This story has been set to a rating of PG-13. Age verification is required to proceed.
Lack of courage on my part, not the reason I’ve paused my usual marching gate down the grassy hillside toward Shibden. Indeed, all who’ve met me presume my bravery inherent, like my other oddi…qualities, my boldness puts me square in the frame, after years of much success with many —now to pursue only the rarest of ladies —I believe, with an unshakeable devotion, the most beautiful of the fairer sex will be my wife.
In Paris, in Rome, and in Spain —and most recently in Hastings —they kiss my lips with coy friendship and unmistakably so much more.
Naught a fool and yet, I would be happier married by now, and landing anywhere but back in Halifax, if not for the parade of male suitors ceaselessly calling upon the ladies of my affection.
I have crashed back to earth not as dead as Icarus but undeniably scorched by the corona of the aristocracy. I’m not one of them, and they know it. My ownership of the four-hundred-year-old pile of a sprawling manse, Shibden Hall, I never tire of reminding those who might forget the history made here in 1415 when King Henry V frequently visited, before and after the Battle of Agincourt.
Not to my astonishment, four-hundred-year-old English kings are no match for the nineteenth century where it’s gold and silver that is the only currency. My cleverness, my ancient lineage, my flawless politeness pattering from French to Latin and onto ancient Greek —should anyone try to test me.
I easily outwit them all, and it’s where my training is critical. The lords and ladies, the marquis and marquise, and any baron who’s invited me to his shooting party, all get the last word with me and every confidence that they are right, lest I be thought of as vulgar. What I think of them I write in my diary. To date, I have eighteen bound volumes of my near-constant musings and travels.
Staring ahead, I clear my mind of recent unpleasant events, realizing I’ve not stood still for this long since I thought I’d broken my right ulna. Bastard horse. So yes, It’s decided. I will march through the stone gate of Shibden, a returning Colonel Lister as if all my wars were won and no battle was too bruising upon me.
I can always be counted upon to do it. I’ve never lived an ordinary life and won’t be starting one this afternoon.
To that reality, I give the flaps of my great coat a good shaking and marching onward toward Shibden and my shabby little family I’m feeling a bit of myself returning again.
It’s in my bloodlines. Never to be knocked down.
Three days later —
On my way to Halifax, I take the Lightcliff Road, and while walking on the high ridge above the town the estate of Miss Ann Walker comes into view. I do feel the urge to call upon her. However, I could just as quickly admire her modern gardens and turn east toward town skipping my unscheduled call, but she is a quiet and charming young lady, who, and if I’ve been told ten times it’s really more than twenty, that Miss Walker lives alone and hasn’t any intelligent callers.
Her luck is about to change. I ring the bell, and with the ivory tip of my walking stick, I adjust the brim of my hat to just above my arching eyebrows, a versatile expression I’ve perfected to mean many things.
’Aren’t you clever!’ They take a quick upshot with a flash of amusement in my eyes.
’You’re captivating my attention.’ Leaning in, I draw my eyebrows closer together in focused concentration. Ladies are stunned by this one, trained as they are to be ornamental flowers who rarely speak.
The morning could not be more beautiful. The butler’s footsteps cross the marble. ”Miss Lister to see Miss Walker.” A quick handoff of hat, stick, and coat and I’m led into a gilded cage with the lovely Miss Walker trapped inside.
What could I possibly do about that?
HBO is the copyright holder of all images used in this work of fanfiction.