“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 9: Unraveling the Tamsin Puzzle,
February 03, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1210)
(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; 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 “Gwen” 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; Margaret Clunie portrays the Late Lord Alfred’s betrothed Lady Constance Knightsbridge; Hugh Grant as Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre and heir to the Duke of Lancashire as Lady Constance Knightsbridge’s brother; and Francesca Capaldi as Miss Tamsin.]
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” (Book 2)– Ch. 9: Unraveling the Tamsin Puzzle
Having enjoyed the comfortable accommodations at Sussex Hall Manor for the past two days, Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York walks further down the guest bed chamber suites hallway—and past her own guest bedchamber suite—to that of Lord Robert Knightsbridge, Marquess of Wyre and heir to the Dukedom of Lancashire. She hopes to see that he is settled in, so to speak.
As is the custom, Lady Gwendolyn scratches lightly upon Lord Robert’s closed suite door. Scratching is more polite than making bold knocks—and protects one’s knuckles from unsightly bruising. Lord Robert’s valet Corbett answers the door with a bow.
Valet Corbett: “My Lady?” He raises a querying eyebrow for an unmarried lady to enter an unmarried man’s bed chamber suite, even though the hallway door merely opens to Lord Robert’s guest suite’s large parlor.
Lady Gwendolyn: “I am come to see that Lord Wyre is settled in.” She smiles in that slightly condescending way to staff that conveys that she expects them to acquiesce to her unspoken request of gaining entry to Lord Robert’s parlor. Corbett bows and bids her to enter.
Valet Corbett: “Of course, My Lady. I will ascertain if Lord Wyre is receiving.”
For after being atop a horse all morning in the final leg of their journey to Sussex Hall Manor, Lord Robert instantly ordered a bath before joining the Sussexs and Yorks at luncheon. So the Valet leaves Lady Gwendolyn in Lord Robert’s Parlor as he walks into the bed chamber to see if and when Lord Robert will be presentable.
So Lady Gwendolyn wanders around the parlor that she had merely glanced at yesterday in her check of the guest rooms’ readiness with the Sussex Hall Housekeeper. Lady Gwendolyn finds this suite to be most comfortably appointed—and with the masculine shades of deep burgundy dominating the patterns of the elegant furnishings of velvet, brocade, leather, and walnut. She sits upon a large wing chair near the fireplace heart as she awaits her audience with Lord Wyre.
Valet Corbett: “My apologies, Lord Wyre. But you have a …”
Lord Robert: “Bah! Never mind that! Rinse me with those buckets of warm water by the hearth, then go to the Duke and Duchess of York’s suite and tell their attendants to inform them that I will be a trifle late to luncheon. Then come back here and give me a close shave. We were on the road so early today that I did not have time for a shave, and I feel positively heathen with this slight beard growth upon my face.” He strokes his chin and cheeks with a grimace.
Valet Corbet dutifully douses and rinses Lord Wyre with the two buckets of water—while still trying to inform him of Lady Gwendolyn’s presence.
Valet Corbett: “But, My Lord, Lady …” The clearly exasperated valet is interrupted again by his Lordship.
Lord Robert: “Never mind about that! I will speak to the lady as soon as I am dry and donned my breeches.” Of course, Lord Robert thinks that the lady his valet is referring to his sister, Lady Constance.
Standing and stepping out of his tub and taking one towel, Lord Robert wraps the towel around his abdomen and takes another towel to dry his hair, face, and upper body, Lord Wyre shoos his Valet to his commission for him.
Valet Corbett does as his Lordship bids, and leaves his Lordship to dry. Corbett gives Lady Gwendolyn a wincing bow when he enters Lord Wyre’s parlor. But he finds her lying asleep and across the very large wing chair next to the cozily warm hearth. Thinking that he will be able to dispatch his Lordship’s message to the Yorks quickly and then return, Corbett leaves to do just that.
In the meantime, Lord Robert fully dries himself, then dresses in his under clothes, breeches, and a blousy shirt over his bare torso—that he can easily remove when his valet returns to shave him. Seeing no stockings set out for him, Lord Robert foregoes his boots and even his slippers, then he walks into his parlor barefoot to speak to his sister Lady Constance. She has seen his bare feet enumerable times in their youth, so they should not shock her, he thinks.
Lord Robert: “Connie?” He says in a loving and gentle voice for his dear sister.
But Lord Robert’s eyes do not look upon his sister, but rather a dozing Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York. And he smiles at her sweet repose in sleep in one of his parlor’s large wingchairs. Lady Gwendolyn has her dress covered legs lying gracefully draped over the arm of the wingchair with her torso and head snuggled into the corner of the back and side of the chair. Her hands are clasped to her breast and he watches her slow and graceful breathing for a few moments. He finds her disarray charming. He finds her charming. Yet not wanting to startle her awake and cause her embarrassment, Lord Robert backs out of the parlor, puts on his slippers after all, and he rattles his bed chamber door open—pretending to be looking for his valet.
Lord Robert: “Corbett?” He calls out in a clear voice, but not so loud to be considered shouting.
Lady Gwendolyn slowly opens her eyes and considers her surroundings as she hears Lord Wyre’s voice. Then she realizes that her limbs are askew upon the wing chair and she rights herself into a sitting position and tucks a stray strand of hair behind her ears.
Lord Robert: “Ah! Lady Gwendolyn. How nice to see you again.” He smiles broadly at her. She rises and looks demurely to the side [(3) below] so as not to see his bare lower legs. “My Valet led me to believe that it was my sister Lady Constance who came to visit me. But I am delighted that he was in error.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “My Lord Wyre! My apologies for intruding upon your … your …”
Lord Robert: Grinning for her embarrassment, he finishes her sentence. “My bath?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh no! I would never …!” She sputters while her face blushes a charming shade of pink, thinks Lord Robert.
Lord Robert: “And yet, you did, My Lady Gwendolyn.” He waves his arm away in dismissing her concerns. “But no matter. I have bathed, dried, and somewhat dressed. Though I am still in dire need of a shave.” He rubs his stubbled cheeks and chin.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh!” She pinkens again in realizing that while she was in his guest suite’s parlor, he was in his bed chamber—in his tub, wet, and undressed. At least, she presumes he was undressed. Though ladies tend to bathe in a chemise for modesty’s sake, with their ladies maid usually present.
Lord Robert: “How may I help you, My Lady?” He smiles again and now holds his hands clasped behind his back, so as not to reach out and place a loose strand of her hair behind her ear. But him doing so with his arms seemingly broadens his shoulders and makes his open shirt at the collar gape more—showing the base of his bare neck more openly to her. It is not his intent to display himself to advantage, but she notices—his muscular neck—and gapes at him. “I say, are you quite alright, Lady Gwendolyn? You look rather stricken?” He teases.
Lady Gwendolyn: Wresting her eyes from his bare neck and hint of bare chest, Lady Gwendolyn sputters. “I see no beard growth upon you, Lord Wyre.” And she thinks, drat. Now he will believe that I have stared at his cheeks and neck. Well I have, regarding his bare neck.
Lord Robert: “Please. With our families connected so familiarly, let us not stand on ceremony when we are in private. You may call me, Lord Robert—or, Robert, if you wish. And I may address you as …?” He hints.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Lady Gwendolyn.” She nods her head once. “Lord Robert.” She tries his name upon her lips.
Lord Robert: “Ah! Progress.” He smiles teasingly. Silence reigns for a few moments. “You wished to speak with me, Lady Gwendolyn?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh yes! I did. I mean, I do!” But dash it if I can remember what I wish to speak to him about. He looks even more handsome without his cravat.
More silence ensues. And Lord Robert begins to wonder where his valet Corbett has gotten to?
Lord Robert: Narrowing his eyes a bit in what he hopes is a smoulderingly dashing look, he asks. “Should I guess?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “What? No. I mean. I forgot.” She winces, cutely, thinks Lord Robert.
Lord Robert: “Are you perhaps trying to uncover my croquet team’s playing abilities, to see how my niece and I might compare to your and Lord Harold’s teams?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “That is it! Your niece!” Now she remembers.
Lord Robert: “Yes?” He looks at her curiously, wondering if she has guessed the truth.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Your hair has reddish highlights, when the sun glints upon it.”
Lord Robert: “Does it? No one has ever indicated that to me.” He states benignly.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, your niece, Miss Tamsin has reddish hair.” She makes a bold implication.
Lord Robert: His eyes narrow further. “Yes. As we have said, Tamsin is family. And there are likely to be some traits between us that are similar.” He somewhat dissembles.
Lady Gwendolyn: Then in a burst of anxiety, Lady Gwendolyn asks her impertinent question. “Will you not claim Miss Tamsin as your own, Lord Robert?”
Lord Robert: Astonished at her implication, he states. “I believe I just did. Miss Tamsin is family to us. And I will not say anything more upon the subject. And I will thank you not to speak of it to anyone, least of all to Miss Tamsin. Am I understood?” Lord Robert responded to Lady Gwendolyn a tad more forcefully than he would like. But Lady Gwendolyn is encroaching upon private family matters.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Of course! My apologies for intruding upon your bath and now upon your private family matters.” Lady Gwendolyn replies to him in a brusque manner. Two can employ aristocratic disdain to their advantage. And she departs, to leave Lord Robert to his face shaving. But she is now more certain than she was before that little Miss Tamsin is more of a Knightsbridge than what has been previously suggested. And she hopes that Lord Harold has better luck with his conversation with her brother Lord Duncan.
Meanwhile, Lord Harold Blount engages Lord Duncan Lindsay in a game of billiards in the Sussex Hall Manor Library and Billiards Room, while Lady Elizabeth sits off to the side pretending to read a gothic novel—with the book unintentionally upside down, Lord Duncan notices that small detail with a self-satisfied smile about his charming beloved.
Lord Harold: “I say Duncan, I think that I have a greater inkling as to your reluctance to marry Lady Constance Knightsbridge.” He takes his shot–and misses.
Lord Duncan: Looking offended, Lord Duncan [(4) below] replies to Lord Harold curtly. “Oh? I have no objection to the lady. She is very fine. Afterall, she was my late brother Lord Alfred’s betrothed. They were a love match. She is devoted to his memory—and I respect her devotion.” Lord Duncan takes his shot and the ball falls into the pocket. So he lines up another shot.
Lord Harold: “No indeed! I can see nothing objectionable about Lady Constance. She is a very fine lady, very fine. But with her being so attached to her family’s ward, Miss Tamsin, I can surmise how difficult it would be for a man to marry a woman who already has a child to care for.”
Lord Duncan: “You mistake the matter, Harold. Miss Tamsin is a delight! And she is and will be a wonderful addition to any family.” Lord Duncan bristles in defense of Lady Constance, as well as, of Miss Tamsin.
Lord Harold: “Of course. Of course.” Lord Harold wonders if there is more to Lord Duncan’s defense of Lady Constance and of Miss Tamsin than he has perceived thus far.
And listening in on her brother Lord Harold’s and the man she hopes to marry Lord Duncan’s terse conversation, Lady Elizabeth wonders if Lord Duncan with his reddish hair is hiding a connection to Miss Tamsin via Lady Constance. But that would be so sordid—just like in the gothic novels that she loves to read—were he to have bedded and gotten with child his late brother’s betrothed and then not married her. Was that why the late Lord Alfred had gone to war and died, to forget the betrayal by his brother and his betrothed? But Lady Elizabeth does not want to contemplate that devastating possibility. For Lady Elizabeth fears that she would not be able to look upon her beloved Lord Duncan with the same love and tender feelings that she possesses now.
Then everyone’s thoughts are interrupted by the person in question skipping into the Library and Billiards Room. The nine year old Miss Tamsin has arrived, and in her usual effervescent fashion with bouncing red curls [(5) below].
Lord Duncan: Smiling instantly, Lord Duncan motions Miss Tamsin over to him. “You scamp! What are you doing here, and you are not with Lady Constance?” Miss Tamsin hugs Lord Duncan around his waist, and he hugs her then pats her head.
Miss Tamsin: “Oh, Uncle Lord Duncan, Mama let me bathe first, and now she is bathing. She takes forever getting ready.” Miss Tamsin draws out the word forever and rolls her eyes in an exaggerated and most unladylike way—even for a nine year old.
Lady Elizabeth: “Miss Tamsin, you have another Uncle, in Lord Duncan?” Lady Elizabeth asks the child in a whisper thin voice quivering with incredulity—and with her unladylike finger pointing toward Lord Duncan.
Miss Tamsin: “I do. Mama says that one can never have too many family. So Lord Duncan is also my Uncle. He visits us often in Lancashire—though not so much in London when we go for our dress fittings. And he is nice and plays games with me and Mama and along with Uncle Lord Robert, teaches me to ride my pony.” Then Miss Tamsin smiles broadly at Lady Elizabeth. “If you like, Lady Elizabeth, you may be my cousin, too—since we are spending the Summer together. And if you marry Uncle Lord Duncan–despite what he told Mama Lady Constance that his parents the Yorks said to him about his hope to marry you–then you can be my Aunt. I do not have one of those yet.”
Lord Duncan: “Are you listening at keyholes again, Miss Tamsin.” He eyes her beadily with a stern and yet also embarrassed expression upon his face, and with a resignedly mirthful twinkle in his eyes.
Miss Tamsin: “Of course! How else am I to find out about what you adults are up to?”
Lord Duncan pulls Miss Tamsin back into his embrace again and then gently clamps his hand over her mouth—in the vain hope of preventing more of her uncensored remarks. She tries to tickle his arms for him to let her go. And as usual, she succeeds and smilingly dances out of his grasp as he giggles slightly and loosens his already light hold upon her.
Miss Tamsin: “Uncle Lord Duncan is quite ticklish.” She intones to Lady Elizabeth. “Something for you to keep in mind, Lady Elizabeth–should you and he marry. You would not want him giggling at the wrong moment, because you tickled him—during a dinner party or while at the theatre.” The collective breaths that the three adults in the room have been holding–waiting upon what the little girl would say—are released in a loud rush of relieved sighs.
Lord Duncan: “Ha ha ha!” Lord Duncan gives a false laugh of cheer as he blushes crimson. “What children do and say! My word! I ask you!” He babbles.
And both Lord Harold and Lady Elizabeth Blount look stunned at viewing Lord Duncan Lindsay in a new light—of a man with more secrets than he has previously revealed to them. But what secrets are those precisely, they wonder?
Lord Harold Blount can only hope that when he and Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay have a chance to compare notes about their discussions with Lord Duncan Lindsay and Lord Robert Knightsbridge, respectively, that some sense of the truth about Miss Tamsin’s tangled family relationships will coalesce. Perhaps.
But first, they must all get through luncheon with Lord Duncan and Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of York.
To be continued with Chapter 10
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 9 images for February 03 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1210)
- “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 Robert Knightsbridge , Marquess of Wyre, with bare shoulders is Hugh Grant in the “Nine Months” film; image via Fan pop at http://images6.fanpop.com/image/photos/36000000/Nine-Months-the-movie-image-nine-months-the-movie-36090588-936-619.jpg
- Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York looking demure is Emma Thompson in “Sense & Sensibility”: image found at Fan Pop at http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/16700000/Sense-and-Sensibility-sense-and-sensibility-16730973-700-410.jpg
- Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay looking pensive near fireplace is Rupert Penry-Jones in “Persuasion”; image found at the Jane Austen Book Club at http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_mcRr3B03QgQ/TBsTgPHqYRI/AAAAAAAAFvo/nTclPIi7wQ8/s1600/PDVD_714.jpg
- Miss Tamsin with red ringlet curls is American child actress Francesca Capaldi; image found at https://marriedbiography.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/francesca-capaldi-.jpg
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 9 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for February 03, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 8 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1208), on January 27, 2019: