[Illustrations: I cast my stories as I write them. So from time to time, I will illustrate my story with actors and such, including: Richard Armitage as Lord Edward Carlisle, Daniela Denby-Ashe as Lady Emily Creighton, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton, and others as noted.]
[Author’s Note: This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scene or other descriptions were made at the creative discretion of this author. And this is a gentle romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect. This is my disclaimer.]
“Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, Introduction/Wattpad Description
Is love and marriage something that Lord Edward Carlisle can do—a second time? His first marriage was disastrous—it was arranged by the parents– but not with taking the feelings of the two parties into account, remained unconsummated due to his deference to his wife stating that she loved another, then his wife was killed four months later with her lover in a carriage accident that was all hushed up. All London Society thinks that he is a still grieving widower the past five years, though he is not. But Lord Edward vows to try marriage again—and on his own terms this time, involving love, or at least some of the niceties of marriage such as bringing his future children into being.
And initially unbeknownst to Lord Edward, his best bet for marriage might be a childhood acquaintance lady who has not attracted any notice among society and no suitors during her previous six seasons—whom is ripe for the plucking, in more ways than one. Can two such haplessly lovelorn individuals find love and romance, together? They will need much hope and interventions–on both sides–if they are to marry and find happiness with each other.
Ch. 1: Romantic yearnings
Her first wedding was a blur in the then little Lady Emily’s memories. She was only three years old–and looking oh so deceptively sweet [(2)] with her beribboned curled hair, her pale blue tremulous eyes, and her little mouth which was often in a pout of wanting something that had been denied her –-when she was entrusted with delicately strewing flower petals from a woven twig basket as she walked up the church aisle before her first bride. The bride being her Papa’s younger sister, her Aunt Lady Emmeline, for whom she was named. They are The Emmelines in the Creighton family. So to avoid confusion in the family, the little niece Lady Emmaline Marie Creighton was nicknamed Lady Emily.
And little Lady Emily was much more interested in the feel of the flower petals in her hand. Soft and squishy to the touch with a faint and pleasing scent, Little Lady Emily had never experienced anything like flower petals before that she could remember–her parents shooing her away from flowers in their garden because stinging bees were often nearby. And little Lady Emily, having been stung once before as a baby, had had quite a bad allergic physical reaction to that bee sting. And medicine in the 1820’s had not progressed to understanding and treating allergic reactions well.
“Oh pooh!” Little Lady Emily was heard to exclaim often when she was prevented from doing something that she wanted to do as a toddler–whether it was jumping up and down on her bed, eating more scones than her Mama would like—with the evidence writ upon her person of her wearing copious remnants of powdered sugar–or any other such childhood nonsense that usually got her a scolding, or at least a sighing “Oh dear!” from her Mama Lady Creighton.
And what little Lady Emily’s three year old self wanted to do at her first wedding was to toss big fisted flower petal balls at the people sitting in the pews–rather than to slowly drop them one by one on the white carpet. If her task was to scatter the flower petals, then throwing clumps of them would get that done that much sooner, was her toddler reasoning anyway.
But Lady Emily’s Mama aptly named Lady Patience Creighton [(3)] –this noble Mama not adhering to the maxim that the Bride should not be outshone in her attire, by Lady Creighton wearing what can only be described as a floral fuchsia explosion gown upon her person–was facing the then little Lady Emily from her seat in a pew near the front of the church with such an expression of expectancy that her little girl would behave for once, that Little Lady Emily did behave.
Except, little Lady Emily now threw flower petal balls on the carpet before her as she walked up the church aisle toward the front, instead of her flinging the flower petals at the people sitting down in the pews. Not as fun of course for little Lady Emily, but oh well! At least that was a slight improvement.
After that, Lady Emily Marie Creighton rose through the ranks of wedding attendants over the years to become a minor bridesmaid, then a regular bridesmaid attendant upon her debut at eighteen years [(4)] with sun kissed honey brown hair, creamy shoulders, and a rosebud mouth–with her overall looking somewhat comely, but for the eyebrow.
But though while each wedding attendant/supporter rank held distinction in her being selected for that post by her close and dear friends, Lady Emily still feels a hollow regard for her now august position in her now twenty fourth year as Maid of Honor to her cousin Lady Rachel Gosford—some twenty one years after her first wedding experience.
After six London seasons, Lady Emily’s debutante rose is no longer blooming–though she is a quite agreeable and sweet twenty four year old. And Lady Emily was feeling like a shy wallflower. So it was only after the most Honourable Lord Edward Carlisle, heir to an Earl and a Viscount in his own right, as Best Man to his cousin Lord Montague Monty Withers was announced as to whom Lady Emily will be paired with her for the walk back down the aisle at her latest upcoming wedding attendant position–and then for the post wedding banquet dancing–did the now four and twenty year old Lady Emily’s spirits perk up as the erstwhile Maid of Honor.
Apart from Lord Edward’s handsomeness and gentlemanliness having Lady Emily’s appreciation, were she to marry him, she ponders that her monogram initials could remain the same as ECM on her ladies linen hankies and such—since his last name and her last name both start with the letter “C”. And as Lady Emily well knows, there is more involved to finding and marrying a man in actuality than a young lady’s yearnings might realize. But Lord Edward Carlisle, her long held girlhood crush, is Lady Emily Creighton’s first choice for her husband to be.
For you see, the Viscount Lord Edward Carlisle is one of the most eligible bachelors in England, with a distinguished family lineage and fortune—which makes him an eligible match for any young lady of society. A tall, dark, handsome, and wealthy man now of five and thirty years, Lord Edward [(5)] is a seasoned country squire with well managed lands, said to be a good rider, and a decent shot. However, he has languished by himself after being widowed unexpectedly five years ago when his young bride of only a few months died in an unexpectedly distressing manner.
Well, that is not the whole of that story, nor even what Lord Edward wishes to remember about that trying time. But his marriage had been deemed suitable by his parents and his late wife’s parents. And so he had accepted the marriage alliance proposed to him. At the time, he was a thirty year old man who had become well seasoned in the art of romance with many a willing theatre actress, opera singer, or an eager widow. But it was deemed that it was time that he marry and produce his heir and a spare. And so a suitable bride was found and he wed her–without much if any courtship.
And therein was the crux of the problem of Lord Edward’s and his then future and now his late wife Edith–their lack of prior acquaintance. For though Lord Edward’s late wife Edith was in love, it was just not with him. Edith was in love with someone else–and she did not make this fact known to Lord Edward until after the wedding ceremony, but before the wedding night. So as a gentleman and in deference to her wishes, their marriage was not consummated that evening—nor any night following. He surmised that eventually, it might be—consummated, that is, after a period of cooling off–with her being resigned to her disappointment, in the person of her husband not being her choice. Though comely, Edith was not his choice either–but Lord Edward was ready to do his duty by siring an heir by her.
However, Lord Edward’s young bride Edith would not be resigned to her fate and she had the affrontery to resume her relationship with the person who held her love, Alton Lawrence, heir to his own father’s baronet. And then Lord Edward’s wife Edith and her love Alton eloped to Gretna Green, only to be thwarted in their romantic flight by their carriage overturning on a turn in the road at the speed that their haste warranted—killing them both instantly. However the elopement aspect of Edith’s death circumstance was concealed from society, such that Lord Edward Carlisle’s wife received a properly respectful funeral and burial as Lady Carlisle in spirit, if not in fact–and the required year long so called mourning period due her by her husband Lord Edward Carlisle.
Lord Edward preferred and spent his year long period of supposed mourning in solitary seclusion at his country seat at his Carlisle Hunting Lodge far North of London–him not wanting to be beset by condolences and sympathy ridden well meaning friends and family in London, and some not so well meaning acquaintances–who were not in possession of all the facts. And he wanted to keep it that way—them ignorant of the facts surrounding Edith running away with her lover. And the late Alton Lawrence’s parents were only too happy to distance themselves from scandal that could erupt due to their eldest son’s rash behavior–so as not to taint the marital prospects of their younger son and now heir George Lawrence–so they had also kept quiet, silent as the grave.
However what others mistook for mourning as reflected in Lord Edward Carlisle’s usual frowning countenance, was actually a melancholy spirit about all matters matrimonial. His marriage had been a disaster–ending with the lady being so displeased with him being chosen for her as her husband, that she ran away to her death.
And Lord Edward’s late wife Edith’s displeasure was another source of consternation for him–for Lord Edward had always thought himself to be perfectly amiable. He had friends, the ladies liked to dance with him, and, well, his dogs liked him. And Lord Edward had flirted and oftentimes enjoyed romantic dalliances quite successfully before getting his bachelor wings trimmed when he married his late wife Edith. But the couple was doomed from the outset, and Lord Edward could only hope that wherever his late wife was resting for eternity, that she was happy now. The true gentlemanliness of Lord Edward’s nature shining through with him not harboring Edith and her memory any ill will.
And both Lord Edward’s parents and his late wife Edith’s parents encouraged Edward to move on and seek another wife–something that he has been ready to do since the day after that he wed the first time and realized that an annulment was possibly in the offing. But Edith had not wanted to wait for Lord Edward to propose an annulment—and propriety did not allow him to find a new wife until a suitable year long mourning period had occurred. Nor could he slake his natural manly desires in some cheap and tawdry–but wholly satisfying–way, since everyone’s solicitude meant that his every action was under observation, if not under scrutiny.
So this time when he marries, Lord Edward Carlisle vows that his wife will be of his choosing and of his preference–that preference primarily being that she likes him, too. He also prefers that love will hopefully blossom between he and his new wife over time. Lord Edward wants no repeats of his first disastrous marriage. Lord Edward vows to try marriage again—and on his own terms this time, involving love, or at least some of the niceties of marriage such as bringing his future children into being.
So back to the marriage mart that is the London Season Lord Edward goes, now five years later–to seek a bride, a wife, and the mother of his future children. And initially unbeknownst to Lord Edward, his best bet for marriage might be a childhood acquaintance lady who has not attracted any notice among society and no suitors during her previous six seasons—whom is ripe for the plucking, in more ways than one.
But perhaps, some pertinent details about the current matrimonial yearnings of the now twenty four year old Lady Emily Creighton are also in order. One month earlier than the wedding where Lady Emily and Lord Edward will be the main bridal attendants, Lady Emily is seated in the drawing room at the Creighton family’s large and elegant London Townhouse in a fashionably genteel old monied section of Mayfair. And Lady Emily’s mother Lady Patience Creighton is in her usual corrective mood.
Lady Creighton: “Emily Dear, do not slouch so. Sit up. A young lady must show herself to best advantage at all times.” She gently chides her youngest and still not married twenty four year old daughter.
Lady Emily: “Oh Mama!” The dear girl’s constant refrain in reply to some improving remark by her mother. “What does it matter? We are at home with none but the servants to see us.” Lady Emily throws up her hands pleadingly to her Mama.
Lady Creighton: “Precisely, My Dear!” She states triumphantly as if her argument has already been won. “If you cannot manage even the smallest requests of behavior and decorum to be followed at home, how can we expect you to follow them when in the company of others outside of our home?”
Lady Emily: “Pooh!” Lady Emily expels her favorite toddler epithet, shortened for economy.
Lady Creighton: “Lady Emily Marie Creighton! You are very well aware that I do not tolerate such vulgarisms in my presence.” Her eyes narrow beadily. “We will have you married yet this season—if you will only comport yourself in a ladylike manner, My Dear–you have my word!”
Lady Emily winces. Marriage–the romantic fate that all girls dream of when in the school room, becomes a tarnished goal when years go by without so much as a likely prospect, who is not in his dotage.
Lady Emily: “Mama, I do not know anyone who is so desperate to take a spinster entering into her seventh season such as I for his wife? I should not want him any way. I want to marry for love or not at all!” Lady Emily proclaims with heart and conviction. At twenty four years old, Lady Emily is perhaps not in the first flush of youth–but she is still in bloom with her pleasingly womanly attributes now nicely blossomed.
Lady Creighton: “A pretty speech, My Dear–but impractical. You must marry so that you will have protection when your Papa and I are gone. And an agreeable fondness for one another by a husband and wife is far better to be hoped for, than for love–and of a much longer lasting duration. Why, your dear Papa and I these past thirty years have managed famously together!”
Lady Emily: “Yes, Mama.” Lady Emily sighs and rolls her eyes behind her mother’s half turned away face. Her parents are polite and civil to one another, but it is obvious that they cohabitate in their home, and that they share little more than a passing friendship for each other. “But I want a grand passion–a man who will cherish me and pamper me–as if I were his mistress.” Lady Emily smiles hopefully to be so desired.
Lady Creighton: “Now, Emily, that sentiment is far and away beyond the proper sensibility you should have as my daughter! You will be a wife and a grand lady, My Dear–most decidedly not a mistress.” Lady Creighton narrows her eyes sternly at her youngest daughter. Lady Emily replies with a reluctant acknowledging nod. “Now! Let us see to the accessories selections for your new ball gowns. With the start of the new Spring season with Friday’s ball, you must look your very best! I will not have anyone say that you were not turned out properly and shown to best advantage. You have several fine qualities and features that we should do well to accentuate.” With the slight nasal whine of Lady Creighton’s voice offsetting her kinder sentiments of wishing to proudly display her youngest daughter to society at her best.
Surveying her petite daughter, who is rather short at five foot two inches tall–even more so than herself–Lady Creighton hopes that they can get their daughter married safely this season. Or, she fears, it will be her daughter Lady Emily’s last London Season as spinsterhood looms.
To be continued with Chapter 2
References for the Introduction and Ch. 01 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, April 25, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1376)
- My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover illustration is comprised of: a) ivory lace background with Grati edit, found at torrid.com; and a b) Victorian roses bouquet painting via the Boston Public Library, via Atlas Obscura (with some Grati edits ), found at https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-flowerobsessed-victorians-encoded-messages-in-bouquets; and with c) the text in deep pink coral in a Vivaldi font.2. The 3 years old Lady Emily Creighton image is Portrait of a Young Girl by Paul Emile Chabas found at http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/89623/portraitofayounggirl3. A younger Lady Patience Creighton image is Polly Walker in fuchsia floral dress-cls-scowl as Lady Featherington in Bridgerton_Apr18-2021 found at https://www.tvtime.com/en/actor/12885
4. The portrait of Lady Emily Creighton, at 18 years old, as a debutante in her first season, image is the Portrait of a Young Girl by Albert Lynch that was found at https://www.etsy.com/listing/517131412/portrait-of-a-young-girl-by-albert-lynch (with Grati manip of eyebrows)
5. Lord Edward Carlisle image in formal attire is RichardArmitage-inBBCs2004North&South-epi2-17h08m56s137Dec2213GratianaLovelaceCapManip3Brt
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Introduction and Ch. 01 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: