Northern Relations:: A letter from Edward, Lord Hadnall, to his favourite aunt, Camelia.
Dearest Aunt Camelia,
I have been here in the north for almost a week now, and much to my surprise, I’ve had a highly agreeable time. You know I rarely venture outside of London, but I must admit the Yorkshire countryside is quite beautiful. Fawleigh is a most impressive house, too, while Arthur and his mother are the perfect hosts.
I go walking across the estate each day with Arthur. I have even met some of his tenants, whom Arthur treats almost like friends. We spend the evenings playing bridge with his relations and neighbours. As you are aware, my usual pastimes—and inclinations—are rather less conventional, but I haven’t had so much fun in a very long time. In fact, I have not missed my city acquaintances one bit. Perhaps it is the bracing northern air or Arthur’s refreshing company, but I find myself in no hurry to return to the bustle of London.
Do not fear, Aunt, I will not neglect my responsibilities—I have not forgotten my promise to find myself a wife. But I am not sure where I will find a lady with sufficient attractions to lure me away from Arthur and his home. I have never met a man quite like him. He is handsome and strong, but he is also the most kind and generous man I have ever known. Indeed, I look at Arthur sometimes and imagine that, in another time and place, I might marry someone like him and be truly happy. It is a ridiculous notion, I know, but I have these outlandish thoughts sometimes.
I must go now to change for the Jarrows’ hunt. I am not a great lover of hunting, but it would be impolite to refuse. I only hope I can reach the day’s end without falling from my horse!
Your ever-loving nephew
About Northern Relations
Edward, Lord Hadnall, leads a hedonistic life in Regency London, along with his friend and occasional lover, Charlie Brabinger. The only blot on Edward’s carefree horizon is the insistence of his female relations that he settle down and get married. He intends to ignore their pestering for as long as he can, and continue his decadent lifestyle of dances and debauchery. But then Edward meets Charlie’s cousin, Arthur Hathwaite, a kind and honourable country gentleman.
Edward accepts Arthur’s invitation to visit his Yorkshire home and is surprised to find life on the rural estate extremely agreeable. He enjoys Arthur’s company immensely and they become firm friends. But when Edward makes an unexpected discovery, he is left in a moral dilemma. Will Edward follow his usual indulgent urges or do the right thing for once in his life? Or might he be lucky enough to do both?
Charlie grinned mischievously, as footsteps approached from the hall. “Now do be nice to Cousin Arthur. He’s not a bad sort, but he is so terribly northern. His hands are like shovels, and I hear he runs his own estate. Can you imagine it?”
Edward honestly couldn’t imagine running Ilsden, his family’s country home. He left the day-to-day business to an agent, who seemed to know what he was doing. Frankly, he could have been
embezzling half the family’s income, and Edward wouldn’t have had a clue, but the thought of leaving London for the torpor of Wiltshire was too appalling to contemplate.
Emsley was first to enter the room with his usual self-assured gait.
“Mr. Hathwaite, sir.”
When he appeared, Arthur was not the lumbering oaf Edward had envisaged. He was tall and handsome, with weather-warmed skin and the same thick black hair as Charlie.
“Arthur, how delightful to see you.” Charlie’s smile could have fooled almost anyone. “I didn’t know you were in town.”
“It was a last minute arrangement. I hope you don’t mind me calling by unannounced.”
There was a faint northern lilt to Arthur’s gravely voice, and his clothes weren’t the latest city fashion, but Edward couldn’t help noticing how superbly his tailcoat clung to his muscular frame.
Charlie remained in his seat as he replied, “I don’t believe you’ve met my friend, Lord Hadnall.”
“Pleased to meet you, Lord Hadnall.”
Arthur stepped forward and offered his hand. It was large and firm as it grasped Edward’s fingers, but it was hardly shovel-like, and his soft skin certainly wasn’t that of a farmer.
“Call me Edward, please.”
Edward looked up at Arthur’s face. His eyes were the brown of freshly poured coffee and his smile was sincere if a little shy
“What brings you to London?”
“I had some business to take care of.” Arthur took a seat on a chair across the room. “Would you believe I’m to be married in September?”
“Are you really?” Charlie was suddenly interested. “And who’s the lucky lady?”
“Her name is Henrietta Burleigh. I don’t suppose you know her?”
“As it happens, I do. She’s the daughter of Admiral Burleigh, isn’t she?
“That’s right. She seems a lovely girl, from the few times we’ve met.”
“And extremely wealthy, too.”
“They’re not badly off.” Arthur blushed at Charlie’s intimation. “But I thought it was time I settled down. I’ll be thirty next month, same as you, Cousin Charles.”
Charlie winced at the mention of his age. “Well I have no intention of settling down. The Brabinger name will die out when I do.”
“I see.” Arthur lowered his eyes uncomfortably. “It’s every man’s choice to do as he pleases, but I always thought it was my duty to marry. I’m a bit old-fashioned, I suppose.”
“Not at all.” For some reason, Edward felt obliged to come to Arthur’s defence. “It is a noble sentiment, and if the lady in question is good-natured and pretty, then all the better.”
Arthur turned to Edward. “Are you married yourself?”
Edward chuckled. “Not yet, but I may be rather sooner than I’d hoped.”
About the Author
H. Lewis-Foster has worked with books, in one form or another, since leaving university. As a keen reader of gay fiction, she decided to try writing herself, and is now the proud author of several short stories and a debut novel Burning Ashes.
H. has lived in various parts of the UK and has recently moved to the north of England, where she’s enjoying city life, especially the theatres and cinemas. She tries not to watch too much television, but is a big fan of Downton Abbey, and while she’s writing, she loves listening to Test Match Special (where they spend far more time talking about cakes than cricket!)
You can find out more about H. and her books at: