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The Plot Thickens | Lady Kendishall Hse. midday 7th

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This negotiating of a bet was getting serious.  "Ah, I know our friend well enough to know she is always popular at the parties, she dances with a half dozen admirers at every ball I would agree!"  He and Caroline could not bet against each other on that note! 

"How about this then... a contrivance, but still a test to their relationship.  Would you bet that she would not become jealous if another lady dominated her husbands company at said ball? For I would claim that if you lingered about him, our friend would appear, in a kind way of course, but yes to assert her wifely proprietorship - and thus prove her smitten heart is entirely his." 

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"A mere half dozen?" Caroline laughed at the thought of it, "Only if there were six male guests at the affair."

He now tossed an idea her way, it was clever alright but there was a serious flaw to it.

"Me? Feign to be taken with a Spaniard? I am a cello player not an actress. I could not force myself to do that little performance. Besides, Sophia knows how much I detest the Spanish so she would be very suspicious something was going on. You would need to find yourself another woman to play the part," she declared with a shrug of narrow shoulders.



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George laughed at that, a throaty laugh, one that reflected this crossing of a landmark in their friendship. "Too true!"

But as his laughter died down, Caroline was quick to point out the flaw in his plan.  "Ah, and I had wondered if a little time with him you, your opinion that is, might be reshaped." he admitted, this time his laugh was a tad apologetic. "But who else could we enlist? I for one don’t have a large resource of ladies who would be up for this prankish test. Would you know anyone? Better yet, someone who honesty does fancy my Spanish friend."

So saying, George realised he'd seen very few women, if any, dallying around Esteban. Curious. For the ambassador was not without good looks and a certain, very reserved, charm. 


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That got a laugh out of him, Caroline thought with approval. She did not much care for always serious or even somber men. He was at least proving to be good company now that they had settled their earlier issues between them. Or - if not settled - at least agreed to disagree. Amiably.

"My opinion of him will never change. In fact I doubt I would ever warm to the fellow even if he was not Spanish," she assured the man, "But in all honesty, I know of no woman interested in the man. Not that I have paid it any mind til just now."

"No large resource of ladies in your life, George? Why ever not? You are a perfectly fine looking specimen of your gender, you have money, and are well spoken, charming even. I cannot imagine why women do not gather about you like flies to honey?" she gave him a look.

"Or have I pegged you wrong? Am I missing something?"   Perhaps, just perhaps his interest was not in women but......  Oh pity.


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"Well in that case I am stumped to how to gamble on them, bother, I was nearly curious to what sort of dare you might conjure for me?" George voiced with ease, having learnt that Caroline was not the type to judge harshly for any perceivable shortfall on his part.  "For you..." he paused to muse, "It would have to be a Spanish dare I think." and he laughed at that prospective tease, "I should fancy seeing a lady who hates the Spanish so much, sweep up her skirts and dance in their style!"

Yes that would have been a great chuckle for anyone in the know (which must surely include Sophia, he did not imagine Caroline would have kept her hatred a secret from her good friend.) 

Sighing at her comment on his dirth of lady friends, "You are not even the first to tell me that today. I have no idea what it is, for I have been hunting for a wife with utter diligence for a year, or possibly even two years now."  He was not about to let on his secret, his affair with Greyson that had done a rather good job of distracting him from the wife hunt.

"I was engaged once, but she died before we could be wed. To be honest I have only recently come to terms with my grief for that loss, it ate me up in a self destructive way."  he mused, continuing to sip on his drink, "Perhaps you have pegged me wrong?  I am no expert with the mechanics of ladies minds so can hardly tell --- er, by that do you mean to say you might be ... ah, interested?  If so, then I would rejoice, though I feel like I might want to restart our conversation fresh, as a petitioner for your hand!" 

The earnest eyed Earl made intent eye contact.   


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"Oh, never mind the wager, we shall never agree on something fitting it seems and I grow tired trying to wrack my brain to come up with another idea," she waved her hand is dismissal, "If you really want to bet with me then let us forget the ambassador and Sophia and simply come up with a completely different wager and consequences. I am always ready for some fun, some excitement."

"I would not be caught dead dancing one of their foot stomping meanderings," Caroline huffed, "One would think their floors were all infested with ants."

Apparently someone else had held at least a portion of this discussion with the man? And then he admitted openly he was in the act of searching for a wife. Interesting. His story took a sad turn though as he mentioned the death of a woman he was once engaged to.

"Oh, I am sorry, George," she meant it sincerely.

"My mother's sudden passing affected me badly like that too, we were close and I became disconsolate. Now as for my deceased husband, I got over that most quickly. We were....not a good match," Caroline left it at that.

And then the whole thing took a sudden turn almost before Caroline even realized. Wait, was George thinking she was seeking him for a husband? Yes, it certainly appeared he was. And he seemed pleased by that too, even eager. Either that or ....

"Wait, are you serious? Or are you simply teasing me?" she had sudden questions, "What is it that you see in me that would be wife material?"


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"Very well.” The liberal Earl was happy to agree, “we’ve flogged this one to death, it’s time we move on.”

While they knew each other agreeable to the concept at least, so no doubt a new opportunity for a bet and dare would come up. Meanwhile he laughed again when she conjured a vision of Spaniards stamping on ants. “My, you have some imagination!” which was a highest compliment from the artist.

Levity was left behind though, as they digressed to talk of the ladies.  “You understand, thank you.” It actually meant a great deal to George, very few empathised with his loss of Wilhelmina.  “She was a sweet girl, under-rated I thought, a girl with so much potential. Most people judged her poorly upon account of her unruly red hair.”

But he was not about to let himself get sad again thinking of what might have been.  “It’s hard to live with loss isn’t it.” He wondered what Caroline’s mother had been like, “I dare say your Mother was a strong woman too. A woman with character.”  

Caroline did not miss her late husband though, which was a odd comment to make just after shed told George how attractive to the ladies he was (aka herself!)

And so he asked… probably too bluntly, if she might be agreeable to a courtship?

“I would never jest upon such a thing.” he replied gravely, “as to what makes you desirable, it is as plain as the nose on your face that you are a woman of self confidence, who can see to the heart of a conversation, without taking any nonsense.  Such qualities are very rare.  And, I cannot omit that physically you are very attractive, with such pretty eyes, and of dainty almost delicate frame. Why I should think I could easily lift you right off your feet, if there was ever a need… like perhaps it you needed to be got down off a horse or some such. Though I would guess you would not need any help with that!”

“But most of all Lady Kendishall, Caroline, I would be a fortunate man if I could court a woman whom I am able to converse as freely with as you and I.”

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"Yes, I understand. Death is a tragedy," Caroline nodded. Well...most of the time, some people deserved it - like her deceased husband.

"That is disgusting to rely on one's hair to judge a person," she frowned.

He commiserated with her then about her mother's passing, saying the usual nicieties. It was appreciated though, he was being kind.

"Well, I would definitely say my mother was ..... a character," she smiled at so many fond memories flooding her at that moment.

And that is when he brought up a completely stunning topic. Courting. Courting her? He was actually interested in her? At first she thought he might be teasing or making fun of her. But his answer was either a marvelous job of acting or he meant it, every word of it. My goodness, he was so ardent now.

"Well, I had no idea you thought so well of me. Thank you for your gracious assessments. I admit you have caught me off guard and few men ever do that to me," she responded equally solemnly.

"George, tell me one thing first. You are not saying this because you need money and are looking for a dowry? I do not mean to insult you but you see I was already caught in a sham of a marriage that was nothing but a tragedy even before my husband's death. I will not ever enter into another one under false pretenses," it was a blunt question, yes.  But, in truth, she was still scarred by her first unfortunate union.

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Leaving the topic of their respective grief behind, George did indeed become earnest when he realised that Caroline might be a prospective match - and the young lady too became thoughtful and serious. 

"I apologise for any surprise, though I would say I was equally so when you considered me , ah, 'charming' to the opposite sex."  he flushed to repeat, but utter honesty was called for.

"No I am not seeking a dowry, my estates are very profitable and I have no shortfall of funds when it comes to that.  To be perfectly frank, what I am truly seeking in a wife is a woman who might do justice to the memory of my Mother, the late Lady Chichester."

"When you say sham, do you mean you desire a love match?" he further asked, which was another thing again and something he was far less certain of himself about.  George had wondered over the years, after having been so upset at Mina's murder, if perhaps hed' actually loved Mina without having realised it at the time. George was, by and large, rather confused of his sexuality, there was no easy answers other than that he did not feel to conform to society’s norms.

"I would state that I have absolutely no desire to wound a gentlwoman's, like yourself, feelings." George said, giving a soft smile at the young lady who's life had gotten off to a poor start with a dreadful marriage. "For I am very aware myself of the hearts fagility." 

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"Well, I can only go by my eyes but you certainly look the part. And you are a fine conversationalist. Why we even disagreed on certain topics without sliding into rancor," Caroline declared, "And I can be very very blunt. Many would say not one of my better traits, I got it from my mother."

The man was not interested in a dowry so money indeed was not a part of this sudden negotiation, if one could call it that. In all honesty, Caroline had never been involved in something like this before. Her father had arranged her first marriage without any input from her. And that had been a disaster to put it mildly. Now she was in control of her future.

"A woman to do justice to your mother's memory? Not sure I follow. You want a mother figure?" she chuckled, "That is not me. I have no experience with children. I did not even have any siblings."

She did not bring up the urchins she was currently involved with, the whole affair was rather complicated and even risky since she had agreed to champion their cause. On moments like these, she questioned herself if she was wise to do so. The consequences might well outweigh any positives. But she had been drawn to the poor things and no one else seemed to care about their plight. For now, it was her secret though.

He then had a question for her. Did she want a lovematch? Well, he could be rather bold too. Not that it was not a perfectly fair topic for this discussion.  Marriages were a lot of things and romance seldom ranked high. No one knew that better than Caroline. She was also a realist, a jaded one.

"Well, if you mean do I love you, George? Certainly not at this current time. We barely know each other. But if it happens, that would only be a plus would it not? I will say this much - what I do want out of any second marriage I enter into is for it to last and for my husband to treat me with dignity, fairness, and allow me a voice in things regarding the marriage, the household, that sort of thing."

"If that all sounds too .... bold for you....then mayhaps we better table this topic as we did the earlier wager," she was willing to give him an out right then and there.



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  • 2 weeks later...

"Which surely begs the question; what were the worst!” George chuckled good naturely, though not expecting the gentlewoman to actually inform him of her inherited faults.  He was teasing really, having established a comfortable rapport with Caroline.

To the rest of it they made many revelations, “No not a mother figure, but a matriarch surely.  Forgive the directness of my words, but I desire heirs, thus seek a wife whom looks favourably upon mother hood.  Is not your own wish also?” 

Discussing things like this, in an almost business like manner might be odd but it seems also a great thing. Gathering in all the facts before risking hearts and feelings. 

Yet hearts did ultimately come into the reckoning, even a marriage of convenience had many impacts personally, and neither he or she desired a relationship that was devoid of sensitivity.

Caroline explained her own thoughts, and he was moved by the delicate heart she thus revealed.  Which reminded him of another situation, when he had felt compelled to reveal he was in love with another… that seemed so long ago now. Did he love Sam still? It was different now, time had eased the intensity of his loss, and he’d reconciled.  But could he and Caroline ever share a passion like that? It was hard to guess. 

“I do not expect anything immediate, it is as you say, and we are barely yet known to each other.” He replied in a soft tone, “But I can say that I am prepared to give the things that you desire: dignity and fairness being the minimum, as for the running of the household it would be a relief to me to hand over such reins.”

He was thinking as he spoke, and developing thoughts.  “Caroline, we are somewhat rushed ahead of ourselves I think, though I must admit it wholly agreeable to my mind.  I wonder then, if we might see each other and allow some time and with it an understanding of the other, to develop. With that we might naturally come to a mutually pleasing result either this way or that.  At the very least we shall continue as friends.”

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"Well, I assure you as you get to know me better, you will discover for yourself my worst traits. But in fairness, do we all not have those?" she sagely pointed out.

Now she understood what he meant by mother figure, he wanted children. Though he did not specify she was quite certain he meant a male child for an heir. Though nature was not always so cooperative. Still, that was a fair even logical expectation.

"To be honest, I have always wondered if I would make for a good mother?  My own mother was most unconventional but I think she did an excellent job with raising me and we were truly close. If I could be that sort of mother to any children I have, I would be content," she answered him, "All I can promise is I would try to be a proper mother."

And then he responded to her desires in any such possible union, he had no issue with acceding to what she wished. Fair treatment and a voice in things. He even seemed to welcome turning over running the household to her. All exactly the sort of answers she had hoped for. Assuming he was telling the truth. She was not naive, people lie to each all the time to get what they want.  But there was no way to prove his sincerity but then to test it in action and indeed, finally in results. In everything he seemed sincere and reasonable. It was night and day the difference between him and her dead husband.

She had a good life now, she was happy. Should she take the chance on this? Maybe even have a better life? It was a gamble, a risk. But then she had never been shy about much of anything. Caroline nodded slowly and smiled up at him.

"Yes, George. All of this is agreeable to me. You may court me. And if we find we can be a match, I would be also agreeable then to marriage. I am always up for an adventure afterall. You ....intrigue me. I will look forward to see where this journey takes us."

She then poured both their glasses full once more and held hers up to him, "To the future, our future and whatever it brings!"



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George was grinning, it was quite a goofy expression upon his face, but he could not resist it.  "Well I would play a role also in the upbringing, it is a role I've discovered most enjoyable - I’ve taken in my sisters son after her death, and he is a cherub of a boy. And the Nanny does the trickier stuff" he assured Caroline warmly.  Her favourable perspective on that front had been the sealing deal 

Her words was music to his ears, he was almost dazed as accepting the glass he raised it in a toast. “To our future.” Was this even happening? It was frankly remarkable. Not for one minute had he imagined an outcome like this possible today!

Call George premature - but he was ecstatic, and an energy coursed his veins from it.  Setting glass down, he launching to his feet and loosed a "Whoop!" and lapsing into laughter he spun round offering his hand to draw the little lady up to her feet. "Lady Kendishall, Caroline, you have no idea how you have brightened the world for me with your permission for a courtship!"  here he bent to knee and would boldly kiss aforementioned hand. 

Which might seem a bit excessive to the little lady, but Caroline hardly knew how many times he'd proposed and or set his sights on unattainable matches.  Here now, at last not only did the lady agree, but there was no venomous brother or father to refuse his interest!   

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"Ah so we would also have a doting father for our brood, excellent," Caroline smiled, "Although I am not certain I would wish for too many children. Two or three perhaps? Of course those decisions are more divine than human I suppose."

They toasted to the hatching of this sudden new turn in both their lives. She could see George was positively overjoyed about it. Probably a good thing, looking back on her first marriage she could only imagine how her now dead husband had taken the news he was to have a bride he did not even know. She guessed it had been disgust not joy that received that news. But then George was a far cry from that ... creature.

He had her stand up and when she did so, down on one knee he went much to her amusement and he kissed her hand.

"I am glad to have been able to brighten your world then. I find myself quite excited too. Who would have thought the day would turn out so, certainly not me," she answered.

"Now, please stand though. Remember what we had agreed on, we are to be partners in this marriage....now, I know in public we can hardly be that bold so I will gladly play a more supportive even subservient role as befitting a wife toward her husband. But - in private - we are to be equals. If we can do that, I pledge to you here and now that I will be the most loyal wife you can ever imagine."

When he got to his feet again, Caroline stepped forward into his personal space and planted a full on the lips kiss. By now she had kissed quite a few men and she knew how to do it quite properly (though some might say improperly but they would be prudes).


Edited by Caroline Despanay
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“Our brood, what a pleasant term.” George returned, though it seemed almost impossible still, he was amazed, even more so as the young woman of his attention spoke on about it so practically. “My own mother had just two children, which was sufficient, though I must admit I always wanted a brother while growing up.”  he smiled with this sharing of a detail. 

It seemed a very good start, this conversation, this discovery of mutually agreeable needs.

And yes he was elated, and dared to demonstrate just that (within the privacy of her home). A crow, and then pledge like stance; culminating in the kissing of her hand. And she, agreeable to the motion, he felt himself to be augmenting the future memory of this day by his daring.  Or at least his hoped future memory. He knew better than to go counting any eggs.

But what happened next was another surprise – promoted back to his feet, his heart was warmed by her appreciation of the observance of protocols they need hold in public, while also confirming that this would be a partnership (that she clarified that made it plain that her earlier question had been very deliberate and important).  “Shall not life become easier, in working together as a team?” Said he, the words ‘loyal wife’ ringing happily in his ears.   How had he gotten so lucky?!

George was about to get luckier still, for Caroline moved to kiss him (a motion that required his complicity upon account of her being so much shorter) – another un-anticipated moment. He bent, for it was just happening, though reserve had him think this was to be one of those cheek kisses, but the lady had other ideas.  And Caroline’s kiss was just as determined as her personality! 

So that as they broke apart, his head was spinning, and he was under no illusions to the level of passion she contained. (Good Grief, I might have more than I bargained for!)

Flushing pink the Earl stumbled with his words, “Forgive me I am out of practise, your sweet lips caught me by some surprise.” Lips that his eyes remained focused on right now.  Davina, Francis, Catriona, even Wilhelmina, all those ladies he’d proposed to… none of them he’d ever kissed (well he’d kissed Mina’s cheek once). Yet the action was not unpleasant, rather, just a little confusing against his expectations of himself.  With a smile he continued in a softly teasing tone, “I wonder if we shall need send for a Chaperone - ” he’d not moved out of this close contact zone, at some point he’d come to hold her hands, "- Caroline."  her name seemed different now, now that she might possibly walk with him into the mistery of the future. 

Edited by George Hardwick III
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He offered then that their lives should become easier if they worked together as a team. Seemed logical enough to her. Although her first marriage had little logic to it at all only misery. Least it turned out well once that man was dead.

"I certainly think it will," Caroline nodded.

One thing they could certainly do as a twosome was kiss so she seized the opportunity to plant an enthusiastic kiss right full on his lips. She was seldom someone for half-measures. He was surprised but pleasantly so - thankfully.

"We shall have plenty of time to practice and you will find me a perfectionist in that as well as my cello playing. I will insist on regular practice of our kissing," she grinned.

"We need no chaperone. I prefer all our practice be done without an audience," she added in her usual cheeky style.

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"Oh, er that is not what I meant!" George spluttered. No he was not an exhibitionist, but was quite private, even a little stuffy, and outwardly proper individual. "But rather that I would afford you the courtesy of an upstanding courtship, which might serve as a strong foundation for a marriage we might both take great pride in." 

Though it sounded like the young lady did like kissing and would want to do plenty of that.  This thought conflicted with what the Earl imagined of courtship, and his brow furrowed as he thought it though. He would not loose lady only moments after gaining her.  "But I suppose kissing is all very fine?"  Eyebrows raising again, he sought her assent/acceptance or even pleasure at this. 

This was bold new territory that George was walking into, and it might seem that Caroline was intent to open his eyes.  A lop sided smile formed on his face, "This. You, are quite remarkable, Caroline." 

(OOC: agreed to wrap our thread about now)

With farewells made, it was a bemused and even dizzy George who walked out to his carriage, he was grinning, a grin what would not stop --  he was thinking of the pretty little lady and all that she'd said, and... his hand touched at his lips, and to the memory of her own pressing there. Shaking his head he gave a suprised laugh.   "Lets take the route back though the Park!" he called to his driver as he climbed back in. 

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Caroline accompanied him to the front door of her residence then they parted company - for now.  As she watched his coach leave, she smiled to herself. She had a lot to think on, what had just happened was a life changing event. A part of her wondered at just what had she gotten herself into, was this a terrible mistake? But another part of her looked forward to the experience, it was going to be quite the adventure. From her early teens Caroline had always wanted her life to be anything but boring. That abiding desire had governed her life, her choices ever since. Well, however this might turn out in the long term, it would certainly not be dull.


ooc: That's a wrap!

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