“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 7-8 (PG): Husbands and Wives, Daughters and Sons, Part 2; Lord Rafe Meets his Daughter, March 25, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #385)
[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 Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Emilie Francois as Anna, 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.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: The day after they were married, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine enjoyed pudding with retired Dearing Manor cook Mrs. Plunkett at her forest cottage. Surprisingly, Mrs. Plunkett revealed that she is to have a new kitchen helper named Anna Miller. Anna is the orphaned child of Lord Rafe’s first love, Fanny Miller–a pastry cook–though only he and Lady Katharine know about Fanny, because Lord Rafe told Lady Katharine about Fanny. Lord Rafe fleetingly wonders about the girl’s parentage in the back of his mind. Then when he and Lady Katharine are getting ready for this evening’s dinner for them hosted by his parents, they almost have a romantic tryst–with Lady Katharine being willingly seduced. But they are frustratingly interrupted before they can even get into bed by their butler who says they are summoned to the manor early by Lord Rafe’s parents to talk over an urgent matter. Earlier his parents had another revelation up at the manor as Lady Leonora Wingate revealed to her husband Lord Charles Wingate, that their son Lord Rafe has a daughter named Anna Miller, and she is missing. She tells her husband that their son does not know that he has a child. Hence the reason his parents summon of Lord Rafe and his new wife to the manor early, before the dinner party in their honor. Concurrently, after a long and bumpy carriage ride, the ladylike and dainty eleven year old Anna Miller arrives at Dearing Manor to be Mrs. Plunkett’s kitchen helper. After greeting each other, Mrs. Plunkett sets Anna down with a plate of food whilst Mrs. Plunkett attends to making tonight’s desserts.
After Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine quickly finish getting dressed for their evening dinner party hosted by his family for them–Lady Katharine looking très charmant as a young bride in her pink silk [(2) right] with ribbon rosettes embellished gown and Lord Rafe dashingly wearing his jet black suit with a silver satin vest and burgundy cravat [(3) right]–they take a ten minute enclosed carriage ride from their hunting lodge retreat on the estate to Dearing Manor for their pre-dinner meeting with his parents. They hold hands the whole way, with Lord Rafe kissing his wife’s hand frequently–in between sweet kisses on her lips, taking care not to muss her hair as she requested of him earlier. He hopes that tonight will be a short evening with his parents and their friends–because after that, he looks forward to a long evening of finally making love with his lovely bride. In truth, the less reluctant Lady Katharine is thinking the very same thing–as her pinkening cheeks betray.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are ushered into the smaller family parlor about thirty minutes before the other guests are to arrive for dinner. The cozy room and comfortably appointed room is the private sanctuary of Lord Rafe’s family. It is lovingly decorated with small family portrait vignettes and childhood mementos tucked away on the book shelves. A collection sea shells arranged sitting amidst light colored sand in an open box, that were gathered so long ago on Lord Charles and Lady Leonora’s wedding trip to the seaside. There is a flower that the then child Lady Louisa had given her mother that pressed between two blocks of heavy glass. And there is also some tattered and fading kite tail hair ribbons dangle invitingly from a small kite. Lord Rafe walks his wife, Lady Katharine, around the room to show her these and other family mementos. Lady Katharine finds that she likes the sentimentality of these small mementos–feeling more and more at home with her new husband and new family.
The Dearing Manor family sitting room [(4a) right] is currently empty, but for the family’s twelve year old copper colored Irish Setter named Kelly lounging on the hearth rug by the fireplace. Kelly feels her age these days with arthritis in her joints making her slower and less agile than in years past when she would run alongside her master’s horse and flush out small prey from the forest undergrowth.
But Kelly has earned her semi-retirement as a much loved over grown lap dog [(4b) Kelly as a young dog, right]. Lord Rafe finds his much loved pet in her usual spot in the room, by the hearth on the rug. Upon seeing her master Lord Rafe beckon to her, Kelly eagerly rises from her spot and lopes over to him. She is really his dog–a present from his parents for his sixteenth birthday. So Kelly is one year older than Anna Miller, but in her senior years as a dog.
Lord Rafe: “Kelly my girl, I am glad to see you!” Lord Rafe rubs Kelly’s long ears affectionately while his wife Lady Katherine stands back a bit to one side–not wanting the dog to jump on her while she is wearing her nice evening gown. “Kate, if you sit on the sette, Kelly will come over and say hello to you.”
Lady Katharine: “Alright.” She nods and sits. Lady Katharine is mostly accustomed to kittens. So she is a little taken aback by such a large dog. However, Kelly is nothing if not friendly. Kelly the dog walks over to Lady Katharine, sits next to her legs on the floor, then she lays her head across Lady Katharine’s knees, wanting some attention. This being as close as Lady Katharine’s lap that the large dog Kelly can be. “Oh! You are a good girl. I am Katharine, Rafe’s wife.” Lady Katharine smiles warmly at the dog.
And Lord Rafe smiles at his wife for her stating her relationship to him with unequivocal cheerfulness–even if she is only talking to the dog.
Just then, the parlor doors open and a somber looking Lord Charles Wingate and a distressed looking Lady Leonora Wingate enter and close the door behind them. Lady Katharine stands politely and her husband Lord Rafe joins her side as they look at his parents questioningly.
Lord Wingate: Hoping to open a moment of pleasant conversation before they lay the news at their son’s doorstep, he says. “Ah! Katharine! I see you have met our Kelly. She obviously likes you.” He notes as Kelly leans in to Lady Katharine’s full silk skirt as she strokes her ears.
Lady Wingate: “Good evening, my dears. Thank you for coming early, before the dinner.” She smiles wanly and kisses them each on their cheek.
Lady Katharine: “Good evening. And thank you for hosting this dinner for us.” She bows her head to them.
Lord Wingate: “Yes my dear, you should sit.” He ushers his wife to the large sette and she sits [(5) right].
Lady Wingate: “Charles?” She looks pleadingly at her husband standing at her side and holding her hand.”
Lord Wingate: “Leonora, you have all the facts at your command. I am still trying make sense of it.”
Lady Wingate: She nods, then looks at her son. “Come sit next to me Rafe and Katharine.” She motions to the spot next to her on the large sette. Lord Rafe sits next to his Mama with Lady Katharine sitting on his other side. Kelly returns to her spot by the hearth.
Lord Rafe: Feeling apprehensive, he asks while taking her hand. “Mama, are you ill?”
Lady Wingate: She winces. “Not I. But I fear that I must tell you of a death.” Her face looks stricken with grief.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe looks at her with alarm. “Who, Mama?” Lady Katharine also tenses up, worried that maybe it is a relative of hers who has died.
Lady Wingate: But Lady Wingate is having a difficult time finding the words to tell her son that he has a daughter. So she delays a bit. “Someone we knew long ago. You might not even remember her.”
However, Lord Wingate gives his wife a knowing look–having surmised that the mother of Rafe’s child might have been his son’s first romantic experience.
Lord Wingate: “You need to just say it, Leonora. Rafe has a right to know.” He says gently but firmly.
Both Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine look at each other in trepidation wondering what they are about to learn.
Lady Wingate: She nods to her husband. “There is a child of eleven years, her Mama has died. And she now will have a new home–with us.” She says finally.
Lord Rafe looks at his Mama and wonders if there could be a coincidence between Mrs. Plunkett’s tale of Fanny Miller’s daughter coming to work for her and his Mama’s tale of a young girl whose mother has died.
Lady Katharine: “It is good of you to take this girl in. What is her name?” She asks pleasantly, not realizing that her life with her husband will forever change from this moment.
Lady Wingate: “The child’s name is Anna Miller, Fanny Miller’s daughter.” Lord Rafe does a sharp intake of breath as he stares at his Mama, waiting uncertainly for what she says next–but secretly guessing the truth in his heart. Lady Wingate places her hand over her son’s hand on his knee. “Her real name is Anna Wingate. Rafe, she is your daughter.”
Lord Rafe closes his eyes in shock. He does not know what to think–let alone what his parents must think of him, having fathered a child outside of marriage. And he wonders what must his wife Kate think of him? Lady Katharine is too shocked for coherent thought at the moment as she looks from her mother-in-law to her husband. She sees the him change from relaxed to tense, as his fist clenches and unclenches to try to relieve that tension.
Lord Rafe: Opening his eyes, he stares into his Mama’s eyes. “Mama, are you certain that she is my child? Why have I not heard of her before now?” He looks up at his father.
Lord Wingate: “Those are the very same questions that I asked your Mama earlier this evening, son.”
Lady Katharine sits quietly, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes lowered to guard her thoughts lest her facial expression gives away her turbulent feelings at the moment. But she listens intently to the unfolding drama before her.
Lady Wingate: “I discovered Anna’s existence a little over five years ago. And I took she and her mother under my wing.”
Lord Rafe: “Five years! Mama, you have known all this time and you had you no thought to tell me?” His mind cannot comprehend his Mama willfully keeping such an important fact as him having a daughter from him.
Lady Wingate: She blanches. “I did not know how to tell you. And the delay made my hesitation worsen. I was afraid of your reaction and how you would feel.”
Lord Rafe: “I have fathered a child who has been kept from me. How do you think I feel, Mama?” He states accusingly and his Mama lowers her eyes. With his anger rising at his Mama, but also with himself–for behaving so recklessly twelve years ago and for not thinking there would be consequences for it–his heart is pounding in his chest. He has taken precautions with his amours since then. But even that is thrown into question for him.
Lady Wingate: “I understand your anger toward me, Rafe. But you must put that aside, because Anna is missing and we must find her!” She says worriedly as she twists the linen handkerchief in her hands.
Lord Rafe: “Missing?” He looks at her in alarm.
Lord Wingate: “It seems that the child’s mother died unexpectedly last week without your Mama knowing that she had even been ill. Because of your wedding and such, your Mama did not make her usual monthly visit to see the child today. Our footman who went in her stead today to deliver some gifts, returned this afternoon and informed your mother that the child has been sent to live elsewhere. But no one would or could tell him where. Your Mama is frantic with worry.”
Lady Wingate: “Anna is such a precious little girl. I fear what could happen to her if she is not found soon.” She wrings her hands and wails through her tears.
Lord Rafe’s hand rakes across his face in shock, but also as a self comforting gesture. His world has turned upside down with the revelation that he has a daughter. And now he is doubly distressed that his daughter is missing and she could be harmed–because the world is not a safe place unless you are under someone’s protection. And Lord Rafe feels an innate need to protect his daughter.
Lady Katharine: Leaning forward past her husband, Lady Katharine touches Lady Wingate’s other hand. “Madam, have you asked Mrs. Plunkett about Anna?” Lady Katharine is the one person in the room who has kept her wits about her.
Lady Wingate: “Ask Mrs. Plunkett? Why?” She looks incredulously at her daughter-in-law.
Lord Rafe: “Yes!” He kisses his wife’s hand. “Thank you my love! Mama, Papa, Mrs. P told us today that she is to train a new kitchen helper–Fanny Miller’s ten year old daughter Anna who was to arrive today. But she must have gotten the age wrong. Mrs. P was having the child brought here to the manor this evening while she bakes dessert for tonight’s dinner. The child could be below stairs at this very moment.”
Lady Wingate: Quickly turning to her husband with a hopeful expression of joy on her face. “Oh Charles, if this can only be true, it will be a miracle!”
Lord Wingate: He pats his wife’s hand. “Leonora, my Dear, we will have Mrs. Plunkett come up here–and bring the girl if she is here. We will sort this all out.” He rings the bell for the butler. Their wait for him to arrive is not long as they all look at each other in hope.
Butler Holmes: Their butler Holmes enters the family sitting room almost immediately. “Yes, my Lord?”
Lord Wingate: “Does Mrs. Plunkett have a new kitchen helper with her this evening?” He asks hopefully.
Butler: “Why yes Milord, she does.” Holmes looks faintly nonplussed at Lord Wingate–surprise not being an expression that one wishes to see evident in a butler–that his lordship should know such a thing. “The young girl herself–her name is Anna Miller–explained to me that she is to train with Mrs. Plunkett. And I hope that you will pardon me for saying it, but the young miss is so well spoken and poised that I cannot believe that the kitchen will be suitable for her.” He shakes his head.
Lady Wingate: “Oh Charles! It is our Anna!” She clasps her hands together in a silent prayer of thanks.
Lord Wingate: “Leonora, it seems that providence is with us. Holmes, please bring Mrs. Plunkett and her young charge here to the sitting room at once!”
Butler Holmes: “As you wish, My Lord.” He bows and leaves to attend to his master’s wishes.
Lord Rafe: Then Lord Rafe stands and takes his father aside and suggests. “But, Papa. Perhaps Kate and I should let you and Mama meet the child alone first–to not overwhelm her. And for you to ascertain if she is who you think she is.” Lord Rafe is not really doubtful of Anna’s parentage, but he is reticent to meet with her so soon.
Lady Wingate: Over hearing her son, she insists. “No, please stay, Rafe. She has lost one parent, her mother. Maybe her learning that she has a living father can help assuage some of her grief.” She is grasping at thin air, but no one challenges her thinking. “Anna knows that I am her Grandmama–though she does not know that I am Lady Wingate. She thinks that I am Fanny’s mother. But Anna also thinks that the dead miller was her father. Neither Fanny nor I disabused her of that notion since we did not know if you would welcome knowing that you had fathered a …a bastard.” She says rather harshly, for she does not feel shame at Anna’s birth.
Lord Rafe: “Mama! The only bastard in this story is myself, not the child. She is not responsible for the circumstances of her birth.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine notices that her husband continues to refer to his daughter as the child, rather than by her name, Anna. “Rafe, you did not know you had fathered a child–Anna. Surely if you had known, that would have made a difference. And you can take responsibility for Anna now.”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe nods his head resignedly, glad to feel that his bride is being so understanding. “Yes, had I known of the child’s existence, I would have provided for her.” But he still has a niggling doubt since there are no other children he has fathered–that he is aware of. “Mama, are you certain that she is my child?”
Lady Wingate: “Rafe, when you see Anna, you will have no doubt. She is the picture of you at that young age. And Anna has the delicacy of your sister Louisa about her.”
There is a sharp knock on the sitting room door and Mrs. Plunkett and Anna [(6) right] are ushered into the large family sitting parlor by the butler, who then leaves. At first, Anna keeps her eyes to the floor–the dark blond ringlets on either side of her face hiding her expression of nervousness to be in a place so grand.
Lord Rafe instantly sees the resemblance in Anna that his mother spoke of. Anna is his child. He is a father. He is her father. His mind is still trying to grasp that concept. And pondering whether or not Anna will accept him coming into her life at this point, weighs heavily on his mind. For her part, Lady Katharine sees in Anna a young motherless girl who will need the love and compassion of her new family, the Wingate’s–but especially, of her husband, Lord Rafe, and of herself.
Mrs. Plunkett: “May I help ye? I just put the strawberry tarts on to bake for dessert. I can na be away from them long.” She states matter of factly, focusing on her cooking–assuming that is why she is called before them.
Lord Wingate: “Thank you Mrs. Plunkett, Lady Wingate is looking forward to the tarts. Are you not, my dear?”
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate turns toward Mrs. Plunkett and Anna, who is still looking down at her feet. “Yes I am. Anna child, I am so very glad to see you.” Lady Wingate says with tears in her eyes as she holds her arms open wide to her granddaughter.
Hearing the voice that she knows so well, Anna’s eyes jerk up in startled amazement–and she sees her Grandmama.
Anna: Dropping her bonnet, Anna runs the few feet into her Grandmama’s open arms and cries. “Grandmama, Grandmama! Mama became ill and died and I did not know how to find you.” She sobs into Lady Wingate’s neck, her Grandmama’s neck. Eleven year old Anna has not been so demonstrative with her Grandmama since she was very young–at least seven or eight.
Everyone else in the room stills into silence, to let this reunion of Grandmama and granddaughter play itself out–partly because they suspect that the reunion of father and daughter might not be a smooth.
Lady Wingate: “Oh my sweetheart.” She kisses the tears on her granddaughter’s cheek. “I am so sorry about your Mama. If I had known that she was ill, I would have instantly come to her aid and yours. But I am so glad that you are here, now! There, there–all will be well now.” She says soothingly through her own tears as she embraces her granddaughter. Yet Lady Wingate also knows that she will have to help Anna through the grief of her Mama’s death somehow.
Lord Rafe watches this tender scene of reunion with bittersweet relief–glad to have his child well and safe, but not knowing when to tell her who he is. Lady Katharine watches her husband’s pained expression and she clasps his hand in hers and squeezes it. They gaze at each other soulfully.
Everyone lets Lady Wingate soothe and calm Anna before anyone speaks. Except, of course, the one person for whom time is not a luxury she can afford with strawberry tarts in the offing.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Right! Well, I did not expect this.” She blurts out with her hands on her hips.
Lord Wingate: “And we can trust you will not discuss Miss Anna amongst the servants until we have had time to make the announcement about our granddaughter.” He nods at Mrs. Plunkett.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Of course! Far be it from me to interfere with a family reunion. Now if you will excuse me, I will get back to me strawberry tarts.” She smiles jauntily.
Anna: Having the presence of mind and poise that she learned from her Mama, her Grandmama, and the nuns, Anna turns to Mrs. Plunkett. “Thank you for bringing me to my Grandmama, Mrs. Plunkett. I am forever in your debt.” Anna smiles through her tears. Mrs. Plunkett nods and winks at her as she leaves the room. Then Anna returns to her Grandmama’s soothing embrace.
To be continued with Chapter 8
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 8 (PG): Lord Rafe is Introduced to his Daughter, Anna
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine move over on the sette to allow room for Anna to sit next to Grandmama as she continues to embrace her. Everyone now remaining in the room waits patiently as little Anna continues to be calmed by her Grandmama.
Lady Wingate: “Oh my sweet child, you are safe now. We will take care of you.” Lady Wingate looks up at her husband. “Charles, do sit down, you are hovering.” He sits in a chair that he pulls up to the sette, staring wonderingly at his granddaughter, Anna.
After a few moments more of being calmed by her Grandmama, Anna looks up from having her face buried in her Grandmama’s neck. She looks at the large older man sitting in front of her. He smiles warmly at her. Then Anna over her shoulder at the younger man and younger woman also sitting on the sette.
Anna: Then turning back to her Grandmama, Anna asks curiously. “Grandmama, who are these people?”
Lord Wingate: “Leonora, I think it is time that you made some introductions.”
Lady Wingate: She nods her head, even has she caresses Anna’s cheek. “Anna dear, you know that I am your Grandmama.” Anna nods. “Well, I am also Lady Leonora Wingate. And this is my husband, Lord Charles Wingate, your Grandpapa.” Lord Wingate smiles at his granddaughter. “And behind you on the sette is my son Lord Rafe and his wife, Lady Katharine.”
Anna: Confusion is apparent upon Anna’s face. “I do not understand? If my Mama was your daughter, why did we never come here before? Did you not approve of my Papa?”
Lord Rafe: “Hhhh!” Lord Rafe gasps–because he is her Papa.
Lady Wingate: “No, no, that is not why. Hhhh! Anna dear, I have wanted you to come here for a visit for a long time. But …” Lady Wingate pauses, then continues haltingly. “Anna sweetheart, your dear Mama and I were not entirely truthful with you. Your Mama was not my daughter. I am your Papa’s mother.”
Anna: “But my Papa is dead. He was Mama’s husband, the miller.”
Lord Rafe flinches and catches his breath. Lady Katharine slips her hand into his in support and she squeezes it. He turns to look at his wife, giving her a small smile.
Lady Wingate: “No Anna Dear, your Papa is not the miller.” She slips by using the present tense.
Anna: “I do not understand.” She shakes her head.
Lady Wingate: “What did your Mama tell you about your Papa?”
Lord Rafe is now the taut bowstring, sitting on the edge of the sette’s seat cushion, barely breathing for fear of shattering the moment before his daughter discovers who he is–and he fears, despises him for not being in her life before now.
Anna: “Well, Uncle Miller said my Papa, his brother, was old like him. But Mama always spoke of her love for Papa and his tenderness toward her–as if he was young. She said it was the hardest thing in her life when they parted–when he died.”
Lord Rafe closes his eyes and remembers the joyous and carefree woman who was his first love, Fanny Miller. He remembers her smiles, her laughter, her love, and the sorrow that he felt when they parted. He understood their parting logically at the time–they came from two different worlds–but he was still sad to give up his first love. And his heart pains him now as he knows that he will never get the chance to tell Fanny what she meant to him, what she means to him. But he resolves to make it up to Fanny–if only indirectly–by being a good and loving father to their daughter, Anna.
Lady Wingate: “Anna, your Papa is not dead.” She says with trepidation.
Anna: “Yes he is. Everyone says so.” Anna is still not understanding what her Grandmama tries to tell her.
Lady Wingate: “Your Mama’s husband, the miller, is dead. But your Papa is not dead.”
Anna: “If my Papa was not the miller, then who is he?” She asks, still not grasping the truth.
You could hear a pin drop the room is so silent–waiting attendant upon Lady Wingate’s reply.
Lady Wingate: “Anna dear, your Papa, is my son.” Lady Wingate says portentously as she unconsciously nods toward Lord Rafe.
Anna looks at everyone’s faces–her Grandmama and Grandpapa, and the young man and woman who have just been introduced to her.
Anna: “And this is your son?” Anna asks her while looking at Lord Rafe and his wife–almost making the connection.
Lady Wingate: “Yes …” She says hesitantly.
Lord Rafe: “Anna, I am your Papa.” Lord Rafe starts to open his arms to Anna, but he sees her recoil from him and he limply drops his arms to his sides in despair.
Anna: Finally grasping the idea that she has a living father whom she has never met, let alone knew he existed–nor has he made any attempt to contact her–Anna frowns at Lord Rafe in shock. “Why?”
Lord Rafe: “Why?” He asks her quizzically.
Anna: “Why cannot you be dead and my Mama alive? I loved her and she loved me. I do not know you.” Anna speaks plainly from her heart–feeling crushingly the loss of her beloved Mama and looking with suspicion upon the man whom she does not know, but who is supposed to be her father.
Lord Rafe is stricken by the searing honesty of his daughter’s feelings. His normally ruddy face pales at her derisive tone. But, he realizes, it is no less than what he deserves.
Lady Wingate lowers her eyes in regret–for contributing to Anna’s mistrust and anger by not telling her about her Papa Lord Rafe. Lord Wingate tilts his head in resignation for the fractured state of family affairs that they now find themselves in. Lady Katharine looks with compassion upon little Anna, and with pity upon her husband, Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before responding to her. He opens his eyes and says earnestly and tenderly. “Anna, I swear to you that I did not know that I had a daughter until just before you were brought into this room.”
Lord Rafe shakes his head ruefully. He must tread a delicate balance of pleading his case to his daughter–trying to assuage her feelings of abandonment–while not seeming to accuse and chastise his own Mama, Lady Wingate, let alone Anna’s Mama, for the collusion and folly that has brought them to this point.
Lady Wingate: “It is true, Anna. Your Papa did not know about you.” She admits with trepidation.
Anna unsteadily stands up from the couch–moving away from Lord Rafe and no longer embracing her Grandmama. She looks at each of the adults in the room–her Grandmama and Grandpapa, at Lord Rafe and at Lady Katharine–with a growing realization as a new sadness overtakes her heart.
Anna: “I …I was born in shame.” She says parroting what the nuns have taught her about the sanctity of marriage and children–and right and wrong. She looks tearfully at her Grandmama. “That is why you never brought me to your home before now. I am a bastard child whom no one wants.” Anna goes limp as she stands there, tears running down her face and she covers her face with her hands as she sobs.
Lady Wingate: “No, Anna child!” Lady Wingate wails as all her fears about how Anna would take the news of her birth come to terrible fruition.
Lord Rafe: “No, Anna, you are not a bastard!” He jumps to his feet and he pulls his daughter to him.
Anna: She struggles against him. “Let me go!” She wails.
Lord Rafe: “You are not at fault for how you came to be in this world. But I will protect you.”
Anna: “I do not know you! I want my Mama!” Anna tries to push him away, but her Papa Lord Rafe holds her loosely and gently in his arms.
Lord Rafe: “Please Anna. I am sorry about your Mama. It is sad that she died so young. But I want to be a father to you, for her sake and for yours.”
Anna: She rages at him through her tears, shouting mournfully. “You want to be a father to me? You have disgraced me! I was low born before, but at least I thought I was born in wedlock–not in sin.” Anna balls her fists and lashes out by hitting the chest of the man whom she is told is her Papa, at Lord Rafe. But in reality, Anna is letting her anger and grief at her Mama’s death finally vent itself.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe firmly but gently grabs Anna’s wrists, stopping her from hitting him. “Anna, I am so sorry. I loved your Mama. I did not know she had born my child or I would have come to you.” Lord Rafe knows that he would have taken responsibility for them and cared for them, even if he would not have married Fanny because of their difference in station.
But Anna will not hear his entreaties as she continues to struggle with him. Lady Katharine sees the young girl’s fury at her father Lord Rafe and she understands it–however much, Lady Katharine also understands her husband’s situation as Anna’s father.
Anna: “No! Leave me alone. I want my Mama, not you!” She sobs uncontrollably.
Lord Rafe: With this discordant schism between father and daughter, Lord Rafe despairs of ever being reconciled with his daughter, Anna. Perhaps all he can hope for is for Anna to be comforted by her Grandmama. “Mama?” Lord Rafe looks helplessly at his Mama, Lady Wingate.
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate stands and speaks commandingly. “Anna! Calm down this instant and act like the young lady you are!”
Anna stops her struggling and stares in shock at her Grandmama who has never raised her voice to her before. Lord Rafe releases Anna’s wrists and Anna takes a step back from him.
Anna: “Hmh hmh.” Anna whimpers as her tears continue to flow. Her world has come crashing down upon her for the second time this week–the first time when her Mama died, and now when she has found out that she has a living Papa who was never married to her Mama.
Lady Wingate steps forward and embraces her granddaughter Anna soothingly. After a few moments, Anna crumples in surrender and accepts her Grandmama’s loving compassion–though Anna continues to weep for her loss, for her Mama.
There is a knock at the sitting room door.
Butler Holmes: Speaking through the closed door. “Might I have a word?”
Lord Wingate: “Enter.” He says in an even but slightly gravelly tone, belying the tension in the room.
The Butler Holmes opens the door, enters the room, and shuts the door behind him. Holmes sees a very different scene before him than when he left it. He does not know what has happened, but he knows that it is momentous by the grave expressions of everyone in the room and the weeping child being comforted by Lady Wingate as they stand before him.
Butler Holmes: He begins delicately. “I beg your pardon, My Lady. Your guests are assembled in the main sitting room. Should we let them know that dinner will be … delayed?” He asks rather hopefully, not wanting to have to tell the guests–nor the cook–that the dinner has been cancelled outright.
Lady Wingate: She turns to her husband while she strokes Anna’s hair, still trying to comfort her. “Hhhh! Charles, I do not see how we can host a dinner party with the state that Anna is in.” Lady Wingate shakes her head even as she kisses her granddaughter’s forehead and rubs her back soothingly as Anna continues to cry, more softly now. “There, there, my child.” She begins to soothingly rock Anna in her arms.
Lord Wingate: He winces. “But Leonora, my dear, we cannot turn everyone away. They are our guests for dinner, expressly to see Rafe and Katharine again to celebrate their marriage. … And the food is already cooked.” He pleads.
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate rolls her eyes at her husband and sighs. “Hhhh!” Then she leans back from her granddaughter and she lifts Anna’s chin so that Anna looks at her. “Anna Sweetheart, there is one thing you should know about your Grandpapa. Never get between him and a meal.” Lady Wingate smiles impishly, hoping to puncture Anna’s distressed mood. She succeeds.
Anna: “Hmh.” Anna does not laugh, but whimpers half-heartedly as a small smile curls at the corners of her lips.
Lady Wingate: “Ahhhh!” She sighs, and kisses her granddaughter’s cheek.
Lord Wingate, Lord Rafe, and Lady Katharine: “Hhhh!” Everyone else sighs in some relief as well. Lord Rafe and his wife Lady Katharine clasp hands together.
Anna: “Hmh!” She stifles a giggle as she dries her tears.
Lady Wingate: “There now, this is the Anna I know and love.” Then a thought occurs to her. “Have you eaten, child?”
Anna: Shrugging her shoulders, she says. “Not really, Grandmama. Mrs. Plunkett made me a plate of food, but I had barely started when we were brought up here to you.”
Lady Wingate: “Then you shall join us at our dinner tonight. It is mostly family and old friends anyway–and they will want to meet you!” She smiles brightly to put a positive spin on the current circumstances.
Lord Rafe: “Hhhh! But Mama, is not Anna over tired … from her journey?” He asks delicately–wondering if they should put Anna through the stress of meeting more people who will also just be learning of her parentage.
Lady Wingate: “Anna sweetheart, are you more tired or more hungry?” She asks caringly touching her cheek.
Anna: “Hungry?” She looks at her Grandmama winsomely through her tears. Anna hasn’t eaten much today–which certainly did not help the situation.
Lady Wingate: “That settles it then. Charles, please have the servants delay dinner for half an hour while I help Anna change from her traveling dress into one of Louisa’s gowns from when she was a girl. That is your Aunt Louisa dear, your Papa Rafe’s sister. You are almost the same size as Louisa was as a girl and I am certain that she will not mind you borrowing one of her old gowns. And we will give you her childhood bed chamber to sleep in.”
The butler raises his eyebrow ever so slightly at the revelation of Anna having a Wingate family connection, but his face remains inscrutably impassive, as always.
Lady Katharine: “I will come with you.” She states amiably while placing herself firmly in the family fold. Lord Rafe looks at her gratefully. “Rafe, you and your father go on into the main sitting room to tend to our guests and we ladies will join you soon.” Lord Rafe hesitates. “Shoo!” She smiles broadly as she waves him away.
Lady Wingate: “You heard her, you two. Shoo!” She waves him away as well.
Then both Lady Wingate and Lady Katharine turn impish smiles to Anna.
Anna: “Shoo?” She says hesitantly and shrugs her shoulders, but she does not wave at them. Anna is still in a bit of shock, though she has calmed down and dries her tears even as she lays her head on her Grandmama’s shoulder again.
Butler Holmes: Picking up Anna’s forgotten bonnet on the floor and handing it to the girl, he bows his head respectfully. “Miss Anna.” Anna stands up from her Grandmama’s embrace and curtsies then nods her head in thanks. Then he turns to Lady Wingate. “Madam, I will also have the groom take Miss Anna’s traveling trunk to Lady Louisa’s childhood bed chamber, then inform cook and the servants of the new arrangements for dinner this evening.” Lady Wingate nods, appreciating how their butler has adroitly grasped that Anna is family.
Lady Wingate: “Thank you, Holmes. And please have Miss Anna’s place set next to mine at dinner.” She states intentionally flouting etiquette with regard to normal seating arrangements of alternating men and women, and relatives not being seated next to each other. The butler nods.
The men–Lord Rafe and his Papa Lord Wingate–have their marching orders. After kissing their wives on their cheeks–and his daughter in the case of Lord Rafe, though she is a bit startled by it–they wave farewell to the ladies as the ladies walk upstairs to the family bed chambers wing and the men head to the main sitting room where their guests are waiting.
To be continued with Chapter 9
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 (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 Cap
2) Lady Katharine in pink gown is a composite Image of:
a) Carla Gugino as Nan in The Buccaneers 1995epi2 28mpix218 Mar2313GratianaLovelaceCapMaskHi-ResHairRev; and
b) the purple gown I changed to pink found at http://www.freewebs.com/behindthetapestry/1820eveningdress.htm
3) Lord Rafe image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 1, pix 105, Mar2513 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nan
4) Image of Irish Setter Kelly in the Dearing Manor Family Sitting Room is a composite of:
a) Blair Castle Sitting Room was found at http://www.geolocation.ws/v/P/52319154/blair-castle-sitting-room/en with the individual image found at http://commondatastorage.googleapis.com/static.panoramio.com/photos/original/52319154.jpg
b) From Irish Setter history and description in Wikipedia: “It is clear that, by the early 18th Century, the type of dog known as the ‘Setter’ had come into its own right. It is also clear the Irish had begun actively breeding their own type.”
was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Setter ; for more information about the breed visit http://www.akc.org/breeds/irish_setter/index.cfm and photos at http://www.akc.org/breeds/irish_setter/photos.cfm .
5) Image for Lady Leonora Wingate, Mama to Lord Rafe is a painting titled “Lady Violet Henderson” by John William Waterhouse found at
6) Anna Miller Image is the then child actress Emilie Francois who portrayed Margaret Dashwood in “Sense & Sensibility” in 1995 (vlcsnap-19h26m42s98 Mar1613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap CropBrtClrShrpRev); for more on the movie, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114388/
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch.5-6 is: