Beauty has been said to be in the eye of the Beholder, or is it the Beholden.
The tale of Baron Fallion Lancelot Stafford, a gentleman of perhaps too much leisure who has served in the wars of some few years before. He now has decided that all this leisure is perhaps a waste and he should be doing something. He was just very unsure what that was.
We also find Lady Beatrice Cavendish, the daughter of the Earl of Hoare who is famed for her beauty, yet cannot find any man who has more to speak to her beyond that one subject. And yet far too many think they should offer for her with only the ardent praise to her looks to recommend them. Perhaps there exists one suitor who could speak on a subject beyond that?
In the rush of the Season of 1821, where their most intimate friends have all come to the conclusion that they should marry, can Beatrice put aside her willful ways and hear sound thoughts that her mama has said on that particular subject? Beatrice was sure that her mother would be content if she accepted the Baron Tweedglen, or any of a dozen other men of good breeding, position, or wealth. Whether they had ought to speak on her attractiveness, and no other words would leave their mouths.
Certainly a marriage with such foundations was doomed to crumble once age advanced and liver spots or wrinkles appeared. Yet amongst the Ton, such marriages were often deemed successes. Would they be so for Beatrice, though? That was something she was destined to apply her own thoughts to.
For Baron Tweedglen, the haunting memory of the war caused him to avoid any reference to his time spent prosecuting that undertaking. Such deamons as consumed his psyche, were magnified as his desire was for a world that art flourished and certainly his experience had been the exact opposite of such an inclination. The Baron was desperately in need of something that could save him from his own self. Was there a remedy in marriage as the entire Ton seemed to believe?
Now available on Amazon for $15.99…
also available for your Kindle and Kindle Reading Apps for $3.99
for those who have iPads, Nooks, or other devices, the book is also available at:
To further entice you to make that purchase and provide yourself with hours of enjoyment, here is a partial sample of the first chapter:
Lord Fallion finished his breakfast. Then, following all he had already done that morning; waking and attending to his toilette, dressing, and eating, he stood and looked through the windows that framed the room. He noted that they were wet with rain once more. Three days since Winter was supposed to have Fallion. He was not annoyed. He had spent some considerable time living where it was wet without any roof to keep the water from his head some few years before. That his home, Ballateer, had a sound roof, he was quite pleased. He certainly did not look forward to the expense that a new roof for his country estate would entail.
Balladeer had sound everything. Fallion Lancelot Stafford couldn’t fault his father for the way the man had left things to him. But two years since his father died and he had become Baron of Tweedglen. Now his idleness was choking him. Idleness caused by indecision, if caused by anything at all.
The senior footman, Franks asked, “Coffee in the study, my lord?”
“Drawing room today. And I’ll read the papers there. Have James lay a fire if one isn’t all ready…” There was a look and Fallion knew the servant wished to speak, but wouldn’t interrupt him.
Franks said, “There is one doing quite nicely my lord.”
Of course there would be. Despite his attempts to train the staff to economise, because four of five days he went to his study after he had dined in the morning, it made sense to ready a fire in that room. But as the whim took Fall, as he thought of himself and wished his friends called him so, (though they delighted in naming him Falstaff due to his surname) he might wish to sit in the drawing room where large portraits of his parents faced his favourite settee.
He occasionally changed his routine. Such was the case that morning as it had been others, and he never failed to find the room ready for him, or the library should he go there.
Fallion had made it known to Bartman, his head butler, that laying a fire in all three rooms were a waste and he could call for a fire when he planned to use a room or went into one. Bartman had languidly agreed, and then did nothing to change the routine of the house. Fires were laid in all the rooms that the servants thought he would use. Thankfully they did not start one in every room of the house. Though Fallion was wealthy and perhaps his money did seem inexhaustible, he was sure it wasn’t. His men of accounts said each quarter that he did seem to accumulate more of the stuff.
Ensconced in the room that had been a favourite of his late mother’s, he sat and took a look at the papers. He did not truly care what was happening in the Empire, or who was seen and whom they were with. But Lords read the papers after breakfast. His father had read the papers aloud to his mother. She had lived for two weeks after his father had died, not weeping in public because the previous baron was gone, but behind the closed doors of her rooms, Fallion knew she was heartbroken and that she sobbed for hours. Surely it had affected her health and caused her to pass away shortly after his father.
That is what distracted him while he looked cursorily at the words of the newsprint, or glanced to the portrait of the late Baroness. If she were there with him now, he smiled at the thought, what would she say? Probably that his father had never idled his life so, though of course his father had, and that Fallion should marry. That is what his sisters would say also, for they had taken such pages from their mother’s book. Each married, and if he knew them as well as he thought he did, they would be arriving or sending their emissaries just prior to lunch.
It was a cycle and well planned out. Sunday he always had to himself unless he chose to ask for company. Otherwise each day of the week, one or the other of his brothers by marriage would come, sometimes both. Or one or the other of his sisters, or both. Or one couple together, or even all four. The past permutation of such visits had them bring their children all in a cluster and let them run rampant. He didn’t truly mind that, for the children were good and respectful of the house.
Saverdale, the man married to Fallion’s elder sister Jane, was in the House of Commons, having the borough of Fallion. Saverdale might want to discuss politics, but that was a bore. Fallion should not like that, but then he remembered that the Saverdale clan entire had set out to London for the Season had started and the House was back in session.
The Season, which meant that his sister Anne would be coming to visit with Lord Drakesmoor, the third son of the Duke of Lege who had been given a manor next to Ballateer on his majority. Drakesmoor had fallen in love with Anne and they married faster than one could read Chaucer once Drake had returned from the fighting in Belgium. He would see Anne and Drakesmoor daily until Fallion succumbed and ran up to London for the remainder of the Season, it was inevitable, or had been the way his family carried on the past two years.
He rang the bell and Bartman appeared, “The Season has started, I am reminded. You have sent people ahead to ready Tweedcourt?”
“Yes my lord, some few weeks ago.” Of course Bartman had, why even ask?
“Very well, after the sermon Sunday, I shall prepare myself to leave on Tuesday for London. It shall be the only way to restore the sanity I am sure to lose with the repetitive assaults Anne and Drakesmoor shall make on it,” Fallion said.
“My lord?” Bartman tried to project that he did not understand when Fallion might criticise one of his relations, but the old servant surely did. “Tuesday you wish to leave?” Bartman finished making the statement a question and nodding, signifying that he had already taken care of all that needed to be done.
Aside from packing Fallion into his carriage, probably all had been attended to. The servants were so good at what they did because they thought of what Fallion would do were they he. If they were he, they probably would have left the day Saverdale stated he must travel to London and attend Parliament. Not that Fallion did not take part of the other society of the neighbourhood, but somehow the Saverdales balanced the Drakesmoors, and so to did it work in reverse. With one family gone, the Baron of Tweedglen was very uncomfortable. Seeing one sister near everyday, and if not the sister, her husband who would say all that Anne would.
In Tweedcourt, in London, the girls, though each was fully a woman grown, and with their own children, felt obliged to send their cards and generally make arrangements to call. He not only was often not at home then, for he could tell Bartman such and they all would not really know if he avoided them up in his rooms, but he was truly out many days, at the clubs, about Town. In the Park. He was seen all over, which gave credence to assertions that he was not at home to receive his family.
Previously when they had not made arrangements to see him, the sisters had thought to call or sent their husbands and he was in his rooms just having the servants say he was out. At Ballateer they knew he was always at Ballateer and thus he was not surprised when Anne arrived some few minutes past noon, with her two children. That meant Cook had expectations of preparing a menu that would do the scamps well.
The servants of the three estates, all within a few miles of each other, had arranged some way to let each other know if special needs were to be taken care of. When Fallion’s nieces and nephews came to visit, food was simpler, and he was sure somewhat easier on all the kitchen staff to prepare.
“I do not know why mother liked this colour of mauve so. You will remember that she had the painter redress the walls three times so that she could get the walls to match this fabric on the settee. Then when she looked for a similar colour for the draperies, she could never find one close enough.” They had talked about this many times.
Fallion said, “And was about to have the settee and two chairs redone in new fabric and the room repainted again to match the draperies when father mentioned how he liked the contrast because they were a little off.” A very little off, though his mother had hung forty or fifty samples to find a texture and colour she thought was close to her favourite for the room.
“Yes, I thought mother would near explode then, but she calmed down and sipped her tea.” Anne reached for her own tea. The children had gone up to the nursery and were surely tormenting Mrs Baylor. His and his sisters’ old nurse who had never left the house, even after Anne was too old for a nurse. Now Mrs Baylor enjoyed all five of the family’s children in small doses when they visited. She would travel to Tweedcourt as well and visit the houses of the Saverdales and Drakesmoors in Town and apprise the nurses there employed of how she had raised the mothers of their charges. Or she would entertain the children should they visit their uncle at Tweedcourt.
Anne started again, “It was a good thing father always had something to occupy him with.”
Fallion knew that was not so, and Anne did as well. Again, the previous Baron had often been idle. It did little good he knew to point that out. Jane and Anne had chosen this tactic a few months after their parents had died.
Fallion said, “It is a great shame that I have so little I find engaging. Unlike Saverdale, I do not like politics, though I suspect he often does not like it either.” Saverdale sat in the back bench and harrumphed, he put it, for whatever his neighbours there told him to harrumph for.
Anne said, “There are other endeavours.”
“Ah, but I am no great farmer and look to my lands as does your Drakesmoor,” Fallion called his sister’s husband his full name when he wanted to be formal as Anne always did. At other times he would just call the man ‘Drake.’
“Posh, you have a much greater farm than Drakesmoor. Father was always about it looking in on things and seeing to improvements.”
“I have men, I am sure you know, that do so much better than I ever could. Father trained them well while I was off,” Fallion said. When he spoke of being off, he referred to the time he spent with the army, and fighting the Tyrant. He never would elaborate about that time, and even when he was alone, he kept his mind far from those memories. One should not have to think of what happened on a battlefield. A person should never know what one looked like. Some artists had thought to depict scenes from the war and he thought them all simpering fools. They beautified a horror. He could not respect such men.
His mind having wandered to art, which he did enjoy, “Perhaps I should learn to paint?” He meant to paint better, though he was not sure how much Anne knew of his attempts to become a competent artist. He dabbled at present, though he thought even as one who was a neophyte, he showed some skills.
“Certainly if you would excel at it and make something of yourself by it,” Anne said. He had joked, but she looked serious. It was past time that he decamped for London if she would look to any reason that he should find as motivation to attend to his days.
“I have planned to return to London. I am minded that the Season has begun, and of course I should not wish to miss any part of it,” Fallion said, though he knew it all a fabrication. His words were meant to have his sister leave well enough alone. He would go to London and if all society was in London it certainly was where she wished him to be. In fact, he was sure, that Anne and Jane would have spoken and planned it all out.
Jane had to leave for London for Saverdale had to attend in Parliament. Unless she was to increase and have a child just then of course. That left Anne alone to tend to Fallion. She too would rather be in Town and see friends and have gaiety, but until he left Ballateer, Anne could not leave her home. Someone had to be at hand to push Fallion in the direction they desired.
Once in London, though, they would work their efforts to something that had begun to be increasingly mentioned. His marriage.
Not that he had made mention of such an activity himself. But that never stopped a woman before, Fallion noted. A wedding, or the placing of a man and woman together so that a wedding could occur seemed to be the ultimate form of entertainment that the already married engaged in.
Why, they were either in such happiness that they felt all should have the same pleasure, or those couples, and the wives especially, were in such misery that they secretly wished even their most cherished friends to share that agony. Not that it was a mystery to Fallion beyond that observation.
Once in London, it would be inevitable, particularly as he was now the Baron and quite wealthy, that he should find a wife and beget heirs. The men of his acquaintance who managed to avoid this fate were such that he could count them, well he had more fingers left on the hand when he had finished their numbering.
“That is excellent news. Why I am sure that Drakesmoor shall rejoice to hear it,” Anne said regarding the trip to Town.
Fallion nodded, “Yes, I believe Drake shall think well of the idea.”
It meant that Anne could follow some days later and Drake could enjoy the company he found at his clubs. It was really quite selfish of Fallion to have left returning to London for so long. More than a whole week that they could have been in Town.
Fallion felt he had to get his sisters to stop gathering about him so closely. If they allowed him to live without their attentions, they would surely find more freedom of their time, and he certainly would too.
Anne said, “I had no idea you had planned to return to Town so soon. Why you must have a great many details to see to.”
Fallion shook his head, “No, it is well in hand. Are not your own people able to transport your household without you lifting a finger?”
Anne trilled a laugh, “No of course they aren’t. If I do not tell them exactly what needs to be done and in what order, why I am afraid that the children will be forgotten as we ride away.” Fallion believed her. She, and Jane as well, most likely had a great deal to say to their servants when moving to London, or when the return back to the country.
Fallion found that a few observations, after the instruction was given, perhaps an inspection every so often, and all was seen to. He trusted his people and they appreciated that trust. It was in the training, just as when in the army. Each man in his battalion knew how to march, how to load his weapon, how to setup his tent, if there was a tent, and when a new soldier arrived to join them, the older ones and sergeants trained the new ones. Fallion interpreted the orders from the General and the Colonel and saw to it that the Battalion was in the right place at the right time.
Just as now, though he was his own General, he had determined it was the right time to go to London. All his people knew what to do.
“I am sure under your capable direction, your own house will be transported to London expeditiously and with great care,” Fallion said to Anne .
“I must write Jane this night and tell her that you are coming,” Anne added.
Fallion expected that. His two sisters always had to know where he was. Last year he went to a meet, and though unexpected, Drakesmoor’s eldest brother, the Viscount of Northbrook, arrived. Drake had mentioned that there were to be some suitable young ladies who surely could be thought of as wife material at the meet. Northbrook was very conscious that he was to marry, and kept looking for a wife. Fallion knew that one time Northbrook had stirred himself to appear enraptured of one lady. That had come to naught because the Duchess did not approve of her son’s choice.
At the Meet there were not but two ladies who one might marry, but when either looked at Northbrook, all they saw was that he would be the Duke of Lege. Northbrook was a good man, but he had a few nervous habits which seemed to worsen as the years passed.
Fallion also thought Northbrook enjoyed the company of men more than he did women. Certainly because his foiled attempts towards love. It showed. The title would pass to Northbrook, but there might never be an heir of him, even were the man to marry. Northbrook though had been sent to the meet, despite being told of available brides, to spy upon Fallion. Not that Northbrook would know he was spying, but once returned to London society, his brother and Anne had questioned him about all that had happened of the weekend meet. Northbrook had mentioned this over drinks at Boodle’s one evening with Fallion.
Never a moment without the sisters knowing what Fallion was about.
Fallion said to Anne, “Yes, do include in your letter that when I come to Town, I hope they will allow me a day to settle and then join me at Tweedcourt to dine. Yes, that would be very good of you.” Anne had started to nod as he spoke.
“Quite right, but with you gone from the area, why it will be a dead bore. As soon as Drakesmoor can take himself from the farm, and as it is Spring now, that should not be so difficult, we must follow you all to Town. Why, how can I be parted from my sister and brother for so long,” Anne never did go to the theatre to see a stage play, but Fallion did. He always thought that at moments such as this, she was a natural actress.
“How indeed? Yes, you and Drake also must make your plans for Town. Why I cannot think how it shall be if you miss too much of the Season as well. And of course, should I meet someone this year, you must be at hand to get to know her as well.”
“Fall, do you mean that you shall look for a wife?” Anne was clearly excited by the idea.
“I am not saying that I have direct plans in that way, but it does seem that last year I met quite a number of young ladies and should meet as many, if not more, this year. If one seems more interesting than all the others, I of course must ask for my sisters thoughts on such a girl,” Fallion said knowing that would become part of the letter to Jane and give them both something to natter on about. Surely the best way to put them off the scent would be to lay a false trail.