“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 10: Friendly Acquaintances, February 24, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1214)
(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. P.S. I am in week three of bronchitis, and I am finally starting to feel less congested in my breathing, and thus I am able to write. I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 10: Friendly Acquaintances
When Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York took her leave of a not quite fully dressed Lord Robert Knightsbridge Marquess of Wyre a minute ago, she barely made it to the hallway before her composure crumbled. She had never seen a man’s bare neck—not even either of her brothers Duncan and their late brother Alfred’s neck’s—before Lord Robert so arrogantly showed her his–neck, that is.
Lady Gwendolyn cannot fathom why Lord Robert leaves her so unsettled. When he is not being pompous, he is a deplorably wicked person who likes to tease. Perhaps her own remaining living brother Lord Duncan is so kind hearted, that it makes her astonished to find anything less in another peer.
But a red faced, wool gathering, and talking to herself Lady Gwendolyn is how Lord Wyre’s sister, Lady Constance Knightsbridge comes upon her as Lady Constance exits her guest bed chamber suite to attend the midday welcome luncheon.
Lady Constance had refreshed herself with a bath after their long journey, after she first tended to her child ward Miss Tamsin’s bathing needs. And now Lady Constance feels just the thing in a lightweight pale apricot frock with a cream ruched collar skimming her shoulders for modesty’s sake [(2) below]—and a delicate shawl drapes at her elbows should the terrace lunch breeze prove to be chilling. She looks lovely and sweet.
Lady Constance: So Lady Constance serenely asks of Lady Gwendolyn with a small smile. “My Lady Gwendolyn. How fortunate you are in the guest bed chambers hallway. I must beg your forbearance to lead me to our joint family luncheon this hour. I do not quite have my bearings in this large household of Sussex Hall Manor.” Lady Constance smiles gently, hoping not to reveal that she saw Lady Gwendolyn’s distress. Lady Constance is ever kind and thoughtful of others, and so is her family kind and thoughtful of her.
However, Lady Gwendolyn is of a less delicate constitution and sensibilities—her feeling no embarrassment in her own wool gathering state.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Ah! My Lady Constance! It is indeed fortuitous that we meet in the hallway.” Lady Gwendolyn smiles her best hostess smile to Lady Constance [(3) below]—which is something between a look of surprise and a look of pensiveness.
Displays of forced tedium run rampant amongst the aristocracy—though Lady Gwendolyn is not a one to display such falsity of expression, unless she were to actually feel bored.
Lady Constance: Ever graceful, polite, and poised Lady Constance agrees with her hostess. “Indeed. Ours is a most timely meeting.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Is not young Miss Tamsin with you?” Lady Gwendolyn looks about for the young girl. For she had just roundly chastised Robert Lord Wyre about his connection to the Knightsbridge’s child ward—in case she is more than a ward.
Lady Constance: “Oh, Tammy has gone on ahead with her nurse. I saw to her bathing first, and then to mine own.” Again she smiles sweetly. Miss Tamsin is her one great joy in life.
However, Lady Gwendolyn is only slightly non-plussed. For not only does one not discuss bathing in conversation with others, she is touched by the tender solicitude shown by Lady Constance toward the child Miss Tamsin. Though Lady Gwendolyn considers Lady Constance to be more forthright, rather than indiscreet about this clearly personal matter. And she likes her straight away.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Yes, well, after your long journey, it is understandable that you would each find a bath refreshing. I certainly did which I arrived several days ago—find a bath refreshing, that is.” One discreet disclosure deserved another.
As they walk down the hallway toward the central staircase, Lady Gwendolyn takes a peek at Robert Lord Wyre’s closed door. He has not come out of his rooms yet. And she thinks that he must be trying various cravat foldings to cover that glorious neck of his. She blushes in thinking of it.
Lady Constance: “Might I make an observation, Lady Gwendolyn?” Lady Constance asks conspiratorially.
Lady Gwendolyn; “Please, My Lady. I am not likely to faint at any topic of polite conversation—nor even impolite conversation.”
Lady Constance: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Her ladylike laughter trills with joyous abandon. “Oh my! You remind me so of your brother, My Alfred.” Lady Constance’s face takes on a joyful moony eyed glow in thinking about him.
Lady Gwendolyn: However, Lady Gwendolyn’s face saddens for the loss of her older brother Lord Alfred to war nearly ten years ago. “Alfred was a very good brother, I miss him as well, My Lady. Yet, he lives on in our memories.” Lady Gwendolyn speaks gently to the late Lord Alfred’s betrothed, Lady Constance.
Lady Constance: “He does indeed, many happy memories.” Lady Constance sighs wistfully. “And he and I shall make many more memories when we are reunited upon his return from the war.”
Lady Gwendolyn stills as they have just reached the front Drawing Room of Sussex Hall. And she turns to Lady Constance with confusion, but treads lightly in her response to her.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Reunited? My Lady?”
Lady Constance: “Oh yes! My Alfred promised to return to me from the war. And he always keeps his promises.” Lady Constance smiles sweetly. Then Lady Constance sees Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay walking toward them from the back of Sussex Hall Manor, and she waves her fingers at him. “Helloo Duncan, well met. We are joining you for luncheon.”
Lord Duncan: “Ladies, might I entreat you to join me in this Drawing Room for moment? There is something that I wish to show you.”
Lady Gwendolyn: She nods hesitantly. “As you wish, Duncan.” And the three of them walk into the burgundy accented Drawing Room.
Lady Constance: “How delightful!” Lady Constance beams. “Do you have another letter from Alfred to share with me, My Lord? I so enjoy hearing from him. And it has been so long since he has last written.” She pouts prettily as she flounces into the Drawing room and Lord Duncan shuts the door securely.
Lord Duncan: “Sadly, I do not have a letter to share with you.” Then he uses misdirection. “But is this not a comfortably appointed room? I wonder, Lady Constance, if you see any design that you would like us to emulate in the refurbishment of your guest chamber suite at York Castle, once the roof leak is repaired?” Lady Constance nods, then turns to appraise the room’s design.
Lady Gwendolyn pulls her brother aside as Lady Constance happily walks around the large Drawing room, noting its color scheme, embellishments and family portraits–her touching them one by one as if acknowledging them as the Earl of Sussex’ family’s cherished mementos.
Lady Gwendolyn: In a hushed whisper, she asks queryingly. “Duncan? Why does Lady Constance think that our late brother Lord Alfred will return to her?”
Lord Duncan: Also speaking in a low voice so Lady Constance cannot hear them, he replies. “It is complicated. And I must ask you to go along with whatever she says. Lady Constance’s heart and mind are very delicate upon the subject of our late brother Alfred. They were a love match, and her heart could not sustain the thought of his loss almost ten years ago.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “They were betrothed, and his death during the Napolean campaigns was tragic—as was the death of my own hoped for betrothed.” Lady Gwendolyn is also sad, but she has resigned herself to both her brother Alfred’s and her love Stephen’s deaths.
Lord Duncan: “But for Lady Constance, it was even more devastating. You see, our brother Alfred must have had an inkling that he would not return from the war. So the week before he shipped out, they …” He lets that thought hang in the air.
Lady Gwendolyn: Finally looking shocked, Lady Gwendolyn tugs on her brother’s arm. “Oh my goodness! I hope you are going to say that Alfred married her.” Lady Gwendolyn plaintively begs her brother Duncan.
Lord Duncan: “He did. Her brother Lord Wyre and I were witnesses to the marriage. We were all on holiday together. So Lord Wyre and I gave them their privacy for a honeymoon over the next several days and then collected them back to head home to our families for our formal farewell of Alfred. Alfred and Lady Constance had meant to share their wedding news before he left, but everything happened so quickly when he was called up a week earlier than expected, that they didn’t have an opportunity to share their wedding joy.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “I remember now. Lady Constance was so bereft at his leaving that she collapsed into uncontrollable weeping after his ship sailed away.”
Lord Duncan: “She was despondent for many weeks. Then her father the Duke of Lancashire had a heart illness and all focus was upon him for some time. I beg that you treat Lady Constance in your usual friendly manner.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Of course. So that explains why Lady Constance is so devoted to our late brother Alfred’s memory—as his widow. But why keep that a secret now? Surely acknowledging her as Alfred’s wife and Marchioness would be best for Lady Constance?”
Lord Duncan: “And we would have, but that Lady Constance’s parents discovered that she carried Alfred’s child. A babe, perhaps a male heir. And with Lady Constance’s health being so low due to her initial despondency about his leaving, and then not 6 months later receiving word that he had died, the Knightsbridge’s felt that they could not take a chance that her low spirits might cause the baby to be still born.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “So they perpetuated a lie. And the child whom she bore Alfred? Is it Tamsin?”
Lord Duncan: “Yes!” He sighs. “The York red hair that Tamsin has in abundance is quite a telling sign that she is a Lindsay.” Lord Duncan absentmindedly touches his own reddish blond hair.
Lady Gwendolyn: “And that is why you have refused Mother’s and Father’s attempts to wed you to Lady Constance, because she is our brother Alfred’s widow.”
Lord Duncan: “That and Lady Constance believes Alfred to be alive. Since a body was not sent home for burial, she does not accept that he is dead.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “But you wear our late brother Alfred’s signet right—that a fellow soldier removed from his body to have sent home to us.” Lady Gwendolyn points to the ring on Lord Duncan’s finger, even as he nervously turns it upon that digit.
Having made the circuit of the room, Lady Constance comes up to Lord Duncan and Lady Gwendolyn. And each of them turn gentle smiles to her.
Lady Constance: “Lord Duncan and Lady Gwendolyn, it is so kind of you to invite my brother Robert and I, and my daughter Tamsin to share in your Summer Holiday at Sussex Hall.”
Lord Duncan: “We were delighted to extend the invitation. Considering York Castle is under renovations, we could not invite you there. And though I will have to travel to York Castle a time or two to oversee the renovations’ progress, my sister Lady Gwendolyn will take good care of you in my stead.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh yes, indeed! We will have a lovely Summer together.” Lady Gwendolyn’s smile is a bit forced, her only having only just been taken into her brother Lord Duncan’s confidence about the matters surrounding Lady Constance and their family.
Lady Constance: Yet Lady Constance is oblivious to the whirling thoughts now present in Lady Gwendolyn’s mind. “Do you know? I am feeling quite peckish. Perhaps we should join everyone upon the back terrace for our midday luncheon.”
Lord Duncan: “Yes, My Lady. And I will especially want to introduce you to Lady Elizabeth Blount, the younger sister to the Earl of Sussex—as well as Lord Sussex’ young bride who is in the family way, Lady Madeline Countess of Sussex.”
Lady Constance: “That will be delightful! To have a Summer long house party with so many agreeable ladies, we shall all certainly become friendly acquaintances over time. And perhaps there will be some children of the gentry who are Tamsin’s age for her to also find playmates. She has no playmates at home at York Castle that I worry that she is missing out on fun and friendship.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, Lady Elizabeth is only a few years older than Miss Tamsin. So may hap she knows of some eight or nine year olds among the gentry children for Miss Tamsin to play with.”
Lord Duncan: “Yes, of course. I will ask her for you.” For Lord Duncan has not taken Lady Elizabeth into his confidence about the true nature of his relationship to Lady Constance—as her brother-in-law.
Lady Constance: “Delightful!” She lightly claps her hands twice in a graceful gesture that makes nary a sound.
So Lady Gwendolyn, her brother Lord Duncan, and their sister-in-law Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay stroll arm in arm to the back of Sussex Hall Manor toward the garden terrace, where a tent has been helpfully erected to shade the diners from the fierceness of the midday sun.
Lord Duncan does a slight head nod to Lady Constance’s brother Lord Robert Marquess of Wyre as they enter the tent. And noting Lord Duncan’s pointed look, Lord Robert instantly attends to his sister and gazes searchingly over her much loved face.
Lord Robert: “My Dear Constance! How well you look after our long journey this day.”
Lady Constance: “Why thank you, Robert. I wanted to be sure and look my best, were My Alfred to surprise us by joining our little house party.” She looks around hopefully at the gathering.
Lord Robert: Whispering into his sister’s ear, he gently admonishes her. “Let us discuss that later, when the Yorks are not present.”
Lord Robert glances over at the Duke and Duchess of York in conversation with the Earl and Countess of Sussex, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline, and the Dowager Countess of Sussex, Lady Catherine—then at his parents. For Lord Duncan’s parents the Duke and Duchess of York are also not privy to Lady Constance’s disoriented belief that Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten is not dead.
Because the Duke and Duchess of Lancashire fear that were their daughter Lady Constance’s break from reality known beyond the scope of their close family, that she might be forced into a mental asylum for the incurably insane. They will never let that happen, for the Lancashires will tenderly care for Lady Constance in their own country home, away from London and Court, to keep her safe.
Lady Constance: Lady Constance conspiratorially whispers back to her brother, Lord Robert. “I understand that My Alfred joining us is a secret. But I miss him ever so much. And his parents the Yorks will surely also be glad to see him when he returns.” She pleads hopefully to her brother.
Lord Robert: “Yes, Dearest, but …” He is interrupted by the youngest member of their family party, who clasps Lady Constance’s hand in hers—drawing her attention away from disaster.
Miss Tamsin: “Now Mama, we mustn’t spoil the surprise.” She gazes up at Lady Constance. For though no one has taken Miss Tamsin into their full confidence about Lady Constance’s impossible hope that the late Lord Alfred of York yet lives, the young yet clever girl has surmised the right of it. “Papa Lord Alfred will surely visit us at some point. And he would not like us to spoil his surprise, Mama.” She smiles sweetly up at Lady Constance, who gently touches her daughter’s cheek with a smile.
Lady Constance: “How true. My Alfred , your dear Papa, does like to make a grand entrance. We shall keep his counsel.” Then she gazes up at her older brother in confirmation.
Lord Robert: “Very good, Dearest. Thank you for understanding.” Lord Robert smiles poignantly at his beloved sister, then down at his beloved niece.
Sensing a need to distract from further indepth conversations that might prove startling to those yet to be taken into the confidence of Lord Robert Knightsbridge, Lady Gwendolyn as her brother Lord Duncan’s putative hostess, nods at the butler, who then announces to the company that luncheon will be served. And everyone takes their places enfamille around the long dining table set up on the terrace and under the tent—with Lady Elizabeth Blount of Sussex happily finding herself sitting next to her beloved Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay of York and her Sussex Blount family. And Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York finds herself on the other side of Lord Robert Knightsbridge Marquess of Wyre who sits next to his sister Lady Constance Knightsbridge sitting with Miss Tamsin and the Duke and Duchess of York at the other end of the table.
The conversation between courses is light and engaging—mostly about the perils of the road after rainstorms, with Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York and Lord Harold Blount sitting next to her regaling them with their recent traveling misadventures. Everyone smiles and laughs. And though Lord Harold and Lady Gwendolyn are developing an ease of friendly acquaintanceship with each other, they seem to interact almost as brother and sister, not as a courting pair. Though Lord Robert’s side glances to the pair bristles at their ease of familiarity with each other.
Lady Elizabeth, too, enjoys her little side conversations with her beloved Lord Duncan. Though they have privately professed their love to each other, there is still the delicate matter of Lady Constance Knightsbridge and her state of mind to finally make Lady Elizabeth and his York parents aware of. That is partly why Lord Duncan invited the Knightsbridge siblings to join their York Family this Summer at Sussex Hall Manor–to make clear the impossibility of him ever marrying Lady Constance, by making it known to the Duke and Duchess of York that she is already their daughter-in-law as his late brother Lord Alfred’s widow. And that Miss Tamsin, is their granddaughter. However, that revelation will have to happen delicately over time.
But first, Lord Duncan feels that he needs to explain the current situation to Lady Elizabeth—especially, the lifelong connection between the Ducal families of the Yorks and Lancashires, that is at the heart of Lady Constance’s buried sorrow in not acknowledging her husband Lord Alfred’s death.
To be continued with Chapter 11
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 10 images for February 24, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1214)
- “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 Constance Knightsbridge looking pensive is Margaret Clunie as Duchess Harriet in Victoria; image found at http://www.tveskimo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Victoria-Engine-of-Change-3-768×389.png
- Lady Gwendolyn smiling is Emma Thompson in “Sense & Sensibility”; image link was https://enigmaticbard.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/sense-4.jpg
- Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay wearing a waterfall cravat image is of Rupert Penry Jones as Captain Frederick Wentworth in “Persuasion” found at Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/44/3d/db/443ddbb85a3217c76611f6db0f891839.jpg
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 10 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for February 24, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 9 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1210), on February 03, 2019: