Lady Olivia Chapman
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Requiem


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2018-06-15
Requiem

The morning had begun. 

The Duke and Duchess of Whippen boarded The Persephone under clear skies, and set sail for the colonies. It was a special voyage; the Duchess' first of this greath length and one which held many adventures for them both. Olivia bade them farewell and traveled to Hatchford Park, the family seat, to run the estate and await their return.

Much time passed with no letter, and Olivia contacted one of her father's most trusted merchant sailors, to give her a better idea of why that might be. She sat at the desk in the library sipping tea while Captain Alford stood with his weather-beaten hand resting on the back of a chair, the other held his tricorn to his side. "Depending upon the time of year, there may be storms," and noting her alarmed expression, added "but when a gentleman with His Grace's experience takes to the sea, there should be no need for concern, m'lady."

A map was unrolled and he showed her the route that they had most likely taken. He spoke of knots and nautical miles and things she knew nothing of. She had been on a ship several times, but her only concerns were whether her stomach would cooperate and if her gowns might be better off laid out, to prevent wrinkling, than in a trunk .

The Captain left, confident that he had provided all the information that she might need and still she sat at the desk, watching the sun slowly descend, and one question ceaselessly pulled at her mind, like a pup nipping at a skirt hem: What could be taking so long to send a letter?

Two more months passed and finally Olivia summoned the courage to send her father's other ships to look for them. It would leave her without passage to Sorrentina, but her pleasure was secondary to her concern. She consoled herself when winter came, imagining her mother's demure pleasure and her father's quick temper at her usurping his ships and crew. 

Time passed slowly. Conversations with various servants about household matters transformed from useful to their being unable to gain her full attention. She slept fitfully, if at all. The maids did their best to look after her, but with all this time passing, worry crept into their minds as well.

Nearly six months since they had set sail, Olivia sat trying to focus on her needlework when the rattling of a carriage approaching brought her to her feet. At last she would get the letter she had been waiting for! Her heels scuffed against the wooden floorboards and her hand almost failed to get the door open before the clattering came to a halt. Before she could utter the words "At last!" an ashen Captain Alford stepped from the carriage onto the dry ground.

The two found their way back to the desk in the library. She, again sitting. He again standing, though his grip on the back of the same chair left his hand white-knuckled, as if he were hoping to inflict more pain on the inanimate object than the lady before him.

He spoke words like "never arrived" and "evidence of a shipwreck" and "no-one could have survived," but Olivia just heard white noise. She remembered standing, and then fainted dead away. For weeks, she was bed-ridden, overcome by grief, but unable to shed a single tear.

A month later, just as Summer began to embrace the northern estate, a memorial was held for the Duke and Duchess, there being no bodies for a proper burial. Orphaned, and alone, Lady Olivia Chapman managed to endure the service, the condolences from the villagers, servants and pastor. She said she would like to remain alone to say additional prayers and was obliged. Once assured that all had gone, she looked at the altar and the light streaming in the windows, and muttered "What sort of God allows His children to suffer so?"

Her slight figure, clad in black, descended the chapel steps. She walked into the small family plot that sat beside the church and walked past the stones of some of her ancestors. Her gloved hand brushed across the top of each of them as she passed them, as if to greet the souls of the departed.

She was exhausted. Her entire being ached. She sat on one of the stone benches and looked at the two stones that had been set forward of the others. No ground was overturned, no evidence of recent burial. A bird began to sing in an overhead branch, and finally the tears came, burning trails down her cheeks.

The mourning had begun.

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((Note: Since both of my RP parents decided that FL > SL, I thought it was an opportunity for more writing. Getting back into the swing of 18th Century RP :) ))

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The Earl and the Lady


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2017-02-28
The Earl and the Lady

In the cool, crisp morning, the chamber maid set about lighting the fire as Lady Olivia lay in her bed, staring up at the canopy above her, contemplating yet another marriage to a man who was a stranger to her.  She had modern ideas about marriage; mostly that she should know and love the person to whom she would be tied for the balance of her life. Her father felt otherwise.

Her eyes drifted, falling on the letter that had sent her to her father's estate. She had thought perhaps that it would simply be to visit with her, but he had gotten straight to the point after dinner, as they sat sipping sherry, bespeaking great things of this gentleman who claims he had been introduced at a ball just this past summer and who, to her father's glee, had attested to her beauty and charm, making it clear that he simply would not leave her father's home without coming to some agreement.

The flattering tale did leave her with some hopes, at least. He was young, had her father's approval in terms of wealth, title and station, and yet she could not quell her curiosity. Did he have dark eyes? Was he ill-tempered? Did he love her? Her father went on and on about the match, and then on to a hunt that he had recently attended as she sat quietly, hands in her lap atop her gown and thought through the dance partners she had had this past season. There had been some handsome, some who stepped on her toes, some who had been quite diverting and then her thoughts settled on one in particular.

His manner had been somewhat unrefined, though certainly not unpleasant. He had complimented her throughout the evening, though not to an uncomfortable degree and he had been quite handsome. Could he have been the gentleman in question? She thought as her father prattled on about foxes and dogs and horses. A muddy business, apparently. He got to his roundabout point and finally came to its conclusion "So you see, it turns out that I'd known his father. Good man, Maitland. Pity about his elder son. But quite a good man, James... much like his father, bless his soul."

"Maitland" she uttered and it came to her. 'So it was...' she smiled, sitting up a bit straighter and summoned the footman to pour her father another glass of sherry.  "Papa... tell me more about the Earl..."

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Consideration


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2016-12-04

I settled back into the heavy leather chair, sighing softly at the warmth the sun had bestowed upon it, and looked across the desk at the young man seated before me.

"Angel," I began "I have read your letter of introduction and I understand that you are highly qualified for the position..."

The young man nodded, confidently, sitting upright.  He was handsome and well built. His frame was slightly larger that what might have been a perfect form, but that was just being picky.  He had all of the attributes and experience that made him quite suitable.

And yet, and as always, the past stood beside me, whispering wise counsel into my ear. "Do not forget.... Katie...."  I accepted the ethereal advisement of the years gone by and shifted his letter atop my journal, and willed my countenance expressionless, though a shadow of that great betrayal swept across my features in the warm afternoon light.

"One thing I expect, beyond the impeccable attention to your duties, is that you are steadfast in your loyalty to me.  I will not hesitate to end your employment should you fail to do so.  While I do appreciate that you have come at my father's recommendation, you are under my employ, not his. Is that understood...?"

I hoped that he did.  I had plenty of servants, but none beyond my maid who might accompany me in travels; and who might be my constant companion, and hear my private and intimate conversation... and if he were to breathe one word of it to Papa...

I watched as the young man nodded, his brow threatening to knit in concern and then soften "I do understand, m'Lady," he responded "your confidence is well kept with me."

Assured, at least for the moment, I nodded sharply and reached for the small bell on the desk, lifting it to summon the house maid.

Standing and brushing my skirts of imaginary dust, I gestured to Anne as she entered "Please show Angel to his quarters, and see to it that the tailor is fetched. The livery will likely need to be let out a bit."

I turned and walked to the windows as Anne curtsied and departed with my new footman, surveying the park.

It was good to be home again.

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Evening Prayers


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-09-21

Weeks and months had passed since laying eyes upon the Estate and finally I had everything nearly in place. I had received a letter from Mama and Papa advising me of the death of two of my dear cousins from smallpox, and thought a visit to the chapel in the house a good idea. I also had much to be thankful for in my own good health and good fortune.

I walked into the dark, paneled room and was immediately touched by the faint scent of incense, from a mass long past, undoubtedly. The evening sun streamed through the stained windows in the front of the room, each one bedecked with an image of Faith, Hope and Charity. Place such as this had always touched me deeply. The knowledge that so many prayers had been said here in this very room, for so many different things. Prayers for grace, for healing, for safe travels for a loved one. I am not a very pious person, I never have been, but churches and chapels always turned my mood somber and serious.

I clutched my prayer book to my chest and walked to the kneeling bench. My heels seemed too loud for such a silent room.

Kneeling, I felt my heart overflow with the things I had done which had cause offense to others, and to God. I pressed my palms together and began to pray, silently petitioning for the repose of my cousins, the good health of my Mama and Papa, and all of my friends, for more grace and modesty and for the King. I rose and walked to a pew to watch the rays of sun travel down the long windows. Sitting wordlessly, I imagined the weddings and funerals that the previous owner must have had here. I had never considered a home with a chapel before, but now I thought it a very good thing indeed.

Sighing deeply, I rose, straightening my skirts and walked across the floor giving one last glance to the day's last light as it sliced through the glass and landed squarely on the cross on the altar. I walked through the doors, closing them as quietly as possible, allowing nature and God to say 'good night' in peace.

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Evening Prayers


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-09-21

Weeks and months had passed since laying eyes upon the Estate and finally I had everything nearly in place. I had received a letter from Mama and Papa advising me of the death of two of my dear cousins from smallpox, and thought a visit to the chapel in the house a good idea. I also had much to be thankful for in my own good health and good fortune.

I walked into the dark, paneled room and was immediately touched by the faint scent of incense, from a mass long past, undoubtedly. The evening sun streamed through the stained windows in the front of the room, each one bedecked with an image of Faith, Hope and Charity. Place such as this had always touched me deeply. The knowledge that so many prayers had been said here in this very room, for so many different things. Prayers for grace, for healing, for safe travels for a loved one. I am not a very pious person, I never have been, but churches and chapels always turned my mood somber and serious.

I clutched my prayer book to my chest and walked to the kneeling bench. My heels seemed too loud for such a silent room.

Kneeling, I felt my heart overflow with the things I had done which had cause offense to others, and to God. I pressed my palms together and began to pray, silently petitioning for the repose of my cousins, the good health of my Mama and Papa, and all of my friends, for more grace and modesty and for the King. I rose and walked to a pew to watch the rays of sun travel down the long windows. Sitting wordlessly, I imagined the weddings and funerals that the previous owner must have had here. I had never considered a home with a chapel before, but now I thought it a very good thing indeed.

Sighing deeply, I rose, straightening my skirts and walked across the floor giving one last glance to the day's last light as it sliced through the glass and landed squarely on the cross on the altar. I walked through the doors, closing them as quietly as possible, allowing nature and God to say 'good night' in peace.

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The Settlement


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-09-18

After receiving a letter from my parents in early summer bidding me to come home for an important discussion, I found myself in the midst of a flurry of activity. My father, it seemed, was interested in purchasing land for industries in the growth, and eventual trade of cotton, tobacco, sugar and indigo in the West Indies. He envisioned doubling his merchant ships in the sale of the finished product. I was resigned to a visit requiring nothing more than looks of admiration at my father's future successes, but he and Mama had more in mind.

A good portion of the lands in England were being sold, he advised me, to pay for these investments.... including the estate which he, himself, had given me to oversee! Faced with the possibility of having to move back into residency with overbearing parents, I began to protest when my father raised his hand to silence me.

"Olivia," he chided me"hold your tongue and allow me to finish before jumping to any conclusions. I have thought this through and feel sure this is the most prudent course of action. I am going to invest in your future, as well. As you are aware, your match to anyone socially preferable requires that your hand comes with a large settlement. I found myself in a quandary about how I should protect your dowry, whilst assuring that your fortune might... "he paused, looking for a diplomatic phrase, and then shrugged and laid his cards bluntly upon the table"...make the match more attractive."

I was dumbfounded. It all came back to marriage again. Oh, how exhausted I was with the prospect of another potential "Baron". My countenance must have belied my thoughts, because my dear Papa came closer, stroking my cheek affectionately and bringing my lips to curl into a smile.

"The short of it is this, my dearest daughter. Rather than risk a fortune which might well be spent by a scoundrel, I am instead taking some of the profits from my endeavors and we are going to find a suitable estate which will encourage the right suitors to come calling."

I was elated. I allowed them the luxury of their belief that I was again dreaming of a marriage, when instead the bells of independence rang in my head, happily drowning out further conversation.

The entire summer was spent in the process of finding just the right location and upon seeing the estate in Somerset, I knew that was the one. Each day of my father departing in a carriage to speak with a solicitor or a land agent brought me closer to my heart's desire until finally he revealed that the deed was, in fact, and in law, in my name alone and with a legal entailment preventing it from changing hands from any other than either my heir, or, in the event I should die childless, be absorbed back into the family, to be bestowed upon the next of kin.

I did my very best to retain my modesty and economy throughout, and finally... FINALLY... the day came that I had longed for. I was back at the helm, where I belonged, the unlikely, but indisputable, captain of my own destiny, with just the winds of fortune to guide me.

Months have been spent in the acquisition of a proper household, groundskeeper, stable hands, and the like, and at last only a few small details remain. A list of friends long since met, sits before me on my writing table, and I cannot help but smile knowing that very soon, I might write them to bid them 'Come to Somerset...'

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The Settlement


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-09-18

After receiving a letter from my parents in early summer bidding me to come home for an important discussion, I found myself in the midst of a flurry of activity. My father, it seemed, was interested in purchasing land for industries in the growth, and eventual trade of cotton, tobacco, sugar and indigo in the West Indies. He envisioned doubling his merchant ships in the sale of the finished product. I was resigned to a visit requiring nothing more than looks of admiration at my father's future successes, but he and Mama had more in mind.

A good portion of the lands in England were being sold, he advised me, to pay for these investments.... including the estate which he, himself, had given me to oversee! Faced with the possibility of having to move back into residency with overbearing parents, I began to protest when my father raised his hand to silence me.

"Olivia," he chided me"hold your tongue and allow me to finish before jumping to any conclusions. I have thought this through and feel sure this is the most prudent course of action. I am going to invest in your future, as well. As you are aware, your match to anyone socially preferable requires that your hand comes with a large settlement. I found myself in a quandary about how I should protect your dowry, whilst assuring that your fortune might... "he paused, looking for a diplomatic phrase, and then shrugged and laid his cards bluntly upon the table"...make the match more attractive."

I was dumbfounded. It all came back to marriage again. Oh, how exhausted I was with the prospect of another potential "Baron". My countenance must have belied my thoughts, because my dear Papa came closer, stroking my cheek affectionately and bringing my lips to curl into a smile.

"The short of it is this, my dearest daughter. Rather than risk a fortune which might well be spent by a scoundrel, I am instead taking some of the profits from my endeavors and we are going to find a suitable estate which will encourage the right suitors to come calling."

I was elated. I allowed them the luxury of their belief that I was again dreaming of a marriage, when instead the bells of independence rang in my head, happily drowning out further conversation.

The entire summer was spent in the process of finding just the right location and upon seeing the estate in Somerset, I knew that was the one. Each day of my father departing in a carriage to speak with a solicitor or a land agent brought me closer to my heart's desire until finally he revealed that the deed was, in fact, and in law, in my name alone and with a legal entailment preventing it from changing hands from any other than either my heir, or, in the event I should die childless, be absorbed back into the family, to be bestowed upon the next of kin.

I did my very best to retain my modesty and economy throughout, and finally... FINALLY... the day came that I had longed for. I was back at the helm, where I belonged, the unlikely, but indisputable, captain of my own destiny, with just the winds of fortune to guide me.

Months have been spent in the acquisition of a proper household, groundskeeper, stable hands, and the like, and at last only a few small details remain. A list of friends long since met, sits before me on my writing table, and I cannot help but smile knowing that very soon, I might write them to bid them 'Come to Somerset...'

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Summer's warm embrace


By Lady Olivia Chapman, 2014-06-29

I had slept for what felt like days. My lids were heavy from too long a slumber, and when my maid, Emma, pulled back the sashes, letting in the glare of light, I raised my hands to shield them. "What time is it?" I queried, even then, too lazy to move but for sliding deeper into the soft mountain of blankets and pillows upon my bed. "Nearly ten o'clock, milady" she replied, bustling about gathering old clothes and seeing that creases didn't form in the gown she had just pressed. "Would you like breakfast in bed again, milady?"

The winter had been so long, and although tempting, I had scarcely answered spring's verdant beckoning, preferring instead to keep to my quarters, with an occasional trip to the salon to visit with my parents, when they weren't busy with affairs of their own. Mama insisted that I must travel with her to Paris for some of the new fashions, while Papa tried to be nonchalant in asking about suitors. The unspoken issue, was that if I were not married, the estates could not properly be managed, and eventually, the income that I might inherit would dwindle away, whilst I did the same, as a spinster and social outcast. I did my best to remain patient with them both. Truth be told I simply wanted to be left alone. That was not to be the case.

One afternoon in April's misty rains, a coach arrived with a gentleman who dropped off a gift to me from Papa. A sweet ivory-coated dog, with a note attached to her collar "Her name is Athena, and she is under strict orders to keep you company, my sweet dear girl." At first, I admit to being wary of the gift; Papa was many things, but he was not often so sentimental. I thought perhaps he might have an ulterior motive in mind. The Baron may be gone some time now, but I still live in anxious apprehension of another match being made without my knowledge, and a dog - while a lovely companion - might have been some excuse for me to attend a grouse hunt and suddenly "oh, dear, Sir Whoever You Are, how unexpected that you joined us, do you know our daughter, Olivia?" Thankfully no mention of a shoot, or any other such social engagement was mentioned and after two month's time, I found myself calling for Athena to join me in my walks through the park, or to join me in my travels.

Two white paws appeared on my bedside, followed by the sound of familiar panting, accompanied by her perpetual smile. Emma hustled over, but I waved her away, stroking Athena's fur and with one final stretch, acquiesced to the canine's wishes that I should stop being so lazy, and take her for a walk.

We had traveled by ship to La Rocca two days prior and were met with the penetrating warmth that never quite seems to get as far as England. I had cloistered myself for too long; the social season was nearly upon us, and I had to reacquaint myself with its trappings. I washed and had a light breakfast. Emma managed to outfit me and style my hair without tripping over Athena. I leaned toward the mirror, looking intently for any signs of my advancing age of twenty-four, and tamed some unruly tendrils of hair before turning to Athena, dancing around in joy at the prospect of a long stroll.

I opened the door and immediately,the summer air enveloped me in its warm embrace. Athena trotted down the path of our rented villa and paused, turning to be sure I hadn't decided to abandon her before galloping over to a group of leaves that were swirling in the breeze. She inspected every inch of ground, no doubt learning the comings and goings of everyone who had passed there recently. A smile crept across my face. and as I watched her, the shadows began to reach for the sea.

We must have covered all of the island by the time we reached the amphitheater. The church bell rang out, calling the faithful to evening mass and I gazed out at the great immensity of the sea, feeling rather small and insignificant beside it. The soft wind caressed my face and Athena sidled up to me looking weary and loving. In that moment nothing mattered but that moment. No pressures of a stable future or an advantageous marriage, no worries as to how I would save the family's estates, or manage to survive without a husband's supervision or income.

In that moment, I was safe and warm, loved and cherished, and happy in summer's warm embrace.

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