(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 (aka Lord Mac to the Carpenter family), Justine Waddell as the widowed Corinne Carpenter, Noah Carpenter illustration, Bill Peterson as Dr. Finneas Lively, Samantha Bond as Lady Anne Elizabeth Pendleton, and others as noted.
Author’s Notes: This original Regency romance is a work of fiction, and as such, any character names, scenes, locations, historical, medical topics, or other descriptions were made at the creative discretion of this author—visit the reference links to learn more about them. 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.
Ch. 05: Finally playing draughts & piano forte
Though it takes several days for Lord MacKittrick’s Aunt Lady Anne Pendleton to recover from her Wednesday June 5th, 1820 poison ivy allergic reaction, she is made much more comfortable by the loan of the young widow Corinne Carpenter’s two aloe vera plants—whose leaves’ healing sap Dr. Lively applies judiciously mornings and evenings to her rash covered skin–so as to have enough aloe vera sap throughout her recovery without killing the plants, via using fresh batches of his burdock leaves for the midday applications.
Naturally, Mrs. Carpenter had to return home that Wednesday afternoon with her children after seeing that Lady Anne was on the mend. You see, since Lady Anne as Mrs. Carpenter’s offered chaperone for her visiting the bachelor home of Lord MacKittrick, could not leave her bedroom—so Mrs. Carpenter could not stay at or further visit Woodbury Castle. And Corinne has to suffice with brief daily visits of her Uncle Dr. Lively to her Carpenter Orchard farms home’s lovely stone manor —on his way to, or back from attending Lady Anne at Woodbury Castle—for updates on how Lady Anne fares and for him conveying Corinne’s notes of well wishes to Lady Anne.
And not unsurprisingly, Lord Mac begins to notice Dr. Lively’s repeated references to Lady Anne of the Widow Carpenter’s solicitude on her behalf, that Lord Mac is made unsettled by it. Then when Dr. Lively slips a time or two and familiarly refers to Mrs. Carpenter as Corinne, Lord Mac is made more suspicious of Dr. Lively developing a tendre for the young and lovely widow Mrs. Corinne Carpenter. Well, afterall, there is a connection between Dr. Lively and Corinne Carpenter—that of blood Uncle and niece, he is her mother’s brother. But Lord Mac does not know of that familial relationship.
And in Dr. Lively’s kind doctoring of his Aunt Lady Anne, Lord Mac observes the man’s innate charm as being possibly that which some vulnerable ladies might find pleasing. Oh, Dr. Lively’s manner with his Aunt Lady Anne is kind and respectful, in Lord Mac’s view. But it still disturbs Lord Mac that his Aunt Lady Anne seems to be warming to Dr. Lively. And Lord Mac wonders if the young and lovely Mrs. Carpenter is also responding to Dr. Lively’s charm—despite that Dr. Lively being thirty five years her senior at sixty years of age.
So Lord Mac must wait it out and still his tongue while his Aunt Lady Anne is convalescing with Dr. Lively’s medical aid. But Lord Mac becomes a tad more surly and snappish at the doctor—beyond Lord Mac’s usual taciturn ways. Such that Lady Anne notices and admonishes her nephew Pendleton/Lord Mac on Saturday, June 8th, 1820 at the first breakfast she is allowed out of bed to attend in a lightweight day frock that does not irritate her still healing poison ivy rashes.
Lady Anne gracefully walks into Woodbury Castle’s lovely breakfast room in the conservatory and she gazes out upon the lovely flower garden. It is a testament to her own fortitude that she does not begrudge the flowers for luring her to them and then she became infected with poison ivy lurking within their depths. Nor does she blame the Woodbury Castle gardeners for not removing any toxic plants. Though she did make that hint to her nephew and he has set his gardeners to that task.
Lord Mac: “Aunt Lady Anne, how good it is to see you at breakfast again.” He smiles warmly at her as he stands up from the table.
Lady Anne: “Again? If you’ll recall nephew, I breakfasted alone the day that I became ill with the poison ivy. You were still sleeping in your bed.” She does not directly convey that her lack of companionship in her nephew that day contributed to her seeking out the garden flowers–and ultimately, to her coming into contact with poison ivy. Yet, Lord Mac winces.
Lord Mac: “Aunt, my apologies for my tardiness that day. I work late into the night on estate matters most days, so I tend to sleep until 9 o’clock in the morning. And though I have altered my hours during your convalescence—by curtailing my attention to business matters—I will need to return to them.”
Lady Anne: “Yes, and I am grateful for your attention to my care—with Dr. Lively attending me. However I am returning to full health and I wish to begin socializing.”
Lord Mac: “Is that wise? Are you certain that you feel well enough to socialize?” He asks, concerned for her welfare. And this business of having the care of someone—or indeed, a family—is new for Lord Mac at thirty years of age. His tenant dependents are another matter entirely—for his attending to the practicalities of fixing roofs or expanding drainage, etc., he deems to be improvements to his land and properties, though his tenants do also benefit from his largesse.
Lady Anne: “Oh, do not be a mother hen. I am only speaking of the Carpenter Family coming to visit us this day. I have had my footman take a note to Corrine inviting she and the children for a visit. I hear from Dr. Lively that young Noah longs to play draughts with you, as well as wishing to hear his mother play your piano forte.”
Lord Mac: “Aunt! You act rather rashly—no pun intended—given that Woodbury Castle and estates is my home and not yours. It is I who should be issuing invitations, not you.”
Lady Anne: Smiling knowingly at her now seemingly skittish nephew. “But you did issue them an invitation to visit Woodbury Castle, when we were at their home earlier this week. I simply let Corinne know that I am now well enough now to watch over baby Nancy while she plays piano forte—and Noah plays draughts with you. And I adore music. So I hope that she plays well. And, of course, I am well enough now to act as her chaperone when she visits your home.”
Lord Mac: “Chaperone? Why would she need a chaperone?” Then his face darkens. “Are you playing match maker and arranging for Mrs. Carpenter to visit us socially when Dr. Lively will be here?” If Lord Mac were self reflective, at all, he would realize that his enmity for the good doctor is jealousy of the ease and friendliness he has with Mrs. Carpenter.
Lady Anne: “You astound me, nephew!” She laughs self consciously. “I am not matchmaking for the young and lovely Widow Corinne Carpenter and Dr. Lively—who has a good thirty five years on her.” She stares at Lord Mac incredulously.
Lord Mac: “Well, that is fine then. But I have not even found my old draughts game. I will have to scour the attic for it with my other childhood toys.”
Lady Anne: “Oh good! Then you can take Noah with you after luncheon to search for them. And perhaps you fill find other toys or games that young Noah would like to play with you.”
Lord Mac: “Play with me?” Lord Mac Scowls perplexedly. “I am not a child. Nor did I have childhood play friends after … well after Dart died with my parents.” He sighs with a melancholy moroseness. “I do not know how to play.” He blanches.
Lady Anne: “Well then it is high time that you learned, Pendleton. Afterall, you will have a family one day. And your children will want a Papa who plays with them. So think of your interactions with Noah today as practice.” She states with bemused aplomb.
Lord Mac: Lord Mac sighs resignedly. “Very well. I will try to be civil to the Carpenters.” Lady Anne cocks a knowing eyebrow. “And play with Noah.”
Lady Anne: “Excellent! Now I have invited the Carpenters and Dr. Lively for a light luncheon today—I have spoken to cook already and ordered the Woodbury carriage to collect the Carpenter Family this day, so you need not burden yourself with the arrangements. Then after luncheon, you and young Noah may search for and play draughts—and any other games and toys that you come across. And Dr. Lively and I will enjoy listening to Corinne play on your piano forte.”
Lord Mac: “Bbbut…” He starts to object to Dr. Lively joining them for luncheon and being with Mrs. Carpenter, but his Aunt forestalls him with her raised hand.
Lady Anne: “Pendleton, do not worry about your having to listen to Mrs. Carpenter play the piano forte—unless you want to. She and I will chaperone each other with Dr. Lively.”
Lord Mac: “Chaperone each other?” His eyebrows lower in confusion. Then his face brightens. “Aunt, have you formed an attachment for Dr. Lively?” Lord Mac thinking that his Aunt Lady Anne at forty years is a more suitable direction for Dr. Lively to turn.
Lady Anne: Blushing her response, she states. “I do not know yet, Pendleton. I consider Dr. Lively to be a most agreeable gentleman. And his great kindness to me during my poison ivy allergic reaction illness helped speed my recovery.” Her nephew Lord Mac blinks and leans forward, him urging his Aunt to continue clarifying her statements. “I would like to acquaint myself with him, informally.” She is too much of a lady to relate her full feelings to her nephew without first ascertaining whether Dr. Lively is even interested in her as more than his patient. “And when I marry, I would like to parent a child or two—of my own, or orphans needing a good home.”
Well that first notion of his Aunt Lady Anne marrying and having children of her own quite embarrasses Lord Mac. It is simply not polite to discuss such matters as the getting of children in mixed company. Let alone, that his spinster Aunt is contemplating marriage to Dr. Lively that would involve the … begetting of children. Though he supposes that her begetting children at her forty years of age is a possibility, since some of his tenants’ wives have had more children at seemingly such advanced ages. And he wonders whether or not the physician Dr. Lively would turn his interest from Mrs. Carpenter to his Aunt Lady Anne—who is still lovely in appearance, though much older than the twenty five year old Mrs. Carpenter.
And so it is that at high noon on Saturday, June 8th, 1820 that both Dr. Lively and Mrs. Corinne Carpenter and her children baby Nancy and young Noah arrive at Woodbury Castl in Lord MacKittrick’s open carriage, since it is such a lovely day e for their luncheon and then afternoon of play.
Once again, Lord Mac is perturbed at seeing Dr. Lively riding with and being solicitous of the young and lovely Widow Carpenter. But he is their host, so he has to reign in his angry feelings. So he assists Mrs. Carpenter from stepping down from his carriage—with her having handed baby Nancy to him first, him holding out the child with both he and the baby eyeing each other warily.
Corinne: “Oh Lord MacKittrick, thank you ever so much for tendering your kind invitation to us to luncheon and play today that includes my children. I do not attend village society events since I am my children’s only caregiver–so this is a real treat. Come Noah.” She smiles at her young son Noah who has been looking forward to playing draughts with Lord Mac. Then she deftly lifts baby Nancy out of Lord Mac’s arms.
Startled to hear that Mrs. Carpenter thinks that he is the architect of today’s invitation, he recovers with alacrity.
Lord Mac: “Not at all, Mrs. Carpenter. My Aunt Lady Anne wishes to see you again as well, now that she is feeling better.” He smiles. “And cannot you not afford a nurse or nanny for your children?” He wonders if her cost saving is due to her being in pecuniary circumstances. Though to Lord Mac, her having straightened finances seems belied by her prosperous Carpenter Orchard Farms estate, her lovely stone manor cottage, and her and her children’s neat country gentry attire today.
Corinne: “Well.” She blushes. “It is just that, I would rather employ a village girl to help with maid duties and laundering duties for my home during the day, whilst I care for my own children.” Her response is said with a smile, but she still regards his asking about her finances to be an impertinence on his part.
Then Lady Anne steps forward to greet and chat with Corinne [(2) right], and with Dr. Lively.
And fortuitously, Noah has stepped in and greets Lord Mac, before his Mama might say something more—or before Lord Mac’s Aunt Lady Anne might chastise him for his impertinence.
Noah: “Hello Lord Mac! We’ve come to eat and play.” He smiles broadly. Living at their Carpenter Orchard Farms Estate, means that their home is too far to walk to the village where he might find children his own age to play with and to have friends. And at six years old, Noah would like to have some friends to play with, fish, and have general fun with.
Lord Mac: “It is good to see you, Noah! How does your arm feel?” He pats the boys right shoulder so as not to cause pain to his injured left arm. And they walk into Woodbury Castle’s large foyer hall.
Noah: “So, so. It still pains me because Dr. Lively makes daily visits to tighten the splint as the swelling goes down. And we talk about the book he loaned me to read, Gulliver’s Travels.”
Lord Mac: “Dr. Lively visits you? Daily?” Lord Mac asks worriedly.
Noah: “Yes, on his way to your home, or from it. Mama says that Dr. Lively is tending to Lady Anne’s illness each day.” Then he looks over to the brightly smiling Lady Anne. “But she does not look ill to me.”
Lord Mac: “She is feeling better.” Then he notices Noah looking around for something. “Can I help you find something here?” He smiles.
Noah: “Where is your dog? All gentlemen have dogs.” He states knowingly. And Noah would dearly love a doggie of his own, but his Mama says that they must wait until baby Nancy is a little older, and out of diapers. Noah does not understand why his baby sister Nancy wearing diapers would be a problem with him having a dog. But then, he does not understand the added responsibility that having a pet entails.
Lord Mac: “Oh! I do not have a dog.” Lord MacKittrick replies off handedly.
Noah: Tilting his head to one side, Noah looks aghast at Lord Mac. “No dog?” Lord Mac sheepishly shakes his head no. “Not even a cat?” Lord Mac smiles and shakes his head again.
Lord Mac: “I do have a horse. But Victory is not truly a pet, since he and I travel the estate to visit with my tenants from time to time. And, of course, he is too big to sit on my lap. Ha ha ha ha ha!” Lord Mac laughs at his own jest. But young Noah does not find the humor in poor Lord Mac not having a dog.
Noah: “I’m sorry that you do not have a dog. Mama told me that when Nancy is out of diapers, we may have a dog then. Since you do not have children in diapers, you might think about getting a dog for yourself now. Then I could visit and pet it, play fetch, and run with it.”
Lord Mac is amused that young Noah’s pity that he did not have a Woodbury Castle dog quickly shifted to Noah wanting Lord Mac to have a dog so that he could visit and pet it.
Lord Mac: “Do not your friends have dogs for you to pet?” He asks jovially. Then he sees Noah’s face sadden.
Noah: “I do not have friends. We live too far away from the village for me to walk back and forth there. And though we go to church on Sundays. And there look to be boys my age at church. But Mama says we have to go home to tend to baby Nancy right after church.”
Lord Mac remembers his own friendless childhood, and he resolves to help young Noah have friends.
Lord Mac: “I have an idea, Noah. Though Woodbury Castle Estates has not had a village fete for many years—since my parents and brother were alive—perhaps I could host a garden party tea with games of skill for young children? Would you like that?” And Lord Mac hopes that his Aunt Lady Anne will help him with the planning for such an event while she is here visiting him.
Noah: “Oh that would be wonderful!” Noah’s young face radiantly smiles at Lord Mac. Then Noah shyly tucks his good right hand into Lord Mac’s left hand as he lets himself be guided to their luncheon at Woodbury Castle.
Then later after lunch Lord Mac and Noah comb the upper attics of Woodbury Castle for a game of draughts, and other such games and toys that Noah might enjoy. And Noah is almost as excited to see all the games and toys options in the attics—dusty though they might be—than if he were playing them.
Meanwhile after a garden stroll, Lady Anne, Dr. Lively, and Corinne Carpenter return to Woodbury Castle to listen to Corinne play on the piano forte in the music room–whilst her baby lies sleeping in a bassinette near Lady Anne. Initially, Corinne begs their forbearance as she finds her way playing. So Lady Anne and Dr. Lively distract themselves with conversing as they sit across the room from Corinne.
Lady Anne: “Mrs. Carpenter is lovely and sweet. And I adore her children—even after knowing them only a few days.”
Dr. Lively: “Yes Corrine … I mean Mrs. Carpenter, is blessed with her children. My own children are grown and have children of their own now. They live in London, but plan to visit soon.”
Lady Anne: “That will be delightful for you.” She nods with a smile. Then she asks directly, for obfuscation is not her style. “Dr. Lively? Are you acquainted with Corinne Carpenter—as more than the Woodbury Village doctor?”
Lady Anne holds her breath, as she awaits to hear if Dr. Lively has a tendre for Mrs. Carpenter. They are both widowed, afterall. But there is a very great age difference between them.
Dr. Lively: Him wanting to clarify that his interest in Corinne is respectful, he reveals a bit of their family secret. “I am. Corinne Carpenter is my niece—my sister’s daughter. And I beg you to keep my and Corinne’s confidence on that matter. She has chosen not to discuss her family circumstances and we must respect her wishes.”
Lady Anne: “You may count on my discretion, Dr. Lively. Families can be difficult at times.”
Lady Anne muses thinking of her family trying to marry her off several times as her spinster status became more pronounced after she turned twenty five years fifteen years ago. But Lady Anne held fast, and would not marry just anyone in order to be a wife and a mother. If she could not have love, then she would not marry. And happily, she has a generous competence from her paternal grandfather to allow her her freedom.
Dr. Lively: “They can. Though, I was blessed with a loving family growing up, and then created a loving family of mine own with my late wife Julia. So I have kept a watchful eye on Corinne over the years since her marriage, and then more so in her own widowhood. Then when I resolved to retire to the country for a more slower paced life than one finds in London, my accepting Lord MacKittrick’s invitation to be the Woodbury Village doctor seemed to be the ideal opportunity. And it was—it is.”
Dr. Lively smilingly places a gentle hand upon Lady Anne’s hand crooked in his arm. They had eschewed gloves today due to the warm weather. So their hands touch, skin to skin—engendering a pleasing warmth and tingle at their point of contact. Lady Anne blushes, and she shyly looks up smiling at Dr. Lively. And from Corinne Carpenter’s view from the piano forte, her Uncle and Lord MacKittrick’s Aunt look very pleasingly cozy with each other—and she now smiles.
Corinne Carpenter’s now more confident playing on the Woodbury Castle piano forte with her practice this day segues into a lilting folk tune to accompany Dr. Lively and Lady Anne’s hushed conversations. But an interruption occurs as her young six year old son Noah and Lord MacKittrick enter the music room laden with all manner of dusty toys and games overflowing their arms.
Noah: “Mama! We found Lord Mac’s games and toys! And he says I may play them whenever I want!” Noah grins from ear to ear.
Lord Mac: Setting down his large bag of games and toys, Lord Mac apologizes. “My apologies for the interruption, Mrs. Carpenter. Your piano forte playing is delightful! But young Noah here is eager to show you our finds—he was most dogged in his search of my attics.” He smiles in bemusement. Though he has dust and cobwebs upon his person from their endeavors, Lord Mac thinks not of his disarray—but rather he focuses upon young Noah’s joy.
Corinne: “Thankyou, Lord MacKittrick. It was very kind of you to indulge my son’s wishes.” She smiles benignly at him, her slightly bemused at Lord Mac’s seeming transformation from taciturn Earl to this ease and friendliness.
Noah: “Oh! And Mama, about dogs, Lord Mac does not have a dog either. But he promises to get a dog and then take me on a ride on his horsie.” Then he turns to Lord Mac. “Will the dog come before or after the garden party with games for Woodbury Village and your estate tenants’ kids to play?” Noah hopes that the dog comes before the garden party.
Lady Anne: “A garden party, Pendleton? That is a lovely idea! I do hope you plan to host it whilst I am still visiting you.” She hints.
Lord Mac: And Lord Mac looks at her pleadingly. “Why yes! And I am hoping that you might guide me in that. I have never hosted an event at Woodbury Castle.” He shrugs sheepishly.
Dr. Lively: “A garden party is a capital idea! I hope that there might also be some games for adults—such as archery. I pride myself on my abilities and skill in archery. But it has been several years since I shot a bow and arrow.”
Lord Mac: “That is an idea that we will take under advisement, Dr. Lively. And what of you, Mrs. Carpenter? What do you think about a garden party with children and family games hosted by Woodbury Castle?” He grins shyly at her.
Corinne: “Lord MacKittrick, I think that it is most generous of you to devise such a plan for the whole village and your tenants.” She nods with a smile. And Corinne wonders at this additional example of Lord MacKittrick’s further largesse. Yet, the lightness and joy that she sees in her son Noah’s eyes are the first she has seen since his father died six months ago. It is as if Lord Mac has brought her son back to his childhood joys. And she is grateful to Lord Mac for it.
Noah: Young Noah plops down on the floor of the Music room. “Let’s play draughts, Lord Mac, while Mama plays more pretty songs!” Young Noah had never heard his Mama play the piano before, since their home does not have a piano. And he is delighted with her sharing music with them.
Lord Mac: “Well, I am commanded to play by my young guest here. So please everyone, do as you wish.” Then he plops down on the floor opposite Noah and they begin to play.
So Corinne continues to play the piano forte while her baby Nancy sleeps and Lady Anne and Dr. Lively continue chatting about themselves and about their wishes for their futures—such as the upcoming Woodbury Castle Garden Party.
To be continued with Chapter 06
References for Ch. 05 of “A Lonesome Lord”, March 04, 2023 by Gratiana Lovelace
- 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.
- Lady Anne (left) is represented by Samantha Bond and Corinne Carpenter (right) by Kate Beckinsale, are from Emma (1996) and was found at https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c3/74/5d/c3745ddb6461b37420d77cef619994d8.jpg
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site for Ch. 05 “A Lonesome Lord”, March 04, 2023 (#1513):
Previous SAL blog Post # 1512 link for Ch. 04 “A Lonesome Lord”, February 26, 2023:
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