannot do without, and that is you, Christian.”  She gazes soulfully into his eyes.  And he gazes back at her before they share a sweet soft and tender kiss to seal their new beginning.

Christian Lord Sussex:    “Then I suppose, we should let our families know that we are still to wed on Friday.” He says lazily.  “But I find that I am enjoying our kissing way too much.”

Lady Madeline: “Oh?  Is there such a thing as too much kissing?”

Christian Lord Sussex:  “No, no indeed.”  He smiles and caresses her dear face with his finger, before they share a sweetly tender kiss.  Then Christian Lord Sussex snatches up Lady Madeline’s betrothal ring from the nearby table and he holds it out to her.  She raises her left hand and he places the ring upon her finger again.  Then more kissing ensues.

Eventually, Christian Lord Sussex helps Lady Madeline to stand up from his lap. Then he smooths out some of her gown skirt and his pantaloons wrinkles.  And they each help the other straighten their hair.  Then Lord Christian offers his arm to Lady Madeline and they walk out of the Drawing room and to their waiting families in the Dining Room—to tell them that they have reconciled, and that they will be married on Friday.   Assuming, that is, that nothing else happens.

To be continued with Chapter 20

 

“Encouragement”, Ch. 19  References by Gratiana Lovelace, November 29, 2016 (Post #1007)
1) The “Encouragement” story cover is an image representing our young heroine Lady Madeline Sinclair, is the young Emma Hart in a straw hat at 17 years old in painted by George Romney  in 1782; she was later to marry Sir William Hamilton in 1791 and become Emma Lady Hamilton, was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma,_Lady_Hamilton#/media/File:George_Romney_-_Emma_Hart_in_a_Straw_Hat.jpg ;  For more about Emma Lady Hamilton, nee Emma Hart/Amy Lyon please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma,_Lady_Hamilton

2) The image of Lady Madeline’s beautiful one carat gold filigree heirloom betrothal ring from Lord Christian was found at http://www.bloomingbeautyring.com/wp-content/uploads/bfi_thumb/antique-vintage-style-filigree-rings-llmoix98iv78beu8cfju92foex3z7nl4sksl8fp3d0.jpg

 

Previous  Blog Ch. 18  Story link with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/encouragement-ch-17-pg-supper-tete-a-tetes-at-lady-lizzies-ball-november-18-2016-gratiana-lovelace-post-1002

 

 

Posted in "Encouragement" a Regency Lovestory, Creative Writing, Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Period Drama, Richard Armitage, Romance, Society, Something About Love, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Serene Sunday! Richard Armitage’s Broadway World interview SD remarks viewed positively by Guylty, etc., November 27, 2016  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1006)

 As I look to my last day of the Thanksgiving Holiday rest on Sunday today before the new LoveLoveLove-poster-w-actors-faces_Jul2016-viaFernandaMatiaswork week starts–well, I’ll have to do a few registration overrides for students from home today–I realize that Sunday is not always a day of rest for others.  In particular for Richard Armitage, Sunday is a show day for his NYC Roundabout Theatre Company play that he is currently starring in Love, Love, Love.
(with Fernanda Matais’ lovely graphic is at right, Thanks!)

And the recent Broadway World  interview article about Richard Armitage’s Love, Love, Love experiences was insightful and an enjoyable read.  But a few fans took exception at one of his remarks–in particular, his comments about fans coming to see him in theatre performance and his doing stage door (SD) or not–have been taken different ways by some of his fans. However, though I admit that I do not chain myself to social media and see every comment made, I only saw two comments indicating a fan felt “hurt” or disregarded.  So out of the hundreds of thousands of Richard Armitage fans—perhaps millions since The Hobbit trilogy of films–around the world, the percentage of those viewing his remarks about SD in the Broadway World interview article negatively is relatively small.  And I, personally, don’t think he meant any disregard for fans by his remarks.

So, I think that sister blogger Guylty (at her Guylty Pleasure blog)Amy Ryan and Richard Armitage attend the Meet & Greet for the Roundabout Theatre Company production of 'Love, Love, Love' at the Roundabout Theatre rehearsal studio on August 22, 2016 in New York City. (her post image logo right, and click here to go to her essay post) expresses well the position of her also “not” viewing RA’s remarks as being negative. And she beautifully rebuts each negative view argument. I particularly like this Richard Armitage quote about his fans coming to see his plays, etc., that she shared as an example of how to view his remarks positively:

“…what stood out for me was the sentence [Armitage interview quote]  “You know, we’ve had people come from far and wide, which is great.” For me, that [statement] was the acknowledgment by RA that he is well-aware of the effort people/his fans are making to see *him* on stage, in New York, and the SD is a way of both showing his gratitude, as well as attracting the potential audience to the box office.”

Well said, Guylty!  Thanks for sharing!

And below is a lovely recent smiling picture (that I/Grati cropped, brightened, and enlarged) of Richard Armitage at a recent stage door that was shared by Ultra Veloce (Thanks!). And I/Grati thought the picture  would add a further  illustration of Richard Armitage’s cheerful grace in his doing the stage door for his currently running NYC play Love, Love, Love:

lovelovelove-sd-richardarmitage-smiling-in-heavy-winter-coat_nov2616viaultraveloce-sized-brt-crop

People may certainly still feel as they wish to feel about Richard Armitage comments in the Broadway World interview article and elsewhere, that is their right. But IMHO/Grati, giving another person–friends, family, and even Richard Armitage–the benefit of the doubt, feels good to me.  And the talented British Actor Richard Armitage is also a nice guy who does SD (stage door) when he can with courtesy, grace, and yes “professionalism”.

So I hope that you have a restful and serene Sunday today–leaving the drama on the stage, and not at the stage door—as you go about your day.

Hugs & Love! Grati ;->

 

P.S. And with me having had a recent birthday—Thanks again for the kind notes and graphics everyone!  I really appreciated them!  Hugs!–I feel even more keenly the importance of focusing on positivity and helping others when I can, through donations to charities and being involved in my communities here and online.

So my hubby and I have once again made a modest donation to the United Nations  (UN) for the besieged children of Aleppo (right) and elsewhere suffering under wars, un-donations-page_nov2617grati-capfamine, and natural disasters.  We feel so blessed that our own nieces, nephews and greats have never had to suffer such devastation.  So we made our donation in their honor.  Ours may be a small gesture of help and of hope, but when coupled with other people’s small gestures, they can really make a difference in giving children food, housing, clothes, and medical care, etc.

 

And personally today, I’ll also be trying to make way for Holiday decorations in our home, since Guylty’s post also reminded me that today is the first week of Advent.  And my hubby and I have not chanced having floor decorations—meaning XMAS trees—for several years, since the time that our then young male hound dog wiped out the hall tree as he careened around the foyer from the dining room (open floor plan house layout), him then also sliding into the plant stand sending dirt everywhere. Ha!  Sighhh!  I’m thinking serene and positive thoughts for having a XMAS tree or trees this year.  Surely our dog is older and slower by now?  Right?  Wish me luck!  Ha!

Posted in "Love Love Love" play in NYC, Charities, Children at Risk, Fangurling, Graphic, Gratiana Lovelace, Interview, NYC 2016 Play, NYC play with Richard Armitage as Kenneth, Period Drama, play, Positivity, RA Artwork, Richard Armitage, Roundabout Theatre Company, Smiles, social media, Society, Something About Love, Theatre | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments