“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 13: Questioning Vicar Whitby, March 17, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1221)
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): Vicar Whitby (aka Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten)]; Lady Elizabeth (Lizzie) Blount portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay; Rupert Penry-Jones as Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay; Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex and elder brother of Lady Elizabeth portrayed by Richard Armitage; his wife Lady Madeline (Maddie) Sinclair Blount Countess of Sussex; and Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott, Grandmama to Lady Madeline]
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. I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 13: Questioning Vicar Whitby
With the revelation hanging thickly in the air of the Sussex Hall Dower House parlor as Lady Elizabeth presses fresh damp and cool cloths to the fainted Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay’s forehead–that Vicar Frederick Whitby might be the thought to be killed in battle ten years ago Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten–you could hear a pin drop as Lord Christian, Lady Madeline, and Lady Elizabeth stare at each other and Vicar Whitby.
No one speaks for several minutes, as their concern is focused upon the prone and still form of Lord Duncan while they await the physician who was called for, rather loudly, by Lord Christian.
Yet in less than a quarter hour, they hear the brisk walk of an individual using a cane and the swish of abundant skirting in the outer foyer—not the gait, nor the attire, of their local physician. Soon, the walking individual enters the parlor and she is revealed to be Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott—Lady Madeline’s maternal Grandmama, her having just come from being in conversation upstairs with her good friend and Lord Christian’s Grandmother, Lady Catherine Blount the Dowager Countess of Sussex.
Lady Knott: “Children! Is there a new commotion—beyond Lord Harold’s rantings about leave taking in the hope of him being in time to save someone—and, against my better judgement, my loaning him fifty pounds for his journey?” Then she spies the fainted Lord Duncan upon the settee with Lady Elizabeth soothing his brow with cool cloths. “Oh dear! What have we here?” And she sits upon a chair near the end of the settee where Lady Elizabeth is tending to Lord Duncan.
Lady Madeline: “Grandmama, you cannot guess the momentous news!” She exclaims as she gazes from Lord Duncan to Vicar Whitby–nee possibly Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten, the Vicar not having confirmed nor refuted Lord Duncan’s pre-fainting claim.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: He bows deferentially to his patroness. “My Lady Knott. How good it is to see you.”
Lady Knott: “And you Vicar Whitby.” She slightly tilts her head to him—in a regal half nod. “Vicar, since you are present several weeks before your scheduled time to visit, should I surmise that an urgent circumstance commands your precipitate visit?” Then Lady Knott spears a look and her good friend Lady Catherine’s granddaughter Lady Elizabeth tending to a seemingly unconscious Lord Duncan lying upon the settee.
Lady Elizabeth swivels her head to gaze upon her friend and sister-in-law Lady Madeline’s Grandmama. Then her eyes widen at the obvious implication being made.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh no, My Lady Knott! Lord Duncan and I have no need of a Vicar’s services yet.” Lady Knott’s piercing gaze silently conveys her requirement for more explanation. “He and I have not even held hands or kissed, let alone …” With her pause, now Lady Elizabeth’s brother Lord Christian’s raised eyebrow indicates his potential fury as her guardian—were he to learn that Lord Duncan has compromised his sister Lady Elizabeth as a way to thwart his parents’ wish for him to marry Lady Constance Knightsbridge, daughter to the Ducal Lancashire’s and the late–or perhaps, current if Lord Duncan’s earlier outburst is to be believed–Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten’s betrothed. “… nor has he proposed marriage to me—though I dearly wish he would. I love him!”
Lady Madeline: “Please Grandmama, the situation between Lord Duncan and … Vicar Whitby is muddled enough not to add in Lizzie’s hoped for betrothal to Lord Duncan t0 it.” She takes her Grandmama’s hand in hers and gives her a pleading look.
Lady Knott: “What do you speak of, Maddie Dear? I was not aware that the Viscount Lindsay was at all acquainted with the good Vicar of St. Timothy’s Parish.” Lady Knott queryingly gazes up at the still standing Vicar.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “If I may?” Vicar Whitby [(2) below] looks to Lord Christian Earl of Sussex as the highest ranked individual in the room. Lord Christian slightly tilts his head in approval. “There seems to be a case of a possible mistaken identity. Upon being introduced to me, Lord Duncan became distressed and declared that I looked like his long dead brother, a Lord Albert.”
Lord Christian: “It is Lord Alfred, Vicar Whitby, uh … .” Lord Christian is uncertain how to address the individual before him who is Vicar Whitby—but who also might be Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Ah yes, thank you. But the name Lord Alfred is unfamiliar to me. I have been a vicar these past nine years—the last two at St. Timothy’s in London.”
Lady Madeline: “Yes, but what were you before you became a Vicar?”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Before?” She nods—in fact, they all nod in encouragement. “Well, I …” They lean toward him. “I do not know. I sustained grievous injuries ten years ago and was taken in and healed by some monks in Rome.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Yes. My physical injuries took nearly a year to heal—due to several infections that I contracted with my more grievous wounds–but my memory never returned.” He unconsciously lifts his gloved right hand, then with his left hand touches his right side and his right shoulder. But I could not remember who I was—other than remembering that I knew of a town in England called Whitby and thought that I had once been called Frederick, or Fred. And since I spoke English, the monks order kindly had me returned to England’s shores to finish my convalescing at a related monastery. So in honor of their kind care of returning me to physical health–and my affinity for their order’s religious devotion and reflection–I pledged my life to God and studied to became a deacon, before pursuing additional religious studies and taking my final vows in becoming an Anglican vicar.”
While the inhabitants of the Sussex Hall Dowager House parlor were held in rapt attention with Vicar Whitby’s telling of his recent history, no one has noticed that Lord Duncan’s eyes fluttered open and he has been listening intently as well.
Pushing the cool cloth away from his forehead, Lord Duncan sits up on the settee—which causes Lady Elizabeth to be the first to attend to his change in consciousness.
Lady Elizabeth: “Duncan! You’re awake!” Then she quickly jumps up from kneeling next to the settee to sitting beside Lord Duncan upon the settee.
Lord Duncan: “Yes, for several moments now.” His eyes boring into those of Vicar Whitby’s—whom he knows instinctively is his brother Lord Alfred. And Lord Duncan proceeds to question him. “If you knew you were English when you were convalescing in Italy, why did you not ask the monks to contact the British Embassy? Do you not think that your family has been devastated by believing you dead these past ten years?” He accuses.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “As I said, I was grievously injured, and almost died several times due to infections. Keeping me alive was more important to the monks than finding out who I was. I had no identification upon me. My body had been stripped to my uniform’s trousers by thieves already thinking me dead. And they had taken what I perceived much later to have been my only valuable on me.” He raises his gloved right hand.
Lord Duncan: “What do you mean?” Lord Duncan’s eyes narrow.
Lady Madeline: “With respect, Lord Duncan, Vicar Whitby uh well, his right hand’s injury necessitates him always wearing a glove.” She explains gently—her trying to intervene for Vicar Whitby, who might feet self conscious about his infirmity.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “It is alright, Lady Sussex. I have long since grown accustomed to my disfigurement.” Then he turns to Lord Duncan as he peels off the glove, showing him missing the little finger on his right hand. “You see, I must have worn a ring upon my little finger, and the thief thinking me already dead and bloated, cut my finger off to take it from me.” The ladies gasp in hearing the full measure of his injury. “Be at ease, Ladies. I was unconscious, and therefore insensible to what must have been a quite painful amputation. Though the injury did become infected and was painful for many months after that.”
Lord Duncan: Raising his own ungloved right hand, Lord Duncan shows off his signet ring. “This ring?”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Perhaps I wore a signet or other ring, similar to yours. But I do not recall.” He shakes his head in his lack of recognition—of the ring or of Lord Duncan.
Lord Duncan: “I am not talking about a similar ring, I am talking about this particular ring.” Lord Duncan holds out his hand bearing the signet ring, for the Vicar to examine more closely.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “I am sorry, but I do not know. Why ever would you have a ring that had been cut from my finger?” He views Lord Duncan with suspicion.
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan shakes his head. “This signet ring had belonged to my brother, Lord Alfred. Nearly ten years ago, this ring was returned to our family, as well as another item—which lead us to believe that my brother had been killed, since he would not have parted with the items, unless he were dead.” Then a thought occurs to him of another item upon his late brother’s person. “Did the monks find anything else upon your person that might tell you something about your past?”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “I cannot say with any certainty about the significance of another item they found concealed upon my person—and removed to tend to me.”
Lord Duncan: “And was this item found … in your boot?” Lord Duncan’s eyes twinkle, hoping that his brother Lord Alfred is, indeed, alive.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: Looking astonished, Vicar Whitby nods twice. “Yes, it was. I also have it with me now.”
Lord Duncan: “Might it be a silver handled knife in a silver sheath?”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: Vicar Whitby’s eyes widen in shock as he bends down and slips his left hand within his boot and withdraws the article mentioned by Lord Duncan. “Is this to what you refer?”
Lord Duncan: “My God! It is you, brother! Alfred!” Lord Duncan throws his arms wide and embraces Vicar Whitby. Vicar Whitby is too startled to return the embrace, but he does not pull away.
Lady Knott, Lady Madeline, and Lady Elizabeth have tears in their eyes for the brothers’ reunion. However, Lord Christian is much more circumspect.
Lord Christian: “I will be delighted if Lord Alfred is found to be alive and reunited with you, Lord Duncan. But we have to be cautious with regard to how to approach your sister Lady Gwendolyn and parents, the Duke and Duchess of York—in case they do not agree with you—before Lady Constance is approached. She is so delicate.” But Lord Christian stops, not wanting to give Vicar Whitby knowledge of Lord Alfred, if he proves not to be Lord Alfred.
Lord Duncan: Looking from Vicar Whitby to Lord Christian, Lord Duncan nods in agreement. “You are right. This is a very delicate matter.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Not the least of which, your lordships, is because I do not remember anything before my injuries. You are not familiar to me, and I fear that I will disappoint your parents and sister by my not knowing them either. Although I have been a vicar for over nine years, this type of situation has never arisen. So I have no experience in dealing with it, from a Vicar’s standpoint.”
Finally, the men and women agree that Lord Duncan’s sister Lady Gwendolyn should be consulted before telling their Ducal parents that their brother Lord Alfred Marquess of Malten is very probably alive and in their midst.
And though a Lindsay brother who was lost has likely now been found, Lord Christian wonders what his own brother Lord Harold is up to. And he will not have long to wait to find out.
To be continued with Chapter 14
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 13 images for March 17, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1221)
- “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.
- Vicar Whitby (aka Lord Alfred) in a church is David Oakes as Prince Ernst in Victoria; image found at Pinterest at https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a1/83/0d/a1830d234d0c4a1ef81017842c357080.jpg
- Lord Christian is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC drama North & South and was found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-029.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
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 13 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for March 17, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 12 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1219), on March 10, 2019: