Chapter 29: A Business Concluded

Copyright© 2005 by Argon

Historical Sex Story: Chapter 29: A Business Concluded - This is set twenty years after the events of "In the Navy". The lives of Anthony Carter and his family are turned topsy-turvy by the arrival of Ellen, a young shepherdess. Follow the lives of the Carters and their friends and relatives during the late regency era and explore foreign countries and cultures with them. History is not necessarily dry!

Caution: This Historical Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa   mt/ft   Fa/ft   Teenagers   Consensual   Romantic   Rape   Lesbian   Heterosexual   Historical   Tear Jerker   First   Oral Sex   Masturbation   Petting  

The staggering amount of rain they saw over the next weeks was beyond their comprehension. This was nothing like the perpetual cold drizzle that had drenched Ellen during her shepherdess days. Nothing like the heavy thunderstorms of midsummer, nothing like the autumn gales she had seen in her childhood. Within days, their every possessions were damp and it took a major effort and lots of coal to get Anthony’s and Sally’s diapers dry after washing. After two weeks, mildew appeared almost everywhere and the smell assaulted the noses of the people in the large house.

There was little they could do during the weeks of the monsoon. Of course, Richard and his father attended the meetings with the colonial administration, and they and the other members of the commission were busy writing their reports. Sir Anthony proved his worth by applying his logical thinking to the questions at hand, finding a kindred soul in Mr. York. Richard, on the other hand, excelled in something vastly more difficult – balancing the egos of the people involved. With the future of the Indian possession at stake, most of the people involved in the negotiations also held their own interests high and it was Richard who time and again found the middle ground.

On the social front it was Ellen who did her best to break the ice with the colonial society. Harriet Carter was no great help in this regard because she had never even tried her hand in tea room politics. Ellen, on the other hand, had been a diligent student of that art under old Lady Lambert’s tutelage and within a few weeks she had mustered solid support for Richard among Calcutta’s society. Most importantly, she was able to win the heart of Lady Hastings, the GG’s wife. She had heard a snide comment about Lady Hastings from one of the merchants’ wives, implying that Lady Hastings had been but a pretty farm girl when Major Hubert Hastings met her. It was easy for Ellen to drop a comment about her shepherding days and Lady Hastings was more than delighted to find that Lady Lambert was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth either. Once the ice between the two women was broken, it was easy for Ellen to bring the friendly personality of her hostess to the surface.

The GG noticed the friendship of his wife with the young woman and he was grateful. His wife, once she dropped her guard around Ellen, also opened up to her husband again, at least in private, and that made Lord Hastings a very happy man. Ellen and by association Richard moved up in his Excellency’s esteem.

All this made for a productive stay in Bombay. There came an evening, eight weeks after the onset of the monsoon, when the GG, after a long afternoon of final deliberations, called for brandy and cigars. The men solemnly drank to the health of William IV. Then they lit the cigars and smoked quietly until his Excellency stood.

“Gentlemen, I want to thank each of you for the sincere efforts you put into these deliberations. I think we can all agree that the resolution we will submit to His Majesty’s Ministry will serve to strengthen British rule in India and in the adjoining territories. While I must praise all of you involved in this important effort, I would like to single out the son of my old friend Sir Anthony. My dear Lord Lambert, we would have faced far more difficulties had it not been for your fair and considerate moderation. Although you are the youngest in our group by a fair measure, you have acted with the wisdom and tact of a much older person. This is in large part your achievement which to acknowledge I shall not begrudge you. My respect to a great diplomat in the making!”

“Hear hear!” the other gentlemen joined in whilst Richard blushed furiously.

“Excellency, Father, gentlemen, I fail to see why I should be singled out. This has been a joint effort and as far as I see it a joint success. There is a saying that success has many fathers whilst failure is an orphan. In this case, our success truly has all of you as fathers, and I thank you for the fatherly way in which you helped a young man gather his first experiences in the difficult field of negotiations.”

Sir Anthony clapped Richard’s shoulder.

“Well spoken, my son. And thank you for not being a failure, for it would have been nigh on impossible for me to deny fatherhood!”

That set off general laughter and eased Richard’s embarrassment. Inwardly, he glowed with pride at the praise he received. But there came the GG and put his arm around Richard’s shoulder leading him away from the table.

“You should also thank your charming wife. She really had everybody here wrapped around her pretty fingers. I must admit that I did not see beyond her impressive physical charms at first. But she is a force to be reckoned with. You are truly blessed, my young friend.”

“And don’t I know this,” Richard answered sincerely.

“A word of advice from an older man – look for a nice gift for her to acknowledge her help. Make sure to convey your appreciation. Too many men take their wives for granted. I did, too. Do not fall into that trap.”

Richard considered the words and he saw the truth in them. He pictured Ellen, how she had attended all those soirees and receptions to help smooth the way for his work and in spite of the grief she had felt for Mabel.

“I hear that there are very talented goldsmiths in Calcutta?” he asked by way of answering.

“Come tomorrow. My aide de camp will show you to one of the best. Make sure you have sufficient funds though,” the GG answered smiling broadly and led him back to the table where the second bottle of brandy was almost empty.

It was very late when two merrily drunk men returned to the mansion, only to be scolded good-naturedly by Harriet and Ellen. Nevertheless, Ellen helped her husband to bed and held him tightly whilst the world was spinning. Yes, he decided, he was blessed.

Richard woke up late in the next morning and badly hung over. At breakfast, he saw that his father did not feel much better and that gave him some solace. Ellen and Harriet watched their husbands with benevolent amusement and even Sadie could not quite hide the smirk on her face whilst she poured tea for them.

“So tell me, Tony, what was the occasion for you to throw your caution to the wind?” Harriet asked curiously. She could not remember her husband being hung over ever.

“The damned GG forced his cheap brandy on us,” Sir Anthony croaked. “Oh, that reminds me – we’re supposed to come to a reception tomorrow evening to celebrate the completion of the draft legislation. Now that the blasted rain has finally stopped there will be a garden party.”

“Oh splendid,” Harriet responded, happy about the prospect of a reprise after weeks of torrential rains had forced them to stay inside. “We had better air out our dresses then, Ellen. Have Millicent see to it.”

“I will, mother,” Ellen answered. The last months together had intensified the close bond between her and Harriet. “But I would hesitate to take up too much of Millicent’s time. Time is pressing for Doctor Donovan.”

Indeed, with the completion of the negotiations in Calcutta, the commission would travel on to Bombay, all around the subcontinent, to study the situation on the East Coast. The suit of Doctor Donovan would have to gather speed to be completed before Millicent would have to leave. The good Doctor had a harder time than anticipated to overcome the ingrained distrust Millicent had for men in general. Her experience with men had been less than encouraging and although she felt drawn to the young physician, she feared to be hurt once he realised her lowly background.

Harriet smiled. “Playing the matchmaker again, Ellen? How can you ever top the Marquis?”

Ellen blushed. “There was nothing I did. They just met. And I’m not trying to get them to do anything they do not want if they are honest with themselves. Really, they are a perfect match if only Millicent could get over her suspicions.”

Harriet patted Ellen’s hand. “Perhaps I should try my hand in this. Give me a day.”

Sir Anthony groaned. “Richard, why is it that women are unhappy until everybody around them is married?”

“Happily married,” Harriet corrected her husband.

“I have formed no opinion on this question, Father,” Richard answered carefully, not ready to enter into a philosophical discourse. He had just remembered something, and he needed to get away from the breakfast table without calling too much attention to himself. He waited for a few more minutes, but when Ellen entered into a discussion with Harriet about the best way to encourage Doctor Donovan to speak his heart, he quietly slipped out of the breakfast room.

A half hour later saw him at the GG’s residence and soon after the GG’s aide de camp accompanied him into the city. Richard realised that he would have never found the dingy shop by himself, even if he had been able to find the narrow street it was located in. For the next two hours, Richard and the aide de camp spent browsing and haggling, and when they finally left, Richard felt a smug satisfaction and anticipation.

In the meantime, Harriet Carter was standing on the steps leading up to Doctor Donovan’s practice. Upon her knocking, a young woman in the typical garb of Bengali women opened, her eyes widening at seeing the red haired English lady. Usually people like Lady Carter had the doctor come to their house, and the young housekeeper was only used to the less important patients of her master.

“I should be gratefulk to see Doctor Donovan if it will not trouble him too much,” Harriet stated sounding determined but not haughty.

“I shall announce you, Memsahib,” the young woman answered, bowing deeply.

The constant bowing of the servants here in Calcutta still made Harriet uneasy. It did not seem right to her. One perhaps bowed to royalty, but not to ordinary people such as her. She had tried to persuade the servants at their residence to just curtsey, but that had somehow offended them. Neeta had been outspoken.

“This is way we show respect, Memsahib. We not know better way. It is our custom,” she had explained, and for once, Harriet had been thwarted.

“Lady Carter! To what do I owe the pleasure of your visit?”

Doctor Donovan hastily entered the room.

“I came to give you fair warning, Doctor,” Harriet answered. “The business of my husband and my son in Calcutta is concluded, and it is a matter of a few weeks before we shall travel on to Bombay.”

James Donovan had a sinking feeling. He had not made much headway with Millicent in recent weeks. The more he tried to be kind to her, the more she seemed to draw back.

“I am most sorry, Milady. I shall truly miss the friendship you and your family showed to me,” he answered, fencing for time.

Harriet tilted her head. “Men,” she sighed. “I take it that your suit has not progressed in the way you hoped it would?”

Doctor Donovan blushed furiously and shook his head.

“Miss Wade has not been receptive to my advances,” he almost whispered.

“Oh, you made advances, Doctor?” Harriet asked, raising her eyebrow. “Funny, the way it looked to me, you were sitting around her and waiting for her to make a move. Have you ever told her about your feelings for her?”

“N ... n ... no,” Donovan stuttered.

“How do you suppose the poor girl can know your intentions then? Millicent’s experiences with men have not been too nice. You have to assure her that your intentions are honourable. But you should also make sure she knows that you have intentions in the first place.”

“But...” Donovan protested pitifully.

“Doctor, she will be gone in less than a month. She will be unhappy and you will be unhappy. What do you stand to lose by letting your heart speak? And what do you stand to lose by saying nothing?” She let that sink in. “Tomorrow evening, we shall attend a garden party at the Governor General’s. I shall need willow bark tea against the head ache my husband is sure to develop from imbibing. I would appreciate it if you were to drop by our residence tomorrow evening to deliver the tea. Millicent will know what to do with it.”

“But, Lady Carter...”

“I suggest you bring my tea over at around 8 o’clock. That should give you ample time to pursue your other interests. Don’t disappoint me, Doctor!”

Harriet left the stunned young man and returned to their house. The next day, after lunch, she pulled Millicent aside.

“Millicent, my dear, I have asked Doctor Donovan,” here Millicent’s eyes widened, “to give me some more willow bark tea. Alas, he had none in his office yesterday. But he promised to bring some this evening. I want to be sure it is there should Sir Anthony feel obliged to imbibe again. Be a darling and receive the good doctor when he comes. Make sure the tea is ready by midnight.”

Millicent blushed. “Shouldn’t Sadie...”

“Millicent,” Lady Carter said sternly, “you will receive Doctor Donovan and you will listen to him. Do not shy away from happiness, girl! He is not at all like the men you had to deal with in your youth. He is a gentleman and his intentions are honourable, I’m sure. Tell me, do you not like him?”

Millicent nodded with her eyes brimming.

“But I’m not fit for him. Not me. I’m worthless.”

“Sssh! Who made you think that? I know that Lady Lambert thinks the world of you and so do I. Who told you you were worthless?”

“Farmer Mills,” she spat, as if the hateful name soiled her mouth. “He always said I was worthless. Too thin, too ugly, too stupid, and not able to cook.”

“That was the farmer who forced you to ... do inappropriate things?”

Millicent nodded, her head low in shame. But not for long. Harriet gripped her chin and forced her to look up.

“You believe that swine?” she asked. “A scoundrel who took advantage of an orphan girl? A man like that is not even worth spitting on. Millicent, my dear girl, if you were worthless, had Lady Lambert taken you along for this journey? If you were worthless, would poor Doctor Donovan be reduced to a mute idiot in your presence? Do you know why he does not propose to you? Because he is mortally afraid of your rejection. You can give as much to him as he can give to you. You can both give each other peace of soul. You can be loving husband and wife for each other. Now tell me, Millicent, is there any gift more precious?”

Millicent looked at the older woman with open mouth. She had always found Lady Carter intimidating. Not because she was severe, let alone unkind to the servants. There was something about her, however, that told Millicent not to mess with her. Her green eyes looked at her with sympathy now, but she had seen those eyes burning with fury, back then when she had caught one of the stable hands who had tried to force his attention onto Millicent. The young man, as tall and strong as he was, had shrunk away under the furious stare. In fact, he left the Carters’ possessions that very day. No, she would rather not experience the wrath of her mistress’ mother in law. And now this woman had arranged for Doctor Donovan to come over so that he could declare for her.

“It is true that I care for him, Milady,” Millicent said in a low voice. “But what shall I tell Lady Lambert?”

“Nothing, my dear. She knows. And she is happy for you. Now remember, don’t scare the good Doctor away tonight. He is shy and you may have to take the initiative if you want this affair to bear fruit before we have to leave Calcutta.”

Patting Millicent’s shoulder Harriet returned to the salon. Nothing more was said about Doctor Donovan and Millicent was busy enough assisting the ladies of the house with their evening dresses.

It was after seven o’clock when the Carters left for the Governor General’s mansion. The infants were safe in the care of Neeta and Noga, and Sadie claimed to be tired going to bed early. Millicent suspected Lady Carter’s hand in this too, but Sadie vehemently denied to be part of any conspiracy.

At eight o’clock on the spot, Doctor Donovan’s one-horse trap stopped in the driveway. From the small window in her first floor room, Millicent saw easily that the good doctor had gone through a considerable effort to dress for the occasion. In spite of herself and her misgivings, her heart went out for the young man and she began to ask herself whether he might really harbour true feelings for her. The conversation with Lady Carter had left her thinking.

As expected, one of the house servants knocked on the door to her room.

“Please, Miss Wade, Memsahib Carter said to call you when Doctor Donovan arrived,” came the voice of Mr. Gafur, the major domo.

“Of course she would,” Millicent sighed under her breath. Aloud, she said, “I shall be with him in a minute.”

She looked into the dingy mirror and checked her hair. Heaving a big sigh, she blew out the candle and left her room to go downstairs.

Ellen thought all the people stared at her even more than usual. She was used to attention. After all she knew that she stood out. But she was still self-conscious on that evening for around her neck hung a thin gold chain with a pendant. It was the pendant that made her self-conscious, and it made everybody stare. The pendant was a single ruby the size of a large finger nail and cut to a flat pear-shape. Just before they had left, Richard had asked her to stand still and close her eyes. She had felt him fasten a chain around her neck and she had smiled, expecting a nice necklace. She had stared into a mirror speechlessly afterwards. This was too much. She had tried to protest but Richard had effectively shut her up with a long kiss and then told her that this pendant was to show his appreciation for her efforts on the tea room front, as he had put it. When they reached the Governor General’s mansion, his Excellency had smiled at her and nodded approvingly at Richard, confusing Ellen even more.

There came Lady Hastings.

“You look absolutely ravishing tonight, my dear Ellen,” she beamed and Ellen marvelled at the happiness Lady Hastings was displaying. Nine weeks ago, she had been a withdrawn woman, hardly ever showing any emotion and suspicious of every word spoken. And now she was positively radiant. And beautiful. Ellen supposed that this woman mustr have been irresistible twenty years back, farm girl or not, and from the looks His Excellency cast at her he still thought so. She answered with a friendly smile.

“Thank you, Christine! You look wonderful yourself. Have you seen what this stupid husband of mine did?” She pointed at her décolletage where the large ruby rested between her breasts.

“I think Hubert put him up to it. You earned it, my Dear. A lot of your husband’s success is due to your presence here.”

“You make me blush,” Ellen said modestly. “I only tried to be friends with people so Richard would not have such a hard time convincing them.”

“Exactly, my dear. And your Richard is such a pleasant young man too! They all say he has a great future as diplomat. Is it really true that he fought a duel once? He does not strike me as such a man at all.”

Ellen made a grimace, her conscience pricking her again about James Finney’s death.

“Yes,” she answered in a low voice. “But that was my fault. They quarrelled over me.”

“Oh my god, here I go putting my foot in my mouth. I am sorry for prying, my dear Ellen. Please forget I said anything,” Lady Hastings said contritely.

Ellen willed away the bad memories and forced herself to smile.

“Never mind. It is water under the bridge. Oh, there is Rebecca! Let us greet her.”

Indeed, the Yorks had arrived. Shy, dark Rebecca York had become a good friend to both women in spite of Lady Hastings’ initial prejudice. The three women moved through the Great Hall together, greeting acquaintances and drawing hungry looks from the assembled men. For all her shyness, Rebecca was a delicate beauty in her own right. Her dark, almost black eyes were her most striking feature. She was younger than her husband by fifteen years as Ellen had learned. Yet the way Samuel York doted on his wife reminded Ellen of the consideration with which Richard treated her.

Now only admiring looks were cast upon the three women. During the past weeks, Ellen had not had to rebuke a single untoward advance. She commented on this to Christine Hastings and Rebecca York, and that elicited a sardonic smile from the GG’s wife.

“Don’t you realise that everybody is afraid of your husband? He is the head of a commission that will decide on the way India will be ruled in the next decades. And there is talk that he will surely join the ministry before too long. Add to that his reputation as a duellist, and you will realise that for all your beauty, nobody is stupid enough to offend you.”

“That is a relief,” Ellen smiled hesitantly.

Meanshile, Millicent Wade and James Donovan were sitting opposite each other at the tea table in the garden parlour that had been expressly assigned for this meeting by Lady Carter. Doctor Donovan sat there with a furious blush, not knowing how to start until Millicent had pity on him.

“Were you also ordered here by Lady Carter?” she asked in an attempt to break the ice.

“Err... , yes, Miss Wade, but not that I am not happy to see you,” he added hastily.

“I like seeing you too,” Millicent said in a low voice looking up at him.

Suddenly, from those light brown eyes that locked into his, strength and determination flooded over James Donovan. He swallowed just once. Then, with a courage he had not known he possessed, he spoke up.

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