[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, scenes 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.]
Ch. 2: Introductions Again
Adjusting his formal crisply starched dress shirt collar—with the collar points nearly looking like tusks jutting out from his jaw with a neatly tied bow between that is his cravat–the handsome Lord Edward Carlisle [(2) above] scans the ballroom Friday night at the start of the London Season marriage mart for someone to ask to dance–and maybe to marry. It is the first ball of the season and he would like to find a wife soon and be done with the matter.
Then Lord Edward is jolted out of his reverie by a swift slap to his broad shoulders as his lifelong very good friend Lord Kittredge Wells joins him. They have known each other since they were green boys just starting at Eton, through their adolescence, and randy university days, into their prime. Lord Kittredge is the same age as Lord Edward, at five and thirty—though Lord Kitt as he is familiarly known to his friends, has not has not had to worry about marrying, him being a second son, etc.
Lord Kittredge: “Edward, your prune faced looks will not attract the fairer sex who might be in consideration for the post of the future Lady Carlisle.” Lord Kittredge Wells admonishes with a decidedly flourishing wave of his hand.
Lord Edward: Turning to his childhood friend, he replies incredulously. “No, Lord Wells? Then my apple cheeked grin will surely shoo them away, as well.” The two men embrace warmly–with manly pats on their shoulders–as lifelong friends. Then Edward admonishes his friend bemusedly. “Kitt, you are the last man on Earth to give me courting advice.”
Lord Edward stares down his rather well turned out friend Lord Kittredge [(3) above] who is wearing the appropriately elegantly restrained attire of a gentleman, for once. Though Lord Kittredge usually sports some whimsical element in his attire, be it a boldly hued cravat or waistcoat, or an ornament on his watch fob, etc. Lord Kittredge’s sense of men’s and ladies’ fashions is unequaled, but they are not necessarily to Lord Edward’s more austere tastes.
Lord Kittredge: “Do not devil me tonight, Edward. Or I will refrain from making introductions for you to a lady whom might just fill your…uh …requirements for a wife–and one who will overlook your less pleasing attributes.”
Lord Edward: “Now, Kitt. You make this lady sound as if her lack of discernment is a sterling quality.”
Lord Kittredge: “Oh she is discerning. Too much so, if you ask me.” He nods.
Lord Edward: “To what degree is the lady too discerning? Does she flirt and tease gentlemen only to refuse their offers of marriage?” Edward ponders this point since his late wife had been of this ilk.
Lord Kittredge: “No, no. And I do not believe that the lady has received any offers to date.”
Lord Edward: “Then what is wrong with her?” Edward looks askance at his friend and his matchmaking skills.
Lord Kittredge: “Nothing is wrong with her, that a little cherishing might smooth out. And you know her!” He finishes with a broad grin.
Lord Edward: “Come, come man. Who is this dubious paragon of wifely aspirations?” Lord Edward asks cheekily.
Lord Kittredge: “Why, she is my cousin Lady Emily Creighton!” Lord Kittredge smiles triumphantly.
Lord Edward: “Emmy?” Lord Edward asks incredulously. Lord Kittredge nods hopefully. “But I haven’t seen her since she was in leading strings and I was at Eton. She is still not married?” Lord Edwards eyes narrow in suspicion. “I repeat. What is wrong with her?” He cocks a wary eyebrow at his best friend.
Lord Kittredge: “Wrong with her? Nothing! And frankly, beggars can’t be choosers, old man. She is a female, and you need one.”
Lord Edward: “I am not begging. I have a substantial estate that will support my future family in comfort and elegance. So perhaps I can be discerning as well.”
Lady Kittredge: “Only if your prospective bride candidates will overlook the looming spirit of your late wife.” Lord Kittredge raises a delicately arched eyebrow. Touché!
Lord Edward: “Kitt, there is no spirit of my late wife—looming or otherwise. And I am not haunted by my dead first wife.” Lord Kittredge stares him down. “Well, not with regard to my having any lingering feelings toward her.” Lord Edward’s best friend Lord Kittredge knows the situation, the lay of the land.
Lord Kittredge: “That is why Lady Emily is so sensible a choice for you. She will ignore the first wife angle and set to work in making her mark as your wife.”
Lord Edward: “You speak as if she will gain society’s approval. But is that possible, if she is unmarried still? Why, she must be in her twenties now. How old is she?” Lord Edward’s eyes narrow acutely at his friend.
Lord Kittredge: “She is but four and twenty.” Now Lord Edward’s eyebrow raises at the not so advanced age of Lady Emily. “And Lady Emily will do you credit as your wife.”
Lord Edward: “Credit? So is she dog faced, Kitt?” He grimaces wanly.
Lord Kittredge: “No! But she is petite. Though I will own that she believes herself to be plain–no matter how advantageously her mother attires her. But her bosoms have finally emerged.” He adds relevantly. Lord Edward stares him down. “Oh, very well–it is her eyebrows, you see. They give her a rather forceful appearance.” Lord Edward quizzically looks at his friend.
Lord Edward: “Hhhh! Marriage is forever, Kitt.” Lord Kittredge rolls his eyes. “Well, most of the time. And if I must be stuck with a wife, I would like a pretty one. Well, I suppose her face is immaterial, if she possesses at least a modicum of womanly curves. One can always conjugate in the dark, I guess.” He blanches.
Lord Kittredge: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Lord Kittredge titters in slight embarrassment. “Don’t josh me so, Edward. I envision you not waiting until dark to do the deed on your wedding day.” He pauses. “Not this time, anyway.”
Lord Edward: Smiling smugly, Lord Edward avers. “I will own that my inclinations in the past were not usually in that direction–of waiting until nightfall. But dash it, Kitt! That was so long ago now, I am not entirely certain that I would want the glare of daylight for my early forays back into romance when I marry again. And yet …” Lord Edward looks up wistfully, at entertaining the prospect of female companionship of the romantic kind–when he is married, again.
Lord Kittredge: “Then hop to it, old man! Ah! And here they are now!” He gestures to the ballroom’s entrance. by ever so slightly tilting his head in their direction. “I spy Lady Emily with her parents. Let us greet them and I will introduce you to them–again.”
Lord Edward: “Hmmm.” Edward groans as he turns around, he being uncertain what a grown up Emmy might look like—ungainly, freckled, overly cheerful, falling down into mud puddles all the time, etc.? But nothing prepares him for the sight of a very pleasingly curvy Lady Emily Creighton in her pink silk ball gown–only slightly in need of facial grooming for her eyebrow, singular. “Kitt, I thought you said eyebrows, plural. She has only one eyebrow.”
Lord Kittredge: “Now now, Edward. Lady Emily has good bone structure and good breeding. She just requires some plucking–in more ways than one.” Lord Kittredge ribaldly jests with an elbow to his best friend Lord Edward’s side.
Lord Edward: “God! Give me strength!” Lord Edward gazes heavenward, noticing the annoyingly cloying cherub angels painted on the ceiling of the ballroom at the Marshall’s home this night. And he mutters to the ceiling cherubs. “What are you looking at?”
As Lord Kittredge Wells nods his head at his uncle and aunt—Lord and Lady Creighton–his mother’s sister—and his cousin Lady Emily, he beckons them to come to him across the crowded ball room. Lady Emily is doing her best to keep up. But being petite and struggling with a large ball gown that engulfs her, she almost becomes swept away with the tide of attendees. Then her mother clasps her wrist and pulls her toward her.
Lady Creighton: “Stay close, Emily Dear. We wouldn’t want to lose sight of you in this crush of humanity.”
Lord Edward blanches as the small blurry pink form becomes more well defined when Lady Emily Creighton appears nearer to he and Lord Kittredge–for his closer inspection with her parents.
Lord Kittredge: “Aunt Lady Creighton and Uncle Lord Creighton, and Cousin Lady Emily, please allow me to introduce to you again my good friend, the Honorable Lord Edward Carlisle, the Viscount Carlisle and heir to the fifth Earl of Oxford.
Lord Creighton: Lady Emily’s father is a distinguished looking, yet kindly smiling man somewhat North of 60 years, Lord Creighton nods with barely an imperceptible movement of his chin. “Lord Carlisle.”
You see, one can always tell the elevation of a gentleman’s or lady’s rank by their level of disdain to move their person. If not even their eyes move from side to side—let alone any other body part—then they are certain to be ranked among the highest echelons of society.
Lord Edward: “Lord Creighton, My Lady,” Lord Edward bows first at Lord Creighton, before he lifts Lady Creighton’s hand to his mouth and kisses the air above her fingers.
Then Lord Edward turns to face Lady Emily, who is looking up at him quite wide eyed [(4) above] —which rather accentuates her heavy eyebrow ridge. But Lord Edward is proficient at controlling his reactions and does not flinch at her … eyebrow. Conversely, Lady Emily very much likes what she sees—in the person of Lord Edward–as a small smile curls upon her mouth.
Lord Kittredge: Realizing that his cousin seems to be a in a slight stupor, Lord Kittredge gently nudges her elbow with his own. “Lady Emily, Cousin, you remember Lord Edward, don’t you?”
Lady Emily: Also being elbowed now by Mother Lady Creighton, Lady Emily responds through a haze of adoration. “Edward, My Prince!” Then she smiles impishly as Lord Edward looks at her with astonishment. Whilst Lord Kittredge bursts out with laughter.
Lord Kittredge: “Ha ha ha ha ha! How you do go on, Emmy! Isn’t that right, Edward? Emmy is certain to enliven any dull party.”
Lord Edward: “Indeed.” I smile politely. Then Lord Edward lifts Emmy’s hand to his lips and kisses it–actually touching his lips to her gloved knuckles. Then he settles a smouldering gaze into Lady Emily’s hope filled eyes—him trying to ignore, the eyebrow. “My Princess Emily.”
Lady Emily: “Ooh! Ha ha ha! Lord Carlisle, you remembered!” Lady Emily gushes with girlish glee—despite her girlhood being long past, at her now four and twenty years.
Lord Edward: “I do. And as I also recall, you liked to wear tiaras when you were a little girl.” Edward’s voice deepens at the remembrance of a then charmingly blithely traipsing six year old little Lady Emily even as a smile curls upon his lips.
Lady Emily: “I still do. But unless I marry a lord or some other noble, wearing a tiara is not likely to happen for me in my future.” She shrugs her shoulders nonchalantly.
Lady Creighton: “Now Emily Dear, Lord Carlisle isn’t interested in your childish wishes.” She says a tad condescendingly. Though loving her daughter and wanting to see her happily married off, Lady Creighton has the unintentional knack for sabotaging her daughter’s marital hopes with suitors before they can begin.
Lady Emily: “Of course, Mama.” Lady Emily blushes with embarrassment to be admonished in front of the man—Lord Edward Carlisle–whom she has very much admired from afar for most of her life.
Lord Edward furrows his brow at the awkward situation–and he tries to improve upon it.
Lord Edward: “Lady Emily, I would be pleased if you would stand up with me for the next set.” I ask respectfully, with a small smile of encouragement to her. “May I enter my name on your dance card?” I hold out my gloved hand for her dance card.
Everyone’s heads jerk in Lord Edward’s direction, at his favoring Lady Emily with a dance. Lady Emily is not young, has no beauteous countenance–the eyebrow–and she is decidedly too girlishly outspoken. And in truth, Lord Edward does not fancy her romantically. He merely has compassion for her situation–her having an overbearing mother, correcting her in front of others.
Lady Emily’s head pops up to look at Lord Edward in astonishment, as she slowly extends her wrist from which dangles her empty dance card on a pink ribbon.
Lord Kittredge: “And when you’re done with Edward, Emmy, I hope that you will also stand up with me.” He smiles charitably at his sweet cousin Lady Emily.
Speechless, Lady Emily looks between Lord Edward and her cousin Kitt. Two dances! With two different partners! What a wonderful night this will be, thinks Lady Emily!
Lady Creighton: Lady Creighton elbows her daughter. “Emily Dear, please thank Lord Carlisle and Lord Wells.”
Lady Emily: “Thank you Lord Carlisle, thank you Kitt.” She smiles half heartedly. Lady Emily fully realizes that the gentlemen only offered to dance with her out of pity.
But still, Lady Emily thinks that she will get to dance two dances., and she smiles more cheerfully. Two dances are better than none. Because not even her father would be able to dance with her tonight–due to his gout acting up, making dancing painful. And now she has two guaranteed dance partners!
To be continued with Chapter 03
References for the Introduction and Ch. 02 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, April 28, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1377)
- 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 by 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.
- Lord Edward Carlisle in formal attire and looking pensively handsome is Richard Armitage in North & South 2004 epi2-116 Jan0214ranet–GratiEdit-szd-blur-shrp-crop2-clr2brt
- Lord Kittredge Wells in formal wear, looking pleased with himself is Blake Ritson in Emma 2009, Apr27-2021viaIMDB-Grati-szd-crop-clr1
- Lady Emily Creighton is Daniela Denby-Ashe in North & South epi2, Dec1513RAC–Apr27-2021Grati-crop-szd-clr2-eyebrow
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 02 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog post #1376 link for Introduction and Ch. 01 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: