(An original Regency Romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2021; All rights reserved) [(1) story cover below 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. 8: Dowry and settlements negotiations
One of the niceties of marriage in many a titled gentleman’s mind is the prospect of receiving his wife’s dowry upon the occasion of their marriage. And too often, that would be the last that the lady bride would see or hear of her dowry. And though Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle had received and then honorably returned his late wife Edith’s dowry funds to her parents when she died whilst eloping with her lover four months after her unconsummated marriage to Lord Carlisle, he wants to handle the situation differently this time, in the hope of producing a better marital outcome for he and his new bride.
[P] And more forward thinking—and non-financially diminished—gentlemen like Lord Edward believe in protecting their lady’s funds for that lady. Shockingly progressive! So it is upon the following day after the Friday night Henderson Ball when Lord Edward Carlisle definitively proposed marriage to Lady Emily Creighton and she delightedly accepted, a Saturday at 11 o’clock in the morning—but seven days before Lord Edward and Lady Emily are to be wed next Saturday—that Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle solemnly and hopefully mounts the steps to the Creighton’s London townhouse to discuss her dowry and the marriage settlements for he and Lady Emily Creighton with her father.
And just as Lady Emily will join the discussion by her father’s side, so too does Lord Edward have a supporter at his side—in the person of his longtime good friend and Lady Emily’s cousin, Lord Kittredge Wells, who will also serve as his wedding attendant, Best Man.
Entering into marriage negotiations for settlements and such involving two individuals and their families can be frought with the rules of etiquette and the demands of rank and privilege. Lord Edward hopes to dispense with such formalities and to neatly arrange the particulars to everyone’s satisfaction. Yet he is not the administrator of today’s discussions and will need to bow, literally, to Lady Emily’s father in this matter.
As Lord Edward Carlisle and his best friend Lord Kittredge Wells are ushered into Lady Emily’s father Lord Creighton’s Study, of this distinguished Earl of Stoke, the three gentlemen bow to each other deferentially. Lord Edward bows to Lord Creighton the Earl of Stoke, Lord Kitt bows to Lord Creighton the Earl of Stoke, then Lord Creighton the Earl of Stoke bows once to both young gentlemen.
Then Lord Creighton gestures for the two younger men to sit in the two club chairs in front of his desk, as he leans against his desk front. This attitude gives the older man and father a temporary height advantage over the two seated gentlemen. It is a small point of distinction, but a deserving one for a Papa about to relinquish his beloved daughter to another. For though Lord Stoke is a distinguished man of 65 years, time has made Lord Creighton much wrinkled about the face and his body slightly stooped over due to arthritis. But he is determined to ensure his daughter Lady Emily’s choice for her husband is a worthy one.
Lord Stoke: For Lady Emily’s Papa now also cloaks himself with his full rank as the Earl of Stoke for these marital dowry and settlement negotiations. “My daughter Lady Emily will join us in a few minutes. But first, I want to assure myself that you, Lord Carlisle, are truly desirous of wedding my daughter Lady Emily. Her happiness is my only consideration in this matter.”
Lord Stoke [(2) above middle] stares daggers at the younger man’s eyes—and Lord Edward inaudibly gulps. If need be, this strong and loving Papa would fight dragons for his daughter. However today, he is only dealing with a suitor.
So this suitor, Lord Edward, must be found worthy in this Papa’s eyes for him to give his daughter to him in marriage. And Lord Creighton is well seasoned in the art of dowry and marriage settlements negotiations, since Lady Emily is his third and last daughter to be wed.
Lord Edward: “And Lady Emily’s every wish for happiness will be my life’s endeavor, My Lord. I will love and cherish her until my dying breath—and even beyond.” Lord Edward bows [(3) above right] his head deferentially again to the father of his bride to be. At least he hopes that Lady Emily will be his bride.
Lord Stoke: “We shall see.” He states ominously. The atmosphere in Lord Creighton’s Study is thick with an air of tension that most young men would sooner try to avoid.
Then Lady Emily enters upon the echo of the knock of their butler. She rushes forward to greet her Papa first, as protocol and her daughterly devotion dictates. And they embrace warmly. Lord Edward and Lord Kitt also stand in deference to Lady Emily and bow to her. She also curtsies to them.
Lady Emily: “Papa! Thank you for allowing me to attend these marriage settlement discussions. I promise that I will be quiet and you will not even know that I am in the room.”
Lord Kittredge: “Nngghh!” He snorts. Never has Lord Kittredge known his sometimes shy–except around family–cousin Lady Emily Creighton to be lacking in contributing to important conversations, not the least of which when they involve her person.
Lord Stoke: “Of course, My Dear. Please have a seat upon the couch.” He motions her to the side of the room, 10 feet away from the trinity of men leading the dowry and settlement discussion.
Lady Emily: “Oh but, Papa? May I first greet my betrothed?” She asks sweetly. Yet, she is even now already thwarting her Papa’s control of the discussions and the room. Her Papa waves her in the direction of Lord Edward and she turns to fully face Lord Edward.
Lord Edward: Lord Edward takes one step forward and bows again to Lady Emily with a loving smile upon his face. “My Lady Emily, I am delighted to see you again and look forward to the day when our lives will be joined together in marriage.” Then he lifts Lady Emily’s ungloved hand to his lips and he gently kisses her soft and smooth knuckles. Then lowering her hand, he retains its shelter within his own, as they gaze sweetly at each other.
The betrothal pair’s eyes lock in understanding of each other’s loving wishes. Lord Stoke observes this tender solicitude between them and privately acknowledges that his daughter has made a good match. Lord Kittredge does as well and comments—him leaning into and between the two betrotheds.
Lord Kittredge: “Hello, Emmy! Do we even need to wait a week for your marriage to Edward? We could have the wedding on Monday. Edward and I secured a special license this morning, just in case.” Lord Kittredge smiles broadly, happy that his matchmaking efforts for his sweet cousin have born fruit.
And lest the young people in the room get the better of him, Lord Stoke asserts his command by coughing.
Lord Stoke: “Kkk! Emily Dear, your Mama has only agreed to your wedding being set for next Saturday, we had best not seek another miracle.”
And her father Lord Creighton had done much persuading and cajoling with his wife Lady Creighton to have her agree to that expeditious date for their youngest daughter’s wedding—not to mention the holiday he promised his wife, with a trip to Paris for new gowns for herself, which will also aid the newlyweds by not having a potentially meddlesome mother-in-law around as they begin their married life together.
Lady Emily: Recalled to her ladylike demeanor from her gazing adoringly at her betrothed Lord Edward, Lady Emily demures. “Of course, Papa.” Then she turns back to Lord Edward and her cousin Lord Kitt. “One week is not too long to wait to be married, is it?” She asks sweetly.
Lord Kittredge: “Not really.” He states as if he is one who knows, with him running his thumbs down and under his jacket lapels in a pleased with himself manner—for his supposed matchmaking success.
Lord Edward: “Kitt, I believe Emmy was asking me.” Lorde Edward avers without taking his gaze from his betrothed, Lady Emily
Lady Emily: “I was.” She gives her cousin a slight nod, whilst not removing her gaze from her betrothed, Lord Edward.
Lord Edward: “One week will only not seem like an eternity if you allow me to see you every day before we are wed, My Love.” He then kisses her knuckles again—though he would dearly love to turn her hand over and kiss the delicate underside skin of her wrist. However, he checks his romantic impulse since they are in the presence of others–not the least of which is her father, Lord Creighton.
Sensing his Uncle Creighton’s impatience, Lord Kitt breaks into the betrothed couple’s reveries.
Lord Kittredge: “Uh, Emmy? I will sit upon the settee, so that you may be seated next to your fiancé.” And he goes to the settee and sits.
Lady Emily: “What?” She asks hazily, so entranced is she in gazing upon her love Edward’s eyes tenderly conveying his love for her.
Lord Edward: “Uh, Thank you, Kitt. Lady Emily?” And Lord Edward helps Lady Emily to be seated in the other chair in front of her father’s desk. Then Lord Edward sits next to her, and he retains a gentle clasp of her nearest hand in his.
Lord Creighton of Stoke: “Well! Now that we have settled who is sitting where, let us discuss the details of my daughter’s dowry and our expected settlement contract that we hope Lord Carlisle will agree to.”
Lord Edward: Turning to gaze upon his beloved’s sweet face, he promises. “My love for Lady Emily will see her be given all that her heart desires. I will deny her nothing.” For Lord Edward Carlisle is a very wealthy man—and a man who desires a happy marriage, this time.
Lady Emily: “Oh Edward!” She sighs in loving wonder of her soon to married state with her beloved Edward.
Lord Creighton of Stoke: “Yes, well, to the details.” He commandeers everyone’s attention again.
Then after putting forth his requirements for the care of his daughter during the marriage—her pin money, her widow’s stipend and where she will live if Lord Carlisle predeceases her, and Lord Edward agreeing to or increasing the portions that Lady Emily will receive, as well as dictating that Lady Emily’s dowry should be put in trust for her use and her direction alone–Lord Creighton pronounces himself satisfied with the arrangements.
And though listening, partially to the dowry and settlement discussions–since she had made a point of wanting to attend—Lady Emily was too enraptured with her hand being sheltered within her beloved’s large and manly hand to interject herself into the discussion.
And she hopes she and her Edward will do more hand holding and even kissing in the week leading up to their being wed—however well chaperoned they will be.
To be continue with Chapter 09
References for the Ch. 08 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, June 05, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1387)
1. 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 pinkish coral in a Vivaldi font.
2. Lord Creighton image composite is that of Bill Nighy in Limehouse, Golem found at:
https://www.willowandthatch.com/emma-taylor-joy-movie-adaptation-news/; And a Victorian study and desk found at https://stylesatlife.com/articles/office-table-designs/ via Grati edit, June 04, 2021
3. Lord Edward Carlisle image is Richard Armitage in N&S2004 epi1-029Oct1913ranet-Grati-crop2-brt
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 08 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog post #1385 link for Ch. 07 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: