Chapter 4 - A Soured Afternoon

Author's Note


Historical Notes: Names, names, names! Like so much else, custom dictates not only how the characters address one another, but also what they call each other. With Nathaniel Harding's arrival, Wil becomes "Mr. William" in formal speech, as "Mr. Harding" exclusively refers to his brother. Similarly, when away from their elder sisters, Anne and Victoria become "Miss Ostenby" and "Miss Ashenby" - unless further clarification as to which sister is needed, where the title defaults back to the eldest. Gentlemen rarely called one another by their first names, and usually the familiar form of address would be to call one another by their last name. Hence, "Harding" in Denton's mind is always William Harding, based on the friendly relationship they've established with one another. Meanwhile they think of Nathaniel Harding as "Mr. Harding" because the formal establishes a cool distance, despite Nathaniel's attempts to flatter them into a closer relationship. Ashenby, by virtue of being an earl's eldest son, is free to address his friends as he chooses, including their first names. However, by the unusual, highly informal way that Ashenby allows other to address him, I wanted to establish his character: he's modern for his time, relatively speaking, and is happy to take the advantages that come from his position without demanding as much deference. In the case of William Harding and of the Misses Ashenby, I like to think he views them as he would blood siblings. As for Nathaniel Harding, Ashenby views the two of them as equals, partially due to the gap in their ages, and their long history together. Denton and Ashenby have a more complex relationship. It would be natural for Ashenby to call them "Denton," but he occasionally slips and calls Denton by their first name. This is diminutive, like one might do with a child, but it also paints the picture that Ashenby considers them a close and very real friend - but also perhaps not quite as his own equal. Denton referring to Ashenby by his last name is almost unheard of, as usually this was reserved for close school friends and family of those with a peerage, who knew them before they had their title. Inexperienced Denton doesn't realize the full weight of being allowed to address him so casually, but they do lean heavily on Ashenby's friendship.