A Lady'sMost Unexpected Match
“Slowly, William, we don’t want to take a fall,” Estelle called after her young son. He was running ahead of them on his short yet quick legs. His squeals of excitement trailed behind him.
“How do you expect him to restrain himself on a day such as this?” Harry asked her. She cast a glance at her husband. They were quite a distance from the lake, so she had no worry of her son running out ahead of them. Still, she was much more protective over the small boy than her husband was.
“This is the perfect age for him to learn some basic methods of self-preservation,” she said, watching the small boy stop and squat down to the ground to examine something. Perhaps it was a leaf, a flower, or some small creature. William, named for Harry’s father, was happiest out of doors. Admittedly, Estelle had been worried about raising their child at Fairwoode. She had known that an enormous amount of compromise would have to be achieved concerning her and her husband’s residence. He was devoted to the countryside, whilst to be close to her friends, Estelle wished to spend at least some of their time in London.
The compromise they had come up with was that the majority of the year would be spent at Fairwoode. Spring, leading up to the Season, would be devoted to London. They could stay at Gilenwood Manor. His mother very much enjoyed spending time with both Estelle and little William.
She was not sure how she would take it, but as it turned out, country life very much suited Estelle. She looked forward to waking up to the sound of chirping birds. Going outside to walk through the grounds, sit in the garden, or enjoy her time by the lake. It was so lovely as to feel almost luxurious. Her husband’s love for the environment seemed to magnify it in herself.
She and her husband walked often. It was his habit to go riding in the mornings or in the evenings, time he spent in his own thoughts. However, every day, the two dedicated time to nothing else but the other. They talked, they walked, and sometimes, they just sat. Over the last three years, Estelle had been able to watch the blissful life of marriage to a man who loved her unfold amid the beauty of Fairwoode.
“If he tires himself out now, he will not be able to attend the picnic,” Estelle said. Harry seemed to consider that.
“Well, yes, but you know how he is. It is but a simple matter of lying down for forty-five minutes to restore him to his full energy level once more,” he said indulgently of their son. They were allowing him to run freely through the grounds, but both parents kept a watchful eye on him. They were heading towards the small lake, which was to be their site for a picnic that afternoon. Their guests were on their way.
The Duke and Duchess were on their way, as well as Harry’s mother the Dowager Countess. His brother Howard and Camille would be coming too, and they would be bringing their twin daughters. Estelle’s friend Lily and her husband Lord Ashton would be in attendance as well, bringing their young son and daughter. Finally, Estelle’s other friend Daisy and her husband Ambrose would be coming with their daughter too. With a gaggle of so many young children, the oldest hardly three years old, an army of nursemaids would be required, but that was no matter. The children could enjoy a beautiful summer in the countryside alongside their parents.
The promise of company that afternoon was exciting to Estelle. In London, particularly during the social Season, she felt stifled by the requirement of excessive socialization. However, here at Fairwoode, she took a lot of pleasure in inviting her friends to the estate. Their gatherings were far more personal and comfortable than any of the balls or dinner parties she had suffered through whilst in London.
After ensuring the picnic preparations were well underway, they collected young William and returned to the house to make ready for their guests. All their guests were staying for a few days before making their return to London. Estelle and Harry, however, were through with London for the year, only making their return next spring.
There was a happy atmosphere as the guests began to arrive. After a small reception in the house, they made their way out to the lake. The site of their picnic had been stocked with plenty of seating as well as blankets laid on the ground to accommodate the children. They ate light food and drank refreshing cool drinks in the warm summer sun.
Spending more time away from her friends these days, Estelle was particularly keen to catch up with Lily and Daisy. She and Lily had become pregnant the same year after marrying the same year, but Daisy’s daughter had been a slightly later arrival, being a bit younger than William and Lily’s daughter.
As the comfortable, relaxed gathering wore on, Estelle searched the party for Harry. He was engaged in conversation with Ambrose, Daisy’s husband. She went over to them and excused her interruption.
“My dear Mr. Ambrose, will you mind terribly if I have a word with my husband?” she asked. Mr. Ambrose laughed accommodatingly.
“It would be my last wish to stand in your way, my lady,” he joked. Harry laughed, turning his attention to Estelle when Ambrose had left them.
“Is everything all right?” he asked.
“Yes, of course. I simply wished to take a walk through the woods and wanted a companion. Would you like to come with me?” she asked. He agreed happily, joining her as they walked away from the water towards a wooded grove close to the picnic site. Feeling the warm sun on her skin, Estelle felt supremely blessed by her lot in life. Between her healthy son, doting husband, and beautiful home, there was a little more she could ask for or complain about.
“I think there is now sufficient distance between us and the party,” Harry said. Estelle looked over at him.
“Pardon?” she asked.
“You need not pretend with me, Estelle. After three years of living alongside you, I have learned some of your habits. You asked me here because you wish to speak with me privately,” he said. He was right, and despite her wish to hide that fact from him, her smile gave it away.
“Well, then, I suppose there’s no use attempting mysteriousness. I do have something to tell you.”
“Is it something to do with the accounts?” he asked, frowning slightly.
“No. Not at all.”
“Are you wanting to spend more time in London this year?” he asked next.
“That is a better guess, but it is not what I want to talk to you about either. Will you continue to guess, or will you have me put you out of your misery?” she asked. He laughed.
“What is it? My guessing has been no good so far.”
“It is simply the announcement that very soon, likely before the end of the year, I will give birth once more.”
The news stopped Harry in his tracks.
“Estelle, are you with child again?” he asked, looking at her with excitement. She smiled softly and nodded.
“I am. Are you happy?”
Harry embraced his wife. He was perpetually happy. Living here with her and their son, happy was his default state. Now, the addition of another child elevated him beyond happiness, skyward, to its highest limits.
I hope you enjoyed “A Lady’s Most Unexpected Match”. I would love to know your opinion!