In memoriam for the individuals killed and injured at the mosque in Christ Church, New Zealand yesterday.
My thoughts are with their grieving families and friends, and their community reeling from this heinous act of violence.
This year’s IWD theme focuses on gender balance–in all spheres of our own lives, and in society at large.
I am grateful that I can vote for our elected officials–not something my great grandmothers had access to–even if my choice doesn’t win.
I am grateful that I was able to go to college and earn my degrees, not something my grandmothers had access to.
I am grateful for my late mother who went to college, voted, had a career, and then had a family–she was an inspiration to me.
I am grateful for colleagues and friends as we try to make a difference for our present and for the next generations of women’s futures for women in STEM (science, technololgy, engineering, & math) and more.
And I am grateful for my husband who is always supportive and encouraging of me and my Women in STEM efforts–with him often getting roped in to be the photographer for our programs and events.
Some women might take their freedoms or their opportunities for granted–perhaps thinking that we have always had them, and that we always will have them.
And it’s now our turn to lend our shoulders–for the present and for the future.
P.S. And below is women’s empowerment playlist that I found on You Tube for us to enjoy:
“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 11: Lord Duncan’s Childhood Memories of his Brother Lord Alfred, March 03, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1216)
(an original Regency romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2018 – 2019; all rights reserved); [(1) story cover art, left]
[As is my custom, from time to time I will illustrate my story with my ideal cast consisting of (in order of appearance/mention in this chapter): Crispin Bonham Carter as Lord Harold Blount younger brother of Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex portrayed by Richard Armitage, and older brother to their younger sister Lady Elizabeth Blount portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay; Rupert Penry-Jones as Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay; and Francesca Capaldi as Miss Tamsin]
Author’s story content and serializing scheduling notes: For the most part, my ratings for the chapters will be PG-13—for romantic interludes and dramatic moments. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with these ratings, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And I always put the previous chapter’s brief recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post new chapters weekly on Sundays. I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
“Expectations” Ch. 11: Lord Duncan’s Childhood Memories of his Brother Lord Alfred
After the lovely Blount, Lindsay, and Knightsbridge families’ luncheon on the terrace of Sussex Hall Manor, they initially broke into two conversation groupings. Lord Robert Knightsbridge Marquess of Wyre commandeered his sister Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay and her daughter Miss Tamsin, whilst Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York tagged along. The other grouping now sitting inside in the large and comfortable Sussex Hall Manor parlor were the Blounts—Lord Christian and Lady Madeline the Earl and Countess of Sussex, Lord Harold, and Lady Elizabeth—and Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay of York.
However, almost immediately upon the party sitting down on two facing settees to chat, a footman rushes in with a velum missive on a small silver tray. Lord Christian raised his hand, but then retracts it as the footman goes to his younger brother Lord Harold sitting opposite him.
Footman: “T’were an express, My Lord.” The footman bows deferentially.
Then the footman holds out the small silver tray and Lord Harold worriedly snatches the missive and the knife letter opener, then puts both the letter and the knife to the duel.
Lord Harold: Quickly scanning the brief letter—knowing its elegant hand, even before he sees the signature—Lord Harold exclaims after reading the three spare lines of text. “No!” Then he jumps up and makes his apologies. “Must go, it cannot wait, I hope that I am in time!” Then without further explanation, Lord Harold bolts from the room. He will have his valet pack his valise then ride like the devil to his dear one’s side. His valet can follow with a closed carriage and his clothing trunks not long after.
Startled at their brother’s alacrity and the concern writ upon his face and in his voice, Lord Christian and Lady Elizabeth turn to each other with questioning expressions.
Lord Christian: “What the devil?” Upon feeling his wife Lady Madeline’s gentle squeeze of his arm, he retracts his vulgar phrasing. “My apology, Ladies.” He bows in chagrin for his breech of gentlemanliness.
Lady Elizabeth: “No need, Christy. But what is Harold about? Do you know?” For brothers tend to share more with each other, than brothers and sisters do.
Lord Christian: Shaking his head, Lord Christian shrugs his very large shoulders. “I fear that I do not.” Then he turns to Lady Madeline. “But my Dearest Madeline, I beg that we return to the Dower House, should Harold need assistance or money for his journey.” For Lord Christian had surmised that his brother’s journey might have need of funds.
So Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay and Lady Elizabeth Blount of Sussex find themselves alone—but for a footman standing discreetly outside the open door of the parlor.
Lord Duncan: “Well! I could not have maneuvered our being alone together better!” He smiles teasingly.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh you!” She swats half-heartedly at his lower arm encased in a superfine blue wool jacket. “One would think that you constantly have nefarious designs for my seduction.” Then she bats her eyelashes at him, trying to play the coquette again.
Lord Duncan: “There go your eye lashes twitching again, Elizabeth. Are your eyes irritated? Or are you as glad for our unchaperoned state as I am?” He smiles broadly down at her sitting next to him upon the settee. When her brother Lord Harold had sat on the other side of her, Lord Duncan’s seating placement was unremarkable. But now? Not so unremarkable.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh Duncan! You will make me blush.” She smiles sweetly, hopefully.
Lord Duncan: “Elizabeth!” Lord Duncan utters in a husky whisper. Then he kisses the top of her knuckles upon each of Lady Elizabeth’s hands, before turning her hands over and lingeringly kissing each palm of her hands. She shivers with his tender touch.
Then there are two strident knocks upon the open Parlor door—causing Lord Duncan and Lady Elizabeth to pull apart from each other, just in time. A footman carries in a modified tea that Lady Madeline had ordered for Lady Elizabeth and Lord Duncan, just before she and Lord Christian departed for the Sussex Hall Dower House. The footman noiselessly goes about his business setting the silver tray with tea and cakes and cups and saucer, upon the marble table in front of their Lady Elizabeth and their Summer guest Lord Lindsay, before departing and leaving them almost alone again, but for the footman standing sentry in the hallway outside the open parlor door.
Lady Elizabeth: “Tea, Duncan?” She holds up the delicate sterling silver tea pot.
Lord Duncan: His looks still smouldering in Lady Elizabeth’s direction, he nods. “If we must.”
Lady Elizabeth: “It seems we must partake of tea, or quit this room and its small privacy afforded to us.” She smiles cajolingly as she pours their tea—one lump of sugar and a splash of cream for him and two lumps of sugar with a splash of cream for her.
Lord Duncan: He accepts her offering of tea without removing his gaze from her charming face. “Indeed. For if we were to have true privacy, I would kiss more than your knuckles, My Lady.” He whispers.
Lady Elizabeth: “My palms again?” She sighs.
Lord Duncan: “Even more.” Lord Duncan’s eyes move to Lady Elizabeth’s luscious lips, then to the creamy column of her neck, and finally resting upon her creamy shoulders. “Even more.” He repeats himself, with obvious intent.
Lady Elizabeth: Somewhat flustered, but also quite pleased, Lady Elizabeth sighs. “That sounds most … welcome.” She finally settles upon her neutral response.
Lord Duncan: “I am glad to hear it, My Lady. But such liberties I will only partake of—for our mutual enjoyment—when we are wed.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh Duncan! Are you proposing to me?” She quickly sets down her tea cup, glad that she was not in mid sip during his declaration—or she would have spewed the tea all over him in her surprise.
Lord Duncan: “Yes … and No!”
Lady Elizabeth: “How can it be both?” She asks in puzzlement.
Lord Duncan: “Yes, I want to marry you, with every fiber of my being needing to embrace you as your husband and lover. To cherish you each day, seeing to our mutual happiness.” The deep baritone of his voice could not smoulder more, thinks a trembling Lady Elizabeth.
Lady Elizabeth: “But? There is always a but.” She pouts cutely
Lord Duncan: “But. I feel that I must bring you into my confidence about certain private family matters that greatly affect me–and by extension now you, as the architect of my heart’s happiness.” He takes both of her hands in his again, drawing her closer to him.
Lady Elizabeth: “Oh!”
Then Lord Duncan begins to share the connection of the York and Lancashire Dukedoms via his childhood memories of twenty years ago. His voice deeply resonant in the telling.
Nearly twenty years ago in 1797, as the flowing tide begins to threaten their sand castles, the two children who had made their families wait expectantly for one of their designs to be proven a true one–and last the longest with the coming watery tidal onslaught. The two noble families watching and at play represent the Duke York and the Duke of Lancashire families. And they are enjoying a holiday at the sea shore near Scarborough at an estate of the Duke of York’s.
Ten year old Lord Alfred Lindsay, the Marquess of Malten—the elder child by two years and heir to the Duke of York—fidgets restlessly as he awaits his sand castle’s fate. By contrast, eight year old Lady Constance Knightsbridge—daughter to the Duke of Lancashire–calmly sits in a ladylike pose four feet behind her sand castle [(2) below] with her gracefully clasped hands and a hopeful smile.
Sitting on the sidelines with Lord Alfred’s parents, is Lord Alfred’s four year old brother Lord Duncan, the Viscount Lindsay—who plays happily with the sand, scooping and piling up the sand, but none of the sand piles he makes resemble anything discernable—let alone sand castles. And the Duchess of York cradles their baby daughter Lady Gwendolyn in her arms.
Young Lord Alfred: “Connie, I am going to win!” Looking over at his opponent, he states confidently, even if he does not feel confident about the outcome–since no one can predict nor control the vagaries of the incoming tide.
Young Lady Constance: “We shall see.” Her eyes gleam eagerly with a knowing smile. Boys may like to think that they will win, but disappointment must sometimes be their fate, she thinks.
Little Lady Constance is a picture of sweetness in her adapted play outfit of a shortish light blue pinafore over a short sleeved and ruffled round necked white blouse, all over boyish style light blue pantalettes the same fabric as her pinafore and with legs edged with a white ruffle above each knee. Her Mama Duchess learned long ago that when her active daughter plays out of doors climbing trees, or mucking about in mud or sand—as is the case today—practical clothing for her little girl is best.
While young Lord Alfred is most boyishly dressed simply for play in also a short sleeved white shirt and tan short pants—but with no ruffles in evidence.
The little Lord Duncan’s notice is caught by the waves seeming to increase in volume and speed with which they advance upon the shore.
Lord Duncan: Pointing urgently to the incoming tidewaters, Lord Duncan says self importantly—as most four year olds do. “Water is coming!”
Lord Alfred: “Oh, well spotted, Duncan.” He sneers as only a ten year old can. For Lord Alfred loves his much younger brother, but until Duncan becomes more interesting—riding, climbing trees, speaking in complex sentences, and building sand castles—Lord Alfred has little patience for him.
Lady Constance: “Now, our sand castle designs will be tested.” She announces with the grandeur beyond her years, and usually relegated to great engineering feats.
Lord Alfred: “Yes, and when I win, what will you give me as my prize, Connie?”
She thinks on this for a moment, then brightens.
Lady Constance: “A fine linen handkerchief, that I will embroider your initials upon.”
Lord Alfred: “What need have I for a linen handkerchief?” He asks pouting.
Lady Constance: “Well, it would go a long way to reducing the need for laundering your shirt sleeves quite so often.” She counters tartly. She has long noticed the nose expulsion stains on Lord Alfred’s sleeves, and she despairs of him ever learning better manners than to wipe his nose on his sleeve.
Lord Alfred: Glowering, he responds. “I would rather have a dagger to secret upon my person in case I am set upon by thugs and evil doers.”
Lady Constance: “Ha ha ha ha ha! And when might that happen? Your school Eton does not enroll bandits, does it?”
Lord Alfred: “No!” He says curtly. “And what of you—what prize do you claim from me, if in the remotest possible chance your sand castle wins?”
Lady Constance: “Well …” I grin shyly up at him. “I would like a kiss from you upon my cheek.” Her face turns crimson with embarrassment for making so bold a request.
Lord Alfred: “Ewwww! Save that romantic mush for your husband to be in ten years time—whichever poor soul he will be.” I like Connie as a sometime playmate when our families gather together, but kissing her—even on the cheek? Blech!
Lord Alfred has not turned his attention to finding girls or young ladies interesting yet.
Lady Constance: “Oh I will.” She smiles confidently. For she had overheard her parents talking with his parents after dinner last night about betrothing her to Lord Alfred. And she likes the taller than her Lord Alfred who, at ten years of age, is a fine looking young lad. “But for now, you will do.” She adds tartly with a knowing eight year old smile.
Lord Alfred: “Very well, I accept your terms, My Lady.” He bows—confident that they will not need to be employed to kiss her.
Lady Constance: “As do I, My Lord.” She curtsies.
Then as fate would have it, a sudden gust of fierce wind drives the tidal waters to overwhelm and submerge Lady Constance’s sand castle. And Lord Alfred’s sand castle is still standing with some portion of it rising above the water. So he wins, this time.
Lord Alfred: “Ha ha ha! I want my dagger prize! May hap it will come to useful purpose on some future day.”
Lady Constance: Being a gracious loser, she replies. “Very well, I will have to apply to my Papa Duke for a dagger for you. I am not allowed to handle sharp objects—unless I am embroidering, with needles and cutting threads with my small embroidery scissors. Though even then, I am admonished not to run about with my small embroidery scissors in my hands or pocket.” Absentmindedly, Lady Constance opens and looks into the small empty pocket of her beach attire play pinafore. Her parents acquiesced to small pockets in her play pinafore aprons—which, happily for her parents, tend to limit, rather than augment, her ability to carry things home with her, be they rocks, shells, small rabbits, or frogs.
Lord Alfred: “Of course! Who would run with scissors?” He looks at her askance.
Lady Constance: “I do not know, I have never tried it. My Mama Duchess and Papa Duke merely indicated that it would be unwise for me to run with them.”
Lord Alfred: “I should hope so.”
Lady Constance: “Do not you have rules from your parents that guide or govern your behavior?”
Lord Alfred: “Yes, but none so specific. Mine are mostly to wash daily as needed, to be considerate of others, and to always remember that my honor is one with our family’s honor.” And he thinks minxishly that his younger brother Duncan still has the admonition from their parents to aim more carefully into the chamber pot to avoid messes.
Such are the entreaties of parents in encouraging their children to adopt safe and prudent behaviors. And these imparted parental lessons of life having a lasting impact.
Later that same day, after the two families had feasted together for their evening meal and are now sitting upon couches and chairs before a roaring fire before bedtime, the presentation of Lord Alfred’s sand castle design prize is bestowed with lavish praise.
Duke of Lancashire: “Young Marquess of Malten, come here.” Intones Lady Constance’s father, the Duke of Lancashire. Lord Alfred eagerly rises and walks toward the Duke, standing proudly before the Duke. His parents the Duke and Duchess of York look on with amusement. “My daughter Lady Constance has told me of your prize for winning the sand castle tidal waters competition.”
Lord Alfred: “Yes, Your Grace. I won.” He states pridefully, preening so much that his chin is jutting upwards almost to the ceiling.
Lady Constance smiles sweetly and thinks that boys are so silly about bragging all of the time about their winning something or other—even a contest as mundane as sand castles facing the incoming tide. Though she believes her elder brother Lord Robert Knightsbridge, the Marquess of Wyre at twelve years of age to have grown beyond that bragging boy phase as he sits benignly next to her on the sette, him smiling at his sister’s latest quest to spark a nascent romance between she and Lord Alfred.
Duke of Lancashire: “Yes. And that your prize is to be a dagger.” Young Lord Alfred looks at him eagerly. But sadly, we did not travel with extra daggers to be meted out as prizes.” Then he looks knowingly at his Duchess and then at Lord Alfred’s Ducal parents. “But! As it happens, I wear a dagger on my person at all times.”
Lord Alfred: “Oh?” Lord Alfred inspects the Duke’s person in search of a blade, but is confounded in his quest. “I do not see it.”
Duke of Lancashire: “Ah! That is because the dagger is concealed on my person.”
Then to the amusement of all, the Duke of Lancashire makes a great show of patting his jacket, checking pockets, and then even patting the outside of his breaches. Though breeches are not known for having pockets in them. At each potential hiding place, Lord Alfred eagerly waits to see the dagger produced, but is disappointed. And then when the Duke shrugs his shoulders with a smile and upturned palms, little Lord Alfred snaps his fingers.
Lord Alfred: “You did not check your boots, Your Grace.” Lord Alfred discourteously points at the Duke’s boots, but so transfixed is he that he does not see his Mama Duchess’ bemusedly shaking her head and frowning glance at her son.
Duke of Lancashire: Then the Duke of Lancashire turns up his mouth in a sly grin. “No, I did not.” Then he pats his boots, first left, then right. Then he smiles and lifts from his boot a small six inch silver handled dagger with an ornately engraved silver sheath [(3) below] and sets the magnificent gift upon a low nearby table.
Everyone oohs and aahs over this valuable gift as they walk over to get a closer look at it. And Lord Alfred reaches out his hand to claim his prize. But he is thwarted when his own Father Duke of York weighs in on such a precious and deadly gift.
Duke of York: “That is a magnificent dagger, Duke. But one, I fear, that it is too dear to give to a boy. My son will be happy with a less precious gift.”
Lady Constance: “I offered to embroider a fine linen handkerchief with his initials for Lord Alfred, but he declined.” She offers.
Duchess of York: “A pity, for that would be a most practical prize.” She thinks of his sometimes messy shirt sleeves. They have servants to wash their clothes, of course. But she would rather have her son develop good habits now, while he is young.
Duke of Lancashire: “Nay! I am glad to relinquish the dagger to young Lord Alfred. But with the proviso that he does not run with it unsheathed.”
Lady Constance: Smirking, little Lady Constance mutters under her breath to Lord Alfred. “I told you.”
Lord Alfred: “Daggers are not scissors!” He snaps back at her.
Duchess of Lancashire: “No, but safely using and carrying the sharp dagger involves a similar concern.” Lady Constance’s mother concurs.
Chastened, Lord Alfred nods his head I agreement.
Duke of Lancashire: “Young Lord Alfred, this dagger has a history of noble endeavor. It was given to me by an old family friend as I ventured into manhood with the understanding that though the dagger is beautiful, its use could have a deadly purpose. So be mindful that this is a weapon of protection and not a toy nor a play thing to brandish about. Therefore, you should keep it concealed until such time that you have use of it. Do you agree, Lord Alfred?” The Duke had previously consulted with the young Lord Alfred’s Father Duke of York and received permission to both bestow the dagger gift and to convey its safe usage to the young boy.
Lord Alfred: “I do.” I nod my head, then bow to him. Then my Father Duke of York slaps me on my back as I hold the dagger that I quickly clench in my up turned right palm.
Duke of York: “Well done, Alfred.”
Lord Alfred: “Thank you Papa Duke.”
Duke of York: “What say you to being the gracious gentlemen and granting Lady Constance her prize had she won the sand castle contest.”
Lady Constance smiles broadly while her cheeks pinken. Whereas a surprised look of horror appears upon Lord Alfred’s face.
Lord Alfred: “Papa Duke, please do not make me!”
Duke of York: “I will not make you do anything, Alfred. I merely ask you to search your conscience and your sense of honor and chivalry.” Lord Alfred pouts at his father. “Come, come Alfred. Your gift for Lady Constance cannot be that grievously expensive. So please tell your Mama Duchess and I what Lady Constance’s prize is and we will procure it for you to give to her.”
Lord Alfred: “You do not understand. Her requested prize is not a gift per se.” Though the conveying of her prize would be a gift, her prize is not, as such, a material object.
Duchess of York: Her knowing what young girls like, she asks. “Oh? Did she not want a ribbon, or perhaps, a tasty treat?”
Lord Alfred: “No, Mama Duchess. Lady Constance wants … well, she wants …” Lord Alfred flusters with having to reveal so personal–and frankly, so ludicrous a notion–as he kissing Lady Constance upon her cheek.
Then the least likely aid to this conversation interjects, in the person of Lord Alfred’s younger four year old brother.
Lord Duncan: “She wants him to kiss her on the cheek. Ewwww!” Little Lord Duncan scrunches up his nose in disgust and waves his hands about in front of himself in mock protest. For he is not the one tasked with kissing the young girl.
Then both families’ parents and other siblings gasp and titter with laughter.
Lord Alfred: His head jerking swiftly toward his younger brother, Lord Alfred asks him sternly. “What do you know about it, Duncan?”
Lord Duncan: “She said it.” He points to Young Lady Constance.
Duchess of York: “Hmmm.” She sighs with a knowing smile.
Though her seeing Lord Alfred’s distress and wanting to alleviate it, young Lady Constance retracts her request.
Lady Constance: “That is alright, Lord Alfred. You do not have to, if you do not want to.” Without her knowing it, that acquiescing phrase will become a common rejoinder that she will utter to him often in the future. “Kisses should be given willingly, not under duress.”
Duke of York: “There now, Lord Alfred. Lady Constance is being gracious. So might you show her some chivalry in return?” He slight prods his son.
Lord Duncan: “Very well, Papa Duke.” Then I turn with determination to Lady Constance—who for some reason is looking at me very shyly now. Considering it was her idea for me to kiss her, I find her to be disingenuous now, with her seeming to be shy about receiving my kiss now. Girls! They are so changeable. How is one ever to understand them?
I have seen the grimace of distaste upon Lord Alfred’s face, and I do not want him to kiss me reluctantly. And perhaps not kiss me at all. I do not know why I asked for his kiss in the first place. Other than that I had overheard some tentative betrothal discussions by our parents that mentioned he and I. And it turned my mind to thinking along a path of him becoming my husband in our distant futures. So really, my kiss prize request is our parents fault and not mine. And yet, as Lord Alfred approaches me, I am filled with equal parts curiosity and embarrassment.
Lord Alfred: I take her hand in mine. “My Lady Constance, I enjoyed our sand castles tidal competition this day. And though I won outright, I agree with my Papa Duke that your efforts should also be rewarded.”
I look at Lady Constance and see surprise upon her face—her eyes going wide. And then I truly look at her. She is not so bad—for an eight year old girl. I smile genuinely at her, then I lift her hand to my lips and give it a gentle kiss before lowering her hand and arm again. Honor is satisfied.
There is more to Lord Duncan’s tale about his brother Lord Alfred and his wife Lady Constance. But it will have to wait until he has another opportune moment of almost privacy together. Because at that moment, little Miss Tamsin skips into the parlor and invites he and Lady Elizabeth to play lawn croquet with her.
To be continued with Chapter 12
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 11 images for March 03, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1216)
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 11 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for March 03, 2019 :
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 10 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1214), on February 24, 2019:
“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 10: Friendly Acquaintances, February 24, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1214)
(an original Regency romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2018 – 2019; all rights reserved); [(1) story cover art, left]
[As is my custom, from time to time I will illustrate my story with my ideal cast consisting of (in order of appearance/mention in this chapter): Richard Armitage as Lord Christian Blount Earl of Sussex; Crispin Bonham Carter as Lord Harold Blount the younger brother of Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex portrayed by Richard Armitage, and older brother to their younger sister Lady Elizabeth Blount portrayed by Jessica Brown Findlay; Emma Thompson as Lady Gwendolyn “Gwen” Lindsay of York, the sister to Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay portrayed by Rupert Penry-Jones, and their late older brother Lord Alfred portrayed by David Oakes; Margaret Clunie portrays the Late Lord Alfred’s betrothed Lady Constance Knightsbridge; Hugh Grant as Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre and heir to the Duke of Lancashire as Lady Constance Knightsbridge’s brother; and Francesca Capaldi as Miss Tamsin]
Author’s story content and serializing scheduling notes: For the most part, my ratings for the chapters will be PG-13—for romantic interludes and dramatic moments. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with these ratings, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And I always put the previous chapter’s brief recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post new chapters weekly on Sundays. P.S. I am in week three of bronchitis, and I am finally starting to feel less congested in my breathing, and thus I am able to write. I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
“Expectations” (Book 2)– Ch. 10: Friendly Acquaintances
When Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York took her leave of a not quite fully dressed Lord Robert Knightsbridge Marquess of Wyre a minute ago, she barely made it to the hallway before her composure crumbled. She had never seen a man’s bare neck—not even either of her brothers Duncan and their late brother Alfred’s neck’s—before Lord Robert so arrogantly showed her his–neck, that is.
Lady Gwendolyn cannot fathom why Lord Robert leaves her so unsettled. When he is not being pompous, he is a deplorably wicked person who likes to tease. Perhaps her own remaining living brother Lord Duncan is so kind hearted, that it makes her astonished to find anything less in another peer.
But a red faced, wool gathering, and talking to herself Lady Gwendolyn is how Lord Wyre’s sister, Lady Constance Knightsbridge comes upon her as Lady Constance exits her guest bed chamber suite to attend the midday welcome luncheon.
Lady Constance had refreshed herself with a bath after their long journey, after she first tended to her child ward Miss Tamsin’s bathing needs. And now Lady Constance feels just the thing in a lightweight pale apricot frock with a cream ruched collar skimming her shoulders for modesty’s sake [(2) below]—and a delicate shawl drapes at her elbows should the terrace lunch breeze prove to be chilling. She looks lovely and sweet.
Lady Constance: So Lady Constance serenely asks of Lady Gwendolyn with a small smile. “My Lady Gwendolyn. How fortunate you are in the guest bed chambers hallway. I must beg your forbearance to lead me to our joint family luncheon this hour. I do not quite have my bearings in this large household of Sussex Hall Manor.” Lady Constance smiles gently, hoping not to reveal that she saw Lady Gwendolyn’s distress. Lady Constance is ever kind and thoughtful of others, and so is her family kind and thoughtful of her.
However, Lady Gwendolyn is of a less delicate constitution and sensibilities—her feeling no embarrassment in her own wool gathering state.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Ah! My Lady Constance! It is indeed fortuitous that we meet in the hallway.” Lady Gwendolyn smiles her best hostess smile to Lady Constance [(3) below]—which is something between a look of surprise and a look of pensiveness.
Displays of forced tedium run rampant amongst the aristocracy—though Lady Gwendolyn is not a one to display such falsity of expression, unless she were to actually feel bored.
Lady Constance: Ever graceful, polite, and poised Lady Constance agrees with her hostess. “Indeed. Ours is a most timely meeting.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Is not young Miss Tamsin with you?” Lady Gwendolyn looks about for the young girl. For she had just roundly chastised Robert Lord Wyre about his connection to the Knightsbridge’s child ward—in case she is more than a ward.
Lady Constance: “Oh, Tammy has gone on ahead with her nurse. I saw to her bathing first, and then to mine own.” Again she smiles sweetly. Miss Tamsin is her one great joy in life.
However, Lady Gwendolyn is only slightly non-plussed. For not only does one not discuss bathing in conversation with others, she is touched by the tender solicitude shown by Lady Constance toward the child Miss Tamsin. Though Lady Gwendolyn considers Lady Constance to be more forthright, rather than indiscreet about this clearly personal matter. And she likes her straight away.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Yes, well, after your long journey, it is understandable that you would each find a bath refreshing. I certainly did which I arrived several days ago—find a bath refreshing, that is.” One discreet disclosure deserved another.
As they walk down the hallway toward the central staircase, Lady Gwendolyn takes a peek at Robert Lord Wyre’s closed door. He has not come out of his rooms yet. And she thinks that he must be trying various cravat foldings to cover that glorious neck of his. She blushes in thinking of it.
Lady Constance: “Might I make an observation, Lady Gwendolyn?” Lady Constance asks conspiratorially.
Lady Gwendolyn; “Please, My Lady. I am not likely to faint at any topic of polite conversation—nor even impolite conversation.”
Lady Constance: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Her ladylike laughter trills with joyous abandon. “Oh my! You remind me so of your brother, My Alfred.” Lady Constance’s face takes on a joyful moony eyed glow in thinking about him.
Lady Gwendolyn: However, Lady Gwendolyn’s face saddens for the loss of her older brother Lord Alfred to war nearly ten years ago. “Alfred was a very good brother, I miss him as well, My Lady. Yet, he lives on in our memories.” Lady Gwendolyn speaks gently to the late Lord Alfred’s betrothed, Lady Constance.
Lady Constance: “He does indeed, many happy memories.” Lady Constance sighs wistfully. “And he and I shall make many more memories when we are reunited upon his return from the war.”
Lady Gwendolyn stills as they have just reached the front Drawing Room of Sussex Hall. And she turns to Lady Constance with confusion, but treads lightly in her response to her.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Reunited? My Lady?”
Lady Constance: “Oh yes! My Alfred promised to return to me from the war. And he always keeps his promises.” Lady Constance smiles sweetly. Then Lady Constance sees Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay walking toward them from the back of Sussex Hall Manor, and she waves her fingers at him. “Helloo Duncan, well met. We are joining you for luncheon.”
Lord Duncan: “Ladies, might I entreat you to join me in this Drawing Room for moment? There is something that I wish to show you.”
Lady Gwendolyn: She nods hesitantly. “As you wish, Duncan.” And the three of them walk into the burgundy accented Drawing Room.
Lady Constance: “How delightful!” Lady Constance beams. “Do you have another letter from Alfred to share with me, My Lord? I so enjoy hearing from him. And it has been so long since he has last written.” She pouts prettily as she flounces into the Drawing room and Lord Duncan shuts the door securely.
Lord Duncan: “Sadly, I do not have a letter to share with you.” Then he uses misdirection. “But is this not a comfortably appointed room? I wonder, Lady Constance, if you see any design that you would like us to emulate in the refurbishment of your guest chamber suite at York Castle, once the roof leak is repaired?” Lady Constance nods, then turns to appraise the room’s design.
Lady Gwendolyn pulls her brother aside as Lady Constance happily walks around the large Drawing room, noting its color scheme, embellishments and family portraits–her touching them one by one as if acknowledging them as the Earl of Sussex’ family’s cherished mementos.
Lady Gwendolyn: In a hushed whisper, she asks queryingly. “Duncan? Why does Lady Constance think that our late brother Lord Alfred will return to her?”
Lord Duncan: Also speaking in a low voice so Lady Constance cannot hear them, he replies. “It is complicated. And I must ask you to go along with whatever she says. Lady Constance’s heart and mind are very delicate upon the subject of our late brother Alfred. They were a love match, and her heart could not sustain the thought of his loss almost ten years ago.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “They were betrothed, and his death during the Napolean campaigns was tragic—as was the death of my own hoped for betrothed.” Lady Gwendolyn is also sad, but she has resigned herself to both her brother Alfred’s and her love Stephen’s deaths.
Lord Duncan: “But for Lady Constance, it was even more devastating. You see, our brother Alfred must have had an inkling that he would not return from the war. So the week before he shipped out, they …” He lets that thought hang in the air.
Lady Gwendolyn: Finally looking shocked, Lady Gwendolyn tugs on her brother’s arm. “Oh my goodness! I hope you are going to say that Alfred married her.” Lady Gwendolyn plaintively begs her brother Duncan.
Lord Duncan: “He did. Her brother Lord Wyre and I were witnesses to the marriage. We were all on holiday together. So Lord Wyre and I gave them their privacy for a honeymoon over the next several days and then collected them back to head home to our families for our formal farewell of Alfred. Alfred and Lady Constance had meant to share their wedding news before he left, but everything happened so quickly when he was called up a week earlier than expected, that they didn’t have an opportunity to share their wedding joy.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “I remember now. Lady Constance was so bereft at his leaving that she collapsed into uncontrollable weeping after his ship sailed away.”
Lord Duncan: “She was despondent for many weeks. Then her father the Duke of Lancashire had a heart illness and all focus was upon him for some time. I beg that you treat Lady Constance in your usual friendly manner.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Of course. So that explains why Lady Constance is so devoted to our late brother Alfred’s memory—as his widow. But why keep that a secret now? Surely acknowledging her as Alfred’s wife and Marchioness would be best for Lady Constance?”
Lord Duncan: “And we would have, but that Lady Constance’s parents discovered that she carried Alfred’s child. A babe, perhaps a male heir. And with Lady Constance’s health being so low due to her initial despondency about his leaving, and then not 6 months later receiving word that he had died, the Knightsbridge’s felt that they could not take a chance that her low spirits might cause the baby to be still born.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “So they perpetuated a lie. And the child whom she bore Alfred? Is it Tamsin?”
Lord Duncan: “Yes!” He sighs. “The York red hair that Tamsin has in abundance is quite a telling sign that she is a Lindsay.” Lord Duncan absentmindedly touches his own reddish blond hair.
Lady Gwendolyn: “And that is why you have refused Mother’s and Father’s attempts to wed you to Lady Constance, because she is our brother Alfred’s widow.”
Lord Duncan: “That and Lady Constance believes Alfred to be alive. Since a body was not sent home for burial, she does not accept that he is dead.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “But you wear our late brother Alfred’s signet right—that a fellow soldier removed from his body to have sent home to us.” Lady Gwendolyn points to the ring on Lord Duncan’s finger, even as he nervously turns it upon that digit.
Having made the circuit of the room, Lady Constance comes up to Lord Duncan and Lady Gwendolyn. And each of them turn gentle smiles to her.
Lady Constance: “Lord Duncan and Lady Gwendolyn, it is so kind of you to invite my brother Robert and I, and my daughter Tamsin to share in your Summer Holiday at Sussex Hall.”
Lord Duncan: “We were delighted to extend the invitation. Considering York Castle is under renovations, we could not invite you there. And though I will have to travel to York Castle a time or two to oversee the renovations’ progress, my sister Lady Gwendolyn will take good care of you in my stead.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh yes, indeed! We will have a lovely Summer together.” Lady Gwendolyn’s smile is a bit forced, her only having only just been taken into her brother Lord Duncan’s confidence about the matters surrounding Lady Constance and their family.
Lady Constance: Yet Lady Constance is oblivious to the whirling thoughts now present in Lady Gwendolyn’s mind. “Do you know? I am feeling quite peckish. Perhaps we should join everyone upon the back terrace for our midday luncheon.”
Lord Duncan: “Yes, My Lady. And I will especially want to introduce you to Lady Elizabeth Blount, the younger sister to the Earl of Sussex—as well as Lord Sussex’ young bride who is in the family way, Lady Madeline Countess of Sussex.”
Lady Constance: “That will be delightful! To have a Summer long house party with so many agreeable ladies, we shall all certainly become friendly acquaintances over time. And perhaps there will be some children of the gentry who are Tamsin’s age for her to also find playmates. She has no playmates at home at York Castle that I worry that she is missing out on fun and friendship.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, Lady Elizabeth is only a few years older than Miss Tamsin. So may hap she knows of some eight or nine year olds among the gentry children for Miss Tamsin to play with.”
Lord Duncan: “Yes, of course. I will ask her for you.” For Lord Duncan has not taken Lady Elizabeth into his confidence about the true nature of his relationship to Lady Constance—as her brother-in-law.
Lady Constance: “Delightful!” She lightly claps her hands twice in a graceful gesture that makes nary a sound.
So Lady Gwendolyn, her brother Lord Duncan, and their sister-in-law Lady Constance Knightsbridge Lindsay stroll arm in arm to the back of Sussex Hall Manor toward the garden terrace, where a tent has been helpfully erected to shade the diners from the fierceness of the midday sun.
Lord Duncan does a slight head nod to Lady Constance’s brother Lord Robert Marquess of Wyre as they enter the tent. And noting Lord Duncan’s pointed look, Lord Robert instantly attends to his sister and gazes searchingly over her much loved face.
Lord Robert: “My Dear Constance! How well you look after our long journey this day.”
Lady Constance: “Why thank you, Robert. I wanted to be sure and look my best, were My Alfred to surprise us by joining our little house party.” She looks around hopefully at the gathering.
Lord Robert: Whispering into his sister’s ear, he gently admonishes her. “Let us discuss that later, when the Yorks are not present.”
Lord Robert glances over at the Duke and Duchess of York in conversation with the Earl and Countess of Sussex, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline, and the Dowager Countess of Sussex, Lady Catherine—then at his parents. For Lord Duncan’s parents the Duke and Duchess of York are also not privy to Lady Constance’s disoriented belief that Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten is not dead.
Because the Duke and Duchess of Lancashire fear that were their daughter Lady Constance’s break from reality known beyond the scope of their close family, that she might be forced into a mental asylum for the incurably insane. They will never let that happen, for the Lancashires will tenderly care for Lady Constance in their own country home, away from London and Court, to keep her safe.
Lady Constance: Lady Constance conspiratorially whispers back to her brother, Lord Robert. “I understand that My Alfred joining us is a secret. But I miss him ever so much. And his parents the Yorks will surely also be glad to see him when he returns.” She pleads hopefully to her brother.
Lord Robert: “Yes, Dearest, but …” He is interrupted by the youngest member of their family party, who clasps Lady Constance’s hand in hers—drawing her attention away from disaster.
Miss Tamsin: “Now Mama, we mustn’t spoil the surprise.” She gazes up at Lady Constance. For though no one has taken Miss Tamsin into their full confidence about Lady Constance’s impossible hope that the late Lord Alfred of York yet lives, the young yet clever girl has surmised the right of it. “Papa Lord Alfred will surely visit us at some point. And he would not like us to spoil his surprise, Mama.” She smiles sweetly up at Lady Constance, who gently touches her daughter’s cheek with a smile.
Lady Constance: “How true. My Alfred , your dear Papa, does like to make a grand entrance. We shall keep his counsel.” Then she gazes up at her older brother in confirmation.
Lord Robert: “Very good, Dearest. Thank you for understanding.” Lord Robert smiles poignantly at his beloved sister, then down at his beloved niece.
Sensing a need to distract from further indepth conversations that might prove startling to those yet to be taken into the confidence of Lord Robert Knightsbridge, Lady Gwendolyn as her brother Lord Duncan’s putative hostess, nods at the butler, who then announces to the company that luncheon will be served. And everyone takes their places enfamille around the long dining table set up on the terrace and under the tent—with Lady Elizabeth Blount of Sussex happily finding herself sitting next to her beloved Lord Duncan Viscount Lindsay of York and her Sussex Blount family. And Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York finds herself on the other side of Lord Robert Knightsbridge Marquess of Wyre who sits next to his sister Lady Constance Knightsbridge sitting with Miss Tamsin and the Duke and Duchess of York at the other end of the table.
The conversation between courses is light and engaging—mostly about the perils of the road after rainstorms, with Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York and Lord Harold Blount sitting next to her regaling them with their recent traveling misadventures. Everyone smiles and laughs. And though Lord Harold and Lady Gwendolyn are developing an ease of friendly acquaintanceship with each other, they seem to interact almost as brother and sister, not as a courting pair. Though Lord Robert’s side glances to the pair bristles at their ease of familiarity with each other.
Lady Elizabeth, too, enjoys her little side conversations with her beloved Lord Duncan. Though they have privately professed their love to each other, there is still the delicate matter of Lady Constance Knightsbridge and her state of mind to finally make Lady Elizabeth and his York parents aware of. That is partly why Lord Duncan invited the Knightsbridge siblings to join their York Family this Summer at Sussex Hall Manor–to make clear the impossibility of him ever marrying Lady Constance, by making it known to the Duke and Duchess of York that she is already their daughter-in-law as his late brother Lord Alfred’s widow. And that Miss Tamsin, is their granddaughter. However, that revelation will have to happen delicately over time.
But first, Lord Duncan feels that he needs to explain the current situation to Lady Elizabeth—especially, the lifelong connection between the Ducal families of the Yorks and Lancashires, that is at the heart of Lady Constance’s buried sorrow in not acknowledging her husband Lord Alfred’s death.
To be continued with Chapter 11
“Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 10 images for February 24, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1214)
“Expectations” (Book 2) Ch. 10 URL for Gratiana Lovelace Wattpad story Post for February 24, 2019:
Previous “Expectations” (Book 2) Chapter 9 story URL on my SAL blog post (#1210), on February 03, 2019: