(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. 10: Wedding Day Danger Looms
It has taken five years for Lord Edward Carlisle to deem himself ready for remarriage, this coming Saturday to Lady Emily Creighton. Yet he still regrets the events which lead to his late wife Lady Edith’s death while eloping with her lover in a carriage accident four months after their unconsummated marriage.
Lord Edward had respected the lady’s wish not to consummate their marriage when she finally informed him of her love for another before their wedding night, by him not exercising his husbandly rights. No one wants a reluctant bride, and he hoped she might change her mind once she got to know him. Yet, Lord Edward could not have foreseen that the late Lady Edith was so unhappy at being wedded to him—well, to anyone but her lover Alton Lawrence–that she would race to her tragic death in a carriage accident with her lover.
And with his best friend Lord Kittredge Wells unwavering support and good common sense over the years, Lord Edward now believes firmly that it was not his fault—for marrying her.
Lord Kittredge: “Edward, if anyone was at fault, it was Lady Edith’s parents for forcing her to marry you—all to make her a Viscountess, and later a Countess when you inherit your Uncle’s Earldom.”
And yet, Lord Edward’s regret remains as a constant ache—of the senselessness of Lady Edith’s And Alton Lawrence’s deaths. And though as his own parents did at the time, Lady Edith’s grieving parents were encouraging of Lord Edward’s not blaming himself and moving on. In large part, Lady Edith’s parents were grateful for Lord Edward not revealing to the ton the true nature of his wife’s death, that she ran off with her lover Alton Lawrence. So privately, Lord Edward had made an anonymous donation in their honor to the church’s educational scholarship fund three years ago—to help fund a bright student to attend public school.
But that is not to say that all parties involved in this tragedy were so understanding. Though the late Alton Lawrence’s parents were also appreciative of Lord Edward’s silence about the manner of their son Alton’s death while eloping with another man’s wife, Lord Edward’s wife Lady Edith—so as not to besmirch the reputation of their younger son the then eleven year old George Lawrence, who became his father’s heir upon his older brother Alton’s death—the young boy George was bereft and grieved mightily for his older brother’s Alton’s death.
Over the next five years as the then young George grew into long pants, graduated from Eton, and now plans to enter Cambridge University with his parent’s blessing, George has become ever more angry that his ten years older brother was killed. And without his parents’ knowing of his feelings—since like many families in the ton, theirs was not a family that expressed its feelings—George Lawrence wants revenge, and a balancing of the harm he feels that was done to him in losing his brother Alton. He wants justice for his late brother Alton.
But George Lawrence cannot foresee anything less than a life for a life to feel that his brother’s death will be avenged. In recent years, he has envisioned several schemes that would involve the death of Lord Edward Carlisle—a person he despises and a name whom he views with disgust. Yet, he also could not see how he would not be blamed for the death and end up hanging from the hangman’s noose. So he has put off his actions, time and again.
But no longer, upon the now sixteen year old George Lawrence’s reading in the newspaper this week–and hearing more at ton events–about the upcoming wedding of Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle to Lady Emily Creighton, he is determined to do something. In his fevered brain, all he can focus upon is an eye for an eye, as the bible says. And he begins to plot just what he will do.
With her Saturday wedding to Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle occurring in the short span of two days from now, Lady Emily Creighton is awash in wedding planning—and gift receiving. Ever since their wedding was officially announced in the newspaper, their family and friends–and friends of friends—have sent their well wishes and gifts ranging from the small and delicate silver salt spoons from the Millbury family to a wide chaise longue day bed that she had never before seen the like of that was gifted from their good friend and cousin Lord Kittredge Wells. Well, thinks Lady Emily, at least her cousin Kitt made sure that the daybed was long enough to accommodate her Lord Edward’s tall height.
And though the volume of cards and letters has increased greatly to their home in anticipation of their daughter’s wedding, Lady Patience Creighton and her husband Lord Creighton continue their perusal and filtering of what their daughter sees of it—as they always have of mail she receives. Their protection of their daughter and her maiden sensibilities is quite all encompassing. But, they cannot review everything, and an innocuous looking missive on fine ivory colored velum stationary slips past their review and ends up in a wicker basket of cards and letters received and yet to be opened with the wedding gifts spread out upon the Creighton Family’s larger Dining Room’s table and throughout the room.
So the Thursday before her wedding, Lady Emily and her cousin Lord Kittredge Wells take a turn about the Creighton’s larger Dining Room, marveling at all they see, and then sit down to open the cards. Or in the case of Lord Kittredge, he lies down upon the daybed he gifted them with
Lady Emily: “Oh Kitt! Look here, it is a note from my old governess Miss. Hermione Rakestraw, now Mrs. Littlefield the past year! She says that she wishes that she and her husband could join me for my wedding, but that she has entered her confinement as she and her new husband of one year expect their first child soon. Oh! And she sent me a pretty lace hankie embroidered with deep blue flowers for my something blue. How kind and thoughtful of her.” Lady Emily sighs girlishly as she hopes to be able to visit with her old governess after her baby is born. She sets that envelope and letter aside, to take to her room—since it is a very personal note from her old friend and governess.
Lord Kittredge: “Ah! I see, very nice, Emmy.” Lord Kittredge believes the small gift to be a sentimental one, but he could have done without the mention of her former governess’ confinement. But he perceives that he will have to accustom himself to such an event when Edward and Emmy eventually give him nieces and nephews as their honorary uncle.
Each of them selects and opens two more cards and letters with many good wishes for the bride and groom. Then Lady Emily notices that her cousin and good friend Lord Kittredge seems frozen whilst reading a letter of a single folded sheet of fine ivory stationery [(2) left], and his face goes very pale.
Lady Emily: “Are feeling ill, Kitt? Your face is very pale.” She asks in concern.
Lord Kittredge: “What? Oh! Uhh, Emmy, I was thinking of something else we have yet to do, select your wedding present for Lord Edward.” He states rather jerkily—rather than his usual smooth voice, as if he is unnerved by something. And he is.
As they both rise from their seats, Lord Kittredge surreptitiously tucks the card and envelope he had been reading into his inner jacket pocket. And they walk out of the larger Creighton Dining Room where all the wedding gifts are on display.
Lady Emily: “Do you have any ideas what I can do, Kitt?”
Lord Kittredge: “What you can do?” He parrots quizzically.
Lady Emily: “Yes, for my wedding gift to Edward.” She tilts her head at Lord Kittredge seeming addled and out of sorts.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh! Right! In order of preference, diamond stick pin for his cravat, money clip, watch fob, or pocket sized cigar carrying case in leather.”
Lady Emily: “I don’t like the smell of cigars.” She wrinkles up her nose.
Lord Kittredge: “Diamond stick pin it is. Leave it to me, Emmy. I saw just the thing for Edward. And I’ll pick it up for you for Edward and give it to you tomorrow morning.”
Lady Emily: “Oh? Will you not be keeping Edward company on his last day as an unmarried man?” She asks jauntily.
Lord Kittredge: “I’m certain Edward will approve.” He pulls out his pocket watch and grimaces, for effect. “Emmy I really must go.” Then he quickly kisses both her cheeks, and she does his.
Then Lord Kittredge Wells leaves the Creighton home and heads directly and swiftly over to his best friend Lord Edward’s home via his carriage.
Upon being admitted to Lord Edward Carlisle’s London home by his butler, Lord Kittredge Wells rather impatiently walks behind the sedately moving older man. Then he quickly maneuvers around the butler, apologizing as he goes.
Lord Kittredge: “Sorry, Old Chap! Wedding matters to attend to. And I know my way to Lord Carlisle’s Study.” Then he dashes down the hallway and skids to a stop at Lord Edward’s Study. He gives a single solid knock upon the closed hard wood door and then enters without waiting for admittance.
Lord Edward: “Kitt! Are we such old friends that you do not stand on ceremony, in someone else’s home?” Lord Edward queryingly raises his brow in amusement.
Lord Kittredge: “Never mind that, Edward! I stumbled upon an anonymous letter intended for Emmy amongst the wedding presents and cards at Creighton House just now.” He says tersely. Then he removes the letter and envelope from his inner jacket pocket and thrusts it down on Lord Edward’s desk. “Read that!”
With a cautious look in his eye, Lord Edward ceases his jovial rejoinders and attends to the letter and envelope of fine and expensive stationery.
Anonymous letter: “Dear Lady Emily, Your soon to be husband Lord Carlisle has already killed two people. Will you be next? A Friend.”
Lord Edward: “My God!” Lord Edward covers his mouth with his hand. “Did Emmy see this?”
Lord Kittredge: “No! Fortunately, I was the one who opened it. This note is clearly a threat—not just to try to stop your wedding, but also to Lady Emily’s safety. I would have informed her father, my Uncle Lord Creighton right away, but I felt that I needed to apprise you first of what I found.”
Lord Edward: “Thank you for that, Kitt. Yet, you are correct that we should inform Lord Creighton about this threat. My God! What if it had been Emmy who read it, and not you?” His eyes go wide.
Lord Kittredge: “And what if this is not the only note sent? We must make haste back to Creighton House, Edward.”
And so they do, them being ushered into Lord Creighton’s Study not twenty minutes later.
Lord Creighton: “Well gentleman, to what do I owe the pleasure of your company this day? The whole household is in uproar with wedding preparations. Are you certain that you would not rather elope?” He says in jest. But for Lord Edward at this moment, eloping is a very enticing alternative.
Lord Kittredge: “Uncle? I found a disturbing letter amongst the wedding cards and letters earlier today when I was helping Emmy go through them. I took it to Edward first—Emmy knows nothing about it. Read this.”
And once again, Lord Kittredge thrusts the letter and envelope of fine ivory colored velum onto a gentleman’s study desk. The moments tick by and Lord Creighton reads this missive. Then he grimaces and grabs the edge of his desk for support. Then he waives the two younger men to sit down before him.
Lord Creighton: “Though the message here is different, the tone is the same as two others we received this week.”
Lord Edward: “What? And you did not tell me? What do these other letters say?” Lord Edward is angry for his future father-in-law keeping something so important from him, especially with his dear Lady Emily in danger.
Lord Creighton’s visage is grim. Then he opens the middle [drawer] on the [right] side of his desk and pulls out two envelopes—also made of expensive stationery in a fine ivory velum—handing one each to Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge, who read their respective missives, then they trade envelopes to each read the other missives.
The hand printed text of the first short letter in Lord Creighton’s possession that Lord Edward reads is as follows: “Dear Lady Emily, Perhaps you should rethink your choice of bridegroom. A Friend.” It is less menacing than the letter Lord Kittredge found, but still a threat.
The hand printed text of the second short letter in Lord Creighton’s possession that Lord Edward reads is as follows: “Dear Lady Emily, If you do not want me to duel your bridegroom to the death, meet me in the nave of St. Martin’s Church at 4pm today. Do not be late! A Friend.”
Lord Edward: “Lord Creighton, Have you shown these letters to Lady Emily?”
Lord Creighton: “No. I do not want her happiness in marrying you spoiled. But with the third missive that Lord Kittredge found today sounding even more ominous—and we have no idea of the proper order the messages were sent–her safety is in jeopardy and she must be informed, so that she is on her guard. And I have already engaged the Bow Street Runners” to investigate. They have been going to printers and stationery stores to try to find the source of this stationery, which might lead us to the author—as well as keeping a careful watch on my daughter—from a discreet distance, mind you.”
Lord Kittredge: “Right then! I am sorry Edward, but I think that you and Emmy must secretly move the wedding forward to tomorrow, Friday, with just a simple ceremony. But not in the church here in London. We must get Emmy away from Town. Wells Castle is but two hours by carriage from here, we can devise the ruse of a family picnic to be held tomorrow at Wells Castle, the day before you would have wed. And you may marry in the Wells Castle Chapel. Then you may honeymoon there while we all stand guard. We won’t cancel the Church Wedding and Wedding Reception until the last minute on Saturday. We do not want to give away that anything is amiss. Some people will grumble at the inconvenience, but that is a lesser concern than your and Emmy’s safety.”
Lord Edward: “I agree. Thank you for keeping your wits about you, Kitt. Lord Creighton, do you agree to Lady Emily and I having a secret and clandestine wedding upon the morrow at Kitt’s castle?”
Lord Creighton: “I do. Let me invite my daughter to join us.” He goes to ring the bell pull. And in a few moments, his butler appears inside the Study. “Soames, please ask my daughter Lady Emily to join us.”
Butler Soames: “I am sorry, My Lord, but Lady Emily went out but five minutes ago with Lady Creighton to inspect the decorations at the church.”
Lord Creighton: “No! Soames, did my daughter appear agitated or upset in any way?”
Butler Soames: “Only in that her Mama Lady Creighton insisted that she accompany Lady Emily.”
Stunned, the three men quickly leave Creighton House for the church—hoping to arrive in time to prevent anything from happening to Lady Emily—or to someone trying to upset her.
The ten minute carriage ride to St. Martin’s Church seems interminable. Upon reaching the church, both the young men—Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge—leap out of the carriage and dash into the church. Lord Creighton—older and more inform—walks as quickly as he is able up the church steps and into the church.
There they find Lady Creighton in consultation with a florist, discussing whether the pew end bows and flower bowers should be swags or clusters.
Lord Creighton: “My Dear, where is our daughter Lady Emily?” He asks her most worriedly.
Lady Creighton: “As I told Lord Carlisle and Kitt not two minutes ago, she is chatting in the sanctuary with the younger Lawrence boy. Though I suppose that since his elder brother died five years ago and George is now the only son, he is the younger no longer. And of course, at six and ten years, he is no longer a boy.” She recites blithely, her being wholly unaware of the drama unfolding before her.
Lord Creighton perfunctorily nods at his wife, then he solemnly hastens into the church sanctuary. There he finds Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge standing still as his daughter Lady Emily chats quietly with young George Lawrence.
Lady Emily: “Oh George! I am so sorry for your loss. Your brother Alton was a good man, and I suspect a good brother.”
George Lawrence: “He was the best. I admired him greatly, wanted to be like him. I miss him so much!” He buries his face in his hands.
Lady Emily: “There, there, George.” She comfortingly strokes his shoulders. “I can only imagine that your brother would not want you to be consumed by grief over his passing. Grief is an ache that will not mend. But in time, the pain of grief will lessen, until it becomes an echo of your sorrow—with your eventually being able to focus upon remembering all of the good times that you had with your brother Alton.
George Lawrence: “I am sorry if my letters frightened you, Lady Emily. I was not trying to do that, but to make your betrothed feel the pain of loss as I have.”
Lady Emily: “I know that you wouldn’t have done anything—in part, because you know that your brother Alton would not have wanted you to. And because you have the promise of a long and happy life that was not possible for your brother. The memories you have of him, the lessons he taught you, and the sacred love you shared as brothers are within you now and forever. You, George, are Alton’s legacy in the world—perhaps an even better version of him. And I feel certain that he wants you to live a full and happy life. Won’t you grant him that wish of knowing you will have a full and happy life?” She asks tenderly as her arms envelope his shoulders in a caring hug.
George Lawrence: “I’ve made a mess of everything!”
Lady Emily: “No you haven’t. I have already spoken with your parents—about your grief over Alton’s death, not about the notes that you sent me. They are sorry that you have been struggling with your grief alone for so long. They have struggled, too. So maybe you three can finally have a conversation about your love for Alton and discuss ways to move forward without him, but keeping his precious memory in your hearts. Hmmm?”
George Lawrence: “Thank you, Lady Emily.” He uses his handkerchief to dry his eyes and blow his nose. Then he kisses Lady Emily’s hand. “You are a very fine lady, Lady Emily. I hope that you and your husband will be very happy together.”
And Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge heartily concur with George Lawrence’s assessment that Lady Emily is a fine lady.
Lady Emily: “Thank you, George. You be happy, too.” Lady Emily smiles caringly at him, stands up in the pew, and turns to see her father Lord Creighton, her cousin Kitt and her betrothed Lord Edward. She quirks her head in querying their attendance here. For she was unaware that anyone knew about the letter she received from George Lawrence, nor did she know that there were [other] letters[, until George mentioned them just now]. It seems only George Lawrence’s direct letter to her with his return address was given to her.
As Lady Emily begins to walk toward her family and soon to be groom, George Lawrence calls back to her.
George Lawrence: “Uh, Lady Emily, you should have your groom and blacksmith check your large traveling coaches for damaged axels—and have them repaired before they are used again.” Though he does not state that he caused the damage, it is implied—an eye for an eye.
Lady Emily: Seeing Lord Edward blanch in concern, she replies [evenly] to George Lawrence. “Thank you, George, we will do that.”
So the initial plan of Lord Kitt’s to take everyone out of town and to hold an impromptu wedding at Wells Castle Friday has to be scrapped while the Creighton’s and Lord Edward’s [traveling and other] carriages are inspected and repaired—or at least his alternative wedding plan needs to be modified.
To be continued with Chapter 11
References for the Ch. 10 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”,
June 16, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1390)
- 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. Image of aged ivory stationery was found at https://www.amazon.com/Pack-Aged-Parchment-Paper-Parchtone/dp/B071P2M21D
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 10 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog post #1389 link for Ch. 09 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: