John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream
Kindle’s carriage was arriving at the seasonal apartment of Lady Carter at its duly appointed time. He had sent a note around after his breakfast asking if he could speak with her. The reply that he received stated she would see him immediately. He was honorable and a gentleman, but he would be honest, as only a gentleman should, he told himself. The driver opened his coach door and he saw his guards dismount to wait by their horses.
Arriving in the vestibule, Lady Carter came to greet him and extended her hand for the proper kiss as nobility dictated. She was not noble but he was, so she expected him to honor his class.
“Baron, how lovely to see you. Please, let us go into the library.”
Kindle walked with her as he looked around her London apartment. He had never been here before. He was amazed. Was it women or Lady Carter that managed to decorate her two-month residence in equal splendor, as her estate must be? Everything was plush and velvet. The tables and glass cabinets were adorned with all and sundry china figurines from the most notable makers in all of Europe. It was very much to his disliking. Homes insufferably crammed with gleaming silver and brass, crystals tinkling somewhere in the distance and the invariable compliments that one must bestow when being shown the newest piece in the collection, were of very little interest to him. He loved his family’s historical relics, his weaponry collection, and his horses. That is all he wanted from life with the exception of Miss Hale and keeping his lands and its people bountiful and happy.
“This is a lovely room, Lady Carter. You have an exceptional collection of objects d’art.
“Thank you. Please have a seat,” she said, directing him to a settee but he managed to steer himself to the single chair next to it. “May I offer you some refreshment?” she asked. “Tea or is a different libation more to your taste?”
“You are most kind, but I have just risen from the morning table and could not put another drop down this gullet.”
“I am quite at odds, Baron, as to what you wish to discuss. Pray . . . began. What is it that you wanted to see me about?” she asked haughtily, knowing he was here for the scene she made to his cousin the evening before.
“Lady Carter, in speaking with Gilbert this morning, he told me of your concern in not seeing me in attendance at all the outings and balls. Did I understand him correctly?”
“Well, concern seems to be a little strong. You and I usually dance often together and I realized I was beginning to miss that. I had wondered if all was well with you.”
Kindle doubted she was speaking in earnest. He knew exactly what she wanted from him and it did not include dancing. Yes, he had bedded her and her passion was great but he was in no mood for her games any longer.
“Lady Carter, what do you expect of me . . . in truth?” Kindle asked, blurting out what would normally be skirted around for hours.
Taken aback by his forthrightness, Lady Carter started to fluster at the very idea of him being so direct. That she did not wish to answer but she must. His directness must come from his military grooming, she thought.
“Baron, I have been under the impression that we have been a little more to each other than mere acquaintances. You saw other women, I saw other men, but eventually we would circle around and find each other again. I thought perhaps we have been destined to be the other’s mate. That has been my dream for a long time. Surely, you have felt the same?”
“Lady Carter, it is my intention, when I asked to see you this morning, that I would be in complete candor with you and we would talk about how we feel for each other.”
Lady Carter showed signs of her spirits lifting off the floor and soaring. Maybe this was not going to be bad news after all, she thought to herself, presenting a charming smile once again.
“I want to be honest for both of us so we can get on with our lives from here. Lady Carter, you are a special woman and I have always enjoyed being with you.” Kindle almost hated himself for the boldfaced lies he was going to tell . . . but only ‘almost’. “We have good times whenever we are together and I was beginning to think as you do . . . maybe we were meant to be. That feeling held a long time. It was only a few weeks ago that I learned differently. I met another young lady. She is not as pretty as you. She has no money, property, or connections. She hates nobility. She is very wrong for me but I cannot divest myself of my feelings for her even though I have tried. We have no understanding; it has not even been discussed. I can only tell you how I feel at this moment. What will happen in the future is unknown. I may feel very differently about her at some point but as for now, I am only seeing her. I need to find the underlying cause of this inner turmoil that I am suffering. She is all wrong for me. I hope you can understand. There have been no promises made or understandings between you and me. If you felt there were some words unsaid but mistakenly expected, I am sorry for that. I have always been a man who was cautious with his words. In my career that is the only way one can be. I know I have never led you to believe that there was anything more to be expected. I still cannot say that those days will never come back because I do not know what I am in for with this new woman who has taken my heart. By all accounts, of what she says, she will not have me when she knows about my nobility. We will have a proper conversation when she returns from Milton in two days. I will be honest with her and we will see where it goes from there.”
Lady Carter rose and Kindle stood as well. She proceeded to the window, looked out, and pondered the words she wanted to say. She did not love him, she never did, but she did want to be a Baroness and wasn’t going to give up that easily. “Thank you, Baron, for being so candid and honest. It was not pleasant to hear but it was refreshing to have it laid before me and understood. I will certainly miss you Kindle. I wish you the best with your new lady but always know that I will wait for you . . . forever if I have to. If she rejects you, return to me.”
“Thank you, madam, for understanding. Your graciousness overwhelms me. You shall forever live in my thoughts,” Kindle said to the back of her, since she had not moved from facing the window. “Good day.” Kindle turned and walked out of the room. He thought he could hear the beginning of her crying act. He had expected it and she was right on queue.
Kindle walked directly to his carriage arriving almost before his driver could get to the door. He was relieved to get that over with but had unsettling feelings about it all. She was seething underneath that frock and retribution was not out of her realm of recompense. She would, again, be rumored to be turned down. A lady’s reputation could not abide much rejection. Nobility had severe unwritten actions regarding a man or woman who was deemed to have been rejected as often as twice. Lady Carter would invariably have to slip down to the next rung in society for the rest of her life. Kindle knew she would not take that without a fight.
John turned his back as he was asked to do. “Margaret, I will not promise to hold this sitting attitude for long. I may have to take you into my arms at any moment. I have been shaken to my boots being this near to you. My words are spilling out and I cannot seem to hold them in. Please, proceed before I embarrass myself.”
“Mr. Thornton, I think it’s a bit late for that, do you not?” She could not help but giggle once again. Margaret did not think she’d ever forget that moment when her eyes fell to his embarrassment standing directly in front of her while she sat and waited for her satchel to be retrieved overhead.