Kate strode up the few steps leading into the front hall of the residence, noting its marble floors and polished wooden elements. Looking up, she spotted the commodore descending the steps, his hands brushing at the fabric of his jacket as if she had caught him as he finished dressing.
“Commodore,” she said, her voice firm as it rang through the empty front hall.
The man faltered on the stairs and for a moment, she feared he would fall to his demise until he righted himself against the banister. The commodore was younger than she had expected and more to her surprise, rather handsome. When he straightened, she noted his height, perhaps a couple of inches above her own, with wide shoulders and a trim waist, uncommon for a gentleman of his rank. Most commodores she had met had let themselves go soft about the middle as an increase in rank often meant a decrease in the need for physical activity. His thick brown hair was cut short and swept back from his face. He had a rather square forehead and a long nose, and Kate thought he must often be mistaken for appearing serious or worse, melancholy, when in fact it was just how his face was.
He appeared to be freshly shaven as in he had only shaved mere moments before Kate had stepped in the door. She looked about her for a clock, but she was fairly certain it was well into mid-morning, and the commodore should have been about by then.
“Countess,” the commodore said, stepping off the last stair and bowing before her. “I apologize for my unkempt state,” he continued, tucking his bicorn under his arm, “Things work a bit differently here in the Mediterranean, and it’s not everyday a countess, especially a countess who is the daughter of such an esteemed captain, appears on our doorstep.”
There are several things I’m trying to convey here by describing what Commodore Lynwood is wearing.
We see him coming down the stairs as if just dressing. I put this fact in here to establish for the reader how very far on the outer edges of the war with Napoleon Palermo was. And on the outer edges of a war during this time period, news and supplies took a while to travel.
That would also me people of a higher rank than Commodore Lynwood would also not likely be there.
So most likely, he did not dress in full regalia while going about day to day business. He was likely dirty, sweaty, and unkempt as he tried to fight a war that seemed to go on and on. You may have seen elaborate oil paintings of naval officers with their bicorn hats and gold buttoned uniforms, but I wanted to refute that image here to give the reality of what Commodore Lynwood was likely dealing with.
And again, we have foreshadowing, because Commodore Lynwood really likes to play in the dirt.