Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 20: Courting Couples, Part I, May 12, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1235)
(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): Lord Christian Blount, the Earl of Sussex, and his young bride and Countess Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount; 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; and Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay (portrayed by Rupert Penry-Jones) who is smitten with Lady Elizabeth Blount (portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay) who is sister to Lord Christian]
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. 20—Courting Couples, Part I
Before they are to have a light dinner with Grandmother Lady Catherine Dowager Countess of Sussex, Lady Madeline’s husband Lord Christian Earl of Sussex, and his sister Lady Elizabeth Blount, Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount Countess of Sussex sits plumped up upon her bed pillows—with her ankles raised on yet more pillows, to stem their slight swelling due to her pregnancy with their first child. She is writing in her journal about what transpired this afternoon, with Vicar Whitby revealed to all as the long lost Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten. It is rather a long journal entry so far, as her husband Lord Christian [(2) below] paces the floor in their sitting room area.
Lady Madeline: “Christian, Dearest, you will wear out the lovely rug with your pacing. Please sit down, preferably next to me.” She smiles with sparkling eyes and pats his side of their bed. She then returns her journal and pencil to her nightstand to give her husband her full attention. With her long flowing auburn tresses falling about her shoulders, Lady Madeline [(3) below] is a vision of womanly beauty.
Lord Christian: “Would that I could be relieved of my concerns.”
Lady Madeline: “And what concerns might those be?” Yet she knows very well what his concerns are—as any wife should.
Lord Christian: He moves to doff his boots, jacket, and waistcoat before coming to sit next to his wife atop their soft satin bed coverlet. “You know very well that Lord Duncan kissed my sister Elizabeth on the hidden part of the garden terrace.” He states irritatedly. Their sitting room bay window to the back garden has a clear view of that portion of the terrace, on the other side of the thickly overgrown hedge.
Lady Madeline: “Yes Dear. People in love usually do kiss.” Lady Madeline pats his muscular shoulder leaning over her. She is far too sanguine for her husband’s tastes. “We did.” She raises a saucy eyebrow in his direction, and he pouts.
Lord Christian: “Yes, but we were already engaged at that point.” He counters. “Lizzie and Duncan are not yet engaged.”
Lady Madeline: “Yet they could become engaged, if you would simply let Lord Duncan know that you encourage his suit of your sister, Lady Elizabeth—and she is also now my sister through our marriage.”
Lady Madeline purposely uses Lady Elizabeth’s full name, to lend an air of maturity about her—that her childhood nickname of Lady Lizzie does not convey. In actual fact, Lady Elizabeth is only four months younger than her sister-in-law Lady Madeline—and Lady Madeline is already married to Lord Christian and bearing their child to come in the Autumn.
Lord Christian: “Darling, I want Elizabeth to be as happy in her choice of love as we are. Yet I do not like the marital machinations surrounding Lord Duncan. Initially, Lord Duncan was unofficially betrothed to his believed to be dead elder brother Lord Alfred, the ducal heir’s fiance Lady Constance. Then his brother Lord Alfred is returned to the Lindsay family of York. And suddenly Lord Duncan is available—and him not being required to wed his brother’s former betrothed, whom we now know Lord Alfred had married secretly before he went off to war and was injured and presumed dead—and he was thought lost to his family ten years ago.”
Lady Madeline: “Yes, that is exactly my point—Lord Duncan is now free from other marital expectations of him. And you will do well to accept the situation that Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan love each other and wish to marry.”
Lord Christian: “But …” He is interrupted, when an Earl is never interrupted—or he should not be.
Lady Madeline: “Dearest, please. Think of your sister Elizabeth’s happiness. Her heart’s desire is all wrapped up in Lord Duncan.” Lady Madeline uses her most entreating tone and hopeful expression. For Lady Madeline knows that Lord Christian knows that he has no other avenue of approach in keeping his little sister Lady Lizzie, his little sister forever.
Lord Christian: “I will think upon it over dinner. Then if Lord Duncan returns to us as planned after his family dinner with his parents and Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby, Lady Constance and her family up at Sussex Hall, I will lay down some courting ground rules with him.”
Lady Madeline: Now patting her husband’s muscular arm and then laying her head upon his shoulder. “Thank you. Now let us lie down and nap.” Lord Christian’s eyebrow saucily perks up in interest. “No Christian Dearest, I really do suggest that we nap. It has been a most overwhelming day. Hhhh! Perhaps I will feel less tired when we go to bed later.” She smiles sweetly at him.
Lord Christian: “Of course, My Darling.” He helps her adjust from sitting to lying down on their bed–and he joins her there. “Rest, My Love.” And they both doze off.
Up at the Sussex Hall Manor House, the Lindsay family—including Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred’s ducal parents of York, his wife Lady Constance [(4) below] and their child Miss Tamsin, and his brother Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay of York, and their sister Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York, etc.—arrive and are escorted to their bed chambers to freshen up and change before dinner at Sussex Hall. Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby is astounded by the size and grandeur of the stately home.
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “My word, Sussex Hall is magnificent!” It is obvious that Sussex Hall has been well maintained and enhanced over the years. And Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred eagerly looks around at the splendor.
Lady Constance: “It is. But it is a family home as well.”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: Focusing upon a silvery shining knight of armor in a far niche, Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred asks distractedly. “Was that knight armor display always in that location?”
Butler: “Why, no My Lord.” He bows, for all of the Sussex Hall Manor staff have been apprised of the developing situation with regard to Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten’s return to the bosom of his family. “The 1st Earl’s knightly armor formerly stood guard at the base of the grand staircase. But it was moved when it was often inadvertently knocked over…”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Yes, by someone sliding down the bannister.” He admits sheepishly, for he had knocked over the knight’s armor a time or two in his youthful visits to Lord Christian’s boyhood home when they were on holiday together from Eton nearly twenty years ago.
Lady Constance: “You remember that, Alfred?” She smiles up at him and he nods with a smile. Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby’s memories of his life before the war are random and disjointed—and none about Lady Constance yet. But at least he is remembering some things, he thinks.
Lady Gwendolyn: Walking up to Lady Constance and her brother Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby, Lady Gwendolyn graciously acts as hostess of their rented property for the Summer. “Come, let me show you to your bed chamber, Alfred. They are quite cozy.”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby blanches at the likely proximity of his bed chamber to Lady Constance’s bed chamber—since they are husband and wife, though he still does not remember their long ago courting and marriage.
Miss Tamsin: Sliding upon the highly polished marble flooring, Miss Tamsin skids to a halting stop before her parents. “Where will you sleep, Papa?” She asks eagerly. “Next to my bed chamber near Mama’s, or across the hall from Mama and next to Uncle Lord Robert’s bed chambers?”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Well, I …” There is a sudden look of panic in his eyes, for he wishes to court Lady Constance before marrying her, again—and let alone him sharing a bed with his wife, again.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Normally, a husband sleeps in the room next to his wife, Tammy Dear.” She caresses her niece’s cheek.
Miss Tamsin: “But that is my room, the one next to Mama Lady Constance, with a connecting door.”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: Pleased beyond words, he sighs. “Hhhh! I would not wish to displace you Miss Tamsin. I am happy to be situated wherever it is convenient.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well Alfred/Fred, anticipating Miss Tamsin’s wanting to stay in the bed chamber she was first assigned, I have assigned you the bed chamber directly opposite Lady Constance’s bed chamber. And it has been made ready for you.”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Thank you.” He nods, for his sister Gwennies’ tact in assigning him a separate but nearby bed chamber to his wife and daughter in the Lancashire family guest bed chambers hallway—rather than across the castle along the Lindsay’s of York bed chambers hallway. He still stuns at the revelation that he is a married man with a daughter–but less so as he continues to acknowledge his changed reality.
Then clasping her Papa’s and her Mama’s hands, Miss Tamsin leads them toward her father’s bed chamber.
Miss Tamsin: “Come! Let us see about the comfort and decoration of Papa’s bed chamber.” And Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby presumes that his daughter will be quite the fine hostess one day.
Inside his newly assigned Sussex Hall bed chamber, Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby bypasses the bed and walks to the large window with the drapes open letting the last of the West facing setting sun light in. Of course, Miss Tamsin dashes over to the bed, jumps, and plops in the middle of the burgundy satin coverlet.
Lady Constance: “Tammy! That is your Papa’s bed. And I am certain that he does not wish you to wrinkle it.” She blushes, for she remembers that she and her Alfred mightily wrinkled their marriage bed in the short week when they were first married, before he headed to war. Such was the loving passion shared between them.
Miss Tamsin: “But Mama, we must determine if he will like this mattress.” Then she thinks a moment. “And if the bed is long enough for him. Afterall, Papa is quite tall.” She tilts her head looking over at her father, Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby. Then she pats the bed to her left. “Come Mama.” And then she pats the bed to her right. “Come Papa.”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby and Lady Constance exchange bemused glances toward each other, across the bed where their daughter lies down the middle. And he realizes that they will have no need for a chaperone while he courts Lady Constance—that their daughter Tamsin will insert herself into that role. Rather, his and Lady Constance’s difficulty will likely involve finding ways to spend time alone, together, in order to get to know each other better.
Then Miss Tamsin reiterates her invitation by looking at her Mama Lady Constance and patting the bed side to her left, then looking at her Papa and patting the bed side to her right. So there is nothing for it, but for Miss Tamsin’s parents to lie down on opposite sides of her—after first doffing her slippers and his boots. Though in doing so, his silver handled dagger in its sheath slips deeper into his boot unseen.
Lady Constance: “My! This mattress is quite comfortable!” Lady Constance muses. She has noted and appreciates the attention to detail in the elegance and comfort of the Sussex Hall Manor House.
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “It is indeed–more so than my accommodations at my Parish of St. Timothy’s in London.”
Miss Tamsin: “Why do you live in a Church when you could live with us, Papa?” She asks quizzically.
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Because I was the Vicar there. And my need for lodgings was minimal—when I thought myself to be an unmarried man with no family.” That statement seems to mollify his daughter, in the hope that she does not feel rejected by him with his long absence due to his amnesia due to his war injuries.
Lady Constance: “So no creature comforts there?” Lady Constance teases, her thinking of him lying on a cot with slats being covered by a thin mattress, if any. When her Alfred enjoyed the luxuries that his rank and privilege afforded him.
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Sadly no. Hhhh!” He sighs for the ascetic and less complicated life that he will leave behind to take up with his new found life of privilege as the Lancashire ducal heir, and as a family man.
Lady Constance: “You will miss being a vicar, Alfred?”
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Some of it, yes—helping people. It is…was my calling.”
Miss Tamsin: “But you can still help people and be with Mama and I, Papa. Just in a different way.” Sage words of wisdom, from his nine year old daughter. “There are ever so many people at our family seat in Lancashire–and when we are visiting Uncle Lord Duncan in Yorkshire–who need aid.” Lady Constance smiles at her daughter’s compassion
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “Oh?” He smiles. “And what is your assessment of their greatest needs, Miss Tamsin?”
Miss Tamsin: “Well, when Mama Lady Constance and I distribute the parish baskets to the poor or ill each week, I would say there are many. For example, the Wright family in Lancashire—he makes wheels—have a thriving business that sustains them, but they live in cramped quarters above his work shop. So the children have no where to run and play, nor do they go to school and they can’t read. The oldest girl is my age, and I have been trying to teach her her letters and some words. But then when we travel to Yorkshire to stay with your ducal parents–now my other set of ducal grandparents—jobs are scarce, and with there being many widows left from the war with naught to live on, I do not know how they scrape by a living to feed themselves nor their children.” She shakes her small red ringletted head in sorrow. “So perhaps, your and our greatest challenges lie in Yorkshire. The Yorks have been grieving for so long for you that they have not kept up with managing their estates and the surrounding villages. Though Uncle Lord Duncan does his best to help out, their Graces have resisted making any changes. And there is a vicar opening at their Yorkshire country seat, if you want to continue to be a vicar whilst you are also my Papa and the Marquess of Malten.”
For Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby to admit that his daughter Miss Tamsin has said a mouthful, would be to under emphasize her keen mind and acuity about the rightness of issues and circumstances related to her Papa.
Lady Constance: “Now Tammy Dear, it will be for your Papa Lord Alfred to decide what … projects he will undertake—and where we will live as a family.” Lady Constance mentions this both to underscore that they are a family, and that she seeks her husband’s input in their future decisions.
Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby: “You would follow me, Constance? Even if I wished to return to St. Timothy’s Parish in London, or to take up the Vicarship in Yorkshire with its cottage rectory, rather than live at York Castle?” He turns to his side watching her response.
Lady Constance: “Whether thou goest, we will go. Whether though lodgest, we will lodge.” She quotes solemnly and with heartfelt warmth from the Book of Ruth in the Bible.
A peaceful calm descends upon Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby about the rightness of him being reunited with his family—especially his own little family of himself, his wife, and their daughter. And he smiles at Lady Constance, and she returns his warm smile. Then his sister Lady Gwendolyn standing in the corner also smiles.
Then once changed and refreshed, they all go on to have a lovely family reunion dinner between the Yorks and the Lancashires.
After dinner, Lord Duncan excuses himself from Sussex Manor, for him to head down to the Sussex Hall Dower House where his love Lady Elizabeth Blount resides with her family, including her brother Lord Christian the Earl of Sussex. Lord Duncan is long overdue for a chat with the young Earl—about Lord Duncan’s intentions and wishes with regard to him wooing and wedding Lady Elizabeth.
The Countess of Sussex Lady Madeline, the Dowager Countess Lady Catherine, and her granddaughter Lady Elizabeth are sipping their tea in the front parlor. Whereas Lord Christian Earl of Sussex is playing Billiards by himself and sipping brandy from a rather large snifter.
Lord Duncan: “Christian, do not tell me that you drink alone? Let alone, that you wager your billiards skills against yourself?”
Lord Christian: “Duncan! I wondered if you would grace us with your presence yet again this fine night.” He tosses a look toward the youngish Viscount of Lindsay. “Ooh sorry! I did not wish to bring up a sore subject, now that you are no longer the ducal heir.”
Lord Duncan: “Is that what your seeming reluctance is about Lady Elizabeth and I courting and marrying? That she will no longer be a Duchess in waiting, but she will merely be a Viscountess?”
Lord Christian: “Not at all. My concern stems from your so quickly attaching yourself to my sister Lady Elizabeth—possibly as a means to previously extract yourself from your ducal parents’ expectations that you would marry Lady Constance Knightsbridge. Is your affection for my sister real and long lasting?”
Lord Duncan: “Of course! Lady Elizabeth is a delight—poised, graceful, and charming! And we have formed a sincere attachment for each other.” And with Lord Duncan being her first kiss, he intends to make certain that he is the only man to kiss her throughout her lifetime.
Lord Christian ponders Lord Duncan’s avowals for a few moments whilst he sets up his next shot—which lands his ball in the pocket, as he intended.
Lord Christian: “Very well. I will allow you to court my sister Lady Elizabeth for the following month during your stay up at our Sussex Hall Manor House whilst your York Castle roof is being repaired. Then we will revisit your request to propose marriage—if each of you still feels affection for each other.”
Lord Duncan: “I guess that is the best outcome that Lady Elizabeth and I could hope for.” He nods his head. For he is determined that by the end of Summer, Lady Elizabeth will be his wife.
Then the two gentlemen join the ladies in the Sussex Hall Dower House front parlor. Lady Elizabeth rises gracefully and glides across the room to her brother Lord Christian and her beloved Lord Duncan [(5) below] who has a small smile upon his face, even if Lord Christian does not.
Lady Elizabeth: “Why do you looks so grave, Christy? You did not refuse Lord Duncan, did you?” She blanches.
Lord Christian: “No, My Dear Elizabeth. But I wish to set some ground rules.”
Lord Duncan: “Ground rules? This is something new.”
Lord Christian: “Not entirely. First, I will allow Lord Duncan to court you for the next four weeks to see if you seem well suited to each other. Marriage is for life and I will not see you enter into marriage for any reason other than love.” He glances over to his seated wife and Countess Lady Madeline and smiles tenderly at her, which she returns in kind. “Second, during your courtship you will be well chaperoned with your ladies maid Hildy or one of us—no sneaking off to the hidden part of the garden terrace for kissing trysts.”
Lady Elizabeth pouts, thinking that she and Lord Duncan will have to find a new secluded kissing place. Whereas, Lord Duncan blushes crimson to have been caught kissing his hoped for betrothed, Lady Elizabeth.
Lord Duncan: “How …?”
Lord Christian: “The hidden part of the garden terrace is directly below Lady Madeline’s and my bed chamber’s sitting room bay window.” Then Lord Christian raises a quelling eye brow, even as he glowers at the blanching Lord Duncan.
Lady Elizabeth: “And what is your third rule, Christy? Everything always comes in threes.” She whines.
Lord Christian: “And thirdly, …” He pauses for effect, using his most serious elder brother gaze upon them—mostly because he had not thought of a third rule. Yet his young wife comes to his rescue.
Lady Madeline: “Thirdly, you will be discreet in your dealings with each other when in the company of others beyond family, such that no one knows that you are courting. In that way, if you decide not to become engaged nor to marry, Lady Elizabeth’s reputation will not be harmed by a broken courtship.” The blame unfairly resides with ladies who break off engagements, much more so than with the men, unfortunately.
Lord Duncan: “We accept, Lord Christian. And Lady Elizabeth and I thank you for your permission in our getting to know each other better, in order to explore whether our futures are to align with each other—as we hope.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Yes, we do, Christy.”
Lord Christian: “Well then.” He smiles broadly. “Let us all enjoy some wine to toast your getting to know each other better.” Their nearby footman brings in a decanter of wine with crystal goblets for everyone—except Lady Madeline prefers water.
Tomorrow will bring new possibilities for the Sussex Hall estates two known courting couples of Lady Constance and Lord Alfred/Vicar Whitby—with their daughter Miss Tamsin—as well as, for Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan. Let the courting begin!
To be continued with Chapter 21
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 20 images for May 12, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1235)
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. https://gratianads90.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/0-zwaaexpectationsbk2-cover-art_nov2218bygratianalovelace-256×401-300res-rev3.jpg
2) Lord Christian Blount is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the BBC’s 2004 drama North & South found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-215.jpg
4) Lady Constance Knightsbridge (is Margaret Clunie) and Vicar Whitby/Lord Alfred Lindsay (is David Oakes) in the garden is from Victoria; image found at the Sydney Morning Herald for December 16, 2017 https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/whats-on-tv-saturday-december-16-20171206-gzzjwh.html
5) 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
6) Lady Elizabeth in-ice-blue-with-lace-overlay evening gown-is Jessica Brown Findlay-asLadySybil-inDA_Oct1116viaExpressCoUK
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 20 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for May 12, 2019 (Post #1235):
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 19 story URL on my SAL blog Post #1232, May 05, 2019: