Cordelia Trevor Lunches with Her Aunt Lucy Fairchild, and Makes a Confession
(( This is a collaboration between xMayberry who plays Cordelia Trevor and sophiaunderwood who plays Lucy Fairchild. It takes place a few days to a week after Cordelia's encounter with Tristan Copely. ))
The robbery of the Tyrhampton church now being near two months past with no further incident, Adam Wilson had ceased arguing with his sister and niece that they must confine themselves to their separate residences as much as possible and refrain from traveling. Since the lifting of such cautions, Lucy Fairchild found herself happily able to entertain in her still new house on Tothill, even if her only company on most occasions was Cordelia Trevor. Though she was technically aunt to the recent debutante, Lucy and Cordelia were so close in age as to be more akin to sisters, and this was the first time in many years they had lived so near one another.
A pale grey sky threatened south Derbyshire with the first snow of the season as Lucy finished setting her table in anticipation of Cordelia's visit. No longer being guided by Mrs. Hatch's schedule at the boarding house, Lucy had begun making a light luncheon her daily habit. The tea chest had yet to be unlocked, but a small carafe of wine was near at hand and a spread of cold dishes laid the table, including a bit of sliced pheasant left from the previous day's dinner in addition to the usual bread, cheese, and fruit.
Cordelia had abided by her uncle's advice not to leave the school dutifully...aside from one or two trips outside alone to paint. Oh, but she was certain that did not count, even if she did not intend to mention it to him all the same. One of those painting excursions, however, still weighed heavily on her mind. One in which she met -- she was now /convinced/ - a ghost.
It felt silly to think such nonsense, but she could not draw any other conclusions. She never did hear of a "Mr. Copely" around town and was far too afraid to ask about a strange gentleman with perfect strangers. So she instead would ask her aunt.
Cordelia admired Lucy Fairchild. In her eyes, Lucy was everything Cordelia was afraid to be. And she knew she would know how to handle such a mystery.
Cordelia was helped down from the carriage, and she made her way up to the large oak door, raising the large knocker and beating it against the door thrice. She wore a forest green dress adorned with a cranberry velvet pelisse, a bonnet to match the coat, and a fur shrug upon her shoulders with dark brown leather gloves. She waited, biting gently on her lower lip in anticipation for the conversation ahead.
The housekeeper shows Cordelia in and assists with her outerwear. The household having been established well after Lady Day, Mrs. Fairchild had been making do with a skeleton staff. Though with only herself and her brother to tend to, they did not find themselves much wanting for help.
Lucy stood in the parlor, a room granted a particularly sunny appearance by virtue of the cream paper hangings and new evening primrose drapes. A settee and two armchairs in a softer primrose upholstery sat in easy reach of the table. She wore a muslin dress with a wide border of green embroidery, though finding the house a bit chilly that day, had also brought out a shawl in a matching rifle green.
Cordelia thanks the staff and hurries to the parlor, smiling when she sees Lucy. "Aunty! Thank you for accepting my request." She fell into a curtsy. "Although, even now I feel too much time has passed since we last met like this. A travesty considering how very closely we reside now that we are both in Derbyshire." She smiles sweetly, her voice gentle and measured.
Lucy shakes her niece's hand with a bright smile and as they get their early pleasantries out of the way, both ladies sit so Lucy can begin brewing a pot of tea.
Cordelia gets settled and smooths her skirt, but now that she is obligated to partake in conversation, she finds herself more nervous. "Aunty I..." She frowns and looks down. "I need your advice...but please..." She bites her lower lip again and takes a deep breath. "You mustn't tell Mama, Papa, and /definitely/ do not tell Daphne." She glances up at her and then quickly away
Lucy turns her head away from the teapot to look at Cordelia with a wickedly arched brow. A delighted smirk just barely tugs at the corner of her full lips. She knows better than to press Cordelia, but Lucy's niece was today in the position Lucy had so enviously coveted for herself since her own premature marriage, and the notion that this porcelain doll of a girl had some treasured nugget of information to conceal from her immediate family was too intriguing to let pass without notice. The tea leaves needing to steep anyway, Lucy gives Cordelia her full attention, turning and folding her hands in her lap. "Cordelia, you may trust my secret-keeping abilities whole-heartedly," she said in what she hoped was a properly reserved tone, accompanied by a warm smile.
Cordelia nodded and averted her eyes, finding it was easier to simply close them. She spoke so quietly she could barely be heard. "I met a man in the woods. He made my head fill with fog and my knees feel week and as quickly as he came he was gone." She goes a bit pale. "Aunty, I have been back to the river the last three mornings...I know I should not have gone unchaperoned but I...I had to know if he was...well if he was real." She blushes a deep red and shrinks into her seat. "But he has not returned.."
/This/ was beyond anything Lucy could have imagined, and her face fell a bit as she stared wide-eyed at Cordelia. Why, she was a fool! It was one thing entirely to have a conversation with a man unchaperoned. But...to present it in this way? As if she neither recognized womanly feeling, nor trusted her own two eyes. Really, what could she mean by talking like she belonged in Bedlam. Lucy could not decide whether the girl lacked sensibility or had entirely too much of it. After a moment she remembers herself enough to respond. "And you require my advice on...?"
Cordelia blinked. What /did/ she want advice about? She turned her head quickly to face her again and frowned. "I...I'm sorry. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps I just needed to speak with a trusted confidant so that I did not keep it all in my head where I would continue to let my imagination run away with me."
She looks back down. "He was hesitant to give me his name. I tried to leave but he seemed so dejected. Like perhaps he just needed company. I resolved to stay and...his horse went up to the river for a drink and so we began to speak of him." She busies her hands with the beading on her reticule. "He said that his name was Icarus." She looks to her aunt, quickly correcting, "The..horse..the horse's name is Icarus." She quickly averted her gaze again. "I...told him how I adored the story of Icarus and..well..I spoke rather passionately about it. Something I have been chastised for before, and when he only stared at me and did not respond I apologized for my forward way of speaking and he--"
She held her hands together and looked down at her palm. "He took my hand. He said that I caused him no offense. His eyes were so..." She shook her head. "And the next thing I knew he was riding away." She looks over to Lucy now that her story had come to its conclusion, her eyes hiding fear behind them. "Aunty I have never...I would never...and yet...I find this all extremely unorthodox and within a territory that I often dream of but am not in fact familiar with. I am frightened. Both by the encounter itself and...the why I feel about it all. As fleeting as it was, the impression, I fear, is lasting."
Lucy tilts her head, unable to determine if she is jealous of such an exciting encounter or if she is recognizing a danger. What might she have felt in Cordelia's place? What might she have done? She purses her lips and takes a breath. "Well if he refused to give you his name, that very well ought to tell you something about whether such an acquaintance is worth having. I've had my share of unexpected acquaintances, and having to make our own introductions, and even on rare occasion enjoyed the mystery that accompanies a face without a name." She thinks happily back on a recent duet in Mrs. Hatch's boarding house, but keeps herself from daydreaming on this point. "But such /dissembling/ is utterly unbecoming."
She sat up a bit. "Oh...I did eventually convince him to share with me his name. He would only tell me his Christian name at first but I was...not comfortable being so intimate with a stranger that I would call him..." She almost said the name, but quickly composed herself and turned a bit more to face her aunt. "He said his name was Mr. Copely." Her eyes widened slightly. "Oh I did not consider he may be a resident of Oakston rather than Tyrehampton. H-have you heard of him, aunty?"
Lucy's expression hardens considerably at this revelation. "/Lord/ Tristan Copely?" Her brow can not possibly stretch any higher. "Well," she begins curtly. "I am glad your attempts to see him again have been so fruitless. Really, Cordelia, you were not placed so far from me at the bonfire dinner that you could have been completely unaware that Lord Copely was seated directly beside me that night. I should not have wished to scandalize anyone with this information, but seeing as he has so quickly captured your fancy... Given the fact that Lord Copely felt comfortable /propositioning/ me in the middle of a crowded dining hall, when he was not unabashedly flirting with Lady Fillintheblank herself, I am /shocked/ he apparently did no worse to you in complete privacy." Lucy frowns and looks about the room in distress. She had always been spirited herself, but for the first time being even partially entrusted with a young woman's reputation, she began to understand why women were expected to behave in a certain way.
Cordelia's brows shot up at the title of /Lord/. Tristan /was/ his first name, but the man her aunt described sounded nothing like that man she had met in the woods. There must be a mistake. At least she would through the rest of the conversation and for the next several days spend a great deal of time trying to convince herself of this. Cordelia shook her head, her face falling into confusion. "No...no surely that must be another man. Why would he not have mentioned a title such as /Lord/?" She looked down, breathing a bit quickly. "And....and he was so very tender in the way he spoke to me...and looked at me. They must be two different men..."
A streak of panic runs through Lucy's eyes. "Why would you suppose such a thing Cordelia? Do you really imagine one brief chance meeting to grant you some special insight into this man's character? Is it wholly outside the realm of possibility that you have found yourself charmed because you met a man whose apparent chief exercise in life is charming women? I am bold - of this I cannot feign ignorance - and I was met with an excessive boldness. /You/ are tender and you were met with an excessive tenderness. Could he not merely have shown you what you wished to see?"
Cordelia frowned. "It was... different than that. Before I had even said a word to him for be able to measure me, he seemed..struck..and in turn I felt so." Her brow furrowed and she looked down, hurt spreading across her face. "I...I do not believe that he meant me or my virtue harm. I feel it in my heart, aunty." She clasped the collar on the left side of her neckline and turned back to look at her. "B-but if avoidance is what is required of me, then...then I will no longer hope to see him when I am painting." Her shoulders slumped slightly, dejected. "I did very much wish to give him the painting of his horse. It seems only right that he have it."
Lucy looks at her silently for a long while. She turns to pour her tea and as she does, says quietly. "I may not have had much of a Season before I was married, but I /would/ venture I know more about this arena than you do." Despite her best efforts, a hint of bitterness tinges the edges of her words. She pauses, stricken by an idea. She lifts her eyes to the fireplace, with an almost dazed look, and says even more quietly than before, practically under her breath. "/I/ am used to being the foolish one..." It pains her to be forced into a position of wariness and concern, particularly in relation to someone who she /ought/ to be able to consider an equal. But she fears that Cordelia will quickly become more a difficult acquaintance than a pleasant one.
Cordelia's head snaps to her aunt, sorrow in her eyes. Her voice is gentle, and comforting, as if all worry for her own troubles had in that instance, disappeared. "Oh...aunty...you are not foolish! " She places a hand over hers. "I have much to learn. I know that." She nods. "I will...I will do better. I am sorry."
Lucy steals a guilty glance to meet Cordelia's eye. She felt awful for thinking anything ill of the girl who surely had never entertained an ill thought herself. Why she even misunderstood being chided for foolishness. She finishes preparing their tea cups and passes one to Cordelia. She asks as she lifts her own cup for a sip, "What time did you say you normally go out to paint by the river?"
Cordelia quickly picked up her own cup. "Well...I suppose that depends. I only go very early when I wish to capture the fog, though it is getting much too cold to continue going regularly. I am hoping to go at least once when there is snow but...I am unlikely to return to the banks any time before mid-day otherwise. At least not until spring."
"Yes, yes I think that quite reasonable..." They spend a few moments quietly eating and drinking. "But...what time was it you were painting before?" She quirks her brow, careful not to press too hard.
She tilts her head in thought. "Well I try to arrive just after sunrise so by the time I am set up I have a dim morning light." She says reflectively. "Five-thirty in the morning?" She finally decides.
Lucy nods and returns her attention to her tea, while her mind turns. Though Cordelia had been unlucky in her desire to meet again with Lord Copely, perhaps an early morning walk of her own would be more productive...