(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved) [(1) story cover above left]
[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 the Earl of Stoke, 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. 05: Consulting Kitt
After a surprisingly companionable afternoon nursing Lady Emily Creighton’s sore forehead and eyebrows–and chatting with her about life and love—Lord Edward Carlisle pays a call upon his best friend and Lady Emily’s eyebrow plucking cousin Lord Kittredge Wells that very same afternoon.
Being a bachelor, Lord Kittredge has long espoused the creature comforts in his home’s décor that befit a man, such as Lord Kitt, of wealth, rank, and elegance. His home contains the usual parlor rooms for drinking and smoking, as well as a billiards room for leisurely sport, and his study of dark burgundy hued walls and dark walnut Duncan Phyfe seating arrangements and his large desk.
And what Lord Edward likes most about his longtime friend Lord Kitt’s study sanctuary is that though it contains floor to ceiling bookshelves chock full with leisure reading literature books—as well as treatises upon agricultural management for the gentleman’s country estates—the general decoration of the room is restrained and comfortable.
Looking up to see his tall friend Lord Edward Carlisle being ushered into his study around four o’clock in the afernoon, Lord Kittredge greets him with a strong handshake and waves him to sit opposite from him at the room’s fireplace in a companion plush leather wing chair of man sized proportions befitting the tall, broad shouldered, and long legged Lord Edward.
Lord Kittredge: “So Edward, how was your carriage ride with Emmy today? Any developments?” He leans forward with eager interest. Lord Kittredge is quite proud of the transformation that he has wrought in his cousin Lady Emily, and he hopes her now pretty attractiveness will entice his good friend Lord Edward to follow through with his proposal of marriage to her.
Lord Edward: However, with Lord Edward’s eyes looking like thunder [(2) above middle], he chastises his best friend. “I should punch you in the nose for making Emmy suffer so from your eye brow plucking this morn. She was in so much pain, puffiness, and redness that all she could do was lie on a chaise longue and have cold compresses handed to her to place upon her forehead every few minutes. Therefore, we have to delay our carriage ride until she feels better.”
Lord Kittredge: “Ohhh! I am truly sorry that your outing was spoiled. But what do you think of her face now that she has two eye brows?” He asks impishly.
Lord Edward: “Your concern for Emmy underwhelms me, Kitt.” Lord Kittredge stares in befuddlement at Lord Edward. Then Lord Edward admits begrudgingly. “And yes, the plucking did improve her appearance.”
Lord Kittredge: “Merely, improve it?” He asks leadingly.
Lord Edward: “Alright, Emmy looks quite pretty now that her brows frame her face more delicately.”
Lord Kittredge: “La! Do I hear wedding bells? You did offer for her at the Marshall’s ball last night.”
Lord Edward: Instantly upon his guard and not wanting to be forced into a decision either way, Lord Edward retreats from his marital offer. “Do not get your hopes up, Kitt. I like Emmy, I do.”
Lord Kittredge: “But?” Lord Kitt pouts in consternation for Lord Edward’s underwhelming response–with regard to his eyebrow plucking efforts with Lady Emily.
Lord Edward: “Hhhh! Kitt? Emmy wants to be courted and wooed—and end up with a grand passionate romance. I am not sure that I have the patience and dedication for such an undertaking.”
Lord Kittredge: “Are you saying that you do not want to bother getting to know Emmy better? I would suggest that you would be repeating your former mistakes in that regard. Or, do you prefer variety in your bed partners too much to be faithful to one woman?”
Lord Edward: “Kitt! Please do not twist what I say. Emmy is perfectly agreeable–too agreeable.”
Lord Kittredge: “I find that statement quite odd, Edward—especially coming from you, and given your previous marital history. Do you not want an agreeable wife, this time?” Of course, Lord Kittredge just had to needle his friend by adding the this time phrasal addendum.
Lord Edward: Lord Edward scowls at being repeatedly reminded of his failure of a first marriage. “I do—want an agreeable wife, that is. But Emmy is so comfortable and friendly with me that I do not think that she considers me to have … romantic potential.”
Lord Kittredge: “Edward, Edward, Edward, I do not believe your stupidity! Emmy submitted to my plucking her eyebrows raw for forty minutes, just so she could look pretty for you.”
Lord Edward: “Surely not, old chap.” As he retracts his head backwards in almost a turtle like fashion, Lord Edward looks incredulously askance at his best friend.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh yes she did! Edward, Emmy has a crush on you–she has had for years. If you are not going to pursue her, please let her down gently now–before she gets hurt.” He pleads with his lifelong friend.
Lord Edward: His eyes widen. “Are you for certain that Emmy believes herself to … to care for me?”
Lord Kittredge: “I swear on the life of my first born child.”
Lord Edward: “Kitt, pardon me for saying this, but if you wish me to believe you, perhaps you should swear upon something more likely to happen.” I wryly counter my longtime best friend.
Lord Kittredge: “Well, I could marry and have a child some day.” I sniff petulantly as I flick my lace edged sleeve cuffs.
Lord Edward: When pigs fly, thinks Lord Edward. “Alright, I will concede that it is possible–just not probable.” I raise a knowing eyebrow in companion to my indulgent smile.
Lord Kittredge: “You wound me, Edward.” And Lord Kittredge favors Lord Edward with his best scowling glower.
Lord Edward: “Kitt, some men are more destined for marriage and a family than others. And I feel that I am—or that I hope to have—a marriage and family destiny. But I do not know if Lady Emily Creighton is the wife for me.” He states plainly, without emotion—though the thought of making another marital mistake is his main concern.
Lord Kittredge: “Well, I guess that is progress—you are not ruling Emmy out, I mean.” I survey my friend’s inscrutable countenance. “Is it your first marital experience that is causing you to hesitate, Edward?”
Lord Edward: “Kitt,I hardly feel that my unconsummated marriage of four months constitutes a marital experience–none of the usual marital niceties were involved.” I blanch.
Lord Kittredge: “And I suppose that you have abstained from carnal relations with anyone else since before your first marriage?” Lord Kittredge asks his friend in jest, but then perceives that it is not a jesting topic for Lord Edward.
Lord Edward: “I did–and I have.” Lord Edward admits ruefully with a curt nod, even as his neck and cheeks flush with embarrassment for his woe begone romantic state.
Lord Kittredge: “Well, it is no wonder you are unsettled! Your masculine nature must be fulfilled–the sooner, the better, I say.”
Lord Edward: “My masculine nature?” Lord Edward cannot help but smile wryly at Lord Kittredge’s phrase.
Lord Kittredge: “You need a woman in your bed, Old Chap. So why not Lady Emily?”
Lord Edward: “Kitt! I am surprised at you suggesting that I slake my lust with your cousin! She is a lady!”
Lord Kittredge: “I do not mean that you are to sully her. Simply follow through with your marriage proposal and then initiate her into the joys of wedded bliss.”
Lord Edward: “This conversation has gone completely out of control.” Lord Edward shakes his head about their discussion of his bedding his best friend’s cousin–after he makes her his wife, of course.
Lord Kittredge: “In fact, speed up your courtship and then marry Emmy in a month.”
Lord Edward: “We cannot. Emmy and I are to stand up at the wedding of Lady Rachel Gosford to my cousin Lord Montague Withers in one month.”
Lord Kittredge: “You are so literal, Edward. So then wed and bed Emmy the week after, if not the week before.” I look at him with exasperation.
Lord Edward: “We shall see. Emmy might have other ideas.”
Lord Kittredge: “Oh, I am certain of it!” Lord Kittredge smiles bemusedly–remembering his cousin Lady Emily’s statement that she would marry Lord Edward next week, if he truly wanted to wed her.
Lord Edward: “Now what do you mean by that, Kitt?”
Lord Kittredge: “You know, Edward, for a grown man of five and thirty years, you are unusually obtuse when it comes to understanding women.”
Lord Edward: “Blast my past! And I will be hanged before I repeat the mistakes of my first marriage with my second marriage.”
Lord Kittredge: “For my part, I believe that the mistakes of your first marriage were not of your making. So absolve yourself of any worries on that head, Edward.” Lord Kittredge states encouragingly. “And with Lady Emily, you have a fresh start and a new chance for happiness.” He claps his hands together, as if applauding himself for his own thoughts.
Lord Edward: “What you say sounds plausible.” Then he stares and looks more closely at his very good friend. “What are you not telling me, Kitt?” He asks suspiciously as his eyes narrow at his friend.
Lord Kittredge: Lord Kittredge pauses uncomfortably, him acutely aware that Lord Edward is about to discover his predicament. “Only this, that though my immediate family members generally accept my unwillingness to be married, yet—thank god I am a second son—certain members of my extended family believe that I will eventually capitulate and take a wife and enter the wedded state. But that would be disastrous to both the lady’s and to my happiness.” He frowns in all seriousness.
Lord Edward: “No doubt about that.” Lord Edward states a tad curtly, for his good friend Lord Kittredge had long ago taken him into his confidence. And he notices that his friend winces. “Now, now Kitt, could not your immediate family make clear that they accept your continuing … bachelorhood … as being non-negotiable?”
Lord Kittredge: “Oh, they tried. But the extended family in question is recalcitrant and all too happily enamored of me wedding their youngest still unwed daughter—as her last hope, despite that she and I are first cousins. Though that aspect of it is hardly pertinent given that such a marriage between us would never be consummated.”
Lord Edward: Now Lord Edwards eyes reflect a dawning understanding as he gazes astonishedly at his friend and he sputters. “Oh Kitt, you cannot mean?” Lord Kittredge morosely nods his head.
Lord Kittredge: “I do. And I cannot dissuade them from their purpose, without revealing my most private and personal feelings upon the matter of why I will never marry. And were I to do that, I would lose all whom I hold dear and be cast out from all. Society is a fickle mistress, and unforgiving to those who do not march in step with societal expectations.” Lord Kittredge clenches his teeth forlornly [(3) above right].
Lord Edward: “So you are their backup plan for their youngest daughter if she does not marry soon?”
Lord Kittredge: “That is their plan.” He nods his head with a stoic look of resignation upon his face.
Lord Edward: “Kitt, does Emmy know? I mean, what her parents have planned for she and you—were I or any other gentleman not found to be a suitable husband for her?”
Lord Kittredge: “No! And I do not wish her to know. She barely understands the concept of what being married will entail, beyond her entirely innocent flowery girlish dreams of a grand romance. And I am afraid that she would accept her parents wish that she and I marry, because we are such great friends—and she does not understand about the getting of babies side of marriage.” He grimaces distastefully. “Nor do I want you to feel burdened about asking Emmy to marry you in order to save me, us, from her parents plans.”
Lord Edward: “You need not worry about that, Kitt. I have already begun to have feelings for Lady Emily, Emmy. Actually, it was quite embarrassing for me to realize these feelings as I was handing her freshly ice cooled wash cloths to lay upon her forehead every few minutes this afternoon, with my noticing how attracted to her I have become—when she was lying there in pain.” Lord Kittredge quirks up his eyebrow. “Well you said it yourself, I have been too long without the tender affections of a woman.”
Lord Kittredge: “See? That is why you are better suited to Emmy than I am. I would not make her happy, nor could she make me happy. But the two of you might be able to make each other happy.” Lord Kittredge brightens with a slight smile of hope.
Lord Edward: “I think, perhaps, that Emmy and I just might suit each other.” He pauses. “But blast it all, she wants to be courted and wooed—to give me enough time to think about it and beg off, she says. Emmy is so caring of other people’s wishes, I wonder if she ever has occasion to put her own wishes ahead of others?” Lord Edward thinking about Lady Emily’s wishes and needs above his own are, perhaps, an inkling of his growing affection and regard for her.
Lord Kittredge: “I doubt it. That is why I so want Emmy to find a husband who will cherish and love her as she deserves to be. And Edward, you also deserve to be loved and cherished in return—which Emmy will do.” He hints quite broadly to his lifelong friend.
Both men have laid bare their concerns and wishes with regard to Lady Emily. And perhaps, if Lord Edward is able to interact more with a not in pain Lady Emily in the coming week, he might feel more resolved to seek a path toward matrimony with her.
To be continued with Chapter 06
References for the Ch. 05 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, May 16, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1381)
- 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.
2. Lord Edward Carlisle scowling- is Richard Armitage-in N&S2004_Mar28-2013Graticap-May15-2021brt2-clr-crop3. Lord Kittredge Wells looking forlorn is Blake Ritson as Rev. Elton in Emma 2009
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 05 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog post #1380 link for Ch. 04 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: