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..."