(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. 16: Leave it to the ladies
Almost as soon as the Duchess of Marshbanks learn[s] that her youngest daughter Lady Cecily Englewood is likely soon to be affianced—and to a new young Earl with also a Baronial title—that noble Mama launche[s] into raptures of bliss that quite exceed her sentiments upon the night that her dear Lady Cecily was conceived. Her husband the Duke Marshbanks [bears] her effusive joy with resignation and a small smile. Though he would not let anyone see him smiling.
His Grace the Duke of Marshbanks plans to put this new Earl of Fielding, Lord Kittredge Wells to the test and [in his place] starting Monday—just as he had done with his other two sons-in-law. A daughter is a precious gift, and [the] Duke [of] Marshbanks plans to ensure that giving her hand in marriage will bestow happiness upon her—especially since Lady Cecily has been so against even entertaining the notion of her marrying anyone.
Though their Graces cannot account for the turnabout in their daughter Lady Cecily’s views, they are delighted and relieved. For a lady in their society does not have her own legal standing, and therefore she needs the protection of a husband. And in fairness to the ladies, one might say that for a gentleman in their society, gaining a good and proper wife can be the making of him.
So bright and early this Sunday morning after the momentous events of Lord Kittredge Wells’ and Lady Cecily Englewood’s understanding that developed regarding their mutual benefit in marrying each other, while they were still at the Gosford-Withers wedding reception last evening, Lord Wells escorts his parents to church. With his parents also retaining their own astonishment that their youngest son Lord Kittredge has found a lady whom he wants to [marry]. And the fact that their son’s intended Lady Cecily Englewood is a Duke’s daughter, is the proverbial icing upon the wedding cake.
Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle will also be present at the same Sunday morning worship services. And providentially, they are still yet to look forward to her parents Lord and Lady Creighton returning from Paris in a few weeks. Though Emily would wager her new bonnet that her Mama Lady Creighton will insist upon returning to London as soon as news reaches her about her beloved nephew Lord Kittredge Wells likely to becom[ing] affianced—and with a Duke’s daughter, no less, in Lady Cecily Englewood. Indeed, upon her return, Lady Patience Creighton will [certainly] try everyone else’s [patience] with her suggestions for Lord Wells wedding planning arrangements. Though as the intended bride groom, Lord Kittredge will likely have only need to focus upon his wedding attire and being certain to show up.
And though each family sit[s] in their own pew boxes—with church services being as stratified an affair as any other event in society—they still nod cordially at each other before the worship service begins. And Lady Emily delights in noticing the small smiles that her cousin Lord Kittredge exchanges with his likely intended Lady Cecily. Lady Emily just is not privy to the understanding reached between Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily—of the particulars regarding their mutually hoped for [companionable] marriage, with no romance involved. Nor has Lord Kittredge divulged to his lifelong best friend, and now cousin by marriage Lord Edward Carlisle the nature of his hoped for marriage to Lady Cecily.
It was a lovely [Sunday] church service, and Lord Kittredge was glad that the Vicar does not drone on so as he had remembered the last one did. His Mama Lady Wells is simply glad to get her son inside a church, after his several years of abstaining to attend.
And so it is that after the Sunday worship service, Her Grace the Duchess of Marshbanks formally invites the other set of [betrothal] parents Lord and Lady Wells and [their son] Lord Kittredge [Wells], [and] Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle with her family for an impromptu luncheon at Marshbanks House. The stated purpose for the luncheon is to get to know each other. However, not so unnaturally, the men are somewhat alarmed by this [wholly unexpected] change to their schedules.
Whereas the ladies of Her Grace [the] Duchess of Marshbanks, Lady Cecily, Lady [Emily] Carlisle, and Lady Wells knew and accepted the informal invitation before they left the Gosford-Withers wedding reception last evening. Because, of course, the Duchess of Marshbanks had to inform her cook of the small but important luncheon so they could insure they had enough food to go around.
The ladies are in battle mode in siding for Lady Cecily in her hoped for marriage to Lord Kittredge. And they will not let any fit of pique or possible recalcitrant reluctance on the part of either of Lady Cecily or Lord Kittredge to wed each other—[if] their fathers to prove stubborn about any issue regarding the marriage settlements, etc. Ladies can be quite formidable in that regard. Men may think themselves Masters of the Universe—but that is only true when their wives or fiances are not around.
And the Duchess of Marshbanks refuses to let her husband the Duke of Marshbanks in any way [befoul] her daughter Lady Cecily’s wedding plans. She had seen his machinations toward her other then future sons-in-laws, and thinks that her husband has quite met his match, with regard to Lord Kittredge Wells, Lord Fielding—not to mention their beloved daughter Lady Cecily being no one’s fool, and a person to be reckoned with [in her own right, of either sex].
It is a lovely luncheon of cold meats, fruits, cheeses, and a warm potato soup. Then the ladies retire to the Duchess Marshbanks’ private drawing room to discuss wedding planning—assuming the courtship goes well this week. Similarly, the men proceed to give Lord Kittredge courtship wooing and marital advice—primarily about managing a wife as her husband.
And much to Lord Kittredge’s dismay, Lady Cecily’s father the Duke, his best friend Lord Edward, and even his own father Lord Wells wax poetic about the infinite joys of connubial bliss and the inherent niceties of marriage, in that regard. If he could do so without attracting attention and unwanted questions, Lord Kittredge would cover his ears with his hands to shut out hearing about the need for tenderness with one’s bride. With any luck, Lord Kittredge feels that finding an agreeable companion in Lady Cecily—who shares his views about not wanting to be married, let alone [not being] romantic with one’s spouse—will make their marriage both congenial and not a burden to either of them. He hopes.
But as it happens, Lord Kittredge excuses himself from the gentlemen chatting in the billiards room, for a private moment and a footman discreetly directs him to that which he seeks. And upon exiting that room, he encounters Lady Cecily upon her own expedition.
Lady Cecily: “Ah! Lord Kitt.”
Lord Kittredge: “My Lady Cecily.”
Each bows or curtsies to the other, in their turn. Then there is a shyly awkward moment of silence—each of them wanting to broach a subject, yet dreading it.
Lord Kittredge: “I wonder, Lady Cecily, how you are faring with the Ladies?”
Lady Cecily: “They are all lovely and helpful.” She states diplomatically.
Lord Kittredge: “Ah! Well perhaps it is different for men then for women. The gentlemen have been sharing their expertise with me upon how best to court you and to woo you. And that it will all be worth it, once we are wed.” He blanches at their implication of what he had bemusedly [teased] his cousins of doing—having [conjugal friction]. Then he smiles [in jest]. “And if I hear one more euphemism regarding the joy of marital relations between a husband and wife, I will insist upon hastening our wedding to cease their marital advice.” Thinking he had put just enough pathos into his remarks, he finds that Lady Cecily erupts mirthfully, her pealing with laughter.
Lady Cecily: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles unrestrainedly. “Oh Kitt! Not you as well? The ladies are also harping on the joy of the union between a husband and wife that I will come to know when you and I are wed. My Mama and your Mama each are quite encouraging me to realize that it might not be so joyful the first couple of times. But as with anything, practice makes perfect. Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles again. “I wish that I could disabuse them of their seeming need to put me at my ease about my soon to be new duties as a wife—since it will not be happening between us. But that would reveal the personal understanding that we have reached, and I do not want to breach your confidence, nor my own[.”]
Lord Kittredge: “Thank you, My Lady. So, shall we make a dash for the border and be wed in Scotland this very day?” He teases.
Lady Cecily: “Oh, do not tempt me, Kitt” I really do not know how anyone manages not to tear their hair out during wedding planning?” She almost imperceptibly shakes her head, her being so ladylike as to not give in to publicly disdaining the ladies well meaning help.
Lord Kittredge: “Indeed!” Then he changes subjects. “Would you like to sit in on your father Duke’s and my settlement discussions tomorrow? My cousin Emmy sat in on Lord Edward’s similar discussion with her father.”
Lady Cecily: “She did?” She asks in surprise. Though Lady Cecily is not the easiest of daughters for her parents to deal with, she does not set out to willingly flaunt societal conventions.
So Lord Kittredge Wells courtship and de facto wedding settlement discussions with his Grace the Duke of Marshbanks on Monday morning takes on an added element of urgency, when it is revealed that Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily wish to marry in less than a week, upon the upcoming Saturday—with a smaller scaled back wedding and reception. They see no need to wait to marry, and they threaten to make a dash to Gretna Green—to the horror of the Duke of Marshbanks. Neither set of noble parents will countenance them eloping via a Gretna Green marriage. So the nuptials are moved up to this upcoming Saturday as requested/extorted of them.
Then Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily take their requisite ride in the Park Monday afternoon as planned—thus signaling to society that they are a couple. With them also telling everyone they meet of their swiftly upcoming nuptials. Naturally, hasty marriages usually lead some individuals to believe that an anticipation of their wedding vows has already taken place. However, that is so not the case here. And each of Lord Kittredge’s and Lady Cecily’s unblemished reputations, dissuade others from thinking anything salaciously negative about them.
And then with not two but three waltzes shared between them at Almack’s on Wednesday evening cement[ing] the notion that Lord Kittredge Wells is wedding—and then likely bedding—Lady Cecily Englewood this coming weekend. And [the] [reality] will be some variation of that—just without the bedding part.
So it is a lovely small church wedding and then a large wedding breakfast back at Marshbanks House [early] on Saturday [afternoon]—thanks in large part to the ladies [and] their Mama’s as well as their cousin and friend Lady Emily’s help. The blushing bride in her favorite cream gown that she wore when she met Lord Kittredge looks like any blushing bride. Except Lady Cecily’s blush is for being so overjoyed not to have her parents harping on her needing to marry anymore—because she will have done it. And Lord Kittredge, beams smiles at his beautiful bride on their wedding day. And with no romance destined to happen between them, he still looks forward to getting to know Lady Cecily better—as she does of him.
Meanwhile, though Lady Creighton’s continued absence from London as her husband indulges her with a new wardrobe from the leading Paris couturiers, the latest London [on dits] news still reaches her. And though it is too late for them to attend and felicitate their nephew Lord Kittredge’s wedding to Lady Cecily, Lady Creighton is determined to be no longer absent from the social whirl of London.
To be continued with Chapter 17
References for Ch. 16 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, August 02, 2021 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1403)
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.
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.16 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog Post #1397 link for Ch. 15 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: