“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 19: Ever Faithful,
May 05, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1232)
(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 Frederick Whitby (aka Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten) portrayed by David Oakes; Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay the Marchioness of Malten portrayed by Margaret Clunie; Miss Tamsin Knightsbridge Lindsay, daughter of Lady Constance and Lord Alfred is portrayed by Francesca Capaldi]
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. 19: Ever Faithful
As Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred conveyed somewhat sotto voce when reunited with his unremembered wife Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay his Marchioness of Malten, he was overwhelmed with everyone’s kindness. Which Lady Constance intuitively understood to mean that he felt overwhelmed in general. Though she assured him that they were all glad to have him back, she expects that theirs will be a patient reuniting of them as husband and wife.
So when Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby suggests to Lady Constance that they return to Sussex Hall main house for dinner via a separate carriage from the others so that they may speak privately, she acquiesces knowingly. She even calms their daughter Tamsin’s slight fit of pique at her wanting to ride with them–but being denied that right—with his help by him reminding Tamsin that they had a nice long chat this afternoon. So now it was her Mama Lady Constance’s turn for a chat. And he also plans to move to the Sussex Hall manor house tonight, with his valise already packed—that he entrusts to his daughter Tamsin’s keeping in the other carriage, which somewhat mollifies the child.
So after the merest of moment’s shy hesitation, Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred gentlemanly helps Lady Constance into their smaller enclosed carriage that Lord Christian loans them for the fifteen minute ride to the Sussex Hall manor house in the waning but still bright afternoon [(2) above]. There is a tension between them—yet not all tensions are bad. Then once situated in the carriage—with Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby and Lady Constance sitting side by side on the only bench—there is an initially awkward silence between them. He does not remember her. Yet, he does not want to hurt her by admitting that—given her faithfulness to him in hoping for his safe return all these ten years.
And unfortunately, Lady Constance is sitting to his right, so Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred protectively holds his right hand away from her and inside his jacket—due to his mangled right hand where his pinkie finger was amputated to remove his signet ring by a thief, who was then forced to turn over the ring to authorities so that his family was at least notified eventually that he had fallen in battle, though they had been incorrectly told that he had died.
Lady Constance notices Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby keeping his right hand away from her. She wants to put him at his ease.
Lady Constance: “Alfred … May I address you informally?” She asks hesitantly.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Of course, you may. But I must tell you, that I have thought that my name was Frederick or Fred, for the past ten years, so I might not recognize that you are referring to me when you call me Alfred.” He tries to give her a small smile.
Lady Constance: “Ah! I am glad that you almost remembered who you were by picking a name so close to your own. When we were children, I called you Freddie.” She smiles shyly at him also.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Ah! And did I call you Connie, similar to my calling my sister Gwennie?” He asks unknowingly—but hitting his guess unerringly on the mark.
Lady Constance: “Just so—when we were children.” She smiles warmly at him. And they both pause in speaking for a moment. “I want you to know that I will not force you to confide in me about what happened to you in the war and after. But you may tell your story to me any time you feel that you want to. I am a good listener.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Thank you, Madam. … I mean, … Constance.” He uses a slightly less formal mode of address to her—without her title—because he feels that addressing her by Connie would be too familiar.
Lady Constance: “Of course.” Her face falls at his formality with her. “I know that I am ten years older now–at eight and twenty years–than when you last saw me. And having had our child, my figure is not as youthful as it once was …”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: He blurts out. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen!” He gazes at her with awe and astonishment. “It is I who does not feel worthy of you, Constance–not that you are unworthy of me.” He assures her.
Lady Constance: Gently touching his upper right arm, she gazes directly into his eyes—despite the darkened lighting in the carriage. “Oh no! You have matured most handsomely. I was only concerned that … why do you hide your right hand away from me? Did you not wish to even share that small connection of holding hands?” She has missed the many small intimacies that they used to share ten years ago—even, them just holding hands.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “I … My apologies, I should have explained to you that my right hand sustained a severe injury after I was cut down in battle. And thieves roam the battle fields taking valuables off of corpses—however they can.” He adds cryptically. Again, he does not want to shock anyone about his injuries.
Lady Constance: “Hhh!” She gasps in shock. “How dreadful!”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “And though I was not a corpse, I was unconscious when a thief removed my signet ring from my swollen pinkie finger—by cutting it off.” It takes a moment before Lady Constance understands his meaning—until he holds up his glove glad hand and pushes his right glove’s pinkie finger into an unnatural bend, then squeezes the missing digit. “I have cotton padding in my glove to give the illusion of my still having a finger. And I always wear a glove to cover my disfigurement—unless I am bathing, shaving, or sleeping.” He explains to her shocked face.
Then she schools her expression to one of caring and concern.
Lady Constance: “Oh Alfred! How you have suffered, My Love! Does your hand injury still hurt you?” She asks tenderly and solicitously.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Not any more—not like it did when I was first injured. Well, it is sore now and again.” He admits belatedly. “But I am grateful that the monks were able to stem the infection that followed, so that I did not lose my whole hand.” He grimaces at this painful memory. He tries to blot out his war experiences and injuries as best he can. But sometimes, those memories haunt his sleep.
Lady Constance: “I am glad that the monks were able to tend to you as well.” She hooks her left hand around his lower right arm, but up near his elbow—her supposing rightly that his lower arm does not hurt. Then she leans her head upon his upper arm and shoulder. “Oh Alfred! When we were told that you had died, but that your body was not recovered, I did not believe that you were dead. I felt that I would know if you were not living—our connection to each other had been like that all of our lives. And within me, I knew that I was carrying our child, Tamsin, who was born five months later. If I had given in to thinking you dead, I would have been swallowed up by my despair at being parted from you. And I could not risk losing our child, perhaps even your heir.”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: Gazing upon Lady Constance’s beautiful and guileless face, he stifles the urge to caress her cheek in his gloved palm. It is too soon for him to act on his impulse of familiar intimacy with her. “I’m glad that you survived without me and that Tamsin was born. She is a remarkable child—all due to your love and guidance. And Duncan had told me how faithful to my memory you were by not accepting my death notice. How hard that must have been for you.” He empathizes with her.
They have each had a difficult time these last ten years. Yet maybe they can move forward, together.
Lady Constance: “Thank you! Mama and Papa feared that I would be branded a lunatic with my insisting that you yet lived–and then I would be locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane.” Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred looks shocked. “But our Tammy, as I call her, has been my one joy while I waited for you to return to me.”
She gazes up at him gazing down at her. It would be the perfect moment for a kiss, were they not each too shy to venture such an intimate gesture with each other.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “May I confess something to you, Constance?”
Lady Constance: “Always.” She smiles up at him, for they were friends and playmates first, before later falling in love with each other. But she has a little nagging fear that her husband had turned his affections to another in the ten years since she saw him.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Constance, I want you to know that I have been a chaste clergyman these last ten years. Though many a parishioner had tried to match me with their daughter or granddaughter, marrying did not feel right to me. Perhaps some part of me knew that I was already married.” Lady Constance’s breathing slows to a normal pace in relief for his confession. Then he reveals what he most fears to tell her, because he would not hurt this kind and beautiful Lady, if he could help it. But he feels that he must be honest with her. “And I do not remember … us.” His second confession hangs in the air as if it were a feather suspended by competing breezes. “But I so wish that I did … remember us.”
Lady Constance: Sitting up and back a bit from him, she hesitantly asks him. “What are you saying?”
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “I guess what I am saying is that if we are to … resume being husband and wife …?”
Lady Constance: “Yes?” She relaxes again.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “Well, I feel that I need to court you, and even for us to then have a wedding ceremony—in order for me to feel truly married to you, and to be a husband to you.” He flushes with embarrassment, yet glad that the lower light conditions of the carriage somewhat hides his face from her. “Would you consider my request to court you? And then that we have a wedding ceremony–again, I suppose?” He smiles warmly at her.
And to Lady Constance, anything that is not an outright rejection of her from Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby gives her hope. And hope is what she has lived on these past ten years. Hope that her Alfred would be returned to her, to them—to she and their daughter Tamsin. And Lady Constance’s hope that she and Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby will find their loving bond again, keeps her faith in their love alive.
Lady Constance: “Yes. It will be lovely for me getting to know you now.” She offers him her right hand, which he takes in his left hand and kisses her glove covered knuckles.
Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred: “As it will be for me getting to know you now.”
And Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred truly means that. For Lady Constance’s steadfastness and faithfulness to him, reveals to him the depth of their love for each other in the past. And if their love for each other had been that deep and abiding in the past, then perhaps, he believes that their love can be a joy between them again, in their futures.
To be continued with Chapter 20
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 19 images for May 05, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1232)
1) “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 Constance looking uncertain is Margaret Clunie , with Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby looking shy is David Oakes , from Victoria’s archery scene; image found at https://www.heyuguys.com/exclusive-margaret-clunie-victoria-christmas-special-return-season-3/
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