Chapter 9

188 14 1

The journey from Southampton to Portsmouth was in all ways, anything but tiresome for Lady Diana Beaumont. She felt anxious, and perhaps uncertain, but not tired. There was another feeling, in the pit of her stomach that she had never felt before. Perhaps it had never been felt before by anyone and lacked a proper name. Try as she might, she could not find a name existing to even match. The feeling was a mixture of hollow anxiety, uncertainty and a hint of dread, that she almost felt nauseous. As she watched the sudden changes to the usual scenery that she was accustomed to, the unnamed feeling seemed to take hold of her more and more.

Portsmouth was a dreary place, with shouts echoing in the air and uncultured streets, Diana's heart seemed to pound against her chest. She could count the number of times she saw an angry exchange outside their carriage and she would never stop, that was how unsettling she felt the place to be. As the carriage in which she sat in, with her uncle's family and Alicia, moved on, a slight hope lingered on. A hope that perhaps things will get better as they go on, surely not every corner of the county was sporting such views.

But the carriage had other plans, as it stopped miles before Diana's hope could take flight. With a quick anxious glance outside, she realized that they had stopped just behind a crowd that had formed around something, or was it someone, in the middle of the street. She glanced at her uncle, who, much to Diana's dismay, was straightening his coat and fixing his top hat as he prepared to step outside the carriage.

His wife was now gently waking up her two little boys, who had slept soundly against her for the duration of the journey.

"Have we arrived?" Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick's inquiry came, breaking the silence, and by her tone of voice, Diana could tell that she was just as anxious as she was.

"Yes my dear," Aunt Frederica smiled, her voice gentle and low as she pointed towards the door the carriage had stopped right in front of, "This is our house."

Diana and Alicia glanced at the house, the turquoise door stood in the far middle of a thin limestone white building, which seemed to be just one out of a row of similar establishments along the street. From what Diana could make of it, the house was not much more than two storeys, judging by the two windows situated in a column. At first sight, one thing was clear, it was nowhere near to what either of the girls were used to in Southampton. Their estates back home could never compare to this, but as uncomfortable as she felt, she closed her eyes and reminded herself of her true purpose here and of her father's words, "What may be home to some, may not be so to others."

Straightening herself and forcing a smile on her face, she followed after her uncle and was helped down the carriage by him and Alicia and her aunt followed after. Trying her best to drown out the shouts of the crowd gathered not far from her uncle's house, for god knows what reason, she focused herself and took hold of Theodore's hand to steady him as her little cousin was drowsy in sleep.

Alicia took charge of Michael and Uncle Arthur took hold of the luggage after helping his wife inside the house.

"This is our house," Aunt Frederica repeated, with her hand resting on her belly, once they were all inside, "I understand it is certainly far from what you both are accustomed to, but I hope in time it shall warm onto you."

The interior felt very strange, the furnishings were dull and there was absolutely no trace of color from the tapestry all the way to the carpets of the floors. Diana could tell how little the house was pampered. Back in Southampton, Bellevue Hall was almost unrecognizable every week as Lord and Lady Beaumont spent the larger part of their day deciding on new tapestries and furnishings for every new occasion that may come up.

But she wasn't as careless as to dismiss the fact that wealth was tight in Uncle Arthur's household, he had no time and nor could he afford such reckless extravagance when he had a family to feed and rent to pay. "It doesn't matter what we think of it," Alicia spoke, shrugging off entirely the same feelings as Diana was experiencing, "It matters what we're here for."

"And I suppose we shall be more than at home with you and Uncle Arthur around," Diana smiled, and Aunt Frederica smiled back.

"And of course your little troublemakers," Alicia grinned, bending down to kiss Michael's cheek, who was still drowsy with sleep. "The number of which, is soon to increase," Diana added, resting her hand softly on her aunt's belly.

Uncle Arthur smiled as he gazed on to the scene in front of him, taking off his top hat and hanging it onto a hook behind the door, feeling all warm inside. He should certainly like having his nieces around, and no words he could ever say would be able to ascertain how grateful he was. Now his wife could have help and company in her time of need, two things he would never be able to provide to her.

By the time everyone freshened up from their journey, the sun had set and it was time to dine. Uncle Arthur and his family were in procession of a single maid, who had resorted to doing the cooking for the family of four and nothing else besides. Upon a quick trip to the house's kitchen and a rather slight inspection of the maid at work, Lady Diana Beaumont could not think why she only resorted to cooking. The maid seemed to be healthy and quite considerable in height, making her more than accomplished to help out in other areas around the house.

"Aunt Frederica, with what do you feed that girl?" Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick slightly hushed during dinner, referring to the only maid, "She looks like she belongs anywhere else, doing everything else except for the sole purpose of cooking in such a dainty household."

Aunt Frederica chuckled, "Marta is really of such help in the kitchen, I feel like I'd be lost without her."

Alicia sighed and then smiled slyly, "If you say so Aunt, I suppose I shall force myself to get used to the arrangement."

"And that would certainly not be a task of a very difficult nature because I fear her cooking is almost as good as our cook's back home in Southampton," Diana let out, as she noticed a swift shadow against the small kitchen window in the distance. The compliment was genuinely spoken too, as one taste of the food had made her feel right at home. It was always so peculiar to her how some senses associate with home so.

Uncle Arthur smiled at the conversation the ladies shared afterwards, smiling and nodding whenever he was asked a question because either his wife or his little sons would answer it for him, something he rarely ever minded and was used to. After dinner, Diana and Alicia bid their Aunt Frederica, Uncle Arthur and their little cousins good night and retired to their rooms upstairs. Being a two story house, there weren't many rooms. The house consisted of two rooms upstairs reserved for guests and three downstairs, excluding the dining parlour and the kitchen.

The guest rooms were neatly kept, yet as dully furnished as the entirety of the house. The walls were covered with a brown coloured paint, which was a quiet an unlikely colour for a room, as far as what the ladies were accustomed to. There wasn't much furniture except a wooden cupboard and an antique vanity without a chair for it in both of their rooms.

"I suppose we shall have to make do," Alicia sighed slowly as she came into Diana's room right after a thorough inspection of her own, "I feel as though were the circumstances different, I would've most regretted my presence here."

Diana sighed. "We can do this; it is just until a few months after the baby is born," she reminded her cousin, "After that we return home, back to Southampton."

"Do you think we're much of conversation back home," Alicia asked slowly, "I almost feel a thousand people talking."

"You know how Southampton is," Diana started, a fond smile taking over, "They'll talk and come up with their own assumptions about how Lady Alicia Kirkpatrick and Lady Diana Beaumont suddenly disappeared from society, unless of course the weather becomes finer all of a sudden and our mothers decide to pay calls, then, people won't find the need to assume anything."

Rules and RosesWhere stories live. Discover now