Mr. Gordon Calls On Miss Beaumont
(( This is a collab between myself and Grizella Campbell-Coffin, who plays Georgiana. It takes place a couple days before the Christmas ball. ))
Reginald Gordon strode down Moss Road toward the cliffs through a crisp air heralding the rapid approach of winter. As usual, he swung his heavy ebony walking stick by his side until reaching his destination for the morning: Number 2 Parish Lane. He paused before approaching the door to admire the house and its prospect over the cliffs on the horizon, and smirked to himself. Yes, he had chosen well... He steps up to the door and taps the silver knob of his cane against the wood to knock, fully prepared to simply leave his card and that of his cousin's, newly embossed with their own visiting hours.
Georgiana Beaumont woke with a small snort, having been napping on the rose silk duchesse in the drawing room. It was not the knock what woke her -- rather her newest companion’s reaction to it. Her new little Phalène, Albine, immediately commenced yipping at whomever dared visit, trotting out as fast as her tiny paws could carry her through the open door into the hall, crowding ‘round the housekeeper’s feet as she made to open the door, fully prepared to chastise some idiot vendor who hadn’t gone ‘round to the back entrance.
Gordon has brought his cane back to his side, the tip resting on the step before the door. He has pulled his engraved card case from the pocket of his greatcoat and is lazily examining Celia's card. Unlike the simpler cards of most women, her card boasted a splash of traced floral illustration that she hoped might distract from the rather poor form of her script - writing that better befitted a child than a young woman nearing one-and-twenty.
Mrs Roth's face, on her opening the door, betrays a little of the surprise she feels, so seldom having visitors come to call on Miss Beaumont. She steps back, curtsying to the gentleman, and allowing him to step in from the cold, at least.
Albine has other ideas, and keeps barking.
Gordon steps just inside the door enough to allow the housekeeper to close it against the cold. He is only mildly surprised at there being a housekeeper rather than a butler - was it not usual in Jamaica to have a butler to answer the door? he thinks, not realizing Miss Beaumont kept a cottage household. (In fact, it would be something miraculous for Mr. Gordon to know of cottage households at all, having paid no mind in his thirty years to such things.) He looks down at the yapping dog and very narrowly resists the instinct to sneer at it. After this momentary distraction, he proffers his card and that of his cousin. He stands tall and confident but fully expects to be on his way in a moment.
Albine keeps barking at him as Mrs Roth accepts the cards.
From the other room comes a very loud and frustrated, "Albine! Shut. Up."
Albine starts and skitters away, back in to the drawing room as Mrs Roth curtsies again to Mr Gordon, following the dog.
Gordon raises an impressed brow as he watches the dog retreat.
The hall is well-appointed; everything of the furniture, from the hall chairs to the ornate rosewood sideboards are obviously both very new and very finely made, chosen with great care, although there is nothing personal in the room excepting the art, which is composed wholly of well-executed portraits of varying sizes and age, although most, if examined closely, are from the second half of the last century. They portray various people of similar appearance; a portrait of a couple, a few with a varying number of children, a girl in her mid-teens that bears a resemblance to Georgiana, and several of a dark-haired man posing variously with hunting dogs, horses, or leaning against a column.
Georgiana sits upright, squinting a little as Albine leaps up next to her. On receiving the cards, her eyes dart to the door and she snatches her fichu off the back of the duchesse and hastily wraps it around her, knotting it behind her back. There's no time to have the open box of sugarplums on the table done away with, although she does shove the rum bottle at Mrs Roth to be deposited in the cellarette on the way to showing Mr Gordon in and corks the laudenum bottle, stashing it behind a turned leg. She checks her appearance in the mirror above the fireplace, but decides to leave the loose curls about her neck where they are, and stands in front of the settee, waiting for her visitors to be shown in.
Gordon stands in the hall and checks his fob watch, wondering how the housekeeper could possibly be taking so long to simply deliver his cards and see him out.
Mrs Roth deposits the bottle into the cellarette, with the rest of the liquor behind the 'front' of aged wines. It was not a strictly appropriate piece of furniture for a young lady's drawing room, but Miss Beaumont had gotten tired of walking to the library or summoning a housemaid whenever she wanted a tipple. She returns to the hall, curtsying to Mr Gordon again. "Miss Beaumont will now receive you, sir."
Gordon hesitates and raises a brow, part amusement, part disbelief. He truly had only meant to leave a card, but to be properly received was a considerable encouragement. Indeed, he found himself quite fixed on at least the idea of this heiress, if not yet fully upon the woman herself.
Georgiana smiles more eagerly than she intends to at her visitor -- the /very first/, after /all/ these months, for that is how she framed it as she /refused/ to accept any fault in her lack of company and diversion. She curtsies in her gown of pale pink silk sindon, the neckline only restrained from vulgarity in the morning by the thrown-on fichu, her jewelry just over the line of ‘inappropriate’ for receiving visitors at home. “Mr G-“ That /damn/ dog started that insufferable noise again. “-Albine! Hush!” The creature does as she’s bid and more than that crawls under the abandoned duchesse. “Thank you.” After hissing at the dog she turns again, some color in her cheeks, to her visitor. “Mr Gordon. Good day.”
The room is a bit crowded; all of the comforts in easy reach, half-finished volumes on the fruitwood tables, the somewhat-conspicuous cellarette, a piece of tambourwork abandoned next to the broadsides on the elaborate pianoforte, the box of sugarplums which she had nunched on.
Gordon's brow is a touch quirked and he struggles to contain his amusement and remarkably inflated pride at such a reception. "Good morning Miss Beaumont." He has not yet taken notice of anything about the room, such as the quality of the furniture, the books, the embroidery, nor even the sugarplums. Indeed, even the exceedingly annoying yipping dog has escaped his scrutiny, so focused is his gaze upon his hostess. He actually manages to avoid an entirely wanton glance at the fichu clumsily concealing her decolletage. (Only a brief and slightly wanton glance seemed quite enough for the moment.) He stands a fair distance away from her, hands folded behind his back.
Georgiana can’t help it, she colors further, still obviously delighted, taking a seat on the settee and motioning for Mr Gordon to sit as well. “Shall I ring for tea?”
Gordon selects a seat with a careful eye on where the dog retreated. He'd not take kindly to an unexpected companion appearing at his feet. He strikes a relaxed repose, occupying the room with confidence - a sense of inevitable belonging not every man could boast. Once comfortably situated, he gives Georgiana an easy smile. "Whatever your pleasure, Miss Beaumont."
Georgiana is obviously quite eager, and rings the bell for tea to be brought. "I see Miss Crosby has not joined you?"
"Not today, but I meant to inquire whether I might make the introduction in the near future." He is pleased with this apparent attention, considering it a deference Miss Beaumont's rank does not necessarily demand. Treating her as the superior in the connection to be formed would surely be a compliment.
Miss Beaumont is clearly further delighted by this, and preens accordingly. "I would be quite pleased by it, I am sure. There are so few young people in the borough whom one would wish to associate."
A cocky smile starts to pull at the corner of his mouth. "I expect Miss Crosby will greatly agree with you on that point. In fact, I am having difficulty convincing her even Lord and Lady Fillintheblank's upcoming ball would be worth her attendance."
She returns the grin as the ornate gold service arrives and is placed on the teapoy beside her. She unlocks the chest with the key offered by the housekeeper, adding the leaves to the pot for them to steep. "Well, I hope she might agree. I would like a friend in the village - so far I have rather failed at that endeavour."
He almost chuckles. "What, bawdy tunes at the pianoforte have not endeared you to your peers?" His icy blue eyes twinkle with delight.
Georgiana's eyes flash playfully in return. "No, I fear not. I rather mistook the character of those in company; perhaps spinsters lose their sense of humor and jollity, the longer they remain unmarried."
He cocks a brow. "Could one blame them?" he teases. "If humor and jollity have thus far failed them, why should they not adopt a more sour demeanor?"
"Oh, but perhaps it is their austere bearing that has so far failed them. One thinks they ought to adjust it, surely - although at such an advanced age, what would be the purpose?"
He chuckles lightly. "I do not recall anyone present being so far along as that. Why my own cousin was older when she wed this year. And I do not expect anyone could be termed more austere than the vicar's wife." In spite of his prospects not having suffered so greatly for Sophia's loss as it seemed they would at the time, Mr. Gordon does still often refer to Mr. Creasey with some lingering venom in his tongue. That a common country clergyman should have access, limited as it may legally be, to that wealth chilled his blood. "Except perhaps for Mr. Elmsworth's wife." His mention of perhaps the only man in town he harbors more resentment toward is surprisingly casual, and he still does not quite call the woman herself by her married name.
Georgiana raises a brow, casually intrigued as she lifts the gilded teapot to begin serving. "Oh, the one who just had the baby? I thought about paying a call, but we've yet to be introduced and seemed rather presumptuous. Should I avoid her acquaintance?" She wrinkles her nose, "I had heard Mr and Mrs Creasey were newly-wed, but I thought she must have been a widow. How wonderful, though, that she managed a match at such a great age. The family must have wept with joy at such a miracle."
"I think that an exceedingly wise course of action, Miss Beaumont," he answers before moving on to her comments on the Creaseys. "And I'm afraid I was the only family Mrs. Creasey had to offer any reaction to her rather...surprising nuptials."
Miss Beaumont has no notion of why this would be anything but a delightful surprise - nay, a /miracle/ - and if she is given any indication it is /not/ she does not notice. "How unfortunate. In any case, I suspect you found your own burden considerably lightened with a spinster off your shoulders."
Gordon averts his gaze for a moment, giving one idle drum of his fingers on the arm of his seat. Miss Beaumont evidently lacked the worldly understanding to consider his relationship to his cousin in the correct context. Although, their greatly differing financial circumstances /were/ key to the equation, and of this, he had no intention of enlightening her. And so he quickly meets her eye once more. "Quite."
“What is your preference, sir?” She furrows her brow. “You’ve never told me anything about your family before, you know.”
He barely smirks. "Perhaps I have been preoccupied with other matters."
Georgiana purses her lips to hide a smile as she offers him the cup and saucer. “Oh? And what would those ‘other matters’ be, milord?”
He holds her eye for a tad longer than he might usually, before deflecting. "Relocating for one. Even this month I have had to travel for a few days to Bath to finalize the closing of my practice there."
Georgiana sighs. "Surely it must have been a relief-being in Bath, or rather being /out/ of Derbyshire."
"I do prefer it." He smirks slightly. "Have you been?"
She sighs once more, her tone obviously having pity for the terrible straits she finds herself in. "No, though I spent the better part of July in Harrogate - the two are not exactly comparable."
He chuckles "What, Harrogate hasn't captured the minds and hearts of the Ton?"
Georgiana scrunches up her nose. "Not hardly. The company seemed all merchants and vicars and other sorts of Northerners and no-one spoke of anything interesting, though I still counted it as an improvement over this borough - though what would not be?"
His eyes glint with amusement and he tries not to smile.
"In any case I should be quite glad to meet Miss Crosby." She furrows her brow. "I've never understood why one must remove themselves from all entertainments while in 'mourning'. The whole ordeal has always seemed rather ridiculous to me."
"Well this particular loss being Miss Crosby's mother, I imagine it is rather keenly felt." He stands in preparation to leave. "But at any rate I shall be pleased to pass on your regards."
Georgiana sets her teacup aside, standing, her expression and tone rather sullen in contrast to her words. "Of course." She curtsies. "Good afternoon, Mr Gordon. Thank you for your regards, as well as your company."
"Trust me Miss Beaumont, the pleasure was mine." He puts on his hat with a wink and exits.