Beginning, Section II
Posted on Wednesday, 8 March 2000
The morning of Kate's scheduled ride with Lord Marsden broke fair and clear. Kate woke bright early and rang for Morag, who brought her breakfast.
"Good mornin' tae ye milady. 'Tis a lovely mornin' for yer ride wi' his Lordship. I will just be layin oot yer ridin' habit, your proper ridin' habit, no' yer breeches. I ken ye wish tae ride in yer breeches, but ye promised yer Aunt that ye would behave when ye rode wi' his Lordship." said Morag, as she opened the clothespress and brought her new riding habit. It had just come from Madame Clotilde's shop, and it was quite handsome. It was of a military cut, of bottle green superfine trimmed with a lighter green shade. Her hat was a Hussar's cap, which she wore at a stylishly rakish angle, that Kate knew showed her to advantage. She could not wait to make her way to the Park.
"Thank you Morag, you have done fine job." said Kate as she rose from her dressing table. As she rose, Kate noted the same worried look on her abigail and best friend's face, "Do not worry, Morag, we will find Alec. I think it has something to do with an errand I sent him to do before he was to go to His Grace's house in Town. I am going to send for my man-of-business and he should be able to tell me something. It has to do with Seacrest. I just may fancy a short holiday in Dorset, before we return home." said Kate, as she patted her abigail's hand, before leaving her chambers.
When Kate came downstairs, she was most thankful for the fact that her Aunt Meg was still abed. She never came downstairs before ten, so she would not be after her about propriety. She knew that she had to take a groom with her, and she would take Ian, for he knew that when his mistress went riding, he was to ride at a very discreet distance behind her.
Kate soon arrived at the Park entrance where she was to meet Lord Marsden, but Kate noticed that her mare was a bit restless so she began her ride. Kate loved to ride in the early mornings for then she could ride her mare Flora MacDonald at a full gallop without the prying eyes of Society watching. She brought her groom with her and he would not say a word to "Aunt Meg". Her servants were loyal to her and her alone.
"This is not the time to be thinking of propriety, Kate. You should be thinking of how free it feels to be out riding on a beautiful day such as this." thought Kate to herself as she loosened the reins and put spur to Flora and was off at a slow gallop. Kate, was watching her path as she rode, but as she galloped, she began to be aware of another rider who was riding at a pace that was just a bit slower. Turning to look behind to see who the rider was, a mischievous smile spread across her face.
"Just try to catch me up, My Lord. You will not succeed, for your efforts will be futile" Kate thought to herself, as she urged horse into a faster pace. As she rode, she noticed that Lord Marsden had begun to quicken his horse's pace, until they were both head-to-head, with very little space between. Kate was about to get ahead, when Lord Marsden reached out and got hold of the reins and pulled on them and brought Kate to a slow stop.
"How dare you stop me!?" said Kate, in a slightly angry tone. "For you I would dare anything, sweet 'Kate of my consolation'." replied Lord Marsden, bringing Trafalgar to a halt, dismounting, and helped a very uncooperative Kate to dismount. Dodging her hand, he most boldly caught My Lady up in his arms and kissed her most thoroughly.
Posted on Saturday, 11 March 2000
Kate struggled to break free from Lord Marsden's embrace, while Lord Marsden tried hard to dodge Kate's hand, but not, apparently his best, as he felt Kate's hand find its mark. "Touche my darling Kate, but I must say that was most invigorating. Would you like another?" asked Lord Marsden, in a very bold tone.
"I agree My Lord, that was most invigorating, I know not to which you refer, another ride or another kiss or both." replied Kate, just daring him to try what he was daring to try.
They say discretion is the better part of valour, my Sweet Kate, so as not to risk another slap, I would rather we ride, but you must introduce me to this lovely lady." said Lord Marsden, of Flora MacDonald, Kate's bay mare. Her favorite mount.
"This Flora MacDonald, named after the protector of "Bonnie Prince Charlie". When she was foaled, I knew that was the perfect name for her." replied Kate, in a mischievous tone.
"Flora MacDonald? Madame, your patriotism knows no bounds, I see. Though I see that she is a sweet goer*. Would you like to have a race, "Sweet Kate of my consolation"?" asked Lord Marsden, boldly.
"Only if it is a true race, no giving me a head start just because I am a female. You will find I do not take well such things." replied Kate, just as boldly, as she remounted her mare and Lord Marsden his stallion.
Posted on Tuesday, 28 March 2000
Kate and Lord Marsden each sat poised on their mounts, ready for a hard gallop. "One, two, three, go!" shouted Lord Marsden, and the two were off. As My Lady requested, My Lord Marsden did not give Kate a head start just because she was a female, nor did he appear to let her win. It appeared to him that Kate's mare was the faster. He also noted that Trafalgar had taken an interest in Flora MacDonald, and the mare was as spirited as her mistress. He also found that he was correct that the mare was a sweet goer*.
As was My Lady Lochmaben's wont, Kate was jubilant in her winning." Yes, My Lord, I must admit, that was quite invigorating. I must say that I would rather ride in the early morning, than at the silly hour of five in the afternoon, when one must ride at a snail's pace. As for the kissing, I must say that though I have had the pleasure of other men's kisses, yours are more like a hearty red wine, compared to their watered down stuff," said Kate, as Lord Marsden helped her down.
"Sweet Kate of my consolation, I hope you do not need anymore experimenting with kissing, while you are here and that you save all your kisses for me." said Lord Marsden, who once again brought Kate into his arms and kissed her quite soundly and thoroughly.
"You are a rogue, My Lord. Please we must leave before we are seen. I wish to speak with you about something. I will return home, and change. I will see you later in my drawing room. I am afraid Aunt Meg wishes to pay a call on your Aunt Catherine. I am afraid that she has taken me in dislike." said Kate, as she made herself tidy once more.
"Aunt Catherine does not take many young Ladies in like, especially if she sees said young Lady as interfering in her plans for her Nephews "happiness". Lady Catherine has been after my Cousin Darcy to marry her daughter, Our Cousin Anne for the longest time, and he is too shy to speak up. Anne is a sweet girl, but she is too much under her Mother's influence. And that is all I am going to say on that subject. I will see you in Brook Street, Sweet Kate." said Lord Marsden, as he took Kate's hand in his and brought it to his lips.
Posted on Tuesday, 27 June 2000
When Kate returned to Brook Street, she gave her mare to her groom, and asked to have her unsaddled and brushed. Kate then hurried inside, and upstairs to her bedchamber, where Morag waited to help her into a lovely peach sarcenet morning gown, that had arrived from Madame Clotilde's shop the morning before. When Morag had declared her friend looked bonny, Kate hurried down to the morning room and joined her "aunt" Meg for breakfast.
"Did you enjoy your ride, Dearest Kate?" that Lady asked of her niece.
"Yes I did," replied Kate, smiling to herself as she recalled the race with Lord Marsden, and his kisses. "I was joined by Lord Marsden, Aunt Meg."
"Katherine, Dearest, you surely did not involve yourself in a race with Marsden, did you?" asked Lady Margaret Frasier, in a tone that rose higher and higher with every word. It was Lady Margaret Frasier's becoming worried that Kate had fallen into a scrape tone.
"It was such lovely ride, and if I happened to get of His Lordship, because Flora happened to go faster than that slug he rides, besides I was surprised that he was able to keep it under control." replied Kate sweetly, smiling her dangerous smile.
"Dearest Kate, what have you planned for today?" asked Lady Margaret, quickly changing the subject. "For I had planned to pay a call in Bruton Place, and invite Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Dear Anne to dinner on Wednesday."
"I hope you were not planning to go until later this morning, for I have some correspondences to attend to." replied Kate. This was not an excuse, for Kate had planned to send for Mr. Jereboam Halesford Esq., her solicitor, for she had had some most important things to discuss with him, things that included the letter she had received before she had departed Edinburgh, a letter that had to do with Seacrest, and His Grace of Crayfield. She was also expecting her Dear Godmama, and Lord Marsden.
"I was not planning to go immediately, Dearest Kate." replied Lady Margaret.
"Thank you, Dear Aunt Meg," replied Kate, as she rose from the table. "For I am expecting Aunt Charis, and Lord Marsden."
Kate hurried to her study, where she took up a sheet of paper and began the following:
My Dear Mr. Halesford,
I am desirous of seeing you soon on a matter of some great import. It has to do with the letter I received from you before I left Edinburgh. I will not be fobbed off by your excuses this time. Word has reached me of the person whom you deemed as a proper lessee for Grandpapa's retreat. Please reply to this as soon as is possible for you, so that a time can be set up for you to see me in Brook Street. As always, I am.
Katherine, Lady Lochmaben
Katherine sanded, folded and sealed her letter, and summoned Andrew, one of her footmen, and asked him to deliver it to Mr. Halesford's office.
Five minutes after Andrew left Brook Street, both Lady Paxton and Lord Marsden arrived. Kate had especially wished to see Lord Marsden, even though they had just been riding in the park, for she had something to say to him about what they had discussed at his Mother's ball on the subject of His Grace the Duke of Crayfield and Seacrest. How she had begun to wonder if Mr. Jereboam Halesford had something to do with what Lord Marsden had told her of Crayfield.
Posted on Thursday, 6 July 2000
Kate brought the papers that she had wished to show Lord Marsden. She had become suspicious when she had received a letter from Mr. Halesford, inquiring as to possibility of leasing her Grandfather's retreat at Seacrest to the Duke of Crayfield. Kate having heard of his Grace of Crayfield's somewhat unpleasant reputation, had told her solicitor, not to lease to His Grace under any circumstances, and yet it would appear that he was under the impression that he was going to be able to lease her Grandfather's retreat.
"My Lord, I wish to have a further discussion on the little matter of His Grace of Crayfield. I believe it would shed further light on that subject you mentioned. It has to do with Seacrest. You are aware of the fact that Seacrest was an unentailed property of my maternal Grandfather, Lord Ashford, and that he presented it to my Mother as a wedding gift. You are also aware that Seacrest first came into my mother's family from my Great-Grandfather, who bought it for a woman, who, if the rumours are correct, was his mistress, but I shall not discuss skeletons from the family closet, be that as it may, my maternal Great-Grandfather had an abiding curiosity in the stars, and had what he referred to as his observatory built on the property. Most of the locals in Dorset refer to the building as "Lord Ashford's Folly". It is this, that the Duke of Crayfield is most interesting. My Grandfather was also interested in the stars, and he used his Father's building as both an observatory and a retreat. I would imagine that having heard that silly legend of it being haunted, His Grace of Crayfield saw it as the perfect place to resurrect his nasty little club. I am of the belief that my solicitor and man of business might be mixed up in with this, for I received an enquiry from Mr. Halesford, as to the possibility of His Grace leasing my Grandfather's retreat. I had not wished him to lease it, while, I am not averse to leasing the property to someone who is truly interested in the stars. In fact, I believe that, that is who my Grandfather wished to lease his most unusual retreat to, and Mr. Halesford knows it, as having drawn up my Grandfather's will." said Kate.
"I see, my Lady. Might you show me all the pertinent documents? Perhaps I might be able to help you." replied Lord Marsden.
"Thank you, my Lord." said Kate, as she gave Lord Marsden the sheaf of papers she had brought from her study.
While Lord Marsden began to peruse the documents that Kate had given him to read, Kate rang for tea, which Lord Marsden welcomed greatly.
As they shared thoughts, Kate began to devise what she thought was a wonderful plan. She had begun to feel that a change of scenery was needed, and perhaps a week or three at Seacrest would do the trick. Knowing exactly what some would say, she decided that she would tell only a select few of her plans to go to Dorset.
"Marsden, I have decided on a plan." said Kate, in her most purposeful tone.
"Now why do I get the feeling I will not like this plan of yours, My Darling Kate." said Lord Marsden, in a teasing tone.
"Actually, it is not a plan, just that one can take only so much of "The Season", and I thought a change of scenery was needed, and I have not been to Dorset in four years." replied Kate, speculatively.
"No! Please Kate. I know that Seacrest is your property, but I have heard that even now, Crayfield has taken possession of your Grandfather's retreat. I admire what you are trying to do, but you could be putting your dearest friend's sweetheart's life at risk." replied Lord Marsden, knowing exactly what Lady Lochmaben's reaction would be.
Seeing Kate's dangerous smile, he reconsidered what he had just said. "Mayhap, on reconsidering, you might be of some help to my brother and Major MacLeod. A house party at Seacrest may be just the thing." said Lord Marsden.
"Yes, but I will tell only a select few that I will be leaving London." replied Kate.
Posted on Wednesday, 20 September 2000
"Aunt Charis, would you like to accompany Morag and myself on a small journey to Dorset. I seem to be tired of all the "distractions of The Season", and I am sure that a fortnight by the sea would raise my spirits. They say that spending time by the sea is quite invigorating, besides I have not been to Seacrest in quite some time." said Kate to her godmother, one morning not too many days after her interview with her solicitor, and her talk with Viscount Marsden.
"Why Katherine, I would love to visit Seacrest once more. I visited there with you Dearest Mama one summer while we still in school. That was when she was told that it was to come to her. We had the most wonderful time, especially the time we stayed the night in the "Folly". Your Dearest Mama had all three of us believing in the ghost that supposedly haunted it. The story she told was so convincing that we were sure that we heard or saw something just as the bells in the village church were striking midnight. I was not your Mama's only guest, Rebecca, and our new friend Maria Martin* were also with us. The rest of the time we rode and walked along the beach. We found some beautiful shells and driftwood." replied Lady Paxton, her eyes alight with happy memories of her girlhood friends.
"As much as I do not wish to say this, I imagine that we must bring Aunt Meg along, though this mayhap will keep her from her matchmaking schemes." said Kate, as she poured her godmother another cup of tea, and offered her some of her Cook's fresh scones.
"When do you plan to leave, Kate? I will need time to pack the proper gowns and dresses." asked Lady Paxton.
"I will let you know. I to needs must broach this subject carefully to Aunt Meg. She is determined to keep throwing her idea of the perfect husband at my head. Lord Richard Naismith indeed! The Honourable Paul Canfield, hah! Dishonourable you mean. She honestly thought that I would welcome the His Grace of Crayfield's attentions. I will not let anyone marry me for my money, and I do not like rakes. Rogues such as Marsden perhaps, but I will never have anything to do with a rake such as Crayfield." said Kate, in a determined tone.
* Maria Martin is now, Mrs. Edward J. Gardiner of Gracechurch Street.
Posted on Wednesday, 21 February 2001
When the ton heard of the Baroness Lochmaben's plans to remove to Dorset for a fortnight, the reactions were surprisingly various, from a sort of dismay and feigned sadness on the part of the young Gentlemen who considered themselves members of the court that Kate refused to acknowledge the existence of, the self proclaimed leaders of this "heartbroken" group happened to be Lord Richard Naismith and the Honourable Paul Canfield, Kate just smiled and proclaimed that the aforesaid "heartbroken Gentlemen" would stay "heartbroken" by her departure from London until the next combination of pretty face, trim figure and large fortune came to Town. Lady Margaret Frasier pooh-poohed this, as to her, the adoresaid "Gentlemen" were amiable, pleasant, and were quite amusing when they called in Brook Street. Calls that were paid way too often.
"I just cannot fathom why you wish to journey to Dorset at the height of the Season." exclaimed Lady Margaret, as she sipped her morning coffee, the morning that Kat broached that particular subject.
"Aunt Meg, I told you before, I am tired of the "delights" of the Season. I have not visited Seacrest in quite some time, and a fortnight by the sea will be just the thing to lift my spirits." replied Kate, as she cut into her bacon.
The reactions of some the ton's Ladies were varied, some said they would honestly miss the young Baroness, as she had been a breath of fresh air in their Drawing Rooms, other Ladies of the ton i. e. Lady Catherine de Bourgh, felt a kind of relief on the news that the Baroness Lochmaben planned to journey to Dorset, this relief was on the part of Lady Catherine's goddaughter; the Honourable Annabella de Lisle, and her matrimonial plans for her only brother's oldest son and heir.
"That red-headed hussy's plans to journey to Dorset are a god-send for you and Marsden, gel. With that Highland Amazon gone, you will have a better chance to attach Marsden's interest." said Lady Catherine to her goddaughter, as they went through the stacks at Hatchards.
Lord Marsden and Colonel Fitzwilliam had their own reactions to Kate's plans, as they met at Whites, not too long after it was made known to Lord Marsden that Kate was going to spend a fortnight in Dorset at her little estate, Seacrest. They had been making plans regarding this, and Colonel Fitzwilliam and Major James Alexander MacLeod's investigations on the part of the Crown.
"Marc, are you sure that this will work? Will her Ladyship not become suspicious of the two "new stable-hands"? That she will realise that they are not what they seem to be? We both are very aware of how perspicacious she is. She will surely recognise MacLeod. MacLeod and I were chosen especially for this assignment. Crayfield is dangerous, as is the rest of his group." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he sipped his brandy.
"James, that is exactly why you are going to Dorset with MacLeod as "stable-hands" and I am going to journey to Dorset to provide escort for the Ladies. Then we will meet and make our plans, besides I plan to keep Kate distracted as best I can." replied Lord Marsden, as he refilled his own glass.
"How well you are able to keep her Ladyship distracted remains to be seen, unless you are attempting to be Petruchio to her Katherina." said the Colonel in a good-naturedly teasing tone.
Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2002
"I will not even dignify that with an answer, brother mine, for that is none of your concern," replied Lord Marsden in the tones of an older brother whose patience had been tested once too often by a particularly annoying younger brother." Yours and Major MacLeod's concern is to watch out for Lady Lochmaben's welfare and any of his Grace's cohorts."
"Ah." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, in a tone that spoke volumes, which caused both brothers to break out in good natured laughter. As both brothers hurried up the front steps of their parents house in Berkeley Square, and sought entrance. As they entered the house, it became evident that their Mother was hard put to entertain the visitors that were at this moment paying a call upon their Mother, for the brothers could hear the unmistakable tones of their Aunt Catherine and the Honourable Annnabella de Lisle.
"Make my excuses to Aunt Catherine, James. I have some very important papers I need read in Papa's library. They have to do with our plans, besides I need make sure that all is ready, as I am going to be escorting the Ladies to Dorset. His Grace has not discovered it yet, but I have leased Kate's Grandfather's retreat, then again, Kate is not aware of the fact either." replied Lord Marsden, as he opened the library door.
He was just about to enter the library, when he heard his Mother call out to both brothers," Marsden, James come greet your Aunt, your Cousin Anne and Miss de Lisle."
"Yes Mama." replied the brothers, as they entered the drawing room, and greeted their most difficult relative, shared a private gesture with Miss Anne de Bourgh, who just had not the spirit to rebel openly against her mother.
"Good afternoon, Miss de Lisle. How are you enjoying the weather?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he began to use perfect military strategy to thwart Lady Catherine's matchmaking tactics, as his brother went to the cabinet to pour himself a small glass of brandy, to parch his too dry throat.
"I am sorry I will not be able to come to your musical evening, Aunt Catherine, for I have promised to escort my Godmother, Lady Lochmaben and Lady Margaret Fraser to Dorset." replied Lord Marsden as he made the motions of drinking his brandy.