Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nuns are not at all what I expected, or at least that can definitely be said about the nun I went to visit down on the Coast.

I have just about got over my initial shock as to how I should react; for once in my life I was rendered speechless and I yearn for my quick wit to return...

I arrived at the Coast, truffles in tow, prepared for a quiet, reminiscent few days with the nun, yet it seems she had other plans. We spent the first few hours talking solely about the Convent and the wretched priest, but our conversation slowly became a little more stilted and my dear nun seemed quite overcome with emotion. I was flummoxed and totally unprepared for her to confide in me, though I'm glad she did. She was very flustered and after not too long told me to follow her upstairs...

A baby lay in a crib alongside her bed, a beautiful blue-eyed boy, who was overjoyed with the amount of attention he was getting. At first in my innocence I didn't quite understand, but the nun patiently explained that the reason she had joined the Convent was so it wouldn't seem as if the child was hers. She'd had to leave him with her Mother for his first few months in the hope that everyone would assume it was hers and come back as an overjoyed sister. 

I couldn't believe it. A nun, a paragon of virtue, had given birth to a child and was going to conceal her true identity from her son. At first I didn't know how to breach the question of fatherhood, but the nun in her wisdom answered my unasked curiosity with clarity. She had fallen in love with a sailor about a year ago and hoped to marry him. However, he set sail after putting empty promises in her heart and had yet to return. The Church had saved her rather than condemning her and her Mother had taken charge of her daughter's frail state by sending her to the Convent and keeping the child.

Hearing the nun's plight made me wonder how my family would react to an illegitimate child, but as her eyes shone with tenacity and love for her child, I felt she gave me strength to cope with the information and trust in my own family. 

So for the next few days I became one half of a wet-nurse, learning how to feed and burp a baby, fixing my sleeping pattern so that the nun could get some time to sleep and even being proud enough to walk the little bairn in a perambulator across the Promenade.

It took a while to adjust, but I was touched that the nun had wanted to confide in me, she needed a friend as well as her Mother to help her through this ordeal. The only other person who knew was the Doctor. I met him by accident while walking the baby along the sea front. He had ambled on up to me and the baby and taken him right out of his perambulator before I could even shout for help. But when I saw the glee on the child's face it seemed the most natural thing in the world.

The Doctor soon introduced himself, giving me wink in the process and calling me by my name rather than 'Your Grace'. It hadn't occurred to me that the nun would keep my title a secret, but it completely made sense.

I have to admit that I was sad to leave the nun and her small family behind. She is returning to a Convent in the North in a few weeks, and I know that leaving her child behind will tear a hole in her heart, so I have promised to visit her again. The Doctor sent some flowers to her home on my last day with a note for me saying 'These reminded me of you, hopefully they'll cheer up your dear friend, the nun too.' I was touched and mildly impressed with his choice of camellias and gardenias, though I do hope he picked them because of their beauty and not their connotations!

As always it was lovely to return to the Shire and Armiger more than made up for his previous disappointment by meeting me as I returned to hear all about my journey to the Coast. Of course there were a few things I had to leave out, but he did tease me a little about the Doctor. 

It was my brother's coming-of-age birthday as soon as I returned, and there was much mischief between him and his rather too boisterous friends, but it was great fun even though he is still feeling a little worse for wear. I on the other hand behaved impeccably and danced the night away without a care in the world.

Mother is still keeping this suitor behind closed doors, which is most infuriating, but I have been kept distracted by my lovely Lords and Ladies of the Shire. It is of no wonder that Mother is tired of my antics for all we do is exude impropriety and laugh joyously at each other's actions. But I am intrigued nonetheless and feel that maybe I should try be on my best behaviour for a little while... But I'm not making any promises!

D. S.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The last few days have had their peaks and troughs with disappointments and opportunities seized.

Armiger failed to take me to the aforementioned Ball and I am still pouting about the non-adventure. Secondly, this resulted in some misbehaviour over the weekend and as a punishment Mother refused to introduce me to the latest suitor. I thought that I wouldn't care and appreciate the time to wallow in self-pity, but it seems that my curiosity had been piqued and I wanted to see what eligible bachelor had met my Mother's approval.

But no such luck.

On a more positive note I have become a dab hand in the kitchen at making truffles. They are a wonderfully rich dessert and I have been experimenting with different flavours and textures. It gives me something to do while everyone else is enjoying life and I am trapped at home. 

I know I'm being melodramatic, but that's the whole point.

Yet tomorrow I acquire freedom! To see the nun whose friendship I value ever so highly, brings a smile to my face. Although I shall only venture to the Coast for a few days I know that we will have much to talk about (the priest) and some beautiful songs to play on the harpsichord. Truly, I have been looking forward to this journey for weeks now! I doubt that I'll meet anyone new though... For how can a nun socialise acceptably?!

Speaking of socialising, I did accidentally bump into an old acquaintance... The Peacock gentleman must have been doing the rounds for he raised his plumage when I saw him walk through the gardens. We shared the obligatory flirtations, but nothing untoward occurred; I was, at this stage, still expecting to meet my Mother's advocate. But now that I have been excused, refused and abandoned (or at least that's how I feel) I might create some havoc... When I've returned from the Coast that is.

D. S. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

I have only been home for a matter of days but already I have itchy feet and am looking to travel; to go on my own Grande Tour!

I wonder if I have left it too late to ask the Duke to accompany me, but if it weren't for the danger of being a lone woman I wouldn't even want to take my entourage. I want to escape, to rid myself of my title and experience new sights and tastes that I have yet to even imagine. Mother is not as enthralled with this idea as I am... Unsurprisingly.

She has conjured up some eligible man that she procurred from God-knows-where, as only Mother knows how, to make some awkward introductions this weekend. I'm not sure whether I should be grateful or insulted! But I suppose mothers will be mothers and she can't abide having a spinster for a daughter forever! I won't plan on being nonchalant, I will give this poor fellow a chance, but I don't expect him to tickle my fancy, at least not in any comparison to the musician!

I did receive an invitation yesterday that brought a smile to my face, from the dear nun who left me alone at the Convent two weeks ago! She is having a wonderful time on the Coast and wondered whether I would care to join her for a few days. Of course I said yes, I'd be delighted to see her again and I look forward to evenings huddled around the harpsichord singing hymns.

Armiger has kept in touch though I haven't seen him half as much as I would have liked to, but I do hope he keeps to his promise of a Ball tonight! I could so do with some fun, and I'm sure I could single out that seventeen year old and have some fun with him...

There I go again. I even went to Church this morning with Mother to try and atone for some of my sins but I can't seem to help myself! If I'm not hurting anyone, am I really doing anything wrong?


D. S.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It seems that I saved all my bad behaviour for this summer!

Every year I make new resolutions that fade into the background as life takes hold but compared to last year, and with my infatuation with the musician, I thought I'd been relatively well-behaved. However, I seem to have over-indulged during these summer months; causing havoc at the Convent, scandalising my (non-existent) reputation, fraternising with the Scottish Earl... Is it dreadful of me to be proud of myself for not pursuing the priest?

I cannot believe that I even had audacity to utter those words, but his blunt judgement of my character has reformed me somewhat, and I still crave his approval. I know that I have left the Convent and I won't see the priest in close proximity any time soon, but even at church I'll feel judgement pass through his eyes. Am I really that awful, that immoral? Actually, that is not a question I want answered.

The Duke's new cousin-in-law, his former betrothed, has yet to grace the Shire with her presence, as is the custom for a new bride. Of course there are a few altercations with the new marriage, but I would hate to be estranged from any of my family due to an improper wedding but the Duke being the Duke has failed to mention the occurrence, let alone his own feelings. Of course I shouldn't expect any less. 

Alas Belle has had her birthday celebrations and I was not in attendance, for which I feel very guilty, but the Convent was very strict about my comings and goings. One of the reasons why it was so easy to slip into the Scottish Earl's arms was because of the close proximity, it would have been harder to stay away...

It is wonderful to be home. Mother has made a fuss and my brother has grown a few more inches... I wonder what the next few weeks will entail.

D. S.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Although I have seen the Duke since I found out about his former-betrothed's recent marriage I haven't plucked up the courage to ask him how he feels.

I know that I would be devasted; I have no qualms with admitting my fear of rejection,but the Duke is always so calm, so regal. He would die rather than admit he was in pain, that he was hurting. Emotions are not at the forefront of his mind whereas I am led by my heart... And by my lust.

No there is nothing new to report back regarding the Scottish Earl, nor even the seventeen year old friend of Armiger who graced my presence not that long ago... I have been behaving as it were, to prove to no one but myself that it CAN be done.

One of the nuns has left me. I never thought I'd get too attached to someone whose sole purpose in life is dedicated to God, but she taught me things I'd never even considered and although she has moved to a new Abbey further North, she is no longer in confinement. Once I have left the Convent at the end of this week I shall make the pilgrimage to see her, for music was our passion and she never judged my mistakes too harshly.

The priest on the other hand seems to have a vendetta against me. He won't speak to me unless he has to, and he barely looks at me when he says the few polite words through his gritted teeth. I know that my behaviour is sometimes less than desirable but I though a priest of all people would be the most forgiving!  I shouldn't really complain, and I know that my Mother would be pleased that his stony silence has reformed me, albeit for a few days. So I suppose I should just acknowledge that his distance is working... But I yearn for his approval and at the same time resent the power he has over me.

D. S.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

If it were true that one's ears burned when rumours and gossip were being spread I don't think I'd ever have a moment burn-free.

I shall make no apologies for my brazen behaviour over the last few weeks, nor hint at a twinge of regret, but it seems I have become the victim of salacious slander. I should not be surprised that word got out; Mother has raised her eyebrow at me more than once as I return home bleary eyed after a day at the Convent and the nuns have very little to talk about other than my insubordination. Yet I did think that it was part of a priest's code and conduct to be discreet and keep secrets...

There is nothing more to report other than the infrequency of my liaisons with the Scottish Earl and the surprisingly wonderful time I am having at the Convent. I never thought I'd utter the words, but, I can't wait to have children of my own! I'm nowhere near ready, but I am looking forward to being a Mother, if only I weren't slightly hampered by my lack of a husband.

I think Mother is afraid that I shall join the Church and become a nun. Unbelievable of course, though I suppose it is better that she thinks that rather than knowing the truth about my dalliances! I dread to think how she'd react if she knew even half the things I've done... I'd be locked up until my wedding day!

Speaking of weddings, I heard through the grapevine that the Duke's former-betrothed has secretly married a cousin of his. I daren't ask the Duke if it is true, I should know better than anyone to not listen to vicious rumours, but if it is true he must be hurting at the familial betrayal! 

Oh hypocrisy! How I have missed you!

I wonder if he is relieved, whether he ever thinks of her, if he's grateful or if he even knows. I know any attempt to seek him out to quench my desire for facts would end up with a door slammed in my face but I can't help myself. I shall write to him. No doubt it will not be long before we meet at some Ball or other but I cannot restrain myself from wanting to know the truth, from wanting to make sure that he is all right... I wonder if I should ask the priest for his council.


D. S. 

Monday, August 01, 2011

Even after a full night's sleep my eyes are still red with fatigue.

Never before have I been able to appreciate the hard work put in by nuns, governesses and teachers for the children in their care. I don't think it is something that is suited to me for the long term, and highly inappropriate for a Duchess but as I've said before I'm enjoying my time here at the Convent far more than I thought possible.
A few nights ago I had the chance to reconvene with my Ladies of the Shire and Armiger. As much as I love and appreciate all those who work with me at the Convent, nothing truly makes me happier than spending time with my nearest and dearest friends. The time we spend together is made ever more precious as currently our lives are so terribly busy. Each of us pursuing endeavours to make our futures more fortuitous.
We discussed many things from the scandalous to the mundane and everything inbetween, though a return to the Continent made all of our tongues wag most excitedly, and I do hope that we manage to visit Iberia together in the next coming weeks.
I have heard very little from the Duke since I have returned to the Shire. I know nothing except that his Grande Tour was a success, but that I never even began to doubt.
Every now and again my heart pangs slightly for the North. I miss the slightly-less-than-exemplary beahviour that was no more acceptable, but was forgotten instantly with the latest fashions and even more sordid scandals. I miss Belle. Her birthday is nigh and it saddens me to think I shall not be with her to celebrate. I miss the Coxswain, the Brewer, the Court Jester. I miss them all and cannot peer into the future far enough to establish when I will be able to see them next.
I should be used to it by now, but every Summer in the Shire I pine for the Northern counties, and this year it is no exception.
D. S.