Trenowden Estate, Cornwall, one year later
For an entire year, Lord Lovell Trenowden continued with his major renovations of the manor.
“You have finally finished?” said his wife.
“I have finally finished,” he replied, putting an arm around her shoulders and leaning in to touch their son on the cheek. “He is sleeping,” he said.
Lady Grace sighed. “It has taken him long enough.”
“What did you do this time?” asked her husband, hugging her to him for a brief moment.
“I placed him in his perambulator, and I believe that I walked almost as far as Truro.”
Lord Lovell raised an eyebrow. “I hope you were not alone.”
“I could hardly expect anyone to accompany me for such a distance, and you have been so busy with the house.”
He turned his head to look up at the magnificent front façade of the manor. “I will be busy with it no longer,” he said, admiring the finished effect from the relative comfort of the front lawn.
“Good, for I will be glad to have my husband back at last,” she replied.
He kissed her on the top of her head. “You have never been without your husband,” he said, smiling. “For he has always been here, right at your side.”
She snuggled into him, breathing in his scent. It was a mild day, but a fine mist had started to develop, and Lady Grace had begun to feel a little of the chill. And so she stole some of the warmth from her husband.
“Do you have any more walking left in you?” asked Lord Lovell.
“I do not know,” she replied, kissing her sleeping baby softly on his forehead.
“I will push the perambulator, if it will help,” he said.
“Do you wish to walk somewhere in particular?”
“Only up to the dower house to see my parents.”
“I think I can manage the dower house,” she said, handing the child to him. “Are you worried about your father?”
Lord Lovell shook his head. “No, he is much better these days and even thinking of coming back to work.”
Lady Grace was surprised. “I thought he was enjoying his retirement.”
“He is, but now he can see the mines starting to make a profit again, I think it makes him itch a little to be involved.”
“Will you be able to find him a job to keep him occupied? Perhaps he can manage the new Grace Mine?”
Lord Lovell shook his head again. “I am afraid I could never truly trust him not to squander everything all over again. No, I will hire a manager once I have repaid Aunt Elizabeth. The year is up now, and I can afford to repay her in full rather than carry the debt over for another year.”
“Perhaps we will see more of Lady Elizabeth now that she has bought one of the new houses in the town. I was so sorry when she did not make it to the wedding.”
“She was not very well, remember,” he replied quietly.
The two of them fell silent for a moment, and Lady Grace remembered how upset her husband had been when he had discovered that his aunt had been in hospital. They had not even noticed her absence from their wedding only a year before, and when they had realised she had not been there, they had both felt incredibly guilty.
“However, she is well now, and I am looking forward to seeing her at the church,” said Lady Grace.
“Me too,” said Lord Lovell.
They went and found the perambulator, where she had left it, and they placed young Edward, named for the grandfather he never knew, inside. Lady Grace tucked the blanket in around him and pulled the hood up.
“There is a sea haar coming in,” she explained when she saw her husband’s puzzled expression. “I do not wish him to catch a cold on the very day of his christening.” She knew that she should call it a baptism, but the Catholic church was still quite new to Lady Grace, and she easily slipped into familiar words and phrases.
Lord Lovell turned his face to the sky, and she watched the mist leave a fine film on his skin.
“I had not even noticed,” he remarked.
“You were too caught up in admiring your beautiful house,” she replied.
Lord Lovell released the brake on the perambulator, and together, they walked along the cliff path towards the dower house. Lady Grace was thankful that her husband walked on the seaward side, for he protected her from much of the mist. Nevertheless, she pulled her shawl tightly around her shoulders and shivered again. Seeing this, he let go of the perambulator with one hand and put his arm around her once more, pulling her towards him.
“Are we expecting many guests to the christening?” he asked her.
“Hmm, no more than forty or so,” she mused in reply.
“Do you miss your London life?” he said. “You would have more than forty guests at your child’s baptism there.”
“I do not miss it at all,” she replied truthfully.
“Not even a little?” he nudged her.
“Oh, I miss Mother and Uncle Philip … I mean, Step-Papa.” She paused.
“You do not miss your sister?”
Lady Grace heaved a big sigh. “No, not really. I miss her high dramatics and her various shenanigans. But she is not in London any longer, regardless.”
“Of course she is not,” agreed Lord Lovell with a laugh.
“Indeed, everyone who would come to a christening in London has been invited to our christening here, so it is neither here nor there,” she mused. “Do you think they will all be comfortable in their guest rooms?”
Lord Lovell threw back his head and laughed. “Every room in that house has been renovated to the highest standard. They will be warm and dry. The roof will not leak, the windows will not blow off. They have the best Egyptian bed linens. And they will be fed the finest of Cornish fare. If they are not comfortable, then they know what they can do!”
The dower house came into view, its wonderful whitewashed walls gleaming in the half-light.
“We will reach it just in time,” said Lord Lovell. “For I feel a storm brewing.”
“I hope it will blow over quickly,” said Lady Grace. “Our guests will be stranded in Truro otherwise.”
“Then we will take the baptism to them!” said her husband cheerfully.
“Do you think that Father Cornes would agree to that?”
“He is being paid handsomely for his trouble,” replied Lord Lovell. “And if he will not perform the ceremony, then our brother Ambrose will.”
“But Ambrose is already Edward’s godfather. Will he also be permitted to perform the ceremony?”
Lord Lovell turned to his wife and touched his nose with hers. “You will always find an obstacle, will you not?” he said with a smile.
Lord Lovell’s father came to greet them at the gate, but instead of clapping his son on the back or kissing his daughter-in-law on the cheek, the first thing he did was carefully reach into the perambulator and lift his grandson out.
“Do not wake him, Father,” said Lord Lovell. “Grace has only recently managed to get him to go to sleep.”
The older man was far less cantankerous now he was off the ale, but he could still be quite gruff when he put his mind to it.
“I have had two children,” he reminded his son. “I know how to lift a baby without waking him.”
Nevertheless, Lady Grace still watched baby Edward closely, but aside from a little snuffle and a balling of the fists, all he did was snuggle into his grandfather’s gentle embrace. And then he began to softly snore, which made the others all want to laugh.
“You had better come in out of this rain,” said Lord Oliver, glancing quickly at the sky. “You are not even wearing coats.” He tutted, shaking his head.
They followed him into the house and then the small sitting room, where Lady Caroline was knitting something for the baby. “Do you like it?” she asked, holding the long white gown in the air for them to see.
“It is a little late for a christening robe, Mother,” said Lord Lovell laughing.
“Then it is a good job that I have already finished that,” said Lady Caroline, reaching into her knitting bag and pulling out a completed gown. “This one is crocheted, however,” she said. “Is it to your liking, Grace?”
Lady Grace rubbed her hands on her dress before taking the delicate dress from her mother-in-law. “It is beautiful,” she said. “I am so glad that you managed to finish it.”
“Then what is that one?” asked Lord Lovell, pointing to the one on her knitting needles.
“This one is for your sister,” she said, letting her words linger in the air.
As realisation dawned, delighted smiles spread across the younger Trenowdens’ faces.
“Hannah and Ambrose are having a baby?” said Lady Grace.
“They kept that one to themselves,” said her husband.
Lord Oliver pushed one of the pugs to one side on the settee, and he sat down, still holding baby Edward in his arms. It pleased Lady Grace no end to see the clear love in the old man’s face. She sat down in an armchair opposite, from where she could keep a watchful eye on her child.
“Ar, he is a good baby,” said Lord Oliver, finally looking up at them.
After spending an hour or so with his parents, Lord Lovell and Lady Grace made their way back to the manor to prepare for the baptism, clutching the beautiful christening robe that Lady Caroline had made for them. It had stopped drizzling by now, but the ground was wet underfoot, and the moisture began to creep up Lady Grace’s hems. A carriage rattled up behind them with the Manwaring crest on the doors, and Lady Grace was amused to see her sister’s happy face hanging out the window as she waved at them.
“Come on, you slow coaches!” the younger woman shouted with glee as her carriage passed them and continued up to the house.
“She certainly seems happier,” said Lord Lovell.
“Step-Papa has done a good job with her.”
“And her husband has,” added Lord Lovell.
“Yes, and to think that she did not even wish to entertain courting poor Lord Stuart, let alone marry him.”
“He has grounded her, I think,” said Lord Lovell.
“He is much older than she is,” mused Lady Grace. “Perhaps that has had something to do with it all.”
She reached into the perambulator to check on her son. She was always terrified when he slept so soundly that he might have stopped breathing altogether. Well, one did hear of such things, didn’t one?
Another carriage rattled up behind them, causing them to move off the track out of their way. This one was the Rutledge carriage. Inside she could see her mother and stepfather. But they were deep in conversation, as was often the case, and they did not look up in time to acknowledge the Trenowdens on the path.
It was closely followed by yet another carriage, this one carrying her sister and brother-in-law, Hannah and Ambrose Yates.
“I cannot remember the last time this track saw so much traffic,” commented Lord Lovell.
“That would have been for our wedding last year,” teased Lady Grace as yet another carriage passed them on the track. “See, here is your aunt as well,” she announced happily.
Lord Lovell sighed and looked into his wife’s eyes. “So much has happened this past year, he said. “Trenowden is like a different place. Back then, it was so bleak and dowdy. Now it is positively bustling with life.
By the time they had reached the house, the carriages had all been taken around the back to the coach house so that the horses and the groomsmen could have a drink and a rest, and the guests had all been shown to their rooms by the staff. Once they had freshened up from their respective journeys, they joined Lord and Lady Trenowden in the newly painted green drawing room for cocktails. Lord Lovell first scolded his sister for not telling him her pregnancy news herself, and then he congratulated them both. However, after greeting their guests and exchanging small talk and pleasantries, it was time for them too to retire and get ready for the ceremony.
An hour later, the steady caravan of guests made their way slowly down to the small church on foot, chatting happily away, for it was a happy event. The villagers and the mineworkers were tagging along by now, and the procession grew steadily longer. Lady Grace found herself hoping they would all fit into the tiny little chapel.
Lord Oliver and Lady Caroline were already at the chapel waiting for them. The procession was about to go into the church when there was another flurry, and this time a gilded carriage arrived, pulling up outside the lych-gate. The door opened, and out stepped Miss Louisa “Lulu” Hayward, Lady Grace’s infamous and apparently courtesan cousin.
Lady Grace was, of course, thrilled to see Lulu, but she could not help noticing the difference in their attire.
“Look at you!” she said after they had greeted one another. “In your fine silk and ribbons. You look lovely!” They embraced before Lady Grace continued, “And here am I, the mother of the star of today’s show, and I am dressed in sombre and demure colours.” She stepped back so that she could fully look the latecomer up and down. “You are as beautiful as ever!” she said.
“My dear cousin,” said Lulu. “Fine dresses and sparkling jewels are no contest with the glow of true love that positively shines from you. You look so happy, my dear. Almost as though you are with child again!”
Lady Grace quickly exchanged a quiet look with her husband, and Lulu put a hand across her open mouth. “Please tell me I have not inadvertently uncovered a secret?” she said. However, Lady Grace did not wish to rain on either baby Edward or Lady Hannah’s respective parades, and so she shook her head. Yet she knew that Lulu knew she had never been able to lie about anything.
Lulu bent down and whispered, “My lips are sealed.”
However, looking at all the surprised faces that were staring open-mouthed at the fashionable and glamorous lady all the way from London, it was likely that Lulu was too late. By now, the entire Trenowden community probably knew that their lord and lady were expecting another child.
To calm herself, Lady Grace grabbed hold of the silver locket that hung from a fine chain around her neck and contained a tiny painting of her dear departed father. Whenever she felt nervous or a little anxious, she simply touched or held the locket, whispered a few words to her father, and all was well once again.
Despite the hustle, the guests still managed to clump together in their little familial groups. Villagers stood with other villagers, the mineworkers were with other mineworkers, and each of the respective families gathered together also. With the exception of Lulu, who was on her own.
Lord Lovell’s sister Lady Hannah rushed forward, her hand outstretched.
“You must be Grace’s cousin?” she said, shaking her warmly by the hand. “I have heard so much about you. Please, come and stand with my husband and me.”
Lulu smiled at Lady Grace over her shoulder and went with Lady Hannah into the church. At first, Lady Grace’s mother maintained her distance, preferring to remain with her husband, daughter, and son-in-law. Then she caught her older daughter’s eye and followed Lady Hannah and Lulu into the church. When Lady Grace and her husband took their places at the front, she was glad to see that her mother was at least sitting in the same row as her cousin.
I do hope the two of you will make up your differences, she thought, once again touching the locket lightly. Tell them, Father, she pleaded.
She looked around at the church to see there was not a space left in any of the pews. When she turned back to the front, she whispered to her husband from the corner of her mouth.
“Our little Lord Edward has turned out to be a popular little thing.”
Soon afterwards she caught the scent of incense as Father Humbert Cornes and his attendants made their way slowly down the aisle to the chanting of some old hymn in Latin. In front of them was the young lad who was swinging the ball of burning incense. The smoke that came out of the ball stuck in Lady Grace’s eyes and throat, and she tried desperately not to cough out loud.
When the priest and the choirboys and the other chaps carrying standards or staff or other such things were settled in their pews side-on to the altar, an ancient organist pulled out the stops and pumped at pedals before playing the opening bars of the first hymn. There was a pause before the choirboys began to sing:
Guide me O thou great redeemer / Pilgrim through this barren land …
When they reached the chorus, the entire congregation joined in.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven / Feed me now and ever more / Feed me now and ever more.
As the hymn finally ended, the proud parents stepped up to the font with their son as they had practised only the day before.
“I am so pleased with my growing family,” whispered Lord Lovell to his wife. “I hope we will have many more.”
Before Lady Grace had the chance to reply, a loud clap of thunder sounded outside, and heavy rain could be heard bouncing on the church roof. Then baby Edward opened his little mouth, and he screamed at the top of his little lungs.