“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 26: Tea up at Sussex Hall,
July 07, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1244)
[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 importance/mention in this chapter): Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre (portrayed by Hugh Grant); his father and mother the Duke and Duchess of Lancashire; Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York (portrayed by Emma Thompson); Lady Gwendolyn’s and Lord Alfred’s parents the Duke and Duchess of York; Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten (portrayed by David Oakes); Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay the Marchioness of Malten (portrayed by Margaret Clunie); and their young daughter Lady Tamsin Knightsbridge Lindsay (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 or Mondays. I hope that you enjoy this chapter. And I will have another chapter up around Wednesday of this coming week as well.
Ch. 26: Tea up at Sussex Hall
Still reeling from his bobbing for apples at the Sussex Village Faire failure, Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre—and heir to the Duke of Lancashire—bounds up the steps of their guest home for the Summer of Sussex Hall Manor [(2) above], which actually looks more like a castle due to the many additions over the centuries. His intention is to immediately dry off, freshen up, and attire himself in dry clothes. He will be thwarted in that vain hope.
Butler: The Butler bows Lord Robert into Sussex Hall. “My Lord Wyre, your father the Duke of Lancashire wishes to speak with you before tea today.” With two Dukes in residence at Sussex Hall—the other being the Duke of York—the Sussex Hall Butler naturally emphasizes which ducal father is the requestor.
Lord Robert: “Thank you for the information. I will freshen up then see him directly. Where is the Duke?”
Butler: “The Billiards Room, My Lord. He said it was urgent and requests your presence immediately upon your arrival—his words.”
Lord Robert: “Of course.” Lord Robert nods resignedly and changes direction. His Father Duke is nothing if not commanding, and with his expectations usually acceded to.
And Lord Robert wonders what his Father Duke wants now. His sister Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay has finally assumed her rightful place as the Marchioness of Malten with the return of her long lost husband Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten. And he thinks that surely their family will enjoy this happy turn of events for some time. Though the Duke of Lancashire is not one known to be content for long. And there is the matter of the Lancashire succession to be resolved.
At the threshold of the Billiards Room, Lord Robert hears a distinct crack of a ball being hit. There he finds his Father Duke alone.
Lord Robert: He bows. “Father Duke. You requested to see me when I arrived back from the Sussex Village Faire.”
Duke of Lancashire: He looks upon the slightly disheveled appearance of his only son had heir. “Boy! Did you fall into the river? You should have cleaned up before attending me.”
Lord Robert: Raising a knowing eyebrow, Lord Robert [(3) above] maintains the expected placid expression. “The Butler conveyed to me that your request for my immediate presence superceded my desire to look presentable.”
Duke of Lancashire: “Hmmpf!” Is all the Duke responds. Then he continues to walk around the billiards table, lining up his next shot.
Lord Robert: “May I know why you have summoned me, Papa Duke?” Lord Robert uses his childhood address for his father at times like these, in the hope of softening the Duke’s seemingly out of sorts demeanor.
Duke of Lancashire: “With your sister now happily settled with the unexpected and welcome return of her long lost husband Lord Alfred the Marquess of Malten, you need to look to your own nursery, Boy.” The Duke refers to his son as Boy less as an endearment and more for his son’s future being under his control.
Lord Robert: “Indeed.” Lord Robert nods politely. Whenever his father becomes fixated upon this topic of the getting of an heir, Lord Robert finds it best to agree with him. “When we are returned to London for next year’s Spring season, I will earnestly attend to the matter of selecting a bride for my future Marchioness.” But promises of future actions do not hold sway with the Duke.
Duke of Lancashire: “No need.” The Duke makes his next shot, satisfyingly landing his ball in the pocket—as he planned it. Yet, the Duke does not react with pleasure nor satisfaction. Rather, he methodically moves around the billiards table to set up his next shot. The Duke is always about preparation, strategy, and the next step.
Lord Robert: “Well done, Papa Duke.” Lord Robert smiles agreeably at his father—billiards is not Lord Robert’s game. “And why is there no need?” He asks with curiosity mixed with a slight trepidation.
Duke of Lancashire: “There is already a Lady of good breeding, poise, and attractiveness among your acquaintance who will make you a fine Marchioness—and future Duchess.” The Duke lets his lure dangle in the air crackling between father and son.
Lord Robert: A look of confusion upon Lord Robert’s face reveals his stunned reaction. “Who? Lady Juliet Marlborough, the Marquess of Cumberland’s eldest daughter? She is a beautiful.” Lord Robert thinks wistfully—but their interests do not align, she enjoys glittering London and he prefers the country. His Father Duke does not respond, but continues his billiards game. Realizing that his Father Duke is intriguing him, in his usual way, Lord Robert muses on his debutante choices. Then he has a horror of a thought. “Surely not Lady Elizabeth Blount? She is too young for me. And, she and Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York are informally promised to each other. It is a love match.” He hints, so his Father Duke refrains from trampling upon it.
Duke of Lancashire: “No, Boy! Are you so obtuse to think that I would seek to match you with a mere child?”
Lord Robert: “No. Thank you, Papa Duke. Your protestation against my taking a child bride greatly relieves me.” For his Father Duke is fifteen years his Mother Duke’s senior—though they do seem to have been a love match.
Duke of Lancashire: “But your guess is getting warmer. Can you think of no other Lady of our acquaintance with poise, intelligence, charm, and attractiveness—if not great beauty?”
The two men look upon each other—father and son, locked in battle of wills and wits. But they are interrupted by a little interloper bursting into the room with her red curls flying around her freshly changed into white eyelet lace girl length dress.
Lady Tamsin: “There you are Grandpapa Duke! And Uncle Lord Robert!” She dashes over to her Grandpapa and gives him a hug. “I am sent by my Grandmama Duchesses and my Mama to bid you both to join us for tea in the large Rose Drawing Room.”
Lord Robert muses that his sister and her reunited husband Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten have finally surfaced this day from the idyll of their renewed marriage bed. But he schools his features.
Lord Robert: “Oh? And what of Lady Gwendolyn?” He asks nonchalantly. Then he notices his Father Duke’s smirking expression.
Duke of Lancashire: “Yes, what of Lady Gwendolyn?” He asks bemusedly
Lady Tamsin: “Oh, she said that she required a full bath after our Faire going activities had gotten her all dusty.” She remarks quizzically. “As if our bobbing for apples had not already gotten us wet and our faces clean. I just passed a washcloth over myself at the basin in my bed chamber before I put on fresh clothes.” Then she steps out of her Grandpapa Duke’s embrace and twirls around to show off her flouncy skirt.
Lord Robert: “Yes, well, perhaps I should do the same—bathe, that is.”
Duke of Lancashire: “Yes, you do need to make a good impression, Boy!”
Lord Robert blanches. He has his marching orders from his Father Duke. As he makes his way up the stairs toward his bed chamber, his thoughts turn to his bath—then to Lady Gwendolyn in her bath. He admits that though Lady Gwendolyn is not a great beauty and just a friend, he feels certain that the vision of her in her bath—with bubbles, no doubt—would be appealing. And then he proceeds to order a bath from his valet then seeks privacy while his thoughts ruminate about Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York.
Fresh from her own bath and a change into a pale lilac silk dress embroidered with delicate winding vines along the ruched bodice and the tantalizingly scalloped gown hem, Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York [(4) above] greets her now expanded family including the Lancashires, but one. Lord Robert has yet to join them.
The individuals in the large Sussex Hall Manor Rose Drawing Room are seated within conversation pairings—the Duchesses, Lady Constance, and Lady Tamsin, and then the Dukes, and Lord Alfred. There are pale pink and cream decorating flourishes throughout the room. Though with the flower accents kept to a minimum, the men do not feel overly averse to also inhabiting such a lovely and feminine room. Lady Gwendolyn goes to her brother instantly upon his arrival.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Alfred! It is so good to see you looking well rested.” She smiles caringly at him. She has had her long lost brother Alfred back within their Lindsays of York family fold for not quite 24 hours. It still seems a miracle.
Lord Alfred: “Thank you, Gwennie!” He smiles warmly at his sister. For as of yet, Lord Alfred’s childhood memory of his sister Gwennie is the only one to come back to him after his long absence to his family due to his amnesia caused by his devastating Napoleonic war injuries. And he cannot help but gaze at his blushing bride, his wife Lady Constance, his Marchioness. He is still accustoming himself to his new status as the heir to the Duke of York—rather than him being a humble clergyman. Yet he has already settled into being a family man with his beloved wife Lady Constance—with whom this day, he shared a passionate idyll of love—and their delightful nine year old daughter Lady Tamsin.
Lady Gwendolyn: Glancing around the room, she asks. “No Lord Robert yet?”
Duke of Lancashire: “My son wished to repair his appearance with a freshening bath.” The Duke would not normally mention something as personal as his son taking a bath. But he wants to gauge Lady Gwendolyn’s reaction to the mention of his son Lord Robert. And he is not disappointed.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh! Of course! The Sussex Village Faire was delightful, but dusty.” She smiles blushingly—about Duke Lancashire referring to his son Lord Robert taking a bath. For she had previously seen Lord Robert in only his toweling robe after a bath a few days ago–and he looked magnificent.
Lord Alfred: “We are hearing much about this Sussex Village Faire from Tammy. So My Lady Wife and I are determined to visit it upon the morrow.” Then he smiles knowingly. “And I do not think that Tammy would let us forget that she wishes us to take her with us—and to indulge her with the Faire’s many delights. Though we do hope that she feels done with the bobbing for apples booth.” He remarks wryly.
Lady Gwendolyn: “She did have fun today! It was good to see her acting so carefree and childlike.” And not wise beyond her years, as she did when her Papa Lord Alfred was still lost to them.
Lord Alfred: “Yes. But she said that you and Lord Robert refused her some activities?” He queries.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh there was nothing wrong nor unladylike about the activities—except for the tug of war. We—Lord Robert and I, that is—felt that we should leave Tammy to have some fun activities to share with you for tomorrow.”
Duke of Lancashire: “Did you now?” Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York nods at her brother’s father-in-law, the Duke of Lancashire. “That is thoughtful.” And he likes the way that Lady Gwendolyn casually refers to she and his son Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre as a we.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Yes. There is a lovely carousel [(5)], and ever so many booths with trinkets and games to amuse her all day.
Lord Alfred: “And I trust, that will tire her out? Ha ha ha ha ha!” He jests, but only just. Because Lord Alfred would like another uninterrupted span of time this evening and tomorrow evening for he and his beloved wife Lady Constance to be private again.
The servants bring in the tea, cakes, and small sandwiches for everyone to enjoy. Lady Tamsin swiftly helps her Mama Lady Constance pass out the tea and treats—her being sure to keep a full plate of treats for herself as well. Lady Tamsin has worked up her appetite attending today’s Sussex Village Faire. And there is more to be had of the Faire upon the morrow, with her parents assurance that they will be delighted to accompany her to the Sussex Village Faire.
Just as Lady Tamsin longingly spies the last cake and sandwich treat on the serving plates, Uncle Lord Robert arrives for tea. Oh bother, she thinks. For her Uncle will certainly want food—since he did not catch an apple to eat at the Faire. Lady Constance once more pours tea and solicits her daughter Lady Tamsin to give the tea and the last treat plate to Lord Robert.
Lady Tamsin: Lady Tamsin mutters forlornly under her breath as she passes the tea and then his treats plate to her Uncle Lord Robert. “One minute more and you would have not had any cakes left to eat.” Her mouth waters and she licks her lips. She has already had much to eat this day—bordering on giving her a stomach ache. But children only think of their wants in the present, and not to said wants unintended consequences.
Lord Robert: “Hmm?” He smiles at his niece. Then he notices Lady Gwendolyn and walks over to her sitting on the shorter pink and cream settee. “May I join you?” He asks politely. Despite his Father Duke’s possible allusion to Lady Gwendolyn as his future bride, Lord Robert finds her pleasant company. And he will not give her up out of pique at his father’s suggestion of her as his potential bride. For what is a wife, when a friend is near?
Lady Gwendolyn: “Of course.” She nods with a smile—pleasant, not forced, nor overly eager either.
There is no guile nor artifice about Lady Gwendolyn—and Lord Robert likes that about her. Lord Robert sits down upon the sette—being sure to leave a seat cushion’s breadth between them—and he ignores the steely gaze that his Father Duke is sending their way. Lord Robert noshes upon his meat paste and thinly sliced cucumber sandwich first. Lady Gwendolyn has long finished her treats plate and eyes his frosted cake with longing, and a quick licking of her lips.
Then little Lady Tamsin sashays over to them with a purpose, eyeing her uncle’s treats plate. Her parents, Lord Alfred and Lady Constance watch her carefully. They have already told her once that she has eaten enough food at tea. But Lady Tamsin is trying out her limits, with the excitement of her newly reunited family giving her some leeway.
Lord Robert is munching his sandwich and sipping his tea when he looks over at Lady Gwendolyn—and seeing her lick her lips as she gazes at … his plate of food. He had not noticed before how full and luscious her lower lip seems to be. Would that her interest be for him, rather than for his cake, he thinks. But he knows that she has her set ways—not wishing to deviate from them. He feels similarly toward his own well ordered life.
Then the two ladies speak unintentionally simultaneously—so focused upon the cake prize are they.
Lady Gwendolyn: “May I have your cake if you are not going to eat it, Lord Robert?” and
Lady Tamsin: “I would like to eat your cake, Uncle Lord Robert.”
Both are direct, as expected. And they startle him with wanting his cake treat.
Lord Robert: “Well I …” Then he looks back and forth between Lady Gwendolyn and his niece Lady Tamsin.
Lady Tamsin’s parents overhearing their daughter’s request, they rise from their settee and walk over to Lady Tamsin.
Lady Constance: “Now Tammy, Sweetheart. You have had so much to eat today, I fear that you will give yourself a stomach ache.” She caresses Lady Tamsin’s bounce red curls, then pats her shoulders.
Lady Tamsin: She looks over at her father Lord Alfred. “And what do you think, Papa?”
Lord Alfred: “I think that your Mama just gave you excellent advice. Afterall, you do not want to miss this evening’s dinner with a flaming dessert, now do you?”
Lady Tamsin: Her eyes going wide, she asks incredulously. “A dessert that is on fire? How can that be accomplished?”
Lord Alfred: “Wait and see, My Dear.” He smiles knowingly.
Lady Constance: Leaning over to her husband, she whispers a question. “Can this evening’s plum pudding dessert be set afire?” [(6) below]
Lord Alfred: “With a bit of spirits dousing the treat, I think it can be accomplished. It was a favorite with my men during our long Napoleonic campaigns.” He startles at another long forgotten memory being revealed to him.
Lady Constance: “Alfred! You remembered something else!” She exclaims excitedly as she touches his face and gazes at him hopefully.
Lord Alfred: “Yes, it would seem so.” He tenderly smiles back at her. He does not want her to hope that all of his memories will return. But he cannot diminish her joy. “And if my memory serves further, I believe flaming Christmas pudding is a specialty of our York Castle family Cook. Perhaps Mama Duchess might know the secret of making the dessert flame—and still be edible.” He grins sheepishly.
However, Lady Tamsin is nothing if not a little spitfire.
Lady Tamsin: “I will enjoy seeing—and perhaps eating—this flaming dessert, later. But I am hungry now. The Faire was so tiring today that I need more food to sustain me. You do not understand, because you and Mama slept the day away napping—so you cannot be tired at all.”
Of course, their daughter Lady Tamsin believes that her parents were actually napping, the whole time they were together. Lady Constance blushes charmingly and Lord Alfred smiles knowingly, remembering their loving morning and early afternoon. If he and his Lady Wife Constance have not already started the quest for their son and his heir, Lord Alfred will very much be surprised.
Lord Robert: “Perhaps I can offer a solution to this cake problem. Though Tammy has indicated that she is still hungry, she has already eaten more food than her parents think prudent.” Lady Tamsin frowns, guessing her Uncle’s refusal of her request for his cake. “And though I am feeling gentlemanly enough to give my cake to Lady Gwendolyn, I am partial to cake.” He licks his lips. “So I propose that Lady Gwendolyn and I share the cake—that is, if someone might bring us a knife so that we might cut it in two?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “I accept.” She responds readily.
Duke of Lancashire: “What do you accept, My Dear Lady Gwendolyn?” He walks over and teases his son mercilessly.
Lord Robert: “Papa Duke, Please!”
Lady Gwendolyn: Her not knowing the background for the father and son exchange, she responds to the Duke. “Your Grace, Lord Wyre has just gentlemanly proposed that he split his cake and give half to me to enjoy.”
Duke of Lancashire: “Is that so?” He further needles.
Lady Tamsin: “It is, Grandpapa Duke. Uncle Lord Robert will not give me his cake!” Then little Lady Tamsin bursts into tears—a sure sign that she is very tired from her long day at the Sussex Village Faire—and her Mama Lady Constance and her Papa Lord Alfred caringly guide her away and up to her bed chamber for her to take a much needed nap before their family dinner this evening.
Lord Robert: Seeing his Father Duke still standing before he and Lady Gwendolyn, Lord Robert tries to misdirect him. “Oh Papa Duke, I see that Mama Duchess is beckoning you to return to her.” He waves in his Mama Duchess’ general direction—and she waves back to him, just in time for her husband Duke to turn around and surmise that she is, indeed, beckoning to him. Yet the Duke stands his ground and does not leave his son’s side.
Then sensing that there is some tension between father and son, Lady Gwendolyn takes her unused tea spoon and slices Lord Robert’s cake in half—removing her portion to her plate. Then she pops the bite sized piece of cake into her mouth and sips her tea before standing up from the settee.
Duke of Lancashire: “Hmmm. You had best watch out for this one, Boy!” The old Duke smiles warmly at her.
Lord Robert also pops his remaining half cake into his mouth and takes a sip of his tea as he stands up from the settee. He perfunctorily nods to his Father Duke.
Lord Robert: “Papa Duke.” Lord Robert bows to his Father Duke. Then he turns his attention with a broad smile to Lady Gwendolyn. “Lady Gwendolyn, might I interest you in a stroll about the gardens?” He holds out his arm to her, whilst ignoring the gleam in his Father Duke’s eyes.
Lady Gwendolyn: “You may, Lord Wyre.” She responds ever so politely, paired with her lovely smile. Then they both leave the Rose Drawing Room and head for the Sussex Hall Gardens—arm in arm.
To be continued with Chapter 27
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 26 images for July 07, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1244)
1) “Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement”) story cover art image represents 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) An aerial view of the Blount’s country seat of Sussex Hall Manor is represented by Arundel Castle; for more information, visit https://arundelcastle.org/ ; the image was found at https://arundelcastle.org/assets/components/phpthumbof/cache/22-01-2018-151665729215-12-2017-6363-2.arundel-castle.150e66919f25ed0392bb7d2375959d0d.jpg
3) Lord Robert Knightsbridge, Marquess of Wyre, in neckcloth, cls, is Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars in “Sense & Sensibility” via Yet Another Period Drama blog; image link is http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_rvFfNUQOjpM/TVGkb1i7aoI/AAAAAAAAAb4/5bn3OIkBBBY/s1600/hugh+grant+edward+ferrars.jpg
4) Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York’s pale light purple lavender silk organza evening gown (Grati background mask) is Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood in 1995’s Sense & Sensibility found at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e4/a8/be/e4a8becc0d292a3c0f1412358cef9653.jpg
5) The origins of a Carousel date back hundreds of years; for more information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carousel
6) The fine old tradition of having a flaming Christmas pudding dates back to pre-Victorian times—and one enjoyed by my family, but without the fire. Ha! For more about this tradition, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_pudding
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