“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 35 (PG-13): Courtship Uncertainties and Children Collide, August 20, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #439)
(An original story by Gratiana Lovelace; All Rights Reserved)
[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, King William IV and Queen Adelaide as themselves, Princess Victoria as herself, Kirsten Dunst as Cassandra Hatch, Matthew MacFadyen as Fr. Robert Hatch, Dominic Cooper as Algernon Percy Lord Lovaine, Rose Byrne as Lady Marjorie, 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: Sixteen year old Anna’s coming ball was a great success! However, which suitor–or suitors–she will encourage is still yet to be determined.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 35 (PG-13): Courtship Uncertainties and Children Collide
With Anna being secretly pleased to have received a marriage proposal–from Cadet Stuart MacGregor– at her coming out ball last night, when her friend Lady Marjorie did not, Anna glows with the heady excitement of being also admired by Lieutenant David Harriott, and also by Algernon Percy Lord Lovaine who is heir to the Duke of Northumberland. With Anna’s substantial 10,000 pound dowry [(2], title, and connections she is much sought after as a bridal prize amongst some of the noble families of England for their second sons. But Anna does not want to be a prize. She wants to love and to be loved–like her Mama and Papa, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine.
This Saturday morning after Anna’s coming out ball, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine langorously lay intertwined in their lovers’ embrace side by side in their bed. Their arms and legs are entangled and Lord Rafe’s head lies lightly upon his wife Lady Katharine’s breasts even as her chin rests on the top of her husband’s head. They are not quite fully clothed as such after their late night bedtime lovemaking. But he is haphazardly wearing his night pants and she is wearing her nightgown that they put back on as a concession to having regular interruptions from their little ones in the early morning hours. This morning will be no exception.
Having danced until 4 o’clock Saturday morning, Anna tries to sleep in–until afternoon would be her preference. Frankly, all of the adults are trying to sleep in this still cool mid April 1831 Saturday morning in London at Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine’s large London townhouse. But the younger members of the Wingate family have other ideas.
Four year old twins Lord Richard (not nicknamed) and Lady Aurora (nicknamed Rori) are the ring leaders, with two year old Eben–their nickname for baby brother Lord Edward Bennett–toddling behind them as they plot to wreak their mayhem on their unsuspecting newish and first governess, Miss Colton.
Lord Richard: “Rori, keep up!” He whispers urgently as he reverently carries the container of ants that they retrieved from their usual hiding place in their Papa’s study downstairs–the lowest bookshelf on the right, behind the small books in Latin that no one reads.
Lady Aurora: “Richarddddd! Eben is too slow!” She hisses while tugging frustratingly on her baby brother’s arm.
Lord Edward: “Ha ha ha!” At two years old, he as no clue what they are doing. He simply loves being with his adored older brother and sister. And he is too young to understand that he is usually their patsy and fall guy for mischief since he is too young for their parents to punish.
They approach their governess Miss Colton’s bedchamber stealithly. Having sneaked out of the nursery from under the usually watchful eye of, but their now sleeping nannies, the three Wingate marauders are intent upon their purpose. They try the bed chamber door knob. Locked! So with Lord Richard holding the box of ants with one hand and his baby brother Lord Edward with his other, Lady Aurora pulls a hair pin out of her hair–letting a curl fall out–and she proceeds to jab the hair pin into the lock and twist it until the door opens with a soft click. Success!
Lady Aurora came by this skill innocently enough. When she was three years old last year, she had a habit of poking found objects where they weren’t wanted–her Papa’s leather riding crop into the holes in the standing screen in her bed chamber, her Mama’s ivory fan into the fish bowl, and her own hair pins everywhere, including locks. So perseverance and dumb luck begat Lady Aurora’s burgeoning life of crime. Also, Lady Aurora is still rather short at four years old. So she is limited to locks that are not above her eye line.
Moving into the room with a quiet not usually found in little ones so young, they spy Miss Colton sleeping in her bed. Her head is covered with a cloth cap but several rag tied curls peek out around her face. Her brows are formidable arches even in repose and her nose is of middling size. Her broad cheeks reflect her usually sunny disposition. And having been governess to the family for two weeks–engaged by the Wingates to shape their four year old twins into willing students–she has yet to experience her charges’ mischievous side.
Lord Richard removes the lid from the small box of ants and thrusts it into his baby brother little Eben’s hands and points to the bed. This is Eben’s role–to take what is given him and put it where they point. It usually works–a two year old being nearly as easily trainable as a dog.
But the floor boards creek in the room and the children still their forward movement–worried to waken Miss Colton before the deed is done and they scamper away. That is, all but Eben stop. He toddles happily forward to the side of the bed–a few of the ants starting to crawl out onto his hands. Lord Richard and Lady Aurora are hovering behind him to help him complete his mission. And since Eben will have done the deed–they can technically attempt a denial for their culpability should their parents confront them.
But they had not counted on how lightly Miss Colton sleeps. Nor the fact that she had only just returned to bed after rising out of necessity this early morning. Upon hearing someone lightly padding toward her bed, Miss Colton curiously opens one eye to see little Lord Edward holding a box out toward her with his brother and sister close behind him.
Miss Colton: “Ah! Dear Lord Edward. Is that for me?” She asks pleasantly as she sits up getting ready to bolt depending upon what his box contains. Her last charges had greeted her with spiders, she shivers.
Lord Edward: Not expecting the lady to wake up and sit up, little Lord Edward startles by raising his hands in the air–that has the effect of tossing his small box of ants backwards onto the stunned faces and bodies of his brother and sister, spraying them with dozens of ants.
Lady Aurora: “Eeeeekkkkk!” She squeals as she runs out of the bed chamber and down the hall toward her parents’ bedchamber for help as she feverishly tries to remove the ants from her hair and lace edging on her nightgown collar.
Lord Richard: A word that he had unfortunately overheard his retired military general Grandpapa Wingate sputter in dismay now issues forth from Lord Richard’s innocent lips. “Blast!” He shakes his body mightily, but some of the ants will not budge. So he also goes running to his parents bed chamber for help. “Ahhhhhhh!”
Hearing the commotion in the hallway, Baroness Anna quickly dons her dressing gown and peeks her head into the hallway for a look. Seeing her twin sister and brother running screaming to their parents’ bed chamber, she follows behind to see what is happening.
Lord Edward: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” Lord Edward left behind claps his hands together with glee as he looks at the lady, Miss Colton. His brother and sister are fun, he thinks.
Sliding out of bed and putting on her dressing gown, Miss Colton takes little Lord Edward’s hand in hers as they go in search of Lord Richard and Lady Aurora. A small ant crawls from Lord Edward’s hand to Miss Colton’s hand. She uses a finger of her other hand to let the ant crawl there, then she calmly sets the ant down on a potted plant as they exit her bed chamber. She knows that ants are her friend–unlike spiders.
Hearing his children’s screams that wake him up, Lord Rafe tries to pull the sides of his bed pillow to cover his ears.
Lord Rafe: “Good lord! What now? Are we never to be allowed to wake up on our own?” He whines.
Lady Katharine: Sitting up in their bed on her bed pillows, Lady Katharine smiles sanguinely. “They are your children, Rafe. It could be anything.” She looks at her husband amusingly. “You better unlock the door to let them in.”
Lord Rafe: “I think I did unlock it, when I was up earlier. No matter. Rori will let them in.” He shakes his head bemusedly at his daughter’s lock picking habits as he sits up in bed.
The children pound on their parents’ bed chamber door.
Lady Aurora: “I have ants all over me! Help me!” She cries out. She tries the knob but it is locked. And she is too panic stricken to pick its lock.
Lord Richard: “Me too! Help!”
Hearing his children’s anguished pleas, Lord Rafe bounds out of bed and unlocks then opens their bed chamber door. His children tumble inside with Lord Richard clinging to him and Lady Aurora racing for her Mama in bed.
Lady Aurora: “The ants are all over me!” She cries–real tears streaming down her face in fear of them.
Lady Katharine: “Now now, Rori. Hold still and I will get them off of you.” Then she patiently picks off and tosses to the side dozen’s of ants from her fidgeting daughter’s hair and lace collar with methodical precision. Last week, it was oat grains that the children had poured all over each other that had to be removed.
Lord Rafe: “Stand still, Richard!” He commands his son as he also picks ants off of him. He looks up and ponders. “And where is Edward?” He asks the guilty looking siblings.
Lord Richard: By far the less ant laden and more calm of the two siblings, he replies. “Papa, we left him down the hall in Miss Colton’s room. He did this to us.” Lord Richard accuses. Well, he is being technically correct.
Baroness Anna: Popping her head into her parents’ bed chamber, she asks. “Are they alright? Rori and Richard were screaming like banshees. What happened?”
Lady Katharine: “Ants!” Lady Katharine beckons to Anna. So Anna walks over to four year old Aurora and helps her mama with ant picking.
Lady Aurora: “Eben threw ants at us.” She expands upon her brother’s tale as she looks up snifflingly at her much admired older sister.
Then Miss Colton and the offending two year old Lord Edward arrive at his parent’s bed chamber door. Miss Colton knocks softly upon the open bed chamber door.
Miss Colton: “My apologies Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine. But are the twins recovered from their fright?”
Lord Rafe: “They seem to be.” The twins cling to their parents–Lady Aurora to her Mama, and Lord Richard to his Papa–worried that they will get in trouble for their actions. “Perhaps you can shed some light on how they came to be covered in ants. My children claim that little Edward had something to do with it.” He looks at her quizzically.
Lord Edward: “Papa!” Little Eben smiles clapping his hands together with glee and running forward.
As Lord Rafe lifts his two year old son into his arms, an ant crawls out of Eben’s brown curls. Lord Rafe gently brushes the ant away then turns to the governess.
Miss Colton: “Milord, only indirectly. You see, I awakened in my bed to find litte Lord Edward coming toward me with a small open box–that we now know contained ants. His brother and sister were close behind him.” She looks directly at the twins, stifling her smile.
Lady Katharine: “Oh?” She looks quizzically down into little Aurora’s pouting face.
Miss Colton: “Yes, I think that he merely wanted to show the ants to me. But before the twins could stop him, “ Not true. “Lord Edward flung the box in the air in his excitement.” This part was true. “And his toddler aim being what it is, the box and ants went backwards–into Lord Richard and Lady Aurora.” Miss Colton finishes with a flourish.
Baroness Anna: “Is that true, Richard and Rori?” She looks at her siblings suspiciously–knowing their penchant for getting into mischief. And that Miss Colton’s locked bed chamber door could be easily picked by Rori. That is why Anna hangs a bell from her door knob on the inside of her bed chamber–as an early warning device.
Lord Richard: “Yes!” He nods his head vigorously. However Lady Aurora’s nodding is less so.
Lord Rafe: “But where did Edward get the ants in the first place?”
Four year old twins Lord Richard and Lady Aurora freeze. Their little brains are trying to work out a suitable answer to placate their Papa.
Lady Aurora: “It was …” She pauses.
Lord Richard: “You see, we …” He pauses.
Miss Colton: “Children, shall I tell your parents?” They look at her for a moment and then nod their heads slowly. “Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine, we had gathered the ants as part of our nature lessons.” Not true, the twins had collected the ants themselves from a mound they found near the kitchen garden. “I thought that the ants were safely tucked away in the school room.” So not true. “But little Lord Edward must have seen where I stashed the ants and curiosity got the better of him. Your children are such eager learners. Isn’t that right?” She smiles sweetly at their parents and then knowingly at the children.
Lord Richard and Lady Aurora: “Hhhhh!” “Hhhh!” Both sigh in relief.
Poor little Edward, until he can speak in his own defense, he is doomed to be the scape goat–though there will be no punishment for him this day.
Lord Rafe: “Well! I am certain that the children did their best.” He smiles benignly. “Now off you go with Miss Colton to take you back to the nursery to have your nannies dress you for breakfast.” He jovially shoos them out of their bedchamber and firmly shuts and bolts the door after them.
Lady Katharine walks slowly to her husband–her hips swaying seductively as she walks. Upon reaching her husband, Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine puts her hand upon his shoulders and reaches up on her tippy toes to kiss him. Lord Rafe smiles and his arms encircle her waist.
Lady Katharine: “Now Rafe, my Love, what were you saying last night before you closed your eyes about wanting more children soon?” She asks with a twinkle in her eyes.
Lord Rafe: “Alright, you win, Kate.” He smiles. “We will wait to actually have more children until these we have now are more grown–and less adventurous.”
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha! Most sensible, my husband.” She smiles then proceeds to kiss him so adoringly that neither notices the few ants that are crawling back and forth between them across their arms in their entangling lovers’ embrace.
And with all pretence of being able to sleep in this morning being vanquished by errants ants, the Wingate family begins their day.
At the breakfast table an hour later this same Saturday morning, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine sit at opposite ends of the small rectangular table of the Breakfast room with the now chastened four year old twins on one side and Anna with her 2 year old baby brother on the other side. The footman brings a large silver tray filled with cards and notes to the assembled Wingate family.
Lord Rafe: “Are any of them for me, Bell?” He sighs knowingly.
Footman Bell: He bows deferentially. “No My Lord. They are all for Baroness Anna.” Bell offers the items to her and she takes them from the silver tray in clumps.
Anna: “Ooohhh!” She squeals in delight. “Lady Marjorie will be green with envy. Not only did I receive a marriage proposal last night, but I have more cards and invitations than she received after her coming out ball.” Anna starts sifting through the pile of calling cards and notes.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine’s eyes dart quickly in looking at each other when Anna mentions a marriage proposal.
Lady Katharine: She begins delicately. “One of the gentleman you danced with proposed to you, Anna Sweetheart?”
Baroness Anna: “Yes!” Then she swishes her hand dismissively. “It was just Stuart MacGregor.” Anna rolls her eyes. “But Marjie need not know that.” Anna smiles with glee at her parents. Then she turns over a few letters. “Oh look! A few letters are for you, Papa.” She hands the three letters to her Papa sitting next to her. Then she starts arranging the dozen or so calling cards in a semi circle around her place setting before opening her letters.
Lord Rafe: He tears into them. “A ha!”
The four year old twins are fighting with their bacon like they are swords.
Lady Katharine: “Lady Aurora and Lord Richard, please do not play with your food. There are children in the Empire who do not have bacon. So you should treat it gratefully.” She intones in gentle admonishment as their Mama.
Baroness Anna: “Oh, the insect man’s card has a painted butterfly on it.” She smiles as gazes upon the calling card, then shows it to all at the table.
Lord Rafe: “Who is that, Anna Sweetheart?”
Baroness Anna: “Lord Rodney Howard, Earl of Marshall.” Then she looks up wistfully. “Countess Anna Marshall. Not bad. But, I do not trust a man who carries specimen tweezers around with him all the time. And he is quite old.” Anna sets his card face down. He is out of the running.
Lord Rafe: “I believe Lord Rodney is only two years younger than myself.” He puffs up.
Anna: “Precisely.” Anna primly looks at her Papa.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha! Any other prospects?”
Baroness Anna: “Lord Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln, wants to go riding. Hmmm.” She wrinkles up her nose at the prospect of Countess Anna Lincoln.
Lord Rafe: “But you like to ride, Anna Dear.”
Baroness Anna: “Lord Henry likes to race his horse Zephyr like the wind it is named after. I ride side saddle like all ladies. I cannot race my horse like that.” She shrugs her shoulders disdainfully and places his letter face down in the no pile.
Lady Aurora: “Is there no one you want to play with, Anna?” She asks innocently.
Baroness Anna: “Well, Rori, David Harriott wants me to come to tea today with his family–then stroll in their garden.” Anna looks over at her Mama. And Lady Katharine nods her assent–David Harriott is her sister-in-law Lady Lucinda Harriott Southwick’s brother and he is part of their extended family.
Lord Rafe: “David is a nice young man. He is a bit worldly, but still a gentleman.” Lord Rafe feels that young David has checked his rake in training leanings over the last year or two as he matured in the military.
Baroness Anna: “Yes, but David also paid attention to Lady Marjorie–and at my ball!” She looks wide eyed in astonishment. “Then there is Stuart who wants me to fly a kite in the park with him. Does Stuart think that I am still eleven years old as when we first met?” She rolls her eyes at her Mama.
Lady Katharine: “No Anna Dear. Stuart is probably just trying to elicit a shared memory with you reflective of your long association, since our two families–the Wingates and the MacGregors–share a closed bond.”
Baroness Anna: “Well, I am only marrying for love–not because someone is family, nor close friends, nor because I have known them a long time.” She petulantly tilts her chin upwards. “Of course, the most intriguing invitation is from Percy, Lord Lovaine.” She smiles gleefully.
Lord Rafe: “Kkkhh!” Lord Rafe coughs up his tea upon hearing of Lord Lovaine. Lovaine is an unparalleled rake–even by Lord Rafe’s standards. “Kkkhh!”
Baroness Anna: “Papa? Are you alright?” She stands and pats his back as his coughing lessens.
Lord Rafe: “Perfectly, perfectly.” Then measuring his words carefully–because Lord Rafe knows that were he to forbid Anna to see Lord Lovaine that it would just make her want to see him all the more–he asks. “What makes Lovaine’s invitation unique, Anna Sweetheart?”
Baroness Anna: “He lets me choose the outing.” Anna [(3) right] smiles cheerfully. “Can you imagine? A man ceding his authority to a woman!” And she thinks, Anna, Duchess of Northumberland. It has a nice ring to it.
Lady Katharine: Sipping her tea and looking over the rim of her fine china tea cup, Lady Katharine looks seductively at her husband and remarks. “That is very enticing–to be considered an equal to one’s husband.”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe smiles saucily at his wife. “And what will you choose to do with Lord Lovaine, Anna?”
Anna thinks for a minute, then she looks at her four year old siblings. Hmmm.
This very Saturday afternoon begins Anna’s whirlwind engagements with three potential suitors: David Harriott, Stuart MacGregor, and Percy Lord Lovaine. Her Uncle Sir Percival and Aunt Lady Lucinda collect her in their carriage and convey her to Lady Lucy’s parents’ home for tea with David Harriott and his family. They are extended family and know each other very well. After everyone is seated and tea and cakes dispensed, everyone noshes happily–discussing the season, the Southwick children, and such. It is when David invites Baroness Anna for a stroll in the garden that they might have a few moments alone in quiet conversation.
David: “Thank you, Baroness Anna. You are kind to say so.” David [(4) right] smiles back at her.
Baroness Anna: “Now David, please just call me Anna. We have known each other for five years–no need to be formal when we are alone.” She states primly and in a very ladylike manner.
David: “Yet, I believe that the young girl I once knew has grown into a beautiful young woman who stands now before me.”
Baroness Anna: “Do you really think so?” She asks curiously–wondering about David’s sincerity.
David: “I do.” His voice deepens. He thinks that Anna has quite surprisingly turned out nicely and will only grow in her beauty.
Baroness Anna: “And what of Lady Marjorie? You gave her quite a bit of attention at my coming out ball last night?” She pouts a bit.
David: “Well, I … As your guest, I feared that she might feel like a wallflower compared to you.”
Baroness Anna: “Ha ha ha! Oh David. You need not disdain Marjie to me. She is my good friend. I only wish to ascertain where your interest lies. With her or with me?”
David: The moments tick by. Then David decides to be frank. “Honestly Anna, I do not know at present.” He shakes his head.
Baroness Anna: “Good answer, David.” She smiles. “I trust that you will also be paying court to Lady Marjorie?”
David: “Well … yes.” He looks up at her and winces.
Baroness Anna: “Hmmmm.” She smiles. “I like a challenge. And you should know that I am also getting to know several other gentlemen better.” David blinks. Anna smiles and threads her arm in his. “So show me your flowers and let us see who knows more of their proper names between us.” She smiles with glee–for her Papa Lord Rafe has taught her all of the proper flower names. Anna has a delightful time alternating between flirting with David and treating him like an older brother. For his part, David thinks that Baroness Anna can be a vexing creature–but charmingly so.
Then early Sunday afternoon is a trip to the London Zoo for Baroness Anna with Algernon Percy, Lord Lovaine [(5) right], and Anna’s four year old sibling twins, Lord Richard and Lady Aurora and their governess Miss Colton. Baroness Anna could not be better chaperoned than she is with the civic minded MP with a rakish streak in him, Lord Lovaine.
Lord Lovaine: As they stroll arm in arm through the animal exhibits, he asks her. “Baroness Anna, does your family always accompany you when you are being courted?”
Baroness Anna: “Not yet, Lord Lovaine–or I should say that I have not decided whom may court me. We are having a friendly outing.” She admonishes him and fixes him with a pixieish grin. Anna might be out now and becoming a young lady, but at sixteen years she still has a youthful spark of mischief to her.
Lord Richard: “Anna, may we see the Elephants soon?” Lord Richard begs. He loves jungle animals–having heard his Grandpapa Charles Wingate’s many fantastical tales of his military campaigns and expeditions in North Africa.
Lady Aurora: “Are they as big as they say they are?” Her eyes are wide contemplating how anything could be as big as a carriage–which was how an elephant was described to her. She also wonders if elephants have interior seating compartments like a carriage. At four years old, Lady Aurora is still a bit literal.
Baroness Anna: “Yes Richard and yes Rori. That is, if Lord Lovaine does not mind altering our walking path to reach the elephants first?” Anna turns to him questioningly.
Lord Lovaine: “By all means. Let us keep the children happy.” He nods. Then a happy thought occurs to him. “Perhaps the twins’ governess, Miss Colton, could forge ahead with the children, and then we will follow behind?”
Miss Colton: Anna nods her assent to the children’s teacher. “Come children. Let us walk ahead a little bit.” But Miss Colton will not be too far ahead–so that her chaperoning duties may be exercised.
Baroness Anna: “Was that suggestion for the children’s benefit, or for your own?” She asks impishly.
Lord Lovaine: “I believe that the two benefits happily coalesce together.” He smiles and lifts her hand to his lips for a kiss. “Will you allow me to court you, Baroness Anna?”
Baroness Anna: “You are direct. I like that. But I have not narrowed my suitors down yet.” He pouts. Then she assuages his feelings as she squeezes his arm. “But you are still in the running.”
Lord Lovaine: “The lady I marry will one day be Duchess of Northumberland.” His eyes gleam and sparkle.
Baroness Anna: “She will be a fortunate woman, indeed.” She raises her eyebrow in amusement. “So in the wilds of Northumberland, what entertaining diversions are there to be had for a Duke and Duchess?” She asks innocently.
Lord Lovaine: “Kkkhhh! Welll!” He realizes that he must reply with the censored version for her delicate ladylike ears. “Let us just say that companionship is most welcome on long Winter nights.”
Baroness Anna: “Oh! Do you like to play games?” She asks girlishly.
Lord Lovaine: A small smile curls at the edges of his lips with his deep throated reply accompanied by a smouldering gaze. “Yes!”
Baroness Anna: “I do as well!” She smiles happy to find a games partner.
But somehow, thinks Lord Lovaine, his type of games playing is far different from ones that Baroness Anna might be thinking of. And yet, he finds merit in a young untutored wife whom he can mold to his tastes and to his desires. Lord Lovaine quite delights in being a lady’s first kiss–and he rather counts it as a badge of honor–or at least, it reflects his much deserved romantic reputation as a rake.
So, it is a very good thing that Baroness Anna and Lord Lovaine are surrounded by other zoo goers–and their chaperones the twins and their governess–or Lord Lovaine might seek to find a quiet corner to impress upon Baroness Anna the fine points of conversation without speaking.
Baroness Anna and the twins thoroughly enjoyed themselves on the zoo outing with Lord Lovaine. And Anna thinks that LL–as she has begun to think of him–is a very good sport.
The next night, Monday, Baroness Anna dines with Stuart MacGregor and his family–an improvement from Stuart’s suggestion of kite flying. It is just the four of them so they dispense with the men having their brandy and cigars while the women chat in the parlor after dinner–and they get straight to playing cards. Anna and Stuart are partners sitting across from each other. And Stuart’s parents Lord Colin and Lady Frances MacGregor are also partners, sitting across from each other. It is a very cozy arrangement.
Baroness Anna: She politely compliments Lady Frances. “I so enjoyed this evening’s dinner, Lady Frances. It was kind of you to invite me.”
Stuart: “Mama!” He whines. “I can speak for myself. I am nineteen now.” Stuart [(6) right] sits up straighter in his chair.
Lord Collin: Slapping his son’s shoulder, Lord Collin intones knowingly. “Well then, you had best hop to it. I hear from Lord Rafe that Baroness Anna was inundated with cards and invitations.”
Stuart: Stuart flinches. “You were?” He worries that someone else might capture her attention.
Baroness Anna: “Of course I was, Stuart! Did you not think that anyone else would be interested in me? My dowry is 10,000 pounds! [(2)] ” She says a bit pridefully.
Stuart: “Oh!” Stuart is stupefied. His Anna is an heiress. Everyone will want her now. He wonders what chance he might have–the son of a baronet, on the lowest rung on the nobility. And he winces at how patronizing he must have appeared to Anna at her coming out ball when he talked of waiting to marry until he can support his wife. And since his Cadet stipend and family allowance are so far below Anna’s wealth, Stuart fears that he might be seen to be a fortune hunter.
Stuart’s card playing becomes less more bland as the evening wears on. Anna chats more with Stuart’s parents than with him. Anna notices Stuart’s quiet demeanor, but she does not know its origins. She has not yet learned that young men of lesser wealth and rank than she, often have a greater sense of pride.
Finally at the end of the evening, it is so fine out that Stuart walks Anna home–rather than taking the carriage–since her residence with her parents is down the block and on the other side of the street–most convenient. But this close proximity has also allowed Stuart to see the succession of Anna’s suitors come and go. And he is a bit jealous of that.
Baroness Anna: Breaking the silence that has built up between them, she asks. “Stuart, why are you so glum?”
Stuart: “Baroness Anna, I do not mean to be. My apologies.” He says stiffly, formally.
Baroness Anna: “I do not seek an apology, Stuart. I only seek to understand.” Stuart says nothing. Anna stops their forward motion. Anna takes each of Stuart’s hands in hers and looks at him soulfully. “Stuart, if you wish to retract your marriage proposal to me so that you may court another, I release you from your offer.”
Stuart: That remark startles him out of his melancholy stupor. “What? No! I still wish to marry you!” He states stridently.
Baroness Anna: “You do not act like it. Friday night at my ball you seemed in earnest. Now you seem … less so.” She challenges him.
Stuart: “It is just that …” Anna looks at him encouragingly. “Anna, I cannot offer you a high title like Lord Lovaine can, nor luxurious wealth as David Harriott can. And I am jealous as hell that these gentlemen might capture your interest.”
Baroness Anna: “Well! As I have told each of them, I care not for titles nor great wealth. I wish to marry for love–like your parents and my parents have.”
Stuart: “So I am not crossed off your list, my dear sweet Anna?” His hand caresses her face and draws her near him.
Baroness Anna: “No.” She says in a whisper as she closes her eyes.
And Stuart MacGregor gently kisses Baroness Anna’s cheek.
Baroness Anna admits to herself that she only entertained Lord Lovaine’s attentions over the rest of the Summer of1831 because he would be such a good catch–but not for her, she realizes. Baroness Anna wants someone to love only her and she believes that Lord Lovaine will have trouble with that goal–given his well deserved rake reputation. So Anna focuses on David Harriott and Stuart MacGregor–allowing each of them to write to her in the Autumn and escort her to engagements, with David also attending to Lady Marjorie. But Anna realizes that she cannot have David and Stuart both dance attendance upon her forever. So Baroness Anna resolves to make her decision for whom will be the architect of her future happiness in a few months time at their annual Wingate family and friends Christmas gathering at Dearing Manor in Warwickshire.
To be continuedwith Chapter 36
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) 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
3) 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
4) David Harriott image is of Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill in Emma 1996 May1913austenitisblogspot was found at
5) Algernon George Percy, 1810 – 1899—known as Lord Lovaine from1830 – 1865)– became the 6th Duke of Northumberland in 1865. He was a real person, though I have used dramatic license regarding his personal history for the purposes of this story. For historical information about this Duke, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algernon_Percy,_6th_Duke_of_Northumberland ; The image (cropped, clr, hi-res,shrp) used for Algernon George Percy,Lord Lovaine—who will become the 6th Duke of Northumberland in 1865–is actor Dominc Cooper as Charles Grey in the 2007 film The Duchess and was found at http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5fJOqmcNUic/UTJJp0CfMHI/AAAAAAAAEK8/mo3kXh8JTxw/s320/130948_1224535969520_full.jpg the image was also linked to http://theliferandomthoughtsofindigomontoya.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html
6) Stuart MacGregor image (crop, brt, clr, shrp, hi-res)is Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence pensive in 1994’s Little Women was found at http://christbale.ru/images/littlewomen/04
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 34 is: http://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/love-is-a-choice-ch-34-annas-coming-out-ball-august-12-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-438/