1 Mindless Activities and Trivial Affairs

«Philip!» cried the Duchess.

A young fair-haired man; sporting a navy blue waistcoat and similarly coloured fall-front trousers came strolling down the large, winding staircase.

«Yes, ma-ma?»

«Why is Your Grace not in his tailcoat and breeches? Was he not informed that he was to accompany me to Duchess Agnes' soiree this evening?»

«I was indeed informed but I have decided against going,» he replied. «I am not interested in mindless activities such as those and I wish to play no part in your trivial affairs.»

Sarah, the Duchess, looked appalled. She had been trying so hard to get her only son, Duke Philip, to attend any event at all this season. Ever since he had gotten back from his studies at Oxford, all he ever wanted to do was work. Today it was adjusting the locals' taxes, tomorrow it would be to meet with the smaller fief owners in their land. It was almost as if he was engrossing himself in work to avoid something. And Duchess Sarah knew just what it was.

«You would do well to watch your tone with me, Bartholomew.»

Philip tensed. His mother only mentioned his second name when she was upset with him.

«And you would do well not to get so familiar with me in public,» he retorted, glancing around him. Philip hated that name.

Duchess Sarah eyed her son closely. «I only want what is best for you, I would like for you to settle down and--»

«I have told you several times ma-ma, I am not interested in marriage!»

«So what are you interested in then, severing your family's peerage rights?» the Duchess asked steelily.

With this, Duke Philip remained silent. He didn't care much for his 'dukedom' but rather for the honest work he was free to do as a Duke, for his people. He saw how diligent and meticulous his father was with his duties and wanted such values to be passed to further Dukes down the line. The only problem was though, he didn't want to marry. And he didn't want to have illegitimate children either. It wasn't so much the 'matrimony' that bothered him, but rather the 'lady' that he would marry.

He certainly didn't come from a home where arranged marriages were constantly exercised, but that didn't stop Duchess Sarah from promising an influential family here and there, the betrothal of their daughter to her son.

None of the ton ladies fit his taste and if things remained as they were, he wouldn't see himself ever marrying.

This bothered Duchess Sarah plenty and she had become so desperate that she started to set up 'chance meetings' between her son and the odd Lady. Of course, Philip saw right through her ploy and it caused even more frustration towards his mother. As a result, there was icy tension in the Wellesley household. The prying servants had caught on to this and were always happy to eavesdrop on an argument between the Duke and his mother.

«If you choose not to attend tonight's 'mindless activity', I am sure you would not fail to miss the ball I would be hosting this coming Friday.» And with that, she sauntered off into the carriage waiting outside Wellington Manor, The Duke's primary residence.

Duke Philip stood there, glued to the spot. His secretary hadn't informed him of any upcoming ball that would be held in his compound. He deserved to know, it was his funds that would be used after all!

As he pondered this, he walked off slowly towards his private study.

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