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A Very Unpleasant Night at the Elmsworth Residence

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Grizella Campbell-Coffin ((Taking place the night after the story "The Night Earnest Returns Foxed; The Morning Grizella Attempts Revenge", this is a collaboration between the players of Julia Barnes, Grizella Elmsworth, and Earnest and Roland Elmsworth. It is preceded by events rather opaquely referenced in "Earnest's Way of Handling Matters; Grizella's Way of Handling Matters". Content warning for discussion of pregnancy out of wedlock, venereal diseases, and threats/discussion of violence towards servants.))

Julia had known for a week--been sure, at least. She had had suspicions before that, but had not wanted to believe them. She donned her best dress and made her way out of the house late that night, having little fear of being stopped. Byrd had made sure she could move freely in the house. The tears she summons easily as she knocks at the servants entrance of the Elmsworth's house.

Dororthy looks at the door warily-she had only /just/ finished her work, and sat down with her cup of weak tea made from the leftover leaves of the senior servants. Her curiosity gets the better of her, and the fifteen-year-old rises, opening the door /just/ a crack, raising her candle so she might see whomever it is.

A lovely girl, dark haired, with piercing blue eyes, a little older than the scullerly maid looks at her through the crack, slipping delicate fingers through it, which will be crushed if she tries to close the door. "Please," She says softly. "Please, I have to see him."

Dorothy, her own hands rough and stained, looks at the other girl as if she's gone mad. "See who? 'Fit's the master you're wantin' you'd best think of some other way to get 'im." She makes to shut the door, careless of the stranger's fingers.

Julia is surprisingly strong. "Mr. Roland. You don't understand. Please. I have to see him. I-I'll make it worth the trouble if I have to." Her tone is a mix of desperation, pleading, and something else as her hand goes to a slit in her dress and a few coins can be heard. "/Please/" she whispers. "I swear, you will never know I was here, I just must see Mr. Roland."

Dot narrows her eyes, careless of the sentiment but intrigued by the coins. She seems to be considering.

Julia, sensitive to this, withdraws them from her dress, though keeps them in her closed hand. "No one need know," she says quietly, assurance in her voice.

She opens the door a little more, blocking the opening with her frame, and opens her hand as well, not willing to move until the coins are in her palm.

Julia moves as close as she can and counts [reasonable bribe] into her hand, keeping the last coin between her fingers and giving the girl a half pleading, half expectant look.(edited)

Dot is /clearly/ unappreciative of this, giving her a nasty look, and unsympathetic to her plight. "You want in /this/ 'ouse I'll have /all/ of it, thank you."

Julia obeys, ready in case the other girl tries to slam the door, but readily handing the coin over.

She nods, taking the coin and opening the door, jerking her head to the table. "You c'n wait 'ere. I'll fetch 'im." She grumbles audibly; "I let you up the stairs the 'ole bloody 'ouse will be awake, one way or /another/."

"Thank you," Julia says meekly, seating herself quietly.

Dorothy creeps through the house with her candle, rapping gently on the door of the smallest guest room.

Roland had been in a deep sleep, dreaming of life as a French pirate, when he was awoken by a rapping at his chamber door. Grumbling, he forces himself out of the comfort of his bed before opening it. "What?" He asked, too tired to be bothered with charm.

Dot speaks very softly, showing deference enough for a scullery maid speaking to a member of the household-at midnight, no less. "A girl in the kitchen looking for you, sir-came to the back door, beggin'. Wants money, no doubt, has some sort of story. Shall I ask her to leave, sir?"

"A girl?" He ran his hand through his curls sleepily. "What sort of girl? Whats she look like?" Who would be calling /him/ at /this/ hour?

"A curt'zen, if you ask me, sir."

"A...curtain?" He didn't want any curtains. "Tell her to beg elsewhere." Shouldn't this be Earnest's problem?

She huffs quietly, growing impatient-and nervous-and unused to being in the family quarters, or even speaking to the family. "A squirrel, sir, I think she is."

"I--what?" He squinted at the serving girl. Was this some sort of prank? Was this Eliza's doing? It FELT like one of LIzzie's tricks.

She huffs again, whispering harshly. "She's a fine-lookin' whore, Master Roland!"

/THAT/ woke him up. "Oh. Uh---send her up?"

She scoffs. "She waits for you in the kitchen, sir. It would be wise for none of us to wake the 'ole 'ouse."

"Well--I suppose that makes sense." The blonde sighed, wondering just how brazen this prostitute must be---or how she'd heard of /him/. Some sort of parting gift from Byrd perhaps? Yawning, he nods and closes the door on the servant, returning a short time later with his pants and coat on.

Dot leads the way back down to the kitchen, being /careful/ and /quiet/.

He followed the scullery maid down to the kitchen, yawning all the while.

Julia rises as soon as she sees him. She would clearly like to throw herself into his arms, but hesitates with effort, blue eyes wide and sparkling with tears in the candle light. "Roland?" She whispers. "Wh-when you left . . . I-I thought. I thought I had done something wrong . . . O-or that you knew, somehow." A pink flush rises to her cheeks and she lowers her eyes, her lip trembling.

Dot rolls her eyes, retreating to the china cupboard with her candle to listen.

He was startled at the appearence of Julia in the kitchen. She'd followed after him here? Had she missed him so terribly? His sleepiness faded away in the face of his ego, and he offered her his most charming smile. "Aw, don't be like that Julia. I had to go. You were perfect." He moved towards her, placing his hands on her shoulders.

She wraps her arms around him, burying her face in his chest, shaking a little as she cries silently. "I missed you," she murmurs, her fingers coming up to stroke through his curls and massage his neck, the gesture very familiar.

"Sweetling..." He murmured, embracing her as she touched at a sentimental part of his heart. "I'm flattered--really I am, but this is far too dangerous."

"Y-you can't send me away. Please. You mustn't. I-I love you . . . And . . . And . . . Roland I'm . . ." She takes a shaky breath, some of her hesitation unfaked.

"Darling..." he continued, running his hand up and down her back. "What is it?"

She presses closer against him and stands on tiptoe so that her lips brush his ear as she whispers. "I'm going to have a baby, Roland. Your baby. Your child."

"What." He froze in place, eyes going wide.

She pulls back a little to meet his eyes, her own ones anxious but adoring. "A-a baby, my love," She whispers again.
"I--um--I" His brain had stopped functioning, he looked down at her, before looking around himself frantically. What did you do about a baby? "Are you--are you certain?"

"Very," She says, and making a calculated decision, tangles her hands in his hair and kisses him tenderly.

She pulls away slowly and looks up at him trustingly, her eyes shining. "I love you so much. I had to tell you. E-even if there's nothing you can do . . ." her breath catches and she looks a little frightened "I just had to tell you. About your child."

Dorothy listens to all of this-every word of which she has heard before.
"My child..." he repeats, eyes going distant. He'd never been more scared in his life. He hid this fact from Julia by embracing her, hugging her tightly to him.

She presses against him willingly, burying her face against his chest again.

"Julia..." He breathed out, mind still running a mile a minute. He'd speak with Byrd. HE'D know what to do. What if Grizella found out? He'd never be able to marry Miri now! He had no idea how to be a father! "I...I'll figure something out. Some means of..of taking care of you, of the child." That was what a man did.

"Truly, love?" She looks up at him hopefully. "You give your word? I-I do trust you, only oh, Roland, I'm so frightened."

He was frightened too! As she looked up at him, she found him appearing terribly pale. "Y--yes. Of course. Of course you have my word. Something will be done." His child....he was going to have a child....

She strokes his cheek and kisses him again. "I love you."

"I know, dear." He still felt rather faint. "But you cannot stay here. My relations....it would go rather poorly I fear if--" He felt like a cad, rushing her out. But the stakes had never been so high.

"But . . . Couldn't we . . . I just, I miss you. A-and what is to happen to me? Th-the Byrds can't keep a servant in my . . . . condition."

"I know, I know..." He felt utterly torn at her desires and her fears. They were all of them legitimate, and he had no easy answers. "But for now you must leave. Wait at the kitchen door of the Byrd's tomorrow night--I will come to see you after the house goes to bed."

"You promise?" She looks at him trustingly once more.

"I swear it." He whispers, taking one of her hands and kissing it.

She sighs with relief, cuddling against him.

Venner descends the stairs in her dressing gown, having been rung for by Mrs Elmsworth, who had woken with pain in her side and requested a tincture from the stores. She opens the door and freezes at the sight before her-Mister Roland and a woman she had never before seen.

He grimaced as she hugged him, his mind still reeling from this change of affairs. What did men do when their lovers became pregnant? How would he come by the funds necessary to care for her?! Why hadn't he started up his profession sooner?! He heard the sound of the door, and pulled back, withdrawing from Julia and staring at...someone. Some servant.

Julia hears the door but pretends not to. She looks up only when he pulls away, her pretty eyes widening.

Venner frowns sharply. She had been /informed/ of the situation surrounding Mr Roland. "Mr Roland. I think perhaps you and this... person... ought to retire to the parlor while I inform Mrs Elmsworth."

Julia looks frightened and glances to Roland as though for guidance.

He scowled at Venner's conduct. "No. She was just leaving." He kept his head high, not about to be cowed by some servant. He gives a quick nod to Julia, allowing at least one of them to escape.

She stares at him wide-eyed, uncertain

Venner looks at him alarmedly. "I am sure Mrs Elmsworth would be less pleased if she was forced to wake the footmen to look for the harlot who had been in her home, Mr Roland."

Julia flinches.

"And I am certain that she will be uninterested in doing any such thing. Go Julia." He tries to channel his inner Earnest as he scowls at the serving girl.

She takes a few halting steps backwards.

Venner purses her lips, addressing the girl before turning to return upstairs. "Go and you will be dragged back, I promise you that."

Julia freezes, looking frightened.

He snorts at the conduct of the servant before looking to face Julia. "Julia, you need not stay." He said soothingly. "My relations, particularly Mrs. Elmsworth is no friend to us--you need not face her."

Her wide blue eyes flick back and forth between him and the stairs. "Sh-she meant it Roland. And they won't let you see me. So I am ruined either way if I leave." Her lip trembles and she takes a step towards him, clearly begging for an embrace.

Venner informs Mrs Elmsworth of the situation, who had been sitting at her dressing table so as not to wake her husband. She is /immediately/, and /obviously/, /incensed/. After being assisted in to her dressing gown, she moves to Earnest's side, shaking his shoulder. "Earnest! Earnest, wake up!"

Earnest woke quickly, instantly alarmed and filled with trepidation. "What?!? What?!?" He demanded---was it the baby?

She sighs, hand on her belly. "It's Roland. He's downstairs in the kitchen with a /harlot/."

He squinted, and repositioned himself. "What?" He repeated, still not quite understanding.

"Roland was discovered in the kitchen with some /girl/. Venner said she appeared to be..."

"Oh." He slipped out of bed and put on a robe. "Stay here." He ordered, murder in his eyes.

She furrows her brow, objecting. "Certainly /not/! There's a strange /woman/ in /my/ house!"

"Exactly! What if she is mad, Or diseased?!" He was very well of the mind to have the girl dragged out and whipped to insure she not return---and perhaps a similar punishment might be necessary for his brother.

Grizella appears skeptical. "They were embracing in the kitchen-Venner believes there is some sort of... attachment. I doubt I shall be injured in their questioning."

"Disease is not a purposeful injury." Though it would make for a lovely reason to give to town why his brother would once again be departing from Tyrhampton so soon.

"Earnest! I shall not be waiting, shut up in my chamber while Roland and the girl..." She does not bother to complete the thought, moving to the door.

"Grizella!" He was furious, moving to block her path. "You are not thinking clearly. You will not be going to deal with this. You will stay here, and come morning you will find none of the perpetrators present."

She scoffs. "Earnest! There is a /strange woman/ who has been let into the house /I/ am mistress of! I won't... you can't..."

He raised a hand. "Enough Grizella. I cannot allow you and our unborn child to be in the same room as a prostitute. I will not allow it." He moved to the door, "Stay. Here."

Grizella's expression is mutinous.

He ignored her look and left the room--making a point to close the door behind him. Firmly. Then he went downstairs to deal with the vermin who had made their way into his home.

Grizella stands at the door with her ear pressed to it, trying to hear and counting as long as she thinks it will take Earnest to get down the stairs and in to the hall. His stride is long, and when she thinks it is safe she steals out the door and down the corridor peeking around the corner to make /sure/ he still isn't on the stairs. She takes them slowly and carefully, her red silk dressing gown rustling slightly, and her condition now /very obvious/ to all those who see her, as it has been for a few weeks.

Earnest stood at the entryway, and he'd never looked so murderous. He took two steps in the room, and Roland immediately withdrew from Julia--making his usual move of following the lead of the strongest personality in the room. "You," Earnest ordered, looking down at the /thing/ that had found its way into his home, "Will leave. At once. Less you be dragged out and beaten to insure you do not return." He focused his attention on his brother. "You," He looked like he could throttle the boy here and now, "A carriage will be prepared for you. You will be returned to Goodhill this very evening---with escort." To insure no more misdeeds could take place.

Julia gives Roland a pleading glance.

Grizella crept in to the doorway, her eyes on the girl and no kinder than her husband's.

Roland was absolutely no help. "Are you deaf?" Earnest demanded, taking a step forward, considering ringing for his steward so the girl could be tossed out properly by the suitable people.

"Please, you don't understand," She stumbles backwards. "Roland, tell him. Please."

"I--I--" Roland begins, looking utterly shamefaced. "Earnest, she's--" Earnest snorts, "I wouldn't care if she was the Queen of India. No, get out, girl." Earnest rang the kitchen bell, summoning his steward, a one Mr. Moore.

"I'm carrying his child," she sobs.

Earnest looked like he might throttle both of the vermin himself, he rang the bell--and then the worst happened. Earnest Elmsworth actually smiled, and looked far kinder than any in the house had ever seen him before---"Then I suggest you move quick. For in short time you will not be gently treated."

Grizella steps further in to the room, visage angry and skeptical-although she cuts her eyes to her husband. "Earnest."

Earnest returns to looking scornful as he hears his wife's voice. "Get out of the room Mrs. Elmsworth. You need not see what comes next." Mr. Moore appears, and immediately recognizing the purpose for his summons. Giving a bow, he leaves to go find some footmen to help with the problem.

She ignores her husband's admonition entirely, stepping forward with her hand on her own belly. "I doubt she's being truthful. Likely she isn't expecting at all-and if she is, I doubt she could have /any/ certainty over the sire."

Julia is genuinely surprised (for a /very/ brief moment) and says desperately, "That's not true. Please, I work in the Byrd's house, I hardly leave it! They could tell you." Not that that's much help.

She scoffs violently. "The Byrds? Yes, now I am certain you could have no notion of the paternity."

Earnest looked at his wife with a sneer, and move to guide her away from the exchange if possible. She'd lost her mind due to the pregnancy, and was clearly in need of more fish. "You are mistaken. You used to work a the Byrd's. Even they will be unable to take you on now that you have announced your....situation, in such a fashion." The pair of footmen arrived, "Take her out and beat her until she knows enough not to return." "Earnest!" Roland finally managed something of a protestation.

Julia presses back against the door, blue eyes wide, prepared to flee.

Grizella grabs her husband's arm, staying put. "/Earnest/-/surely/ expelling her from the house is /enough/. There is no need for brutality."

Earnest glowers at everyone in the room. ".....Drag her out." He spares a glance at his wife, "But be gentle."

"Roland, please. I swear I haven't with anyone but you--please--"

Roland couldn't even look her in the eye.

Grizella cuts the girl off in a sharp tone. "You'll go /quietly/, if you know what's good for you. Tell your story to some /other/ family."

The footmen grabbed the girl and began the process of dragging her out into the cold night.

Grizella rounds on Roland. "Do you /see/ what the wages of your sin are? Do you /understand/ what you have brought upon this family?"

With the girl dragged out into the night, Earnest shook his head. "Enough Grizella. There will be no more conversation. " He glares at his brother, "/You/ will speak not a word. A carriage will be prepared this very evening for you to be taken back to Goodhill." He paused for a moment, considering, "No. You cannot be trusted to travel alone. I will go with you. Letters no longer suffice. You have caused enough disruption within this family. Enough is enough."

Grizella doesn't stop. "/How/ did she get in the house? Did /you/ let her in?"

Roland looked between the two nervously, unsure of who better to oblige. In the end he settled on silence, the best means of not causing any more damage. Earnest began to order the carriage and for his brother's belongings to be packed.

Mrs Elmsworth looks on him intently, and unkindly. "/Roland/? You /must/ tell me how she gained entrance into /my/ household!"

He shifted nervously, "I know not, sister. She was here before I."

She appears more alarmed, but questions him further. "/Truthfully/, Roland? You /must/ tell me the truth, now. /How/ did she gain entrance to this house?"

He glances this way and that, "Perhaps one of the footmen?" They deserved whatever punishment they got, after the way that they had dragged Julia off like that.

She raises a brow, /sure/ he is lying. "When both were roused from their beds and brought down in their shirtsleeves? I think it unlikely." She steps toward him. "Do you have any other suppositions?"

He cleared his throat, glancing away from her, "Some servant must be the culprit then. though I fear the lot of them look the same to me."

Grizella looks on him skeptically for several moments, /knowing/ he is lying to her-but then she changes the subject, sighing heavily. "Yes, well I shall have to have all of the servants questioned tomorrow, and their quarters searched, as well as writing to poor Miss Miriam, informing her of the termination of the agreement."

"What?!" He protested, eyes wide. "But Grizella---The girl came here to me! Not I to her! I followed your instructions to the letter after leaving the Byrds!”

She again raises a harsh, angry brow. "And you were /forced/ to meet with her clandestinely, embracing her in the kitchen? Was I unclear in the repercussions if you had /any/ contact with the /harlot/ again? Did you think that did not include /having her in my home/?"

"What was I to do? When I was told she was here, I was afraid she might make more of a scene if I did not come!" He continued to argue, his mind full of Miri.

"You were to turn her out immediately! You were not to embrace her in the kitchen and attempt to undermine me with my own lady's maid!" She looks on him with disgust. "I /might/ have been willing to forgo writing Miss Miriam, to avoid /breaking her heart/, if you were to /swear/ that you would never see that /strumpet/ again, but you have broken too many promises, /sir/. You can be trusted in /nothing/. So you may think on dear Miss Miriam and her broken heart and /know/ that it is what you have wrought for your /sin/ and /indecency/."

He could feel his heartbreaking thanks to his sister in law's cruelty, and could bare to look upon her face no longer. Waving his hands in contempt, he storms off, to wait for the carriage to be prepared elsewhere.

Grizella retires upstairs to see to her husband's things being packed for his journey to Goodhill, upset that she's being deprived of him because of the miserable, pathetic creature that is her /brother/. She shudders at the relation, and tries not to think on what will no doubt be her /exhausting/ tomorrow.
Posted 2 weeks ago

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