(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: Emma Hamilton as Lady Madeline Sinclair, Richard Armitage as Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex, Maggie Smith as Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott, Crispin Bonham-Carter as Lord Harold Blount, 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: Lady Madeline’s second dance with Lord Christian at her presentation ball was to be a waltz. But it did not happen because Lord Christian had two drinks of champagne that made him drunk—since he is unused to drinking alcohol—and he said and did some things to Lady Madeline that were indelicate, boorish, and rude. Lord Christian’s silent excuse for over imbibing—though others would not have been so affected by only two drinks—was that he was annoyed at his younger brother Lord Harold for offering for Lady Madeline’s hand in marriage—making it clear that her sizable dowry could help renovate his country manor. Lord Christian worries that his brother has tarnished Lady Madeline’s good opinion of himself and their family with his avarice on display. Although weaving drunk and treating Lady Madeline like a little girl—as he called her—did not endear Lord Christian to her either. Yet, somehow, Lady Madeline managed to convince Lord Christian to go home and rest, and that she would seek her waltz in a visit the following day, a Saturday.
“Encouragement”, Ch. 6 (PG-L): Morning Brings Clarity
With getting to bed so late Friday evening into Saturday—or early at 4 o’clock in the morning, Lady Madeline might be excused for sleeping in until 9 o’clock this Saturday morning February 3, 1816 after her ball. But her Grandmama Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott will not allow her granddaughter to lie abed any longer. They must eat breakfast, refuse morning callers, and then set out for Sussex House so Lord Christian may honor his promised waltz to Lady Madeline—and for him to hopefully apologize, thinks Lady Knott.
But first, the young lady in question still tries to let sleep claim her as her ladies maid enters her bed chamber and throws back the drapes to let in the morning sun. Lady Madeline responds by burrowing deeper under her covers. Her ladies maid knows that getting Lady Madeline in a fit state to take breakfast with her grandmama down stairs will be no less than a miracle—for the poor girl is exhausted from her previous evening’s presentation ball.
Yet the ever resourceful ladies maid, places a silver tray with the cards upon it and several pretty posey nosegay’s on Lady Madeline’s seated dressing vanity in her eyeline, whilst a trio of other maids bring in a tub and fill Lady Madeline’s bath with rose scented waters. The final enticement is a steaming cup of hot chocolate-to warm Lady Madeline this cold wintry morning in early February.
Lady Madeline pushes down her soft satin comforter and sits up upon her pillows in her heavy and warm night gown—holding out her handd for her mug of hot chocolate like a little girl seeking a treat.. Her ladies maid Anne Trask—transferred with her baby sister to London with Lady Madeline for the season–dutifully complies and the morning toilette begins.
A quick but soothing warm bath begins Lady Madeline’s day—but not washing her hair because it would take hours to dry and they are due at Sussex House at 11:00am. Besides, her voluminous auburn tresses had a thorough washing yesterday morning prior to last evening’s presentation ball. So instead, Lady Madeline’s hair receives a thorough brushing that brings its tousled waves to a gleaming luster. So Lady Madeline elects to leave most of her hair down—but for a decorative ribbon.
And she decides to wear a rather Grecian or early Roman inspired loose dress of a deep peach or apricot overlying an almost sheer ivory colored under dress as reflected in her exposed sleeves seemingly falling off of her shoulders [(2) right]. Lady Madeline had worn the dress once at their country home, but not here in London as of yet. The dress is just Lady Madeline’s style—simple, elegant, a touch of the classical, and everything that is sweet and girlish. And she hopes that a certain gentleman might find her pleasing in it.
Such artful disarray is not without precise intent to beguile a certain tall and handsome youngish Earl who behaved quite rudely to her at her presentation ball last evening. She will show Lord Christian Blount, Earl of Sussex who is the little girl–or young lady–upon the cusp of her womanhood. Lady Madeline rifles through the cards and nosegays, her noting who sent them –all of her marriage proposal suitors are represented, but none from Lord Christian. Her disappointment is palpable. But then, she reasons, he was so drunk last evening that perhaps he does not remember insulting her. Hmmm. Well she resolves not to let him forget it. And just for minxishness, Lady Madeline plucks one of the pale pink roses from Lord Harold Blount’s nosegay, and slides it into her dress’ waistband.
However, Lady Madeline’s Grandmama Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott has decided to have a guiding chat with Lady Madeline over their breakfast. And after Lady Madeline begins to eat, her Grandmama has the perfect opportunity to bring up the matter of Lady Madeline beginning to be courted.
Lady Lucretia: “Maddie Dear, I see that you received several pretty posies from your admirers of last evening.”
For Lady Madeline has brought them all down to the morning breakfast room with her—artfully arranging them around her table place setting in a half moon shape. When she was a little girl, she would arrange her birthday treats thusly. It is just that now, Lady Madeline’s young lady gifts are less edible—but by no means less delighted in.
Lady Madeline: “Yes Grandmama. I especially like the violets.” She picks up that one, admiring its purple velvety hues, and brings it to her nose to drink in its heavenly scent.
Lady Lucretia: “And who sent you that one?”
Lady Madeline: “Lord Tottenham, I believe. No! I am mistaken! It was Lord Quincy.”
Lady Madeline smiles quite pleased with herself. If she had known that being presented lead to such fun, she would have insisted that her Papa bring her to London sooner.
Lady Lucretia: “Hmmm. “I do not believe I know of him.” An implicit tsk tsk dares to break free. Lady Knott will allow only the most dignified and gentlemanly gentleman to court and wed her granddaughter. So Lord Christian Blount is not in her good graces at the moment for his rude behavior last evening at Lady Madeline’s Presentation Ball. “And do you know of his circumstances, My Dear?”
Lady Madeline: “Oh, yes.” Lady Madeline smiles brightly between nibbling on a scone and drinking her tea. He said that he has been rusticating in the country and just inherited from his uncle. So now he seeks a wife to … well to … “ Lady Madeline pinkens up in a charming blush. “Well, to provide him with heirs.”
Lady Lucretia: “Yes Dear. Whomever you marry will require heirs.” She rolls her eyes. And though she bore her husband no son, they had a very nice daughter in Lady Madeline’s late Mama.
Breaking into her Grandmama’s reverie, Lady Madeline gently touches her hand and looks at her soulfully.
Lady Madeline: “Grandmama? Cards and nosegays are nice—quite thrilling, actually. But how do I know who is the one man whom I can entrust with my heart?”
Lady Lucretia: “Ah me. Your father has kept you too long in the country after… well, too long.” She thinks of the sad passing of her daughter. “You should have been meeting other young people of your own age and going to parties, such that someone might have caught your eye.” She smiles at her granddaughter.
Lady Madeline: “Is that how it was with you and Grandpapa? Were you a love match?”
Lady Lucretia: “We were! Ha ha ha ha ha!” Her trilling laughter echoes in the smallish breakfast room. And Lady Madeline smiles and giggles joining in.
Lady Madeline: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lady Lucretia: “I led your grandfather on a merry chase. No man wants an easy conquest. Much like the hunt, if the prey is too easily caught, where is the sport in that?”
Lady Madeline: “I do not know if I like being considered someone’s prey, Grandmama.” Lady Madeline looks at her Grandmama a little wide eyed and uncertain. “I want to love and to be loved in return—like Mama and Papa did.”
Lady Lucretia: “Yes. Your Mama married for love.” Lady Knott acknowledges. “She could have married anyone of her choosing—even a Duke.” She shakes her head.
Lady Madeline: “But she chose Papa, a simple country squire—but a very good man. They were very happy together—we all were.” Lady Madeline lowers her head, thinking of her lovely childhood with her dear late Mama.
Lady Lucretia smiles indulgently at her granddaughter. She feels that it is best to keep her own counsel on that subject—her son-in-law, Lady Madeline’s father.
Lady Lucretia: “So is there anyone you are interested in considering as a suitor, and perhaps even as a husband?”
Lady Madeline: “Well …” Lady Knott leans in closer to her granddaughter, the better not to have the servants hear her answer. “Everyone is amiable.”
Lady Lucretia: “But?” She raises her querying eyebrow.
Lady Madeline: “I should not aim too high, only to be disappointed in my silly girlish musings.”
Lady Lucretia: “Perhaps not so silly, Lord Christian is a fine man.”
Lady Madeline looks stricken.
Lady Madeline: “How did you know?”
Lady Lucretia: “I merely guessed, until your response just now confirmed your feelings upon the matter. But why do you feel that your preferring Christy is aiming too high? I think he would make you a good husband.”
Lady Madeline: “Oh, I am certain that he would. But I am not as worldly nor as accomplished as other young ladies this season. And I fear that Lord Christian’s focus will soon be upon them.”
Lady Lucretia: “And yet, our two families are connected by long association by his grandmother and yours.” She smiles smugly. “And he has been paying you particular attention, my dear.”
Lady Madeline: “Only because his grandmother asked him to. He is very devoted to family.” She nods.
Lady Lucretia: “Perhaps. And perhaps, he finds you charming and refreshing—as do I.”
Lady Madeline: “But what can I do to make him like me more than any other young lady?”
Lady Lucretia: Lady Knott shrewdly narrows her eyes. “Do not let him perceive that you have a marked preference for him beyond pleasantness. Make him work to seek your favor. Let him woo you.”
Lady Madeline: “Woo me? But what would make him want to woo me?”
Lady Lucretia: Gently caressing her granddaughters up turned face, Lady Knot replies. “You have great appeal my dear. Your mother was a beauty, and so are you.” She sees her granddaughter’s disbelief, and she scoffs. “Oh! You are not some beautiful ice queen with exquisite taste in clothes, no hair out of place, and the rest. And though men might find those brittle beauties appealing from a distance, they do not make warm bed companions.”
Lady Madeline’s eyes widen and she blushes in embarrassment at her Grandmama’s frankness.
Lady Madeline: “Grandmama!” And Lady Madeline cups her mouth with her hands to try to stifle her astonishment.
Lady Lucretia: “My Dear, you just be yourself—coyly teasing, generously friendly, and firm about what you want out of life. Encourage him a little by letting him see that you like him generally. And if Christy is up to snuff, then he will see the gem that you are and press his suit immediately. And a little competition from other suitors always works to the lady’s advantage. No man is more adamant about wanting something when he fears that it might be denied to him.”
Lady Madeline: “And if he does not want me after all?” Lady Madeline looks forlornly at her Grandmama—keenly remembering the derision in Lord Christian’s voice when he revealed their grandmother’s marriage scheme for the two of them.
Lady Lucretia: “Then you will find another good man to love and be loved by him. And it will be Christy’s loss.” In more ways than one, she thinks about the Blount’s precarious financial situation.
Lady Madeline nods stoically and they continue their breakfasts before setting out for Sussex House to see Lord Christian—and his sister Lady Lizzie, of course.
Across town about two hours earlier, Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex, lies sleeping upon his bed in full evening attire from the previous night’s Lady Madeline Sinclair Presentation Ball–complete with shoes, tails, waistcoat, shirt, cravat and neck scarf, and with his top hat resting on the other pillow.
Drifting in a state of half sleep half awake, Lord Christian ruminates. All is pleasant and comfortable—except for his collar points jutting into his cheek since he has moved around in his sleep, causing his clothes to become slightly disarrayed. And he half bemusedly wonders why the deuce his valet did not see fit to remove them. He is forgetting that in his drunken haze, he dismissed his valet to his own bed before realizing that he had yet to undress himself. And then he found himself too tired to undress. Hence the state of him being still dressed in last night’s evening attire.
Dreaming of last night provides Lord Christian with only glimpses of images, and no definable details. There was a dance, with a sweet young lady—the luxuriantly copper tressed Lady Madeline. Oh how he would love to run his fingers through her hair. Yet she is such a paradox to him. At one point, he feels at odds with her speaking her mind. And the next, he finds this behavior in her utterly charming and beguiling—despite her youth. And her caring nature is pleasing–as when she asked after his grandmother in true concern. And though Lady Madeline is small to his tall self, she is a petite package of perfection. And were she situated next to him in bed, on the next pillow, he would reach for her and tenderly convey his sincere regard to her.
However, such romantically dreamy musings by me, soon give way to utter fatigue in restful sleep again. Eventually when I finally begin to wake up the next morning after that Sinclair chit’s presentation ball–or rather, a few hours later–I have a blinding head ache from the two glasses of champagne that I consumed last night. I search my memory for when I left the ball, under what circumstances, and how I contrived to arrive home. But no coherent thoughts present themselves for my inspection. And I have no idea of the time now. That is until my younger brother Harold bursts into my bed chamber.
Lord Harold: “Rise and shine, brother! You must greet the day!” I smile cheerfully.
Lord Christian: “Must I? It cannot be so very late in the morning, for I do not feel at all well rested.”
Lord Harold: “The drink will do that to you. It is nearly midday!”
Lord Christian: “If that is so, then why are you in evening attire?” I wonder if he is just coming in, or going out?
Lord Harold: “Why are you?”
Lord Christian: I sit up upon my elbows and look down at my person and I see that he is correct. “I asked you first.” I grumble and frown in my younger brother’s direction.
Lord Harold: “Well, I am just getting in from a glorious night of love.” I wistfully look up at the ceiling in remembrance.
Lord Christian: I bolt from my bed and lunge at my brother. “You did not compromise her, did you!?!”
Lord Harold: I side step my brother’s lunge and take a position behind his wing chair. “By her, I presume that you refer to the Sinclair chit?”
Lord Christian: “I do, you bastard!” Christy spits out, ready to pounce on his brother and pummel him.
Lord Harold: Putting his hands up in defense, Harold forswears. “Of course not! Little Lady Madeline is about as appealing to me as a scullery maid.”
Lord Christian: Relieved, but still fuming he concedes. “But she will be a very rich scullery maid—a description which I wholeheartedly object to. And her wealth, I presume, is why you offered for her.” I glare at him with clenched fists.
Lord Harold: “I did, but she turned me down–the chit!” I grimace. My brother perks up an inquisitive eyebrow. “No, my night of love was not with that child. I had a late supper with an opera singer–Mademoiselle Elise Trefoile.” I raise my eyebrows up and down gleefully.
I roll my eyes and move to my dressing area as I begin to remove my evening attire. Then Harold walks around my wing chair and sits down in it—my menace toward him having deflated with his admission that he is not interested in Lady Madeline.
Lord Christian: “Your romancing will cost you one day, brother.”
Lord Harold: “But not now. So what of you and the Sinclair chit? Did you offer for her, brother?” I inquire pointedly.
Lord Christian: “Please do not call her a chit!” I hiss as I rip my cravat from my neck—and I inadvertently thwap my cheek with it in the process, causing me to wince with the sting of it as I rub my cheek.
Lord Harold: “You do.” I look at him questioningly.
Lord Christian: “Not any more. Lady Madeline Sinclair will be my future Countess, if she will have me. So you will show her the proper respect.” As will I, I think resignedly—my crumpled shirt points not withstanding [(3) right]. My fate is sealed. However, she is a pretty and engaging fate.
Lord Harold: “Lord, Christy! Do you want to marry her? Are you in love with her?”
Lord Christian: “No.” I admit resignedly—I wish that I could say the opposite. “But I need a Countess. And with her spirit, I feel that we will suit. And Lady Madeline is well bred, well situated financially, and young enough to be molded into her maturity.”
Lord Harold: “Family finances cannot be as dire as to require you to marry that Sinclair … child.” He checks himself then amends his intended word choice about his potentially future sister-in-law.
Lord Christian: “They are. And if our sister Lizzie is to have any hope of making a good marriage, I must provide a decent dowry for her–which at the moment, is impossible.”
Lord Harold: “So you plan to set up Lizzie with Lady Maddie’s money.” I state bluntly.
Lord Christian: “Yes.” I nod. “Arranged marriages for financial gain and status are the norm amongst aristocrats. My marriage will be no different.” I grouse. An arranged marriage is my fate–as I always knew it would be.
Lord Harold: “So you will shackle yourself in marriage to one child, in order to marry off another child. And little Lady Madeline gets to be a Countess.” I smile and shake my head at the absurdity of the notion.
Lord Christian: I shrug. “It is the way of marriage contracts among our peers.” I state with punning aplomb.
Lord Harold: “And what of love? Will you have a mistress on the side as many men do? Or if not, will not Lady Brenda take offense at being cast aside?”
Lord Christian: “Love is a childish romantic notion. And no I will not take a mistress. I will be faithful to my marriage vows. And as to Lady Brenda, she had already moved on to another sponsor months ago–when she discovered that my pockets were not quite as deep as she had hoped.” Lord Christian is sanguine about the end of that relationship—it was inevitable from the beginning, she and he both knew it. And though they had taken pleasure in each other, his heart was not engaged. In fact, Lord Christian has never given his heart over to another person—except in his complete brotherly devotion to his younger sister, Lady Lizzie.
Lord Harold: “You are far nobler than I, brother.” I say waving to my brother as I depart. Then I turn around. “I almost forgot! Grandmother has invited that ch … Lady Madeline and her grandmother for luncheon. Your presence is required in the family dining room in a half hour.”
Lord Christian had forgotten about his promise to Lady Madeline—about their waltz. As his brother leaves his bed chamber, Lord Christian raises his eyes to the ceiling, seeking aid there. But all he finds are a pair of errant cherubs upon the painted ceiling. He had never noticed them before—nor that his ceiling has a nauseating pastoral scene represented upon it. Well courting Lady Madeline—or not—Lord Christian resolves to control one aspect of his life to his own satisfaction, and have his bedchamber ceiling repainted in a non distracting shade of ivory. He will show those cherubs who is in charge. And then, perhaps, he will convince one very minxish young lady, that he is her destiny.
To be continued with Chapter 7
The References for Ch. 6 by Gratiana Lovelace, September 24, 2016 (Post #973)
1) The “Encouragement” story cover is an image representing our young heroine Lady Madeline Sinclair. The image 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) Lady Madeline Sinclair image (cropped) is the young Emma Lady Hamilton painted by George Romney in 1785 at age 20 years, posing as Bacchante; was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma,_Lady_Hamilton#/media/File:George_Romney_-_Lady_Hamilton_(as_a_Bacchante)_3.jpg
3) Lord Christian Blount, Earl of Sussex looking resigned is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in 2004’s North & South found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/slides/ns2-213.html
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