(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, various Noah Carpenter illustrations, 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. 07: The Woodbury Castle Garden Party
An ecstatic Noah does get to sit atop and then ride a small pony girl named Saffron in the corral with Lord MacKittrick watchfully walking by him in the days leading up to the Saturday, June 22, 1820 Woodbury Castle Garden Party for Woodbury Village and surrounding area.
And with about two hundred souls planning to attend the Woodbury Castle fete during this four hour event, Lord MacKittrick and his Aunt Lady Anne–serving as his co-hostess–will have a very large group of attendees. But of course, the Woodbury Castle tenants, village, and county attendees will come in waves—with no one wanting to leave their homes or estates unattended, lest marauders or thieves try to take advantage of the situation.
So Lord MacKittrick and Lady Anne comprise a very short receiving line for their visitors at the 1pm and then later at the 3pm influxes of their guests.
Lord MacKittrick: “Welcome Vicar and Mrs. Jacobs and family! I hope that you enjoy the lovely weather that we are having today” Lord MacKittrick greets them warmly—as his Aunt Lady Pendleton has had him practicing on daily. Her having recognized that her nephew Pendleton’s only deficits as a gentlemen being his lack of experience in conversing easily in formal and informal situations. So she guides him, as his mother would have—had his Mama, Papa, and his brother Dartmouth not been murdered by highwaymen twenty two years ago.
Vicar Jacobs: “I thank you for your kind invitation on behalf of my family, Lord MacKittrick and Lady Pendleton.” He bows and moves along.
Lady Anne is quite [pleased] with her nephew Pendleton seeming to come out of his shell and converse more easily with his guests than he would have previously. And she attributes this to her reminding him that his guests will likely be very nervous about meeting him, their feudal Lord—such that he need not be anxious about how he will be perceived, since he will be focusing upon how his guests feel.
And it helps that Lady Anne encourages her nephew Pendleton to oversee the children’s play area since he seems to be less nervous around children—which she surmises is due to him becoming friends with Mrs. Carpenter, her six year old son Noah, and her [almost 10] month old baby daughter Nancy. And Lady Anne suggested–and her nephew Pendleton Lord MacKittrick adopted her advice–to have young Noah Carpenter at his side during the games to provide his insightful childlike observations to Lord Mac.
And in point of fact, Lord MacKittrick is unconsciously also serving as young Noah’s in loco parentis for Noah at the children’s games—with Noah’s Mama Corrine enjoying some tea and conversation under one of the many tents providing shade and seating for the ladies after they have perused the various vendor booths and have purchased ribbons, toys, etc.
First up is Lawn bowling/skittles [(2)]. And since the bright sun is making things warmer, Lord MacKittrick removes and sets his jacket and cravat aside and rolls up his shirt sleeves for coolness. He smiles at the first eight small children in four teams of two each.
Lord MacKittrick: “Alright children, we have ten wooden pins set up about ten feet away in each of these four lanes bordered by string. For each team, your object…” Lord Mac stops when young Noah elbows him in his leg with his good arm. “What?” He quizzically looks down at young Noah.
Noah: “Object?” He raises his small eyebrow in confusion.
Lord MacKittrick: “Ah! What I meant to say was, each team’s goal is to knock over as many pins as you can by rolling your small twig ball in your lane, like this.” Lord MacKittrick rolls his [twig] ball all the way to the pins and knocks half of them over. “Any questions?”
There seeming to be no questions from the still slightly shy younger children, the bowling play begins. Initially, the young children do not roll the twig ball hard enough and it stops after three feet. So the children pick it up again and roll it some more—repeating these efforts until they reach the wooden pins, which they then knock over with great cheer.
Lord MacKittrick: “Well done, everyone!” He praises. “Now enjoy playing a few more rounds of skittles bowling, before you go to the next play area.”
Leaving a Woodbury Castle grounds man to oversee the bowling, Lord MacKittrick picks up his jacket and cravat—draping them over his arm—and then he waves goodbye to the children, and they wave back to him.
Then Lord MacKittrick and Noah walk over to the next children’s nearby play area of hoops tossing, before the table top draughts, bobbing for apples, tree swinging, charades, and foot races. The children will also rotate as a group through each of these activities about every twenty minutes, before being given refreshments to enjoy.
So when Lord Mac and young Noah reach the final children’s play game area of foot races, after only three groups of children rotations—since Lord Mac merely introduces himself at each subsequent games station play area that is overseen by a groundskeeper—Noah sees that the other children have doffed their shoes and socks and he does so accordingly.
Noah: “Well?” He looks challengingly at Lord Mac.
Lord Mac: “Well what?” He asks amusedly.
Noah: “You should take off your boots and socks before you race, too?”
Lord Mac: “Me? Race? No no, this game is for you children.” He smiles affably.
Noah: “Well [children] …” Noah intones conspiratorially. “Shall we invite Lord Mac to also race with us?”
Children: “Yes! Race, race, race!” The children jump up and down, clap, and cheer for Lord MacKittrick to join them.
Naturally, each of the children’s minders—be they their parent or their nurse—[bemusedly] smile broadly at Lord MacKittrick as he sits on a nearby wooden bench and he obligingly removes his boots and socks, setting them aside and also laying his jacket and cravat over the back of the wooden bench. It is unheard of for a proper Englishman to so display his bare feet in public. But then what is proper for adults is more tedious than what is properly more fun for children. Then Lord MacKittrick joins the children at the start line—bare toes and all. The race route will take them to a purposely situated flower pot about twenty feet away that they must run around and then head back to the starting line to finish the race.
Grounds Keeper: “Ready, Set, …”
Noah: “Lord Mac? Since you have longer legs and can run faster than us, perhaps you will give us a running start?” He asks politely. The rest of the racing children bob their heads up and down in agreement.
Lord Mac: “Very well. I accept. I will count to five after you start running, then I will start running myself.” He nods his head to the Grounds Keeper to resume the racing countdown.
Grounds Keeper: “Ready, set. GO!”
And the children begin to run pell mell toward the flower pot—as their racing course turn around spot. And after Lord MacKittrick counts to five, he also takes off running! Lord Mac’s long legs do indeed eat up the distance between him and the children. Though he is slowed down a bit by a young child who tumbled over and sits crying at being left behind. So Lord Mac scoops up the little boy and then continues on racing with him under his arm. The rest of the children have just run around the flower pot as Lord Mac begins to catch up with them, when a teary eyed little girl child also falls and sits down—her now holding her arms up to Lord MacKittrick. So Lord Mac scoops up the little girl in his other arm and he races around the flower pot.
With Lord MacKittrick now carrying forty pounds of children under each arm as he races to the finish line, he is somewhat hampered in his ability to catch up with the children. As it happens, the fleet footed Noah Carpenter crosses the finish line with two other boys and girls, followed by several other children. Then Lord Mac and the two children being carried under his arms cross the finish line and he sits them and himself down [on the ground] in a heap of laughing exhaustion.
All of the children in the race now surround Lord MacKittrick patting his head, arms, and shoulders in congratulating him upon also crossing the finish line, as he heartedly laughs and smiles. This has been more fun that he has had since he was a young child, before his parents and brother were killed, so many years ago.
Then after farewelling the first half of their Garden Party invitees, a thoroughly disheveled Lord MacKittrick races inside Woodbury Castle for a quick bath and change of clothing[—him leaving Noah in the charge of his widowed Mama Corinne Carpenter]. . Then at 3pm, the second half of invitees arrive and he stays with the receiving line longer, since his Aunt Lady Anne Pendleton’s guest of Dr. Lively attends her with his children and his grandchildren. Lord MacKittrick smiles happily for his young forty year old Aunt Lady Anne to have the prospect of having her own family some day—should their courtship prove fruitful.
And during the Woodbury Castle Garden Party latter half of guests, Lord MacKittrick plans to spend more time with the adults—after greeting all of the children heading off to the games—with him particularly hoping to be able to chat with the widowed Mrs. Corinne Carpenter for a bit before she returns home for the day.
As Lord MacKittrick finishes the Woodbury Castle Garden Party’s 2nd receiving line for its latter half of invitees, he looks around, but he does not see Mrs. Corinne Carpenter with her baby Nancy. So he dashes inside his Woodbury Castle home to look for her there—in case she is nursing her daughter privately. He has guessed well, when he finds the widowed Corinne Carpenter just exiting the ladies retiring room lounge that they have set up on the ground floor for when they host balls or—as in the case of today–garden parties. There is also a smaller men’s lounge down the hall that is attended to by a footman
Lord MacKittrick: “Mrs. Carpenter!” He uses her formal address, but his manner is so joyfully excited to get a chance to talk with her privately, that she is quite bowled over by his exuberant informality.
Corinne: “Oh goodness! You startled me, Lord MacKittrick!” She flutters her hand at her neck.
Lord MacKittrick: “I am abjectly apologetic about that, Mrs. Carpenter. But I hope to …” He pauses, him shyly wondering if he should state his interest in Corinne so forwardly.
Corinne: “You hope to …?” She prompts him as she cradles her baby Nancy in her arms.
Lord MacKittrick: “Well I, … hope to …” Then he is saved.
Noah: “I see that you found me, Lord Mac.” Young Noah Carpenter sidles up to him and clasps his good right hand in Lord Mac’s left hand.
Lord MacKittrick: “Why … yes, I did. We did.”
Corinne: “Oh?” She smiles knowingly at Lord Mac’s seemingly friendly bond with her young son.
Lord MacKittrick: “Well, what I meant to say was that …I hope to chat with you as well, Mrs. Carpenter.” He smiles shyly at the young and pretty widow Corinne Carpenter.
Noah: “See Mama? I told you Lord Mac likes you.” Noah smiles preeningly—which startles both Lord Mac and his Mama Corinne.
Lord MacKittrick: “Kkkkhhh!” He coughs in nervousness for the boy’s announcement of his partiality for Corinne.
Corinne: Her eyebrows rise in astonishment, then she blushes crimson and lowers her eyes to her young son. “That is kind of you to say, Noah Dear. It is a happy occurrence when neighbors like and are friendly with each other.” She hopes that she has diffused her son Noah’s childlike wont of discretion. She has not.
Noah: “Thank you, Mama! But I thought that if Uncle Finn marries Lady Anne, then you could marry Lord Mac. And then we would be one big family.” A family with him having a new father figure is what Noah wants and needs.
Lord MacKittrick: “You honor me with your liking me as a friend, Noah.” He also discreetly tries to disguise the feeling of anxious hope within him for his developing feelings for Corinne. “As do you, Madam.” He smiles and nods at Corinne.
Corinne: “Thank you, Lord MacKittrick. I am grateful for our neighborly friendship as well.” She states politely and with a benign facial expression—though her cheeks are still blushing crimson. As a Lady, Corinne will not reveal more about her own feelings about or toward Lord MacKittrick. Let alone, because she has only been widowed [almost] seven months now and she is still in mourning for her beloved late husband Franklin Carpenter.
Then a footman interrupts them by holding out a [small] silver tray to Mrs. Carpenter with a single calling card placed upon it. She picks up [the calling card and reads it]—at once happy, and then anxious.
Lord Mac: “Who is it, Mrs. Carpenter?” Lord Mac gazes soulfully into her eyes. And he wonders how an acquaintance of hers would know to find her at his home?
Noah: “Mama?” He soothingly pats her arm.
Corinne: “It is … it is my Grandpapa Lively, Lord Livingston.” Corinne looks uncertainly into Lord Mac’s sincere eyes. Then she remembers herself and asks the Footman. “And where is Lord Livingston now?”
Footman: “I seated him in the [Gold] Parlor, Madam and your Lordship.” He states respectfully. “And he bade me send another footman with his card to Dr. Lively at the garden party.”
Lord MacKittrick: “Well!” He rubs his hands together. “This should be … interesting?” He nods and smiles kindly to Corinne. She absentmindedly nods back to Lord Mac. Then he turns to his Footman. “Please have refreshments for five conveyed to the [Gold] Parlor—and please take Noah to invite Dr. Lively and my Aunt Lady Anne to join us, whilst Noah plays with Dr. Lively’s grandchildren.” Noah looks forward to more playtime. And his Mama Corinne and Lord Mac are relieved to have Noah occupied.
Then they all converge upon the [Gold] Parlor to meet their esteemed guest.
To be continued with Chapter 08
References for Ch. 07 of “A Lonesome Lord”, March 20, 2023 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1516)
- 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.
- For more about Lawn bowling/skittles, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skittles_%28sport%29
Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 07 “A Lonesome Lord”, March 20, 2023 (#1516):
Previous SAL blog Post # 1514 link for Ch. 06 of “A Lonesome Lord”, March 12, 2023:
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