“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch.7: Eclipse of the Second Son, January 20, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1206)
[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): Crispin Bonham Carter as Lord Harold Blount the younger brother of Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex portrayed by Richard Armitage, and older brother to their younger sister Lady Elizabeth Blount portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay; Emma Thompson as Lady Gwendolyn “Gwennie” Lindsay of York, the sister to Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay portrayed by Rupert Penry-Jones, and their late older brother Lord Alfred portrayed by David Oakes; and Lily Travers as Lady Penelope Lindquist, Lord Harold’s great love.]
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 brief recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post new chapters weekly on Sundays.
“Expectations” Ch. 7: Eclipse of the Second Son
No sooner had Lord Harold Blount arrived at the Sussex Hall Estate with Lord Duncan’s sister Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York in tow—after their sojourn to the Wayfarer Inn at Walden, while they awaited replacement carriages for Lady Gwendolyn’s entourage– they were each made privy to Lord Christian’s and Lady Madeline’s happy news. Then Lord Harold and Lady Gwendolyn were separated to go their ways to their respective Summer dwelling places–she to Sussex Hall that her family is renting for the Summer, and he to the Sussex Hall Dower House where the Blount family is staying for the Summer.
It does not help Lord Harold’s unease in parting from her, that Lady Gwendolyn’s brother was not yet there to greet her—Lord Duncan is traveling down with his parents from York to Sussex, which will take several more days to accomplish. Though Lady Gwendolyn’s London servants traveling with her are familiar to her and there to cosset her—in addition to the massive Sussex Hall Estate staff.
And Lord Harold had found Lady Gwendolyn’s chilling disdain of him from yesterday—with him being the Blount Rogue—had waned last night as they spoke more cordially over dinner in Lady Gwendolyn’s bed chamber parlor at the Wayfarer Inn in the small market town of Walden, where they broke their journey to Sussex Hall Estates. Naturally, Lady Gwendolyn’s Ladies Maid Dorcas Strand was chaperoning the two for propriety’s sake, and eating her evening meal in the corner of the parlor to allow them their private conversations.
Smiling at seeing Lady Gwendolyn looking charming as she emerges from the darkness of her inn bed chamber [(2) below left] and into the candlelight of their impromptu dining area in her inn bed chamber’s large and elegant private parlor, Lord Harold [(3) below right] seeks to be considerate and gentlemanly toward her, as his hopeful looking expression displays.
Lord Harold: “Lady Gwen, I hope that you find your accommodations at the Inn to your liking.” He had urged the innkeeper to give her ladyship the inn’s very best rooms, and Lord Harold made do with the comfort of a serviceable but less elegantly appointed room—no ceiling chandelier in his parlor.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, Hal…” She spears him with a wary scowl, then continues with some astonishment. “The rooms are surprisingly better than I had hoped for in an inn of this size.”
Lord Harold: “Ah! Perhaps that is partially due to our family’s patronage over the years—and our making the establishment known to friends who visit us, My Lady.”
Lady Gwendolyn: She wonders at his seemingly prideful statement. “So are you saying that I have you to thank for the comfort that I now enjoy?” In actuality, she does have him to thank for her lovely inn accommodations.
But Lord Harold does not feel the need to belabor that point. A gentleman acts even more gentlemanly, when he does not preen about it.
Lord Harold: So Lord Harold demures. “No, not at all, My Lady.” He replies with the expected bland tone of aristocrats in polite conversations—though the lady does try his patience at times. “My praise was for the Inn’s success, not my own self-aggrandizement.” Then he sips his excellent wine before his tightly held self control snaps.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh! Well then. My apologies for my mistaken attribution.” She sighs.
Lord Harold: Smiling, he touches his hand to his ear, and teases. “What was that I hear? An apology? Coming not only from a Lindsay of York, but from Lady Gwennie.”
Lady Gwendolyn: Having had her agitation bubble burst, she laughs. “Ha ha ha! Oh Hal, might we make a truce? I will call you Harold, if you will stop referring to me as Gwennie. As I mentioned earlier, I left that childhood appellation in the dust a very long time ago.”
Lord Harold: Raising his wine goblet to her, he toasts her. “It shall be as my Lady Gwendolyn commands. Though Gwen, I am not averse to being addressed by you as Hal.” His eyes sparkle with mirth. The little girl of his memories has blossomed into the lovely and spirited woman before him. She will make any man a fine wife—any man but him, that is.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Very well, Hal. And you may address me as Gwen …” Which he has already been doing. “…but only when we are in private.”
Lord Harold: “Agreed, My Lady—if only to insure that we do share private moments with each other.” He smoulders cheekily.
Lady Gwendolyn: Laughing at his teasing, she remarks. “Ha ha ha! Oh Hal. Do be serious! Does your practiced charm really work on softening women toward you?”
Lord Harold: “Well, Gwen, I thank you for your labeling my efforts charming.” She raises her eyebrow in mirth. “But I am deuced uncertain as to how to reply to your query? Other than to aver a defiant yes!” He nods his head once.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Now Hal, do not go off in a fit of pique. I merely suggest that as longtime family friends—even though we have not seen each other in the intervening years since childhood—we might ease the formality of usual discourse that society requires of us. There is no one to eschew our familiarity—well, except my Ladies Maid Dorcas.” Lady Gwendolyn waves at Dorcas with a smile, and the gesture is returned.
Lord Harold: “Indeed, Gwen, I like your forthrightness about our becoming familiar.” Now he raises his eye brow in mirth.
Lady Gwendolyn: Her face falls into sadness, and she replies with a halting sigh. “Oh Hal! I am not comfortable in being teased or flirted with in a romantic sense. I gave my heart away ten years ago to my beloved who was later killed on the battle field with my brother Lord Alfred. I have resigned myself to spinsterhood—I will love no other—and to hopefully my being a very good aunt one day when my brother Duncan weds and has a family.”
Lord Harold sees tears shining in Lady Gwendolyn’s eyes.
Lord Harold: “I am so sorry for your loss, Gwen. I did not realize that you were still in mourning for your late betrothed.” And Lord Harold thinks of his recent lost love. “Love takes hold and it can be a joyful thing, yet fleeting when circumstances thwart a forever happiness together with our beloved.” He wistfully looks off to the side, thinking about his love.
Lady Gwendolyn: She tilts her head and looks more closely at Lord Harold. “Hal? Were you in love once?”
Lord Harold: He waves his hand as if to dismiss the statement that came out of his mouth before his good sense could stop it. “It was nothing, a trifle—and certainly did not rise to the level of your attachment with your late betrothed.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “I highly doubt that denial on your lips. The sincerity in your voice belies your having had a fleeting love, as you phrased it.”
Lord Harold: His face becoming a mask of stoicism, he adopts his calculated sneer. “My love was … is married. She and I cannot be. So what do you think of me now?” He lifts his glass in toast to her. Lord Harold is so accustomed to playing the accomplished flirt and rogue, that it is a safe role for him to step into when such messy things as feelings are being discussed.
Lady Gwendolyn: “I think the gentleman before me ‘doth protest too much’ [(4)], Hal.”
Lord Harold: “Shakespeare? Oh that is rich. Next thing I know you will ‘compare me to a Summer’s day’ [(5)], Gwen.” He grins at her with practiced amusement.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Stuff and nonsense, Hal! Clearly we are not destined to be good friends if you will only hide behind your rogue’s persona.”
Lord Harold: “Me? Hide? Why my lady, have you not noticed the height and breadth of my person?” He strikes a ridiculous pose of astonishment as he puffs out his chest and attempts to broaden his torso by planting his fisted hands at his waist, that makes her titter with laughter.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Ha ha ha! Hal? If you want dessert, you will need to do better than that.” She smiles in wagging her finger at him in her best remembrance of a governess glower.
Lord Harold: “Oh that was good, Gwen. Your governess must have been a dragon.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Governesses, plural.” She smiles with self satisfaction at having rousted several governesses who tried to be over bearing with her.
Lord Harold: “Oh yes! I can see how you would be trouble.” He nods with a knowingly smile. Trouble incarnate, he thinks privately to himself. He has not had this much fun conversing with a lady since … well, since never.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Why Trouble is my middle name, Hal.” I flutter my lashes in an exaggeratedly coquette manner.
The rest of our evening conversation at the Wayfarer Inn had gone along similarly safe, non-deeply intimate, topics, Lord Harold muses. I respect Lady Gwendolyn’s grief over her late betrothed. But I fear that my own understanding of not wanting to be alone the rest of my own life, causes me to sympathize for Lady Gwendolyn.
So after seeing Lady Gwendolyn safely to Sussex Hall the following morning after their chaste night at the Wayfarer Inn, her mind was almost instantly taken up with arranging for the repairs of her two broken carriages—one a broken axle and the second a bent wheel. So Lord Harold returns to the Sussex Hall Dower house to hear more about this baby news business.
As to be expected, the baby news that Lord Christian and Lady Madeline share with their families receives much congratulations and hugs. Not the least of which with Lady Madeline’s Grandmama Lady Knott who turns up unexpectedly for a visit–she and the Dowager Countess Lady Catherine are in high spirits to become great grandmothers.
And Lady Lizzie is beside herself with glee to finally becoming an Aunt. Lady Madeline’s father Squire Sinclair and her brothers were notified by letter, and she and Lord Christian will no doubt receive letters of congratulation in return a few days later. At least, they hope to receive a congratulatory letter from Lady Madeline’s father—as opposed to him turning up as a guest.
There is only one quarter for whom the baby news is not as joyous as one would hope, with Lord Christian’s newly arrived brother Lord Harold moping about the Sussex Hall Dower House in a state of agitated melancholia [(6)]. Lord Harold grew up being the spare to the heir, and he thought that he was reconciled to not having a high ranking place in their family after his brother Lord Christian became the Earl. Yet with Lord Christian’s and Lady Madeline’s baby news, Lord Harold feels further displaced, eclipsed once more–set aside as one might a formerly cherished toy that they no longer play with. And Lord Harold’s rebounded selfish attitude does no one any good, least of all, him.
So his younger sister Lady Elizabeth [(7) below] goes looking for her older brother Lord Harold and finds him in the expansive library at the Sussex Hall Dower House. This library is not as large as the library at Sussex Hall, nor even the library at their London pied a terre Sussex House. But the Sussex Hall Dower House library holds within its shelves and reading nooks fond memories for the Blount family of comfortable cozes and reading delights.
Lady Elizabeth: “There you are, Harold! I wondered where you had wandered off to after learning that you are to become an uncle and I am to be an aunt. It is glorious to think of a new baby in the family, is it not? And I will not be the baby of the family any longer!” She claps her hands with glee.
Yet Lady Elizabeth is an eighteen year old young lady growing up and she no longer wishes to be considered a child. However, her brother Lord Harold on the other hand, seems firmly steeped in childishness.
Lord Harold: Nursing a tall glass of brandy–at a very early 3 o’clock in the afternoon—he sneers. “Eager for a mewling baby who will only mess its wrappers and keep us all awake at night? You are mad!”
Lady Elizabeth: “No! I’m delighted and thrilled—and so should you be.” Then she walks over to him and swipes the brandy tumbler glass out of his hands and sniffs it. “Ugg! This smells disgusting!” She takes a sip. “It tastes even worse. I do not know how you can drink this vile concoction.” She shakes her head from side to side.
Lord Harold: “Quite well. Now give that back to me.” He reaches his arm out from his seated position, but she sashays away from him.
Lady Elizabeth: “I will not!” She pouts as she moves away from him, not spilling a drop of the vile amber liquid. “Did you drink like this when you were with Lady Gwendolyn at the Wayfarer Inn last night?”
Lord Harold: “We drank a fine wine from the Inn’s admirable cellar. And please do not bandy Lady Gwendolyn’s good name, an inn, and my name about in the same sentence, Lizzie. Reputations could be ruined.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh Harold, I never thought that you cared much for your reputation.”
Lord Harold: Rolling his eyes at his younger sister, Lord Harold explains. “Not for my reputation, you goose! But for hers, Lady Gwen’s reputation.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Well, you are a rogue, I suppose.” She muses.
Lord Harold: His eyes narrow in consternation. “Now where did you hear that? You are too young and innocent to know of such things.” Lord Harold shakes his head in disbelief. When did his sister grow up to be this seemingly worldly young lady?
Lady Elizabeth: “Ah ha! I notice that you did not dispute the rogue label, Harold.” Lady Elizabeth accuses with her elegantly pointing finger. Well, her finger is elegant, her pointing it is not. Lord Harold shrugs his shoulders. “But you know, they say that reformed rogues are said to make the best husbands.”
Lord Harold: He bristles. “I am not reformed, nor am I likely to be.” Well, not anytime soon, he thinks. Perhaps when he is old and gray and lacking teeth and the ability to regulate his bodily functions, then he supposes that he will have to reform. “And you stay away from anyone possessing the rogue label—or a rake or fortune hunter label, for that matter.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Harold? When did you become the not fun brother? Usually, well, in the past, you oozed fun and mischief. Christy is supposed to be the stodgy elder brother. But look at him now—set to be a father soon, so at least his new wife Maddie thinks he is fun.”
Lord Harold: “I am fun, still.” He defends himself with a boyishly whiny voice. “But mischief is overrated. I believe that I have had my fill of it.” And he remembers his off color remarks about his brother Lord Christian’s former mistress Lady Brenda–now the Duchess of Exeter–that caused his brother’s fist to connect with Lord Harold’s face three months ago, as he palms his cheek in remembered pain.
Lady Elizabeth: “What about Lord Duncan’s sister, Lady Gwendolyn. She seems nice. I like her.”
Lord Harold: “What about her? And yes, she can be nice, when she is not being disdainful.”
Lady Elizabeth: “My! You seemed to leap to her reputation’s defense just now. Does that not indicate a feeling of your liking and respecting her?”
Lord Harold: “She is tolerable, once you get past her air of superiority. She can be as prickly as a porcupine when her hackles are up—when something does not follow her tightly laid out plans, such as broken carriage axles and bent wheels.” He rolls his eyes.
Lady Elizabeth: “It sounds like you are coming to know that lady—quite well.” She pauses and scrutinizes her older brother. “And I could say the same of you, Harold. One has to get past your defenses to find my loving and kind brother inside.”
Lord Harold: “Oh Lizzie, you live life in a dream world. I am not loving nor kind—let alone, good.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Well, you are to me—good and kind and loving. So you might as well start living up to that reputation …” She emphasizes. “…with other people—so they can become acquainted with you and not the façade of you that you present to others.” She pours the remaining liquid from his drink into a potted plant, and she sets the now empty crystal tumbler on the sideboard. Then she motions for him to join her in a walk around the Sussex Hall Dower House gardens as she leads him out the library terrace doors
Lord Harold: Shaking his head in amusement, Lord Harold admonishes his sister as they walk outside. “Oh Lizzie, you are going to be a handful to whomever you end up marrying, my Dear.” He knowingly pats her hand crooked around his arm.
Lady Elizabeth: Lady Elizabeth smiles brilliantly up at him for his unintended compliment as they walk toward the rose bushes. “Why thank you, Harold! I am determined to be my own self, not some blank, insipid miss stalking ballrooms looking for a husband. My husband hunt is over. And I will marry Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay!” She sighs with girlish romantic glee.
Lord Harold: “Oh Lizzie!” He sights. “Lord Lindsay is not for you, he is intended for Lady Constance Knightsbridge, the Duke of Lanchashire’s daughter—since she was the former betrothed of the late Lord Alfred Lindsay of York. You know this.”
Lady Elizabeth: “We shall see—that ten year belated engagement is a dead duck, in my view.” Lord Harold’s eyebrows rise at her bold assessment. “ And you should also see how you get on with Lady Gwendolyn of York this Summer.” She preens.
Lord Harold: “Despite my … interests…” His heart, which belongs to his doomed love for the exquisitely beautiful, kind, and charming, but married Lady Penelope Lindquist. “… being elsewhere, Lady Gwendolyn still mourns her dead betrothed. And as the Duke of York’s daughter, she and her parents will obviously want her to marry a titled and wealthy man. I possess neither of those attributes as the temporary spare to the Sussex Earldom heir, for Christy—with my only having a courtesy Lord title and my only money is a small competence from Christy’s Earldom and a dilapidated estate. I am no fair lady’s choice of husband.” Not even for his love Lady Penelope [(8) below], thinks Lord Harold.
Lady Elizabeth: “But you could be. What if Christy and Maddie have only daughters? Did you think of that? Then you will still be the heir to the Sussex Earldom.”
Lord Harold: With a skeptically raised brow, Lord Harold counters. “I highly doubt that future will come to pass. Nor would I wish it to. Christy will have sons as heirs, just as our parents had two sons and a daughter. I will be eclipsed as the second son—as I always expected to be.” He sighs. His fate is one reason why he has never bothered to behave as a gentleman ought, or so he tells himself as a justification for his previously ungentlemanly and roguish behavior. He has nothing of real value to offer a lady, or so he thinks.
Lady Elizabeth: “But …” Then he interrupts her.
Lord Harold: Raising his hands in mock protest, Lord Harold shushes his sister. “Nay, Lizzie. Leave it be. And Lady Gwendolyn is, at best, a friend to me–as I hope to be to her.” He smiles encouragingly. “Now! Let us think up some diversion from all of this nauseatingly blissful baby talk that is certain to ensue at tonight’s dining table. Hmmm?” He smiles while rolling his eyes.
Lady Elizabeth: “Well, … I could try to divert Christy and Maddie by enlisting their aid in my quest to marry Lord Duncan?” Lady Elizabeth harking upon her wish and insistence to marry Lord Duncan, is like a dog with a bone that it will not let go of.
Lord Harold squints his eyes at his younger sister in remorse. Lord Harold had a man to man talk with Lord Duncan not too long ago, asking Lord Duncan to uncategorically release his sister Lady Elizabeth from the notion that she and Lord Duncan might have a marital future together. After all, Lord Duncan is technically betrothed to his late brother Lord Alfred’s fiancé Lady Constance Knightsbridge. And Lord Duncan agreed to Lord Harold’s request.
Lord Harold: “Lizzie, I think that you should allow yourself to be open to meeting other more eligible prospective husbands.” He says gently.
Lady Elizabeth: “Harold, as you are a second son who has the freedom from notice and the strictures of society, then I as a daughter should have the same freedom. I love Duncan and I want him for my husband!” She stands firm.
Lord Harold: “But, if Lord Duncan marries Lady Constance—as I have no doubt that he will …” A slight exaggeration on his part. “…then you should seek some happiness for yourself. I only want for you to find happiness, Lizzie.” He gives her an uncharacteristic embrace, and kisses her temple.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh I will be happy. And so shall you be happy, Harold. I just know it!” Lady Elizabeth firmly juts out her little resolute chin as she returns his embrace.
Lord Harold: “Would that life and love could be unwaveringly amenable to bestowing happiness upon each of us, My Dear.” He thinks of Lady Penelope.
Lady Elizabeth: “You almost sound poetic, Harold.” She wistfully smiles up at her older brother.
Lord Harold: “Egads!” He shivers with mock horror. “Never liken me to a milk sop poet! Now! To only slightly change the subject, I hear from Christy that Lady Madeline has a scheme to bring the Vicar of London’s St. Timothy’s Church to Sussex Hall Dower House for a visit in about one month’s time. Perhaps they wish to make a match between the two of you.” His eyes twinkle with mirth.
Lady Elizabeth: “Heaven forbid! The Vicar of St. Timothy’s is ollld! He is maybe even older than Christy!” Her brother Lord Christian is 12 years older than she.
Lord Harold: “Oh well. I agree, that is ancient, indeed.” He teases. “Ah well, then maybe Lady Gwendolyn will do for the good Vicar.” He joshes, for he knows that Lady Gwendolyn’s vow to remain true to her late betrothed is heartfelt and unwavering.
Lady Elizabeth: “Harold, you can not find spouses for everyone else, but not for yourself.” She teasingly scolds him.
Lord Harold: “Watch me!” He grins broadly. “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lady Elizabeth: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”
The two Blount siblings walk back into the Sussex Dower House’s library pealing with laughter—at the thought of Lord Harold becoming a match maker.
The near horizon for new arrivals still has the York’s coming to Sussex Hall to stay for the Summer–and eventually for the Vicar of St. Timothy’s to visit the Sussex Hall Dower House. One wonders what will transpire when more persons are added to the mix of society on the Sussex Hall Estate this Summer? And what baggage will they bring with them?
To be continued with Chapter 8
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 7 images for January 20, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1206)
- “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.
- Lady Gwendolyn’s pale light purple lavendar silk organza evening gown (Grati background mask) is Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood in 1995’s Sense & Sensibility found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e4/a8/be/e4a8becc0d292a3c0f1412358cef9653.jpg
- Lord Harold Blount image (background mask by Grati) is that of Crispin Bonham-Carter in the 1995 mini series Pride and Prejudice and was found at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112130/mediaviewer/rm1864548864
4. “…doth protest too much…” is a line from the Shakespearean play “Hamlet”; for more information, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_lady_doth_protest_too_much,_methinks
5. “..compare thee to a Summer’s Day” is the first line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet #18; for more information, visit https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/shall-i-compare-thee-summers-day-sonnet-18
6. Melancholia definition was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melancholia
7. Lady Elizabeth Blount in purple day dress is that of Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil in Downton Abby found at http://media.tumblr.com/d0a41882cb1002e0e9604665f32b77ee/tumblr_inline_mono4y4CRK1qz4rgp.jpg
8. Lady Penelope Lindquist is portrayed by Lily Travers—who appears on Victoria season 3 in 2019 as Duchess Sophie of Monmouth; the image was found at https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/victoria-s3-new-cast-characters/
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 7 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for January 20, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 6 story URL of my SAL blog post (#1204), on January 13, 2019: