[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.
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.
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.
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 and 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 have 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–of Scotland. 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 closes 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 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: