“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 23 End (R rated)–Love Conquers All, March 3, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #372)
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[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Sir Guy, Clive Standen as Lord Archer, Emma Watson as Lady Rose, and James McAvoy as Lord George, etc.] [Story Logo 1ab]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” is a story of romance and intrigue set amidst Medieval times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: The fathers, bride grooms, and Sir Guy traveled to London to broker the reconfigured betrothal couples’ marriages. Although Prince John did not say no, there is the sticking point with the Talkington dowry–Lord Talkington not wanting to be subject to the marriage tax when he was exempt before. Lord Archer has made his pitch to pay the marriage tax for Lady Saline’s dowry–raising suspicions in Prince John’s mind about Lord Archer and the whereabouts of the yet to be revealed Nottingham treasure. Prince John sends Sir Jasper to spy around in Nottingham. But with Sir Guy’s astute planning and quick thinking, they are able to turn the tables on Sir Jasper–who is now out of favor with Prince John. Lord Archer also gave helpful and practical romantic advice to Lord George regarding adapting his lovemaking due to his lame arm in order for him to be able to have a less anxious wedding night. Prince John will arrive at Middleton Hall in two weeks to attend the family pre-wedding celebrations–and he will give his answer then about the betrothals and dowries.
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Ch. 23 End (R rated) — Love Conquers All
When the gentlemen returned from London and their audience with Prince John, the fathers and bridegrooms elected to maintain their silence on the somewhat precarious nature of their hoped for marriages to their new betrothal partners. The grooms, especially, do not want to cast a pall over the happy state that they find their brides to be in when they return. Sir Guy can not fault them for that. Many a husband knows the truism of a happy wife equals a happy life. The next two weeks fly by with happy wedding planning and betrothal couples who somehow find time to steal precious moments alone together–away from prying eyes. Yet, they remain mostly chaperoned.
With the weddings still ten days away, the ladies spend some time to themselves while the men and Seth head off for a day of hunting–the bridegrooms enjoying their last moments of freedom before they wed, bonding in manly pursuits. The fox, hare, bird, or deer might think differently about that, though. Ha! The ladies embroider away industriously in the large parlor of Middleton Manor–both in preparation for the brides’ trousseaus and for Lady Roseanna and Lady Eliza’s pending births in the new year. Lady Eliza Talkington and Lady Isabelle Havorford and the two younger Havorford daughters–eleven year old Lady Ariadne and six year old Lady Caroline–sit across the room from the Ladies Roseanna, Saline, and Mary.
Lady Isabelle: Seeing that her daughter has changed to embroidering a larger piece of cloth, she asks her. “Mary dear, what are you embroidering there?”
Lady Mary: “It is an M on my wedding nightgown, Mama.” Smiling, she holds up the garment–with an M half completed in the middle of the bodice for all to see. Her little sisters titter with laughter. Lady Mary pouts.
Lady Isabelle: “Shush, you two. Someday you will be brides, too.” The two girls nod politely with their mother’s gentle reprimand. The six year old Lady Caroline returns to playing with her baby dolly–when not so long ago, she was her sister Lady Mary’s real life baby dolly. The eleven year old Lady Ariadne returns to sewing her embroidery sampler of the alphabet.
Lady Eliza: “That is very nice, Mary dear.” She smiles warmly, as does Lady Mary’s mother. They share a knowing look.
Lady Mary: Turning to Lady Roseanna and Lady Saline, she asks innocently. “Do you think George will like my embroidery? I want to please him.” She asks sweetly as a young woman who is still but fifteen years.
Lady Saline: “Mary, your embroidered M’s are much better than mine ever were.” She says agreeably. Then she darts a furtive glance at Lady Roseanna.
Lady Mary: “Thank you, Saline.” She beams and lays the nightgown against the front of her dress. “And you, Rose? Do you think your brother will like it?” She asks earnestly.
Lady Roseanna: “My dear, it is lovely. I am sure that George will find you charming–with or without the M on it.” She smiles encouragingly.
Lady Saline: “And with or without the nightgown.” Lady Saline smiles saucily. She is eighteen years old and presents herself as being worldy wise–whether she is or not.
Lady Roseanna: “Saline!” She hisses in a mock shocked whisper, while trying to stifle a smile.
Lady Mary: “What do you mean, Saline? ” She looks innocently at Lady Saline.
Lady Saline and Lady Roseanna share an understanding glance between them.
Lady Saline: “It is just that …” She can not find the words. Though she has an inkling about her own wedding night, it is perhaps more vaguely sketched out in her mind than she has previously let on. “Rose? Help?” She asks for both herself and for Lady Mary.
Lady Roseanna: Lady Roseanna’s eyes widen and her eyebrows raise. “Lady Mary, um, what has your Mama told you about … the love that husbands and wives share?” She blushes a bit.
Lady Mary: Lady Mary’s cheeks pinken as she realizes her ignorant state. “Welllll. Mama said that she thinks Lord George will be a very kind and gracious husband to me.” She smiles. “George is so kind, and caring, and polite to me that I am sure she is right.”
Lady Roseanna: “Did she say anything else?” She leans forward–as does Lady Saline.
Lady Mary: “And, she said that Lord George would come to me in the night and that we will sleep in the same bed. And in time, she hopes that we will bless her with a grand child.” She smiles pleased with herself for almost remembering her mother’s exact words.
Lady Saline: “That is all?” She asks incredulously–her own mother not even saying that much yet.
Lady Mary: “Yes?” She quizzically furrows her brow.
Lady Saline: “What about marital … um, what happens between a husband and wife?” Lady Saline asks with pursed lips–because she is really asking Lady Rose this for her own edification, as she steals another glance at her friend.
Lady Roseanna: Realizing that it will fall to her to enlighten these young ladies–in order to prepare them and ease their fears of the unknown–she sets down her embroidery, while stealing a glance at the bridal mothers and the two Havorford girls sitting a mere fifteen feet away from them. So she whispers. “Mary and Saline, the love of one’s husband is a blessed and joyful thing.” She blushes with embarrassment.
Both Lady Saline and Lady Mary lean toward Lady Roseanna, hoping to gain some insights. But pinkening up themselves. Lady Eliza looks over at the three young ladies, surmising the topic of their whispered conversation.
Lady Eliza: “How is your embroidery coming, Saline?” She asks interestedly.
Lady Saline: “Fine, Mama.” Lady Saline says curtly without looking at her mother–not wanting Lady Roseanna’s thought flow interrupted. “You were saying, Rose?”
Lady Roseanna: Temporarily at a loss for how to phrase her guidance to Lady Mary and Lady Saline, she asks them a question. “Have you … kissed your betrotheds yet?”
Lady Mary and Lady Saline both look away. It is a question that as ladies they should both be able to say no to. Holding hands, if that, might be society’s sole allowance of intimacy before they are wed. But, they cannot answer no.
Lady Saline: “Does it count if he kissed me first?” She purses her mouth.
Lady Roseanna: “Yes.” She nods her head with a smile.
Lady Saline: “Twice.” Then Lady Saline looks over at Lady Mary, wondering if this slip of a girl and her annoying childhood friend Lord George have even the scintilla of passion that she and Lord Archer have. “Well? Your turn, Mary.”
Lady Roseanna tilts her head at Lady Mary.
Lady Mary: “Three times. But the second time, I kissed him first.” She shrugs her shoulders.
Both Lady Saline and Lady Roseanna’s eyes widen at Lady Mary’s admission.
Lady Roseanna: She smiles pleasantly, trying not to show how startled she is. “Very well.” Then she decides to plow ahead and give them her most important guidance. “Hhhhh! Your husbands will guide you as you make love together. This closeness is a loving gift that you share with each other.” She hopes that they do not want details. Because this is as far as Lady Roseanna is prepared to go–until her own daughter is betrothed in the future.
Lady Mary: “Like our embraces and kisses?” She asks, her curiosity getting the better of her.
Lady Roseanna: “Yes, … and … more.” She says vaguely.
Lady Saline: “Will it hurt much, Rose?” She asks furtively.
Lady Mary: “Hurt?” She asks in alarm, a frown on her face.
Lady Roseanna: Patting Lady Saline’s hand, Lady Rose assures them. “Only the first time that you share this closeness might you feel some discomfort. But after that, you will feel only joy.” Of course, Lady Roseanna is giving both Lord Archer and Lord George the benefit of the doubt in the lovemaking area. Then Lady Roseanna smiles thinking about she and her husband Sir Guy’s lovemaking and she absentmindedly rubs her hand across her growing with child belly. “May you both be blessed with loving husbands, and in time, be blessed with the fruits of that love.”
Lady Saline nods, satisfied with Lady Roseanna’s shared confidence. However, one can see the wheels turning in Lady Mary’s mind as she looks up at the ceiling thinking.
Lady Mary: “Make love. That sounds so much nicer than consummation. When my dear Mama, first mentioned consummation, I thought she was talking about soup.” She smiles sheepishly and shrugs her shoulders as she returns to her embroidery.
Lady Saline: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” She bursts out laughing
Lady Roseanna: “Ha ha ha! Indeed.” She smiles. For all her youthful innocence, it turns out that Lady Mary is not as ignorant about the ways of love as Lady Roseanna might suppose.
The ladies hear riders on horseback approaching and they realize that their men have returned to Middleton Manor from their hunt. The ladies wait patiently for the men to join them in the parlor, but the minutes tick by and the men do not enter the parlor–let alone, the manor, that they can tell. This both perturbs and intrigues the brides–and their mothers and little sisters–as well as Lady Roseanna. And though they know not why, Lady Saline and Lady Mary feel a heightened wish to see their intendeds after their chat with Lady Roseanna.
Thinking that her husband might have gone directly to their bed chamber for a bath–because he knows her preference about such things regarding clean husbands–Lady Roseanna excuses herself to nurse baby Lady Helen in her bed chamber and to converse with her husband. Lady Eliza and Lady Isabelle continue their embroidery–knowing they will see their husbands soon, after their baths. Eleven year old Lady Ariadne is also intent on her embroidery. But Lady Saline and Lady Mary decide to go for a walk and six year old Lady Caroline accompanies them.
Being a large home, Middleton Manor does boast more than one bath tub–but not six. And since it is still warm weather, Lord Archer, Lord George and Seth elect to wash in the pond behind the stables. So Sir Guy informs their valets to take soap, towels, and fresh clothes to them, and they do so.
Lord Archer, Lord George and Seth are hot and sweaty from their hunt and look forward to feeling cool and clean. The men strip down to their undergarments–but also remove their undershirts. Five year old Seth takes all of his clothes off–he likes pond bathing. Not wanting to be outdone by a child, the men doff their remaining garments as well and they all enter the water–with Lord Archer and Lord George keeping a careful eye on Seth in the water. The valets leave the men and Seth to wash and redress, while taking their soiled clothes back to the manor for washing.
After washing, Lord Archer, Lord George and Seth towel themselves dry and dress in clean breeches and loose shirts–they will dress more formally in their tunics later for dinner. Then they elect to lie on the bank of the pond and let the sun dry their hair as they doze. This is where the Ladies Saline and Mary–along with little Lady Caroline–find them after exhausting their interest in the flower garden. Their walk was only a ruse to get away from embroidering anyway.
Lady Saline puts her finger to her lips and motions to where the men and Seth are sleeping with her other hand. Lady Mary nods and puts her finger to her lips. Lady Caroline puts both of her index fingers to her lips. The ladies slowly creep up on foot to the sleeping head of each prospective bridegroom–or in the case of Lady Caroline, to Seth. She is a little sweet on him since they are about the same age–Seth being five and Lady Caroline being six.
The ladies stop two feet from their men, they drop to their knees–after lifting up their dresses so they would not get grass stains on them–and they lean forward on their hands with their faces hovering over their intendeds’ faces. The ladies are really in a most indecorus pose. And were their mothers to catch them, there would be hell to pay–not the church kind, but the fire breathing dragon protective Mama kind.
However, gazing upon their beloved’s sleeping countenances–even upside down–feels very pleasant to Lady Saline and Lady Mary. They each notice little things about their intended. For example, Lady Saline notices the muscles that seem to be just below his open collared shirt. Whereas, Lady Mary spies what she thinks is a freckle at the base of George’s neck.
But little Lady Caroline can’t resist and she taps Seth’s shoulder.
Lady Caroline: “Seth, are you awake?”
Seth’s and his uncles eyes fly open [(2) abc below] to see the ladies and girl hovering above them:
Seth: Annoyed. “I am now. I was napping.” He sits up as she leans back. She smiles shyly at him. He looks at her quizzically.
Lady Saline: Says coquettishly to Lord Archer. “We are sorry to have disturbed your rest, gentleman. Shall we leave?” She smiles.
Lord Archer: “Nay, my lady. Stay. Never have I been awakened so pleasantly.” Lord Archer smiles up at Lady Saline.
Lord George: “Nor I.” He smiles up at Lady Mary.”
Lord George and Lord Archer stand, then help their betrotheds stand. Both couples would like to be able to steal some alone time, but they have the children to supervise. Then a thought occurs to Lord Archer.
Lord Archer: “Seth, would you like to take Lady Caroline to the croquet field? We can start a game after we take a turn about the garden.”
Seth: “But I do not want to see the garden.” He pouts, not understanding that he was not invited for the garden walk.
Lady Caroline: “Nor I. We were just there.”
Lord George: “Ah, then Seth, you and Lady Caroline get the croquet game set up for us with mallets and balls that you can ask the stable groom to bring you, and we will join your shortly.”
Seth: “Come on.” He rolls his eyes at her.
Lady Caroline: Still, Lady Caroline takes Seth’s hand in hers. “Alright.” She smiles.
Seth: “Ech!” He says none too graciously to Lady Caroline as he pulls his hand away. Well, she is girl. And it will be at least nine years before he will be interested in girls.
Lord George: “Seth! Lady Caroline is our guest. Please give her your arm, like this.” He holds out his good arm and Lady Mary wraps her arm around it. Lord Archer and Lady Saline also clasp arms.
Little Seth rolls his eyes again. Then he sticks out his elbow to Lady Caroline and she hooks her arm around his with a big smile. They walk toward the other side of the Manor where the croquet field is–Seth shakes his head the whole way.
Meanwhile, the two betrothal couples walk toward the hedge garden maze–it being perfect for romantic privacy. After entering the garden, the two couples head in opposite directions.
Lord George winds around several turns until he spies a bench and guides Lady Mary to sit. They soulfully gaze at each other as they chastely hold hands.
Lady Mary: Seeking to break the silence between them, Lady Mary asks. “Did you have a good hunt?”
Lord George: “So so. And what have you ladies been up to in our absence?” He asks genially.
Lady Mary: She blushes pink, remembering the conversation in the parlor between she, Lady Saline and Lady Roseanna was only for their ears. So she dissembles. “We were … embroidering.”
Lord George: “Oh? And what were you embroidering?”
Lady Mary: Her blush deepens. “Things for my trousseau.” She says vaguely. “I was practicing my M’s.”
Lord George: “Now remember, you promised to let me see your work and I will give you my honest assessment.” His eyes twinkle.
Lady Mary: “That you did, My Lord.” Shy smiles cryptically. “And so you shall.” Lord George lifts Lady Mary’s hand to his lips and kisses it and then her lips.
Meanwhile, Lord Archer and Lady Saline have made their way to the center of the garden where a wooden bench rests under a flower arbor–very romantic.
Lord Archer: Smiling with barely contained desire, the eager prospective bridegroom opens their conversation. “In just ten days, we will be wed, My Lady.” He sighs. Only ten more days to wait until heaven in her arms, he thinks.
Lady Saline: “Yes. And with Prince John coming in three days for the family activities, we will have precious little time to be alone together like this before we are wed.” She says forlornly.
Lord Archer: His eyebrows rise up and down, recognizing her unspoken desire. Lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it, he asks. “And how best should we use this time granted to us?” He smirks.
Lady Saline: She looks away from him even as she concentrates on a small bird on a nearby tree branch. “Wisely.” She says turning to look at him as she tilts her head.
Lord Archer: “Hmmm.” He smiles. “I would like to kiss you, but given my seeming inability to restrain myself around you, it might not be wise.”
Lady Saline: “You stopped when I asked you to.” She counters. She wants to be kissed–at least, as many times as Lady Mary has been kissed.
Lord Archer: Brushing a hair out of her eyes and then cupping her cheek in his hand he asks. “Are you saying that you would welcome a kiss right now, my love?” He smiles mischievously.
Lady Saline: She pouts. “I wonder if Lady Mary has to answer that question, or if Lord George just kisses her?”
Lord Archer: “I sense you feel that something is amiss. Pray tell me and I will rectify it.” He smiles broadly.
Lady Saline: She rolls her eyes. “A lady does not ask for kisses.” Though that is exactly what she is doing. “Hhhh! Lady Mary says that George has kissed her three times–and you have only kissed me twice.” She challenges him.
Lord Archer: “Well my love, never let it be said that I did not fulfill expectations.” He puts his other arm around her and gathers her to close to him.
Then he leans down and tilts his face to hers and gently brushes his lips upon her lips. Her hand reaches up to caress his cheek now stubbly and needing a shave before dinner. But he keeps his kisses frustratingly soft–to Lady Saline’s point of view–so he does not scratch her face with his beard. It would be hard to explain that at dinner–beard burn on her face from their kissing.
It is September–the week of the weddings just after the Fall harvest–with Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna hosting the much anticipated double weddings, and then some. And the Autumn leaves have yet to turn to brilliant hues of red and gold and copper. But then, the wedding gowns being made for Lady Mary and Lady Saline, and their attendants will add the color to the festivities. Prince John has arrived for the week’s pre-wedding festivities–still not having approved the change in the betrothals as they pertain to the sticking point with the Talkington dowry.
Because Lord George’s home of Middleton Hall [(3a) right] is much more spacious–it is able to accommodate a royal visit by Prince John and his attendant entourage. The other attraction is that Middleton Hall is away from the bulk of the buried Nottingham treasure underneath Lady Roseanna and Sir Guy’s stables at Middleton Manor. They do not want Prince John, nor his sycophants–such as the hopefully neutralized Sir Jasper–poking around or stumbling across anything that might draw their suspicion.
And as a point of propriety, bride groom to be Lord Archer had also removed himself to Middleton Hall–at Lord George’s invitation–leaving their betrothal intendeds Lady Saline and Lady Mary and their parents to remain installed at Middleton Manor. And truth be told, with both Lady Roseanna and Lady Eliza Talkington into their fourth months of pregnancies, two brides, two additional Havorford sisters, and one new little knight in training named Seth with his English Mastiff puppy Prince–not to mention baby Lady Helen–Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna’s Middleton Manor home [(3b) right] is full to the battlements.
When Prince John arrives this Saturday before the next Saturday’s wedding, Lord George hosts a lavish dinner in Prince John’s honor as his cousin and Prince Regent at Middleton Hall–with Lady Mary having helped with the dinner arrangements as one of her first forays as his soon to be wife. At least, Lord George hopes to make a good impression on Prince John in order to have the hoped for marriages come to pass.
The before dinner gathering in the Middleton Hall parlor–the room is twice the size of Middleton Manor’s parlor–is where the hoped for brides and bride grooms will be presented to Prince John en famille. It is evening, the candles are lit on wall sconces, hanging chandeliers, and table candelabras. Middleton Hall is ablaze with light to showcase its elegance as a stately family home. The families are assembled in groupings–Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna Gisborne, Lord George and Lady Mary, then Lord Archer and Lady Saline, with the bridal parents the Talkingtons and Havorfords next to each couple. The young children ate earlier and are all now in their beds.
It is a formidable looking group, save for one fact. They are all waiting attendant upon Prince John, and his decision about the betrothals. Well, the men are waiting anxiously, because the women–wives, sister, and brides–know nothing of the potential for Prince John to prevent them from marrying as they wish. But the men put on their best stoic faces so as not to give themselves away.
The double doors to the large parlor are opened by liveried footman–extra Middleton Hall staff being borrowed from Middleton Manor. Standing in the center is their Prince, their cousin, their weasel as Lady Roseanna not so affectionately refers to him behind his back. Lord George as host, walks forward with Lady Mary slightly trembling on his arm.
Lord George: “Prince John, welcome to my home.” He bows. “Let me present Lady Mary Havorford, my betrothed.” She curtsies deeply, keeping her eyes lowered.
Prince John: He reaches out to caress her face and guides her to stand. “Charming, my dear.” He gazes appreciatively at her sweet face. Lady Mary nods, but does not speak because she is too overwhelmed at meeting royalty–being too young to have been at court, she has never met Prince John before.
Lord George: “She is my angel.” He sighs gazing at her with a smile. She smiles back at him.
Prince John: “I see now why you favor Lady Mary over Lady Saline, she suits you, Georgie.” He smiles.
Lord and Lady Havorford step forward and bow and curtsy.
Lord Havorford: “Sire.”
Prince John: “Havorford.” He nods his head
Then Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna step forward.
Prince John: “Rosie you are blooming.” He holds his hands wide.
Lady Roseanna: She leans in and kisses his cheek–because it is expected of her as his cousin. “Johnny, I am not that big yet.” She says a bit petulantly.
Prince John: “Nay, nay. Of course not.” Smiling, he puts his hands out in protest–if not in apology.
Sir Guy: He bows. “Sire. My Lady wife and I will be blessed with our third child in the new year.”
Prince John: “Third?” He asks quizzically, but then he remembers. “Ah! That is right. Seth is now your first born, then baby Lady Helen, and now this child.” Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna nod.
Then Lord Archer and Lady Saline walk forward to Prince John and bow and curtsy. Lady Saline carries herself proudly–she has met Prince John several times at court.
Prince John: “Well Archer, you also seem suited to your hoped for bride as well.”
Lady Saline catches Prince Johns phrasing and she squeezes Lord Archer’s sleeve she holds. But Lord Archer simply pats her hand benignly as he winks at her.
Lord Archer: “Indeed!” He exchanges smiles with Lady Saline. “She has my heart.” He and Lady Saline gaze at one another.
Then the Talkingtons come forward and the introduction process is repeated.
They share a cordial meal that evening and when the ladies precede them into the parlor, the men talk bridal negotiations in the dining room. At first, all of the men just look at Prince John.
Prince John: “Gracious, let us hope that I never have to face you fellows for an inquisition. You do not seem at all happy to see me.”
Sir Guy: “On the contrary, Sire. We are simply awaiting your final ruling on the betrothals.”
Lord Archer and Lord George freeze. Now is when the fate of their future happinesses will be decided.
Prince John: “And were I to refuse the new betrothal pairings?” He asks with a twinkle in his eye.
Lord George: “Then there will be no wedding, Johnny. For I will only have my Lady Mary for my wife.”
Lord Archer: “And I will only have my Lady Saline for my wife.” The bridegrooms.
Prince John: “It is really Lord Talkington who controls your fates, not I. Will you agree to Lady Saline’s dowry arrangement?” He looks at Lord Talkington.
Lord Talkington: “I still believe that Lady Saline’s dowry should not be taxed.”
Lord Archer: “But I will pay the tax, Lord Talkington. Will you not agree to that to ensure your daughter’s happiness?” And his own, he thinks.
All eyes rivet on to Lord Talkington. And he feels them upon him as he weighs his decision carefully.
Sir Guy: “Lord Talkington, it is a workable solution. If my brother does not object to it, I respectfully suggest that you should not object.” He adds helpfully.
Lord Talkington: “It is the principle of the thing.”
Prince John: “Talkington, you are winning on principle with this one. But do not wear our patience thin with your demands.”
Lord Talkington: The moments tick by. “Oh very well. I agree to Lord Archer paying the marriage tax as for Lady Saline’s dowry.”
A collective sigh reverberates in the dining room as thanks and congratulations are given all around.
Lord Archer: “Thank you, Sire.” He bows deeply and deferentially–as does Lord George and Sir Guy.
Lord George: “Thank you, Johnny.” He slips in referring to his cousin colloquially. But his cousin merely smiles.
Prince John: “Who knows? Maybe being a contented husband will help Lord Archer find that which up to now seems to elude him and therefore is lost to me–the Nottingham Treasure.” He raises his eye brow knowingly.
Lord Archer and Sir Guy share a knowing glance.
Sir Guy: “Sire, and there is one other matter that I wish to discuss with you.”
To which Prince John listens attentively.
A few minutes later, the men file into the large parlor with big grins on their faces. The bridegrooms look instantly to their brides.
Sir Guy: Sir looks to his Lady Roseanna. And thence to the brides, Lady Saline and Lady Mary as Lord Archer and Lord George quickly take their sides by them. “It is done. The marriages will proceed as hoped.” He sighs.
Lady Roseanna: “Was there any doubt, husband?” She smiles minxishly.
Lord George: “There was, but with Guy, Prince John, Archer, and Lord Talkington reaching a compromise solution, we can now all look forward to our coming joyous wedding days.” He nods his grateful thanks to Sir Guy, who nods in return.
Lord George lifts Lady Mary’s hand to his lips and kisses it. Lord Archer follows suit with Lady Saline.
Congratulations are once again shared–en famille this time.
Lady Roseanna: “Well my husband, you have done what no one else could do, insure the happiness of Lord George and Lady Mary, and Lord Archer and Lady Saline.” She smiles up at her husband.
Sir Guy: “You give me too much credit, My Rose. But there is still an issue for which I am found wanting and I would seek to rectify it–to right a wrong.” He gazes soulfully at her, his beloved wife.
Lady Roseanna: “By all means husband, make your amends–as long as no one tries to kill you for it. Ha!” She jests, thinking of his Nottingham stay.
Sir Guy: “Nay. Ha ha ha! But I fear that my penance will be lifelong–to my earnest hope.” He gazes at her lovingly
Lord Archer and Lord George exchange knowing glances with Prince John.
Lady Roseanne: “What is it, my husband.” She looks at him caringly, hoping to ease his burden.
Sir Guy: “It is this.” Sir Guy kneels before Lady Roseanna on bended knee, clasping her hand in his.
Lady Roseanna: She gasps. “Hhhh!”
Sir Guy: He says with love and tenderness. “I love you with all of my heart, my dearest Lady Rose. You gave me back my life and you taught me to hope and to live with honor. Lady Roseanna Oxbridge Middleton Gisborne, when we wed in secret last year, I fear that I deprived you of the wedding of your dreams in front of your family and friends. I ask you now in front of our family, will you become my wife anew on Saturday next and renew our marriage vows before God and our family and friends?”
Tears are streaming down Lady Roseanna’s face as she gazes from her husband to her brother Lord George and to her brother-in-law Lord Archer
Lord George: “Go ahead Rosie. Let us make it a triple wedding!” He says gleefully as Lord Archer and the brides nod their willing accord.
Lady Roseanna: Gazing again at her beloved, she says. “I love you, Guy. Yes I will marry you–again.”
Sir Guy stands and clasps his Lady Rose to him as he tenderly kisses her–without regard for them being in company. As their kissing continues, everyone smiles.
Prince John: “Well now, Rosie. It looks like I will get to give you away as a bride after all.” He smiles.
Then congratulations, love, and hugs are given all around.
The triple wedding is a lovely affair presided over by longtime Middleton family priest, Father Bale, in Leicester Chapel at the Middleton Hall estate with over one hundred friends and family in attendance. The three brides–Lady Mary, Lady Saline, and Lady Roseanna–are lovely in their wedding finery [(4) images a, b, c, below].
The evening wedding banquet that follows is filled with dancing and merriment to everyone’s delight. Even little Seth Gisborne has fun despite trying to dodge the attentions of little Lady Caroline Havorford during the celebration.
As Sir Guy [(6) right] and Lady Roseanna settle in their bedroom for their wedding night in their bed chamber, their happy thoughts turn to the other bridal couples.
Sir Guy: “My Rose you are grace and beauty personified. I am the luckiest man on Earth.” He slides into bed and wraps her in his arms.
Lady Roseanna: “Guy my love, my happiness is unbounded with you as my husband and father to our children.”
Sir Guy: “I wish our brothers and their new wives equal felicity in their marriages.” He smiles warmly.
Lady Roseanna: “Indeed!” She smiles and they kiss with loving abandon and heartfelt tenderness.
Meanwhile the Ladies Mary and Saline are ushered into bed chambers at the opposite ends of the family wing in Middleton Hall with their ladies’ maids assisting them in changing into their bridal nightgowns for this their wedding night.
Lady Mary sits up in her bed in her very feminine ladies bed chamber in their master suite, awaiting her new husband Lord George to come to her. The room is warm and inviting with just the fireplace giving a soft romantic glow. However, the day has been so long–and slightly nerve racking with royalty in attendance–even though Prince John is now family to her–such that Lady Mary dozes off while propped up on her pillows.
Lord George having dismissed his valet for the night after he changes into his dressing gown, paces the floor of his bed chamber in their master suite. Lord George is a little nervous about his wedding night, despite Lord Archer’s romance expert assurances. Lord George knows that Lady Mary is a complete innocent–despite their adoring and lovely kisses. And he determines to treat her with caring tenderness and understanding this night as they make love for the first time. He paces some more, wondering when Lady Mary might join him in his bed chamber. Then it dawns on him, that she might be waiting for him to come to her.
So Lord George walks through their shared sitting room and gently knocks on her bedchamber door. Getting no response, he slowly opens her door and enters the darkened room. He walks over to the bed and finds Lady Mary sleeping like an angel. The firelight dances over her lovely countenance. Her silken auburn tresses lying over her shoulders and spilling onto her pillow. He sits down on the bed next to her and caresses her face. Her eyes flutter open. She sees her husband and she smiles.
Lord George: He brings her hand to his lips and kisses it. “It has been a long day. You are tired, my love?”
Lady Mary: “A little.” She blushes.
Lord George: “I am as well. May I join you in bed?” He asks solicitously.
Lady Mary: Her heart beginning to pound, she nods and speaks barely above a whisper. “Yes.”
She notices a patch of chest hair peeking out of his dressing gown. Lord George smiles and stands up from the bed. He turns his back toward her and slides his dressing gown from his shoulders and arms–revealing his bare back to Lady Mary as her eyes widen. She has never seen a man’s bare back before–and she finds her husband’s muscular frame pleasing to her. He sits back down on the bed and swivels his legs onto the bed and he lies down next to her, even as he covers his legs with the bed sheet and blankets.
Lying side by side, George clasps Lady Mary’s right hand in his left hand. He turns his head on his pillow toward her even as she turns her head on her pillow toward him. Then George turns on his side facing her and leans over her and kisses her. His lame left arm stays mostly at his side.
Lord George: “You are so beautiful, Mary.” His kisses her tenderly on her lips and she responds to him, also caressing his face.
As his kisses move down her cheek and then her neck, her breathing deepens–with her small but full bosoms rising and falling in her empire waisted night gown. George is mesmerized by her womanly charms. Lord George tentatively and slowly moves his kisses to the base of her neck and then toward her heart beating just below the crevice of her bosoms.
Lady Mary: She bites her lower in anticipation. “Do you like it?” She asks shyly?
Lord George: He raises his head up from her heart. “It?” He looks at her with a quizzical smile.
Lady Mary: “The M that I embroidered for Middleton on my night gown.” She points to the monogram centered on her bodice.
Lord George: Gazing upon her loveliness covered with a silken fabric that hugs the contours of her ever blossoming womanly curves, he says huskily. “Yes.” He kisses her on the monogram and then he kisses the rest of her nightgown’s bodice.
Lady Mary: “Oh!” She breathes deeply as she feels tingles where she has never felt tingles before.
Lord George: “Hmmm.” He groans with his desire, even as he moves his injured left arm to lie across her torso, his arm not being able to move much but it can rest around her in an embrace.
She lays her hand atop his injured hand–not to stop him, but to encourage him to continue with his tenderly loving entreaties.
On the other side of the family wing at Middleton Hall, Lord Archer enters his bed chamber from his dressing room. A fire warms the room and adds a romantic glow. Lord Archer finds Lady Saline just removing her robe to get into bed. Seeing him, she modestly holds her robe in front of her nightgown.
Lord Archer: He crosses the room to her. “Forgive me if I arrive too soon, Saline my Love. But I could not wait to see you any longer.” Desire gleams behind his eyes as he drinks in her long flowing brunette hair, her lovely countenance, and her shapely womanly curves.
Lady Saline: She lays her robe on the end of the bed. “Archer my Love, we have nothing preventing us from being together any more now that we are married.” She says shyly as she raises her arms beckoning him to her.
Lord Archer: He steps forward and embraces her gently. “Your loveliness is beyond my powers of description.” He stares in mute wonder at her in her lovely nightgown.
Then he lowers his head and kisses her adoringly. He caresses her bare back slowly as they kiss–sending ripples of pleasure through her and through him. With her hands around his waist, she clings to him during their kisses. Then he deepens their kisses and lets his tongue dart into her mouth for just an instant as he strokes her tongue with his.
Lady Saline: “Oh!” Startled by this deepened kiss–yet finding it strangely pleasurable–she tries to follow his lead and strokes his tongue with her tongue.
That is the undoing of Lord Archer’s restraint as he removes his dressing gown and he pulls her flush against his naked body and kisses and caresses her with loving abandon. His hard sinews find her soft curves through the fabric of her soft silken nightgown. He leans her back–dipping her–whilst kissing and caressing her passionately. She responds to his fevered lustful entreaties.
Lord Archer: “Saline my love, I want to see all of your loveliness.” He pleads. He knows that he could easily remove her night gown and have it puddle at her feet–thereby drinking in and tasting all of her loveliness. But he tries to maintain some control over his impulses so that he does not overwhelm nor frighten her. She is a maiden and he must remember that.
Lady Saline: But then she surprises him. “I am only for you, Archer.”
She pushes down the thin straps of her nightgown and they fall away from her arms–even as she crosses her arms in front of her bodice, modestly holding her nightgown on her body briefly before her husband gently tugs her arms away and the fabric drifts to the floor in a puddle at her feet.
They embrace each other in their nakedness–skin against skin with no point of separation, such are their needs to be one with each other this night. Lord Archer lifts Lady Saline up in his arms and carries her to the bed, gently laying her on the sheets–his eyes scorching her body in lovingly lustful gazes, even as she now sees him fully for the first time. He slides into bed next to her.
Lord Archer: “My love, you are so beautiful!” Lord Archer’s senses are on fire, him not having lain with a woman for several months–ever since he met Lady Saline.
Lady Saline: “And you are so handsome! Archer, teach me to love you, as I wish you to love me.” She asks boldly.
And he does–to their mutual pleasure, all night long.
The next morning, Seth wakes up bright and early–feeling full of energy and play. He dashes across the hallway to his parents’ bed chamber and wakes them up as they are sleeping while spooning together.
Seth: He touches Lady Roseanna’s shoulder. “Mama, I am hungry. Then after breakfast may we see if my uncles and new aunts want to play some croquet?”
Lady Roseanna: Caressing his face, she says. “Perhaps, not today.” She smiles. “They have much to do being newly married.” She says vaguely, but thinking of the loving times they are surely having.
Sir Guy: “Perhaps not even tomorrow.” Sir Guy grins knowingly at his wife as she looks at him over his shoulder. “They will make themselves known to us when they are ready for company. In the meantime, I will have to suffice for you in playing croquet–along with the Havorford girls.”
Seth: He rolls his eyes. “Oh Papa, Lady Caroline wants to marry me. But I don’t want to get married yet.” He says winsomely as only a five year old can.
Sir Guy & Lady Roseanna: “Ha ha ha!” They chuckle at their son’s predicament.
Lady Roseanna: “Now be nice in saying no, Seth.” She admonishes him.
Sir Guy: “Because you might change your mind in a few years.” He winks at his son and kisses his wife’s neck.
Just then, baby Lady Helen gurgles in her crib by their bedside, wanting to be fed. And the Gisborne family begins a new day.
To be continued with a brief Epilogue
“Sir Guy’s Dilemma”, Epilogue–One Year Later
Babies are in the air–or at least in the cribs of three households. Sir Guy and Lady Roseanna Gisborne have a new baby son named Louis. Lord and Lady Talkington have a son named Charles. Lord Archer and Lady Saline Huntington of Locksley have a daughter named Margaret. And Lord George and Lady Mary Middleton are with child–who is due to arrive around Christmas tide in three months, time just before Lady Mary’s seventeenth birthday.
Also, Lord Archer has successfully kept Prince John at bay about the Nottingham treasure–doling it out to him in short bursts to keep him happy as the rebuilding is under full construction now. Lord Archer and Lord George have needed and relied upon the wisdom and guidance of their older brother and brother-in-law, Sir Guy. So too, they have given to Sir Guy their friendship, their respect, and their loyalty–qualities missing from his relationship with his late sister Isabella.
So Sir Guy and his family have survived another year of upheavals with his reparations, the betrothals and dowries, and palace intrigues pertaining to the Nottingham treasure. And yet, Sir Guy revels in the joys of family life–now father to three children, uncle to two children, and also helping Lord George with managing the larger Middleton estates again–now that Lord George values Sir Guy’s wisdom and leadership. Sir Guy considers himself very blessed and he strives to continue his own path of atonement with more reparations–truly believing the bible verse in Luke [(6) below]
“To whomever much is given, of him will much be required; and to whom much was entrusted, of him more will be asked.”
Thank you so much for reading my story, “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” (the sequel to “Guy’s Rose”)! I hope that you enjoyed reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Sir Guy of Gisborne is a character who evolves and grows over time–as inspired by the British actor Richard Armitage who portrayed Sir Guy as a multi-dimensional individual, with faults and failings as well as hopes and dreams. So though this story “Sir Guy’s Dilemma” is now concluded, I might pick up this Gisborne family tale again at some point in the future.
For now, I will share some of my other of my stories with you. I just have not decided which story or stories to share yet. Ha! So this coming week will not have story posts here on my blog while I make that decision.
Cheers! Grati ;->
(1) “Guy’s Dilemma” logo is a composite of three images:
a) Sir Guy (portrayed by Richard Armitage) in the BBC’s Robin Hood, Series 3, episode 13 (pix 64).and is found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodethirteen/slides/13_064.html;
b) Image of Lord Archer (portrayed by Clive Standen) http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/episodetwelve/slides/12_093.html;
c) a sword hilt from MS Office Clip Art was found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=sword&ex=1#ai:MP900432917|
2) The three young men and boy waking up on the pond bank:
a) Lord Archer image is of Clive Standen from Listal at http://i2.listal.com/image/2151514/600full-clive-standen.jpg
b) Lord George image is of James McAvoy at his “Becoming Jane” premiere in London courtesy of Buddy tv and was found at http://images.buddytv.com/btv_2_1366662_1_434_593_0_/james-mcavoy-the-uk-.jpg
c) Image (cropped) representing Seth Gisborne is a “Portrait of a Young Boy” by Jean-Leon Gerome (1924 – 1904) and was found at http://www.paintingall.com/Jean-Leon-Gerome-Portrait-of-a-Young-Boy-Oil-Painting.html
3a) Middleton Hall image is that of the exquisitely beautiful 250 room Biltmore House in the U.S. Image link is http://www.biltmore.com/images/content/slideshow/biltmorehouse_01.jpg For more information about Biltmore House, visit http://www.biltmore.com/visit/house_gardens/house/
3b) Middleton Manor image is that of the regal Ireland Birr Castle; castle suggestion is courtesy of Teresa Armitage, who has a great eye for castles; the image is also found with more information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birr_Castle
4) The three brides:
a) Image (cropped and dress changed to purple) of Lady Mary is that of Arthur Hughes’ “Ophelia” circa mid 1800’s found at http://preraphaelitesisterhood.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/hughes-again.jpg
b) Image (cropped) of Lady Saline is that of the Duchess of Portland painted by John Singer Sargent and found at http://www.johnsingersargent.org/The-Duchess-of-Portland.html
c) Lady Roseanna image is that of British actress Emma Watson and was found at http://www.emmawatson4u.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/emma-watson-picture-42.jpg
5) Sir Guy was portrayed by Richard Armitage, in the BBC’s Robin Hood, shown here from the Series 3 dvd extras and found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/s3DVDextras/s3_014.jpg
6) “To whom much is given …” bible verse from Luke 12 verse 48 was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Faithful_Servant
Previous chapter installments, Ch 22: