[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: Lord Christian learns that one of his late Grandfather Earl’s investments will provide him with a windfall of funds, but the good news produces different reactions from his family. And his brother Lord Harold’s ill considered suggestion that Lord Christian could now annul his unconsummated marriage to Lady Madeline met with outrage from Lord Christian, and doubt from Lady Madeline—which Lord Christian rushed to relieve. Yet Lord Christian realizes that he will still need to reassure his wife Lady Madeline of his continued love and tenderness. All the while tempering his very real passion for her—until she is well enough to receive is loving adoration.
“Encouragement”, Ch. 24 End (PG-13, LS): Love Fulfilled
With Lady Madeline growing stronger every day—and needing fewer naps—Lord Christian is hopeful that his bride and he will share a night of loving passions soon. So after Sunday’s rescheduled to Monday afternoon tea with Lady Madeline and his sister Lady Elizabeth chatting away secretively in a corner–whilst Lord Christian and his brother discuss some of the important creditors being paid off from the Keeling-Waring Mines dividend proceeds—Lord Christian is grateful to have his wife to himself again.
Later that evening after dinner as Lord Christian and Lady Madeline cozily sit cuddling side by side on the sette before the fireplace crackling in the study of their Sussex Family hunting lodge newlywed hideway—though having family visitors each of the last two days seems to challenge the hideaway nature of it—Lord Christian’s curiosity gets the better of him. And though he is an Earl now, he is not accustomed to ordering people to capitulate—especially not his new bride and countess, Lady Madeline. So he makes his information request in a roundabout way.
Christian Lord Sussex: “You and Lizzie seemed thick as thieves at tea today.” He quirks up a bemusedly quizzical brow and Lady Madeline merely smiles. She can be discreet and keep her friend and new sister-in-law’s confidence—maddeningly so, thinks Lord Christian. “Well, will you not tell me what was so interesting?” He pouts.
Lady Madeline: “Ladies must keep their confidences.” Her husband pouts further. “Alright, but I will only give you hints. If you divine what is in your sister’s heart, you did not hear it from me.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Her heart? Is her heart engaged with someone?”
Lady Madeline leans slightly back to observe her husband’s countenance, to see if he is jesting with her.
Lady Madeline: “Does my granite mountain not have a sliver of an inkling about where his sister’s affections lie?” She tilts her head as if he is an oddity. When in actual fact, it is Lady Madeline’s observed experience that brothers are generally not attentive of younger sisters thoughts and feelings. Though in brothers general defense, sisters do not always share their confidences with them.
Christian Lord Sussex: “You mean Lord Duncan, the Viscount Lindsay, I suppose.”
Lady Madeline: “I do. For Lizzie, there is no other man who compares to him.”
Christian Lord Sussex: “But the obstacle of his family expecting him to marry his late brother Alfred’s betrothed Lady Constance is an impediment to Lizzie’s happiness.”
Lady Madeline: “Lord Duncan has resisted the marriage expectation these past ten years. Who is to say that he might not find a resolution that will make both he and Lizzie happy?”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Madeline, please do not mistake my opinion on the matter. I wish with all my heart that Lizzie could see her dreams of love fulfilled.” His face shines with love and understanding for his sister Lizzie [(2) right]. Then his mood darkens. “But I cannot see a happy ending with regard to Lord Duncan.”
Lady Madeline: “Well, we will see.” She smiles.
Despite his own pragmatism, Lord Christian admires his new bride’s optimism that everything will work out for the best. He just wishes that he had the same faith in fate.
Lady Madeline further proves her to be recovering her health when on Tuesday the next day, she begs most ardently for her husband to take her on their promised sleigh ride. Eventually he gives in, because if a sleigh ride will make his new bride happy, then he delighted to oblige. It is late afternoon with the sky beginning to darken for the long Winter’s night, when the sleigh is hitched up and ready to go with a groom serving as their coachman. And because their vehicle is an open topped sleigh, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline are subject to the freezing cold Wintery elements?
Christian Lord Sussex: “Are you warm enough, Madeline?” He asks while tucking the second rug blanket around her and he considerately pushes the hot brick closer to her side of the sleigh bench.
Lady Madeline: “I am. But I had not realized quite how cold it really is outside.” She shivers at the folly of her whining for a sleigh ride which has forced them into the cold climate of Winter. But she will not be deterred, let alone admit defeat.
Christian Lord Sussex: “It is very cold. So let us just have a quick turn about the grounds and then back again.”
Lady Madeline: “How long will that take?” She shivers from the cold.
Christian Lord Sussex: “The short path will only take ten minutes, rather than the usual thirty minutes.” She nods in agreement. “Coachman? Just the ten minute ride, please.”
Lord Christian requests, though he very much doubts that Lady Madeline will last that long in this hellish cold. And then they are off on their sleigh ride through the winding paths of the surrounding groves of trees [(3) below].
Of course, if a stationery sleigh is bitterly freezing cold, a moving sleight at speed with air and snow rushing past is even colder. The falling snow clings to their hats and cloaks making them look like developing snow men. And with their breaths puffing out of the scarves wound round their head and faces, ice crystals form instantly on the warmth of their breaths.
Lady Madeline: “Hmmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm.” She whimpers several times over the next few minutes. But Lady Madeline will not admit to her new husband that she has foolishly chosen what seems to be the coldest day of the year for their sleigh ride.
So Lord Christian puts a period on this outdoor Wintery adventure.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Madeline, with the snow coming down so hard, that is not good for horse—both for the cold and if he missteps. So let us go back to the hunting lodge and we can take a sleigh ride when it is not so cold. Hmmm?” He offers.
Lady Madeline thinks but a moment as large and fluffy snow flakes continue to pummel their way to obscuring her vision. And what fun is a sleigh ride if you cannot see where you are going.
Lady Madeline: “Alright, Christian!” She nods happily. “We need to be mindful of the horse.”
Lord Christian smiles at his new wife’s good sense. The sleigh ride back to the hunting lodge takes only minutes. Then because Lady Madeline is so chilled that she can not feel her legs, Lord Christian lifts Lady Madeline into his arms and carries her back inside the hunting lodge to get warm. While the beleagured sleigh coachman returns the sleight and horse to the stables.
Once Lord Christian and Lady Madeline are inside their respective dressing rooms in their shared bedchamber at their hunting lodge, her ladies maid Trask and his valet help them remove their nearly frozen clothing and slip into hot steaming baths. Of course, they are in different dressing rooms. But still, to the still innocent Lady Madeline, it seems very wicked.
And then Lady Madeline becomes very attuned to the notion of taking a bath at the same moment that her husband is—when she hears muffled sounds from her husband’s dressing room that shares a wall with her dressing room. And she wonders if his bath water is as toastily warm as hers bath water is. She blushing pinkens at the thought. Wicked, indeed.
After Lord Christian has thoroughly warmed up in his bath, he also has the thought that Lady Madeline is in her bathing tub as well. And he has been a patient man, waiting four days to be a husband to her—and his restraint is shredding. But he resolves that if he waits one more day, then she will be eighteen years old—her birthday being tomorrow on Wednesday.
So he dries himself, then puts on his sleep pants and robe for lounging in their bed chamber until they dress for dinner a deux at eight o’clock. It will be just the two of them, but still the traditions of dining must be observed.
Mostly dry after toweling herself off in her dressing room–but still a little damp near the nape of her neck–Lady Madeline swiftly dons her silken nightgown and her very warm flannel robe. So she feels pretty, but is practical and warm as well. Her birthday is tomorrow and Lady Madeline has decided upon her present—from her husband. She is feeling very much better since she has recovered these past three days from her illness. And she hopes to encourage her husband to acknowledge that in a loving and romantic way.
As Lady Madeline and her husband Lord Christian reenter their bed chamber from their dressing rooms, each feels a little on edge. Lord Christian as trying to remain patient and Lady Madeline is trying not to seem impatient. Yet she is still a little nervous and goes around the room snuffing out the candles to dim the room—leaving only the fireplace hearth and a few candles above glowing. Noticing her actions, but not her reasons for it, Lord Christian smiles.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Did you wish to nap before dinner, My Love?”
Lady Madeline: “What? On no! I am not tired in the least.” She turns her back to him, removes her flannel robe, then quickly slides into bed.
Christian Lord Sussex: “No?”
Lady Madeline: “No! Our bed is ever so warm, Christian.” She closes her eyes and smiles.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Well, I asked the maid to run a bed warmer between the sheets, in case we, …. Well, I mean …”
Lady Madeline: “In case we wanted to nap?” She chirps brightly
Christian Lord Sussex: “Of course. Yes.” He walks to his side of the bed and hesitates.
Lady Madeline: “Christian, you had best get into bed if you don’t want to miss out on the warmth.” Then she remembers “Oh! And you are so wonderfully warm, too.” She looks at him sweetly, her fluttering her eye lashes at him in an attempt to play the coquette.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Do you have something in your eye, Madeline?”
Lady Madeline: “My eye? No. Why do you think so?”
Christian Lord Sussex: “Well, you were blinking your eye as if it was irritated.”
Lady Madeline: “No, I was fluttering my eye lashes.” She rolls her eyes.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Hmmm. Yes, well, alright.” He doffs his robe and slides into bed bare chested and only wearing his thin fabric sleep shorts.
Lady Madeline rolls over toward him to cuddle. But this time, her cuddling is different as she entwines her left leg with his left leg.
Lady Madeline: “My feet are so cold, do you mind if I warm them up against you?” She places the flat of her dainty foot onto her husband’s lower calf.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Huh!” He startles more from the location and proximity of her foot, than from its coldness. Yet he cannot admit that to her. “Your feet are cold. Perhaps you should wear socks.”
Lady Madeline: “You will not let me warm my feet on you?” She asks in a slowly modulated tone as she peers deeply into his eyes [(4) right]. Her husband Christian is so handsome and she feels a longing for his kisses. She leans toward him, their faces inches apart.
Lord Christian gulps, audibly as he gently caresses her face with his large hand. She is playing with fire. And his last tether to restraint is beginning to break.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Madeline, It is just that … You cannot know how us being so close–as we are now–affects me, as a man who loves you deeply. You are so lovely and sweet, and feisty and caring.”
Lady Madeline: “And loving, do not forget loving.” She smiles, then she leans down and kisses her Christian, tentatively at first, then with greater urgency—encouraging him to give in to his passions.
Lord Christian groans, then he kisses her back [(5) right] with an ardently loving fervor as he gently guides her to lay down with him hovering over her torso now.
Christian Lord Sussex: “Hmmm. Madeline, My Madeline!” He murmurs has he deepens their kisses. His hands gently and cautiously skimming her back and sides and hips over her lovely silk nightgown—committing her luscious womanly form to his memory. Yet he does not want to frighten her with these new and previously forbidden intimacies.
Lady Madeline: “Christian, I love you so!” Her small hands settle upon his neck and broad shoulders, feeling his taut and muscled body shudder in reaction to her touch.
Christian Lord Sussex: “And I love you, My Darling!” Lord Christian’s kisses trail a passionate path from her lips, to her neck, and to her shoulders, etc.
And thus, the marriage of Lord Christian and Lady Madeline Blount—the Earl and Countess of Sussex—well and truly begins, with love and passion, and based upon a firm foundation of trust, honesty, friendship, and love.
Lord Christian’s and Lady Madeline’s love is the promise of every day waking up to joy & laughter, kindness & consideration–and the contented bliss of being sheltered in each other’s care. And for years and decades to come, their lives will fulfill their loving promise of happiness with children and grandchildren.
To be continued with the Epilogue
“Encouragement”, Epilogue: Three Months Later
At the end of May 1816, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline Blount—the Earl and his Countess of Sussex–have been married three blissful months. They are inseparable, except when they are absolutely required elsewhere. Their rare separate activities usually occur when Lady Madeline and his sister Lady Elizabeth Blount wish to have a ladies day out. Little does Lord Christian know—because Lady Madeline has the bills sent to her—that Lady Elizabeth is secretly trousseau shopping, ahead of her hoped for proposal from Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay. Lady Lizzie is nothing if not determined on that score–despite her brother Lord Christian’s cautions about Lord Duncan being technically engaged to Lady Constance Knightsbridge.
Another reason that Lord Christian and Lady Madeline might have differing activities to confirm something, with a doctor may hap. And once confirmed, a joyous Lady Madeline has to figure out a way to surprise her husband with their happy baby news.
So Lady Madeline plans to host a family dinner at the Dower House of Sussex Hall Estates near Yorkton with both sides of their families, and good close friend Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay attending—which thrills Lady Lizzie. And the Viscount will be even closer to the Blounts with he and his family renting Sussex Hall near Yorkton for the Summer, while roof and bed chamber repairs are undertaken at his country home. Lord Christian though very wealthy now does not need to rent out his country estate for the money. But he could not go back on his word to his friend Lord Duncan about renting out Sussex Hall to him for the three months of the Summer.
Meanwhile Lord Christian and his family will stay in the somewhat cramped quarters of the Dower House with its only eight bed chamber suites—no real room for guests. But there is a silver lining in that Lady Madeline’s father Squire Sutton Sinclair will have to sleep in the local inn at Yorkton when he visits—some two miles away from them, a blessing to have his father-in-law removed such a distance. Now if only they could do the same for when Lady Madeline’s Grandmama Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott comes to visit. Hmmm.
So the dinner Lady Madeline plans at the Dower House on their Sussex Hall estates will also be a welcome to the Yorkton countryside for Lord Duncan and his family. And Lady Madeline is grateful to have some experienced staff in residence at the Dower House to aid in the planning and execution of her dinner party. Because although Lady Madeline is past most of her morning sickness—which a seemingly clueless Lord Christian did not realize it for what it was—but she now gets fatigued very quickly.
So with Lady Madeline having a husband yet to tell about their impending baby’s birth, a sister-in-law in Lady Lizzie pining with love for their family friend and new tenant Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay who also favors her with his admiration and regard, that gentleman’s family pressuring him to instead marry his late elder brother Lord Alfred’s betrothed Lady Constance Knightsbridge so they invite her for a short visit to Sussex Hall, Lord Duncan’s sister Lady Gwendolyn refusing to let go of her grief for her dead betrothed so that she can get married herself, and then there is Lord Christian’s younger brother Lord Harold Blount who gets up to mischief and milkmaids in equal measure, what could possibly go wrong?
To begin being serialized sometime in Early Summer 2017:
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement”)
“Encouragement”, Ch. 24 End References by Gratiana Lovelace, December 30, 2016 (Post #1023)
- 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) Lord Christian Blount is Richard Armitage in 2004’s North & South epi4 “You’ll never-guess where I have been” scene-_Dec2916viaKatieC (2)_Grati-sized-crop-flip
3) English countryside snowy scene found on BING, Dec3016grati
4) Image of a seductive Lady Madeline is Kate Winslet in 1997’s Titanic found at Indian Makeup and Beauty blog at http://18165-presscdn-0-1.pagely.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Kate-Winslet-in-Titanic.jpg
5) Lord Christian Blount kissing Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in 2004’s North & South, epi 4 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-341.html
Previous Blog Ch. 23 Story link, with embedded illustrations:
December 30, 2016
Thank you for reading my original historical fiction Regency romance “Encouragement”! I have enjoyed writing Lord Christian’s and Lady Madeline’s romance. And as with many things, the story does not end with the marriage—it just begins. And there are several threads that I have started in “Encouragement” with the express intention of picking them up again it its sequel—that I am currently titling “Expectations”, but that might change.
And I’m glad that I was able to bring “Encouragement” to a close at 153 pages, single spaced. This will give me a chance to serialize another of my stories over the next few months—that I have yet to choose—while also writing more of its sequel “Expectations” in the background before I begin serializing it. And serializing shorter (under 200 pages) stories allows me to share more of my stories with you over a year’s time—rather than devoting a whole year to one story, as I did for my still highly popular “N&S: John Thornton, Love Lessons” (which was 582 single spaced pages; Whew!). But it was—as are all of my stories–a labor of love. And I might throw in a truly short story (under 50 to 75 pages) now and again—it just depends upon where my story writing muse takes me on a particular story. Ha!
And on a personal note, it seems very fitting to me to share the close of my romantic story “Encouragement” with you today, on my 27th wedding anniversary. My husband is my dearest love, my best friend, and my ardent supporter—and I am his. May it ever be thus!
Love & Hugs! Gratiana Lovelace ;->