Section I, Next Section
Posted on Wednesday, 17 March 1999
They say that when a young Lady is in possession of an amazing fortune and the estates that go with them and the added responsibility of the title of Baroness, in consequence of heirs general, said Lady is in want of a husband. Yet when said Lady was christened Katherine in a world of Catherines and was born with hair of a rich shade of auburn, if it was a loving family member, but if it was someone not so generous it was plain red, and eyes the color of a deep emerald green and if said young Lady, growing up, had what could best be described as hoydenish tendencies and kept said tendencies even after she became of age, those nearest and dearest to said Lady believe that it was up to them to find just the right husband for her. Not giving one thought to the fact that said Lady had a good brain in her head and was in her mind, when she had discovered her dearest families plans for her, just as capable of finding a husband on her own. Which was just what Katherine Deborah Campbell, Lady Lochmaben had written in a letter to her godmother Lady Paxton, just two days before she was about to depart Edinburgh for London.
By the same token, if a young man is heir to an ancient title, fortune, estates, has finished his education, has returned from his Grand Tour, and has taken rooms in Town at the Albany, surely he is looking for a possible future Countess, as this particular young man is the heir of The Earl of Matlock. If said young man has some female relatives who think him incapable of finding a bride on his own, said female relatives are going to do their worst so to speak, to find his bride for him. Of course, when said female relatives have differing opinions on what would make a proper bride and have many "ladylike arguments" about what was proper bride material, said young man is bound and determined to find his bride in his own way. Or so wrote The Viscount Marsden to Lady Paxton, who was his godmother, but not one of his female relatives determined to find his bride for him.
.......I thank God that I am not my Cousin Darcy, godmother, for I hate to see our Aunt Catherine pushing our Cousin Anne at him all the time. She truly believes that there is attachment there. I look forward to seeing you in my Dear Mama's drawing room soon. As always I remain.
Your Humble &c,
Two days later Marcus David George Jonathan, Viscount Marsden arrived in Berkeley Square to pay a call on his Mama. He had a matter of great import to discuss with her. When he was ushered into the drawing room of Matlock House, he crossed the room, bowed over his mother's hand and kissed her proffered cheek. "Mama, I am not happy with you. I just received this with my copy of "The Times"," said Lord Marsden, as he placed an invitation card on the low table in front of her.
"Why should I not hold ball? I have both my sons back with me, yes James has returned on leave. Why should I not celebrate?" replied Lady Matlock.
"But Mama, you are becoming like Aunt Catherine and all the other females in this Town who are under the false impression that I cannot find a bride on my own. I will attend your ball, but please do not push any young ladies at me. Give some credit. I left Oxford with a Double First you know. I do have what some have called a good brain, I am capable of finding a bride by myself. I certainly do not need Aunt Catherine's advice on choosing a possible future Countess, especially all she can come up as a match for Cousin Darcy is Cousin Anne, as much as we all love Anne." replied Lord Marsden.
"You do know that it was Catherine who started this quest for the perfect bride for you, Marcus. Your Papa and I only wish to see you as happy as we have been." said Lady Matlock.
"Yes as happy as you and Papa, and as happy as Cousin Darcy's and Georgiana's parents were. I know they are not that common among our class, but I have always wanted the same sort of marriage that my parents had," replied Lord Marsden.
Consequentially, when a young Lady in a situation such as Lady Lochmaben was in and said Lady decides to travel all the to London from Edinburgh, the news of such an arrival in Town, brings to mind other considerations, the considerations of penniless second and third sons casting about for a fortune to marry. Gentlemen such as Lord Richard Naismith, third son of The Earl Garvie and his best friend; the not so Honourable Mr. Paul Canfield. On this particular morning, the former passed his time reading the "Morning Gazette", while waiting for his friend, the latter to arrive at Whites club. As Lord Richard read the latest news he soon came upon two very interesting on dits, so interesting that when Mr. Paul Canfield arrived at Whites and entered the parlour where his friend was waiting, Lord Richard was startled by his friend's arrival.
"Find any likely candidates, Naismith?" asked Mr. Canfield as he slouched in the chair next to his friend.
"I do believe I have. It seems that we are about to be invaded by Scotland, my friend." replied Lord Richard.
"Invaded by Scotland, whatever do you mean by that?" asked Mr. Canfield, curiously.
"Take a look at this Canfield and tell me do you think I have a chance?" asked Lord Richard, as he handed his newspaper to his friend.
"Lady Planefield will not be in Town for the Season due a recent confinement?" read Mr. Canfield, in a confused tone.
"No Canfield, down farther, about the middle of the column." said Lord Richard.
Mr. Canfield drew his finger down to what looked to be the item in question. "The Baroness Lochmaben?, is she a widow then, though I do not believe I have heard of a Baron Lochmaben." replied Mr. Canfield, sounding intrigued.
"No you nodcock, read further." said Lord Richard. As his friend read more of that particular on dit, he would say things like "Hmmm", and "Is that so."
"Well, Canfield, what do you think, do I have a chance to catch this one? Just think of all that lovely money, I mean 15,000 a year is more than Darcy gets from Pemberley and this is a female we are speaking of." said Lord Richard.
"Well if not you then me." replied Mr. Canfield.
"Have you received your invitation to Lord and Lady Matlock's ball a fortnight from Friday?" asked Lord Richard.
"Just this morning Naismith. I wonder if this Lady Lochmaben has received an invitation also." speculated Mr. Canfield.
Whether Lord Richard's and Mr. Canfield's speculations were confirmed or not is neither here nor there, but what was true was that the news of the arrival from Scotland of Katherine, Baroness Lochmaben was quickly becoming the on dit of the Season. This was not making Lady Lochmaben any happier as she read of this in her copy of the Morning Gazette. "It appears that the Sassenach find nothing better to do than make sport over my arrival. I have just as much right to come to as they. Invasion from Scotland indeed. I will give them an invasion they'll not soon forget." Lady Lochamben muttered as she ate her breakfast.
"Did you say something, Katherine dear?" asked her Aunt Margaret, who had come with her from Scotland to nominally be her chaperone and companion.
"No Dearest Aunt." replied Lady Lochmaben through clenched teeth, for though Lady Lochmaben loved her Aunt, she was one of her Dear Families sent by the rest to act in the other's interest, that is do all the looking for a proper husband for her niece.
"What news is there?" asked her Aunt.
"It says that Lady Matlock will be holding a ball a fortnight from Friday, in consequence of the return of Lord Marsden from his Grand Tour and the pro motion to Colonel of her younger son. Aunt, why does the name Marsden sound familiar to me?" asked Lady Lochmaben.
"Why Katherine, do you not remember, the two of you share a godmother in Lady Paxton." replied her Aunt.
"Speaking of godmother, I received a letter from her in this morning's post." said Lady Lochmaben, as she went through the pile of mail on the table. "Ah hah hear it is." said Lady Lochmaben, picking up a letter.
Posted on Thursday, 25 March 1999
Lady Lochmaben quickly broke the seal and unfolded her letter. The first part of the letter was a very cordial welcome to Town from her Godmother. The rest of the letter was full of plans for the Season.
.....and I would be pleased to see you as soon as is convenient for you. I believe that you will enjoy your Season, Kate. I am glad you finally decided to come down from your Highlands and come to London for a while. Until I see you, I remain
Your Dear Godmother,
"Excellent! Aunt Meg, as soon as breakfast is over, I am planning to make a call in Bruton Place. My Dear Godmama is expecting me." said Lady Lochmaben, as she rang for pen, paper, and ink. She wrote a quick reply to her Godmother's letter and had a footman deliver it right away. After Lady Lochmaben and her Aunt finished their breakfast, the two Ladies removed to their bedchambers to prepare for their first morning call.
As I have mentioned before, Katherine, Baroness Lochmaben had, as she grew up, hoydenish tendencies, tendencies which she never truly gave up, even after she came of age. That fact being restated, I must give you, my gentle readers, something that will help you understand the role of Lady Lochmaben's Aunt Margaret in this, my little divertissimo. Aunt Margaret was sent, if you please, in the role of companion and chaperon for her niece. She was sent by all of Lady Lochmaben's Dear Families to prevent her from falling into too many scrapes, scrapes that sometimes were caused by Lady Lochmaben's very sharp wit, or that was how all of Lady Lochmaben's Dear Families saw the situation. To Lady Lochmaben, though she loved her Dear Aunt, she even pretended to accept her as companion and chaperon, to a quick minded Lady such as Baroness Lochmaben, she was something of a trial. Now I must explain to you, my gentle readers, who my Lady Lochmaben's real companion, chaperon and confidant was, at least, to my Lady's way of thinking. It may seem odd, but, Lady Lochmaben's abigail; Morag Campbell. That canny young lady's maid had been such ever since she was a wee lass. For her mam had been Lady Lochmaben's mam's abigail and she had grown up at Lochmaben Castle. Though in some ways, it was considered unseemly by all the rest of Lady Lochmaben's Dear Families, a friendship had grown between the Lady and her servant, a friendship that could not be severed. As wee lasses they were always in some mischief or other, yet they were now young women. Lady Lochmaben knew there was a line, however thin between them, yet she trusted all her confidences to her abigail.
"Morag, I am now the latest sport for these Sassenachs. 'Invasion from Scotland' indeed. I will give them an 'invasion' they will never forget. I am certain as soon as I make my first appearance at some gathering, there will be "gentlemen" out to lay siege to what is, to their way of thinking, my greatest charm, my 15,000 a year. Well my dear friend I shall spike their guns truly indeed." said Lady Lochmaben, as Morag helped her into a stylish willow green sarcenet walking dress, matching pelisse and her new Gypsy hat tied with an emerald green silk riband.
When both Ladies were ready, they descended the stairs and the door was opened for them and were helped into Lady Lochmaben's town carriage and they were soon on their way to Bruton Place.
That same morning, Lord Marsden rode to Berkley Square to see his younger brother; Colonel Fitzwilliam, who he had not seen since he had come from University and bought his commission in the ____th. Regiment. He was happy for his brother had been promoted. They would have a good long talk about this ball their Mama had been planning. That and all the Family news that his brother had not heard.
Posted on Wednesday, 31 March 1999
Due to a squabble between Lady Lochmaben's abigail and her Aunt over just which dress she should wear to her dear Godmama's, Katherine and her Aunt had a late start in driving to Bruton Place. In consequence of this, Ian, Lady Lochmaben's coachman, took a short cut, which turned out to be somewhat disastrous indeed, as Lady Lochmaben's phaeton turned a corner a bit too quickly, they almost collided with a very fashionable curricle pulled by a pair of magnificent chestnuts. Believing that she had had the right of way, Lady Lochmaben was more than a bit put out as the driver of the curricle, a young gentleman wearing a greatcoat with no less than twelve capes, got down, only to begin to argue with Ian. Lady Lochmaben, knowing that when her Coachman was agitated, he began to speak in Gaelic, and most of what was being said was basically not fit for a Lady's ears--not that they were not words that she had never heard or used herself, when she was alone, or thought she was--knew that someone was going to have to enter the fray, because she knew that Ian could easily pick up the gentleman from the curricle and slam him onto the paving stones.
Despite her Aunt's advice to the opposite, Lady Lochmaben stepped down from her phaeton and gently interposed herself between her Coachman and the gentleman from the curricle. "Pardon me sir, but I do believe that we had the right of way." said Katherine politely and then she said not so politely, "Just who taught you to drive. My fourth cousin thrice removed is better able to drive than you and she is not above six years old. How dare you. You almost frightened my Aunt to death."
Lord Marsden, who along with his brother were on their way to Berkeley Square, when along came this mad driver who had not the sense to turn a corner slowly, and now this female had the temerity to tell him that her phaeton had had the right of way, replied, "Your Coachman should be dismissed without a character. He cannot slow down when turning a corner." said Lord Marsden.
"You lie. He had slowed down. You came round the corner too quickly." replied Katherine, through the gritted teeth of one trying to keep one's temper, as she spoke to Ian in Gaelic.
"Aye milady." replied Ian, as he again took his place on the perch to drive on.
As soon as Lady Lochmaben's phaeton had driven away, Lord Marsden got back into his curricle.
"You did come round that corner a bit too fast, Marcus," said Colonel Fitzwilliam, "what a little termagant. I am not sure, Brother mine, but I do believe that we just met the Lady Lochmaben of the gossip columns, not that I pay the least mind to gossips."
Lord Marsden thought for a minute, for despite the anger in her tone, there was something magnificent about the "little termagant" as his brother called her. "Lady Lochmaben, James. You know, that name sounds familiar and not just because of the gossip columns. When we see Mama today, I will ask her. Where were you going after we leave Berkeley Square, James? I can drop you where ever you are going as long as it is near Bruton Place, as I am calling on my Dear Godmama this morning." asked Lord Marsden. The two brothers were soon on their way.
Posted on Saturday, 3 April 1999
Having so closely avoided a disastrous collision, both curricle and pair, and phaeton and four each proceeded in their chosen directions. The curricle to Berkeley Square and the phaeton to Bruton Place. As Lady Lochmaben's phaeton headed towards its destination, her Aunt was doing her level best to dissuade her niece from continuing on to her godmother's Townhouse.
"Dearest Katherine, I do not think that you should be continuing on to Lady Paxton's. You are still overset by what happened. Better to return to Brook Street and send your apologies to your godmother, than to arrive in Bruton Place in such a state." said Lady Lochmaben's Aunt.
"Why my Dear Aunt, I am never in a state or overset. Why should I be overset by a Sassenach who has no driving skills whatsoever. I wish continue on to my Dear godmama's, besides, we are now closer to Bruton Place than to Brook Street. Why should we waste all that time turning around." replied Lady Lochmaben, smiling a dazzlingly brilliant smile, a smile that was known among Lady Lochmaben's Dearest Families as Her Ladyship's "I am trying to keep my temper, because I am beset by idiots smile." It was also known among all My Lady's Dearest Families by another name, but we shall not even dare to broach that subject.
"Dearest Katherine, I do wish you would not smile in that fashion. You begin to resemble a...a...a crocodile, and it is not in the least ladylike to do that, besides, I begin to have heart palpitations when you smile like that." said Lady Lochmaben's Dearest Aunt.
"Now I know that I should have taken Morag with me instead." My Lady mumbled to herself as the phaeton and four pulled up to #42 Bruton Place. Andrew, one of My Lady's footmen was sent to inquire whether Lady Paxton was at home.
As My Lady was arriving in Bruton Place, My Lord Marsden and his younger brother; Colonel Fitzwilliam had just arrived at Matlock House. The two brothers hurried up the steps and the Colonel applied the knocker. As he did this, he asked his brother an important question, "Do you really think that Mama might know just why Lady Lochmaben is so familiar to you?"
My Lord smiled and replied," I am sure she would know why. Mama is just as familiar with the doings of the ton as her inestimable neighbor; Lady Jersey."
Lord Marsden and Colonel Fitzwilliam were quickly shown into their Mother's drawing room. Both brothers crossed the room to greet their mother who sat on a sofa with some work. "Mama, you look as lovely as ever. My friends in my Regiment cannot believe that you are our Mama. They see you and they are sure that you are our Sister." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he bent to kiss his Mama's proffered cheek.
"You are a shameless flatterer, James. Now do ring for the tray, for I do believe that Cook has made some fresh biscuits and cherry tarts." Lady Matlock told her youngest son, who dutifully complied. "Marcus, you look overset. What happened to you?" asked Lady Matlock of her eldest son.
"Not a what, Mama, a who. A madwoman who's driver does not know the least bit of how to drive in Town almost collided with my curricle and pair. Mama, why would the Lady Lochmaben of the gossip columns sound familiar to me? I thought you might know." asked Lord Marsden.
"Why Marcus, do you not remember, you share a godmother in Lady Paxton." replied Lady Matlock.
"Is she staying in Bruton Place?" asked Lord Marsden.
"No, I do believe that she has her own establishment in Brook Street. She is a Baroness by heirs general." replied Lady Matlock.
"Do you happen to know what she might look like?" asked Lord Marsden.
"I am not sure, but I do believe that when you were not above three years old, your Father took us to Scotland, where we met the Old Baron, Lady Lochmaben's Papa. She was no more than two and had rich auburn hair." replied Lady Matlock.
"Then that was not her. That madwoman had plain red hair and freckles." mumbled Lord Marsden to himself.
Posted on Wednesday, 7 April 1999
In looking up from her work, when her goddaughter was ushered into her drawing room, Charis, Lady Paxton noticed two things. First, her Dearest Kate's very flushed face and secondly, a certain light in her emerald green eyes. Lady Paxton knew that when her goddaughter's face was this flushed, it was because she was very angry. The particular light that was in her Dearest Kate's eyes was the light of battle. "My Dearest Kate, you look as though you could defeat that wicked Corsican all on your own without the Army's assistance. What has you this way?" asked Lady Paxton.
"It seems that all these Sassenachs, not counting you, dearest Godmama, can find to amuse themselves with are stories about my arrival in London. "Invasion from Scotland" indeed. I am sure that as soon as I arrive at the first ball or such like am invited to, I will become the target of the "gentlemen" who consider my greatest charm my 15,000 a year. As for looking as though would like to do battle with someone, Dearest Godmama, I am sorry, but my phaeton almost collided with a curricle whose driver is one of these Sassenachs who think that they can drive as fast as they please, then blame a near collision on the other driver. Ian was not driving too fast and if I had been holding the ribbons I would not have driven any faster than Ian was driving. I am sorry Dearest Godmama, I did not mean to heap all my troubles on you. Perhaps if I had not read the gossip page this morning, I would not have been so upset at that other driver. It is just that I do not like being made sport of. Now Dearest Godmama, we must make a visit to Bond Street, for I will be needing to add to my wardrobe considerably if I am to make any impression on the ton whatsoever." replied Lady Lochmaben.
Lady Paxton chuckled good naturedly at that remark, as she knew that her goddaughter made an impression wherever she went. Unfortunately, though, even if she, Lady Paxton was Lady Lochmaben's doting and fond Godmama, she knew of her Dearest Kate's hoydenish tendencies had made to at least to the minds of all of her Dearest Kate's Dear Families impressions that were not all that good however unforgettable they were. "Dearest Kate, I have received an invitation from your Dearest, Sainted Mama's friend and mine; the Countess of Matlock. It seems that she is giving a ball in honour of both of her sons, one of whom is my godson. I know that you do not wish to have anyone matchmaking for you, but then again, neither does Marsden. The two of you seem to be of the same mind. I have just read a nice note from Marsden saying that he will be visiting me this morning. Perhaps you would like to meet him." said Lady Paxton.
"I am not sure, Aunt Charis, I do think that we really must return to Brook Street, I do not think that Aunt Meg really took that collision well. I should take her home." replied Lady Lochmaben.
"Of course Dearest Kate." said Lady Paxton, as her goddaughter and her Aunt rose to take their leave. Lady Lochmaben and her Aunt were soon helped into the phaeton by Ian, and were soon on their way back to Brook Street. As Lady Lochmaben's phaeton drove away from Lady Paxton's house she did not notice the very fashionable curricle and pair turning into Bruton Place. Lady Lochmaben did not see the curricle, but the driver had seen and recognized the phaeton.
"What was that madwoman doing here in Bruton Place?" the curricle's driver muttered to himself as he brought his vehicle to a stop in front of #42 Bruton Place. Lord Marsden jumped down from his curricle and hurried up the front steps of his Godmother's house. He knocked on the door and was soon admitted inside and was quickly ushered into his Dear Godmama's drawing room.
"Ah, Marsden, it is a pity, you just missed my goddaughter." said Lady Paxton, as Lord Marsden crossed the room to greet his Godmama. ever she went.
Posted on Friday, 23 April 1999
Lord Marsden took the cup of tea his Godmother offered. "Thank you Godmama. Godmama, I have just discovered from Mama that not only are you my Godmother, you are also Godmother to the Lady Lochmaben of the gossip columns." said Lord Marsden.
"Oh yes, Dearest Katherine's Mama, your Mama, and I went to the same female seminary." replied Lady Paxton, as she passed a platter of ratafia cakes, cherry tarts, and Shrewsbury cakes.
"Thank you Godmama." said Lord Marsden, taking the platter.
"I had wanted to have the two of you make each other's acquaintance, no Dearest Marc, I am not pushing Dearest Katherine at you, it is just that from what you wrote in your last letter and what Dearest Katherine wrote in hers, I felt that since the two of you are of like mind, I thought you might like to show her about Town. This is as you might have read, her first visit to London. Dearest Katherine spent most of her childhood in the Highlands at Lochmaben Castle, until she was about ten, when the Old Baron and his wife died in a carriage accident. She then spent the next five or so years in Edinburgh, where she attended school, and has spent the last six years again at Lochmaben Castle. Most of her schooling was given her by a governess. Her mother's brother acted as her guardian until she came of age. Dearest Katherine has never had a Season in London, and so I invited her down from her Highlands." said Lady Paxton.
"What is she like, Godmama?" asked Lord Marsden, curiously.
"I would have to say very lively, a bit of a hoyden, and as I have said, of like mind with you in matters of finding a husband. 'I can find a husband on my own thank you very much. I do not need all My Dear Families pushing their ideas of a proper husband at me. I know what I wish for in a husband, and what I do not wish for in a husband, thank you very much.' That was what Dearest Katherine wrote to me. I am truly sorry that you missed her, but she was obliged to return to Brook Street, as her Aunt, Lady Margaret Frasier had the headache. It seems that they had an unfortunate contretemps with another carriage in her way here." replied Lady Paxton.
Posted on Wednesday, 28 April 1999
Hearing what his Godmother said was the reason he had missed Lady Lochmaben, caused his face to flush a bright red, and when he tried to swallow, he found that his cravat began to feel just a bit too tight. He wondered why Heathfield had tied it so tightly. "It was not her I observed as I was arriving." he thought to himself. Lady Paxton, noticing that her godson's face had coloured, she wondered what had happened that morning.
Lord Marsden recognised that a strategic retreat was called for, and quickly changed the subject. "I am sorry. Perhaps, if I speak to my Mother, she may be persuaded to send an invitation to Lady Lochmaben." said Lord Marsden, in a voice that showed signs of his trying to regain composure.
"There is no need, dear Marc, I spoke to your Dear Mama of my Dearest Kate's plans to come to London for the Season, and so she was included in my invitation." replied Lady Paxton.
"You are sponsoring her?" asked Lord Marsden.
"Nominally, as she is financing her Season, but enough of that. So Marsden, tell me how are the rest of your family. I see that your brother has been promoted. I understand that your family is very proud of this accomplishment, and the Darcys, how are they? It must be difficult in the extreme for Darcy to be raising his young sister alone, run Pemberley, and avoid your Aunt Catherine's attempts at matching him with your Cousin Anne." replied Lady Paxton.
Posted on Wednesday, 5 May 1999
"Yes Mama and Papa are proud of James. Unfortunately, James has told me that his Regiment has been ordered to the Peninsula. As for Darcy, he does have a difficult time of it, especially in the wake of My Aunt Catherine's attempts to push poor Cousin Anne at him. This matchmaking fever if you will has caused Aunt Catherine to turn her sights on me; her only brother's oldest son and heir. She has undertaken a search for the perfect future Countess for me. No one seems to understand that I am perfect capable of finding a bride on my own. I can just see what sort of woman, Aunt Catherine has in mind for me and as much as I love poor Cousin Anne, I would not wish for a bride who has the same attributes. I do know what I feel are the proper qualifications for my future Countess." replied Lord Marsden.
Posted on Thursday, 6 May 1999
As to the members of the ton to whom My Lady was introduced, there were reactions as varied as what Lady Exeter was overheard to say to her sister Lady James Frobisher while they were at Madame Clotilde's shop, "My Lady Lochmaben is certainly not what one expected of one from the Highlands. Yes she is a bit patriotic, but yes, there are some gentlemen who should have been taught to drive before they took the ribbons* into their hands." Yes, to most members of the ton, The Baroness was considered if not a Diamond of the First Water, she was something close to one, yet there was one young Lady who to say the least felt a bit threatened and so the Honourable Miss Annabella Lisle's reaction was less civil.
"It is a pity her hair is that frightful red and she has those ghastly freckles! What a Long Meg* she is!" she was heard to say to her particular friend, Lady Cynthia Burke, while they were at Hatchards perusing the latest volumes from the Minerva Press*.
Lady Lochmaben, in spite of this was enjoying her stay in London. Lady Paxton had taken her Dearest Kate to see all the sights, when they were not going to Madame Clotilde's for fittings or to Mademoiselle Yvette's to try on some of her latest creations of "millenary magnificence", as Lady Margaret Frasier would say, "A young Lady cannot have too many bonnets."
This was not to say that My Lady Lochmaben did not have moments that threatened to turn into scrapes, especially most public scrapes. One of these moments came, as, Lady Lochmaben was visiting Madame Clotilde's shop looking through her fashion plates for just the right ball gown to wear to Lady Matlock's. One this particular morning, she had her Aunt Meg and Morag her abigail were with her. I am sure that my gentle readers have guessed that this would not have turned into a scrape if one member of My Lady's entourage had stayed at home, but Lady Margaret had insisted that she also accompany My Lady to Madame Clotilde's. For it was very evident that though Lady Margaret's intentions were well meant, her ideas were representative of the rest of My Lady's Dear Families, conservative in the extreme.
So when Lady Margaret had pounced on what she thought was the perfect ball gown and just the right fabric and colour, it was also evident that Lady Lochmaben was going to disagree with her. She was correct. "Found it. I knew that if I looked hard enough I would find the plate I saw the day we came to find my court dress. This is perfect, Morag." said Lady Lochmaben happily.
"Aye milady, but yer Aunt willna think sae." replied Morag.
"I know that Aunt Meg will not approve, but I approve and I will have this made up for Lady Matlock's ball. I know just the right fabric, colour, and what to trim this with." said Lady Lochmaben, smiling mischievously at her abigail and best friend.
"Katherine, I have found the perfect gown for you. Look at this." said Lady Margaret, showing her niece a dress that would have been perfect had she been eighteen and fresh out of the school room, but My Lady was not eighteen, she was all of twenty-two. As it was she felt very silly when she was presented at Court in a white lace creation, with hoop, and a headpiece with two plumes and lappets. After that, My Lady had sworn to Morag that she would not wear anymore white, and that was the colour of jaconet muslin that her Aunt Meg had chosen.
"It is nice, Aunt Meg, but I believe I have found something I like even better." replied Lady Lochmaben. The gown was perfect. It had the new high waistline and was in two parts. An underdress with a low, but not vulgarly low, at least to My Lady Lochmaben's way of thinking, neckline, and the overdress of a thinner fabric. My Lady had already chosen a peach silk for the underdress and a lighter peach aerophane crepe for the overdress.
"This is what I shall wear to my Dear Mama's friend's ball." stated Lady Lochmaben, showing her Dear Aunt her choice.
"But Dearest Katherine, everyone knows one wears white to one's first ball, besides you cannot wear a dress with a neckline as low as this." said Lady Margaret, in "her starting to worry that Dearest Katherine was going to fall into a scrape" tone.
"Dear Aunt Meg, I wore white for my presentation, I would like to wear something different, something more becoming to my colouring. The neckline is no lower than on some day dresses that I have seen, and they were respectable women." said Lady Lochmaben, as she began to smile her dangerous smile.
"Dearest Katherine they were probably older or married Ladies." replied Lady Margaret.
"I am an older Lady, I am all of twenty-two. That puts me practically on the shelf according to all of these Sassenachs." replied Lady Lochmaben, doing her best to keep her temper.
At this point Madame Clotilde, who had no wish to have such an unseemly contretemps in her shop interposed herself between the two Ladies. "But of course, with milady's colouring, she need not wear white to a ball. The peach is perfect for one of milady's colouring, and the gold braid will trim it well. The neckline is not too low, milady Frasier. You will see, milady will be the belle of milady Matlock's ball. You will be proud of your charge." said Madame Clotilde, as she began to show Lady Margaret how she would design the dress. After the Ladies left Madame Clotilde's shop, they stopped at Gunter's for nuncheon and then returned to Brook Street.
After a short rest, My Lady Lochmaben, with Morag to accompany her, as Lady Margaret was exhausted from their morning's shopping, decided to take a walk, as the three final members of her entourage had finally arrived from Lochmaben Castle. My Lady was soon ready for her walk. She wore an emerald green pelisse, with her new Gypsy hat with a matching silk riband and her favorite walking dress that matched. My Lady quickly fastened all three of her dogs to their leads. When My Lady first came to Town she thought that she would not miss them, but just two days after she arrived in Brook Street she had sent for her "lads" as she called her three deer hounds: William Wallace, Montrose, and Rob Roy.
Posted on Sunday, 9 May 1999
Lady Lochmaben's dogs pulled on their leads, as My Lady and Morag entered the park. Kate was glad to be away from Brook Street for a time. She loved her Aunt Meg, but she knew that as a duly appointed representative of all her Dear Families, she knew that her opinions were that of said Dear Families, sometimes Kate just wanted distance herself to think of what, in her opinion were the proper qualifications for a proper husband. First, he had to be taller than she, as she was taller than most of the men in Glenfinnan. It was to bad that Sassenach was so obnoxious, because he was definitely taller than herself, and though she did not wish to have kind thoughts of him, she still had a fleeting memories of brown eyes that blazed with anger and if the circumstances of their encounter had not been such as they were, she quite recalled that it was not an unhandsome face. Second, she wanted to feel affection for.. Come Kate, you know that is hardly what you wish, you want to be madly in love with your husband and you wish the feelings to be reciprocated. You definitely do not wish the sort of marriage all your Dear Families are prating on about. You would murder each other in outside of a week of your "wedding". My Lady's conscience teased her.
As she was walking, her dogs began to take the left fork in the path she had taken, and in a blink, chaos broke out, as a horse came galloping from the left side of the path. This immediately caused her dogs to start barking and the rider temporarily lost control of his mount, but only temporarily, as the gentleman quickly dismounted and stomped towards My Lady, with a most thunderous expression on his face, his most familiar face. Without thinking, the gentleman, grabbed My Lady by the shoulders preparatory to a good shaking when the perceiving a threat against My Lady, all went at the gentleman and before My Lady could stop them, she and the familiar gentleman were tangled up in the leads. "So not only can you Sassenachs not drive, you cannot control your riding horses." said Kate, angrily.
"One supposes that the Scots cannot keep control of their dogs even when they are on a lead." said the gentleman, in a similar tone.
"My dogs were under control, until you came tearing along. How dare you." said Kate, valiantly trying to untangle herself, and the gentleman, for he was just way too close for her comfort, and she imagined that she was too close for his.
"I do believe that both my Godmother and my brother were correct, you are a hoyden and a termagant." said Lord Marsden, beginning to appreciate, after having been untangled, My Lady's slim, but lovely form. He loved the way her eyes flashed green fire and how her chin raised in challenge to his retort. She was just the right height he looked for in a woman, as, his Aunt Catherine and certain other Ladies of the ton were always pushing tiny, delicate chits at him. While he was not the tallest of the three Grandsons of the Old Earl; his Cousin Darcy had that honour, he was actually next to the tallest, but not by much and his brother was a quarter inch shorter than he was, he would rather dance with a young Lady, who he did not have to reach way down to hold her.
"You are a 'mad brained rudesby'. I do not know you sir, how could your Godmother know who I am." replied Kate, as Morag came to stand next to her Lady.
"Oh my Godmother knows you very well, Kate." replied Lord Marsden, boldly. He knew that he should not be using My Lady's Christian name so boldly, but he was in some ways the boldest of the three grandsons of the Old Earl of Matlock, though not as bold as his Cousin Darcy could be. "I am Lord Marsden, at your service My Lady." he replied, boldly winking and smiling at Kate.
"You dare make free with my name without my permission. You are a rogue and if you really are Marsden, Godmama did tell me that about you." replied Kate, in more tone that more calm.
"At least you came to the park before five o'clock, My Lady. You would not have been able to manage your dogs then. I myself like to ride in the park before "the fashionable hour", for I think that it is silly follow that everyone rides, drives, or walks in the park at five o'clock rule is ridiculous. Trafalgar does not like the congestion, he likes to have his head when I ride." said Lord Marsden, as caught up his horse's reins and walked with Lady Lochmaben and Morag back to the gates of the park.
Posted on Thursday, 13 May 1999
As Lord Marsden and Lady Lochmaben walked along the path that would take them to the park entrance, Lord Marsden asked about My Lady's dogs. "I have had all three since they were puppies. I thought that I could go without them when I first arrived in London, but I found that I truly missed them after two days and I sent for them. They may be too large and too many for London, but I truly wished they be here." said Lady Lochmaben, as the park entrance appeared around the next bend in the path.
"I trust that I will be seeing you at my Mother's ball, milady?" asked Lord Marsden, as he took leave of Lady Lochmaben and her abigail.
"Perhaps, My Lord, but one must not assume anything." replied Lady Lochmaben, pertly. Lord Marsden threw back his head and laughed good naturedly at My Lady's retort, as he remounted his horse and rode away.
"Obnoxious Sassenach, but he is so tall. His eyes flashed fire, when came at me when dismounted. Enough of that Kate. You have more important things to worry about, such as finding out why Morag's, Alec never wrote to her after he arrived in London. Lady Lochmaben's mind began to concentrate on the promise that she had mad to her friend. The facts as she had understood them were, six months ago Alec MacTavish, Morag's sweetheart had left Edinburgh to take a position in London as valet to His Grace the Duke of Crayfield. He had promised to send word as soon as he had arrived, and after giving the lad the proper amount of time to make his way to London, no word had been sent. Lady Lochmaben had sent inquiries to His Grace's Townhouse and had in her opinion been fobbed off with excuses, so My Lady had decided to pay a call on His Grace, and very soon. Being somewhat of a practical romantic, she noticed that Alec's disappearance was having an effect on her dear friend's effectiveness as her maid. My Lady had noticed this, as they walked along. "Do not worry, Morag, we will find Alec. I am wondering if he have been waylaid by a press gang. They may have been out at the time. I care about you, you are my very good friend." said Lady Lochmaben, as they turned into Brook Street.
Posted on Thursday, 20 May 1999
For the next few days Lady Lochmaben concentrated on two items of import. First, her discovery of the whereabouts of Morag's Alec, and second readying herself for Lady Matlock's ball. Since the incident in the park, she had not seen Lord Marsden, but she wondered if His Lordship was acquainted with His Grace of Crayfield. "Do not worry Morag, I will find Alec. He would never run away from you." said Lady Lochmaben.
"Aye he wouldna run, milady. Alec an' I made a promise tae one anither. The lad wouldna break it." replied Morag. As she finished speaking, there was knock on My Lady's bedchamber door and upon Morag's answering it she found My Lady's housekeeper; Mrs. MacNeil to announce that My Lady's ballgown had arrived from Madame Clotilde's shop, along with the jewels that My Lady had sent to be cleaned, as they were her choice for Lady Matlock's ball. She knew that her Aunt Meg would not approve of what she had chosen, but she knew that they would compliment her dress well.
"Dearest Katherine, all young Ladies wear pearls for their first ball." said Lady Margaret, in her "worried that her Dearest Katherine was headed for a scrape tone."
To which My Lady replied, smiling her dangerous smile, "Aunt, I am not a young Lady, and neither is this my first ball. It may be my first London ball, but it is certainly not my first ball." Though Lady Margaret had her doubts about her charge's choice of ballgown and jewelry, the rest of My Lady's household, from Mr. MacNeil, her butler all the way down to little Fiona the scullery maid had thought their mistress was beautiful, would likely put all the London misses to shame. At half past four, Lady Lochmaben and Lady Margaret left Brook Street for Bruton Place.
" My Dearest Kate, you look splendid. You will certainly take the shine out of all the Town misses that will be at Rebecca's ball tonight." said Lady Paxton, as Lady Lochmaben and Lady Margaret were ushered into her drawing room.
"Thank you Godmama. I must speak with you privately on a matter of some import." said Lady Lochmaben.
"Certainly Kate, we can just step into the library." replied Lady Paxton.
When the two Ladies had entered the library and shut the door, My Lady Lochmaben began. "Godmama, it would seem that the Sassenach who did not know the first thing about driving has turned out to be Lord Marsden. We encountered each other in the park some days ago. Though he is still an obnoxious rogue, cannot keep control of his horse just because it saw my "lads". I will keep up the appearance that tonight was our first introduction, but I must confess that it will not be easy. I am happy that I will be able to make Lady Matlock's acquaintance. I still remember all that my Mama told me of her friend." said Lady Lochmaben.
"I will assist you in your attempt to "keep up appearances", Dearest Kate. I will also help you find your maid's lost sweetheart." said Lady Paxton.
Posted on Saturday, 22 May 1999
When Lady Paxton and her guests had finished with their dinner, they left Bruton Place for Grosvenor Square. In their way to Matlock House, Lady Margaret Frasier spent most of the ride lecturing her "Dearest Katherine" about what she considered her unfortunate tendencies, such as using that unflattering term for the English that she used in reference to the driver of the curricle who had almost collided with My Lady's phaeton. These, My Lady took with a grain of salt and her dazzlingly brilliant and dangerous smile and a "Yes Dearest Aunt Meg." They soon arrived in Grosvenor Square, where it would appear that all of the entire ton had been invited to the Earl and Countess of Matlock's ball.
"Dearest Kate, it looks as though Rebecca has a sad crush on her hands." said Lady Paxton, with a smile. It was not long and Lady Lochmaben's carriage pulled up to Matlock House, and all of it's passengers were helped out by some of the Matlock House footmen, and they made their way up the steps and entered the house.
Before I go on I would just like to add that I am going to be making an extremely shameless reference to "The Taming of the Shrew" shortly, please forgive me for that.
Your Gentle Author
In a short time, Ladies: Paxton and Lochmaben, with Lady Margaret Frasier were going through the reception line.
"Charis, how lovely to see you again, and can this be your Dearest Katherine, I cannot believe it, she resembles poor Dear Mary." exclaimed Lady Matlock, as she embraced her dear friend.
"Thank you My Lady. I have some small memories of my Dear Mama speaking of you." said Lady Lochmaben, as she was embraced by this, her Mama's friend.
"Now Dearest Katherine, you must be made acquainted with my sons." said Lady Matlock, as she led Lady Lochmaben over to where they stood, magnificently arrayed, the one in impeccable evening dress and the other in the Scarlet Regimentals of a colonel.
As they came towards the two gentlemen, Colonel Fitzwilliam nudged his brother with his elbow and said, "Marc! is this not the little termagant we "ran" into last week?"
To whit his brother replied, "James! please have the goodness to refrain all mention of that incident, for you were correct in deducing that that was Lady Lochmaben, as you can see for she came in with Godmama. Please let me do the talking from here."
"Marc, James, I would like to make known to you Katherine, Lady Lochmaben. Katherine, these are my sons, Marsden, you may have heard of from your Dear Godmama and James, Colonel Fitzwilliam." said Lady Matlock, smiling at her sons.
"Good evening, My Lady." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he bowed over My Lady's hand.
Lord Marsden, having wished to make a formal apology to her Ladyship, he also bowed over My Lady's hand and as he raised his head he said, "To paraphrase the Immortal Bard, Good evening Kate, for that's your name I hear."
My Lady Lochmaben, not wishing to let this turn into a scrape for she found that there was much she could like about his Lordship for all he was a rogue, yet for the simple reason that there was a tradition in her family that all female members were named after Shakespeare's Ladies and she was named after just the unfortunate Lady that his Lordship referred to in his speech, and having heard all the silly students from the University who had stood up with her at all the Assemblies she had attended in Edinburgh since she came out at the tender age of seventeen, and she had not expected this from someone like his Lordship, and one of My Lady's most besetting sins was a tendency towards levity, so as My Lord Marsden finished his speech, Kate began to choke on the laughter that she was trying so desperately to hold back. "After my speech, you are not going to even make the appropriate reply, come, come my bonny Kate, you must say something, but first will you kindly accept this mad brained rudesby's apology for the unfortunate encounter we had a se'enight past?" said Lord Marsden.
At that, though My Lady was trying desperately not to laugh, the laughter finally escaped, and it was a very musical sound that met his Lordship's ears. "You are a rogue, if I must, I must. 'Well you have heard, but something hard of hearing. They call me Katherine that do talk of me.' Was that what you wish to hear?" asked My Lady in a pert and saucy tone.
At that, My Lord Marsden threw back his head and laughed good naturedly.
"Do you really think that was funny, My Lord? Forgive me I had thought I would escape hearing that here, but then perhaps our Dear Godmama may not have told you of this, but it is a tradition in my family to name all female children after Shakespeare's Ladies and I happen to bear that unfortunate Lady's name. I have heard versions of this speech since I came out in Edinburgh. All the students from the University thought they were clever, but it does become a bit tedious after five years." replied Lady Lochmaben.
Posted on Saturday, 22 May 1999
My Lord Marsden's laughter caught many of the Earl and Countess' guests attention. One guest in particular, who was already sitting with the dowagers and chaperones, who heard the laughter was none other than Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who sat comfortably with her daughter Miss Anne de Bourgh. She had been tapping her walking stick on the floor, until she heard her nephew laugh so good naturedly. Lady Catherine looked in the direction of the receiving line to see Lady Paxton, her nephew's Godmother entering the ballroom with a tall young Lady she did not recognise and an acquaintance of hers, Lady Margaret Frasier. The young Lady's hair was an unfortunate shade of red and she was sure she had seen some freckles! shocking!
"You there, gel!" she called.
"Yes Godmother," replied the Honourable Annabella Lisle.
"Tell me, who is that gel who just came in with Marsden's Godmother?" asked Lady Catherine.
"That is the Lady Lochmaben from the gossip columns, Godmother. Not very prepossessing, is she Godmother?" asked Miss Lisle.
Posted on Saturday, 5 June 1999
"You there gel, come with me." said Lady Catherine to her goddaughter, as she rose up from her chair in the corner.
"Yes Godmother." replied Miss Lisle, as Lady Catherine grasped her arm firmly. They soon made their way to the receiving line where they were just in time, so to speak to hear My Lord Marsden request both the opening minuet and one of the country dances. This definitely put Lady Catherine into a huff.
"You, Marsden, you have not presented this "Lady" to me." said Lady Catherine, deliberately putting the word in quotes, as she poked her nephew in the back with her walking stick.
"Forgive me Dear Aunt Catherine. I beg leave to present, Katherine, Baroness Lochmaben and her Aunt Lady Margaret Frasier. My Lady has just done me the honour of giving me her hand for the minuet and one of the country dances." replied Lord Marsden.
"I am acquainted with Lady Margaret, Marsden." replied Lady Catherine, in her most put out tone.
"My Lady, I would like to introduce you to my Dear Aunt Catherine." said Lord Marsden, in a tone everyone could hear, and in another tone meant only for My Lady's ears, "Smile Kate, I was afraid of this. Aunt Catherine is our family's cross to bear, as I am sure that you, yourself have one of your own."
At this My Lady smiled her most dazzlingly brilliant, and replied, "As a matter of fact I most certainly have and it would appear that your cross to bear is acquainted with my cross to bear. I just wonder how they had the chance to meet. Yet I just may have remembered. My late guardian; Sir Calum Frasier was ill towards the end of his life and he did spend some time at Bath. It may have been there that Aunt Meg met your Aunt." replied Kate.
"That may just have been the place, as my Aunt does spend some time there, in consequence of the fact that her Daughter; my Cousin Anne is of a sickly nature and she takes there for the waters." replied Lord Marsden, winking slyly at My Lady.
"You are a rogue, My Lord." said Kate, in a laughing tone as she gave her dance card to Lord Marsden to sign.
"Gel, why did you not stop him. I have told you and told you that I wish you to engage his interest. That is not the sort of woman I would wish Marsden to marry. Having a fortune and a title by heirs general does not change the fact that she is nothing more than a Highland savage. She more than likely had relatives who were on the side of the stupid Stewart Prince. Go on gel, do not let that red headed hussy take his interest from you." lectured Lady Catherine.
"Yes Godmother." replied Miss Lisle.
"Kate, Dear, as Rebecca has said, this other young rascal is Marsden's brother James. He has just been promoted to Colonel in the ____th." said Lady Paxton.
"A rascal he is to and a shameless flatterer, so watch out for him." said Lady Matlock, smiling at her youngest son.
"The ___th.? Then you would not happen to know Major James MacLeod, by chance?" asked Kate.
"You know James? He has just married Our Cousin Rebecca. How do you know James?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"We grew up together, as Lochmaben Castle is near the village of Glennfinnan. He is a fine lad." replied Kate.
"I attended University with James. He is one of my best friends. He is here with Rebecca. Marsden, why do we not take My Lady and introduce her to Rebecca and I am sure that she would enjoy seeing James again." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, to a very distracted Lord Marsden.
"What James? Oh of course, lets do that. I do not like the looks I am receiving from Aunt Catherine. I do believe I have just thwarted her plans for me, concerning Miss Lisle." replied Lord Marsden.
Posted on Wednesday, 23 June 1999
With that, Lord Marsden informed his mother that he and his brother were going to introduce Lady Lochmaben to their Cousin Rebecca, who was indeed standing across the ballroom in a spot that was separate from Lady Catherine, as she had been less than overjoyed by her marriage to someone who was to her, little more than a "Highland savage". When the two brothers, with Lady Lochmaben in tow had crossed the room, Lord Marsden proceeded to introduce Kate to their Cousin.
"Excuse me Becky, but I beg leave to introduce Katherine, Lady Lochmaben. My Lady, this is Our Cousin Mrs. Rebecca MacLeod." said Lord Marsden.
Kate, having observed her childhood friend's wife, she could only approve of his choice. "My Lady, it is a pleasure to meet you. Lady Matlock has told me much of you." Rebecca said with a smile.
Colonel Fitzwilliam whispered something into his Cousin's ear.
"She did? She does? I am not surprised. I asked Jamie to bring me a glass of punch, ah here he is now, Thomas." said Rebecca, as a tall young man in the Regimentals of a Army Major approached. "Thank you Jamie." said Rebecca as her husband gave her her glass of punch.
"James, I suppose you are acquainted with her Ladyship." said Colonel Fitzwilliam. The young man, tall, dark haired and dark eyed looked up from having whispered something into his wife's ear.
"I am surprised to see you here, Kate. The last time I saw you, you had sworn that you would never let your feet touch Sassenach soil, yet word of your arrival has even reached the barracks. I was surprised at that." said Major James Macleod. This brought out a great deal of good natured laughter from the group, especially from Kate.
"Yes, news does travel fast here, the Sassenachs used the term "invasion", now I ask you Jamie, do I look as though I came to London to invade it. So far my behavior, has been quite as it has always been, ever since I was a wee lass." said Kate.
"Yes, My Lady, once a hoyden, always a hoyden." replied Major MacLeod. Kate was about to make her own reply, when the musicians began to tune up and began the minuet, and My Lord Marsden claimed My Lady's hand.
As My Lord led Kate into the dance, he smiled at her and began to converse. "So tell my bonny Kate, how are you enjoying the Season? I am not sure, as I have noticed that you yourself seemed to be distracted a bit." said Lord Marsden.
"Perhaps I am, My Lord. My Lord, are you by any chance acquainted with His Grace of Crayfield?" asked Kate.
"Yes, but you should not be. You should not even be knowing his name." replied Lord Marsden.
"Is he here?" asked Kate.
"He should not be, but he is. Why do you ask, my bonny Kate? Though I shudder at what you are going to ask me next." said Lord Marsden.
"Will you make me known to him?" asked Kate.
"I most certainly will not. His Grace is someone that a decent young woman should not know." replied Lord Marsden, as he turned Kate around.
"Not even if it means the happiness of a friend a very good friend?" asked Kate.
Posted on Thursday, 8 July 1999
"The happiness of friend depends on your being introduced to the worst rake in all the realm?" asked Lord Marsden, as he and followed the figures of the minuet.
"A very dear friend, though a Sassenach like you would not understand when I say my very dearest friend is my lady's maid, and I care very about her. We grew up together at Lochmaben Castle." replied My Lady.
"I understand about such things, Dearest Kate, but how is His Grace of Crayfield preventing your friend's happiness?" asked Lord Marsden, in an even more curious tone.
"My Lord, Morag's sweetheart left Edinburgh to take a situation with His Grace, and Alec promised her that he would write to her as soon as he arrived. He has not. Do not act surprised, My Lord. Most, if, not all of my servants have some rudimentary knowledge of their letters and numbers. My Aunt Margaret frowns on this, but I have set up a school for them in the servants hall at Lochmaben Castle and both my Townhouse in Edinburgh and in Brook Street. I know Alec would have written Morag, he did not run away. Either His Grace knows what happened to Alec and does not wish me to know and keeps fobbing me off with excuses or it had occurred to me that as Alec made his way to London, he may have run into a press gang. That is what I am most afraid of. I promised Morag that I would do all I can to find Alec. Even Dearest Godmama has promised to help me." replied Kate.
"If you believe that a press gang might have taken your maid's sweetheart, I could ask my brother, he may have some idea as to whether or not it may have happened. Mayhap your friend may help also." said Lord Marsden.
"I am sure that Jamie would help your brother. I am worried about my friend, because I do not like to see her so sad." replied Kate, as the dance concluded and Lord Marsden returned her to Lady Paxton.
"Did you enjoy your dance with Marsden, Kate Dear?" asked Lady Paxton.
"Why yes I enjoyed it very much, Dear Godmama. He has offered to help us to find Morag's Alec." replied Kate.
Posted on Saturday, 31 July 1999
"Marsden," said Lady Paxton, "please bring me a cup of punch and one for Dearest Kate."
"Yes Godmama." replied Lord Marsden.
As soon as My Lord was out of earshot and My Lady Lochmaben had taken the chair her godmother had offered her. "So Kate dear, tell me what do you think of my godson?" asked Lady Paxton.
"He is definitely a rogue, and I must say that I did not expect him to be one of those silly men who must make those silly references to my name or the poor unfortunate woman whose namesake I am. On the whole, I found him quite above the sort of "gentleman" that my Dear Families think is perfect for me. Speaking of Dear Aunt Meg, where has she gone?" asked Kate.
"I believe she is vetting a partner for you, or at least a young man asked to be introduced to you. Though it is my firm belief that she is speaking to Rebecca's sister-in-law; Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Ah, here she comes now. I do believe that is Lord Richard Naismith with her. If that is her idea of a husband for you, I believe that you and Lady Margaret should come to Town more often." replied Lady Paxton.
"That bad is he? Do not tell me, a second son? Looking about for a wealthy wife, well I will just tell him to look elsewhere." said Kate, good humouredly.
"Kate!" exclaimed Lady Paxton with laughter in her tone. Just as Lady Margaret and Lord Richard Naismith came to where Kate and her godmother were sitting, Lord Marsden returned with the punch, which both women took gladly.
Kate just began to drink her punch when, Lady Margaret spoke up: "Dearest Kate, I would like to make known to you; Lord Richard Naismith as a partner for the next set of country dances."
Lord Richard took My Lady's hand and bowed over it with a bit too much flair. To which, My Lady smiled her most dazzlingly brilliant and dangerous smile. My Lady had, over the years, honed her ability to recognise those "gentlemen" who were most interested in her "greatest charm" her 15,000 per annum as opposed to her tall trim figure, her emerald eyes, her rich auburn hair and most of all her intelligence, wit and humour. Kate could tell that Lord Richard Naismith was just such a man. She shook her head at the thought of her Aunt's choice. She would tell her how amiable he was. How he was just perfect. My Lady took a more than ladylike sip of her punch to keep from breaking into laughter that was threatening to escape.
Noticing this, My Lord Marsden rolled his eyes. Lady Paxton had mentioned that My Lady Lochmaben's Dear Families had been looking about for a husband for her and if Lord Richard Naismith was any indication of what they considered a perfect choice, no wonder Kate referred to Englishmen as Sassenachs and quite beneath her. Naismith was a fortune hunter and he wondered if Kate recognise him as such. Though he had the feeling that she was quite able.
Posted on Wednesday, 1 September 1999
Lady Lochmaben tried hard not to laugh at Lord Richard Naismith's appearance. Lord Richard wore a coat the color of claret, with waistcoat of sky blue embroidered with roses that matched his coat. His shirt was snowy white and his neckcloth was tied in the most fantastic knot and Kate wondered how Lord Richard could turn his head, without being instantly decapitated. His breeches were an immaculately white satin. Lord Richard took up his quizzing glass and inspected Kate.
"'Pon my word, but you quite take the shine out of all the other young ladies here My Lady." said Lord Richard, in an overly effusive, at least Kate's way of thinking, manner.
"By that, you mean that my fortune is much more impressive than all the other young ladies in My Lord and Lady's ballroom." My Lady thought to herself, with her most dazzlingly brilliant and dangerous smile. My Lady Matlock's orchestra just began to tune up for the next set of country dances, when Kate finished her cup of punch and Lord Richard claimed her hand.
"I understand that your holdings in Scotland are quite extensive." said Lord Richard, as he turned Kate in the figure.
"One might say that." replied Kate, just waiting for mention of her fortune.
"Surely a castle is a very difficult property for a young Lady such as yourself to care for. It must take a large amount of money to do that." said Lord Richard.
"Oh yes, it does take a large amount of money, in fact I have nearly beggared the estate caring for stray dogs and cats. I try to find homes for them you see and there are so many strays and it is so hard to find homes for them all." replied Kate, in all seriousness.
Yet, as soon the set came to an end, Lord Richard quickly escorted Kate back to Lady Paxton and Lady Margaret Frasier and bowed politely to the ladies. Kate noticed that he made his way to My Lord's card room. As Kate took her seat at her Godmother's side, Lady Margaret noticed the mischievous look on her niece's face.
"Katherine, what did you say to him to make him hurry away in that fashion? Lord Richard seemed such an amiable young man." asked Lady Margaret.
"Nothing of import, Aunt Meg. Besides he would return if I but crook my finger." replied Kate.
"Dangling your 15,000 pounds per annum." said Lord Marsden, in a voice that was for Kate's ears only.
"But definitely." replied Kate, in a similar tone.
"Answer me something, my bonny Kate, are you fond of riding?" asked Lord Marsden.
"Oh yes. I ride in the park in the early mornings." replied Kate.
"So no one sees you riding in breeches or giving your horse it's head.?" asked Lord Marsden, again in a tone for Kate's ears only.
"Are you asking to ride with me, My Lord? Will you be able to keep your animal under control? The last time we met when you were riding, you lost control of your horse." countered Kate, saucily.
"If I recall the situation, you lost control of your three beasts, you call dogs, but yes I am asking if you might ride with me sometime." replied Lord Marsden.
"I consider it." said Kate.
Posted on Wednesday, 29 September 1999
Colonel Fitzwilliam, having heard of My Lady Lochmaben's abigail's plight, and having heard of who was involved, decided to warn My Lady, as he claimed her hand for the first reel. "My Lady, I know your first encounter with my brother and myself was not fortuitous, and you may think that I am trying to run your life, which is something your Dear Families have been doing, but I really must warn you to tread lightly around His Grace of Crayfield. He is an extremely dangerous man in more ways than one. Marsden has told me of your maid's plight and I know that you wish to help her, but being impetuous around that man can endanger yourself, your maid, and her beau." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, in a concerned tone.
"Yes, Marsden has told me that he is the worst rake in the realm, I can handle such. Did you not think that I may have such in Edinburgh?" asked Kate, in a slightly raised voice.
"No, that is not what I meant, and if you doubt me, ask Major MacLeod. He will corroborate what I have just told you of the man. He is very intimately involved with what I refer to. I ask you again, My Lady, to tread lightly around His Grace." replied Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Spies! you and Jamie are spies. Do you deny it?" exclaimed Kate, in a not quite angry tone.
"My Lady, please do not raise your voice. Marsden is the only one who knows of this right now. No one else is to know. Just remember that Crayfield is dangerous in the extreme, and womanly wiles will not work with that man for all he has cultivated the reputation of the dangerous rake, he is not interested in women, unless he needs cover. Do not underestimate the man, My Lady." replied the Colonel.
When the reel was over, Kate rejoined her Godmother and her Aunt Meg. Lady Paxton noticed just how red her goddaughter's face was. "Kate, what did the Colonel say to you? You look overset." she asked.
"It is nothing, Godmother. I just found out something, and it upset me for a short while, but I am fine now. Perhaps we should go into supper now. I am famished." replied Kate, in a subdued tone.
As the Ladies rose to go to the supper room, Lord Marsden crossed the room, after having danced the reel with his Cousin Rebecca. "Please allow me to escort you into supper, My Lady." said Lord Marsden, as he proffered his arm to both Kate and Lady Paxton.
"With pleasure, My Lord." the two Ladies replied, as they took his arms.
"My Lord, do you have the dance immediately after supper?" asked Kate.
"No, why do you ask, My Bonny Kate?" asked Lord Marsden, noticing the fire in Kate's green eyes.
"We shall speak then." replied Kate, through her teeth.
Posted on Wednesday, 3 November 1999
Noting her slightly less civil tone, Lord Marsden wondered just what his brother had spoke of when he had danced with Lady Lochmaben. "I will speak with you, My Lady." he replied.
Lord Marsden left Kate with Lady Paxton and as he went off in search of his brother, he looked with pity on the next young man that Lady Margaret Frasier was about to introduce to Kate. This time it appeared to be The Honourable Paul Canfield. He definitely would be on the sharp edge of her tongue, as he had an idea that he would soon be. Lord Marsden quickly found his brother standing with Major MacLeod.
"James, I want a word with you." said Lord Marsden.
"You will excuse me, MacLeod?" said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he and his brother walked over to an empty corner of the ballroom.
"What did you want, Marc?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam, of his brother.
"James, what were you telling Lady Lochmaben? She wished to speak with me during the dance after supper." asked Lord Marsden.
"I am afraid that I may have offended her. I warned her about His Grace. Kate is an extremely perspicacious young Lady. She knows about MacLeod and I. I would be careful, Marc. She was not happy to discover that we were spies, and we have made His Grace and his activities our own business. I am afraid that it is more than that. MacLeod and I also know where My Lady's abigail's sweetheart is. He is safe for the present, but how safe depends on how discreet she can be. I know that she cares about her abigail and her sweetheart, but if she is not careful, it can endanger his safety. Please Marc, if you have any influence, do not let her get too close. You know just what sort His Grace is." replied Colonel Fitzwilliam.
Posted on Saturday, 20 November 1999
Following supper, Lord Marsden claimed Lady Lochmaben's hand for the dance as promised. "What was it you wished to speak with me about?" Lord Marsden asked My Lady, as they began to move through the figures of the dance.
"Your Brother is a spy, and somehow he has led a young man I grew up with into spying. How dare he?" replied My Lady in a tone that My Lady's Dear Families would recognise as a very dangerous tone.
"My Lady, please, you seem to be a discreet person. If I told you in the strictest of confidences just what my Brother and your friend are investigating, and informed you of your abigail's sweetheart's safety, will you be less angry with my Brother?" asked Lord Marsden.
"I will think about it. What is your Brother and Jamie investigating, besides His Grace of Crayfield?" inquired Kate.
"I do not know if this is something I should be discussing with you. I would hat to have your Aunt accuse me of soiling a Lady's ears, however perfect they are with subjects such as this." began My Lord Marsden.
"My Lord, you were the one who made it known to me that His Grace of Crayfield is the worst rake in the realm. What could be worse than that?" asked Kate.
"My Lady, this is difficult. First, I am aware, as I believe the rest of the gentlemen here, including His Grace, of your property in Dorset. It would appear that a very nasty reincarnation of a very nasty organization has been started by His Grace. I wonder, 'My bonny Kate', if you read any of the London papers that may have found their way to Edinburgh before you left there. It would appear that there is a mad man loose among us. He preys on young women, women of all classes. I do hope that you do not send your abigail out after dark?" replied Lord Marsden.
Posted on Saturday, 20 November 1999
"To which organization do you refer, My Lord. Please do not say that you will soil my ears, because when I am truly angered, I am not known for my Ladylike language, and just what does my estate in Dorset have to do with His Grace of Crayfield? Is not his estate in Shropshire?" asked Kate.
"It is in Shropshire, yes, but his Grace's interest in your estate in Dorset has much to do with his reincarnation and re-formation of a "merry little group" called The Hell fire Club. Forgive my plain speaking, but that is partly what my Brother and my Cousin's husband are investigating. I believe that His Grace of Crayfield has been using a part of your estate in Dorset for a meeting place. I am afraid that his reincarnation of that nasty little group is even nastier than the original group." replied Lord Marsden.
"What about Alec? How did he get involved?" asked Kate, though she had an idea. She had asked Alec to deliver a message to the caretakers of Seacrest. Seacrest was the little estate that her Mama had brought with her when she married her Papa. Perhaps he saw something he should not have.
"Your abigail's sweetheart is safe for the moment. His future safety will depend on just how discreet you can be. My brother's investigations are delicate, because they are dealing with a murderer." replied Lord Marsden.
Posted on Saturday, 4 December 1999
The dance soon ended and as My Lord Marsden was escorting My Lady Lochmaben back to where Lady Paxton and Lady Margaret Frasier sat, he stopped. "What is wrong my lord? Did something happen?" asked Kate, in a curious tone.
"Nothing is wrong, my bonnie Kate," replied My Lord Marsden, as a less than happy look crossed his face. "Do not turn around, you are about to get your wish, My lady."
"My wish? What wish?" asked Kate, her curiosity greatly aroused. A dangerous thing that, or so all My Lady Lochmaben's Dear Families would have informed My Lord Marsden.
"Why it would appear that His Grace of Crayfield has ingratiated himself upon your Aunt. They are headed this way My Lady." replied Marsden, in a quiet tone, as Lady Margaret and a tall, dark haired young man about the same age or a year or two the elder of My Lord Marsden. He wore black evening coat and breeches, with a black waistcoat embroidered with silver, an immaculately white shirt, and an elegantly tied neckcloth. This was Nicholas Ralph Despard Devlyn Annings, His Grace the Ninth Duke of Crayfield, the worst rake in all of London, among other things.
As Lady Margaret and His Grace approached, it appeared that My Lord Marsden was not the only ones who watched His Grace's approach, as Colonel James Thomas Fitzwilliam and Major James Alexander MacLeod of the ___th. of a sudden, were standing next to My Lord Marsden and My Lady Lochmaben.
"My Dearest, Darling Kate, you will never guess the wonderful honour that is about to be bestowed upon you, His Grace has asked especially to make your acquaintance and he wishes to dance with you. Is that not wonderful, Dearest Kate?" asked Lady Margaret.
"Yes just wonderful." muttered Kate. His Grace made his bow to both My Lady Lochmaben and My Lady Paxton, who both acknowledged His Grace with just enough civility to be considered polite.
"Ah Marsden, your servant," said His Grace in an insolent tone.
"Crayfield," replied My Lord Marsden in a tone that was quite dangerous sounding.
"Marsden, very naughty of you, keeping the fairest Lady here so selfishly to yourself." said His Grace, insolently.
"Crayfield, you remember my brother the Colonel and our new Cousin, MacLeod, do you not? They certainly remember you." replied My Lord Marsden, in a tone that was a little bit more dangerous.
Oblivious to the very dangerous undercurrents that were passing between Lord Marsden, and His Grace of Crayfield, Lady Margaret Frasier smiled at Kate, as she introduced her to His Grace.
"It is a pleasure to make the acquaintance of the most beautiful, most fair Lady in My Lady Matlock's ballroom tonight." said His Grace, as he bowed over Kate's hand and brought it to his lips, and let them remain just a bit longer than was considered proper.
"Mayhap I dinna wish tae ken ye. I am only a puir wee Scot's lass wi' no ain tae protect her from Sassenach rakes like ye." said Kate in a tone that everyone could hear and then she said in a tone that was for Major MacLeod's ears alone. "Forgive me, Jamie."
Then chaos reigned, as Kate very "gently" reminded her childhood friend that she did not need anyone to take care of her, with a very quickly assayed kick to his shins.
Just as quickly the chaos quieted and Kate very sweetly appologised to Lady Matlock and informed her that she was beginning to feel a headache coming on, and that she felt that she needed to return to Brook Street.
Posted on Wednesday, 16 February 2000
The morning following the Countess of Matlock's ball, Lady Margaret Frasier took Lady Lochmaben to task for what she referred to as her "scandalous" behaviour.
"Twice, Dearest Katherine you scared away, after you danced with them, two such amiable gentlemen, and then you caused the Countess such dismay with your behaviour towards His Grace. Katherine, how could you do such a thing?" asked Lady Margaret.
"Aunt Margaret, the two amiable gentlemen you refer to are amiable all right, amiable fortune hunters. I have said this before, I refuse to have someone marry me for my money. As for His Grace of Crayfield, he is a dangerous rake, Aunt Margaret, you should know better than to try to push someone like that on me. As far as I can see, the only real gentleman whose acquaintance I made last night was Marsden, for all he is a rogue. He has asked me to go riding with him, and I believe that I shall agree to go. As for the two amiable "gentlemen", I did not scare them away, I am sure we will find them in our drawing room this morning. I told you last night, they would come back if I just crook my finger. I do not think that Lady Matlock was dismayed at my behaviour towards His Grace. Marsden has told me that he is not welcome everywhere. I do not trust him and I am going send a note to Mr. Halesford, I have heard of something to do with His Grace and Seacrest that I do not like. I am going to get to the bottom of this." replied Kate, as she finished her porridge, eggs, bacon, toast and chocolate.
As Kate predicted, despite of her "scandalous" behaviour, My Lady received many floral tributes and invitations to go driving. These were received by Kate with her characteristic cynical laugh, for many of the bouquets came with very poor attempts at poetry. Kate was also correct that she would see Lord Richard Naismith and The Honourable Paul Canfield in the drawing room in Brook Street that morning. Others who were to be found were Lord Marsden, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Major and Mrs. James MacLeod, and unfortunately for Kate, Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Miss Anne de Bourgh, and the Honourable Annabella de Lisle. Despite this, Kate got through the morning with no trouble, and before her guests departed, Kate and Lord Marsden had agreed to go riding three mornings hence. "I will meet you at eight of the clock" replied Kate.
After her guests' departed, Kate hurried up to her bedchamber, where Morag was waiting to help her dress for the theatre, as her Godmother had invited Kate to see a production of MacBeth, with the great Mrs. Siddons as Lady MacBeth. This she looked forward to with great anticipation.
"Ye got a great lot o flowers lassie." said Morag, as she brushed her mistress' and friend's hair.
"Oh aye, and many a silly poem. Now this one I liked." said Kate, as she took the scroll from her vanity table. "Lord Marsden sent this with roses. How he discovered my love for Burns poetry I will never know unless he asked Aunt Charis. Listen Morag:
O my Luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O my Luve is like the melodie,
That's sweetly played in tune."
"'Tis lovely milady. He is no' like the ithers yer Aunt wad wish ye tae wed wi. He is real mon, if ye ask me, lass. If I were ye, I wad tak him, if yer Aunt gives ye a choice." said Morag, as she helped Kate straighten her dress.
Posted on Thursday, 17 February 2000
Just so you know, the next set of verses that were sent to Lady Lochmaben by Lord Marsden were written by James Graham, The First Marquess of Montrose.
As Morag finished with her mistress' hair, and went to fetch the jewels she had requested, Kate finished reading the first set of verses, and began the second, it was thus:
My dear and only Love I pray
This noble world of thee.
Be governed by no other sway
But purest monarchy;
For if confusion have a part
Which virtuous souls abhor,
And hold a synod in thy heart,
I'll never love thee more.
Like Alexander I will reign,
And I will reign alone:
My thoughts shall ever more disdain
A rival on my throne.
He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
That puts it not unto the touch
To win or lose it all.
But I must rule and govern still,
And always give the law,
And have each subject at my will,
And all to stand in awe.
But 'gainst my battery, if I find
Thou shunn'st the prize so sore
And that thou settest me up a blind,
I'll never love thee more
Or in the empire of thy heart,
Where should solely be,
Another do pretend a part
And darest vie with me;
Or if committees thou erect
And go on such a score,
I'll laugh and sing at thy neglect,
And never love thee more.
But if thou wilt be constant then,
And faithful of thy word,
I'll make thee glorious by my pen
And famous by my sword:
I'll serve thee in such noble ways
Was never heard before;
I'll crown and deck thee all in bays,
And love thee evermore.
"You are not only a rogue, but a bold one indeed." Kate thought to herself as Morag fastened her topaz necklace about her neck and thought of the ride she would be having with Lord Marsden. Kate smiled to herself as Morag placed her shawl about her shoulders.
"Morag, I do hope Godmother was correct about Marsden being at the theatre tonight. She mentioned something about his attending her in her box." said Kate, as she rose from her vanity table.
"If yer Godmam says tha he will be attendin' her, he will be." replied Morag, as she quickly made sure her mistress and friend's dress was just right.
"You did a perfect job, Morag. You can have the rest of the evening off. Remember, if you, Fiona, Rachel, and Moira go to the pantomime show, be sure that you go with Ian, Andrew, and Jock. London I hear is a dangerous place for all women at this time, I do not wish anything to happen to any of you." said Kate.
"Aye milady, dinna worry o'er much, I willna gae no where on my ain." replied Morag.