“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 1: Their first country morning, November 25, 2018 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1192)
(an original Regency romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2018 – 2019; all rights reserved); [(1) story cover art, left]
[As is my custom, from time to time I will illustrate my story with my ideal cast consisting of (in order of appearance/mention in this chapter): Richard Armitage as Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex, Kate Winslet as Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount Countess of Sussex, Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Elizabeth Blount, Dame Judi Dench as Lady Catherine Blount the Dowager Countess of Sussex, Rupert Penry Jones as Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay and the second son of the Duke of York, and Margaret Clunie as Lady Constance Knightsbridge daughter to the Duke and Duchess of Lancashire.]
Author’s story content and serializing scheduling notes: For the most part, my ratings for the chapters will be PG-13—for romantic interludes and dramatic moments. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with these ratings, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And I always put the previous chapter’s recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post weekly on Sundays.
“Expectations” (Book 2), Ch. 1: Their first country morning
Lady Madeline Lucretia Sinclair Blount, the still newlywed and young eighteen years and three months old Countess of Sussex lies quietly dozing in her bed, cocooned within its comfortingly soft bedding linens and blankets. It is a ladies’ boudoir of pale green, pink, and lavender silk accents with pale green stripes silk wall coverings—the stripes being a partial concession to mute the feminine room décor for the daily cohabitation with her of her husband, Lord Christian Blount the 7th Earl of Sussex. His adjoining bedchamber of more masculine dark blues and burgundy has been relegated to unused status but for the bedchamber’s use as his dressing chamber–since he does not wish to spend a night away from his wife—and his young wife prefers her bed chamber.
Dreaming of my husband, Lord Christian, and our night of love [(2) below) in our temporary new home of the Dower House at our country estate Sussex Hall, my brain still refuses to awaken. And I, instead, stay firmly anchored in a sleepy haze.
But not for long, it seems, as her tall, strong, broad, commandingly handsome husband strides back into their shared bed chamber, without even knocking. Scandalous! Theirs is a love match, after a partially fitful courtship.
Lord Christian: “Madeline, my sleepy Darling. I must go, now.” Whispering, I gently kiss the creamy forehead of my beloved wife. Since our preparations this past week for our travel here to our country seat of Sussex Hall in the late Spring of May 1816, her mornings have been plagued with ill health. I can only hope that she will feel better soon, now that we are in residence in our country home—well, our temporary home with my Grandmother, the Dowager Countess of Sussex. The fresh air is certain to infuse my beloved Madeline with renewed health. Otherwise, what good is owning an impressively large and ferdant country estate—apart from the manly pursuits of hunting, shooting, and fishing, not to mention house parties, and bracing rides across our miles and miles of countryside? The question is rhetorical.
Lady Madeline, the recently minted Countess of Sussex remains inert. Why must he go? My mind ponders—searching for the answer. But none comes. So I must resort to seeking that answer, though I doubt that my unwell and churning stomach at the moment will allow me to focus upon it.
Lady Madeline: “Why must you go?” I ask wanly as the room spins around me.
Lord Christian: “Madeline Darling, we only arrived from town yesterday. And I must consult with my steward about estate matters.” She gives me an imperceptible nod—seemingly with even that small movement causing her to feel even more ill, as I notice her almost imperceptible grimace. She tries to mask her unwell state, but as a husband of just three months, I have come to know intimately my wife’s feelings and moods. “You still feel unwell, My Love?” My Bride’s strange illness comes and goes—it being most virulent in the mornings, then lessening as the day wears on. I am at my wits end of trying to figure out how to make her well. Our marriage started with her being unwell, and I fear that she still suffers some malady.
Lady Madeline: “I do.” I barely whisper my response. Even the movement of my mouth causes the waves of nausea to roil in my stomach and assail my senses. I should have lessened my response to a one syllable yes.
Lord Christian: “Well, you stay and rest. I will send your Ladies Maid Trask up to you as soon as may be with your tea.” I kiss her forehead lingeringly—in the memory of our loving trysts last night. The pleasures that we find in each other’s arms is both a joy and an all consuming passion. Never have I experienced such bliss, as her loving ardor matches my own. My Madeline’s shy maiden innocence has given way to her unbridled desires, that stoke the furnace of my own desires for her.
And I wonder if our nightly marital lovings have taxed her strength and caused her morning illnesses. Yes, but not in the way that I think. And I reluctantly leave her as I go to attend to the estate’s business matters—the quicker to return to her.
Some small amount of time later, Lord Christian’s younger sister Lady Elizabeth Lizzie Blount scratches at the newlyweds’ bridal bed chamber door this fine country morning. There is no response. So she puts her knuckles into it as she lightly raps upon the wooden door. Tap, tap, tap.
Lady Lizzie: “Maddie? It is Lizzie. I intercepted your ginger laced tea from your Ladies Maid Anne Trask. May I bring it in to you?”
Lady Madeline: “If you must.” I reply raspily. My voice sounds weak, even to me. Oh, why cannot people leave a person alone in their misery. Let alone the fact that Trask is very much needed to tend to the results of my morning’s usual sickness needing to be removed.
Lady Lizzie pokes her head into my bedchamber and smiles at me cheerily. The fact that she is my dearest friend and sister-in-law helps to mitigate her intrusion into my sick room. In truth, I am not fit company until well after mid morning on most days these past few weeks. And though the cause of my distress is welcome, the every day habitué of illness wears on a person, it wears on me.
Lady Lizzie rushes to my bedside with her copious layering of Summer thin taffeta skirting and petticoats rustling quite noisily. She sets down the cup of ginger tea and its saucer upon my bedside table. Then her seeing me still lying down—albeit upon my side facing away from her, where my porcelain emitus bowl sits tucked out of the way on my bed chamber floor—she gently touches my shoulder and guides me to lie back and then sit up so that I may partake of her offering of the inestimable brew.
I am at first stubborn in my refusal to adjust my position to drink the tea—because any movement causes turmoil in my stomach, with whatever remnants of last evening’s meal that remains. But I know that I must do her bidding if I am to overcome this morning’s illness.
Lady Lizzie: “Come now, Maddie. You will feel much better after you drink some of this ginger tea.” Lady Lizzie says soothingly, cajolingly.
Lady Madeline: “Hmmm!” I whimper in my distress, but I sip the tea.
Lady Lizzie: “There now!” Lady Lizzie sighs at her accomplishment in getting Lady Maddie to drink her ginger tea. “And what unusual food combinations might cook tempt you with this morning?”
Lady Madeline: “Nothing! Please do not even mention food to me yet this morning.” I piteously plead.
Though my Dear husband Lord Christian and I and had hoped to spend our mornings napping romantically whilst staying with his Grandmama at the Sussex Hall Estates Dower House, my morning illnesses necessitates shifting our lovings to the afternoons and evenings. So my husband is attending to estate matters at the moment, whilst I try to overcome this morning’s illness.
Oh, Christian would have stayed with me to nurse me through—as he so wonderfully did when I developed a fever on our wedding night. But sometimes a lady has to declare some boundaries with her husband—in order to maintain her allure. And were
Christian to hold my hair up and away from the emitus bowl whilst I was in my throes of being unwell, would make me cringe in embarrassment. Indeed, why would he ever want to kiss me after witnessing that? Nay, I will suffer in silence. Well, with Trask and Lady Lizzie to aid me.
When Lady Elizabeth slips out of her sister-in-law Lady Madeline’s bed chamber–to give her privacy for her bath—Lady Elizabeth goes in search of her brother Lord Christian the Earl of Sussex. After first being misdirected to the stables and bemoaning specks of something dirtying the hem of her new light blue silk day gown, Lady Elizabeth returns to the Dower House looking for her grandmother Lady Catherine the Dowager Countess of Sussex.
The well trained and helpful servants direct her to her brother Lord Christian’s main floor study. And Lady Elizabeth cannot help herself but to draw closer to the slightly ajar door. Though with Christy and her Grandmother speaking in hushed voices, it makes it deuced difficult to hear them, she thinks.
Lord Christian: “Grandmother, I appreciate that you wish to spare Lizzie any distress, but as she is becoming a young woman now—she should begin to assume her place in society.”
Dowager Countess of Sussex: “Yes, yes, Christy. Lizzie is growing up. But in many ways, she is still a little girl.”
Lady Elizabeth: In the hallway, Lady Elizabeth emits a mute sigh of frustration. “Hhhhhh!” Frankly, it is all she can do not to stamp her satin slipper covered dainty foot in consternation. However Lady Elizabeth’s sigh was not as mute as she would have wished.
Dowager Countess of Sussex: Looking up suspiciously, she asks her grandson. “Christy? What was that noise?”
Lord Christian smiles, but dissembles with a smirking shrug. Lady Elizabeth is frozen in the hallway. The Dowager Countess glares ominously at the slightly ajar doorway. Lord Christian stands and walks over to the doorway, raises a knowing eyebrow to his little sister Lady Elizabeth. Then he mouths to his sister, “meet me in the garden”. Since their frail Grandmother rarely ventures outside—even in the best of weather—Lord Christian believes that he and his sister can have a private conversation there. Lady Elizabeth nods, then she slowly walks backwards.
Turning back to his Grandmother, Lord Christian extends his subterfuge with obfuscation, by blaming it on the cat. His Grandmother counters that do not have a cat. Frail her body may be, but the Lady Catherine Dowager Countess of Sussex has a sharply keen mind. Then helpfully, as if bidden to enter, Lady Madeline’s new cat saunters into the study. Lady Catherine is somewhat mollified.
Lord Christian: Scooping up the cat into his arms, he bids his Grandmother adieu. “Let me remove the cat to the garden for its morning constitutional.” Lady Catherine nods, and Lord Christian bows and leaves the room.
Strolling the Dower House’s smallish gardens—yet the gardens are still large enough for a central water fountain feature—Lady Elizabeth waits rather impatiently for her brother for several minutes. They love their Grandmother dearly, but Lady Elizabeth and her siblings can never predict how long their audiences with their Grandmother will last. Yet soon she hears the familiar crunch of gravel under her brother’s footsteps and she turns to greet him.
Lady Elizabeth: “What were you and Grandmother talking about?”
Lord Christian: “Good morning to you, as well, Dear sister.” He intones perturbedly, with an indulgent smile upon his face for his most beloved younger sister.
Lord Elizabeth: “Yes, of course. Good morning.” She tosses off with a wave of her hand, indicating her disregard of such small courtesies with her protective and sometimes overbearing elder brother. “Well? You know that I will pester you incessantly until you capitulate. So you might as well save us both some time, and just tell me. Have you heard from Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay? Are he and his family still coming to rent Sussex Hall for the Summer—even though, our improved estate finances no longer needs them to?” She asks eagerly, betraying her adoration of the handsome and dashing Viscount.
Lord Christian sighs and takes two notes out of his suit jacket pocket. With one note in each hand, he weighs them carefully—as if their weight or size might contribute to the relative merits of their contents. Then he slowly places one of the missives back into his inner jacket pocket.
Lord Christian: “Lizzie, I have heard from Lord Duncan. And we are to see him within a few days—with his parents the Duke and Duchess of York and his younger sister Lady Gwendolyn arriving two days later.”
Clasping her hands girlishly together and smiling with joy, Lady Elizabeth gushes without a hint of ladylike remorse for displaying her emotions so openly—even if it is only to her brother.
Lady Elizabeth: “Ohhh! I cannot wait to see Lord Duncan again! His attentiveness to me in town gives me much hope for him to pay me his addresses, without him having to fend off the roving suitors.” She rolls her eyes. For the roving suitors she refers to are three gentlemen who seem to go about fawning over each new debutante—sending posies and prose to different ladies each week. And that Duke Sebastian is one of them, confuses her greatly. For Duke Sebastian is a stickler for protocol and rather stuffy about society—and his place in it as a Duke. Duke Sebastian does not seem to inspire Lady Elizabeth with any tender feelings.
Lord Christian: “Lizzie, let us sit down. There is something that Lord Duncan bids me to convey to you.” The somberness in his vocal tone belies the tender way in which he gazes at his much cherished younger sister.
For her part, Lady Elizabeth quickly seats herself upon a nearby teakwood bench. She does not plop, per se, but neither does she slowly descend gracefully.
Lady Elizabeth: “Well?” She asks with barely concealed impatience.
Then Lord Christian slowly, gently, and tenderly begins to tell his sister of Lord Duncan’s family insisting again upon his marrying his dead elder brother’s betrothed Lady Constance Knightsbridge, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Lancashire. Lord Duncan reiterated in his letter that he knows that he was wrong to pay such particular attentions to Lady Elizabeth when they were in town. And he humbly begs her forgiveness for him raising her hopes—and his own—when his duty is to his family must take precedence, even if it thwarts his own happiness. Lord Christian omits that last part about happiness in telling his sister Lady Elizabeth—so as not to give her false hope. Lord Christian believes that the sooner his sister resigns herself to the practicalities and limitations of Lord Lindsay’s circumstances, the better able she might be to turning her attentions to a proper and available prospective suitor.
Lady Elizabeth listens with a growing solemnity for her tender years, and she asks in despair.
Lady Elizabeth: “Is there no hope that Lord Duncan’s parents will change their mind about me?”
Lord Christian: “Lizzie, the Yorks’ reasons for requiring Lord Duncan to marry elsewhere are not a negative reflection upon you. He even stresses that his parents have the highest regard for you. It is just that a betrothal was contracted years ago with the York’s then heir—the late Lord Alfred Marquess of Malton by the Duke of Lancashire. I do not understand what the tight hold this betrothal contract has over the Duke of York for his current heir Lord Duncan, but it must be insurmountable.”
Lady Elizabeth: “I have heard about the betrothal constraints upon Lord Duncan many times. But does not love vanquish insurmountable obstacles? May not I also be allowed to follow my heart—as you have done?” Lady Elizabeth feels that if she continues to press Lord Duncan and her brother Lord Christian, that may hap their responses will eventually change to ones being more hopeful about her wishing to marry Lord Duncan.
And yet, though her question is not an accusation, Lord Christian feels it as such—and rightly so.
Lord Christian: “I truly wish that I could do something to give you your heart’s desire, Lizzie.” He lets that statement hang in the air.
Lady Elizabeth nods unemotionally—somehow with her brother Christy restating the previous betrothal impediment to her marrying Lord Duncan more forcefully, that it has become more real to her. And she is bereft of hope—as these last two months have born out with her somewhat clandestine meetings with Lord Duncan, becoming less frequent and less happy. And she thinks that she will never marry. For her heart can only beat for Lord Duncan—and she vows that her heart will never beat for another.
Lord Christian: “However, the second letter that I received might give you cheer.” He holds it up as if to give evidence of its existence—much like he had done when she was a small child learning the names of objects. The habit of a lifetime is difficult to break—treating his sister as if she were still a child and he were holding out an enticement of candy to her. Though, there is no malice in his heart—rather, he is slow to realize the evidence before him, of his sister becoming a young woman before his very eyes.
Lady Elizabeth: “Only if Lord Duncan wants to elope with me to Gretna Green.” Then noticing the look of horror upon her brother’s face, she relents. “Do not worry, Christy. I would never dishonor our family thus.” Though if Lord Duncan were to ask her run away with him and elope, Lady Elizabeth wonders if she would truly have the strength of character to deny him, or herself?
Lord Christian: “Duke Sebastian writes to inquire as to your well being.” Not gaining a response, nor even an acknowledgement from his sister, he continues. “Duke Sebastian was impressed with your regal poise during the season.” Meaning her silence, that was due to her shyness—not a lack of conversation on her part. On the contrary, Lady Elizabeth chatters like a magpie with family and friends. “And he seeks to know you better.” Not seeing an interested response from his sister, he continues. “Perhaps, I should invite him to stay for a week?”
Lady Elizabeth: “Duke Sebastian seemed cold and imposing to me each of the two times that I met him. But do as you wish. Just do not expect me to entertain him. I do not like I him in a romantic way.”
Her phrasing of in a romantic way, partially stuns Lord Christian. For what does his sister know of romance? She is spirited and a dreamer at times, yes. But romantic? He realizes that he will have to start paying closer attention to his little sister’s activities and social contacts, if he is to properly chaperone her. But he regroups to return to the matter at hand.
Lord Christian: “You do not know Duke Sebastian. The Duke is a good man. He would treat you well. And you would be a Duchess.” Lord Christian smilingly dangles that prize—of his sister becoming a duchess were she to marry Duke Sebastian. But Lady Elizabeth is not interested.
Lady Elizabeth: “Christy, I will not marry for any reason but love—to Lord Duncan.” She pauses to let her declaration sink in. “And since that path is closed to me, I must resign myself to spinsterhood.”
Lord Christian: “But Lizzie …” He implores.
Lady Elizabeth: “Christy. I thank you for being honest with me. I know that Grandmother wants to protect me, as if I were still a little girl. But I am not that little girl anymore.” I stare my brother down, as if my saying the words made my new found maturity a fact for him. Finally, he responds to me.
Lord Christian: “No, Lizzie. You are correct. You are no longer a child with braids and missing teeth, torn lace from shimmying up trees in your gown or bringing rabbits home as pets. Where has the time gone? You are a young lady now, and I am very proud of you.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Thank you, Christy.” She acknowledges how difficult it must be for her elder brother to admit that her advancing years of maturity will put the two of them on more of an equal footing. “The passing of years, and the loss of our loved ones in our parents and our Grandfather Earl, naturally takes its toll—but these circumstances shape who we are and who we become. And I am very proud of you as well, Christy. You kept us all together—even though you were still young and just finishing at school. Thank you for always being there for me.”
Brother and sister embrace. They meet as equals now—adults with their whole lives ahead of them. And for Lord Christian Earl of Sussex, he vows to help his sister Lizzie find happiness with a good man as her husband someday—even if that man will not be Lord Duncan.
To be continued with Chapter 2
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 1 images, zhz November 25, 2018 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1192)
- “Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement”) story cover art is an image representing Lady Elizabeth Blount, sister to the Earl of Sussex in black evening gown–is that of actress Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil in Downton Abby found at http://www.internet-d.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2012/02/JESSICA-BROWN-FINDLAY-as-Lady-Sybil-Crawley.jpg ; the text font is Vivaldi.
- Lord Christian kissing Lady Madeline is Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe in N&S 2004, epi 4 http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-341.html; with some editing.
Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 1 URL story post on my Wattpad site, November 25, 2018:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Prologue story URL of my SAL blog post (#1191), on November 23, 2018: