Miss Linfield and Mr. Stanton Make Each Other’s Acquaintance
((This scene is a collaboration between the players of Charlotte Linfield and Alexander Stanton.))
After enjoying a late breakfast with Silas, Alexander Stanton heads out to take his first walk of the day. He whistles cheerfully, feeling particularly good about his choice of a dark blue waistcoat with thin light blue stripes. It is rather dashing. He turns off the road, deciding to head over near the cliffs rather than the river. Perhaps he'll go to the river later today on his second walk and escape the heat in the water.
The cliffs have been lovelier today than Charlotte can recall in her short time in Tyrehampton. All morning, since the moment the sun came up, she has been capturing them on her canvas, and even now still adds touches of paint to her piece despite the change in light. It is all from memory now, her mind's eye providing an accurate picture. She has no idea the time, but it hardly matters to her. The deep green dress she wears, with a cream colored, paint smudged apron over it, already has paint on it as well from her forgetfulness as she is captivated by her own work.
When he gets closer to his destination, he sees a young lady painting there and almost calls out a greeting to Mariah by reflex. But no. Mariah now resides in Italy, and this lady has dark hair--clearly it is someone else. Still he doesn't wish to startle her and calls out, still at a bit of a distance. "Good day, dear lady!" He raises a hand up in greeting.
At first, Charlotte does not even hear anyone. Though something tells her to turn around, the back of her mind reminding her to greet whomever it may be. She glances behind her, surprised to see a stranger standing there. Nonetheless, she smiles brightly and waves a paint-stained hand back at him. "Why good day! I hardly expected to have company. Though it is most welcome." She looks up at the sky, trying to guess the time. "Might you know what time it is?"
"Ah, well, it was eleven when I left on my walk. I should think it's at least half-past by now." Alex smiles and comes a bit closer, nodding his head toward the painting. "Hard at work, it seems! May I see what you've been up to?"
"Half past eleven?! Heavens, I have been here since dawn." She sighs. It is not altogether unusual for her to lose track of time this way. As the gentleman approaches her painting, she glances back at it, and holds up her hand. "You may, but you must give me one moment. It is lacking something." Quickly returning to her painting, she adds a few strokes of deep orange before turning back with a smile. "There, now you may come look."
"/Dawn/? You are dedicated, dear lady. I can't think of anything I would happily get up at dawn for." He grins and waits patiently for her to add whatever she feels her painting is lacking before stepping closer and looking it over. "Well done! The light you've added makes the cliffs look even more attractive than usual. I wouldn't have thought such a thing possible."
"Well, having seen the cliffs at sunrise and sunset, I realized that only at dawn did they truly look magical. You shall have to drag yourself out of bed and make an effort to see them such. Unless a painting is good enough for you, that is." Turning back for a moment, her tongue slips past her lips slightly as she adds a deep blue to the sky. At his compliment, she looks down at the ground, blushing a bit. "You are too kind sir. I hardly know what to say."
"Ah, perhaps someday I will make the effort, but for now I think your rendering will have to suffice!" He chuckles. Silas would get a kick out of the idea of Alex getting up at dawn. Or be terribly put out, as Silas would be awoken as well. He realizes he hasn't introduced himself yet and bows. "Forgive my rudeness...my gran wouldn't let me hear the end of it if she learned I failed to properly introduce myself. Alexander Stanton, at your service! Do you paint out here often? I should think I'd remember having seen you before."
She smiles brightly, her cheeks dimpling and her eyes bright, despite the dark circles beneath them and her skin still being a bit pale from her illness after her near drowning. "I will certainly forgive it, as I quite forgot myself." She curtsies deeply before rising with a laugh. "Charlotte Linfield, pleased to make your acquaintance Mr. Stanton. Not so very often. I've only just arrived recently. I do not think I've had the honor of knowing you yet."
"Miss Linfield, a true pleasure indeed! I enjoy welcoming new residents to Tyrehampton. A nicer place you won't find, truly. What brings you here?" He looks her over quickly, trying to estimate her age. "Mrs. Hatch's school, perhaps?"
"I appreciate the welcome, then. It has been lovely thus far, aside from the river." She shudders thinking of her near drowning. At his question, she laughs happily. "Heavens, at 22 I should hope not. No, my family decided to move from London so my young sisters could finish growing up in the country air with room to safely run around without being run over by a wild carriage. Have you been in Tyrehampton long?"
His eyebrow goes up when she mentions the river, but he answers her question before addressing it. "I suppose that depends on what you'd consider long. I've been here for a little over a year and a half. I suppose I left for similar reasons... London is too crowded and I wanted space. Perhaps to just run around as well, like your sisters." He grins and winks. "I am especially fond of the river... ah, I do hope it hasn't wronged you?"
She distractedly adds a few strokes to her painting, though she keeps one eye on him as he speaks, a wide smile on her face at his answer. "One cannot blame you. London can be a bit too wild at times, and rather too crowded to be sure. You must enjoy the outdoors quite a lot I suppose." At his wink, she cannot help but laugh and attempt a wink back, though both of her eyes close as she does. His mention of the river causes her to glance that way for a moment. "Well, I suppose you could say it has, though it was likely my own carelessness that caused my accident. I was rather swept away by the current and required rescue."
"Yes, dear lady, I enjoy the outdoors a great deal. I'd hardly ever go indoors if it wasn't for meal times. And a comfortable bed to sleep in." /And needing to be discreet with Silas./ He continues to smile as he speaks, though he isn't sure if she tried to return the wink or just blinked with a little more energy. Either way, she laughed instead of scowled, so there is that at least. "Swept away by the current! What a dreadful ordeal that must have been. May I ask who came to your rescue?"
Frowning slightly, realizing she should never have made any mention of the river, she shrugs and decides to answer his question anyway. "Yes, my foot slipped on a rock beneath the surface and I was unable to find a foothold to stop myself from being dragged along. My head went under and well.." She trails off, and then remembers the question. "A Lord Grey. He also apparently perused my sketchbook without my knowledge."
"Lord Grey?" Alex thinks for a moment. "The name sounds familiar, but I don't think I've met him. Seems like a good fellow to have around in sticky situations, however! Despite his sneaking looks in a pretty lady's sketchbook..." He shakes his head and makes a tsk sound. "He should know better! Secret things in sketchbooks." He chuckles. "I do hope you'll give the river a second chance. I'm sure it didn't mean to leave such a bad first impression."
"I cannot exactly say I did either. I'm afraid I was incapacitated." His compliment makes her blush again, more deeply this time. "He was very conveniently there. I should not be here now had he not been. Despite his peeking in my sketchbook, I am still quite grateful for his daring rescue." She considers whether she would ever brave the river again, and shakes her head. "No, I think the only way I prefer the river is as a subject for my art. You are welcome to it, though. As long as you are cautious of course. I should not like to think of anyone else succumbing to its current."
"Ah, no, I should think not! I thank you for your word of caution, dear lady, I will be careful when next I'm there. Perhaps later today, if the heat builds. But yes, three cheers for your Lord Grey. I shall have to buy him a drink should I encounter him in the gent's club--a small reward for his heroics! I also once had to pull an unfortunate soul from the river. The fellow fell in and couldn't swim at all." He shakes his head, but he is still grinning.
"Yes, I shall have to do the same." She pauses and then laughs at herself. "Not in the gent's club of course. I doubt I should be very welcome there, sadly. Though I should greatly like to see what it might be like." His mention of saving someone makes her look shocked. "Heavens! Thank God you were there to save him. I am sure you were /quite/ dashing, risking your own life like that. I assume the fellow is in health now?"
"A grave oversight, I've always said...keeping ladies out of the club. My good friend, Lord Donegal, was trapped there during the last blizzard we had and there were ladies stuck inside with him, having had to seek shelter there. Ah, perhaps if you wait around the club at the next hint of blizzard you may get your chance, Miss Linfield." He laughs and then winks at her again when she calls him dashing. "The fellow is quite all right, yes. Accident-prone that one, but he's well enough. I was just happy to be of service! I enjoy being helpful, however I might."
"Was he? It sounds like an awfully fun time, even if there were extenuating circumstances. Perhaps I shall do just what you suggest so I might be included in the fun. Was the blizzard quite horrible then? For so many to be forced into a place where they are typically unwelcome?" She laughs too at his wink, though it devolves into a coughing fit for a few moments. Recovering well though, she says, "I am sure he was very grateful for your quick response. Are you of help to people often?"
Alex grins, amused that she thinks being stuck in a gentleman's club during a blizzard sounds like a fun time. "I have to agree with you...it does sound fun. I envy him. I was stuck in the /church/. Though, we did have the communion wine, so it could have been worse. We all slept together in a storage room to keep warm." His brow furrows, however, when she coughs. "I try to help others often, yes. I've some accounting skill and help my gran with her estate, and some others with money matters. And I run a small charity that distributes blankets and school supplies and such to families in need." He pauses. "Forgive me, but are you alright?"
"The church? Why, that sounds positively dull. Though I am sure sleeping a room with who knows how many other people must have been quite entertaining, especially if wine was involved." She dabs a few more bits of paint onto her canvas as he speaks, though she looks back at him several times so he knows she still listens. "It seems you are quite the hero in multiple ways then. Very dashing." She bites her lip at his question and shrugs. "It is simply a bit of a lingering symptom of my accident. I am much recovered though. You should have seen me a week ago."
His eyebrow quirks up at her again and he chuckles. He likes being called a hero and will promptly rub Silas' face in it upon his return home. "Wine did help immensely, yes. Ah, speaking of...sort of... I do have..." He reaches into his jacket and pulls out his flask, "this? A strong Irish whiskey. Might help with the cough, if you'd care for a bit?"
"I can imagine so. Was it quite raucous?" She laughs at the very idea of being wild in a church of all places. "Oooh was the vicar present? He must have been quite dismayed if he was." Looking to the flask, she smiles playfully. "I think I would care for a bit even did I not have this ever-present cough. You are too kind to offer."
"To your health, dear lady!" He gives her a playful bow and comes closer so that he can hand her the flask. "Raucous? Goodness, no. Though it would have made me enjoy being in such a place for the first time ever. Ah, well, as much as one can enjoy something with a broken hand." He flexes his right hand. It was mended now, but still a little stiff sometimes. "The vicar was very much /not/ present, as that would have made everything truly terrible. He'd probably have wanted to pass the time with prayer. Or an especially long lecture on bible things." He frowns, a hint of disgust on his face.
She curtsies back with a teasing smile and takes the flask, drinking not quite deeply from it, but certainly not shyly. "A shame, for I think a raucous gathering in a church would be quite the place to be." She frowns a bit at the mention of a broken hand. "Well, I am glad you are in health now. It must have been dreadful to be limited to the use of one hand." Shuddering at the thought of a long sermon, she grins nonetheless. "What, you do not appreciate being spoken down to about the hazards of sin? How very un-Christian of you, Mr. Stanton!"
He is impressed with her handling of the whiskey and then laughs, happy to not have offended her and happy that she seems to feel similarly about church. He stifles the laugh and tries to look offended, but doesn't pull it off as he continues to grin. "Dear lady, I am so well-educated in all things sin that I simply do not wish to waste the poor vicar's time, that is all. I'm being helpful, once again." He chuckles. "Perhaps we will have to hold some sort of raucous gathering of our own. When the vicar's out of town, of course. Ah, I know a few people who could be persuaded to attend. We can drink good wine, stronger than communion wine, and... hmm. What would one do at a raucous church gathering?"
"Oh, I beg pardon for such a grievous insult to your reverence. You simply /must/ forgive me for speaking out of turn. I am sure the vicar is very appreciative of your efforts to save him the time of trying to save your very worthy and innocent soul." She attempts to wink, failing miserably. She considers his suggestion and adds a few strokes to her painting while she thinks of a proper activity. "Why, instead of hymns, we shall have to sing naughty sea shanties instead. And instead of prayer we shall... hmmm... I can think of nothing!"
His grin widens when she attempts to wink, as he recognizes that is what she is trying to do now. "Ah! Mr. Silas Turner, my housemate, knows a great deal of naughty sea shanties and drinking songs... we shall be well covered there. Instead of prayer... " He pauses, not sure if he'll be out of line, but a little too caught up in the fun to really stop himself. "I don't suppose we could play a few rounds of Kiss the One You Love Best? Paying forfeits is /kind of/ like praying--making up for sins and such. We played a version at a recent picnic which was great fun. Ah, but I did not end the game feeling very penitent."
"Does he? Then we shall be quite fortunate to have him on our side." She waits for his suggestion, her eyebrows going up before she gives a delighted laugh. "I think that sounds like just the thing. Parlor games of that sort are always a wonderful way to pass the time." She leans in as if telling a secret. "They are quite superior to praying if you ask me. I do wish I could have attended that picnic if there were forfeits involved. Were you not very penitent at all? Why, for shame, Mr. Stanton!"
He leans in a little as well--it would not be a bad thing to /not/ be overheard in their silly conversation. "On the contrary, Miss Linfield, I think it's a mark of being a true gentleman. You could hardly expect me to feel remorse or sorrow after receiving a kiss from a pretty lady." /Well..../ He thinks to a time where he /did/ feel remorse and nearly lost Silas in the process. "In a parlor game," he adds to be safe. "I would think poorly of any fellow who did feel such things."
Laughing, she reaches out to take his flask again. "Oh you are very right. I cannot imagine feeling at all guilty or anything of the sort after a kiss in a parlor game." Lord knows she has enjoyed enough of them during her time in London. It makes her a little homesick to think of it, though she is glad to know she has come to a place where such games are enjoyed. "Are such games commonplace in Tyrehampton? I dearly hope so, or I shall be dreadfully bored."
"I don't know how commonplace, exactly. I threw a Twelfth Night party that had them. And then this picnic. I suppose I could hold more events... there was a time when the large majority of people in Tyrehampton were proper and marriage-minded. Fortunately it would seem the tide is turning and the newer arrivals seem interested in a bit of fun." He winks and takes a swig from his flask once she is finished. "Who have you met so far? Perhaps I can tell you some of the ones to avoid."
"Was there? How dreadful. I should think that would be quite boring. Always worrying about finding a husband or a wife when there is such fun to be had." She pauses, frowning slightly. "Though I suppose we all must succumb eventually, and hope we might find someone worthwhile with whom to settle down that will not leave us terribly unentertained." She tries to think of whom she has met, having a hard time remembering. "Well, let me think. I have met Mr. Wise, Miss Stuart, Miss Blackwell, Miss Hampton..." Sighing at first, she finally laughs. "Heavens, I suppose I have met more people than I can recall well. Does that speak poorly of me?"
"Not poorly at all, no. It's hard, when you're in a new place, to keep everyone straight. Miss Hampton is excellent company. Good at parlor games." He grins, remembering their kiss at the picnic. "Miss Stuart seems alright. I've not met the others. You'll meet plenty more people, if Gran holds this garden party she's been going on about. She's practically inviting every single fellow and lady in the county. Once she catches wind of you, I'm sure your invitation will be along." He rolls his eyes. "But let's see....Lord Donegal is a good sort, though he's engaged now. Oh and Silas, my housemate. I think you'd very much like Captain Windham. He's a fun fellow."
"She seemed quite fun. She, Miss Stuart, and I are planning a pottery excursion on the green soon. It was delayed a bit by my accident, though I hope it will happen soon now I am recovered mostly." The idea of a garden party sounds highly amusing, even if most of the people there will be strangers. She decides it would not be the first time. "I shall look forward to receiving it." Giggling at the rolled eyes she raises both eyebrows at his suggestions. "If I did not know better, I would think you were trying to set me up with a proper suitor, Mr. Stanton. Tell me it is not so!"
He laughs at the idea of any of the fellows he mentioned being proper. "Good heavens, no! I listed some fellows, besides myself, who are fun. If I were going to name someone to be a proper suitor I'd name..." He tries to think of a fellow he knows that is both proper and not yet married. "Ah...hmm...Dr. Bolton! Yes. There's a proper fellow." He shakes his head, still chuckling. "You may not look forward to the garden party once you are there. My gran will no doubt try to marry you off to someone. She can't help herself. I've successfully foiled her attempts so far, so I can help you in this, should you need it." He offers her the flask again with a slightly raised brow.
She pretends to wipe her brow in relief. "Heavens, a close call that was. Is Dr. Bolton quite eligible then? In case I change my mind of course." Laughing, she raises an eyebrow at the mention of his grandmother attempting to marry her off. "Oh goodness, I do not think I could do with another matchmaker in my life. Mama is terrible enough as it is. I should greatly appreciate your assistance should your Gran attempt it." She happily takes the flask and lifts it before taking a drink. "You are very obliging with your drink, for which I am thankful. Painting and whiskey seem a good combination, if not altogether unladylike."
"I /think/ Dr. Bolton is eligible...I'm not too familiar with him, other than he is the perfectly respectable brother of my friend, James Bolton. Who is married, sadly." He wasn't going to get into the details of how horrid James' wife was. He shakes his head as if to clear it. "You are welcome for the drink, dear lady. I find it is always best shared, in any case. Your mother is keen on making matches?" He shakes his head again. "So if I encounter a Mrs. Linfield I should turn tail and run the other way? That is my first bit of advice: avoidance." He laughs.
"Well, I shall keep him in mind should I ever change mine. If he comes recommended surely Mama will approve." She attempts again to wink, almost managing it this time. Wondering why he shakes his head, she takes another drink and hands back the flask. "Oh very keen. She would like to see me married to any eligible gentleman she might find." She pauses and then laughs. "Or ineligible as the case may be. I am not sure she is too choosy at this point. She is probably already plotting whom to marry Henrietta off to, and she's only thirteen. You should most assuredly run away unless you wish to end up married to me by some trick she has up her sleeve. I shall keep your advice in mind, though I am unsure how I might avoid Mama."
He swallows when she mentions him ending up married to her. "Ah, well, yes... I suppose it is hard to avoid your mother when you are residing with her, which I assume you are. I had been staying at my gran's but she kept throwing dinners and inviting eligible ladies to them to come and meet me. I, ah, got my own place with my friend." He gives her a sheepish grin. "You could always tell her you've got a fellow or something. Perhaps she would relax and leave you alone. Though, I suppose that wouldn't work for too long... Let's see, what else have I done?" He thinks. "Hmm. I think I've just been pretty lucky, now that I think about it."
She laughs, her eyes dancing happily. "I do, and yes, it is quite difficult. I spend as much time out of doors as possible as it is quite difficult for her to find me that way. I only wish I could manage having a place of my own. I think it should be ever so much more fun, as then I could throw dinner parties and garden parties of my own." She considers his suggestion, and nods. "Yes, I suppose that might work for a little while, but she would accuse me of doing something wrong were I not married before summer was out I think. Perhaps I shall simply have to hope to have the same luck as you." Laughing again, she shakes her head. "Who am I kidding? I could never be so lucky around Mama. Have you honestly no other suggestions? Or am I doomed to a marriage with someone dull by the autumn?"
"I suppose you could join a nunnery. I had one lady...um...friend...back in London who, when her father caught..." He realizes this is not the most appropriate story to tell a lady and clears his throat. "Ah, well, when she was faced with marrying me, she ran off and became a nun. Ah, that doesn't really put me in the best light, does it? It wasn't because of me...she was just very opposed to marriage." He clears his throat again. "I suppose you can always put the fellows off. Your mother tries to match you and you scare the fellow off somehow. Or offend him." He smiles. "I may have offended off a few interested ladies when I first arrived here."
"A nunnery? God forbid! That sounds even more dreadfully dull than marriage. To think, /me/ praying all day? Being married to Jesus? I think not." She laughs nonetheless, her eyebrows lifting in surprise at his truncated story. "No, it does not exactly put you in the best light, but I shall give you the benefit of the doubt anyway. You seem rather too charming for someone to be offended by you terribly enough to accept /that/ fate at least." She thinks about his next suggestion and nods. "That could possibly work, though Mama would likely take a switch to me if I did it too many times. Still, I think should she try next time, I might try being offensive. Though, I must ask how exactly you offended them? Surely it was no simply by offering your flask?"
He opens his mouth to launch into some of his history but stops. Again, many of these stories were not suitable for mixed company. Surely he could...edit them. "Ah, well, once a lady was becoming too keen and I...started paying more attention to her sister. Um. Offended them both in one go. Another time I spoke very well of a subject a lady detested, and spoke poorly of things she loved. Hmm. Sometimes I just downright refused. One lady wrote to me and demanded I make her an offer or she would never speak to me again. I...well...we don't speak anymore. She started warning the other ladies away from me, which was just fine with me." He grins and shrugs. "I suppose those sorts of things are easier for me, however, being a fellow. Though you can just say no to a proposal, can't you? Or would your mother be beside herself?"
She listens with delight to his stories, her smile only growing wider with each one. The ideas are wonderful and she tucks them all away in the back of her head to use at a later time should it become necessary. Surely Mama can only hinder such efforts so much. "Heavens, and I thought simply flirting with another gentleman would be my only option. I quite like your way of doing things though." Laughing, she shakes her head. "Mama would likely attempt to burn me at the stake should I actually have the audacity to turn down a proposal, even if the gentleman in question was a complete lunatic."
"Ah, flirting with other gentlemen is also a good idea. I recommend that one most of all." He winks at her, but his smile fades the tiniest bit as he becomes more serious. "You know, I've never understood that... the pressure to marry just anyone. Ah, I mean, at the very least you'd think our families would want to see us happily settled off with someone we /liked/. And give us the time to find them. And it's even harder on you ladies. At least us fellows have more time...we get to go out and try to make something of ourselves first before settling down. I'd just like...a little more say in the matter."
"It does seem to work rather well, in my experience. And is easier to hide from Mama as well." Dabbing a bit more paint on her painting as she listens, she finally turns back, wiping a yellow streaked hand on her dress without thinking. "I suppose the idea of a daughter becoming a spinster with no one to look after her must be the thought behind it all, at least for a lady. For a gentleman? I cannot say what the intention might be. Are you as well expected to settle for even the most disagreeable of women, or do you at least have /some/ say? Surely you must, given that you are the one making the proposal, and have more time in which to find the right person."
"Yes, I get some say. Gran has been pressuring me to make a decision, and offers her...'suggestions'. Ah, but she did get upset one time... a lady friend was distraught over news of her father's death and so I left her my flask. Only her guardian found it, engraved with my initials. The flask was quietly returned but Gran was pretty upset. About what could have happened. She did give me an ultimatum that time--begin courting a lady or Gran would pick someone and I had to court her choice. So I...ah...started courting someone. Didn't last, however." He sighs and shrugs again. "I realize Gran has my best interests at heart. She is leaving the family business and her estate to me and wishes to see me settled and less, as she would say, silly."
"Heavens, your Gran sounds like quite the force of nature. I shall have to hope for an invitation to this garden party if only for the opportunity to make her acquaintance. Perhaps she has even more stories about your ill-fated courtships, or lack thereof." She grins playfully at him, though she lets it pass. "It must be hard for a courtship to fail... at least, if one was amenable to the person being courted. Still, you should not try to change your nature simply because you are set to inherit. Surely you can do both. I do not know you well, but I should hate to think of you changing to please someone. I know I should not be able to do so myself, no matter how much Mama might think it would improve my prospects."
"A force of nature, indeed," he quietly agrees. He would worry about what stories Gran could tell Miss Linfield but fortunately Gran doesn't know of the truly scandalous things. Just the harmlessly scandalous things. "I doubt she'd tell you overmuch as she would no doubt hope you might prove interested in me and wouldn't want to scare you off!" He thinks a moment about her comment about changing to please someone. He agreed with her, but... he'd done a bit of that with Silas. Not just to please him, obviously, but because he loved him. Surely that was different. "It was somewhat difficult, yes, when the courtship ended. I wasn't in love with Mariah, er, Miss Ellis, nor she with me. But we were good friends. Enjoyed each other's company. And we figured we could marry and get our families to leave us alone."
"Oh would she? Perhaps only until she knew how much of a... what is it Papa calls me?" She pauses, trying to recall. He has called her so many things over the years, it is hard to remember sometimes. "Oh yes, a 'flibbertigibbet' I think it was." It was actually one of the nicer things he had called her, and had at least been mostly sober when he said it. "In any case, I am sure it would not take her long to realize I am not exactly prime marriage material for a grandson set to inherit." She listens quietly as he explains his arrangement with Miss Ellis. "It seems the best of options, if one must marry, to marry for friendship. That is certainly a more lasting emotion, I think. Might I ask what caused it to end, or would that be prying?"
He takes another swig of his flask and shakes his head. "I don't mind, dear lady, pry away. Well, let's see... my housemate Silas was engaged to an Italian lady. Only her father, who lives in Venice, became very ill. Silas's lady wanted very much to be with her family and she ended their engagement and went back to Venice. Mariah was a very dear friend and decided to go with her. At least we weren't engaged yet. That shock might have just done Gran in." He chuckles. "The four of us discussed it all, of course. We were friends. Still are. Just a bit more distant." He looks at her for a moment. "May I ask why you are against marrying for love, or would /that/ be prying?"
"It all seems very complicated, and I feel badly for your friend, as it seems like quite a loss to have one's fiancee leave for the Continent, regardless of the reason. And of course for the lady you were courting to leave with her, why heavens, I can only imagine how much you both must have moped about afterward. You seem in good spirits now though, I think." She thinks of an answer to his question, finally replying with a shrug. "It is not prying at all. I suppose it is not so much that I am /against/ marrying for love, and more doubtful that it truly exists or is possible to maintain. I would simply worry that in the long run, both parties would end up miserable."
"Some moping, yes. But...ah, some relief too. Even if it is a friend one is marrying there's still all the commitments and such. The whole until death do you part bit. I don't do terribly well with that sort of thing." He runs a hand through his hair, feeling a bit anxious. "I know what you mean about not wanting to end up miserable. We still had concerns like that when the subject of marriage came up. I think it's important for everyone to still feel free to pursue their...ah, interests and whatnot. Resentment would come from too many rules or restrictions, perhaps?" He clears his throat.
"Yes, I suppose I can see how that could be a relief. The idea of such a commitment seems as if it would be nigh insurmountable." She shudders at the thought, knowing it will likely come sooner rather than later. Raising an eyebrow, she tilts her head, regarding him curiously. "Pursue interests? Such as painting, or such as... other people? I do agree that such restrictions would be suffocating, but surely there is no way around it if one is to be married." She considers if that could even be a possibility, to be in a marriage without all the trappings of what came with it.
His eyes widen a little at her directness and he clears his throat again. Not that she was wrong at all, he just didn't want her to have a terribly unfavorable opinion of him from their first meeting. Or a bunch of gossip. "Ah, well, um, any interests one might have, I suppose. Not, um, saying anything specifically. I think, hypothetically speaking of course, arrangements could be worked out. Do you...um...do you think this naive? I'll admit it's just a theory I have. I have not put it to the test." He smiles, a little awkwardly.
Charlotte realizes that perhaps she has forgotten herself and spoken out of turn in her curiosity. Not that Papa had not shouted at her for such things in the past. Perhaps someday she would learn. "Oh. Well, I suppose if one's spouse was not amenable to one's hobbies, then perhaps marriage should be avoided to begin with." She considers his question for a moment, and shakes her head. "I do not think it naive, necessarily. Though perhaps... unattainable. At least... do you think it might be attainable?"
"No, not entirely unattainable. Mariah was amenable. She even knew of all my...hobbies. So I do think it's attainable, though perhaps not altogether likely. She was the first lady I've come across that was open to such a thing." His brow furrows. "But I choose to believe it could happen again. I've plenty of time, so long as I can continue to foil Gran."
"Then I suppose I shall not be too foolish to hold out hope for the same. And I will hold out hope that you may find the same again as well." She smiles at him, hoping to reassure him. The idea that one could have a marriage of equals, where everyone's hobbies or interests in other people were seen as allowable seems a far stretch, but perhaps not entirely impossible. "And if you ever need help foiling your dear Gran, I am happy to help." She attempts to wink again.
He smiles wider, awkwardness gone, when she attempts another wink. And he finds himself wondering about her. Would she be this accepting if she knew about /all/ his hobbies? "Yes, dear lady, I wish you nothing but the very best of luck. And as for Gran..." His eyebrows go up as an idea occurs to him. "I will let you know if I need help. I don't suppose you can pass yourself off as an American? She'd hate that I was spending time with a new lady, only for her to turn out /American/." He laughs.
She laughs at his suggestion, though it ends in a bit of coughing. Attempting her best guess at an American accent, she says, "Well, I suppose I could try, though I do not know how convincing I might be. Miss Stuart, who actually /is/ American might be a better choice in that particular arena." Dropping the terrible accent, she laughs again. "How does she feel about painters who ruin all their dresses and cannot remember the day of the week half the time?"
"Ah, yes... Miss Stuart...an excellent notion! Unfortunately for you, dear lady, your description would also have applied to Mariah, and my gran was exceedingly fond of her. Best be careful or she'll have us married by the end of summer!" He laughs and looks back at her painting. "Perhaps I ought to leave you to it, Miss Linfield. I've distracted you from your painting long enough." He bows to her. "But I do find myself completely charmed by your company and am happy we have met! And, for the record, it's Tuesday." He grins.
Shaking her head sadly, she tries to subdue a smile. "Alas, I shall have no chance with you then without your Gran's intervention." Looking up at him, she grins before glancing at her forgotten painting. "Why, I had nearly forgotten it. Heavens, I cannot recall the last time someone made me do that. It was truly a pleasure speaking with you. I do hope we meet again." With a glance up at the sky, her eyes widen. "It isn't. Oh, it cannot be." Rushing to dismantle her easel, she turns to him with a hurried curtsy. "It truly was lovely to meet you, but I have forgotten tea with Mama and Papa will be ever so cross. Forgive me."
"Ah, of course. Are you close by? I can get a carriage..." Alex looks back in the direction of the road.
"Oh, only Oakston. I walked here, so walking back will be no great burden." She manages to carry all of her belongings with a bit of difficulty, the easel in a strap across her back, her paints and palette stuck into an already dirty bag, and her painting held out awkwardly under her arm.
"Ah...here..." He moves closer and reaches a hand out, ready to take something from her. "I was walking that way anyway and that looks awkward. I'd be happy to help carry something."
She gives him a grateful smile, handing him her painting. "Careful, it is still wet. I can carry it though. Anything I have is currently covered in paint, and I should hate for you to ruin your pristine clothing." She eyes his handsome waistcoat, thinking it may be a terrible idea to allow him to help.
"No, no, I insist. My...clothing is unimportant," he replies, wanting to sound gallant, but inwardly worrying about his waistcoat. It was his favorite, after all. And so dashing. He looks down at it for a moment as well but then back to her. "What sort of gentleman would I be if I allowed you to carry all this all the way to Oakston by yourself? A rather poor one, I should think." He starts to walk and bumps the painting against his waistcoat, getting paint on it. He winces but quickly tries to smooth out the look. "Ah, and I'm covered in paint as well now. Might as well continue on!" He attempts a smile.
"If you are sure." She looks at him doubtfully, but smiles brightly at his statement. "I should not wish you to feel like less of a gentleman, so I suppose I shall argue no further." As his waistcoat is ruined, she makes a small sound of shock. "Oh heavens, I don't suppose it would be possible to launder it? I should happily pay for the cost of it. It was my painting that caused it after all. And here you were only trying to be gallant." Nevertheless, she turns them toward Oakston and begins the hike back.
"Pay for it? No, please think nothing of it. I can give the waistcoat to one of the maids to see what might be done. If nothing, then I can always get a new one." He says this to comfort himself as much as her. "But if you must give me something, perhaps a painting? Whichever one you think I might like. And then we can call the whole thing square?"
Raising an eyebrow, she looks at the waistcoat again, feeling properly bad about being the cause of its possible ruin. "If you are sure." Glancing down at the painting in his hands, she smiles back up at him. "You might have that one if you like it. I think it is as finished as it ever will be in any case, and it /is/ the cause of your waistcoat being damaged. Besides, it will give you a memory of our first meeting. Which will hopefully not be our last."
He smiles and nods. "Alright then, Miss Linfield, I shall have this painting as payment. With thanks! And I can assure you that this meeting shall not be our last. I enjoy your company far too much." He walks happily, yet carefully, lest he get any more paint onto his clothes.