(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 the Countess of Stoke, 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. 23: Christmas Blessings, Part 2
After their respective three hours long and quite refreshing late morning to early mid-day naps, the host couple of Lord and Lady Carlisle and their cousin guests Lord and Lady Fielding awaken at 1:30pm and dress for their formal Christmas Day later afternoon supper in the Carlisle House Music Room. The only thing missing at the moment are Lady Emily’s parents Lord and Lady Creighton. But Lord Edward surmises that the snow laden streets are hampering travel in town at the moment. So Lady Emily decides to push back their Christmas meal by a half hour to 2:30pm.
In the end, setting their Christmas supper back to 2:30pm is a wise choice. This is not solely because it allows the Creightons ample time to arrive and divest themselves of their snow covered winter coats and hats—since even the short walk from their carriage and up the front steps of Carlisle House caused them to be completely dusted with snow. But rather, the Carlisle’s and guests delayed start to the Christmas Day Supper gives Lady Emily’s Carlisle House cook Mrs. Lamb time to finish her flourishing touches to their Christmas Supper meal. And as the amended motto goes, Happy Cook, Happy Christmas.
The Carlisle House ‘s Music Room is a particularly lovely room for them to hold their festive
family Christmas gathering and Christmas Supper meal—with its elegant gold tones in satin
and matte striped wallpaper enhancing the festive Christmas decorations—with Lord Edward and Lady Emily, her parents Lord Nigel and Lady Creighton, and their also married cousins Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily sitting at a round table near a roaring fireplace for warmth, yet with this room’s festively decorated Christmas tree [(2) right] set against the wallpaper and flanked on each side by the front of the house’s [tall] arched windows and in full view of the company.
And to afford the family greater privacy in conversing, their repast is also arranged buffet style—as breakfast usually is—with their servants discreetly leaving the Music Room once all is arranged. And buffet style works well, in order to allow everyone to have just what they want to eat, and in the quantities that they want. No wasted foods left on plates—nor diners pining for seconds.
The Christmas Supper buffet is Lady Emily’s innovation that briefly raises her Mama Lady Creighton’s perfectly arched eyebrows, before everyone relents and adopts the Christmas spirit. Naturally the very pregnant ladies’ husbands carry their wives’ plates and assist in ladling their wives’ favorite foods onto their plates for them, then escort them back to their dining table. Then the men heartily fill up their own plates with the zeal of small boys pouncing on the Christmas culinary delights–like a hoard of locusts.
Their Carlisle’s Family Christmas Supper meal of roasted goose, scalloped potatoes, creamed soups, various vegetables and breads—along with a flaming plum pudding cake as the dessert—is pronounced to be a wonderful feast. And Lady Emily shines with everyone’s praise for her hostessing accomplishment.
Then they remove themselves from the dining table to the comfortable chairs and three settees placed in a large semi-circle around the Music Room’s Christmas tree to sip their tea and open presents—each married couple sitting together on one of the settees of Lord Nigel and Lady Patience Creighton on the left settee, Lord Edward and Lady Emily Carlisle on the middle settee, and Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily Wells on the right settee.
Of course with the pregnant ladies of Lady Emily and Lady Cecily not being let out of their husband’s site during the last months of their delicate with child conditions, the two ladies have had to be stealthy with regard to buying presents for their husbands—their using their ladies maids to collect the items that they wives had long months ago commissioned for their husbands.
Lady Emily and Lady Cecily smile conspiratorially at each other as their husbands open their gifts from them. And from smallish but substantive wrapped gift boxes, Lord Edward and Lord Kittredge unwrap their gifts, then open the boxes to find navy or burgundy velvet covered jeweler’s hinged boxes. Then while sitting on a settee with their pregnant wives, each husband simultaneously opens their wives’ gifts.
Lord Edward receives a gold pocket watch and fob with a detailed Greek key design around the edges of the circular rim.
Lady Emily: “Well? Edward Dear? Do you like it?” She asks with girlish glee.
Lord Edward: “I do! This is a wonderful gift, Emily Dear. Thank you.” Then he gives her a gentle and tender kiss upon her lips. And when he opens up the casing again, he looks more closely at the inside cover facing that reveals a most heartfelt inscription, hearkening back to his and Lady Emily’s childhood years early acquaintanceship. “To my Prince, Edward. With much love from his Princess, Emily.”
Lord Edward had never received a family pocket watch, so this gift has great meaning for him—and he will one day pass his watch down to their son. And Lady Emily wears Lord Edward’s gift to her of a dainty diamond drop necklace with matching earrings that he gave her yesterday.
Whereas Lord Kittredge receives from his wife a silver pocket watch and fob with an etched design of Wells Castle upon the outside face cover.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh My Darling Cecily! This is exquisite! Thank you!” They kiss sweetly. As a second son, Lord Kittredge did not expect to receive a family watch—it will go to his older brother. But this pocket watch will be his to grant to their son—if they are so blessed—or perhaps, to their son-in-law if they birth a daughter.
Lady Cecily: “I am so pleased that you like it, My Dear.” She smiles tenderly at her husband, recalling—as he does—their first few magical weeks of their marriage spent at Wells Castle. She lightly touches the small [and lovely] graduated pearl necklace around her neck that her husband had given her yesterday, along with its matching earrings.
Then the young and older couples exchange gifts with each other of fine wine for the gentlemen and the new warm and soft cashmere shawls [(3)] for the ladies.
And Lady Patience and Lord Nigel Creighton have one more special gift for their beloved youngest daughter Lady Emily and their son-in-law Lord Edward.
Lady Patience: “My Dears, when each of our daughters were born, Nigel and I cherished every moment we held them in our arms—especially rocking them in the carved wooden rocking chair that came from my family.”
Lady Emily: “I know, Mama. It was a lovely rocking chair.” She says stoically. For she knows that her two older sisters received the rocking chair and a replica of it, respectively, when they each welcomed their first children years ago.
Then Lady Patience shakes a small bell on a nearby table to signal a footman to bring in Lady Emily’s and Lord Edward’s special gift of a burnished walnut rocking chair.
Lady Emily: “Oh Mama! This is such a beautiful replica of our family rocking chair.” She marvels. And with her husband Lord Edward’s help, Lady Emily goes to sit upon her rocking chair and commences rocking. “It feels perfect!” She beams a sincere smile at her Mama and Papa.
Lord Nigel: “I’m so glad that you like this rocking chair, My Dear. For you see, you may not realize it, but your two older sisters have replicas of this original rocking chair. So we give you our original rocking chair that has been lovingly restored for you. May your children–our grandchildren–find peace and contentment with being rocked in it as you did so many years ago as a baby and young child.”
Lord Creighton smiles down at his youngest daughter, then he leans down and gives her cheek a kiss. Her Mama also hugs, then kisses her. There are tears in everyone’s eyes for this heartfelt gift of old family memories, and for the prospect of new family memories yet to be made.
Naturally, Lord Kittredge feels a bit left out—though they had exchanged very nice gifts with each set of Wells and Englewood families earlier in the week. He pouts a bit for not receiving any gifts that were as heartfelt as Emmy receiving her restored rocking chair. But he tries to show a calm and contented demeanor to all. But his dear wife Lady Cecily notices her husband’s changed mood and caringly clasps his hand in hers.
And since Lord Kitt, as Lady Emily’s family has always addressed him from [her childhood since she could not pronounce his full name of Kittredge]—as his Aunt Lady Patience’s favorite nephew—she smiles warmly at him. Then Lady Patience rings the bell again. And a second footman [carries] in a burnished maple wooden rocker replica for Lord Kitt and Lady Cecily.
Lady Patience: “Dear Kitt, though we did not have a son of our own, as our beloved nephew you filled that place in our hearts. So we also wanted you to have a replica of our family rocking chair for you to create new memories with your children.” She caresses his cheek, then gives him a gentle hug.
Lord Kittredge: “Oh! Thankyou Aunt Lady Patience and Uncle Lord Nigel! This is a wonderful gift for our soon to be expanded family.” Then Lord Kitt happily plops into the rocking chair and gently guides his also with child wife Lady Cecily to join him by sitting on his lap as he rocks.
Then just as Lord Edward helps Lady Emily to stand so that he may sit in their rocker—with Lady Emily soon to be sitting upon his lap as he rocks—the unexpected happens, as Lady Emily’s water breaks before she sits upon her husband’s lap, on Christmas Day.
Lady Emily is too stunned and embarrassed by the mess on the rug to speak. Lord Edward’s eyes widen in shock. Lady Emily’s parents are astonished and delighted. Lord Kittredge and Lady Cecily are delighted, and curious—with neither of them previously being privy to the details of an actual birth of a baby.
And it is from the one person in the room who keeps her wits about her, that they are all gently admonished to take action.
Lady Patience: “Well! Emily Dear, You might have a Christmas baby afterall!” Lady Patience smiles beatifically at her darling daughter Lady Emily. Then she walks over to the wall and pulls the bell cord to call for a servant. Then when the footman arrives, she dispatches her orders. “Please notify Mrs. Minton that her Mistress Lady Emily is soon to have her baby.” The footman nods and goes to attend to that commission. Then seeing her daughter and son-in-law still standing speechless in the Music Room, she makes a pertinent suggestion to them. “Dear Edward, please carry Lady Emily upstairs to your bedchamber so that she may be made comfortable as she awaits the birth of your first child.” She states without subterfuge—for her somewhat boldly proclaiming to everyone in the room that she knows that her daughter and her son-in-law sleep in the same room
Lord Edward looks up and stares worriedly at his mother-in-law Lady Patience—for him thinking that it is too soon for their baby to be born. Lady Patience smiles encouragingly at her son-in-law Lord Edward. Then Lady Emily tugs upon her husband’s hand.
Lady Emily: “Edward [Dear], I do believe that we need follow my Mama’s sound advice.”
So now, the delicate but delighted scramble to await the birth of Lord and Lady Carlisle’s first child begins this Christmas Day!
To be continued with Chapter 24
References for Ch. 23 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”, by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1433) December 19, 2021
- My “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage” story cover illustration is comprised of: a) an ivory lace background with Grati edit, found at torrid.com; b) a 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.
- The Carlisle House’s Music Room Christmas Tree is a manip by Grati; the original image of a Victorian Christmas Tree was initially found and first edited Dec2513EastlakeVictorianBlogspot-crop-sized-mask2GratianaLovelace; with the elegant gold striped wallpaper background found at Wallpaper-House.com
- Information about the history of cashmere shawls was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashmere_wool
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch.23 of “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”:
Previous SAL blog Post #1424 link for Ch. 22 “Seeking the Niceties of Marriage”: