The Duchess of Duke Street: Honor and Obey

In her room at night, Louisa’s studying French cooking terms when Mary comes for a visit. Louisa invites her in and puts her to work as a study buddy. Well, she tries to. Turns out Mary can’t read, which shocks Louisa. Mary asks if Louisa can teach her, but Louisa’s kind of busy these days. And so’s her room—Ivy comes in next, to be nosey and bitchy and ask what’s going on. Louisa kicks both her and Mary out and gets back to her lesson.

The following day, Lord Henry’s reading the paper in his study when a footman comes in and announces Major Farjeon. The Major is, apparently, the Prince of Wales’s unofficial messenger, and Lord Henry thinks he’s come to deliver a scolding for having offended the prince the previous evening. That’s not why the Major’s there at all, though, because apparently no offense was taken by Lord Henry falling asleep on the billiard table. The Major’s come to request Louisa’s services for the prince’s upcoming dinner with the Kaiser (who was his nephew). Ooooh, M. Alex is going to be pissed about this! Lord Henry’s surprised, though honored, and worries that she might not be up for the job, but he gives the Major his blessing to make the necessary arrangements.

Down in the kitchen, Louisa bustles in with some ingredients for the dinner and immediately gets Ivy’s nose out of joint by taking over some of the table she’s using to put together Lord Henry’s breakfast. Ivy wails to M. Alex like a toddler, and M. Alex sends Louisa off to work in the scullery, despite her complaints that it’s too cramped. He also keeps Mary from helping her, so it’s clear he’s getting a little passive-aggressive revenge here, which is stupid, because if Louisa tanks on this dinner, he’ll end up looking bad, being the man who trained her and all. Louisa argues with Alex, who condescendingly tells her to calm down. She’s getting worked up, but I can’t really blame her for it. He calls her an “excitable little girl” and she tells him she’d be calmer if he stopped being such a pain in the ass, essentially. Even Mary tries to plead with him, but he won’t budge, so Louisa goes back to the scullery in a snit and M. Alex stomps back into his office.

Later, Louisa’s gotten quite a bit done, and Trotter wanders in to compliment her and pass on some last minute tips: the Kaiser likes fruit with every course, and he uses special utensils because one of his arms was damaged at birth. Louisa can’t believe that, although it’s actually true; at least, it’s true his arm was damaged. There’s some speculation that his brain was damaged as well, but nobody’s entirely sure.

Mary’s managed to escape M. Alex long enough to help Louisa dress in a nice white dress that will probably be a terrible choice in the kitchen, but whatever. Louisa slaps on her hat and coat and runs back down to the kitchen, where M. Alex reassures her that the food’s all packed and ready to go in the carriage. As she dashes toward the door, he stops her and says he takes it as a compliment that she’s been asked to do this. Then why were you acting like such a dick earlier and making her job so much harder? Whatever, he’s nice enough to sincerely wish her good luck and she leaves, just a second before Trotter comes hurtling down the kitchen stairs with an umbrella for her, because it’s starting to rain. M. Alex tells Trotter she’s already gone, and he gets all crestfallen, which does not escape M. Alex’s notice.

At the home where the dinner’s being held, Louisa bustles into the dining room with a cream puff mountain and tells the snooty butler to take his damn floral arrangements off her sideboard. He tries to argue with her in a very blowhardy way, but she cuts him off and tells him to take the damn ugly flowers away. He bends and finally sends them off with a footman. Louisa focuses on making last-minute adjustments to the dessert and fails to notice the prince wander into the room behind her. He smiles appreciatively as he watches her work, then wanders back out, leaving only a cloud of cigar smoke to denote his presence.

Dinner over, Louisa’s riding back to Lord Henry’s with the Major, animatedly giving him cooking tips. He listens patiently and politely and even makes small talk about her family (for the record, she has a brother who’s fighting in South Africa and her father’s a clockmaker). She comments that she wishes she were a man, since men seem to have a better chance in life, in cooking and in everything else. The Major doesn’t agree—he thinks women have a great deal, since throughout history beautiful women have been petted and taken care of. Louisa’s more practical and says that’s all well and good, until the men up and take off, and then where are you left? She says she has no interest in getting mixed up with a man at all.

Later on in the longest carriage ride ever (seriously, Mayfair isn’t that big), Louisa screws up her courage and asks the Major if she gets paid anything for the dinner. He apologizes for forgetting and hands over an envelope of money, along with a thank you gift from the prince. She opens it and finds a pretty necklace (what is it with men giving her necklaces?) which he nicely helps her put on.

Louisa finally arrives home, freezing, and warms her hands at the stove. When she turns away, she almost jumps out of her skin when she sees Trotter appear with a bottle of wine and two glasses. He offers her a drink but she wants something to eat more than a drink. She grabs something out of the pantry and sits in front of the stove to eat it. Trotter asks how the dinner went, and she shows him the necklace as proof it went well. He raises a glass to the future, and then starts to get flirty, talking about her looks and talent. She doesn’t seem to catch on, or she chooses to ignore his real meaning, and tells him he hasn’t done too badly himself, being a butler to a lord now. Trotter offers that they make rather a good pair. He moves on to the subject of her French lessons, which Mary spilled the beans on, even though Louisa was hoping to surprise M. Alex. Trotter starts speaking to her in French, and she tells him she only knows cooking terms (she’s speaking with her mouth full, which is both annoying and gross to me). He goes back to flirting, this time in French, telling her that he thinks she’s beautiful and that he thinks he’s in love with her. Louisa may not speak much French, but she definitely knows what the word “adore” means. She tells him to stop “babbling all that rubbish” and goes up to bed.

The next day, the Major pays another call on Lord Henry to tell him the dinner was a success, and the prince (and the Major) were enchanted with the cooking and the cook. Henry agrees that she’s rather pretty, and the Major starts to ask some pointed questions about whether Louisa has any admirers. Henry asks him if he’s asking for himself or for the prince, but the Major plays things close to the vest.

Belowstairs, Louisa’s regaling the staff (including Ivy) with the tale of her dinner, telling them how she bossed the kitchen staff at the other house without a problem. I’d believe it, too. M. Alex comes out to break up the fun and, after he shoos the other ladies away, he asks how the dinner went. She butters him up by saying the butler at the other house said M. Alex was one of the finest cooks in England. It’s a total lie, but it works. M. Alex totters off, pleased.

Back up in Lord Henry Land, his lordship’s meeting with Catchpole about household matters. At the end of their meeting, he asks after Louisa and inquires casually about boyfriends. Catchpole tells him Trotter’s been very attentive toward her, but she’s not showing a very strong interest in return. Lord Henry confirms that Trotter’s very interested and sends his housekeeper away.

Later, the Major’s visiting again and Lord Henry regretfully informs him that Louisa’s gained interest from another quarter. The Major’s delighted to hear that and learns it’s Trotter. He asks Lord Henry if Trotter’s a good chap, reliable and discreet? Lord Henry says he is, and the Major asks Lord Henry to push the romance as much as possible, because it would be a great thing if Trotter and Louisa got married. Lord Henry realizes this means the prince is interested in taking Louisa on as a mistress, because the prince was a gentleman and wouldn’t dream of despoiling an unmarried maiden. Oh, no, only married ladies, thank you! That sort of thing was respectable. The Major tells Lord Henry not to breathe a word, then says the prince’ll be heading to Balmoral the following day, and it’d be nice to have some good news when he returns.

Somewhere along the line, Louisa’s caught cold and is tucked up in bed, being tended to by Catchpole, who’s also encouraging Louisa to get married. She tells Louisa she can’t go out to cook unless she’s married (although she already has once, so I’m not sure that argument’ll stand up). Louisa indignantly says that she hasn’t done anything untoward, and Catchpole soothingly says of course she hasn’t, it’s just a question of respectability, and isn’t it lucky that there’s a guy right under their roof who’s willing to marry her! Louisa doesn’t seem too keen.

Catchpole’s next line of attack is to go see Louisa’s parents: the horrible mother and the soft-spoken, henpecked father. The mother talks about how great it is that Louisa’s cooking in all these fine houses, like she wasn’t totally bitching about it and saying it was a useless waste of time back when Louisa first got the job. Catchpole gets to the point and tells them Louisa really ought to get married. The father asks why that’s necessary, but Horrible Mom shuts him up. Catchpole tells them about Trotter, and HM’s only too happy to endorse the match when she hears Trotter’s a “very superior sort of person.” Dad actually gives a crap about his kid and asks if they really love each other, so HM kicks him out of the room so she can talk to Catchpole alone. Catchpole suggests they invite Trotter to tea so they can get better acquainted.

M. Alex isn’t so keen on this whole marriage idea. He tells Louisa she should focus on cooking and tells her she can get along perfectly well as a cook if she’s unmarried. She’s glad to hear it.

Catchpole, meanwhile, reports to Lord Henry that Trotter’s happy with the plan and is going to have tea with the parents. Catchpole does say that Louisa needs a bit more persuading and that she’s doing the best she can with her.

At the Leyton  place, Trotter’s laying it on thick, charming the parents. Mrs. Leyton laps it up but dad’s more reticent. Over the tea table, Trotter tells the yarn about his alleged parentage, which includes some more details: his mother was allegedly the daughter of an aristocrat and ran off with one of the grooms in the household to Italy, where Trotter was born. Her mother went and fetched her and brought her back to England just before she gave birth to Trotter’s sister, and both Trotter and the sister were brought up by a couple who lived on the aristocrat’s estate.

Mom, of course, is pleased as punch with Trotter, who informs the parents that he plans to propose to Louisa in the near future. Dad’s not excited about this whole thing, since he actually knows Louisa and knows that she’s not all that excited by the idea of getting married to anyone. Horrible Mother glares him down for even suggesting that Louisa might not want to hook up with Trotter.

Back at Lord Henry’s, Louisa comes stomping into the kitchen in her hat and coat and tells Mary she’s going to see her parents. Mary argues that M. Alex might want her and Louisa tells Mary to tell him that there’s a conspiracy on, and she needs to get to the bottom of it. She’s clearly boiling mad, if you’ll forgive the expression.

At her parents’, Louisa lays into her mother for not telling her about Trotter’s visit (her father was the one who told her—good man). Louisa asks what he as doing there and tells her mother she has no intention of marrying this guy, because she doesn’t love him. She calls on her father for support, but he’s used up all his spine for the month just telling her about the Trotter Tea, so he remains silent. Mom gets her full bitch on, expressing amazement that someone as refined and high-born as Trotter should take any interest at all in someone like Louisa. Louisa shouts that she won’t marry him or anyone else, and that’s her final answer.

She makes her way back to Lord Henry’s, where she promptly shuts herself up in her room and refuses to see Trotter, who hovers outside, asking to talk to her. She finally opens the door and invites him in and tells him her answer is, very definitely, no. He apologizes for how everything’s gone down so far and tells her he really does care for her and thinks they could be happy together. Louisa turns to him and, as kindly as she can, says she doesn’t love him, so she can’t marry him.

Time to bring in the big guns. Louisa goes into Lord Henry’s study, having clearly been sent for, and is surprised to see the Major there. He politely asks how she’s doing and tells her the prince was so pleased with her that the Major’s sure “he’ll be asking for her services again in the very near future.” Right. I’ll bet he will.

He invites her to sit and tells it like it is: the prince feels it would be best if she married because he’s interested in her “personally.” Louisa’s gobsmacked. The Major tells her (kindly) that this is a great honor, since the prince could have anyone in the world, essentially. The Major gently asks how she feels about the situation and Louisa’s not exactly doing cartwheels. She reminds the Major that she doesn’t even know the prince, like that’s ever been an impediment to this type of relationship. She says she really just wants to be a cook, she doesn’t aim any higher. The Major informs her that, if she doesn’t play ball, she’ll be societally blackballed, and there goes her future plans. Ick. So, essentially, Louisa has no choice but to prostitute herself in order to keep her job. Nice.

Louisa looks downcast, as well she might, but the Major goes on to say that, if she plays along like a good girl, her career as a cook will be assured. Louisa’s shocked and disgusted by the rules high society lives by, which are now the rules she’ll have to live by. The Major brings up Trotter again, and Louisa sharply asks if he knows about all this nonsense. He does, because nobody’s trying to deceive anyone here. The Major promises no harm will come to her; the whole situation can only be to her advantage.

The Major stands and says they’ll have to go collect Trotter, because there’s something the Major wants to show them both. That thing is a very nice house in a very nice part of town, which the Major drives them to in his carriage. Louisa eyes it warily, seeing it for the wages of sin it is. Trotter tries to be positive and says they could take in lodgers if they wanted. The Major tells him that won’t be necessary, for the time being. Edward was known for being generous. They go inside and poke around. Trotter likes it, but Louisa looks miserable. I can’t blame her. This is a totally crappy situation. Trotter grovelingly thanks the Major when he asks how they like the house. The Major leaves them to have a talk, and gives Trotter his card so they can make arrangements later. Ick.

Once they’re alone, Louisa lowers herself into a chair and starts railing about the awful situation, while Trotter inspects the knick-knacks and looks totally at ease. Louisa’s grossed out by the idea that Trotter’s willing to rent out his wife. He tells her he minds, really, but there’s also honor attached to it, and at the end of the day, they don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Louisa says that, if they have to play the game, they’ll do it properly, starting with a proper wedding. She heads out to start the planning.

Catchpole, who I guess got her invitation fast, reports to Lord Henry that the ceremony will be taking place at a church in Pimlico on Saturday at 11 a.m. Got that? He’s happy to hear it and says this’ll be a great opportunity for both of them, although he’s sorry to lose Trotter. He won’t be going to the wedding, of course, but he sends some champagne for the belowstairs staff. He also gives Catchpole a large brooch as a thank you for being such a good facilitator. Eww. I feel like I need a shower after seeing this episode.

Louisa and Trotter are visiting her parents, where once again dad’s fiddling with a clock and mom’s blathering on and on and on. Dad finally looks up and asks about this house they’ll be moving into. Apparently the story going around is that it’s Lord Henry’s wedding gift to them. Right, like that’ll fly. Because lords were always such good friends with their assistant cooks and butlers that they bought them big, expensive houses when they got married. Even dad thinks that’s absurd. He asks Trotter what he plans to do with himself, now that he won’t be in service anymore. He hasn’t decided yet, although Louisa plans to keep up with her cooking.

Mom decides it’s time to give them their wedding present: an ornate clock that Trotter admired on his earlier visit. She handles it a little roughly, so dad steps in and gently takes it, explaining he’s got it working again, but it needs to be cleaned up a bit. He promises to bring it to their new house sometime. Louisa manages to thank him, then stands and hugs her father warmly.

At Lord Henry’s, Louisa’s packing while Mary presses her white dress to use as a wedding dress and sighs that the house won’t be the same without Louisa in it. I’m guessing Ivy will go right back to torturing Mary (and where did Jean go? She hasn’t shown her face all episode, not that I’m really complaining. Just curious.) now there’s nobody to defend her. Louisa sighs that this isn’t what she wants either. Mary asks if Louisa isn’t in love with Mr. Trotter, and Louisa allows that he’s ok and has done well for himself. Mary wishes she could get married, and have a passel of kids, which are not on Louisa’s list of things to do. Well, Louisa, I have news for you: birth control was pretty unreliable in 1900, so chances are, you’ll end up with a kid or two whether you want them or not. Mary says she was one of 14 kids (!!) and Louisa rudely comments that that’s horrible and she’d rather die than have that happen. Nice, Louisa. Think before you speak now and they, why don’t you?

Belowstairs, the servants are holding a wedding reception, along with Louisa’s parents. M. Alex offers a nice toast to Louisa and says that Trotter’s a very lucky man for having secured her. Trotter and Louisa look super uncomfortable when he says that, but then he recovers and sweetly offers his heartfelt blessings for a long and happy life together. After they drink the toast, Mrs. Leyton turns to Catchpole and admires the brooch. “Special for the occasion, is it?” Lady, you have no idea.

Ivy emerges from M. Alex’s office with a surprise: a lovely wedding cake, which he somehow managed to make in secret. Louisa thanks him sincerely, touched, and she and Trotter cut the cake as everyone else closes their eyes and wishes (I’ve never heard of that custom—guess it fell out of favor. Pity.) Louisa looks up at her father, near tears, and asks him to wish for her.

Cake cut, Louisa says they have to go, because she’s cooking a dinner for Lady Margaret Duff. She thanks everyone, says goodbye, and takes a moment to tearfully embrace her father before she leaves, taking a slice of cake from M. Alex as she goes. Poor Louisa.

At the new house, her father delivers the clock, and Louisa admires it. He finally mentions the elephant that, basically, is the room they’re in: the house is ridiculously nice for a former cook and butler. She says they’ve just been lucky and he gently asks if everything’s all right and if she’s happy. She says everything’s just dandy as she rings a bell for a servant. A young maid appears and Louisa asks her to show her father out. Before he goes, he tells her to let him know if there’s any trouble at all. You know, with the clock or something. Trotter comes in just as Leyton’s leaving and compliments him on the clock while Louisa goes back to the menus she was working on. She shortly asks him to leave her alone, so he suggests they go for a walk or see a show or something when she’s done. Louisa agrees, but then the maid returns and announces the Major. I think we all know what this means.

Later, Trotter paces in the house’s entryway as a grand carriage pulls up out front. The driver dismounts and goes to ring the bell as Louisa comes down the stairs, grandly dressed in a satin evening gown. Trotter waves the maid away and answers the door himself, giving one last, anguished look at his wife, who stands on the stairs, trying to remain brave. As the prince approaches the door, Trotter says to Louisa: “you’re looking very beautiful tonight.” And with that, episode two closes.

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