(all rights reserved by Gratiana Lovelace; copyrighted 2023); [(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 or illustrations, including: Richard Armitage as Lord Pendleton MacKittrick, Justine Waddell as the widowed Corinne Carpenter, Noah Carpenter illustration, Bill Peterson as Dr. Finneas Lively, and others as noted.
Author’s Notes: This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes, locations, 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, marriage, and Regency society put to humorous effect. This is my disclaimer
In his childhood, Pendleton MacKittrick had been a bit of a wild child—his longish dark slightly curly hair forever falling into his bright and mischievous eyes—whilst he roamed the countryside on his faithful horsie Lightning, climbing trees, swimming in a pond near his family’s home, and such. A younger son, Mac as his friends and family called him—well, except for his parents who always addressed him as Pendleton, which was his mother’s family name—he loved and admired his much older brother by 8 years Dartmouth MacKittrick, the heir. They were great friends as brothers, with Dartmouth ever watchful when his much younger brother Mac decided to tag along on his estate hiking and tree climbing adventures.
The MacKittrick’s of Woodbury, England were a very close family of loving parents and children, unusual for their time and for their station in life. And their little boy Mac knew that he would have a lifelong friend in his 8 years older brother Dart, as Mac nicknamed his brother when Mac was just learning to speak as a toddler. Because, his brother’s given name of Dartmouth–from their paternal grandmother’s family name–was too much of a mouthful for the little 2 year old Mac to say.
Yet sadly later at the tender age of 8 years old, Lord Pendleton “Mac” MacKittrick found himself a brotherless and parentless orphan after his parents and brother were waylaid by highwaymen who stole their money, jewelry, and possessions, as his parents were returning their older son to Eton for his final year before university—and then they and their carriage driver were killed by the highwaymen. Their loss was a devastating blow to the very young Mac.
And though the young Lord Mac had kind and loving Woodbury Castle and Estate caretakers, servants, tutors, and his mother’s brother in his Uncle Arthur Pendleton around him as he grew up into manhood, it was a lonely existence for him on the Woodbury Estate, more than an hour by carriage South of London, England. His grief made it difficult for him to form new relationships—his child mind wondering if he would lose them, too. Though Lord Pendleton MacKittrick is now the Earl of Woodbury, it is a title and distinction which he wishes had not come to him—due to the loss of his beloved parents and older brother Dart.
So after having private tutors at Woodbury Castle while he grew up–and then he attended university for four years studying the classics and history–Lord Mac buries himself in his responsibilities as the Earl—regarding his estates and dependents, as well as, him taking his seat in the House of Lords–since he had long ago come into his majority 9 years ago.
Now an adult of 30 years, his life is a solitary one, and he is somewhat poignantly known as the Lonesome Lord by marriage minded noble Mamas who seek to suggest their daughters as helpmate wives for him. And though Lord Mac has graciously met these charming and worthy daughters of the ton, he does not feel a connection to them. His own grief is so ever present, that he has yet to find someone who truly understands his loss. And yet, Lord Mac will meet a lovely young lady who understands and shares his loss, if only he will open himself to the possibility of forming an attachment with her.
To be continued with Chapter 01
Chapter 01: An interrupted sojourn home
Lord Pendleton MacKittrick, now the fifth Earl of Woodbury, leans back into the luxuriously softly cushioned black leather squabs of his large shiny black enclosed carriage as he travels back home to his Woodbury Castle estates that is about a one and a half hour carriage ride into the near London countryside—about 7 miles in total, which is just an hour’s carriage drive South to reach Richmond, England, then one heads further South for half an hour more into the forested countryside village of Woodbury, England.
And Lord MacKittrick [(2) right] quite uncharacteristically for young men of the ton sports a neatly trimmed full beard with mustache as a youngish man of 30 years—since most young men are clean shaven, the better to display their handsome visages. Yet for him, Lord MacKittrick views his beard as his armour, almost a mask of protection from unknown others seeking to form an acquaintance with him. And his eyes have a guardedness about them—despite his casual traveling attire, with his cravat stuffed into his jacket pocket for now. Afterall, he is the Lonesome Lord, as he was euphemistically dubbed by some sympathetic noble mamas hoping to matchmake their daughters with him.
And Lord MacKittrick’s Earldom’s seat is the ancient Woodbury Castle [& Estate] [(3ab) right], two miles West of the adjacent and small Woodbury village that he also owns. And Woodbury Castle’s surrounding productive agricultural estate and Woodbury Village are a green and soothing oasis for Lord MacKittrick away from the frenzy and tussle of London—and the stress of politics and government now that Parliament is not in session for the Summer on this fine early morning of June the first, in the year of 1820. And he cannot wait to return to his peaceful enclave of calm and quiet that is his Woodbury Castle Estate—with its castle’s ancient fortified stone walls, stained glass windows, and lush rolling landscapes bordered by heavily [wooded] forests.
Then suddenly Lord MacKittrick’s musings of home are interrupted when he hears a dog’s snarling bark, and his carriage horses’ reactions of snorting and distressed whinnying before his carriage lurches to a halt along the side of a narrow lane on the outskirts of London. Though he is tossed about a bit, he is more concerned for his horseflesh.
Lord MacKittrick: “Coachman! What is detaining us? Are the horses alright?” For horses and dogs do not always mix [well].
His four footmen outriders close ranks and surround Lord MacKittrick’s carriage— each carrying their Woodbury castle issued ancient but still working 1720’s blunderbuss guns [(4) right]. Given that Lord MacKittrick’s parents and older brother were killed by highwaymen, they are always at the ready to protect him—especially if this roadside delay should this be an attempt to rob their lord. Though only a single shot weapon, the blunderbuss is short and loaded with metal pellets that spray a wide area due to the flared end of the short barrel. So the blunderbuss has injurious and often deadly consequences when employed—especially at close range.
Coachman: “My Lord, our horses are fine. The barking dog that first assailed them has now run up ahead. And there is a small wagonette up yonder tilted [over] onto its side, with goods strewn about on the ground– what looks like a farmer going to or from market with their wares.” What he does not say is that it looks to be a woman farmer with two small children, one still a babe at her breast and in a sling around her torso.
Opening his own carriage door, Lord MacKittrick athletically jumps down to the ground. [For] as soon as he is out of London, he eschews the pomp normally attendant to his high rank as an Earl and he opens his own doors, dons his own shoes, and such. The Earl is soon flanked by two of his footmen outriders who have dismounted—while the other two footmen outriders remain with the horses.
Coachman: Lord MacKittrick’s longtime coachman winces. “No need for your Lordship to be inconvenienced. The lads will see if they can assist the woman farmer.”
At being apprised that the unfortunate person with the overturned wagonette is a woman, Lord MacKittrick whips his head around to view the dismaying scene of the wagonette accident.
Lord [MacKittrick]: “Well, I am here now. So keep my horses calm and I will ascertain what is needed.”
So Lord MacKittrick strides the 10 yards over to the wagonette accident and sees that the single horse looks unharmed as one of his footman outrider’s releases it from its small [wagonette] harness. The horse whinnies its appreciative thanks since it had been forced into an unnaturally twisted position when the wagon overturned. And the dog of indeterminant breed origins that had so growlingly barked at his horses to make Lord MacKittrick’s carriage stop, now happily jumps around his horse companion, wagging its long tail in relief. So Lord MacKittrick hopes that they can swiftly have his footmen set the wagonette to rights and quickly send the woman on her way.
Then a little boy of maybe 5 or 6 years runs toward the overturned wagon’s now freed horse.
Noah: “That there is my horsie, Mister! Leave her be!” The footman outrider looks on amusedly at the small boy trying to order him about, and he holds the horse still while stroking its neck to continue to calm it. The boy undeterred seeks reinforcements as he angrily stomps over to his Mama. “Mama! He has a hold of my horsie!”
To Lord MacKittrick’s astonishment, the small boy hops up and down in agitation trying to get his young Mama’s attention while furiously pointing at the footman outrider. But her focus is upon her baby daughter of only 9 months old that she carries in a sling about her shoulders and torso. The babe was jostled about when the wagon lurched in the overturn, and the baby does not like it one bit as she loudly wails her displeasure.
Baby Nancy: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” Her crying continues unabated.
Corinne: “Shhh! Nancy, Dear. You are alright.” The young mother coos and kisses her baby daughter—soothing her a bit. But Corrine is uncertain if she is correct that her baby is alright. She is not a doctor and Corinne is worried that her baby might have been hurt when they fell out of the wagon as it turned over onto its side.
Corrine herself is banged up with bruises forming upon her arms and cheek—not to mention her sore backside. She thinks blessedly that at least her young son Noah seems unhurt. For Noah’s usual response to him feeling unwell or in pain is to issue forth morosely quiet whimpering. But young Noah is in Mother protecting mode at the moment, and sets aside his pain.
Lord McKittrick comes upon the young mother and her children. Seeing that she is dressed in clean and tidy but plain fabrics of the common folk, he stills. Though he believes in the rights of men and women of all levels of society—which is quite progressive for his day—he has never really had to put that concept into practical application, as he will now.
Lord McKittrick: “Madam! May we offer you assistance?” Lord MacKittrick asks solicitously of the young woman.
He cursorily surveys her few market wares strewn upon the ground, him thinking rightly that she had sold most of her goods in the nearby town of Richmond–and she has only these few items remaining. That is, if Richmond could be called a town in 1820—it is more a place of royal palaces, from which it derives its name of Richmond, England [(5)]. Though he does not take the time to inventory what her market wares are.
Corinne: “Are you a doctor, Sir?” She looks up into the eyes of the very tall, handsome, and very well dressed man before her. She supposes that this man’s fine dark forest green velvet jacket is a welcome change from a conservative black suit attire that would betoken a vicar, or an undertaker—both of whom she has sadly had cause to engage recently when her young husband died just six months ago from a hunting accident. But she hopes that the man before her is a doctor—despite his cravatless neck at the moment.
Lord McKittrick: “Uh, … no. You are Mrs. …?” He pauses, waiting for her to introduce herself. Then he will decide if he will tell her who he is. Though he finds the young woman [(6) right] to have a pleasing countenance–of a delicately oval face, lovely complexion, high cheekbones, and a small straight nose–despite her full and wavy brunette hair left untamed but for a barrette at the back of her head and falling over her slim shoulders and down her back—and over what looks to be a small buttoned up cape that covers her shoulders down to her waist.
Corinne: “Carpenter. I am the Widow Carpenter.” She states succinctly, and a bit sadly. Then she asks him again. “If you are not a doctor, do you know where I can find one near Richmond here? You see, we live near Woodbury Village. And with our, my children to care for, this trip was the first time that I had ventured back to London since my marriage to my late husband.” She saddens and looks around the lonely stretch of road just past Richmond. “My baby daughter Nancy is feeling poorly from the accident. I hope she has not been hurt.”
There is much for Lord MacKittrick to discern about this lady from her statement of her not having been in London since her marriage. And her poised manner—despite her distress with her wagonette accident–and her lilting and cultured voice, intrigues him. But for now, he focuses upon her immediate request for medical assistance for her babe.
Lord MacKittrick: “Of course.” She looks up at him with a hopeful smile. “My apologies, I do not mean to relate that I know a physician within Richmond.” He dissembles, because he does know of a physician in Richmond through his many travels. But he surmises that the Richmond doctor is above her touch. “I, myself, am also traveling further south to the Woodbury area. And I believe that there is a doctor in residence there.”
Corinne Carpenter nods in agreement, for she knows the good doctor of Woodbury Village from her childhood in London. But she will not reveal that affiliation to this stranger.
And Lord MacKittrick knows that there is a doctor in Woodbury Village, because he has had the good doctor on retainer for himself and available for the surrounding village area since he arrived to take up his practice three months ago. But he wonders if the widow woman before him could even afford that doctor’s fee. And he wonders if perhaps the local Woodbury Village midwife—whomever she might be—would suffice? And the widow’s family name of Carpenter sounds out of sync with her being a farmer’s wife, or widow as she claims to be—for the Carpenter surname, if applied by peasants, usually refers to a woodworker or furniture maker [(7)]. Though possibly, he thinks that she might have invented a husband in order to appear respectable.
Corinne: “Oh, Thank you! Might you and your friends help right my [wagonette] and such so that we may follow you there?” She requests politely. Her mistaking his footmen for his friends amuses him, but only slightly—since his footmen are not wearing their Woodbury Castle livery so as not to announce that he is a nobleman to possible roadside thieves or villainous highwaymen [(8)]. And since he is not traveling in his finer traveling coach emblazoned with his family crest—again to avoid highwaymen—he supposes that she might think that they are a hunting party. Though what animal one might hunt via the inside of an enclosed carriage is beyond him.
[The] Footman holding onto the wagonette horse: “My …” He stops at Lord MacKittrick’s stern glare focused upon him. And discretion is always his Lordship’s directive. “Sir. The horse has been lamed and cannot pull the [wagonette], though I think the horse will be alright tied behind our carriage for the two miles we have yet to travel. But the wagonette has a broken wheel and will need to be fixed.”
Corinne: “Noooo!” Corinne pitiably wails in distress—which sets her baby daughter off to her wailing again.
Nancy: “Waaa! Waaa! Waaa!” And her mother gently swings her daughter in her loving arms in her sling about her shoulder and torso to soothe her.
For apart from the Carpenter Orchard Farm’s two large wagons that are normally used for hauling apples to market from their apple orchards, this conveyance is the widow Carpenter’s only small wagonette that she uses for herself to get to town, to church, and such. Her farm hands had already driven ahead of her with those now two large and empty wagons, since they sold most of their apple bushels at the London Market. They had not expected that danger would befall their Mistress on this last leg of her journey home.
And having to help a stranded traveler is so not how Lord MacKittrick hoped to spend is formerly peaceful sojourn home to Woodbury Castle from London—him coming upon the wagonette accident, with its young and comely widowed woman and her young children and no male protector. Hhhhh! But needs must.
Lord MacKittrick: “Mrs. Carpenter, I am …” If he gives her his name then he fears that she will know that he is her liege lord of Woodbury Castle—and that she might leech upon his kindness. So he … fibs. “I am … Mac Pendleton.” Well his friends call him Mac—since he abhors his first name of Pendleton, thus placing it as his surname here. And there is nothing for it but for him to be gracious—as he believes that he is a great deal of the time. “Might I invite you and your children to join me in my carriage for the trip to Woodbury Village for medical attention for your baby?”
Corrine: “Oh! You are so kind! Thank you.” She smiles gratefully to him. “Noah, please allow these gentleman to tie your horse Flossie to the back of Sir Mac’s carriage. Sir Mac is going to help us reach the doctor for Nancy.” She smiles brightly at her little boy—hopefully encouraging him to remember his manners.
Young Noah Carpenter [(9) right] eyes Sir Mac –as his Mama refers to him–with a child’s suspicion of most adults who are not their parents. For at six years of age, he has been his Mama’s sole protector since his Papa died six months ago—with no other prosperous Woodbury Village folks initially helping them, but for their two orchard farm laborers.
And Lord MacKittrick gazes upon the boy with surprise for his seemingly suspicious nature—with the boy holding tightly to his wooden stick fishing pole in his left hand—making Lord MacKittrick’s eyebrows arch high upon his forehead, wondering if the small boy plans to strike at him. Then he nods to two of his footmen to take charge of the wagonette—with one of the men riding into town at Richmond, to request the wheelwright repair the damaged wagonette wheel, and one of the men standing guard over the otherwise in seemingly fair condition wagonette.
Noah: “Do we hafta, Mama? What about my dog Lucy?” He whines as he begrudgingly relents in accepting aid from this gentleman, whilst also worrying about his scruffy looking dog.
Corrine: “We do. Now behave nicely to this kind gentleman, Noah Dear.” She states primly, with no intent upon fawning over Sir Mac. She merely wishes to express her gratefulness. “Oh, and Sir Mac? Might you also have room in the carriage for us to store our remaining market goods to take with us?” She asks hopefully of Lord MacKittrick.
Lord MacKittrick: “Well … there is a storage area upon the carriage’s roof—and for the dog as well.” Lord MacKittrick hopes to prevent the dog joining them inside the carriage.
Corrine: “Oh! How clever!” She smiles, her now noticing the metal rim upon the carriage roof—to which other boxes are lashed to. And the dog [Lucy] is handed up to the Coachman who pats and then deposits the now friendly dog Lucy on the bench sitting next to himself as the carriage driver. And the dog now regally surveys [her] surroundings from this high perch of the enclosed carriage as if she were a queen and not a lowly animal.
Happily, Corrine had sold most of her orchard’s harvested apples and her baked goods that she made from them at the London market. But she still has some honey pots and apple tarts left over, and she does not want to abandon them upon the side of the road. So the honey pots in a box and two baskets of apple tarts are stored up on top of the carriage. But she brings one small basket of apple tarts with her into the carriage.
Once seated inside the carriage facing backwards, Corrine and her boy Noah, with her holding her baby daughter Nancy still in her sling, sit opposite Lord MacKittrick’s bench facing forward. It was, perhaps, a tad ungentlemanly of him not to offer Mrs. Carpenter and her son the forward facing bench. But she seems not to mind. So he taps twice upon the carriage roof with his cane and his carriage moves forward toward Woodbury Village.
Corrine: “Might I offer you an apple tart for your kindness, Sir Mac?” She smiles at him, after also giving her son an apple tart to appease his hunger. She has not heard of a Sir Mac—her acquaintance in town/London having diminished when she married her husband and she permanently moved to the country seven years ago.
Lord MacKittrick bristles slightly at her so familiarly calling him by his sobriquet of Mac—and attaching the wrong rank title of Sir to him. But without him correcting her–in his bid to maintain his privacy—her misapprehension will, undoubtedly, continue. That is, at least until they reach Woodbury Village, where he is known as their feudal Lord.
Lord MacKittrick: “Thank you, but no, Mrs. Carpenter. I am not hungry at present.” He states politely, but with a [slightly] clipped precision to his voice. Though just then, his stomach noisily belies his assertion with a distinctly ungentlemanlike growl.
Noah: “Your stomach just made a hungry noise.” The boy points accusingly at Lord MacKittrick with his thumb. “My Mama’s apple tarts are better than anyone’s! Ain’t ya brave enough to try one?” Six year old Noah states pridefully, then stares down their benefactor with his challenge.
Corrine: “Noah, please mind your manners. My apologies, Sir Mac. My young one is all boy. Hhhh!” She sighs. Then she carefully selects from the basket what looks to Lord MacKittrick to be a clean linen napkin to him and wraps it around an apple tart—that she then hands out to him.
Lord MacKittrick: “Thank you.” He nods at her with politeness as he takes the proferred apple tart nestled in a linen napkin into his large hands. The young boy, Noah, continues to stare him down. So Lord MacKittrick takes a bite into a corner of his apple tart, getting a taste of its moist iced pastry covering the delicious apple tart center. He smiles with a memory of his long ago childhood, fishing at one of his many vast Woodbury Castle Estate’s ponds or lakes, and eating something similar that their cook had made for him. “This is quite delicious.” He praises graciously to her with a nod of his head and a smile, and then he continues to eat his apple tart quite hungrily.
Corrine: “Thank you.” She smiles prettily at him. Then her baby Nancy fusses again. So there is nothing for it. And she rotates her lightweight cape from behind her shoulders to slightly in front of her—leaving the open gap now at her back. “If you will excuse me.” She alerts him politely. Then she brings her baby underneath the cape again, fiddles around blindly with her dress’ front buttons until she is able to reveal her breast for her baby. And little Nancy nurses happily at her breast.
Though Lord MacKittrick cannot see anything with the cape covering what the woman is doing, he still guesses what she is doing—nursing her child. The Woodbury Villagers’ and farmer’s wives nursing their own babes is not an uncommon practice, known in general terms by Lord MacKittrick. But it is the principle of the matter, that she is nursing her child in his presence. He blushes crimson.
And prior to this baby nursing incident, Lord MacKittrick had thought that he noticed some polite manners and vocal phrasing from the young widow—more so than what a peasant would use–that betokens some level of breeding and education upon her part, perhaps her origins are in the class of a merchant’s daughter. Well that thought flies out of his mind with her latest action of nursing her baby before him—albeit discreetly hidden under her cape. Men are rather squeamish with female and motherly necessities, such as nursing their babies.
All the while Corrine merely smiles sheepishly at the blushing Sir Mac before her—for her baby’s need for nourishment supercedes Corinne’s interest in unnecessary polite decorum, let alone her seeming refined. Besides, there is next to no privacy within a carriage. And she surmises that he has guessed what she is doing. So Corrine blushes slightly, herself.
Noah: “Yer going ta eat the rest of that tart, Mister Sir Mac?” Young Noah asks Lord MacKittrick, who has the apple tart poised at his mouth for another bite, but he is held spellbound in him staring at the widow woman nursing her babe in front of him—well nursing her babe somewhere under her cape.
Without looking at the boy Noah, Lord MacKittrick absentmindedly takes another bite of his apple tart. Then he proceeds to turn his head and look out the carriage’s open window frame—not really noticing the countryside passing before him–as he focuses upon eating his apple tart until it is finished. Him all the while not able to unhear the suckling sounds of baby Nancy—now nursing contentedly at her mother’s other breast, under her Mama’s cape.
Corinne gently touches her son Noah’s shoulder and shakes her head no to him–as if to say, please leave Sir Mac alone.
And for the next almost half hour carriage ride to Woodbury Village, the interior of Lord MacKittrick’s carriage is blessedly quiet as the children nap—that is, once the baby is sated and asleep after she is returned to being outside of her Mama’s cape, and the widow has decorously rebuttoned the front of her blouse, before returning her cape to its regular position upon her person.
However, Lord MacKittrick’s mind is not so peacefully running riot with him ruminating over meeting and aiding the comely young widowed mother and her children this day. He feels that their interactions have been quite outside of his sphere of previous experiences. And he does not know if that bodes good or ill for him.
To be continued with Chapter 2
References for the Introduction /Prologue and Ch. 01 of “A Lonesome Lord”, January 22, 2023 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1507)
- My “A Lonesome Lord ” story logo is a composite of a portrait of British actor Richard Armitage from 2020 by An Le, and Harrington text on a teal background.
- aLord MacKittrick is Richard Armitage-2020 viaRABrazil, January21, 2023GratiL-edits-szd-brt-clr
3ab. Woodbury Castle and estate grounds image representation are that of Powderham Castle enhancer was found at https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/p/AF1QipO-VSYyrNMCla0qTJJYPEPsaj66Q3Nv2_k1XGAX=w370-h253-n-k-no
- For more about blunderbuss guns, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blunderbuss
- For the historical development of Richmond, England, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richmond,_London
- The image of Corinne Carpenter is that of Justine Waddell as Tess of the Durbervilles found at fan pix net at https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcTObu6hUQX0YccwqDi52MKUSBV3USdWBTWEig&usqp=CAU
- Historical information about the surname Carpenter was found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpenter_(surname)
- For historical information about highwaymen, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highwayman
- Noah Carpenter is represented by a classic painting of a young-peasant boy frowning, by Wilhelm Hasselbach downloaded Aug23-2020 via Mutualartcom ; via https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn%3AANd9GcSiNbAOMnX5uWTsLk49XYn_XfNlYtLKTDYxyg&usqp=CAU
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Introduction and Ch. 01 [of] “A Lonesome Lord”, January 22, 2023 (#1507):