“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 15: Lord Duncan treads lightly,
March 31, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1224)
(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): Lady Elizabeth (Lizzie) Blount portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay; Rupert Penry-Jones as Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay; Vicar Whitby (aka Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten) portrayed by David Oakes]; Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex (portrayed by Richard Armitage) and elder brother of Lord Harold and Lady Elizabeth; and his wife Lady Madeline (Maddie) Sinclair Blount Countess of Sussex.]
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. 15: Lord Duncan treads lightly
With Lady Elizabeth Blount’s middle brother Lord Harold Blount having left the Sussex Hall Dower House in going to rescue his love Lady Penelope Lindquist with the aid of Lady Penelope’s Great Aunt Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott—the elder lady being Grandmama to Lady Elizabeth’s newish sister-in-law Lady Madeline Blount Countess of Sussex, her elder brother Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex’s young wife—Lady Elizabeth Blount feels that her hopeful romantic expectations of marrying her love Lord Duncan of York Viscount Lindsay might wonderfully be fulfilled some day soon.
Of course, Lady Elizabeth’s future happiness hinges on Vicar Frederick Whitby of London’s St. Timothy Parish remembering that he is in actuality Lord Alfred Lindsay of York and Marquess of Mallen—the elder brother of her love Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay of York—and take his place as the ducal heir, as well as, reunite with his wife Lady Constance. All in due time. For now, that gentleman stands contemplatively at the fireplace hearth, with one hand braced against the mantle—with this other hand partially covering his mouth, in shock for discovering his real identity as Lord Alfred.
The room has become quiet with Lord Harold’s and Lady Knott’s departure some ten minutes prior. Lord Christian sits upon the drawing room’s comfortable settee and he solicitously and lightly embraces his young wife Lady Madeline sitting next to him—due to her three months with child condition. He would wrap her up in silks and down comforters if he could, to ensure her and their hoped for baby’s well being for the remaining six months of her with child condition. And though Lady Madeline finds her husband’s newfound cosseting pleasing, she does not wish to be constrained by it for the next six months.
Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan of York, sit upon the facing settee to Lord and Lady Sussex—but with a pillow width between them as propriety dictates for the two unwed individuals. There is even a pillow lying between them and against the settee’s seat back to assure that decorum is maintained. However, the edging of the pillow contains a one inch wide fringe of multi colored threads that are also present in the tapestry pattern of a peacock upon the pillow’s surface. Every now and again, either Lady Elizabeth or Lord Duncan might unconsciously leans a bit toward each other as they naturally turn to face one another and smile encouragingly at each other. However, Lord Christian’s elder brother eyebrow raises in expectation of the propriety of the pillow’s spacing measurements being preserved.
However, the miracle of the late Lord Alfred Lindsay of York and Marquess of Mallen returning to life and coming home to his family—as well as him being heir to the Lancashire Dukedom—has quite stunned and left temporarily mute the five inhabitants of the Drawing Room.
Yet, Lady Elizabeth abhors a vacuum with regard to conversation and planning for the future, her future. So, she gently broaches the delicate topic with a growing maturity in her demeanor [(2) image below].
Lady Elizabeth: “Well! I daresay that though we all wish Lord Harold well in his quest for his love Lady Penelope, we also need to discuss the ramifications of Vicar Whitby being revealed to be Lord Duncan’s elder brother Lord Alfred Lindsay of York and Marquess of Mallen.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Hhhh!” He sighs softly, looks up from the dancing flames in the fireplace, and he turns to the others sitting upon the settees. “My Lords and Ladies, finding that I have a family and family friends again—even though I do not remember you—is very pleasing to me. I am at your service.”
Lord Alfred [(3) image above] bows his head and then looks pointedly at Lord Duncan who was identified to him as his younger brother, trying to see if there is a resemblance, but not seeing it at first—with Lord Alfred being dark haired and Lord Duncan’s hair being of a reddish blond hue.
Lord Duncan: “And I appreciate that you, as well as we…” He gestures to the four of them sitting upon the settees. “… are feeling over whelmed by this momentous news. And I assure you that though your death was pronounced to our family ten years ago, we grieved mournfully for you for many, many years—and indeed, we still were grieving for you, up until a few moments ago.” Lord Duncan scrutinizes the face of his elder brother Lord Alfred, noting the same strong features of eyes and mouth reflected in his now mature visage. “And I am glad to see in you, the face of my much admired and much loved elder brother.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “My Lord … Duncan.” He hesitates. “Were we … close … in age? Forgive me, but you seem much younger than I.”
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan stands up from the settee and faces Vicar Whitby who is standing at its end near the fireplace, his older brother Lord Alfred. “I am six years your junior at five and twenty years. So the last time we set eyes upon each other ten years ago, I was still a small statured and awkward boy of fifteen. And my voice had not yet deepened, nor had whiskers begun to encroach upon my face.” Lord Duncan smiles sheepishly with that admission.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Ah! So as you matured, you naturally look quite different today than you must have looked as a boy. And your hair? Was it always so light and reddish in color?” Vicar Whitby desperately hopes to find some fleeting memory of a recollection to aid him in making a connection to this man whom he is told is his younger brother.
Lord Duncan: “My hair is lighter now due to my riding out of doors, often, without a hat. Though it is not as dark as your hair when in Winter time when I do wear a hat.”
Lady Elizabeth: She faces Vicar Whitby as Lord Duncan remains standing to the side of her sitting form. “And when I met Lord Duncan when I was eight years and he was seventeen years—but two years later–he had begun to develop his maturity of appearance and demeanor, which quite impressed me when my brother Lord Christian introduced him to me.” Then she turns to gaze up at Lord Duncan. “I fell in love with him even then.”
Lady Madeline: Then Lady Madeline makes a helpful suggestion. “Since your birth name was Alfred and you had told the monks who cared for you and your injuries ten years ago that you thought your name was Fred—as in Frederick—I can only think that there was a small part of you who wished to desperately hold onto your past as Alfred in some way. So though I sense that you are not yet comfortable being addressed by Lord Alfred—I realize that addressing you as Vicar Whitby might also now seem foreign to you. And since we are all to be family anyway when Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan are married—in the happy event that proposal occurs– I suggest that we dispense with titles and use the familiar of our Christian names when we are in private with each other, as we are now. For example, we are Christian and Madeline. They are Elizabeth and Duncan. And you are … Fred.” Ever the peacemaker, Lady Madeline settles for addressing him as Fred due to its neutral position between his birth name as Alfred and his post memory loss name of Frederick.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: He bows to Lady Madeline. “I appreciate your kind sensibilities, My Lady … Madeline.” Then he turns to Lord Duncan again. “Did I have a pet name in the York family—shortening Alfred to Al or to Fred?”
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan slowly shakes his head. His brother Lord Alfred always bore himself in a dignified manner—even as a child—which eschewed the notion of a pet name. “Not that I recall. But Lady Constance might have done so.” Lord Duncan’s eyes widen at his unintended disclosure.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Lady Constance? Is she your sister?” He asks in puzzlement for hearing this new name in connection with them.
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan pales in realizing his gaffe in mentioning Lord Alfred’s former betrothed and wife, Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay the Marchioness of Mallen. So he misdirects his answer to focusing upon his … their sister. “No, our younger sister—who is my junior by nearly four years– is named Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Gwendolyn is a pretty name.” He nods sagely as he thinks about the name. “I suppose she was called Gwennie as a child?” He asks nonchalantly, as if it was natural for him to refer to her as such. “Or even, Gwenivere?”
Lord Duncan: “Hh!” Lord Duncan gasps at the family pet names for his sister that no one knows but the family—and the name being so easily spoken by the man who claims not to know of his Lindsay of York heritage as him being Lord Alfred.
Lady Elizabeth: Lady Elizabeth stands and gently pats Lord Duncan’s fine navy wool coat sleeved arm as she gazes caringly into his eyes. “Are you alright, Duncan?”
Lord Duncan: “I am. It is just that …” Lord Duncan pauses, then looks to Lord Christian for aid.
Up until now, both Lord Christian and Lady Madeline have spoken sparingly to give Lord Duncan the opportunity to engage with his long lost brother.
Lord Christian: “Duncan, In your mentioning your sister Lady Gwendolyn, I realize that you will need to introduce her to … Fred—then strategize how best to break it to your parents. So we invite you and Lady Gwendolyn to join us for a light luncheon on the morrow. Shall we say at …” He surreptitiously glances at his with child and still having morning sickness wife Lady Madeline.
Lady Madeline: “Let us say at 1:00pm tomorrow. Then if all goes well tomorrow, you and Lady Gwendolyn might consider joining your parents for tea here in the afternoon—to introduce them to … Fred.”
All but … Fred, realize the reason for the location being at the Sussex Hall Dower House is due to Lord Alfred’s betrothed and wife Lady Constance being a guest up at Sussex Hall. Introducing Lady Constance to the man whom everyone else thought was dead—and who was her husband—will be extremely delicate. They wonder if her mind will snap completely, or will her sense of reality be restored—given her unerring faith that her husband was still alive, now proven to be true.
Lord Duncan: “Thank you, Christian and Madeline. I believe that is best.” He bows at them for the wisdom of there invitation.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “This is all happening very quickly.” His face is ashen. “I fear that I will disappoint your sister and your parents by not remembering them, nor who you and they will think me to be.”
Lord Duncan: “I understand, … Fred. But my … our parents are not young anymore. And our Father Duke, especially, has been in ill health the last year or so. So we dare not wait to bring you, his eldest son, back to him.” Lord Duncan treads lightly upon the matter of reintroducing his previously thought to be dead elder brother to the family, but his face is resolutely determined. His father is not dying, but his health is compromised.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Of course, of course. Hhhh! I perceive the logic of your reasoning. Tomorrow will be … an eventful day.” Though this day was also quite eventful. He adopts a mask of clergy stoicism and turns to his hosts. “If you will excuse me, I will retire to my bed chamber to reflect and pray upon the matter before us, rather than stay for tea.” Afterall, Lord Alfred became and has served as a Vicar for the past nine years. So it is not altogether unexpected for him to turn to his faith for solace.
Lady Madeline: Taking her sister-in-law and best friend’s hands in hers, Lady Madeline squeezes them in solidarity. “Lizzie, I think that Christian and I will also retire for a nap. I need one, desperately.”
Lord Christian: “Of course, My Love. Shall I have some light refreshments brought to us from the kitchens for our afternoon tea?”
Lady Madeline: “If you must.” Then she proceeds to list a selection of cheeses, thinly shaved beef and chicken, breads, tarts, and fruit to round out the light refreshments that they will enjoy. Lord Christian nods his agreement.
Lord Duncan: “I should, perhaps, go in search of my sister and parents—in case I can think of a way to ease them into having Alfred back into their lives.”
Lady Elizabeth: “No, stay!” Lady Elizabeth appeals to him pleadingly. We have much to discuss. And it is nearly tea time.” She looks to her brother, Lord Christian and his raised eyebrow. But her sister-in-law takes charge.
Lady Madeline: “Leave them be, My Love.” Then she turns to Lady Elizabeth and admonishes her. “But do leave the Drawing Room door open, Lizzie Dearest. We do not want the servants to think that your reputation is being compromised by your conversing privately with Lord Duncan.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Of course, Maddie. Thank you.” Lady Elizabeth appreciates the ally that her best friend and sister-in-law Lady Madeline is for her.
Lady Madeline smiles indulgently, then guides she and her husband Lord Christian out of the Drawing Room and up the stairs to their bed chamber suite. They will nap, then enjoy their afternoon tea refreshments.
After her brother and sister-in-law leave the parlor, Lady Elizabeth leans her left hand back to Lord Duncan standing behind her and to the left. He clasps her hand in his. Neither of them speak. Lady Elizabeth brings her index finger of her other hand to her rosy pink lips—indicating that she wishes him to be silent. Lord Duncan nods and then smiles as she leads him to the other side of the Drawing Room—where the glass French doors to the terrace are—and she proceeds to lead him out to the terrace. She has left the Drawing Room door to the corridor open—and therefore, Lady Elizabeth reasons, she has met the condition in spirit in order for her to be left alone with Lord Duncan.
The later afternoon is very pleasant at the Sussex Hall Dower House terrace and gardens. Since the sun is not overhead and beating down upon them, the cool breeze gentles the warm air temperature for them. In the far corner of the garden nearly 100 yards away, they can see that the ornamental hedges are being trimmed by an under gardener. So Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan are not entirely alone—though they are not being chaperoned in the strictest sense.
Lord Duncan: “What are you up to, Elizabeth My Love?”
Walking backwards toward the far corner of the terrace—away from windows where prying eyes might intrude upon their privacy—Lady Elizabeth smiles sweetly as she guides a smiling Lord Duncan to her favorite secret hiding place as a child.
Lady Elizabeth: “I just want us to have some privacy—away from others.” She states a bit breathily. She is not trying to seduce him. It is broad daylight, afterall. But she does wish to be almost completely private with him—if the thought of her own brazenness does not cause her to blush crimson.
Lord Duncan: “Ah!” Is all he replies. But Lord Duncan’s smile widens.
Finally, they reach the far corner of the terrace and Lady Elizabeth turns around, drops down to her knees, and proceeds to crawl upon her hands and knees through a very thick hedge.
Lady Elizabeth: “Follow me!” She chirps giddily. After first doffing his jacket, there is nothing to do but for Lord Duncan to follow her crawling into the hedge. And after a very narrow squeeze for him through the overgrown terrace hedge they emerge to a completely secluded terrace portion with a small wrought iron bench and its matching low wrought iron table. She jumps up and squeals softly. “Eeeee! It is just like I remembered it!”
Lord Duncan: “Dirty, prickley, and small?” He teases her with a smirking smile. And he notices that this terrace location is perfectly secluded for a secret assignation. Lord Duncan walks up behind her and risks an impertinence as he leans down and kisses her fabric covered shoulder. She trembles with his kiss and turns around to face him.
Lady Elizabeth: “Was not I correct about our privacy being assured?” Then she pouts a bit. “Though I remember the hedge passageway and this terrace being much bigger when I was a little girl.”
Lord Duncan: “Never the less, we are here. Is there anything that Madam requests?” He smiles knowingly.
Lady Elizabeth: She rolls her eyes. “Not request, per se. A Lady does not request.”
Lord Duncan: “But in the same vein, a gentleman cannot impose himself upon a Lady.”
Lady Elizabeth: Shyly, she looks up at him. “Not even the Lady he hopes to marry—were he ever to propose properly?”
Lord Duncan: “Especially not his future wife, even after he proposes properly. Difficult though restraint and decorum might be when I am with you—especially alone, as we are now—I will not disrespect you. I love you too much, My Darling Elizabeth.”
Lady Elizabeth: Lady Elizabeth’s heart soars at Lord Duncan’s loving words. “But how will I truly know if it is you whom I want to marry, if we do not kiss?” Lady Elizabeth closes her eyes and raises her head to Lord Duncan with her lips pursed.
Lord Duncan: “Elizabeth! You are shredding my willpower to refrain from kissing you.” Lord Duncan clasps his hands behind his back to refrain from pulling her into his arms.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh bother your willpower. Kiss me, Duncan! Please? I want you to.” Her eyes are still closed. And her hands are clasped demurely in front of her.
Lady Elizabeth is the picture of an innocent miss. And that is exactly why Lord Duncan cannot resist her loveliness and sweetness.
Lord Duncan: “My apologies, Elizabeth, My Love!”
Then Lord Duncan swoops down and gently covers her lips with his own. Lady Elizabeth innocently purses her lips even more, which makes him want to crow—knowing that she has never been kissed before him, and he is the first, and only man to kiss her. He sucks and nibbles at her lips until she relaxes them and they begin to kiss in earnest—opening and closing their lips together in perfect synchrony. Their kissing attitude is so pleasant that they continue kissing for some time—their eyes closed in sweet surrender–with each of their arms slowly coming to tenderly embrace the other [(5) image below]. Then they each sigh as they break away from each other’s lips.
Lady Elizabeth: “Hmm! Our kissing just now was heavenly!”
Lord Duncan: “I am delighted that you think so. And I concur most heartily.” His hands return to being tightly clasped behind his back to preserve his gentlemanly behavior around her—now that each of their eyes have opened. And he thinks that if he is ever to waltz with her, then he will break decorum completely and pull her into him more closely than is needed, just to have the feel of her in his arms. Of course, this line of thinking—about their embracing again during a waltz–is not helping his resolve to remain a gentleman in her presence now.
Lady Elizabeth: “If you kiss me like that every day, I will very much like being married to you, Duncan.”
Lord Duncan: “And I you, Elizabeth. Now shall we kiss once more before we reverse our course through that blasted hedge and into the house for our tea?”
Lady Elizabeth: “Yes! And I’ll be sure to ask the gardener to trim and widen the hedge opening, for next time.” She smiles prettily.
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan’s face blanches in horror. “You will do no such thing! That would reveal where our private place is to everyone.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Very well. Just do not complain the next time we pass through the narrow hedge.” She wags her finger at him and he gently clasps her hand in his.
Lord Duncan: “I would not dream of complaining of a journey that leads to such pleasant outcomes as kissing.” He grins.
Lady Elizabeth turns around and drops to her knees again, now facing the hedge once more.
Lady Elizabeth: “Follow me, again.” She teases.
And as Lord Duncan follows Lady Elizabeth crawling through the terrace hedge back to the main terrace space, he sends up a prayer to cope with his romantic feelings for Lady Elizabeth. Even though he assiduously focuses his eyes upon her slipper clad fee, he cannot help but notice that the silken hem of her skirt swishes back and forth with her movements. And he would only have to look up in order to witness her full silken clad form crawling through the hedge. But that would be disaster, for he could not stop himself from wanting to lay her down upon the prickly hedge and kiss her senseless—and more.
No, once they are married, Lord Duncan’s adoration for Lady Elizabeth will be channeled properly into them fulfilling their love as husband and wife. Until then? They must wait. And Lord Duncan thinks that telling his parents about their son Lord Alfred being alive, might just be easier than the torment he feels in waiting for Lady Elizabeth to become his wife.
But first, Lord Duncan has to inform his sister Lady Gwendolyn and their parents about his brother Lord Alfred being alive. And then, somehow he must bring about the reconciliation of Lord Alfred and Lady Constance, before Lord Duncan feels that he and Lady Elizabeth can become officially betrothed, to be wed, and to begin their married lives together.
To be continued with Chapter 16
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 15 images for March 31, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1224)
- “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.
2. 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
3. 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
4. Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay smiling is an image of Rupert Penry Jones in Persuasion (2007) found at University in words blogspot at http://s3.media.squarespace.com/production/1268594/14933071/.a/6a010534fda1c2970b0120a8e9e6a8970b-800wi
5. Lord Duncan Lindsay of York kissing Lady Elizabeth on the terrace is Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins in the 2007 film Persuasion; image found at http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/persuasion/images/5251141/title/persuasion-2007-screencap
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 15 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for March 31, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 14 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1223), on March 25, 2019: