“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 28: The Interviews, July 14, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1247; & on Wattpad)
[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 Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York (portrayed by Rupert Penry-Jones); his love Lady Elizabeth Blount (portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay); her brother Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex (portrayed by Richard Armitage); and his wife and Countess Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount the Lady Sussex (portrayed by Kate Winslet); and Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre (portrayed by Hugh Grant); Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York (portrayed by Emma Thompson); and her father the Duke of York (portrayed by Sean Connery)]
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.
Ch. 28: The Interviews
Though last evening’s spirited joint family dinner among the Blounts, Lindsays, and Knightsbridges celebrated Lord Alfred’s return and reuniting with his family of Lady Constance and their daughter Lady Tamsin, and Lord Harold’s return with his new wife Lady Penelope—it is ultimately the revelation of Lord Duncan and Lady Elizabeth seeking marriage approval that leads to today’s interview of Lord Duncan with Lord Christian to discuss the matter. Unbeknownst to all but three of their extended family, there will also be another betrothal interview involving the Knightsbridge family.
But first, Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York has a post breakfast nine o’clock and sharp on the hour appointment with his love Lady Elizabeth’s elder brother and guardian Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex. Lord Christian was caught off guard last night with the lovebird’s not only wishing to have their betrothal formally recognized by him, but to also have his blessing to bring forward their wedding date from the Autumn to two weeks hence. Lord Christian is still out of sorts this morning, even with a full belly after breakfast—or perhaps, because of it.
Lord Christian sifts through several papers upon his desk prior to his imminent interview with Lord Duncan at the Sussex Hall Dower House. Though only four of the papers pertain to his younger sister Lady Elizabeth’s dowry and settlement negotiations, the other papers are there to convey the very great responsibilities that encompass the Earl of Sussex’ daily life. It also helps that with him inhabiting the large Dower House Library Room for his personal study, Lord Christian has steeped himself in the trappings of his Earldom’s power. And even with his jacket hanging over a nearby chair, Lord Christian’s exposed shirt sleeves barely harnessing his muscled arms serve to illustrate his youthful power as an Earl and as a man in his prime at thirty years old [(2) below].
And as a second son again—displaced from his place these past ten years as heir to the Duke of York, when his brother returned to them a few days ago—Lord Duncan is relegated to a lesser status of rank. But that is not to say that Lord Duncan is nor feels diminished. He had never wanted to be the replacement ducal heir, because it meant that his elder brother Lord Alfred the Marquess of Malten was dead. Now that his brother Lord Alfred is found to be alive and back in the family fold, Lord Duncan feels that he can get on with his life—in marrying his love Lady Elizabeth Blount.
A noticeable but not stridently loud single knock sounds upon the closed Library Room double doors of the Sussex Hall Dower House. Lord Christian prefers his servants to announce their presence to him in this way—rather than insipid scratching preferred by others, that wears down the paint finish on doors.
Lord Christian: In a booming voice, he declares. “Enter!”
Butler: “Pardon me, Lord Sussex. But the Viscount Lindsay has arrived for his appointment with you.” Lord Duncan is standing five feet behind the Butler, him waiting to be announced and then admitted to the room.
Lord Christian glances at the mantel clock. Well at least Lord Duncan is on time and does not keep him waiting, thinks Lord Christian.
Lord Christian: Lord Christian speaks in an authoritative and commanding voice. “Show him in.” He does not call for refreshments to be brought, that is a lady’s nicety. And it is too early in the morning to offer his guest spirits that inhabit a nearby sideboard.
The Butler steps aside, motions Lord Duncan to enter, then closes the door after he does. Lord Duncan stands at attention whilst looking at the top of the head of Lord Christian, who seems to be perusing a document upon his desk with great interest—ignoring him for a few minutes. Lord Duncan knows that Lord Christian is displaying his power in this given moment. But as Lord Duncan is the supplicant formally seeking permission for Lady Elizabeth’s hand in marriage—and a wedding in an accelerated two weeks time—he waits for Lord Christian to begin the interview.
Lord Christian: Setting down his paper, Lord Christian slowly raises his head and sits back with a menacing scowl upon his face. “Well.” And despite Lord Christian liking this feeling of power over Lord Duncan, he also realizes that the marriage is inevitable for his younger sister’s happiness. “Sit.”
Lord Duncan: “Thank you, Lord Sussex.” He responds formally as he sits in the single chair in front of Lord Christian’s desk. Then Lord Duncan notices that the chair’s discomfort does not seem to reflect the style or elegance of the room. So he surmises that Lord Christian must have had the chair brought in especially for him—to put him off kilter. Well, that is an elder brother’s and guardian’s prerogative, thinks Lord Duncan. “I wish to …”
Lord Christian: Putting his hand in front of him to interrupt Lord Duncan, Lord Christian narrows his eyes in reviewing the gentleman before him. “I know what you wish …” He intones derisively. “What I want to know is why you want to marry my sister and how are you situated to take care of her?”
Lord Duncan: “Right.” He nods in acknowledgement that he must prove his worthiness. “Firstly, I love Lady Elizabeth. She is dearer to me than any other–in my family.” He adds hastily, so as not to draw attention to his prior romantic history. “Her poise, grace, beauty, wit, and cheerfulness are delightful.” Lord Duncan smiles besottedly in pronouncing some of Lady Elizabeth’s virtues.
Lord Christian: “Are we talking about the same Lady? I love my sister, too. But she can be quite high strung if a situation or circumstance is not to her liking. It has only been since her acquaintance with my now wife Lady Sussex that Lizzie has come out of her shyness. And I fear that her girlish infatuation with you might fade. What will you have then if the marriage of your dreams does not match my sister’s marriage of her dreams.”
Lord Duncan: “Lady Elizabeth and I have discussed this very thing—her liking me since she first met me when you took her for a stroll in the park when she was a child ten years ago. Her not wavering from her faithfulness gives me hope for our future life together.”
Lord Christian: “And what about you wavering in the future? I expect any man who marries my sister to respect his vow of fidelity.”
Lord Duncan: “I heartily concur. Marriage is sacred and should not be betrayed. And I would hope that my refusing my parents wish to marry my then late brother Lord Alfred’s betrothed Lady Constance—whom I knew to be my brother’s wife/widow–should aid in convincing you of my steadfastness. I also did not act randomly elsewhere, as a young man often does, due to our family being in deep mourning for my brother’s loss for several years.”
Lord Christian: “Are you saying …?” He lets the question trail off.
Lord Duncan: “No! No. Before my brother joined the army, he saw to my … introduction to manhood … in the most discreet way. You will understand that I view this as a private matter that I do not wish to discuss.” Lord Duncan’s face blushes with his disclosure.
Lord Christian: Lord Christian lets the matter rest. “Right! And your financial circumstances are …?”
Lord Duncan: “Of course, as the Viscount Lindsay of York I have various estates and properties valued around one hundred thousand pounds that were bequeathed to me by my late Grandfather Duke that provide me with ten thousand pounds per annum—of which I have only spent half of each year. And I have not touched my brother Lord Alfred’s Marquess of Malten inheritance these past ten years as his replacement heir, but I managed it and kept it in trust for him—should he return, as he now blessedly has—and for his wife and child.”
Lord Christian: “That is very noble of you.” He nods to Lord Duncan in acknowledgement. “And your wealth and prospects seem adequate.” Lord Christian admits grudgingly, for his own prospects when he married his Lady Madeline were not nearly as good. In truth, Lord Christian had been in dun territory due to unrealized investments made by his grandfather—though happily, one investment turned out well and replenished their wealth. “And as to Lady Elizabeth’s dowry and marriage settlements …”
Lord Duncan: Now putting out his hand, Lord Duncan interrupts Lord Christian. “Whatever Lady Elizabeth’s dowry is should remain for her use alone, under her direction. Her care is my utmost concern—especially were I to die young and she be responsible for any young children that we have.”
Lord Christian: “Do you have a health concern that you have not mentioned?” Lord Christian wonders in concern.
Lord Duncan: “No! I am the picture of health. But witnessing the impact of my brother Lord Alfred’s seemingly being dead for ten years upon his widow Lady Constance and their child Lady Tamsin, I know first hand the difficulties that being left widowed can bring. Lady Elizabeth will have a country house of her choosing that I will deed to her upon our marriage—and that we will use for our growing family. The lands and estate properties I own will be equitably divided among our boy children—with my heir receiving the entailed Viscountancy properties and at least half of the unentailed properties; and our daughters receiving substantial dowries or livings should they be unmarried by the age of five and twenty. Also upon my death, my widow will receive ten thousand pounds per annum for her care and living.” I hand a paper to Lord Christian, summarizing the details that I just shared with him.
Lord Christian: “Very well. But your wish to marry my sister in two weeks time? Is that really necessary? Would not a September Autumn wedding be more agreeable? We have only just arrived in the country. With my Lady Wife’s delicate condition, I do not want to have her journey back to town so soon. She was jostled enough upon our travel here.”
Lord Duncan: “Autumn is pleasant, but not ideal.” He grimaces slightly. “Like you with Lady Madeline, when I set my mind and heart upon marrying Lady Elizabeth, I did not and do not wish to delay our wedding. She feels the same. And neither of us are especially enamored of a Town wedding during the little Season. There are always so many hangers on that one has to invite, you know. I fear that they would overrun the wedding breakfast. And in two weeks time, I must leave for the week long trip to York Castle to assess the repairs. I will probably be there a month or more, then traveling back here will take another week. That would make, at minimum, seven weeks that Lady Elizabeth and I would be apart from one another. And frankly, I could not bear it. She is essential to my daily life, as I am proud to say that she has told me that I am to hers. Therefore, may Lady Elizabeth and I marry in two weeks time in the Sussex Village church with only family and close friends?” He asks with heartfelt emotion.
Lord Christian: “I suppose marrying in the country requires less pomp than marrying in Town. But ladies like their wedding gowns to be extra beautiful, and such.” He looks doubtfully at his future brother-in-law.
Lord Duncan: “I asked Lady Elizabeth about her ideal wedding gown, if there was time to have it made. And I am pleased to say that she said that her choice of bridegroom was more important to her than her choice of wedding gown. Ask her yourself.” Lord Duncan adds eagerly.
Lord Christian: “Oh, I will ask her. I will also have my attorney draft the settlement agreements stating Lady Elizabeth’s portion and the information you have provided.” He waves the paper summary that Lord Duncan shared with him.
Lord Duncan: “So Lady Elizabeth and I may marry in two weeks time?”
Lord Christian: “Provisionally. You may approach the local vicar about saying the banns and setting the exact wedding date and time.” A loud screech, or perhaps, a cheer is heard from the adjoining hallway. “I suppose that we should call my sister in now.” Lord Christian smirks at realizing that Lady Elizabeth has probably been listening at the keyhole the whole time.
The Library Room door bursts open and Lady Elizabeth dashes into her brother’s study—her making a beeline for Lord Christian.
Lady Elizabeth: “Thank you, Christy! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” She hugs him tightly.
Lord Christian: “You’re welcome, Lizzie. I suppose my asking you about your wedding gown is a moot point?”
Lady Elizabeth: “What care I for gowns, when Lord Duncan is the man I am to marry?” Lady Elizabeth feels that her brother need not know that in anticipating her marriage to Lord Duncan that her sister-in-law Lady Madeline has taken her shopping for her trousseau and her wedding gown. Then Lady Elizabeth detaches herself from her brother and regains her poise. Then she gracefully walks over to her beloved Lord Duncan and extends her hand in greeting.
Lord Duncan: With a courtly bow, he smiles then kisses her ungloved hand. “My Lady Elizabeth. You look enchanting. And it is fortuitous that you arrive just as your brother Lord Sussex and I conclude our interview. He approved our betrothal and we will be married in two weeks time.”
Lady Elizabeth: “Just like that?” She asks a bit petulantly. “Lady Madeline received a heartfelt proposal and a ring from Christy.” She pouts.
Lord Duncan: Smiling, he gestures to the settee for Lady Elizabeth to sit upon. She does with a growing smile as he takes her hand in his again. “My Lady Elizabeth. I am honored to formally ask for your hand in marriage in front of your brother …”
Lady Madeline: “And me!” Wiggling her fingers in greeting, Lady Madeline walks into the Library/Study and goes to her husband Lord Christian, embracing him. And he smiles and embraces her with his arm around her waist.
Lord Duncan: “I love your sweetness, poise, grace, wit, and beauty—among your many accomplishments and attributes–My Lady Elizabeth. I wish to share my life with you as my wife and as my Viscountess. Will you marry me?” And with his other hand, he draws from his waistcoat pocket a dainty blue sapphire solitaire surrounded by sparling diamond baguettes on each side, and he slips the ring upon her ring finger, and he kisses her hand again.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh Duncan! Yes, I will marry you in two weeks! And this ring is so beautiful!”
Lord Duncan: “It matches your blue eyes, My Darling. The ring had belonged to my late Grandmother Duchess as her engagement ring. And I should also tell you that her husband, my grandfather, enhanced it with commissioning a parure of jewels to accompany it with a tiara, necklace, earrings, brooch, bracelets, and such. The parure will all be yours.” He smiles gleefully at her.
Lady Elizabeth launches herself at her soon to be husband, knocking him over and she lands on top of him—kissing him repeatedly.
Lady Elizabeth: “Thank you! I shall be ever so proud to wear them someday.”
Lord Christian: Lord Christian coughs. “Lizzie? Might you return to the settee, befitting a young lady, such as yourself?”
Lord Duncan: Lord Duncan rises from the floor as well. “Or perhaps even on your wedding day? You see, I asked Mama to bring the parure with us–in case you and I were able to bring forward our wedding date.”
Lord Christian: “You seem to have thought of everything.” Harrumphs Lord Christian in chagrin.
Lady Madeline: “Now now, Christian Dear. As long as they are happy, that is what matters most.” She lovingly smiles up at him.
And a similar scene of betrothal permission seeking will shortly occur up at Sussex Hall Manor—between Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre and the heir to the Duke of Lancashire and Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York’s father the Duke of York.
The Duke of York—father to Lord Alfred, Lady Gwendolyn, and Lord Duncan—sits quietly reading his morning London paper after breakfast in the even larger Library Room at Sussex Hall Manor. He is a still handsome and distinguished man in his late fifties. However he does not appreciate being disturbed during his morning reading of the news of the day. So the Duke looks up gruffly [(3) below] upon hearing someone enter the Library Room—as the click of the entering man’s boots against the polished wooden floor then becomes muffled with the thickly carpeted rugs in the room. The Duke smiles, for him having been alerted by the Duke of Lancashire who is also in residence that their children seemed to be showing a partiality for each other.
Lord Robert: “Ah! Your Grace! How happy I am to find you here.” Lord Robert walks forward to the Duke of York sitting in a comfortably looking wing chair by a sunny window.
Duke of York: “Yes? How so?” He decides to have a little fun with the young swain.
Lord Robert: “I wish to speak with you upon a most personal matter.” He evasively pleads.
Duke of York: “Oh? Would not your own Father Duke be a better person for you to let into your confidence?” He teases.
Lord Robert: “Oh, I will. But first, I must speak with you.” He eagerly looks at the Duke of York, Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York’s father.
Duke of York: Gesturing to a companion wing chair on the other side of an occasional table, the Duke invites him to join him. “Sit.” Then he folds his London Times newspaper and sets it down on the table between them.
Lord Robert: “Uh. Thank you, Your Grace.” His nervousness causes him to wring his hands and to blow air out of his mouth, in a bid to move an errant bang curl out of his eyes. Then without ceremony, Lord Robert blurts out. “Your daughter Lady Gwendolyn and I have become agreeably acquainted over the last week. And we would like to marry.”
Duke of York: “Ah! Oh? You mean to marry each other?” The Duke teases innocently.
Lord Robert: “Ah, yes, we do.” Lord Robert nods in earnest—not surmising that his hoped for father-in-law is funning him. Dukes do not jest, at least Lord Robert’s Father Duke of Lancashire does not have many humorous musings. Perhaps, the apple does not fall to far from the tree, as the saying goes.
Duke of York: “Well, this is rather sudden, is it not? You have only just met each other. Perhaps you should court her first.” He demures, then reaches for his paper again. Lord Robert boldly reaches out his hand and stays that action.
Lord Robert: “Lady Gwendolyn and I have formed a sincere attachment for each other. She is grace and beauty and compassion personified.” He gushes.
Duke of York: “Yes, well, you could not praise my daughter too highly to me. But we do not know you beyond you being a pleasant acquaintance. And I will not entrust my daughter’s happiness to someone whom I do not know and whom I do not trust implicitly.”
Their respective Sussex guests families of York’s and Lancashire’s guest bed chambers are along completely separate wings of Sussex Hall Manor—and along with Lord Alfred being returned to Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay and their reunion focusing everyone’s attention–such that there has not been an opportunity for Lord Robert to interact with Lady Gwendolyn’s Father Duke.
Lord Robert: “I am an open book, Your Grace. I have my own Marquess estates and wealth, and as his heir I assist my Father Duke with the Lancashire Duchy holdings and management. I take seriously my position in the House of Lords. I am six and thirty years of age and I wish to marry Lady Gwendolyn, to make her my Marchioness, and ultimately, my Duchess.”
Duke of York: “Yes, yes. That is what everyone knows about you. But in private, what kind of man are you? Will my daughter’s care and future be well placed with you? Her happiness is my only consideration.” The Duke states firmly.
Lord Robert: “I assure, Your Grace, that I am a good and honorable man. I am even tempered. And though I am somewhat reserved in public, around family I am cordial, if not affable. I also believe that it is our responsibility as aristocrats and large landowners to set the example for fair land management and dealings with our tenants, while also seeing to the betterment of our country. As we thrive, so does England and its peoples thrive.”
Duke of York: “A pretty speech. And yet you have not spoken of love with regard to my daughter. She is not a prize to be acquired—a Duke’s accomplished daughter to become your Duchess.”
Lord Robert: “I do admire and greatly esteem Lady Gwendolyn. And we have voiced similar sentiments of affection to each other.”
Duke of York: “Well, when you can feel comfortable enough to speak less formally about your feelings for my daughter Lady Gwendolyn, then you might be able to convince me that yours is a good match. So you may court her for four weeks as we get to know you, and then we will revisit the matter.”
Lord Robert: “Your Grace, though you might think me impertinent, I question why you favor a two week betrothal before marrying for your own son, Lord Duncan to Lady Elizabeth Blount, yet you make your daughter Lady Gwendolyn and I wait a month before we may even become betrothed.”
Duke of York: “You are correct. You are being impertinent. And a father’s feelings toward his daughter is a greater responsibility than to a son who inherits estates and such from him. I am my daughter’s sole protector—until she marries. And marriage is for life. And It is the vagaries of everyday life that can either bind a couple together, or draw them apart. So you and my daughter must be certain about whether you are truly well suited for each other before deciding to marry.”
Lord Robert: Resigned to waiting, Lord Robert agrees. “Very well, I agree to court Lady Gwendolyn for the next four weeks. However, I should remind you that Lady Gwendolyn is a force of nature. So her willingness to wait four weeks for us to court–let alone for us to wed—might be unacceptable to her.” Unless, Lord Robert thinks, that Lady Gwendolyn had already expressed her wishes to her Father Duke about wanting to court him first, rather than them getting married right away.
Duke of York: “We shall see.” Is all the old Duke says. Then the Duke picks up his London newspaper and he returns to reading it. Lord Robert’s interview with Lady Gwendolyn’s father the Duke of York is over, for now.
But as Lord Robert predicted, Lady Gwendolyn will yet have her say in the matter of her courting and wedding Lord Robert.
To be continued with Chapter 29
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 28 images for July 14, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1247)
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) Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC mini series North & South epi4 (22h46m08s1) Dec2813 Gratiana Lovelace Cap-crop-manip-sized-brt_Rev2-clr2-szd2
3) The Duke of York is portrayed by Sean Connery, in an image from the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October: image link was found at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0099810/mediaindex
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