Chapter 12

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"So, what really is going on between the rector's daughter and you, Oscar?" Adam Seymour asked his younger brother one fine following day in Southampton, as they sat on the dining table ready to have their breakfast.

"Good God," Oscar sighed in frustration, "There is nothing going on between us, nothing at all! Can everyone just stop paying heed to anything Rebecca says? Most of the time she's not thinking straight."

"Is that any way to refer to your elder sister?" Lady Margaret Seymour's voice suddenly came as she entered the room and prepared to seat herself as a footman pulled out a chair for her, "Rebecca is a little hot headed, and she does not think straight at all at times, but that is no reason for you to go declaring it about!"

"Why, what would the servants think," she continued, not lowering her voice, "That in all my thirty years married to your father, I've not been able to have unity in this household!"

"So we agree that Rebecca is hot headed and does not think straight?" Adam mused as he buttered a slice of bread, his gaze fixed on his plate.

Lady Margaret sighed as she lifted her hand to rest her forehead. Her sons have always been a challenge, but somehow it seemed that with time, the challenge was getting more and more for her to handle.

"Anyway, what were you two conversing about before I came in, something about the rector's daughter as far as I recall," Lady Margaret continued after straightening herself, as a footman served her tea.

"I was just asking Oscar about Ms Churchill, their names have been making headlines in this household I dare say," Adam mused again, his attention fixed on his breakfast.

Lady Margaret gasped slightly, "I have been meaning to ask you about the matter Oscar," she claimed, turning her gaze towards Oscar, "Have you set your sights on Ms Churchill? Because let me just make my sentiments clear, I will not have a clumsy, trouble making, unladylike buffoon for a daughter-in-law. And pray, keep my observations to yourself."

"Oh God," Oscar sighed in frustration. It made him uncomfortable to the core by hearing his name alongside Ms Churchill's. Not only was the person in question well below his social status, but also not even considered a proper lady in everyone's eyes, let alone his. Mr Churchill and his daughter were by far the most obnoxious people he ever had to tolerate.

"Mother, there is nothing going on between Ms Churchill and I. I would set my sights on a trade merchant's daughter from Portsmouth like Uncle Arthur did sooner than set my sights on Ms Churchill. I do not understand how anyone can even get such an abhorrent notion. I have not once even spoken to Ms Churchill, and if I am to be seen speaking with her father, who happens to be the rector of our parish church, is the conversation to be automatically assumed and labelled as a proposal?" Oscar finished, making his sentiments undeniably clear, or at least for some people.

"So," Adam spoke, pausing to take a bite out of a scone, "A trade merchant's daughter then?"

"Give The Countess my sincerest regards," Aunt Frederica smiled as she kissed Diana and Alicia on the cheeks.

It was a very bright and sunny morning in Portsmouth, and just as the clock struck twelve at noon, the ladies had decided to set out to pay a call to The Countess of Brockenhurst. Back in Southampton, the calling hours commenced from noon till three, and in case of emergencies, the hours could be extended to six. Once the clock had struck six however, and the sun had set, paying calls was considered highly improper, unless one happened to be a close member of the family.

Diana and Alicia were in no form aware of the calling hours people followed in Portsmouth, they had on occasion last night inquired to their Aunt about the matter, but she had laughed and suggested that there were no specific calling hours for the society here.

"Then it really isn't much of society now, is it?" Alicia had pointed out once the cousins were alone in the room.

"How are things supposed to function if there are no calling hours? Surely respect for time is a human virtue?" Diana had asked, puzzled.

"Not here it isn't," Marta had added as she entered the room to help Diana make her bed for the night, chuckling at the expression Diana gave her.

"I see, we are devoid of entirely all virtues here," Alicia had spoken, narrowing her eyes at the maid.

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