Saving Lady Abigail – Abby Ayles

“I just don’t understand how you could have done this without discussing it with me first,” the Earl of Gilchrist said to his only son. “I am twenty-six years of age, Father; I don’t need your permission to purchase a commission,” Lord Colton Frasier, the Viscount Dunthorpe, responded. “But how could you have possibly purchased a lieutenant’s commission on the allowance given? I understand that it would normally be rather sufficient, but you so often spend yours at the gentlemen’s club or on races.” Lord Gilchrist was not the type of man to be angered or raise his voice. The most emotion he ever showed to others was the furrowing of his soft blonde brows and declarations of the impossibility of an action he didn’t agree with. “As you said, Father, my allowance is sufficient. I have grown bored with both the tables and the races. I want to experience some of life. I would have thought I chose a noble course.” “Noble? Are you not aware that we are in the midst of a war with Napoleon? What is so noble about my only son dying on the battlefield?” The Viscount softened his demeanor. He certainly knew this announcement to his father would stir up mixed emotions. He had yet to tell his sister or mother. Lord Dunthorpe would have liked to at least have his father on his side before that time came. “I am aware of the battle, Father. I can assure you that as a lieutenant, and with an earldom in my future, I will be sure to take the proper precautions necessary.

” Lord Dunthorpe got up from his leather seat and paced his father’s office. “I want to see some of the world, Father,” he said, waving his arms around him. “I want to have experiences and adventures. It is not fair that such things should be taken from me purely because I am your only son. Had you another son, it would not have mattered what adventures I wished to embrace.” “But you are my only son, and very dear to me for that matter,” his father retorted, still seated behind his desk. Lord Gilchrist knew his son was a spirited man, always hungry for the next excitement. He somewhat wished he was more like his sister, Lady Louisa. She was perpetually quiet and reserved. Where Lord Dunthorpe jumped before he thought, Lady Louisa always profoundly considered before she even spoke.

“I suppose what is done is done,” Lord Gilchrist said, laying his weathered hands upon the oak desk in front of him. “I will never say I agree with this choice but, as you said, you are a grown man and able to make your own decisions.” Lord Dunthorpe sat down in relief. Perhaps with his father now surrendered to his choice it would be easier to tell the rest of the household. “I thought perhaps that I might announce it to Mother and Louisa this evening at dinner.” “Why so soon?” “I leave at the end of the week, Father. There is a great need at this time for willing and capable men.” Lord Gilchrist gave out a long sigh. He would have rather liked some time to adjust to his son’s new course in life. In all honesty, Lord Gilchrist rather hoped that Colton would be forced to consider the choice he made before going straight into it.

So often, his only son was prone to making rash decisions, but he would soon see rational reason if given the time. “I suppose you hoped that with coming here and telling me first in private, I might ease the blow to the others,” Lord Gilchrist said with a shuffling of papers on his desk. “I cannot promise that will be the case.” “But think of Mother,” Lord Dunthorpe said with an ease of charming manipulation. “She will be so frightened at the prospect. If you support me, she will be assured that it is safe. I would ask for your agreement only for the sake of her nerves.” “You are using the delicate nature of a lady to support your own devilish devices, and I don’t think I particularly like that,” Lord Gilchrist retorted. He softened into a smile, however. There was much of himself he saw in his son.

“But because I do care so dearly for your mother and her constitution, I will give in to your demands.” Lord Dunthorpe eased into a smile. He had overcome his first hurdle. With his father now on his side, the next would be much easier. Lord Dunthorpe was well aware that his father, and no doubt the rest of his family, would see his choice to join the Regulars as a rash decision. He, on the other hand, found it to be the most promising course of action he had ever taken in the whole of his life. He knew that soon the time would come for him to have to settle down, take a wife, and continue the legacy of his father’s earldom. He had enjoyed the prospects of the peerage and the social discretions that came with it. He was now finding himself a grown man, no longer enamored of the artless pleasure of a gentleman’s life. He wanted to have some importance attached to his life.

The constant revolutions of seasons at his family’s country estates no longer seemed worthwhile or meaningful in Colton’s mind. That evening at dinner, Lord Dunthorpe tried his best to be a perfect son for the sake of his mother. Anything to help ease the blow he was about to give was worth the sacrifice. “Mother, I have just received a letter from Isabella. I can scarcely believe the words she wrote,” Lady Louisa Frasier said to her mother across the dinner table. “Oh, does that mean she has given birth? Do tell me quickly! Are both Isabella and the babe doing well?” “Well,” Lady Louisa said, not usually the one excited to be in the limelight. Her news, however, was just so fantastical that it made her forget her normally timid demeanor. “She told me first that everything went wonderfully and that she is recovering very quickly. “She also reported that not only did she have a healthy baby boy,” Lady Louisa paused for dramatic effect, “but also a beautiful baby girl.” The Countess of Gilchrist raised both hands to her face in shock.

“Twins?” Lady Louisa nodded in the affirmative. “She also inquired if we all might be able to visit her at Wintercrest Manor at our earliest convenience. Won’t that be wonderful to go and see both beautiful babies?” “How very exciting. We will have to find the time to go before the winter storms settle in. It is already very near to autumn.” “I am sure she would be more than happy if we stayed the whole holiday season through,” Lady Louisa added. “What do you think, Lord Gilchrist? Shall we all go up north to see the Duke and Duchess’s new babies?” Lady Gilchrist turned to her husband at the other end of the table. His eyes flickered on each member seated before saying anything. “I think it would be a lovely diversion to spend the holidays up north,” Lord Gilchrist agreed. The Frasier household rarely left their London home, all finding it to be comfortable and inviting.

From time to time, as it suited their fancies, they would spend short occasions at their country seat. It was along the western coast of the country and boasted beautiful views of the Bristol Channel very near to the fashionable retreat town of Bath. “Colton, you must come with us too,” Lady Louisa said, turning to her brother. “I know you and the Duke of Wintercrest got on very well. He will no doubt be most happy to have your company.” Both Lord Dunthorpe and his father exchanged a nervous look. This was no doubt the right window of opportunity for Lord Dunthorpe to tell his sister and mother of his alternate future to that of Wintercrest Manor. “It seems like a charming diversion, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to join you,” Lord Dunthorpe said, doing his best to ease into his own arrangement. “Why ever not?” Lady Louisa asked, raising one of her mousey brows as she lifted some cured ham casually to her mouth. “I am afraid I have my own announcement to make.

The cause of it will keep me detained for quite some time.” “Don’t tell me you bought another racing horse,” Lady Gilchrist chimed in. “The last one you got, you spent a whole year with the trainers and we scarcely ever saw you.” Lord Dunthorpe recalled with fondness that particular diversion a few years back. He had grown tired of just watching the gig races and wanted to try his hand at it himself. Lord Dunthorpe was never one to do something halfway. For that reason, he searched the whole country over for the most outstanding racing horse stock and the fastest gig. Then he spent every waking moment training with his horse and buggy. He had to admit it did pay off in the end. He had won almost every race.

It was entertaining at first. However, winning continually quickly soured Lord Dunthorpe’s taste for racing. What was the point if there was no fear of losing? “I have not purchased a horse. In fact, I can promise you that I won’t even be attending any races for quite some time. I have bought a commission.” He looked back and forth between his sister and mother. Poor Lady Louisa held a boiled potato mid-air, with her mouth agape, unable to move. “I don’t understand,” Lady Gilchrist finally said. It was enough to wake her daughter and Lady Louisa set down her fork, suddenly put off her meal. “I will be joining the Regulars, Mother.

I have bought a lieutenant’s commission and will be doing what is necessary for king and crown.” Lord Dunthorpe couldn’t help but hold his head up high as he said these words. It was not for pride, but to show that he was confident in his choice. “Did you know about this, Lord Gilchrist?” the Countess asked, turning significantly pale as she faced her husband. “He informed me earlier this afternoon in my office, my dear.” “And you are in agreement with it?” she struggled out. The Earl of Gilchrist looked between his wife and son. He would not lie for one, nor would he willingly bring more unease than necessary on the other. “I am settled to the fact. Colton is old enough to do what he wishes with his own life.

If this is the course he chooses, I will not stand in his way.” “But Colton,” Lady Gilchrist said, with a visible shake to her voice, “what of the danger?” “I promise I will be very considerate of my actions, Mother.” Lady Gilchrist promptly excused herself from the table, too overcome with emotion to stay much longer. The room was silent as she left. Soon after, Lord Gilchrist went to console his wife. This left the two siblings alone in the dining room. “You are very set on this, then?” Lady Louisa finally asked. Colton felt his first pang of regret. Their whole lives, Colton had made it his mission to take care of and protect his younger sister. She was not only younger than him, but of a very meek nature.

Between this and her moderately plain-featured looks, she had often been an easy target for a cruel miss. “I am very set on this,” he said softly. “Then you will promise to write me often?” Lord Dunthorpe and Lady Louisa may have had a few years of age between them, but they were still very close siblings. Lady Louisa had counted on him on a number of occasions to be her champion in times of distress. Not only that, but he had also brought much light and laughter to what might otherwise have been a very dull life for her. “Of course I will,” Lord Dunthorpe said, reaching across the table and taking his sister’s hand. “Every day, if you wish it. So much, in fact, it will be as if I am still here and you wish me gone.” Lady Louisa gave a soft smile of relief at this promise. She had been at her brother’s side so much of her life, she feared how she would go on with him away.

What brought an even colder shudder to her was the thought that this endeavor might result in losing her brother permanently.

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