“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 33 (PG-13): The extended Wingate Family and Friends Four Years Later in 1831, August 08, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #437)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Lady Violet Henderson as Lady Leonora Wingate, Emilie Francois as the child Anna Wingate and Samantha Mathis as the young lady Anna Wingate, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Sir Antony Southwick, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Charmaine Southwick, Catherine Deneuve as Lady Esmѐ Sinclair, Julian Sands as Sir Percival Southwick, Samantha Morton as Lady Lucinda Southwick, Raymond Coulthard as David Harriott, Rosamund Pike as Fanny Miller, Brendan Coyle as Uncle Miller, Princess Adelaide as herself, Princess Victoria as herself, Kirsten Dunst as Cassandra Hatch, Matthew MacFadyen as Fr. Robert Hatch, and others, etc.] [Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links I cite contain general information merely to indicate that a place, person, or artifact, etc., possibly existed. Though I try to use real locations in England and I make reference to some historically complementary information whenever possible, the fictionalized history that I write about for these towns, towns folks, and areas in my story are mostly figments of my imagination and should not be taken as fact.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: Anna had felt put out to be excluded from attending Fr. Robert and Cassie Hatch’s impromptu wedding in Spring 1827. And she was fed up with everyone’s non stop talk about babies–from her Kathy and her Papa Lord Rafe, to her Grandmere with her new baby girl Lady Rosalind Marie, to the Hatch’s who were soon to be expecting a baby after their wedding three months earlier. Anna was feeling neglected and sorrowful at not having a Mama of her own. But with a the near drowning of Lady Katharine during their stay at their seaside estate near Maylandsea named Sea Grove Estate–she was saved by Anna’s quick alert and Lord Rafe’s strong swimming–Anna’s insecurities and sorrows were revealed. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine promised to be more mindful ofAnna’s needs as their first child, and Anna began to call Lady Katharine Mama at Lady Katharine’s request–thus resolving a tear that had been festering at the heart of this Wingate family of three. Partially as a result of her drowning ordeal, Lady Katharine unexpectedly delivered twin babies a month early–a boy and a girl. The births were frought with difficulties and near tragedy for mother and babies–but blessedly, they all survived. However, as of the previous chapter, the babies had yet to be named.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 33: The Extended Wingate Family and Friends Four Years Later in 1831
Spring is blossoming gloriously in London in April 1831–and so are the young ladies who will have their coming out balls this season, among them being Lord Rafe’s daughter, Anna. A now sixteen year old Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick [(2) right] has blossomed into a lovely young woman. Her dark blond hair now lightened again from being outside riding without her riding hat, favoring her late Mama Fanny’s coloring. Anna’s hazel eyes have a decidedly more greenish cast to them. Her nose has stayed small and delicate, while her lips have ripened into a fullness with a rosie hue. And Anna’s skin is still flawless like her Grandmama Leonora’s is–though not as pale, but with some warmth to her skintone due to Anna’s love of being in nature. Anna looks healthy and robust, as well as, dainty and ladylike befitting her station. Yet, she also loves to have fun–as her often smiling countenance reflects.
Anna is now delightfully shed of her governess Miss Page of the past five years–an accomplished, but somewhat dry woman who has moved on to another charge in the North of England. So Anna is often in Town [(3)] and is a regular at court with her Papa Lord Rafe and her Mama Lady Katharine–Baroness Anna being a special friend of the now Queen Adelaide’s younger niece, the now twelve year old Princess Victoria. Anna has been welcomed into various social circles beyond the intimate inner circle of their family and close friends. So Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine and their parents feel confident that hosting a coming out ball for Anna will be a success.
Lord Rafe [(4) right] at now thirty-three years old is father to several children–the now four year old twins Lady Aurora Cassandra named after Lady Katharine’s lifelong friend Mrs. Cassandra Hatch, and Lord Richard Collin Wingate named after his Papa’s lifelong friend Sir Collin MacGregor, were joined two years later by the now two year old Lord Edward Bennett Wingate. And Lord Rafe is now well versed in the duties that are incumbent upon a father–patience, forebearance, beneficence, and humility.
And a vibrantly beautiful now 23 year old Lady Katharine [(5) right] keeps a watchful Mama’s eye on her growing brood of children–with the help of several trusted nannies. And Lady Katharine had intimated most strongly to her husband after baby Edward’s birth that she needed a rest from child bearing to focus on child rearing. And Lord Rafe acquiesced now that the Wingate legacy is so firmly secure with an heir and a spare–their romance and love life have ever deepened during these four years.
Lord Rafe is hard pressed to maintain a stern countenance for long when his rambunctious and charming offspring are in his presence. He is a besotted man five times over–deeply in love with his charming wife and their four adorable children. But having a now sixteen year old young lady in the person of their daughter Anna, will quite test Lord Rafe’s mettle as she has her coming out ball this fine Spring season of 1831.
There are several young men of the Wingate’s acquaintance who pay their attentions to Anna–including David Harriott. But her heart still belongs to Stuart MacGregor–for now. However, Stuart had developed additional lady interests during his final year of university studies last year and the irregularity of his written correspondence to Anna via her Papa Lord Rafe was keenly felt. Stuart’s inattention currently derails Anna’s regard for him and she forlornly accepts her parents wish that she meet other men in case she finds someone else to her liking.
The afternoon before her friend Lady Marjorie Fotheringay’s coming out ball that evening, Anna sits on the window seat in the parlor of the Wingate’s London townhouse, gazing forlornly out at the garden, but not seeing its beauty. Lord Rafe walks into the parlor and notices his daughter’s less than her usually cheerful state.
Lord Rafe: “Anna Dear, why are you looking so sad?” He touches her cheek caringly as she turns to look up at him. “Did you not receive your letters today?”
Anna: “I did Papa. But … Hhhh!” She sighs in disappointment.
Lord Rafe: “But?” He urges her to continue.
Anna: “Stuart’s letter was very short.” She huffs.
Lord Rafe: “I see. Well, finishing his studies took precedence. And now Stuart is quite busy at the Royal Military Academy as a new cadet.” [(6)]
Anna: “I know!” She sighs heavily again. With Anna at sixteen years old, her life is high melodrama–whether others see it that way or not “It’s just that he writes to me like he always has–telling me where he is going and who he is seeing.” She frowns at that last bit.
Lord Rafe: “Oh? And might I ask who Stuart is seeing?” He raises his eyebrows.
Anna: “He says that he visits the theatre quite often with friends.” She sneers a little bit.
Of course, Stuart does not give Anna the full story about his connection with a Miss Grace Cullen in his letters. Though Lord Rafe has become aware of Stuart’s romantic attentions being focused on a chorus girl mentioned in the entertainment press, he does not know the extent of Stuart’s relationship with the young woman. Nor does Lord Rafe plan to inform Anna about Stuart’s activities.
Lord Rafe: “Ah! Well now. I remember not so long ago when you discouraged Stuart from thinking of you as more than a childhood friend. Perhaps he is trying to move on.” Lord Rafe smiles bemusedly.
Anna: “I know Papa. Please do not remind me. I was young and foolish then.” She says rather petulantly.
Lord Rafe: “I believe that it was just before your fifteenth birthday last year.” He smiles wryly. “What has changed in your regard for Stuart?”
Anna: “I do not know, Papa. But the other boys, like David Harriott, are nicer to me at parties and balls than Stuart is–dancing with me and giving me flowers they picked, and they bring me punch. But Stuart does not do that. He hates dancing and he expects me to get my own punch!” She gives her Papa a wide eyed look of shock.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Well Anna, perhaps Stuart has not realized that you have become a young lady now–and that you expect to be treated as such, and not as a childhood friend.”
Anna: “I suppose. But if the other boys can see that I am a young lady now, why cannot Stuart?” She pouts. “Do you think it is because of my bangs?” She tugs at the offending hair objects. “Perhaps I should let them grow and I will look older and less like my little girl self.” Anna parts her bangs down the middle, then she tries to slick them down. But her curls spring back into place to her chagrin–like a calling card for childhood innocence.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe smiles, because his daughter Anna has worn bangs since he first met her–five years ago when she was eleven. But, he also wants to let Anna down gently should Stuart MacGregor prove to be a fickle suitor for her. “Anna, you might have to face the fact that Stuart may prefer another to become his wife in due time.” He says gently but it still pains Anna to hear it.
Anna: “Well, Stuart is just a stupid boy! I have quite decided that I do not like him anymore!” Anna says more out of disappointment rather than expressing her real feelings.
Lord Rafe: “Now now. Do not be rash, dear daughter. Stuart may yet come around.”
Anna: “But I cannot wait for him forever, Papa!” Anna looks at her Papa aghast. “Afterall, I am sixteen! My coming out ball is next week. And I want to have fun and dance all night long.” She says eagerly.
Lord Rafe: “And so you shall, dear daughter.” Lord Rafe taps her cheek. “Just be careful not to give your heart to another without fully understanding your true feelings for Stuart.” He admonishes her sagely.
Anna: She rolls her eyes. “Very well, Papa. But if Stuart is not nice to me at my ball, then he can go fly a kite!” [(7)]
And with that, Anna turns on her heels and flounces out of the room–intending to see to her younger siblings who adore her as the goddess of an elder sister that she is.
The now twenty three year old gentleman David Harriott will still not be counted out with regard to wooing Anna–and he is persistent. Though he almost came close to marrying once before, the closeness of their families–and he and Anna getting to know each other–has created a congenial bond between them. They enjoy each other’s company–which is a plus. And David’s fortune as the Harriott heir allows him to choose his own wife–apart from whatever her dowry financial arrangements might be. However, David’s family is pleased with both Anna’s elevated title as Baroness and her Wingate dowry of 10,000 pounds [(8)]–which will smooth over any difficulties the children they have might experience–due to the circumstances of Anna’s birth.
And David Harriott had also elected to go into Military service after university, rising to the rank of Lieutenant after three years. So twenty three year old David knows that he looks very dashing in his red regimental uniform–and he gets on well with Anna’s Grandpapa, the old General, Lord Charles Wingate, as a potential ally. So, with hoping to usher Stuart MacGregorout of Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick’s thoughts and wishes, David hopes to maneuver circumstances to his favor for him to seek to formally court the sixteen year old Anna–though, no engagement would be official until she turns eighteen in two years time.
Anna’s first hurdle in starting the London season–where alliances are made and marriages are brokered–will be to attend another friend Lady Marjorie Fotheringay’s coming out ball tonight, the week before her own coming out ball. Anna will be thrust into a wider society who–though knowing of her title and substantial dowry–also know of the circumstances of her birth, her being the out of wedlock child of Lord Rafe Wingate.
Anna intently watches how Lady Marjorie is introduced to and greets each guest as they arrive to her coming out ball this evening. Each greeting takes a few minutes since each guest must be given their due with the young lady.
Anna: Anna twists the fan in her hands in boredom and turns to her Mama, Lady Katharine, and whispers sotto voce a myriad of questions. “Mama, will the receiving line never end? How many people are invited to Marjie’s party? Do people not realize that the dancing cannot begin until they are greeted?”
Anna looks on in frustration and sympathy for her friend who she can see fidgeting in her new high heeled shoes to make her appear taller.
Lady Katharine: Smiling, she squeezes Anna’s hand. “I hear that the Fotheringay’s invited all titled personages in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales whom they could think of.” Then she back peddles a bit regarding Anna’s upcoming ball next week. “But one never has all guests attend–they are either out of town or otherwise engaged. But I think that these rooms can hold 400 people.”
Anna: “400 people! How is Marjie to keep track of them all for her to find someone whom she likes to dance with–let alone to marry?” Anna shakes her head in wonder.
Lady Katharine: “Now now, Anna Dear. I know that you are worried about your coming out ball next week.” Anna nods. “That is why we have kept your coming out ball smaller and more intimate. For you will meet more people as you attend other young ladies’ balls this season.”
Lady Katharine is fibbing a bit. She and Lord Rafe and his parents had hoped to host a party of about 200 people for Anna’s coming out ball. But so far, only 75 people have responded. So tonight, they are thinking about letting slip that Princess Adelaide and Prince William will attend Anna’s ball. However having royalty at Anna’s ball has its drawbacks in possibly attracting only the people who want to circulate with royals rather than them having a genuine interest in meeting Anna. But it is a calculated risk that they are willing to take so that Anna is not shamed by society ignoring her.
The last to arrive at the ball are always the most important guests–tonight, that is their majesties King William IV and his wife the Queen Adelaide–they were the Duke and Duchess of Clarence [(9)] before his accension to the throne in June 1830.
The royal couple is introduced with much pomp and then greet a crimson Lady Marjorie and her parents, Lord and Lady Fotheringay, with characteristic solicitude. The royal couple is then settled onto a gilded throne like sette as the dancing begins and guests try to nonchalantly greet them. The King and Queen greet their public with poise and grace for several minutes–despite some tedious members of Parliament droning on about their party politics.
Then Queen Adelaide spies her good friend Lady Leonora–Anna’s Grandmama–and motions her to come forward with a slight tilt of her head and gracefully slow beckoning of her hand. As Lady Leonora walks toward their Majesties, the other guests back away, knowing when they have been politely dismissed.
Queen Adelaide: “Lady Leonora.” She smiles.
Lady Leonora: Lady Leonora bows her head as she curtsies. “Your Majesties. It is a pleasure to see you again.”
The King smiles politely then continues to watch the dancing couples–especially the lady halves of each pairing.
Queen Adelaide: Ignoring her husband’s inattention, Queen Adelaide continues chatting with her friend. “And I you. Lady Leonora, please come sit next to me so that we may chat.”
Of course, her husband King William sits next to her at the moment and he looks at her in mock consternation.
King William: “My dear Queen wife, are we to create a scandal and have Lady Leonora sit upon my lap?” He jests as one who defies convention. Because as the King of England, who would admonish him otherwise?
Queen Adelaide: “Hhhh!” She sighs shaking her head bemusedly at her husband. “My rogue of a King husband, you forget your duty in dancing with Lady Marjorie after her father has had his turn.” She gestures to the dance floor at the proud father dancing with his daughter.
Lady Leonora: She curtsies again, for King William is King. “Your Majesty.” Then Lady Leonora [(10) right] joins Queen Adelaide on the sette.
Queen Adelaide: “I do not think I have seen this many titled persons in one room since the last coronation.” She jests. “This is quite the glittering party tonight.” She smiles benignly around the room filled with nobles. She thinks that the weight of all of the titles alone in this room could sink a battleship.
Lady Leonora: “It is, Ma’am.” Lady Leonora smiles and maintains her poise. For she knows that Anna’s coming out ball next week will be much less well attended.
Queen Adelaide: “But I admit, I do so prefer smaller and more intimate gatherings of around 100 to 200 people. There are so many people here that I neither know–nor do I wish to know.” She says sotto voce.
Lady Leonora: “Then our Anna’s coming out ball next week will be a welcome respite for you. Only 75 people have responded that they will be attending. The rest, we have not heard from either way. And yesterday was the date that we had asked to receive replies by.” She frets.
Queen Adelaide looks at her friend askance.
Queen Adelaide: “Really? So few?” Lady Leonora blanches. “Did you not let slip that King William and I will be attending Anna’s Ball?”
Lady Leonora: “No.” Queen Adelaide frowns. “With respect Ma’am, we do not want people to attend Anna’s ball merely to try to socialize with you. We feel it would disappoint Anna more if people came to her ball but ignored her.”
Queen Adelaide: “You are wise. However, a little bit of prodding noble backsides would not hurt?” Lady Leonora smiles. “Are there any nobles whom you would like to especially encourage to attend Anna’s ball–to possibly increase the attendance to 100? Perhaps to those individuals we might mention that we are attending–in the hope of them responding to your kind invitation.” She smiles conspiratorially.
Lady Leonora: “Of course Anna is still a bit young for marriage at only sixteen, but we are looking to her future. So the Dukes of Suffolk, Norfolk, and Northumberland each have second sons or close male viscount cousins who might be suitable prospects. And after all, Anna’s dowery is 10,000 pounds–a worthy sum for anyone.” [(8)]
Queen Adelaide: “Indeed it is! Consider it done my dear. I will have my husband King William mention to each of the three Dukes here this evening that he looks forward to seeing they and their families next week at Baroness Anna’s ball. That should impel a reply to your invitations, while still keeping your gathering more intimate at around 100 people.” Queen Adelaide squeezes Lady Leonora’s hand conspiratorially.
Across the room, Queen Adelaide and Lady Leonora spy Anna standing while speaking with her Grandpapa Lord Charles Wingate as they watch her Papa Lord Rafe and her Mama Lady Katharine dance. Lord Charles is resplendent in his red regimentals–they make most men look quite handsome. And they also see a dashing British Lieutenant [(7)] in his red regimentals walking toward Anna and her Grandpapa–the twenty three year old university graduate and now three years a soldier, David Harriott.
David: He bows deferentially to them. “General Lord Wingate, Sir.” They shake hands.
David: “Thank you. I take that as a high compliment.” Then David turns to Anna and lifts her hand to his lips. “Baroness Anna, you look enchanting tonight. You have quite grown up since I saw you last.” He fixes Anna with a focused gaze of appreciation–even as she gazes upon him awestruck for the commanding figure [(11) right] David Harriott presents in his regimental uniform is quite the most handsome man she has ever seen.
Anna is determined to have fun tonight–Stuart MacGregor paying attention to her or not. And David Harriott is just as likely to serve her purpose in dancing tonight as anyone else. So she smiles graciously at David.
Anna: “Thank you, David. But it has been three years since I saw you last–before you joined the military. I am sixteen now.” She preens slightly with her chin leading the way as she tilts her head and sweetly smiles at him. Well, though Anna is still somewhat of a girl, with girlish tendencies, she is also a young lady who is mindful of her future. And for a lady of good breeding as she is, her future will involve a good marriage.
Lord Charles: “Lieutenant Harriott, I should imagine that you cannot wait to test your mettle in war time. Yet, peace with prosperity that we now enjoy is what wars are meant to provide.”
Anna: “You will not have to fight in a war, David, will you?” Stricken with the thought of David going into battle and possibly getting hurt, she turns to David and girlishly touches his arm slightly–for as a young lady, such a breech of etiquette would not be allowed. But Anna cares not a fig for the perceptions of others regarding this familiarity. So Anna is still a bit fluid with regard to her status as girl or young lady and the attendant restrictions or liberties that one or the other suffers or enjoys.
David: “I am a soldier now, Baroness Anna. If my country tells me to fight, I will fight.” David sets his jaw firmly and proudly. “Unfortunately these days, we have more to worry from collapsing bridges at home, than from a sword thrust abroad.”
Anna: “Oh, those poor soldiers at the Broughton Bridge collapse.” [(12)] Anna shakes her head with worry.
Lord Charles: “But none were killed–broken bones the worst they fared.”
David: “And yet, a broken bone is quite painful and does not always heal properly.”
Anna: “Yes, I know.” She nods, thinking of Jimmy from her village. But Jimmy was lucky in that Anna’s Papa, Lord Rafe, paid to have Jimmy seen to by a physician in London who specialized in broken bones. And with some corrective treatment, Jimmy was able to give up his crutches and now merely walks with a cane now and again when he is over tired.
David: Seeing young Stuart MacGregor walking their way in his newly obtained regimentals as an Officer Cadet of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, David decides to strike while the iron is hot. “Baroness Anna, may I have the honor of the next dance?” He smiles warmly at her as he gently kisses her hand.
Anna: Smiling back at David, enjoying his attentions–all the better because these attentions are occurring right in front of Stuart’s eyes–Anna replies with a studied lady like air. “Thank you, David. I will be pleased to join you.”
Then David tucks Baroness Anna’s arm around his arm prorprietarily and and he pats her hand. Anna’s Grandpapa Lord Charles Wingate raises his eyebrow in bemusement at his little granddaughter having caught the eye of a dashing soldier and extended family member like Lieutenant Harriott–as well as for her little pose of greater interest in David Harriott than she has shown before. This, he presumes rightly, is due to Stuart MacGregor’s forthcoming presence.
An eagerly cheerful looking Stuart MacGregor [(13) right] walks hurriedly up to Anna, her Grandpapa Lord Wingate, and David Harriott. Stuart has only just entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst as a Cadet. So he is merely a Cadet–of much lower rank than David. And Stuart is still getting used to his uniform and its regalia that is rather loose and ill fitting on his slim frame. In particular, Stuart’s sword in its scabbard keeps threatening to accost people that Stuart passes because he is not being mindful of his sword swinging about every which way as he walks.
Stuart: “Baroness Anna, Lord Wingate, Lieutenant Harriott!” Stuart sighs breathily while bowing to them–almost taking out a server as Stuart’s sword juts out behind him as he bows.
David: David disdainfully admonished Stuart. “MacGregor! Have a care! Mind your sword before you cause an accident. You should always hold your sword still when walking or bowing.” David rests his left hand on his sword hilt at his left side, showing Stuart how to stabilize it when walking–then David demonstrates bowing without his sword lifting up in the air behind him.
Stuart: Saluting the higher ranking Lieutenant David Harriott, Stuart apologizes. “I am sorry, Lieutenant Harriott, Sir. But they gave me rather a large sword when they kitted me out this week. I think it was intended for a taller man.”
David: “Nonsense! Swords are not sized to fit the man, the man fits the sword–with training and expertise.”
Lord Charles: Lord Charles Wingate nods in agreement. “Here, here!”
David: David detaches himself from Anna. “Stand back everyone.”
Once David has a clear ten foot perimeter around him, he draws his sword out of its scabbard and brings it to in front of his face–in salute to Retired General Lord Charles Wingate, who nods at David. Then David swishes his sword around in several moves designed to pridefully show off his finesse–and it does. David may be a newly minted Lieutenant now–having spent three years in the military so far–but he aims to climb the ranks and reach General one day. You see, David has chosen the military as a career–to travel the world and hoping eventually to segue into becoming an ambassador.
Lord Charles: Lord Wingate claps his hands together in acknowledgement of David’s performance. “Well done, my boy.”
Several ball attendees who had walked over, also join in clapping. David bows to them, replaces his sword in its scabbard, and returns to Baroness Anna’s side–gently taking her hand and placing it around his arm with a pleased smile on his face.
Stuart quietly fumes at David’s display of sword prowess. Stuart is just starting out as a soldier and he cannot hope to match David in skill or rank. But then Stuart has a thought.
Stuart: “With respect, Lieutenant Harriott, Sir, are we not required to keep our swords in their scabbards unless they are called upon to do battle?” Stuart is partially right about military protocol, but one should never correct ones betters.
David: “My my, young cadet! I did not know that the academy let its Cadets out at night past their bedtime.” It is a little jab that hits its target–Stuart MacGregor’s ego. “But I am glad to see that you have read at least the first few pages of military regulations. When you read further, the regulations also state that swords unsheathed for ceremonial and festive occasions are also permissible. And a coming out ball is certainly a festive occasion–let alone the fact that I am attached to Prince William’s personal guard tonight, in a ceremonial capacity.”
David smiles triumphant. Stuart’s face droops in defeat–he believes himself to be humliated in front of Anna yet again.
Lord Charles: “Now now, you two young men. We are all fighting on the same side. And if I am not mistaken Lieutenant Harriott, the next dance that you promised my granddaughter is starting.” He nods toward the couples gathering on the dance floor.
Davd: “Ah yes! Baroness Anna, shall we?” He smiles.
Anna: She smiles. “Yes, thank you, David.” She and David start to walk onto the dance floor. Then she remembers her manners and turns back to her Grandpapa and Stuart with a studied air of politesse. “Oh Stuart, it is lovely to see you. Good luck with your training at the academy.”
Stuart: “Thank you, Baroness.” Stuart bows deeply, trying to keep his sword vertical, but it still juts out a bit.
Anna smiles as she continues to the dance floor with David. Though Anna is still seven years younger than the twenty three year old David, she is reaching the age when her being a young lady and not a child anymore helps bridge that gap. And she thinks, So there, Stuart MacGregor.
Lord Charles: Seeing Stuart’s forlorn expression watching Anna walk away from them to dance with David Harriott, Lord Charles claps his hand on Stuart’s back. “My boy, it looks like you have some competition for our Anna’s attention.”
Stuart: “Lord Wingate, David Harriott is four years older than I am. He will always be of higher rank and greater skill because he has been at it longer.” He whines. Though nineteen years old now–and well on his way to manhood–Stuart can still be a bit petulant.
Lord Charles: “Stuart, love like war is won by the soldiers left standing when all the battles are done. Neither field of battle is for the faint of heart. You have lost this battle, but the war is far from over. The question you have to ask yourself is will the goal you seek be worth the price that you will pay? Especially if you do not win your prize?”
Stuart: Looking Lord Wingate squarely in his eyes, Stuart proclaims. “I cannot fathom my life without Anna in it. All other ladies pale in comparison to her.”
However, Lord Wingate will not let Stuart off the hook so easily.
Lord Charles: “Does Anna know that you feel that way? I gather that your attentions your last year just recently at university had been elsewhere. A Miss Grace Cullen of the theatre?” He raises a knowing eyebrow–for Lord Wingate was a young man once, too.
Stuart: Flustered at realizing that his tentative not quite assignation last year has become known, Stuart stammers. “But .. Well I … The lads took me to the theatre, and she is a marvel as an actress.” He gushes. Then he worries. “Who knows? Not Anna nor Mama?” He asks in dread to have disappointed them by almost fulfilling his base needs, as his father labeled them, with Miss Cullen.
Lord Charles: “No, a gentleman never unnecessarily distresses ladies with personal matters that do not affect them.” Lord Charles intones rather sternly.
Stuart: “That is a relief!” He sighs.
Lord Charles: “But your inattention was noticed by Anna when your previously monthly letters did not arrive three months in a row. We explained to Anna that you were probably busy with finishing your studies.”
Stuart: Then Stuart whispers in confidence to Lord Charles–a man he has grown up with as his godfather Lord Rafe’s father, almost a grandfather to him. “I was–in part. But it is so very hard to be nineteen and unmarried. My Mama and Papa were married at sixteen and I was born when they were seventeen. Yet I will probably not be married for at least two more years–until I reach a sufficient rank to be able to support a wife. Miss Cullen and I only kissed, but I sensed that I would find heaven in her arms were I to have let myself make love with her. My friends say that their amours give them untold joy when they make love. And the physical pain I felt in not making love with her was all consuming. Lord Wingate, how can a man …” Stuart means, himself. “… endure the lack of … comfort that a woman provides for two years more?” Stuart looks at Lord Wingate pleadingly–seeking guidance.
Lord Charles: “Kkkhh!” Lord Charles coughs nervously. Loathe to have a manly talk with Stuart in a ballroom, he dissembles. “My boy, only your own heart can answer that question.”
Stuart: “Hhhh! You are saying that I should wait for Anna to turn eighteen in two years before we can marry?”
Lord Charles: “Stuart, You should realize that young Lieutenant David Harriott might not be your only competition for Anna’s attentions. When she has her coming out ball next week, her title and dowry will make her attractive to many a young gentleman and lesser titled nobles.”
As with Lord Rafe’s inattention to his wife’s substantial dowry, Stuart has no idea about the fortune that Anna’s dowry will convey to her future husband–were it to be himself or anyone else. Stuart’s interest in Anna is pure.
Stuart: “But they do not know Anna as I do–what makes her laugh, what makes her cry–nor how she fills me with joy each time I contemplate getting to spend time with her.” He vows like a young swain in love.
Lord Charles: “Well, you will have to press your suit to Anna along with the rest of them. It will be up to Anna to choose her future husband–with some guidance from her family, of course.” He adds.
Then the dance ends and Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine join Lord Charles and Stuart, whereas Anna and David go to the buffet for some refreshments.
Lord Rafe: “Stuart!” He claps his hand on Stuart’s shoulders in greeting.
Stuart: “Uncle Rafe!” He shakes hands with him. Then he bows to Lady Katharine and kisses her hand. “My Lady.”
Lady Katharine: “Stuart, it is good to see you.”
Lord Rafe: “You two were deep in conversation. May we know what it is about? Or is it a deep dark military secret? Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Stuart looks stricken. A sickening feeling in the pit of his stomach threatens to overwhelm him were his very personal musings with Lord Charles to be revealed.
Lord Wingate: “Yes!” He says succinctly to save Stuart MacGregor the embarrassment of admitting to the father of the young lady that he claims to love that his romantic attentions have budded, but not flourished, elsewhere.
Lady Marjorie’s coming out ball goes on well past midnight, with Stuart getting one chance to dance with Anna–though he does so a tad awkwardly. He should have checked his sword at the door along with his hat. And Prince William chats casually with the three Dukes whose sons’ presence is requested at Baroness Anna’s coming out ball next week.
To be continued with Chapter 34
1) “Love is a Choice” story logo is a composite image comprised of:
a) Gold wedding gown (cropped to fabric of skirt) found at http://0.tqn.com/d/honeymoons/1/0/C/w/belle2.jpg
b) Oval picture frames were found at http://www.inlineovals.com/product_images/q/675/602agp__91104_zoom.jpg
c) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lord Rafe Wingate is that of Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (BBC, 2004) episode 2, picture 66 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-066.jpg
d) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lady Katharine Wingate is that of Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in “The Buccaneers” (1995),
Episode 1 vlcsnap-ooh09m21s203 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace screencap (my cap)
2) Anna Wingate as young girl of 16 image is of Samantha Mathis as Amy March from the 1994 film Little Women and was found at http://cineplex.media.baselineresearch.com/images/189191/189191_large.jpg, and http://www.cineplex.com/Movies/Archives/CS4982/Little-Women/Photo.aspx?id=189191
3) When Brits of this era referred to being “in Town”,they meant being in London.
4) Lord Rafe image (cropped, brightened) is of Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the BBC’s North & South (2004), episode 1, pix 26 and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-026.jpg
5) Lady Katharine image is Carla Gugino as Duchess Nan- in 1995 The Buccaneers Aug0813 Gratiana Lovelace vlcsnap -2013-03-14-09h51m15s248-Crop-Hi-res-brt
6) Information about military ranks was found at http://www.army.mod.uk/structure/32321.aspx
7) Though I do not know if this phrase was in existence in 1831, given the Wingate family’s history with kite flying, I thought the phrasing was an amusing juxtaposition. The phrasal definition is found at http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/go-fly-a-kite
8) According to Wiki, one pound in the 1820’s is worth 85 pounds now. So Baroness Anna’s 10,000 pound dowry would be worth 850,000 pounds in today’s values; for more information visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_was_a_pound_worth_in_England_in_the_1800%27s
9) Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen born near Thuringia, Germany (portrait by William Beechey circa 1831) married William, Duke of Clarence of England in 1818. Having acceded to the throne in June of 1830, they were were crowned King and Queen of England in September 1831—he becoming King William IV. Portrait link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adelaide_Amelia_Louisa_Theresa_Caroline_of_Saxe-Coburg_Meiningen_by_Sir_William_Beechey.jpg ; For more information about the royal couple, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Saxe-Meiningen
10) Lady Leonora Wingate image is of Lady Violet Henderson in a portrait from the Faringdon Collection was found at http://www.buscot-park.com/gallery/p_119_b.jpg
11) David Harriott image (jacket changed to red) is of Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill in Emma 1996 May1913austenitisblogspot was found at
12) Historical information was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broughton_Suspension_Bridge
13) Stuart MacGregor at 14 or 19 image(my cap) is of Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence in the 1994 film Little Women and was found at
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch.32 is: http://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/love-is-a-choice-ch-32-pg-13-babies-part-2-august-05-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-435/