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Cordelia Lucas

Newcastle Residence, the 6th, 2pm, Matters of Marriage

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IC

Her coach delivered her to the residence of the Duke of Newcastle and to her meeting with his Duchess as had been discused over Recess.

It was a Social call but underneath ran the hopes that it would turn out to be a success for Cordelia with a marriage contract signed and sealed between the younger daughter called Margaret and, well, there in lay the issue. The right candidate must be found and the pool was not large. The eldest daughter was now a Duchess and  the next

soon to be a double Countess so for this third the aim was not that high. Naturally she could not outrank either of the two elder sisters nor could she outrank whoever her older brother would marry. All the Formalities must be observed after all!

She drew even with the front entrance and was handed out the wind playing with the pale green tafetta of her skirts - a color much like that of a ripe pear and one that she knew made her look good. No hat but her upswept hair was nicely arranged and she wore her only 'Good' set of jewelry of creamy pearls in a double strand at her neck

and dangled from each ear. She carried a small leather portfolio that held her notes and from which the Duchess might be in agreement with.

One of her son's servants jumped down and saw her up the stairs and rapped sharply on the doors   .....

Edited by Cordelia Lucas

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Lady Newcastle was looking forward to her meeting with Lady Lucas, and had been sorry that their first appointment had to be canceled because her youngest daughter had fallen ill. Arabella had been fine the next day, which had made her wonder if Margaret had bribed her into pretending to be sick so that she could postpone the meeting. However, it was easy to tell when a four-year-old was lying and the child had denied that her older sister had asked her to feign illness.

 

As for whether that was something that Margaret would do, her mother had no idea. Unlike her sisters, the middle Newcastle girl was an enigma. She kept her own council and rarely spoke about her acquaintances, her activities, or her wishes for the future. The girl was by no means silent. She was just clever about drawing conversation away from herself. Nobody knew what she was thinking or feeling or planning. Lady Newcastle found this quite frustrating and wished Margaret was not so secretive.

 

Sometimes, she thought her daughter was hiding something, or perhaps many things. Yet whatever it was, it was likely not scandalous. She never went anywhere without a chaperone and the woman reported that she always behaved in a proper manner. Margaret was a friendly girl and never met a stranger. This was her first season at court and she had already made several friends who seemed to  enjoy her company. Though there had yet to be a ball, Lady Newcastle believed that when there was, Margaret wouldn't miss a single dance. She acted like a perfect courtier.

 

But nobody was perfect.

 

The Duchess had asked for Lady Lucas' help in finding Margaret a husband, but she also hoped that the other woman would gain some insight into the girl's mysterious behavior. She hoped to have Margaret married sometime next year, as her sister Frances would be wedding Dorset later this year. Preparations were already underway and Lady Newcastle had nearly more than she could handle with the planning of everything. It would be a lavish wedding, of course. Though she would never admit it, sweet and demure young Frances was her mother's favorite and she wanted her wedding day to be special.

 

A knock on the large double doors of the mansion interrupted her thoughts and Lady Newcastle walked into the foyer to greet her guest as soon as the door was opened by a liveried footman. “Good afternoon, Lady Lucas,” she greeted the woman with a warm smile. “I'm glad you could come today.”

 

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Cordelia looked up and smiled as she was divested of her cloak walking to meet the Duchess.

"Good Afternoon, Your Grace." She said back and offered her curtsey.

"I am glad as well. I hope All are well."

She offered the usual Social Niceties as was expected and she would wait paitently for the Duchess to to lead the conversation.

Her gaze doing a quick once over of the surroundings curious to see what, if anything, had changed since the last time she had been here. 

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“Thank you for the good wishes,” Lady Newcastle replied. “My youngest is quite fine now. I think she might have eaten something that disagreed with her. The next day, she was running around the house as if she had never been ill.” The Duchess loved her offspring, all six of them. Her eldest had been married for seven years now but still had no children. Perhaps Frances would be the daughter who gave her mother a grandchild to dote upon. Henry's fiancee was still a child herself, around the age of her own Catherine, and she doubted that they would be married for a few years yet.

 

“Come, let us go into the drawing room.” She led Lady Lucas down an elegantly decorated corridor and into a parlor that had a luxurious but understated charm. There was a table close to the fireplace where a small fire was burning in the hearth. It was covered in a pretty blue tablecloth and the chairs that sat beside it were upholstered in the colors of blue, violet, and white.

 

“It looks as if you have come prepared,” Lady Newcastle commented, nodding toward Cordelia's leather portfolio. “Please take a seat. Tea will be served soon.”

 

The Duchess arranged herself decorously upon one of the chairs. “I can't thank you enough for helping me with this, Lady Lucas. I am sure that your expertise will insure that Margaret will make as advantageous a union as her older siblings.”

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She followed the Duchess into the Drawing Room and while it was indeed Spring she was glad for the fire.

She arranged herself in much the same fashion commenting with a small smile that

"Well all I can do I shall Your Grace. That being said Lady Margaret can hardly make a marriage that will set her above the eldest or the one set to marry. And then there is your son, the Duke's heir, she must not outrank his wife."

"Do you not agree?"

Cordelia felt sure that the Duchess was well aware of how the Properties must be observed but it didn't hurt to make sure.

"I have made some 'notes' that will be a handy guide but then you will be far more familiar with the names on it then I ..."

"And how is your daughter upon this subject? Receptive I hope or else we shall have a problem afore we even begin."

Edited by Cordelia Lucas

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Lady Lucas knew the unwritten rules of marriage quite well, which the Duchess had expected. The other woman had arranged marriages before, which was one of the reasons she had asked for her assistance. “Of course. My son's betrothed is the heiress of an Earldom and will be a future Duchess when they wed. I wish Margaret to marry as high as possible, though.” All mothers wanted their children to marry well, and Lady Newcastle was no exception.  Frances was marrying a double Earl, but perhaps Margaret would attract a less powerful Marquess or an Earl with several lesser titles and the thriving properties that went with them.    She was uninterested in any gentlemen with financial problems, but Lady Lucas probably already knew that.

 

“Some of them,” she said about the names on the list. “Those from the more established families that attend court. But some of the new courtiers will be unfamiliar to me.” Not all nobles enjoyed court life. Some preferred to live away from the gossip and crowds.   Their sons didn't always share their views and came to London as soon as they were old enough. Most, she assumed were looking for wives.

 

Lady Lucas inquired as to how Margaret felt about marriage. The Duchess thought that was very considerate, since most young ladies, including herself, had no choice in the matter. Lady Newcastle had not known her future husband well, but he was a Duke, and that was good enough for her. “She is amenable to the idea.”

 

Lady Newcastle had told Margaret of this meeting to discuss her marriage and had asked her how she felt about it now that her sister had been betrothed. She had said she looked forward to it … the proper thing to say ... but her enigmatic smile had betrayed nothing of what she was truly thinking.

 

“Would you like to meet her? She's at home. I heard her playing the piano and singing this morning, and she said she was going to work on some embroidery after lunch. She usually helps me with the management of the household in the late afternoon” The Duchess mentioned Margaret's activities so that her guest would know that she was skilled in the womanly arts.

 

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Cordelia nodded her head as the Duchess spoke of her thoughts regarding a marriage for her daughter - anything was possible she knew but the trick was in the understanding of just how Probably it might be.

"I would very much like to meet her." She smiled then and in a more serious tone added 

 "And after she is announced and paid her respect I would ask that Your Grace allow me to speak in a manner designed to provide me with what I need to know."

"There is no slight intended." She hastened to assure." I could not help but hear how you spoke of her 'attributes' and that is to be expected but as her Mother you are perhaps too inclined to favor."

"If she looks to you for guidance you needs must say that she has to answer as I have asked and in a Truthful manner. You are not to provide an answer to whatever I have asked."

This was always the sticking point. Too many mothers felt the need to ensure that daughters were pumped fuller than they actually were and thus they, eager to make a contract, felt inclined to be the voice rather than risk a daughter who sprouted nonsense.

"I have assumed that she has benefited from an education by her parents but also from male tutors as well as gentle-women of your household and perhaps a governess?"

"I must hear from Lady Margaret herself as to how she judges her own Skills and Accomplishments. If she believes herself capable enough to handle her husbands Household in all manner of ways in which I shall ask."

"I must see her nature and judge what needs to be changed or improved."

"It is also important that she understands that she has the right to speak but in the end the decision will not be hers to make but that of the Duke. She would naturally not be forced into a marriage."

"if plans go well then I see no reason why a contract can not be negotiated come Fall - there must be time to check each candidate once we have decided on the short-list - so six months ahead is easily reached."

"Will you be supportive Your Grace as I have outlined?"

Much was riding on the answer and so Cordelia hoped that the Duchess was able to understand and take her meaning.

"And after some time with your daughter let us two then put heads together and read thru the names that I have compiled and we can cross out those not suitable and select the ones you wish to pursue."

Edited by Cordelia Lucas

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Though her expression remained neutral and polite, Lady Newcastle was overjoyed that Lady Lucas wanted to meet Margaret. It was what she had hoped. She understood the other woman's intentions, and was pleased to let her interview her enigmatic middle daughter. The Duchess didn't worry that the girl would spout inane drivel, but that she would say exactly the right thing and nothing more. Margaret had taken saying exactly the right thing to an art form. Because of this, it was impossible to tell what she was really thinking. She had also turned keeping one's own council into an art form.

 

Perhaps she would divulge more to Lady Lucas than she did to her mother. All girls wanted to marry well, and she knew that Margaret was no exception, even if she had never come out and said it.  She had agreed that she should marry as high as possible. That was, after all, exactly the right thing to say.

 

“Of course,” Lady Newcastle said a bit too quickly when asked if she would be supportive. It might seem strange for a Duchess to defer to a Baronetess, but Lady Lucas was an expert at matchmaking and she needed all the help she could get with Margaret. Somewhere beneath that secret smile and perfectly proper demeanor were opinions and feelings. Perhaps Lady Lucas would be able to draw them out.

 

The Duchess had even gone so far as to search her room to find clues to her personality, but there had been nothing at all that hinted of her interests. She had been hopeful when she found her diary … until she read it. Every short entry was exactly what one would expect of a sixteen-year-old girl. It was as if Margaret had written it precisely because she wanted it to be discovered, which hinted at a cleverness that bordered on diabolical brilliance for a young lady of her tender age. Lasy Newcastle  prayed that she was mistaken, though being shrewd enough to do such a thing could serve her well in the future.

 

She instructed a nearby servant to send for her daughter and to have another place set at the table for tea. “I will even leave the room if you wish. Margaret may be more likely to open up to you if I am not present. However, I will remain if you think it is best.” Lady Newcastle looked with interest at the portfolio. “And yes, after you have spoken to her, we will go through the list.” She was very curious as to which names were on it. Some of them she might have already guessed, as she had been pondering husbands for Margaret for some time. Lady Lucas likely knew of more eligible lords than she did.

 

Margaret arrived at the same time as the third place setting. She was a pretty girl of average height with shiny chestnut curls and intelligent green eyes, garbed in a blue gown sprinkled with embroidered violets. Her cheeks were flushed becomingly and her lips were turned up in a polite smile. She looked like the perfect Duke's daughter, her mother thought with an inward sigh. Everything about Margaret was exactly as one would expect. Something wasn't right about that.

 

“Lady Lucas, I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Margaret,” she said.

 

The young girl inclined her head respectfully to the older woman. “I am pleased to meet you, my lady,” she replied in a sweet clear voice, which was, the Duchess thought, precisely the kind of voice one would think she should have.

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"I prefer it if you remain Your Grace. I want there to be a 'relaxed' presence. Far better to ascertain that way."

Shrewed eyes watched as the girl entered taking note of her attire and how she carried herself. A brow raised slightly as there was no curtsey that accompanied her greeting.

Was it intentional or was she nervous? Doubtful that her education had overlook such necessary formalities even if nerves were involved. Interesting indeed.

Her own reply came quickly said on a smile.

"You have indeed blossomed Lady Margaret since the last I saw you - of which you have no memory I am sure. You have an aire of delicateness about you. Tell me, are you stronger than you appear?"

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“Very well,” the Duchess conceded.

 

Was the fact that she didn't curtsy a clue to Margaret's personality? Could it be that she was arrogant and didn't believe that she should have to curtsy to a mere Baronetess nor give deference to a lady who was older and wiser than she? Or was she so amiable and down to earth that she thought a polite nod was sufficient when greeting relatives in her own home? It was difficult to tell from the gracious expression on her face. She didn't look nervous at all. Nor did she seem overconfident.

 

“Thank you, my lady.  And no, I'm afraid I have no recollection of that occasion, though I wish I did.” She reacted neither positively or negatively to Lady Lucas' comment about her delicateness, and before she could answer her question, the tea and refreshments arrived and everything was set upon the table. “May I pour, Mother?' she asked and Lady Newcastle nodded.

 

Margaret, still standing, lifted the pretty porcelain teapot and poured the amber liquid into all three glasses, not spilling a single drop. There was a distinct elegance about the way she performed the simple service and when she was done, she set the teapot down without it clinking upon its plate. Sugar and milk were provided so that each lady could enjoy her tea the way she preferred it.

 

“Physically, mentally, emotionally, or metaphorically?” she answered finally as she sat down. One expressive hand fluttered to the spoon in the sugar bowl and added a small amount to her cup.

 

The Duchess suppressed a sigh, hoping that Margaret didn't answer each of Lady Lucas' questions with another question of the evasive sort.

 

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Cordelia hid a smile and thought that this was going to get interesting.

She waited until Lady Margaret had poured the tea watching her movements thinking that she was indeed well-rehearsed.

She took a sip then answered back 

"Why all four naturally. Let us start with the one that YOU think is of the most import and I would know the reasons why."  

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