[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: After a lovely wedding and wedding celebration, Christian Lord Sussex escorts his new Countess, Lady Madeline, to their honeymoon destination—the one hour out of London located Sussex Family Hunting Lodge. However, it soon becomes apparent that Lady Madeline is very ill—and it is more than just her monthlies as she alternates between high fevers and low chills. Lord Christian is a bridegroom whose vows to love her “in sickness and in health” are being tested all too soon.
“Encouragement,” A Regency Tale of Love and Romance—Ch. 22 (PG-13, D): In Sickness and in Health
Finding his new wife Lady Madeline intensely feverish after just lying down for nap in the afternoon on the cusp of their wedding night as they napped–and her not waking up– Lord Christian pleadingly commands his wife’s ladies maid to help her when he hops out of bed in distress and minimally covered in his thin fabric and short sleep pants to dash into the dressing room. Lord Christian is a bridegroom whose vows to love his wife “in sickness and in health” are being tested all too soon.
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?”
Ladies Maid: “Oh My Lord Sussex! I was so afraid that she might take ill as she does. With such painful stomach cramping–though not usually with a fever. My Lady has forgotten about the dates, you see.”
Lord Christian: “Dates? What have the dates to do with it? We must get her fever down! And perhaps call for a doctor.”
Ladies Maid: “Aye, we need to cool her down. I know what to do. You need not worry.” From time to time, Lady Madeline has taken ill with a fever over the years, and Trask had been the one to tend to her.
Lord Christian: “But I do worry. She is my wife, and my life!” He vows.
Ladies Maid: “We must pack her in cool water and ice in the bathtub to bring down her fever. Or better yet, use the snow from outside. It will not be as harsh to her skin as the ice would be—and we can place it about her head and neck more easily than ice in the tub. Then after she is cooled down, we must keep her warm when she gets the chills.”
Lord Christian: “That makes no sense—cool her down and then warm her up?” Lord Christian looks at the ladies maid with suspicion. Then he resolutely states. “I will call for the doctor. Until he arrives, we will try it your way.”
Ladies Maid: She curtsies quickly. “Aye, My Lord.” Then Trask sets about to order from the house servants what is needed for her mistress.
After donning his robe for modesty’s sake, Lord Christian lifts the empty ceramic water basin, with its corresponding ceramic pitcher is full of water, and a linen cloth. Then he returns to his unconscious wife Lady Madeline [(2) right] in their bed chamber–only to find her sweating so profusely, and her looking so flushed from her fever, that he has never seen anyone so ill in his life.
Lord Christian sets down the ceramic basin rather forcefully on the bedside table, but thankfully it does not break. Then he sloshes some of the pitcher water into it and soaks the linen cloth thoroughly in the cool water. Then he drops to his knees beside his wife lying prone on the bed and he begins to apply the cool water to her face and neck via the cool wet linen cloth. He is careful to douse the cloth in the fresh water every so often to replenish it before applying the recooled and freshly wettened cloth to her again. He repeats this several times—uncertain as to if he is helping. But he has to do something to feel useful.
Lord Christian: “My Darling Madeline, it is Christian. Do not be afraid, My Love. You will feel better soon. I am trying to cool you down.” His voice is gentle and soothing, but with a quiver of worry lacing through it. He smiles at her, though she is not awake and does not see him. “You are a strong young woman, Madeline. You must fight this illness. Our life together has just begun. And we will have a marvelous life with many children and grandchildren.” Tears brim his eyes
When the staff arrive with the tub and buckets of snow that they put into the dressing room, Lord Christian thanks them but asks that only the housekeeper Mrs. Vance and Lady Madeline’s ladies maid Trask remain with him to attend to Lady Madeline. The Butler will be on the lookout for the physician whom they are fetching via carriage by one of the footmen and a stable groom.
Whilst Lord Christian respecting his wife’s privacy turns to face away from them, the ladies carefully change the still unconscious and worrisomely feverish Lady Madeline out of her lovely but over warm Winter night gown and get her into a thin shift. Then Lord Christian adds a layer of snow and then a bit of water in the bottom of the tub. Finally, Lord Christian lifts his still unconscious wife Lady Madeline into the tub, and they pack snow at her back–as they position her sitting up slightly up in the tub—with more snow packed under her arms, across her torso, around her head and face, and such.
Lady Madeline almost looks like a water nymph emerging from the snow—except that this effect is not by her bidding, nor is she even aware of she and her surroundings. They pack more snow on her as it melts from her fevered skin. After ten minutes, the still unconscious Lady Madeline begins shivering. So Lord Christian lifts her out of the tub—her thin shift wet underneath and dotted with ice crystals on top—and she now feels quite cold against him.
Lord Christian absently mindedly looks into the tub and notices a reddish tinge in the floating watery ice crystals. Then looking at his wife’s wet shift covered form, he notices what must be blood at her back. And he wonders if she has an injury, but Trask quickly explains that it is Lady Madeline’s monthly bleed—to which he nods, as the elder brother of a younger sister. He lays his wife onto a towel covered chaise and turns around again with his back to Trask and the housekeeper Mrs. Vance drying and changing her into another clean linen shift. Then Lord Christian lifts Lady Madeline into his arms again and carries her to their bed with now clean sheets upon it again and lays her down upon a towel to catch accidents, and then he covers her with the blankets and leans down to kiss her slightly cooler forehead as he gazes upon her with worry.
By the time the doctor arrives half an hour later—the snow making carriage travel difficult--Lord Christian has already donned trousers and a loose shirt for decorum’s sake. He stays in the room while the doctor examines Lady Madeline [(3) right)] —as does her ladies maid Trask. Lady Madeline’s stillness concerns her husband Lord Christian. The Physician takes Lady Madeline’s pulse, her temperature, and he listens to her heart through a listening tube.
Impatient to know how his wife fares, Lord Christian asks for the Physician’s assessment.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Well? How is my wife, Dr. Phipps?
Dr. Phipps: “Not well, not well at all. How long has she been ill like this?”
Christian Lord Sussex: “As far as I know, just under 2 hours at most, just since we left our wedding celebrations—she slept the whole way here. I thought that odd, but we did have a lot of dancing. And then just thirty minutes ago when she joined me for our …” he falters in embarrassment. But then he soldiers on. “Well, our nap before dinner—and we were truly going to nap because she was so tired—I wished her pleasant dreams and then kissed her, only to find her burning up with fever.”
Dr. Phipps: “And what about you, Trask? Did you notice your Mistress being ill earlier in the day? Or even, the day before?” He thinks, bridegrooms are so besotted with their brides that the do not often see what is right before them.
Trask: “She seemed very tired after the wedding service. But she tweren’t fevered then.” She hesitates.
Christian Lord Sussex: “And? What are you omitting?”
Trask: “Well, during the wedding breakfast, I guess I thought her blushing was due to being a bride and the spirited dancing.” She wincingly shrugs her shoulders.
Christian Lord Sussex: “So did I.” I shake my head for my stupidity.
Dr. Phipps: “Well, you were not to know, Lord Sussex. Fevers can come on fast—with little warning. Has she been around anyone who was ill in the last day or two?”
Lord Christian shakes his head in not knowing. He did not see her yesterday per tradition. So he looks pleadingly at Trask.
Trask: “No, well … that is …” She bites her lip. “Lady Madeline went down to St. Timothy’s to help with the soup kitchen for the poor again this week.”
Dr. Phipps: “That is not good. An influenza epidemic has broken out and many of the needy are ill. And many will die for lack of treatment and the generally poor and unsanitary living conditions.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Blast her benevolent ways!” He pounds his fist into his other hand. He is not truly angry at Lady Madeline, he is just worried about her condition.
Trask covers her mouth in astonishment for Christian Lord Sussex swearing, as well as for him criticizing her lady’s good nature.
Dr. Phipps: “My Lord, it is done and now we must tend to Lady Madeline.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “What can we do? I do not want her bled. It is a deplorable practice!”
Dr. Phipps: “I quite agree. But she must be kept at an even temperature—cooling her down or warming her up as needed. And try to get some fluids in her. All the sweating she will do when she is feverish will sap her body of its moisture.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Are there no medicines you can give her?”
Dr. Phipps: “I am afraid not. Many physicians give laudanum, but that only mutes the patient’s thrashing about with her symptoms. And we want to know what her symptoms are so that we can attend to them.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Most sensible.” Lord Christian nods, but he is very worried for his wife.
Dr. Phipps: Opening his pocket watch, Dr. Phipps furrows his brow. “It is five o’clock in the late afternoon, and I have a baby to deliver. I was on my way there when your men stopped me, and I diverted to here. The birth could take several hours—but it is the Turners’ second child, so it might be less. I will be back as soon as I can. If your wife worsens in fever or chills—contact me at the Turners in the village.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Thank you, doctor. But I feel so helpless.” He wrings his hands in frustration. Lord Christian is always in command—except for now.
Dr. Phipps: “Just keep doing what you are doing, and pray that her youth and vitality will aid her in her recovery.”
And so, a long night ahead begins, Lord Christian and staff tending to the illness of his dear new wife Lady Madeline. What he had hoped would be joyous in their first night together as husband and wife, has turned into a fearful struggle for Lady Madeline’s life. Diseases and their proper treatment are, as yet, not well understood in 1816.
When Lady Madeline drifts into a feverish episode, Lord Christian and Trask lay her in the tub with new fallen snow surrounding her—with the footman and the housekeeper Mrs. Vance all being on alert to assist with supplying the snow and such as needed. Then after Lady Madeline is cooled down and water squeezed onto her parched lips, Mrs. Vance and Trask change her into a fresh shift—with maids pulling double duty in laundering their Countess’ shifts as well as changing the bed linens when necessary. Happily, there are eight guest bed chambers from which to remove already clean sheets from. And then Lord Christian holds his then cooled down wife in his arms, wrapping her in a comforter as he cradles her in his lap as he sits on the sette until the bed is ready for them again. Then Lord Christian joins his still unconscious wife in their bed—him being sure to monitor her temperature as he bundles her in his arms. This process repeats every hour.
However at some point long after midnight, at three o’clock in the morning—over ten hours later when the doctor has still not yet returned, due to the heavily falling snow making road travel difficult to impossible—Lord Christian falls into an exhausted sleep [(4) below] lying to the left of his wife’s side. Not unexpectedly, Trask has also fallen asleep in her small bed chamber adjoining her mistress’ dressing room–after also tending to her little baby sister’s overnight needs as well. It is the exhausted occupants of the Sussex Family Hunting Lodge that finally sleeps in the early hours of Saturday morning of February 24th.
Somewhere in her own haze of sleep and unconsciousness, Lady Madeline feels the alternating hot and the cold spells descending upon her one after the other, hour after hour, without abating throughout those ten hours. She is not sure which she prefers—freezing or burning up—neither is pleasant. And her tummy hurts and she becomes even more tired as the evening and then the morning wears on. Lady Madeline feels that if she could only get to her Dear Christian, that he would make her feel better, and all would be well. But her dreams are too foggy to see him. And she cannot sense where she is. Her surroundings are unknown to her.
In Lady Madeline’s delirium, she dreams of people and places in flashes of recent and distant memories. But a frequent vision is that of her soothing and loving mother Lady Corinne Knott Sinclair who passed away over four years ago when Lady Madeline was but thirteen years of age. Lady Madeline speaks to her Mama, but it only comes out as soft whimpers in her husband’s and her other caregivers’ hearing.
Lady Madeline: “Mama, I do not feel well.” She moans in a feverish spell. But at first, her Mama does not respond as she comes closer to her very ill daughter.
It is only after Lady Madeline has been cooled down once more around three o’clock in the morning with the cooling snow, and then she is lying back in bed, that she dreams of her Mama again. And this time, her Mama speaks to her.
Lady Corinne: “Maddie, My Dearest little girl, you are very unwell.” She frets as she reaches out to, but does not touch her daughter. There are rules that she must follow as a spirit. For a spirit to touch, is to invite another to the spirit world. And however much she loves and misses her darling daughter—and however much she longs to embrace her once more—Lady Corinne cannot risk touching her, not yet.
Yet Lady Madeline wants to be embraced by her Mama, as she was as a little girl when she was unwell. Her Mama always made her feel better. And Lady Madeline wonders why her Mama will not come to her.
Lady Madeline: “Mama!” Lady Madeline whimpers pitiably toward the vision of her Mama. But her Mama stands just out of reach.
Then Lady Madeline feels enveloped in strong arms—they are her husband Lord Christian’s arms, engulfing and holding her close to warm her up again, even as he sleeps fitfully in exhaustion. But Lady Madeline thinks it is her Mama’s arms.
As the vision of Lady Corrine in Lady Madeline’s dream backs away from her now sleeping daughter, she blows her daughter a kiss in farewell.
Lady Corinne: “Sleep well, my Dearest Maddie. We will be together again, when it is your time.”
And then Lady Corinne fades into the hazy mist of Lady Madeline’s dream.
As dawn breaks on a new day—the day after Lady Madeline’s and Lord Christian’s wedding day—everyone begins to stir in the Sussex Family hunting lodge, even Lady Madeline. Her fever has broken overnight with her husband Lord Christian’s and everyone’s devoted and tender care of her.
Lady Madeline feels warm, but not overly hot—only warm as if a hot bedpan had been passed between her sheets. Then opening first one eye, and then her other eye in the dimly lit room–since the curtains are still mostly drawn and the windows face West, not East—Lady Madeline discovers the source of the warmth, her husband. And she wonders if all husbands are helpfully warm?
Lord Christian lies entwined from nose to toes with his dear wife Lady Madeline. She could not move even if she tried, so firm yet gentle is his sleeping grasp upon her. But she must try to move—however exhausted she feels—out of a sense of morning urgency, especially since it is her monthlies time.
Lady Madeline: “Christian.” She says softly, with a slightly cracking voice since her throat is so dry. “Oh!” She grimaces with the soreness of her throat and lips, stomach cramping due to her monthly, and the general achiness of her body—not to mention her having a throbbing headache.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Hmm?” Lord Christian responds hazily. His eyes still shut and dozing while his mind slowly becomes alert.
Lady Madeline: Her need is too far gone to dissemble, Lady Madeline speaks plainly, though still in a faintly weakened voice. “I need to use the chamber pot!”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Whaaat?” He asks her lazily as he opens his eyes. Then his eyes widen in astonishment that his wife is awake and seems to be alert.
Lady Madeline: “You need to let me go, so I may use the chamber pot.” She squirms rather weakly.
Then Lord Christian grins as broadly as his face will allow, before he starts peppering her face with kisses.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Madeline!” Kiss! “Madeline!” Kiss, kiss! “Madeline!”
Lady Madeline: “Yes, we have established that I am Madeline.” She looks at him in frustration. Then she lowers her voice. “But I must use the chamber pot—NOW!” She pleads.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Right!”
Leaping out of bed—wearing his thin fabric short sleep pants that are so wrinkled and clinging to his body such that Lady Madeline blushingly closes her eyes as Lord Christian dashes around the bed to her side of the bed. He flings back the blankets and sheets from his wife’s light linen shift clothed body—causing her to flinch and cover herself, before he lifts her up into his arms, and he strides into the dressing room. For she does not realize that he has performed this very same act of lifting her out of bed at least ten times this night whilst he cared for her during his vigil for her illness.
Lady Madeline looks forlornly behind her at the slightly soiled bedsheet from her monthly bleeding.
Lady Madeline: “Sorry about that.” She winces embarrassedly for forgetting to lay a towel underneath herself. Lord Christian looks back, then grins. Lady Madeline views his grinning to be a very strange response. But then she thinks that maybe he has plenty of laundresses at the Sussex Family Hunting Lodge.
After giving the very weak Lady Madeline into the care of her ladies maid Anne Trask—because Lady Madeline would in no uncertain terms have her husband help her with the chamber pot—Lord Christian attends to his own morning needs in another bedchamber–including a shave and dressing for the day that makes him much more presentable [(5) right].
So after both he and his wife are freshened up, they return to bed—with Lord Christian also returning to wearing his bed clothes of just his short thin sleep pants.
Christian Lord Sussex: “You were very ill overnight, Madeline Darling. We were all so worried. How do you feel this morning?” He softly kisses her forehead, blessedly finding no fever there now. He is more relieved than he can say.
Lady Madeline: “I feel very weak, Christian–as if I could sleep for days. And I am truly sorry if I ruin any of our planned wedding trip activities today, but I feel so weak that I fear that I will not be able to move from this bed at all day today.” She pouts [(6) right] because she had so wanted a sleigh ride in the countryside.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Actually, staying in bed today was what I had planned.” Lord Christian smiles then he winks at her and kisses her softly on her mouth—and he is extremely glad in finding no feverish warmth on her lips there either.
Lady Madeline: “Hhhhh!” Sighing in relief for not disappointing her husband Lord Christian, Lady Madeline falls asleep again—now more restfully, as her loving husband watches over her.
Christian Lord Sussex: Whispering softly to his wife, he smiles appreciatively. “And I absolutely admire your very lovely nightgown.” Then he falls asleep as well.
For Lady Madeline has run out of shifts with them being changed and washed every hour during her illness– and her original voluminous and warm nightgown is still drying after being washed. So there was nothing for it but for her to wear the romantic nightgown and peignoir set that her Grandmama had gifted to her as a special wedding present. To Lady Madeline, her nightgown seems rather prettily decorated for a sleeping garment. But then, she thinks, that her Grandmama knows best.
And the young married couple will spend their first full day of married life in bed—chatting, cuddling, eating, reading, sleeping, and telling each other all of their wishes, hopes, and dreams. Yet Lord Christian will not exercise his husbandly rights while his dear wife Lady Madeline is recovering from her illness over the next few days. But after she is recovered … he plans to lovingly adore her, “for as long as we both shall live”.
And later in the day to make certain that their families hear no unfounded rumours about Lady Madeline’s demise, they conscientiously send each household a short note to assure them of her recovery. However, their notes will have unintended effects. And Lord Christian’s hope for a quiet and private wedding trip week at his family’s hunting lodge will be imposed upon in such a way as to annoy and frustrate both he and his new bride.
To be continued with Chapter 23
“Encouragement”, Ch. 22 References by Gratiana Lovelace, December 19, 2016 (Post #1017)
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) Lady Madeline very ill in sickbed closeup is of Kate Winslet as Marianne in Sense & Sensibility found at Austinised Blogspot (sized, color, etc.) at http://lh4.ggpht.com/-BEK7Nw2nbZI/TgDZffxatvI/AAAAAAAAE6g/awZRNZnHfOg/image_thumb%25255B7%25255D.png?imgmax=800
3) Lady Madeline very ill in sickbed with physician is of Kate Winslet as Marianne in Sense & Sensibility found at Austenised blogspot at http://lh4.ggpht.com/-Pc3PZZl0PoA/TgDZoQqKsHI/AAAAAAAAE6w/hPmnPAil-u8/image_thumb%25255B20%25255D.png?imgmax=800
4) Lord Christian sleeping image is Richard Armitage as Lee Preston in 2003’s Cold Feet Series found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/ColdFeet/ColdFeet5/album/slides/coldfeet_061.jpg
5) Lord Christian is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in N&S epi4-pix425 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-285.html
6) Lady Madeline in negligee and Peignoir is Kate Winslet in Titanic (Grati edit) found at Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/af/1e/33/af1e330e904df6221697b6a6be8fb77b.jpg
Previous Blog Ch. 21 Story link, with embedded illustrations: