(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 Carlisle, Blake Ritson as Lord Kittredge Wells, Polly Walker as Lady Patience Creighton, Bill Nighy as Lord Nigel Creighton the Earl of Stoke, Christina Cole as Lady Cecily Englewood, 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 written at the creative discretion of this author. And this is a gentle and tender romance (G to PG-13), but with some frank discussions about love and marriage put to humorous effect. This is my disclaimer.]
Ch. 15: A Lady Intrigues Lord Kitt
While still at the Gosford-Withers wedding celebration this later Saturday afternoon, and with his wife Lady Emily Carlisle chatting pleasantly with her sisters about their young children, Lord Edward Carlisle takes himself off for him to ostensibly visit the Men’s Lounge, but really for him to locate his lifelong best friend Lord Kittredge Wells. For Lord Edward has noticed something about Lord Kitt’s mood at the wedding reception.
Lord Edward: “Kitt?” Lord Edward asks wryly as he sidles up to his long time best friend Lord Kitt [(2) right]. “You are positively transfixed! I have never seen your gaze so focused upon a lady. What has you so engrossed about her? Are her dress decorations gauche or is her feathered hair ornamentation preposterously large?”
Lord Edward teases as he also gazes at the lady, who now also gazes at the two men.
Lord Kittredge: “Hmmm? Not in the least.” Lord Edward stares at him, waiting for an answer. “Well, if you must know, what do you think of her, Edward? The petite blond lady in cream silk organza sitting in Spinster’s Row.” Lord Kittredge clarifies as he regally tilts his head toward the petite and exquisitely lovely youngish lady sitting with the other spinsters [(3) right]—as if Lord Edward had not already guessed to which lady Lord Kittredge was referring.
Lord Edward: “You are interested in a lady?” Lord Edward asks incredulously. He has never heard Lord Kittredge even mention ladies, much—except to disdain them for himself and therefore eschewing marriage, for very logical reasons. So Lord Edward can be allowed his surprise at his friend’s seeming interest in one of them, ladies, that is. “Hmmm. I do not know whom she is?”
Lord Kittredge: “She is Lady Cecily Englewood, the Duke of Marshbanks youngest daughter. A pretty little thing, do you not think, Edward?” Lord Kittredge smiles at his friend Lord Edward.
Yet another kind remark about a lady by Lord Kittredge leaves Lord Edward astonished.
Lord Edward: He takes a sip of his unspirited punch to have a moment to formulate an answer. “Ah, Then I am surprised that she has not wed—what with her lineage and possibly high dowry.”
Lord Kittredge: “Exactly!” He nods, with a knowing air of understanding. Yet that understanding is not patently obvious to his friend.
Lord Edward: “Kitt, I think you will have to clarify for me your interest in the lady.” Then a thought occurs to him. “I say old chap, after the success of my and Lady Emily’s marriage, are you matchmaking again?”
Lord Kittredge: “Possibly.” He nods cryptically to Lord Edward. “And I have made a few inquiries. The primary reason for so delicate and lovely a lady as she sitting with the spinsters is that Lady Cecily does not wish to marry, at all—similar to my own wishes. But her parents are pressuring her to find a suitable match—much as mine are for me.”
Lord Edward: “Ah, I see. She is to be pitied, then. And do you have such a match in mind for her, Kitt?”
Lord Kittredge: “I do. To myself!” He announces quietly jovially to Lord Edward.
To which, Lord Edward promptly coughs upon sipping his punch. And subsequently, Lord Edward mops up his chin whilst Lord Kittredge’s statement stuns Lord Edward into a stupefied silence.
And as luck would have it, Lady Emily Carlisle gracefully glides to her cousin Lord Kittredge and her husband Lord Edward, after farewelling her older sisters moments ago.
Lady Emily: “Edward, Kitt, you both seem quite engrossed in conversation. Is it something you may share with me, or is it a confidence only shared between men?” She smiles bemusedly, then she notices the astonished looking upon her husband’s face. “Edward, are you feeling well?” She asks caringly as she gently places her ungloved left hand upon his cheek to check his temperature, and to giving him a caring touch. She has been showing her wedding and engagement ring to so many people at the wedding reception who asked to see them that she has just kept her left glove off.
Lord Edward gazes down at his wife and smiles. But Lord Kittredge’s news is his own, and Lord Edward is still not entirely informed as to what his friend’s news might entail.
Lord Kittredge: “Emmy? Might you be acquainted with the lovely Lady Cecily Englewood sitting with the spinsters along the far wall?” He asks shyly.
Ever without guile or subterfuge, Lady Emily boldly turns her gaze to the row of spinsters sitting along the far wall and finds Lady Cecily–then she turns back to Lord Kittredge.
Lady Emily: “Oh yes! Cecily and I have known each other since we were in leading strings. We are about the same age and would run into each other at the park when out with our nurses and we played together. But after she turned 11 years, her father the Duke took his family on an extended tour of and residence on the continent and such. So we lost touch for several years. And it was not until we happened to visit the same modiste in our sixteenth years to … to be fitted for our first ball gowns that we met briefly again—since her family had returned to London to prepare her for her debut—before our come outs two years later, six years ago.” Well Lady Emily could not be so bold as to mention her first corset fitting, so she changed it to a gown. “Lady Cecily is a nice lady, though she is a little shy, which people assume is reserve on her part. But once she gets to know someone, then she is quite congenial company.”
Lord Kittredge: “That is high praise, Dear Cousin. She and I have never met. Though I wondered how so lovely a lady as she could not have been snapped up and married by now. Then I overheard some other gentlemen expressing that Lady Cecily shooed them away from dancing with her.”
Noting her cousin Lord Kittredge’s interest in Lady Cecily, she offers.
Lady Emily: “Kitt? Would you like me to introduce you to her?”
Her husband, Lord Edward, also wonders about that, but sees Lord Kittredge’s hesitance. So he gives him a nudge with his elbow, then places his wife Lady Emily’s arm upon his own.
Lord Edward: “Come, Kitt. Let us take a turn about the room with Lady Emily. And should we three arrive at the far wall, where a certain intriguing almost spinster sits? Well, so be it!” Lord Edward smiles knowingly at his now blushing best friend Lord Kittredge.
Lord Kittredge: “Ohhh, very well. But do not try to force an interaction between she and I.” He widens his eyes pleadingly at them, since he will not gauchely roll his eyes.
So the three friends and cousins stroll about the large and elegantly decorated Gosford House ballroom that is the Gosford-Withers wedding reception venue—with them amiably chatting with other friends whom they meet along their wa y. It takes about ten minutes for their circumnavigation of the ballroom, only to find that Lady Cecily is not to be found.
Lord Kittredge: “Where is she? I thought that we were at the correct support column and palm frond planter next to the spinsters’ chairs?”
Lady Emily: “Oh! I thought that Lady Cecily was here as well.” She pouts. Lady Emily was so looking forward to returning the favor, and possibly doing a little matchmaking between her cousin Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily. “Edward, you are taller. Do you see Lady Cecily nearby?”
Lord Edward: He turns his head 90 degrees to his left and then to his right, but does not look behind himself. “Not at the moment.”
Then all three of them turn around and look toward the refreshments room across the ballroom from themselves. But they do not see Lady Cecily there either
Then they each feel a gentle breeze and turn from whence it comes behind them. And they notice that a French style window door is now open. Wondering if Lady Cecily escaped from the warmth of the wedding reception to the cooling breezes of the night air, the three of them walk through the door to the large exterior terrace that is lit with torches as partial illumination.
And then Lord Kittredge spies the object of his interest, Lady Cecily facing them—facing him—from near a side balcony stone railing. He smiles at her, and she raises her eyebrow in a querying gaze—almost daring him to approach her. What she has not reckoned with is that Lord Kittredge’s own usual standoffishness at London social engagements is quite difficult to surpass in herself.
So the three of them walk over to Lady Cecily, and Lady Emily and she kiss cheeks.
Lady Emily: “Lady Cecily, it is so good to see you again! You look lovely, My Dear.” She smiles cordially at her former play pal.
Lady Cecily: “As do you, Lady Carlisle.” She curtsies to Lady Emily out of protocol. “My felicitations upon your marriage.” She smiles warmly at the happy couple.
Lady Emily: “Oh thank you! And as we are old friends, I am still just Lady Emily to you Lady Cecily. Let me introduce you to my new husband, Lord Edward the Viscount Carlisle.” She gestures to her husband, he bows to Lady Cecily, and she curtsies to him.
Lord Edward: “My Lady Cecily.” He also gently takes her fingers and kisses the air just above her gloved knuckles, as is the proper form of the day.
Lady Cecily: “Lord Carlisle.” She slightly nods her head and retrieves her hand.
Then seeing Lady Cecily imperceptibly turn to look at Lord Kittredge, Lady Emily introduces him to her.
Lady Emily: “May I also present our dear cousin friend Lord Kittredge Wells.” She states in the form of a question, but her phrasing is declarative in nature—rather than interrogative—therefore, rhetorical, and not requiring Lady Cecily’s consent for introductions to be made. Now Lord Kittredge steps forward. “Lord Kittredge, my old friend Lady Cecily Englewood, youngest daughter of the Duke of Marshbanks.” For detailing lineage and connections is de rigueur in societal introductions. Though hardly necessary, because children of the nobility are expected to memorize who is who among the nobility, as they grow up.
Lord Kittredge: “It is my honor to meet you, Lady Cecily.” He states austerely, then bows, and she curtsies. Then he brings her gloved hand to his lips for a kiss—which he places directly upon her knuckles encased in fine kid skin gloves.
Lady Cecily: “My Lord.” Lady Cecily stiffens. She does not like gentlemen taking liberties with her—such as actually kissing her hand, even though she is wearing gloves.
Lord Kittredge gazes pleadingly at Lady Emily for helping him in conversing with Lady Cecily. She does facilitate a conversation, but the rest will be up to they two.
Lady Emily: “If you will excuse us, Lady Cecily and Kitt, I want to show my husband a particular garden feature that the bride Lady Rachel and I enjoyed as children.” She smiles and her cheeks dimple slightly. “I had mentioned your tour of and residence on the continent, Lady Cecily, and Kitt seems eager to learn more. So perhaps you might share that with him.”
Thereupon Lady Emily and Lord Edward descend the three stone steps from the terrace and walk toward a nearby fountain feature—thereby leaving alone the two as yet unspoken for individuals, though they are still in visible to each other twenty feet away as a measure of chaperonage.
There is a silence between Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily, as Lord Kittredge smiles cordially and gazes upon her loveliness in the twilight of the later afternoon upon the Gosford ballroom terrace. Lady Cecily haltingly returns Lord Kittredge’s smile, but with a curt nod to him. She does not wish to be courted—which she makes plain to every man who attempts to engage her with flattery or dancing.
Lady Cecily: “Cat got your tongue, Lord Wells?” She asks tartly.
Lord Kittredge: “I am more of a dog man myself, Lady Cecily. And you may address me as Lord Kittredge, if you wish.” He adds cordially.
Lady Cecily: “Well, I do not wish, Lord Wells. And as I have made quite clear to other potential suitors, I am not interested in matrimony.” Then she sees a twinkle in his eyes as if he were about to jest again. “Nor anything else to do with men.” She clarifies.
Lord Kittredge: “Ah! Then we are kindred souls and we are certain to become boon companions, My Lady.” He places his hand upon his heart, affecting a lady’s about to swoon pose. Lady Cecily quizzically eyes him with suspicion. Then he clarifies. “For I do not wish to be wed, nor to be entangled with any lady.” He ends with a flourishing wave, which he usually restrains.
Lady Cecily: “Is that so?” She asks, wondering if he is teasing her, or if he is in earnest.
Lord Kittredge: “It is, My Lady.” He nods with a smile.
Lady Cecily: “Hmm.” Lady Cecily tilts her head, thinking. “And your cousin Lady Carlisle addresses you as Kitt?” She wonders how this abbreviation of his name came about.
Lord Kittredge: “She does indeed, from her childhood. For like her husband Lord Edward, Lady Emily is eleven years our junior. So when she was very little, she could not pronounce my name of Kittredge—only getting Kitt out. And the nickname stuck.” He smiles. “And I address her as Emmy, when we are in not in public.”
Lady Cecily: “So you and your cousin Lady Emily are a close friendship?”
Lord Kittredge: “Indeed we are. In fact, I am the one who played matchmaker for she and her now husband Lord Edward, who is also my longtime best friend since childhood.”
Lady Cecily: “I see. And what prompted your seeking me out this late afternoon?” She is ever forthright in her dealings with others.
Lord Kittredge: “Well…” He pauses a bit shyly now, but decides to be honest. “When I saw you enter the wedding reception this afternoon, I was mesmerized by your beauty. You are exquisite.” He sighs, like a lovesick swain. Although in Lord Kittredge’s case, he merely appreciates her beauty. Or is it something more?
Lady Cecily: “Thank you for your kind compliment, My Lord. But as I told you earlier, I am not interested in marrying anyone.” She states this without rancor.
Lord Kittredge: “Nor am I interested in marrying, despite the constant urging of my parents.”
Lady Cecily: “My parents are also quite determined that I marry.”
Lord Kittredge: “Perhaps, Lady Cecily, we should combine our respective wills not to be married in a constructive way.” He hintingly suggests.
Lady Cecily: Not knowing this man–except that her friend Lady Emily likes him, he is her cousin—she is perplexed? “How? My parents will not relent until I am married—or carried off by pirates to parts unknown.” Now she jests.
Lord Kittredge: “Ha ha ha! That is the spirit, My Lady. We should thwart our parents at every turn—court each other, but not become betrothed—nor married.” Though Lord Kittredge’s object is to marry the little spitfire, he does not want to bed her—but rather to form a companionable friendship with her.
Lady Cecily: “Yet, my parents will view our courtship as tacitly implying a betrothal and then a marriage.”
Lord Kittredge: “Ah! Yes, I see your point. Though I am very wealthy and considered quite a catch. I am only a second son, and only have my baronial title to recommend me.” He dissembles, forgetting about a recent development in that regard. “What is your wisdom on the matter on our stymying a full betrothal while courting?”
Lady Cecily: “Well though I do not want to become pregnant if I marry—I am too petite for childbearing—I would like to have a daughter—by, perhaps, parenting an orphaned child. But my parents want more blood grandchildren. Do you have an impediment to suggest that you would not be able to …. procreate, to lessen my parents harping upon the subject of grandchildren?”
Lord Kittredge: “I do not know, My Lady.” He shakes his head ruefully. He has never dallied in romance, at all. “But by my bloodlines, I am the second son of my Earl father, and I also have two sisters. And my siblings each have two children a piece. So fecundity is reflected in my immediate family.”
Lady Cecily: “What about an injury that would prevent you from …” She pauses discreetly. “…ah… um… prevent you from fathering a child?” She asks hopefully as she begins to consider that Lord Kittredge might be her lifeline to a future without parental oversight and without the troubles of a true husband.
Lord Kittredge: “No luck there, My Lady. Though I could feign a long ago injury, I suppose—possibly a forced stop by my horse that bruised my … baby fathering parts?” Lord Kittredge squirms embarrassedly, also wondering if his … bfp’s were supposedly injured, should he walk with a limp—let alone, him have difficulty riding, one of his favorite things?
Lady Cecily: “That is an excellent notion, My Lord.” She smiles radiantly at him, and he quite forgets his misgivings about seeming injured. “Oh, and one more thing, in the marriage settlement negotiations, I want you to insist that my dowry be held in trust for me and my use alone. So many ladies have been left impoverished when their husband’s died unexpectedly. And they had to be taken in by recalcitrant family. That is not for me. I want to be independent.”
Lord Kittredge: Pleased that the lady of his choice is warming to the notion of their courting and marrying, he agrees with her. “Your retaining your dowry funds is also my wish, My Lady. My wealth is more than enough to keep you in comfort and style as a Duke’s daughter.”
Lady Cecily: “Then we are in agreement.” They both nod. But she still ticks off the nature of their agreement upon her fingers. “One, ours will not be a marriage with romance. Two–nor will you attempt to get me with child, though I may wish to parent an orphan as our daughter. Three, friendship and fondness are pleasing, but nothing more between us. Four, I keep my dowry money, jewelry, and possessions that I bring with me to our marriage. And five, …” She thinks for a moment.
Lord Kittredge: He helps her out. “Five, our marriage will reflect our mutual respect for each other by not seeking romance outside of our marriage.” For though, Lord Kittredge has spoken with his best friend Lord Edward of his non-romantic tendencies for women, Lord Kittredge has never acted upon them, so restrictive is their society in that regard.
Lady Cecily: “Hmmm. I accept, Lord Kitt.” She nods her head in a satisfied way. She and Lord Kitt—a nickname she rather likes—will have companionship and protection and other niceties of marriage, without the burden of the difficulties. Or so she reasons.
Having returned to the terrace, Lady Emily and Lord Edward are a bit surprised at the closely intimate distance they now find their friends in discussion.
Lady Emily: “What do you accept, Lady Cecily? If I may ask.” Lady Emily smilingly looks back and forth between her cousin Lord Kitt and Lady Cecily.
Lord Kittredge: “Well, if I may, My Lady?” He deferentially seeks her permission to divulge their decision. “Lady Cecily and I have decided to court each other for the next week or so. Then if we feel that we will suit …” Which they both feel they will, but have to follow the usual protocols of society for courtship and marriage. “I will then seek her hand in marriage and we will be wed two weeks after that.”
Lady Emily: “Oh Kitt! Cecily!” Lady Emily flings herself and effusively embraces first Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily in congratulations! “How wonderful!”
Lord Edward: However, Lord Edward is more circumspect. “By all means, if you both decide that you will suit, I wish you my very best.” Lord Edward’s tone is tempered because he has known Lord Kittredge his whole life and this change in his friend’s life plan is life altering for Lord Kittredge. But he will be supportive of his friend as much as he can.
Lady Cecily: “Kkhhh! Perhaps three weeks after you propose, My Lord?” For Lady Cecily has done the calculations in her head, with regard to when she will feel her best in the coming month.
Lord Kittredge: “As you wish, My Dear Lady Cecily.” He offers her his arm and she delicately clasps her petite hands around his arm with a smile as they turn toward the French window doors leading from the terrace to the ballroom.
As they walk back into the ballroom from the terrace together arm in arm, Lord Kittredge Wells and Lady Cecily Englewood are smiling quite pleasantly—belying their clear happiness at reaching an agreeable understanding with each other. It would not due for them to show their full emotions in public. They are closely followed inside by Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle, who served as their chaperones while they were on the terrace. So propriety is satisfied.
As it happens, Lady Cecily’s father Duke Marshbanks and mother Duchess Marshbanks had been looking for their daughter, and so were nearing the spinsters chairs sitting area when they see their daughter walking back inside from the terrace—and upon the arm of Lord Kittredge Wells, a mere Baron, as far as they know. And they wonder what is Cecily about? Her beauty could catch her a Duke—though young dukes are thin on the ground—or at least, a Marquess.
Knowing that look in her parents’ eyes, Lady Cecily diffuses the potentially volatile situation.
Lady Cecily: “Papa Duke.” She curtsies to him and kisses his cheek. Then she repeats that greeting for her “Mama Duchess.
Lord Kittredge: He bows deferentially to the Duke and Duchess. “Your Graces.”
Duke Marshbanks: “And just who is this, Lady Cecily.” Though he knows who Lord Wells is, they have not been formally introduced.
Duchess Marshbanks: “Now, now, My Dear. Cecily, please perform the introductions.” She states placidly.
Lady Cecily: “Thank you, Mama Duchess. Allow me to present Lord Kittredge Wells, Baron …” She stops, her realizing that he had not said what his barony was founded upon. She turns to him.
Lord Kittredge: “Thank you, My Lady. With respect, Your Graces, I am Baron Lakeland and Earl of Fielding.”
Lady Cecily: “You did not tell me that you were an Earl, too, Lord Wells?” She asks in astonishment—hoping that her parents will like her becoming a Countess, which is higher than a Baroness. And if she marries, when she marries Lord Kitt, she will have both titles.
Lord Kittredge: “Apologies, My Dear. But I forgot. My Earldom is a relatively recent development.”
Lord Edward: “I’d say, Old Man. I had not even heard about it from you.” He pouts a bit since he and Lord Kitt are lifelong best friends, they know everything about each other. Well, not everything, he surmises.
Lord Kittredge: “Well you must admit, Old Man, with your wedding and such just two weeks ago, the past month has been rather a busy time. My paternal uncle died recently without issue. And my Papa bestowed his late younger brother’s title upon me as his second son …” Then he gazes directly at the Duke. “… in the hope that my elevated rank would be pleasing to the family of any noble lady whom I would court and hope to marry.”
Duke Marshbanks: “Hmmm.” Is all the response the elder statesman Duke gives at the moment to Lord Wells’ declaration. “Lady Cecily, please continue with your introductions.” He is a stickler for form and protocol.
Lady Cecily: “Oh yes, thank you Papa Duke. And this lovely and kind couple are the newly married Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle—the Viscount and Viscountess of Carlisle. You will remember that she is the daughter of the Earl and Countess of Stoke, Lord and Lady Creighton.”
Lord Edward and Lady Emily bow and curtsy, respectively.
Lord Edward: “My Lady Wife and I are honored to make your acquaintance, Your Graces.” Lord Edward intones soberly for the both of them. With Lady Emily smiling broadly about their cousin Kitt soon to become betrothed to her friend Lady Cecily.
Duke Marshbanks: “Lord Fielding, I expect to see you in my study at 10 am Monday morning for our discussion.”
Lord Kittredge: “I look forward to it, Your Grace.” Lord Kittredge smiles pleasantly, feeling that since he has won over the most formidable Lady Cecily, that her Father Duke’s acceptance will also be forthcoming. Afterall, Lord Kitt is a man of rank and considerable wealth in his own right.
Lady Cecily: “Thank you, Papa Duke.” She curtsies to her father for him not rejecting Lord Kittredge outright.
Lord Kittredge: Then Lord Kittredge turns to his hoped for betrothed. “My Lady Cecily, might I join you for Sunday services tomorrow and then, perhaps, a drive in The Park on Monday afternoon—after I speak with your father in the morning?”
Lady Cecily: First Lady Cecily looks to her father and mother, and her Mama Duchess, nods her assent. “Thank you Lord Fielding, I look forward to both.”
Lord Kittredge: Raising Lady Cecily’s delicate hand to his lips, Lord Kittredge says in parting from her this day. “My Lady Cecily, until we see each other upon the morrow at church.” She curtsies gracefully to him.
So the now three couples part. The Duke and Duchess take their daughter Lady Cecily home for a chat about her possible intended. While Lord Kittredge takes himself off to his parents’ home to inform them of his wish to court and possibly marry Lady Cecily.
And finally, Lord Edward and Lady Emily look forward to a quiet dinner and evening at home tonight. The days and weeks ahead will hold many events and happenings for the newlyweds and their friends and family. So they will need all of their rest to be able to enjoy them.
To be continued with Chapter 16
References for Ch. 15 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, July18, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1399)
- 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 Kittredge Wells in formal wear pleased with himself is Blake Ritson in Emma 2009, Apr27-2021viaIMDB-Grati-szd-crop-clr1
3. The image of Lady Cecily Englewood in a creamy-satin gown and smiling-knowingly at Lord Kittredge Wells at the Gosford-Withers wedding reception is represented by Christina Cole, in Jane Eyre 2006-asBlanch Ingram July17-2021viaPinterest; the image was found at https://www.pinterest.ru/pin/485544403548318562/
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.15 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog Post #1397 link for Ch. 14 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: