(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 Wells, 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. 17 (PG-13): Newlyweds’ Dilemma
As their friends and family wave them off for their wedding trip, Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily Wells—as the new Earl and Countess of Fielding–the newlyweds settle into their large sumptuously comfortable enclosed carriage with small talk.
However, Lord Kittredge is feeling a bit nervous as a new husband [(2) right], and he is not well versed in making small talk with ladies as his blanching countenance attests. Whereas his Bride Lady Cecily initially looks interestedly outside the window. So silence ensues for a bit. They are a handsome couple, who with the rush to the altar had little time for true courtship—wherein a feeling of familiarity might have had a chance to flower.
Eventually, Lady Cecily’s curiosity comes to the forefront and she turns to her new husband, who cordially smiles at her but waits for her to speak. So her sensing her new husband’s unease in just chatting, Lady Cecily asks a most pertinent question of him.
Lady Cecily: “Where are you taking me? Us?” The new Countess of Fielding forthrightly asks her new husband with her piercing gaze [(3) right]. Lady Cecily rarely, if ever, dissembles. Rather, she poses the central issue in question. And the central issue in question currently is their wedding trip.
Lord Kittredge: Warming to the topic and [to] his wife, he cordially responds to her. “My Dear, we are going to my country estate at Wells Castle, to stay for the week. Emmy and Edward enjoyed their wedding trip there, so I thought that we might give it a go. It is a delightful area with lovely landscapes and outdoor activities, as well as small villages for local fare–and also a nearby large port city for wider interests in culture and art.” He smiles warmly at her.
There will be no romance between them, so they will each or together need to find other activities to enjoy.
Lady Cecily: “Very well.” She pouts. “It is just that traveling and new places can be vexing. One always feels out of place.”
Lord Kittredge: “Ah, are you speaking of our trip now, or your family’s residence on the continent many years ago?” He asks with trepidation.
Lady Cecily: “I suppose a bit of both. Mama Duchess and Papa Duke felt that our spending a year living in each of selected countries would expose me to various cultures—and royal houses in other countries for potential betrothals.” She pouts.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh Dear.” His eyes twinkle. “And to think that in your returning to London two years ago–and befriending my Dear cousin Emmy again–would put you into the path of a mere English Earl.”
Lady Cecily: “Precisely! But what Papa Duke did not realize, but perhaps my Mama Duchess did realize, was that I was not interested in—let alone enamored of–any of the royals we met in other countries. Though I did enjoy the cultures and landscapes that we resided in over the years. And though it is possibly non-patriotic to admit it, France claimed my heart. The beauty of their manors and estates—let alone their fashions and food—quite entranced me.”
Lord Kittredge: “Ah! Parlez vous Francais?” (Do you speak French.) He asks teasingly while executing a credible French accent.
Lady Cecily: “Oui! Je parle un peu.” (Yes! I speak a little.) Lady Cecily replies animatedly with her thumb and index finger close together. “Avez-vous visite la France?” (Have you visited France?)
Lord Kittredge: “Oui. Juste une fois.” (Yes. Just once.) Then he asks, also in French. “Allons-nous en France? Bientot?”
Lady Cecily: “Ce sera merveilleux!” (That will be wonderful!) With sparkling eyes, Lady Cecily lightly claps her hands together five times in that delicately graceful and soundless way that ladies so favor.
Lord Kittredge having secured the knowledge that their visiting France will make his new wife Lady Cecily ecstatically happy, he hopes to make plans for them to do so soon—perhaps, even next week. So the remainder of their two hour journey to Wells Castle from London this later afternoon after their wedding is interspersed with talk of the delights to be had both at home in the English countryside as well as in France.
When Lord Kittredge and his new Bride Lady Cecily reach Wells Castle, the later afternoon is still bright and sunny.
Lady Cecily: “Kitt, Truly this is your castle—even before you became an Earl?” She marvels at Wells Castle’s large size and grandeur.
Lord Kittredge: “Indeed, My Dear. Let me show you to one of your new homes.” He emphasizes that they have several homes to share together.
Upon Lord Kittredge assisting his new Bride Lady Cecily in exiting their grand carriage, they are immediately greeted by their Wells Castle Housekeeper Mrs. Griffin.
Mrs. Griffin: “My Lord and Lady Fielding, it is a pleasure to welcome you home to Wells Castle!” She states brightly as she does a deep curtsy then returns to standing.
For Lord Fielding as he is now called has chosen to make Wells Castle his main country home until they visit his Earldom’s country seat and London home and other properties to assess their suitability, need for repairs or renovation, etc.
Lord Kittredge: “My Lady wife, this is Mrs. Griffin, our longtime Wells Castle Housekeeper. Mrs. Griffin, my wife, the new Countess of Fielding.” He gestures proudly to Lady Cecily in her smart coral pink and peach carriage gown.
Lady Cecily: “I am delighted to meet you Mrs. Griffin.” She states parsimoniously, but bestowing respect to their esteemed longtime Housekeeper. Again, Lady Cecily’s innate reserve with individuals she is unacquainted with comes to the fore.
Lord Kittredge: “Mrs. Griffin, Might we trouble your staff for two baths and some food sent to our chambers before … well before we go exploring the castle?” He realizes that their visit to Wells Castle today and for the following week carries the distinction of them being on their wedding trip—so his activities might be presumed to be of a unique nature from his other visits. He thinks discomfitedly.
Mrs. Griffin: “Certainly, Lord Fielding. We have prepared the Royal Suite as you requested for you and your Bride.” She smiles sweetly at the blushing Lady Cecily who has wandered over to a life sized painting of a long ago knight upon his horse. Yet, she can still hear what Mrs. Griffin said.
Then Mrs. Griffin tips her head to Lord Fielding and walks six feet further away from Lady Cecily, in order to whisper something to his Lordship. Lord Kittredge quizzically follows behind her.
Lord Kittredge: “Yes, Mrs. Fielding?” He asks in a kindly voice.
Mrs. Griffin: “I just wanted you to know that your wedding night bed chamber has been made ready for you.” She states whispering portentously.
Lord Kittredge: “Thank you Mrs. Griffin. I am certain we will find the Royal Suite most comfortable. Lord and Lady Carlisle remarked how much they enjoyed their visit here on their own wedding trip two weeks ago.
Mrs. Griffin: Still whispering and sneaking a glance at Lady Cecily to make sure she is still engaged with gazing at the painting. “Yes, My Lord. But with respect, you are the new Earl, and there are certain wedding traditions that must be attended to in verifying the … the marital consummation.” She blushes crimson.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh?” Lord Kittredge’s eyes go wide as he also blushes crimson. He had forgotten about the whole issue of someone need to witness the consummation—and the evidence of his wife’s virginity—or the results after the consummation. But he and Lady Cecily will not be consummating their marriage—at least, that was their negotiation before they married.
Mrs. Griffin: Continuing delicately, she informs him of the details. “Yes, there is a fine linen hand towel with the Fielding crest placed under each pillow on the bridal bed in your bed chamber, My Lord.” After your Bride lies on the towel during your marital consummation this night, you need only remove the towel to the nearby basket. And in the morning. I will then have the basket brought to me and serve as your legal witness.”
Lord Kittredge: “Thank you, Mrs. Griffin. That is most thoughtful of you.” He thanks the heavens that noble marriages no longer required actual witnesses [(4)] of the consummation act itself. He shudders in thinking of the ancient and intrusive practice.
But Lord Kittredge has yet to discern how he and his Bride Lady Cecily can have any consummation results for Mrs. Griffin to witness—when they are not consummating their marriage, this night or any night. But he will have to think of something.
So Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily are guided to their bridal bed chambers in the Royal Suite to have their baths—separately. Lady Cecily is glad to have this luxury afforded to her in her bed chamber’s dressing room in this very old castle. And she enjoys the little details of rose scented bath crystals lending a pleasing aroma. Lord Kittredge also bathes and shaves in his bed chamber’s dressing room—rather less languorously than Lady Cecily. He has a rather rough later afternoon stubble that he always has to tame with a nightly shave.
Then both will return to their shared Royal Suite sitting room for some late afternoon refreshments. It is now that Lord Kittredge must elaborate what is expected of them this night, and enlist her help in coming up with an agreeable solution for it. So he waits for her sitting in a chair and nibbling a biscuit. Then he spies her and stands.
Lady Cecily wearing a pretty white muslin daytime gown with pink ribbon rose embellishments interspersed along the scoop neckline and sleeve cuffs, and with a lovely 2 inch wide pink satin ribbon detail under her bosoms that is tied in a bow at her back, exits her bedchamber and into the sitting room. Her blond ringlets are still very curly, and Lord Kittredge wonders if she has naturally curly hair. He supposes that as her husband, he will come to know the many womanly secrets of his wife. Hmmm.
Lord Kittredge: “My Lady Cecily, you look charming.” He smiles broadly at her and guides her to a cushioned chair at the small table where their light repast has been set.
Lady Cecily: “Thank you, My Lord Kitt. You look very handsome, yourself.” She kindly returns a compliment to him—her admiring his sporty look of shiny brown boots, buff colored pantaloons, a tan waistcoat and a dark blue jacket.
They each select some delicacies to place upon their respective china dining plates, then nosh for a bit—with some lemonade to drink with the cheese, bread, meat, and such, and tea to drink with the fruit and biscuits.
After they are done eating, but still sipping more tea, Lord Kittredge decides to begin the delicate discussion.
Lord Kittredge: “Cecily, My Dear. As you know, we are not a love match, nor had we planned to be romantic with each other—nor anyone else.”
Lady Cecily: “Yes, that is our understanding.” Then she picks up on him using the past tense. “… had planned?”
Lord Kittredge: “Yes, Mrs. Griffin informed me of the marital consummation evidence that we must provide tonight, in order for our marriage to be considered legal as the Earl and Countess of Fielding.”
Lady Cecily: “But…” Her brow furrows, but Lord Kittredge raises his hand to interrupt her arguments.
Lord Kittredge: “At least in our modern society, the marital act does not need to be witnessed directly by persons. [(4)] But the results, do seemingly need to be shared.”
Lady Cecily: Crossing her arms in front of herself—unknowing that she is nicely plumping up her bosoms. Though Lord Kittredge does not take notice of it. “What results do you refer to, Sir?” For her Mother had not given Lady Cecily a detailed marital advice talk.
Lord Kittredge: “Well … uh. What do you know about the conjugation of husband and wife?” He asks, hoping to forestall telling her all.
Lady Cecily: “Nothing directly, nor do I ever wish to know.” She states plainly.
Lord Kittredge: His hopes dashed, he continues. “Ah, well, you see. When a well bred lady, such as yourself, is first married, her virginity is a sacred thing to her family, to her husband, and to society. Such that, it is only her husband, on their wedding night who may …” He is temporarily at a loss for words. “Well, her husband lies in bed with his wife and they join their bodies together as one.” He blushes crimson. Though Lord Kittredge is also a virgin, boys and men are usually informed of the particulars.
Lady Cecily: “Join together? You mean kissing is what causes babies?” She asks innocently, her pinkening slightly.
Lord Kittredge: “Well passionate kissing can lead to babies coming into being. But small kisses on the lips or cheek do not.”
Lady Cecily: “And what has that to do with us? We are not planning to do that, ever.” She reiterates.
Lord Kittredge: “Of course. But as you and I had previously discussed whether I had injured my baby fathering parts—and I have not…” He hastens to remind her. “There is still the expectation that we will have a wedding night wherein the husband’s baby fathering parts and the wife’s baby mothering parts join together for the first time—with the wife’s virginity being breached, causing her some pain, and causing her to bleed.” He rushes through that last bit.
Lady Cecily: “You cannot be serious?” She frowns and shakes her head, her blond ringlets bouncing about. “That sounds positively beastly—for the husband to cause pain to his wife, that also makes her bleed?”
Lord Kittredge: “Oh, I agree most heartfeltly with your assessment. And though the pain and bleeding does not occur again, with subsequent marital couplings—that I am told—the marital couplings are necessary for begetting future blood line children. Hhhh!” Lord Kittredge is quite flustered with having to give his bride this marital talk.
Lady Cecily: “So what is your point, Kitt?” She asks shrewdly.
Lord Kittredge: “Well, Cecily, I foresee only two options before us. The first option is that we do the marital coupling joining bit, in order to insure that you are legally my countess—lest your virginity be discovered at some later date and our marriage annulled by parties trying to wrest the Earldom and its holdings from us.” He blanches about what he is proposing. And she frowns further. “Or, the second option is that we somehow fake the bloody results tonight–without doing the marital coupling joining. Though were your virginity discovered at some later time, our marriage might be considered null and void. So we might eventually have to do it.” He looks forlornly at her.
Lady Cecily: “These are not true options. It seems as if we only have one option to protect my legal status as your wife and countess. Why did you not mention this before?” She accuses him.
Lord Kittredge: “Truly, I did not think of it. I had never thought to marry. I am a second son. So the legalities surrounding marriage were not ones that I contemplated. In marrying you, I sought only for us to be congenial companions—a lady wife whom I would enjoy spoiling and indulging. And perhaps, we could also co-parent an orphan daughter together as you had previously expressed that wish. Hhhh!” He sighs in exasperation, because he does not even know if he can do what is required of him physically.
Lady Cecily: “My head aches.” She rubs her temples with both hands.
Lord Kittredge: “Mine, too.” He sighs in sympathy as he also rubs his forehead.
The two forlorn newlyweds stare in shock at each other at what they must do this night. Their headaches are not helping their state of mind at all. So Lord Kittredge rings the bell for two tisanes to be brought up to them to sip—after which, they each decide to forgo their castle tour and take naps in their respective bed chambers before their first formal private dinner together in the main dining room downstairs at 9 o’clock this evening, some two hours from now.
Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily had each drunk copious amounts of wine during dinner as they pondered what awaited them tonight. And though the Lord Kittredge did not want to get so foxed that he would pass out—him needing to keep his wits about him to remember what he needed to do, and in what order—Lady Cecily kept having her wine glass refilled. And even though Lady Cecily is a tiny petite woman whom one might wonder if one glass of wine might adversely affect, she drank at least 3 glasses of wine tonight.
Somehow, the newlyweds stumble upstairs to their bed chambers and undress and put on their night clothes and robes. Then Lord Kittredge waits patiently for Lady Cecily to join him—they decided that since Lady Cecily does not want her bed chamber associated with any marital coupling memories, his bed chamber will be where the deed is done.
A naked Lord Kittredge lies resolutely in his bed in his bed chamber, him still feeling the relaxing affect of the wine whilst he also tries to recall what he has to do. He is covered by the bed linens up to his chest, with his bare shoulders peeking out.
After a few moments of trying to decide which nightgown she will wear, Lady Cecily chooses a soft silk sleeveless nightgown with an empire waist to support her bosoms. And she firmly decides to stay in this nightgown tonight, no matter her husband’s entreaty. So she walks through the sitting room to her husband’s bed chamber. Her long curled hair falling about her shoulders and back in all of its unpinned golden glory.
As Lady Cecily walks into her husband Lord Kittredge’s bed chamber she notices that only the fireplace glows a warm light onto her husband’s handsome face with his eyes closed. And she wonders if he is asleep and they will merely sleep with one another, if that will be sufficient. Then she realizes, that it will not. So she resignedly walks to her side of his large bed, removes her robe and slides into bed with him.
With each of them lying in bed, on their backs, near the side edges of the large bed, there is about an arm’s length distance between them. The moments tick by, waiting for one of them to make the first move. It is an awkward silence between them.
Lady Cecily: “Kitt? I have been thinking.”
Lord Kittredge: “Yes, Cecily?” His deep voice trembles a bit in anticipation—of what, he knows not.
And in Lady Cecily’s very relaxed state from the wine she had consumed, she rolls to her side facing him and gazes upon his bare chest and shoulders. He is handsome, she acknowledges to herself. Then she gently touches his bare muscular shoulder—which makes clear that his tailor does not need to pad his coats. Hmm.
Lady Cecily: “Kitt? Since we are only doing this marital coupling once for the formalities, perhaps we could look upon it as if we were traveling to a foreign country in order to experience its culture and delights, but then return home to what is comfortable and less foreign to us?”
Lord Kitt finally opens his eyes to gaze upon her as he turns his head upon his pillow.
Lord Kittredge: “What are you saying, Cecily?”
Lady Cecily: “Well, that we should not feel ashamed for doing what we are going to do this night as husband and wife. I would imagine that each of us wants to feel comfortable with each other tonight and after it.” He nods his head. “And I believe that we can only do that if we give each other permission to share fully in this experience—and then look forward to different experiences that we shall share as life companions.” She smiles hazily at him.
Lord Kittredge: “Hmmm.” He ponders. Then he turns his body to face her, now fully seeing her lovely curled blond hair falling about her shoulders, her silk nightgown indicating that she is not naked—which relieves him greatly, as well as seemingly frustrates him. He feels very vulnerable being unclothed. Perhaps he should put his night shirt on—if he could find it. Because, if he has to be naked, then she should also be naked to be fair–is the logic running through his mind.
Lady Cecily: “You know, I did not realize that you had such impressive muscles under your jacket.”
Lord Kittredge: “And I did not realize that your hair was so beautifully long and curly on its own.” He offers his wife a compliment of her.
Lady Cecily: “And your skin is very warm. You do not have a fever, do you?” She asks in concern as her hand rests flat at the base of his neck.
Lord Kittredge: “I do not have a fever. I am always warm.” Then he considers her statement. “Are you chilled, Cecily? I can put another log upon the fire. Or, there is another blanket on the settee at the end of the bed.” He suggests solicitously.
Lady Cecily: “No thank you. But perhaps I could simply cuddle next to you and be warmed by you.”
Lord Kittredge: “Oh! Well, um, I am not properly dressed underneath the bed linens.”
Lady Cecily: Scooting toward him in the bed, her curiosity grows. “Oh? What do you mean?” She asks innocently. Lady Cecily has only ever seen her family wearing their night clothes at night, so she presumes that he is wearing something.
Lord Kittredge: “I am unclothed, below.” He blushes in embarrassment.
Lady Cecily: “Oh! Um, such as when a person swims naked in a private lake? Ladies’ clothes are too voluminous and we would drown with them on.”
Lord Kittredge: His eyes widen, he gazes at her. “Yes, I have swum naked when I was a boy. Have you swum naked as a girl?”
Lady Cecily: She lowers her eyes shyly. “Yes. But I was wearing my undergarments–except when wet, they became nearly transparent.” She relates forthrightly.
Lord Kittredge: “Would that I could see you naked now.” He murmurs deeply. She blinks. “I mean, I am naked already. So if you wish to be also, that would be fine with me.” He encourages her.
Lady Cecily: “Yes, but my bosoms need support.” She has never slept nor swum without such support.
Lord Kittredge: “Please?” He whines cutely, with a fake pursed lips pout. “Since we are only doing this once, we want to have the full experience, do we not?” Lord Kitt’s inebriated state has quite made him forget himself, and his previous aversion to taking a woman to wife.
Lady Cecily: “Oh very well.” She agrees with a smile.
Lady Cecily purses her lips together and Lord Kittredge leans up and kisses her adoringly—bringing her to lay flush to him under the bed linens. She does not move away, her liking feeling his warmth and the muscularity of his arms, legs, and torso. And though she had intended to sit up and remove her nightgown herself, it seems to be accomplished without too much awkwardness with her lying down, with her husband’s help.
As they tenderly clasp themselves together, their hands and lips roam sweetly exploringly over each other—marveling in pleasing wonder at how different their bodies are, and seemingly more beautiful in person than the marble statues that they have seen in museums.
And at some point during their wedding night, Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily tenderly and legally finalize their marital union as husband and wife [(5) below]—then they promptly fall asleep.
To be continued with Chapter 18
References for Ch. 17 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, by Gratiana Lovelace
August 15, 2021 (Post #1406)
- 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.
- Lord Kittredge Well looking-pensive at his wife Lady Cecily is represented by Blake Ritson in Emma 2009, Aug14-2021viaPinterest
- Lady Cecily looking pensive is represented by Christina Cole in Emma 2009; portrait by Laurence Cendrowicz, BBC2009 and was found at Christina’ Cole’s IMDB page; Grati edit brt
- Witnessing the marital consummation tradition history was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedding_ceremony
- Image representing Lord Kittredge Wells and his new wife Lady Cecily canoodling as newlyweds was found at https://ak7.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/4728737/thumb/2.jpg?i10c=img.resize(height:160)
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.17 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog Post #1403 link for Ch. 16 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: