Courtship With aReclusive Viscount
Five Years Later
“Have we arrived yet?”
The carriage rocked steadily along the road, as it had been doing for the last few hours. Vincent sighed but patted his son’s shoulder indulgently.
“Not yet, Andrew. We’re still moving. When we stop moving, we will have arrived,” he explained. A disgruntled look crossed Andrew’s small face. He had asked the same question at regular intervals for the last several miles. The answer had still not changed. Thankfully, his frustration had not been accompanied by tantrums, only mild consternation.
“When will we stop moving?” he asked. Vincent looked at his wife for support. She gave him a look of commiseration, all while trying to keep herself from laughing. While their older son peppered his father with questions about the journey, about the carriage, about their destination, and about anything else that happened to mushroom in his mind, his younger sister contentedly napped. Laying comfortably in her mother’s arms, she had not woken since they had boarded their carriage.
“When the carriage stops, Andrew. We will have arrived when the carriage stops.” The answer was satisfactory to the boy, until he realized that judging from the carriage rides he had taken in the past, the journeys seemed to run on for quite a long time. He brought up the objection with his father. Lily was unable to hold back her laugh that time, sniggering quietly so as not to wake their daughter, or to further confuse their son. The boy was intelligent and observant. Nothing passed his notice without him bringing it up.
Lily had observed it was a trait inherited from his father, even though Vincent did not agree. His mother was a governess after all, or she had been. Someone of very great academic achievement, who had gone on to educate others. Of course, the boy was bursting with questions about the events and the world around him. He was five, so everything around him was fascinating.
Their daughter, on the other hand, had been with them for a shorter time. While they had not needed to wait for a long time before Andrew had been born, their daughter Vivian had taken years before her arrival after Andrew had been born. It seemed that at the very moment they had decided they were no longer hoping for another child, the child in question made her appearance. Vincent had resigned himself to being happy with whatever outcome proceeded. Whether it was one child, or more, he was resolved to be a happy man. Years prior, he had not seen himself with any of the above. Now, he thought it quite impossible that he could have been in his previous state, living a life without Lily or their children in it.
Lily had been more desperate to have another child. The birth of her first child had come soon after their marriage. She had wrongly believed that the second pregnancy would proceed as quickly, but it had not. While Vincent seemed content with their single child, she remained hopeful that she would become pregnant again. A life married to Vincent had not been possible for her in the past, much less a life as a mother. Having accessed it, she would not content herself with simply one child. All of the passion and drive she had had for educating children she wanted to transfer into nurturing and rearing some of her own.
She was happy now with two children, one boy and one girl. However, she would not say more were out of the question. If another was to make an appearance, she would welcome them gladly. They posed some difficulty while traveling, but this particular trip to London was of special importance, and the entire family needed to be in attendance. Her former student Agnes was getting married.
She remembered having Agnes as a student six years prior very fondly. She had been her oldest student at Greenewood Manor, and though it had been a Herculean task to keep her concentrated on her studies, it seemed the girl had managed to achieve enough success at her academics that she had made an advantageous match. She leaned across the seats towards her husband.
“Remind me of the gentleman’s name? Agnes’s betrothed?” she said.
“Benjamin Routledge, Earl of Clapshire,” he said. “Had you forgotten?”
“Of course not.” Vincent smiled at Lily. She had.
“Is it not me whose memory should be suffering with advancing age?” he asked. His age had not yet reached forty, but Lily’s had not yet reached thirty. She sniffed, ignoring his teasing.
“Perhaps my intellect has stalled after leaving the teaching profession,” she said. Vincent laughed.
“No such thing is possible.” He thought Lily the most intelligent woman he had ever met. He thought highly of her in every regard that existed. He still believed there was no woman alive whose beauty or intelligence surpassed hers, nor did he imagine that he might have been happier in any variation of life that did not include her.
“It will happen one day. I might forget everything, even you,” she said.
“If you did, I would work every single day to ensure that you remembered. I would make it my mission to recover your memory . . . and devise new ones.” Lily laughed.
“I believe if another man was presented with the same challenge, he might use the chance to abandon his wife and marry another,” she said. Vincent shook his head vehemently.
“While it hurts me that, one day, all memory of me might leave your mind, you will not be rid of me quite so easily,” he said.
Both Vincent and Lily were surprised by what a romantic and considerate husband he had turned out to be. Perhaps luckier than other couples, they had both known they were extremely well matched at the start. They had only moved forward with their union knowing it was based on a foundation of respect and love, friendship and consideration. Vincent would not have settled for anything less. And Lily, though at the time inexperienced in love, knew that she would only have surrendered herself to the most caring of partners.
Six years on, both were extremely satisfied with their selection.
Finally, much to their young son’s delight, they arrived at the church where Agnes’s wedding was taking place. Entering the throng of people taking their seats in the chapel, Lily was faced with the number of years that had gone by.
The passage of years was seen the most clearly through children and the elderly. She would always regard Agnes as her young student, but now she had entered a new phase of life entirely. Gone was the childishness in her countenance, the excess plumpness on her face, and the frivolity of girlhood. In their place was the elegant grace of a woman who was about to become a wife.
Taking their seats inside the chapel, surrounded by many people they did not know and many they did, they watched the couple exchange vows.
Lily found herself holding back tears, extremely touched by the proceedings. She was able to carefully dab her handkerchief against her eyes without alarming the children, who had been taken into the custody of a nurse.
“My dear, you did not cry nearly as much at our own wedding,” Vincent said to her. She struggled to conceal her laughter. The man was dedicated to his work, which could have led one to think he was overly serious. During their time together, she had learned that was not the case at all. He was possessed of very a quick-wit, one of the things which, after six years, she had not yet tired of.
“Should I apologize that the wedding of another stirred me more emotionally than our own?” she asked. Vincent took her hand in his and squeezed it.
“It is no occasion for tears, my dear, only joy,” he said. He was never one to be overly sentimental, but perhaps the years as a husband and father had changed that aspect of his personality. Now, he found himself savoring and treasuring even the most mundane of things. A particularly silly pronouncement from his son, or his young daughter bursting into peals of laughter. They all stirred him deeply. They all made him profoundly happy about the road down which he was now walking, with his wife and children.
Watching the young couple recite their vows, he imagined that if the young Earl of Clapshire was as lucky as him, and if Agnes was as much a woman as his wife, they would find themselves blissfully happy in their union. He imagined that the short time under Lily’s tutelage had worked to help the girl secure her match.
After the ceremony, the guests made their way to his sister Isabella’s London home. Having lived almost permanently in London for a number of years, as the children one by one came of age, Isabella and Arthur had started spending more time in London and less in the countryside.
Agnes was now married, Matthew at university, and Mary had just seen the close of her first Season. In the end, the girls had made their debuts separately despite having wanted to debut at the same time in the past. It had turned out to be an easy decision, as Agnes, on top of being the older of the two, had also been more accomplished than Mary. Mary had taken another year of education before her own opportunity to debut. The decision had rankled at first, but then, Mary had come to appreciate the enormous benefit of having a cousin who could intimately lead her through her own coming out when it was time.
At Isabella’s home, the celebration began. The wedding breakfast was shared over gay laughter and sumptuous meal. They carried on their merry-making in the drawing room while dancing. Having obtained whispers from various guests at the party, Lily had discovered that the two were going to honeymoon in France. She found the notion quite exciting and decided to take it up with her husband, the fact they had not visited France together. Their honeymoon had been in the Lake District, and after that, they had visited with family. As they joined the rest of the party in the drawing room, a waltz issued from the piano forte.
Lily clapped her hands as the newlywed couple opened the floor with the waltz. Most of the lessons had bored Agnes to tears. She was certainly not one for geography, neither had arithmetic or literature tickled her fancy. She had, however, spent her days and nights anticipating the dances she would be able to dance at the balls she would attend. The young woman had a beatific smile on her face as she waltzed with her husband. Vincent leaned down towards Lily.
“There is a special waltz in our memory as well,” he said. Lily leaned closer to him to hear him over the music and the adoration of the gathered crowd.
“Is there?” she asked.
“Do you remember at Greenewood when Agnes asked us to demonstrate the waltz?” he asked. Her time at Greenewood was already on her mind, but the particular memory he was referring to brought her to laughter as she recalled it.
Given to fancy, she let herself wonder if at that moment, Agnes had in a small way divined Vincent and herself coming together in marriage. She was not so superstitious as to believe such a thing, but the wedding and the happy memories had made her particularly maudlin.
Her time at Greenewood had been cut short, and her time there had ended unfortunately, but Greenewood Manor was the place where she had met Vincent. The place where unbeknownst to her, her life was changing before her very eyes. It was her final job as a governess, Agnes, Mary and Matthew being her last students.
She imagined it might have been the happiest time of her life, but only after today. Today was the happiest she had ever been.
This is the end of my novel “Courtship with a Reclusive Viscount”. I hope that you enjoy it! Your effort to read it means a lot to me and I have to thank you for your love and support these difficult days!
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