[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 is pleased upon learning from his solicitor that a fine and distinguished family has proposed to let Sussex Hall in the country this Summer for a handsome fee that will go a long way to paying Lord Christian’s Grandfather’s creditors—Lord Duncan’s family, the Lindsay’s. Then Lord Christian has another near escape from disaster when visiting the apothecary to procure tea for his Grandmother, his former amour Lady Brenda and her husband Lord William Huntsford the Duke of Exeter also enter the apothecary’s shop. And after some awkwardness—on Lord Sussex’s part—he wishes their Graces felicitations upon their marriage, and upon the upcoming birth of their first child. Then to add to Lord Christian’s discomfiture, his betrothed Lady Madeline gleefully tracks him down to give her thanks to him in person about his lovely love note and the nosegay that she received from him this morning. He has to introduce her to their Graces, and more conversation ensues—with Lord Christian discovering when taking Lady Madeline home that she had guessed that Her Grace the Duchess of Exeter had been one of Lord Christian’s amours.
“Encouragement,” Ch. 21 (PG-13): A Nervous Bridegroom on his Wedding Night
With having faced both an angry Lady Madeline who dissolved their betrothal three days ago—but they reconciled—and then a cheerful Lady Madeline at the apothecary’s shop the next day, Lord Christian is spared from the vagaries of her emotions the day before her wedding. But she is not, due to her regular—monthly—illness and ill humors. And it is bad luck to see the bride the day before the wedding—until she walks up the church aisle to him.
So Lord Christian reluctantly consents to a males only dinner gathering at Sussex House organized by his brother Lord Harold and attended by Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay and a mystery guest. When Lord Christian had first heard of the scheme, he was wary. He is an Earl and believes rightly that he must maintain decorum. So Lord Christian thinks that having his Bridegroom Party in his mansion home Sussex House in London—where his Grandmother and younger sister abide—will protect him from his brother’s often questionable exploits. He will be half right—or half wrong.
Three men are gathered in Lord Christians’ richly appointed—and masculine—study at Sussex House, sipping their brandies while awaiting their dinner and a fourth to join them.
Duncan Viscount Lindsay: “So Lord Harold, when is this mystery guest to arrive? I am starving!”
Lord Harold: “In due time. I sent the carriage for him a half hour ago.”
Christian Lord Sussex: Grateful beyond words, that his brother’s guest is a he—and not some show girl floozy—Lord Christian weighs in. “Well if he does not show his face in the next ten minutes, we will dine without him. I am the bridegroom, and I should be coddled.”
Lord Harold: “Laying it on thick, aren’t you, Old Man?”
Christian Lord Sussex: I nod my head once, slightly preening to my younger brother. “If I am, it is the prerogative of one, such as I, who is about to leave single bachelorhood behind and enter into the marital state.”
Duncan Viscount Lindsay: “Well you are a most fortunate Bridegroom, if I may say so?” He looks to Lord Christian, Lord Duncan not wanting to cause offence.
Christian Lord Sussex: “You may. My Lady Madeline is charming and delightful! A young woman of grace and poise whom I will be honored to have as my Countess.”
Lord Harold: “Emphasis on the young.” He snickers naughtily.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Harold! I want none of your ribaldery at my … at our wedding! Madeline is sweetness itself and I will not have her wedding day marred by your lewd comments.”
Duncan Viscount Lindsay: “Now, now, Old Man. Your brother is being rather tame, comparatively.” Lord Duncan rolls his eyes wincingly, for he knows all too well that Lord Harold delights in puncturing his elder brother Lord Christian’s sense of self. “Still, your bride to be is a beauty! And you are much to be congratulated—however young she may be.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “She will turn eight and ten upon our wedding trip. In fact, the week after we wed.” He adds defensively.
Lord Harold: “Lady Madeline is barely older than our sister Lady Lizzie.” He harrumphs. “And you call me debauched! Have you even lain with an innocent?”
Christian Lord Sussex: Lord Christian bestows a very stern gaze upon him. “Watch it, Harold! I am not averse to transferring your Best Man attendant duties to the good Viscount here. But not before I pummel your face.”
Lord Harold: “That’s it, Old Man. Threaten violence. Tsk, tsk! You really must learn how to curb your temper. And you did not answer my question.” He reminds him pointedly.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Then you curb your tongue!”
The stances of the two brothers—with their fists clenched, them menacingly leaning forward toward each other, and scowls—create the impression that a fight between them is imminent.
Duncan Viscount Lindsay: “So where is this mystery guest again?” And he makes a mental notd to avoid a Bridegroom Party for him—should he be so fortunate as to become betrothed to Lady Elizabeth—that in any way is organized nor attended by Lord Harold Bount.
They hear steps in the hallway and two knocks upon the closed study door, before two men enter. Then the Sussex House Butler announces their visitor as the three men’s heads turn toward the door.
Butler: “Mr. Edward Sinclair.” Lady Madeline’s brother smiles at the three nobles before him.
Edward: “Gentlemen! My apologies for my lateness, but there was an accident involving a young woman dressed too thinly for the cold Winter weather and a hackney cab. It seems that she would not pay her fare because she said that the fine genilman she was to meet would pay fer it.” He enacts her accent with a flourish. They held up traffic whilst a constable was called to referee.
Lord Harold: “Oh? What happened to the lady?” He smirks.
And Lord Christian looks upon his brother Lord Harold with a mixture of horror and mortification. Whereas Lord Harold merely looks amused—despite the fact that his little prank did not play out, he is having fun seeing his brother’s reaction.
Unknowing of the circumstances of this lady having a connection to Lord Harold, Edward Sinclair blithely continues.
Edward: “In the end, she paid her fare from the funds that she said she was already given—but only if the cabbie returned her ome.”
Duncan Viscount Lindsay: “Yes, well, that is fascinating. But let us repair to the Dining Room and enjoy a lovely meal to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Lord Christian and Lady Madeline!” He smiles broadly, encouragingly—and he ushers everyone to their meal.
With Lord Christian engaging his conversation with his future brother-in-law of an agricultural bent, Lord Duncan takes an older brotherly stance in discreetly chastising Lord Harold for his behavior.
Harold Viscount Lindsay: “Lord Harold, pray leave your poor brother alone. Contemplating getting married is stressful and nerve wracking enough without being needled by you.”
Lord Harold: “I do not need you to tell me what to do. Christy does that enough! And you are only trying to get on his good side ,because to want to wed and to bed our sister Lizzie.” He sneers.
Harold Viscount Lindsay: “Harold, Old Boy, if you do not desist in your antics and behave as a gentleman ought, Lord Sussex will have competition for correcting you—because I will take great pleasure in testing my own pugilistic skills against your face.” He glowers menacingly, then walks ahead of him toward the Dining Room.
Lord Harold: Muttering under his breath as he follows Lord Duncan into the Dining Room, he says. “Can not anyone take a joke?”
No, would be the collective response to that query. At least, not when Lord Harold is concerned.
The next day, after Lord Christian’s and Lady Madeline’s wedding day service and celebration festivities–upon a short not quite one hour carriage ride out of London, while his sweet wife sleeps innocently nestled against him–Christian Lord Sussex reflects upon their wedding and its celebration occurring earlier in the day. He is still in his wedding clothes of a deep navy jacket, ivory shirt and embroidered waistcoat with breeches and boots befitting his but thirty year old still youthful station as a newly anointed Earl.
And Lord Christian is a man of good sense, and better breeding. For he eschews ostentation in all forms. He is no coxcomb. Yet he dresses well as a matter of course, if not by express design. Some ladies have even tittered in a corner of a ballroom that Christian Lord Sussex could wear a burlap bag and he would still look divine—such is the level of heightened masculine appeal that he possesses.
But it is his dear new wife and Countess, Madeline Lady Sussex, of whom his mind stills in remembering his first sight of her in her wedding finery as she walked up the church aisle to him. Her wedding gown that he anticipated to be of a bright blue hue befitting the nod to purity that the color blue represents [(2], was not a shimmering or even an iridescent blue. Her wedding gown was the palest of ice blue colors with glints of sliver as the light caught it in the church—austere in its shading, but ultimately sublimely elegant for the gown’s restraint in decoration.
And, the color of her icy blue wedding gown matched Lady Madeline’s eye color exactly [(3) right] —but with one difference. Where the wedding gown’s color was icy blue, with a hint of Winter frost and snow—the depths of her eyes crystalline blue shading betokens warmth and passion that her auburn tresses confirm. So Lord Christian was well pleased—as she seemed to be of him.
However, there was one hiccup as Lady Madeline was escorted by her now husband Lord Christian to the stairs leading to her bedroom in her Grandmama Lady Knott’s London town home as she prepared to leave the home with Lord Christian. It was a passing remark, but one that caught Lord Christian unawares.
Christian Lord Sussex: “My Dear, I hope that you will not be long in changing out of your lovely wedding gown and into your traveling clothes–for the horses and carriages await us.” The thought of her changing clothes is giving Lord Christian some very pleasant new Bridegroom thoughts.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Oh no! All is packed. And we should be ready in about a quarter hour.” She smiles shyly up at him. Their kiss in the church had been all too brief for her liking. Though their guests indicated their approval with polite sighs and such.
Christian Lord Sussex: “We?” He looks at her with a bemused smile.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Well, my ladies maid Anne Trask, her baby sister, and myself.” She smiles up at him. Lady Madeline—or rather, Madeline Lady Sussex–is a little tired because of the long day and their wedding celebrations and such. So she is really not up for a tussle of wills about her wanting to bring her ladies maid with her. Or she will burst into tears—that have been much in evidence this week leading up to her marriage.
However a troop of servants encroaching upon his privacy with his new wife as they find their way to marital bliss, is not Lord Christian’s idea of a perfect wedding trip.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Where we are going, we will not need ladies maids and valets so much. The sparing staff at our Sussex Family hunting lodge will cook and clean for us.” Then he leans in and whispers into her ear so none but her may hear. “And I will happily oblige you with your buttons and such.” He smolders.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Yes, that sounds nice.” She replies vaguely. But you miss the point, Christian.” She purses her mouth in consternation.
Christian Lord Sussex: “What is the point?” Lord Christian inquires curiously as he unintentionally walks with her up the stairs.
Down below, the women flutter their fans and the men chortle at Lord Christians’ bold as brass display of besottedness for his young bride, by walking up the stairs with her to her bedchamber at her Grandmama’s home.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “I need her, Christian.” She stops in the middle of the family bedchambers’ hallway and she looks up at him imploringly.
Christian Lord Sussex: He thinks about that. “You need her?” She nods timidly. He opens his mouth to say something, then he thinks better of it and he shuts his mouth again. He will choose his battles, and this isn’t one of them. “Very well, my dear. Your ladies maid and her baby sister may ride in the other carriage, with the baggage.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “As long as it is warm for them, that should be agreeable.”
Lady Madeline looks the five feet away from where they are standing to the open doorway of her bed chamber. Her ladies maid Anne Trask stands at attention, just inside the doorway—and Trask smiles encouragingly at her young mistress.
And Lord Christian makes a mental note as he walks back downstairs to ask the Butler Stokes to order some more hot bricks for the 2nd carriage—as she requested. Then he thinks bemusedly, his young bride—his wife—is already altering his plans of a long and slow seduction this evening. Yet, he is in no rush. Well, that is not entirely true. Lord Christian is a Bridegroom—with all of the husbandly wishes and responsibilities that implies status implies.
Meanwhile, Lady Madeline’s Ladies Maid helps her change out of her exquisite wedding gown and into her warmer traveling costume. Though it will only be an hour’s drive, it is frigidly cold in late February. So she will bundle up with extra layers.
So a quarter hour later, it is with the fervor of delighted friends and family who see Lord and Lady Sussex off on their wedding night trip, that Lord Christian and Lady Madeline depart for the privacy of the countryside.
As they arrive at their wedding night destination in the late afternoon of Friday February 23, 1816, Lord Christian gently awakens his bride Lady Madeline, who finds that she is too sleepy to walk. So he sweeps her up into his arms and carries her across the threshold of their wedding cottage. That is, if one can label a two story stone edifice with four bedrooms a cottage. And he would have done the sweeping anyway. It is tradition. And Lord Christian likes and adheres to tradition.
And one usually ascribes nervousness to the virgin bride on one’s wedding night. However, for Lord Christian Blount, Earl of Sussex, finds that it is he who is nervous—not the least of which is because he has not slept for more than 24 hours. Then while on their carriage ride out of London after their wedding and reception at Lady Knott’s London townhouse, his bride Lady Madeline fell instantly asleep with her head resting upon his shoulder with the lulling of the well-sprung carriage. Not so lucky is her new husband. He kept almost rigidly still so as not to awaken Lady Madeline. And while he is already fatigued—him carrying Lady Madeline also strains his back a little.
And at that precise moment, Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount, Countess of Sussex yawns.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Hhhhh!”
Lord Christian lays her upon the silken bed spread even as her Ladies Maid Trask is unpacking her necessities for the night in the adjoining dressing room. So he spontaneously joins his wife atop their bed—after doffing her then his boots and his jacket.
Christian Lord Sussex: “You seem sleepy, My Dear. Yet you slept the whole way.” He teases.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “I know. It is inexplicable, but I am tired. Might we nap before we must dress for dinner this evening?” She asks him hopefully as her eyes begin to droop again.
Thinking that this plan holds merit, Lord Christian nods his head in thought at finding himself on the cusp of sharing a bed with his new wife for the first time—without him needing to lift a finger to accomplish it. Well, he did lift her, he supposes wryly.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Lets!” He smiles cheerfully.
Then the newness of their now married state sets in for each of them. Their napping together is allowed. But there is so much to negotiate—such as, are they really just napping? Lord Christian stands up from the bed and he slowly removes his cravat and unbuttons his shirt’s top button—revealing an expanse of bare neck that is never seen [(4) right] , except by an intimate. When he sleepily and seductively looks over at his wife, her eyes are wide at the sight of her bare necked husband.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Should I leave for my dressing room if you are to change out of your traveling clothes?” She is uncertain about what level of privacy he wishes. If he allows her to see his unbound neck, she thinks that he is being very unneeding of privacy.
Noting the heightened fear in his wife’s eyes, he replies a tad over eagerly as he moves a step toward her.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Well, I could help you out of your clothes, too.” He grins—a bit too much for Lady Madeline.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Certainly not! That would not be proper.”
She intones fastidiously. And he wonders if she is returning to being out of sorts with him. Or if she is just out of sorts, in general.
Ladies Maid Trask: Discreetly calling to her mistress from inside the adjoining dressing room, the Ladies maid asks. “My Lady, may I help you change in here?”
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Yes! That will be good! So Lady Madeline dashes into the dressing room–her face blushing crimson.
Her leaving a non-plussed Lord Christian in their bedroom. He shrugs his shoulders with a small smile and he continues undressing. Then Lord Christian slides into their bed [(5) below] and waits for his wife to join him. Only his squeezing and unsqueezing the soft bed linens between his fingers belie his slight wedding night nervousness.
And after changing her traveling clothes for her warm and lovely Winter nightgown and robe in her dressing room, Lady Madeline has her ladies maid unpin and brush out her long auburn hair. Lady Madeline looks at herself in the mirror [(6) below]–her thinking, I am now a wife! And she hopes that she is equal to the responsibilities thrust upon her with also being her husband’s Countess.
Her ladies maid Anne Trask smiles kindly at Lady Madeline as she stands shakily and exits the dressing room. When Lady Madeline slowly walks into their shared bed chamber, she is so quiet—and Lord Christian has his head turned away from her—that he does not hear her, nor see her.
Then she breathes in softly like a hushed whisper at seeing her handsome husband bare chested and bare armed–and he turns his head toward her.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Madeline. You are beautiful, My Love.” He gushes as he sees her long tresses down about her shoulders and back over a diaphanous nightgown garment and robe. Lady Madeline smiles shyly, a becoming flush warming her cheeks against her pale and translucent skin. Then he reaches out his right hand beckoning to her. “Come.”
Lady Madeline pads softly across the rug strewn floor to the other side of the bed from her husband Lord Christian. Before getting into bed–as she removes her robe and folds it onto a bedside chair—she asks him innocently.
Madeline Lady Sussex: “Are you not chilled, Christian?” She slides into bed next to him, but a little ways apart—them each having their own bed space.
Christian Lord Sussex: “If I am chilled, it will not be for long.” He smiles.
Lady Madeline nods, her realizing that there are plenty of blankets on the bed to make it warm and comfy. But she is finding her own self quite a bit over warm and terribly terribly tired. And though her maiden shyness would have her bring the sheet and blanket up to her chin, she only brings the sheet there with her small graceful hands lying on top of the sheet.
Lord Christian turns upon his side facing her, his head propped upon his hand as he tenderly gazes at her.
She smiles sweetly at him, then closes her eyes in rest. Afterall, they are taking a nap before dinner—it has been a truly long day. And Lord Christian realizes bemusedly that she plans on napping—his romantic notions thwarted, for now. So he smiles tenderly at her.
Lord Christian: “Sleep well, Madeline.” He whispers lovingly to her. If she is tired, he will wait to love her adoringly. Tonight will be theirs.
Yet she does not stir, so quickly did she fall into a deep sleep. He smiles again. Then he leans forward and softly kisses her lips. And then noticing with surprise how warm her lips feel compared to their other kisses. So his lips move to kiss her check, then with concern her forehead—both areas being much too warm to his thinking, and she does not stir awake with his loving ministrations.
Then Lord Christian quickly sits up and places his palm on her face and forehead as he checks her breathing and listens for her heartbeat at her chest in concern. She has a high fever and is very ill!
Instantly, he jumps out of bed—dashing to the dressing room wearing only his short-leg sleep pants that offer him the minimum of modesty. He finds the open door on the other side of the dressing room that leads to his wife’s ladies maid’s bedchamber with her toddler sister.
Lord Christian: “Trask! Your mistress is very ill! She has a high fever and is lethargic. I cannot wake her up! What can we do to make her well?”
Lord Christian is now well beyond feeling like a nervous Bridegroom. His only concern is to get his wife Madeline’s fever down and to aid her recovery. And he cannot even begin to contemplate that she might not get well.
To be continued with Chapter 22
“Encouragement”, Ch. 21 References by Gratiana Lovelace, December 10, 2016 (Post #1013)
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) “Today, Western wedding dresses are usually white, though “wedding white” includes shades such as eggshell, ecru and ivory.Later, many people assumed that the color white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this was not the original intention: it was the color blue that was connected to purity, piety, faithfulness, and the Virgin Mary.“ For more information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_dress
3) Image of Lady Madeline in an ice blue (formerly burgundy) gown with pearl and diamond jewels is Kate Winslet in 1997’s Titanic found at http://www.bolsamania.com/cine/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/64.jpg
4) Lord Christian is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in N&S epi2-pix213 Sep2316ranet_Grati-sized-shrp-crop-brt2-clr-flip1
5) Lord Christian image is Richard Armitage as Paul in BTS found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/BTS/BTS/album/slides/BTS-04.html
6) Lady Madeline in her nightgown brushing her hair was found at
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