“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 9: Anna Meets the Rest of Her Papa’s Family and Their Friends, March 29, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #387)
[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, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, and Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, 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: Eleven year old Anna Miller discovered her true parentage, and that her Papa was not married to her dear department Mama, Fanny Miller–meaning Anna is illegitmate, which causes her much heartache. She railed against her father, Lord Rafe, whose all too brief acquaintance with being a father has not prepared him for assuaging his daughter’s concerns, nor knowing how to mend her sorrowful heart. But in the end, Anna’s Grandmama, Lady Wingate, reprimands and then consoles Anna. And surprisingly, it is Anna’s Grandpapa, Lord Charles Wingate, who provides the comic relief needed to puncture the tense situation–by his hunger overruling cancelling their dinner party this evening. So Lord Wingate and Lord Rafe head to their guests in the main sitting room to inform them of a slight delay in dinner, even as Lady Wingate and Lady Katharine take Anna upstairs to change into a suitable gown for the dinner party the Wingate’s are hosting for Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine to further celebrate their wedding with close family and friends..
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 9: Anna Meets the Rest of Her Papa’s Family and Their Friends
After entering what will become Anna’s bed chamber–Anna’s Aunt Louisa’s girlhood bed chamber–the Ladies Leonora and Katharine instantly set upon the closet to find a suitable dress for Anna wear at this evening’s dinner party. Anna stands in the middle of the charmingly feminine pink bed chamber done in the French style [(2) right], Anna smiles as she looks around the bed chamber. She has never seen such a beautiful room.
The window valance drapes are a deep pink, trimmed in gold–the fabrics and design also found on the bed canopy, but in pink velvet for warmth on cold winter nights. And the bed linens are also a pale pink silk trimmed in gold with ornately embroidered flowers trimming the corners with a lovely embroidered pale green vine flowing between the corner flowers and connecting them. The softly cushioned chairs on either side of the hearth are embroidered with delicate pink flowers and bees–but you have to look closely to see them.
Having a French design for the bed chamber is perhaps not very patriotic of the Wingate family, since Britain is so often at war with France. But it is a room that was designed for a little girl–the then little Lady Louisa. And little girls are above politics.
Finding what they are looking for, Lady Wingate holds up in front of Anna a light blue silk frock with a white linen collar scarf and a pretty blue ribbon sash in front–in a rather similar style gown to what Lady Wingate is wearing [(3) right].
Anna: “Oh!” Anna sighs in delight–for though her Grandmama has given her many lovely clothes to wear, she has never had anything to equal the blue silk gown before her. “For me?” She asks incredulously.
Seeing Anna’s traveling trunk in the corner of the room, Lady Wingate is certain that her servants have seen to the other amenities one expects in a bedchamber.
Lady Wingate: “Yes, Anna Dear.” She smiles and touches her granddaughter’s cheek. “Now go behind the screen and wash the traveling dust off of you before you put on your new gown.” She waves at the screen in one corner of the room.
Anna looks over to the standing screen, uncertain what is expected of her. Her home with her mother was much more modest. They shared a bed chamber and they washed in the kitchen sitting room.
Then Lady Katharine [(4) right] helps Anna out of her traveling dress. As Anna stands in her fine linen petticoats and chemise–also gifts from her Grandmama–Lady Katharine pours warm water into a basin, dips a linen wash cloth in the warm water and dabs at Anna’s face, wiping away the streaks of tears.
Anna: Anna looks at this kind lady who is not very much older than herself. “You are married to my … to Lord Rafe?” She asks hesitantly.
Lady Katharine: “Yes Anna Dear, your Papa and I were married yesterday.” She smiles as she continues washing the child. Though thinking that she and her husband have yet to constitute their marriage.
Anna: “Do you like him?” Anna asks worriedly. Most of the men that Anna has known seem to have tempers or are grumpy like her uncle miller.
Lady Katharine: “In truth, I do not know your Papa very well. I only met Lord Rafe two weeks ago. Our marriage was arranged quite quickly by our parents–at his urging.” She smiles winsomely. “But I find that my husband is very kind and caring and patient. I believe that you will like him–as do I.”
Anna: Anna nods her head as she looks away from her. “Will he … will he like me?” She bites her lower lip nervously–she worries especially due to her unladylike display earlier when she lashed out at him in anger about the circumstances of her birth.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine gently places her hand on Anna’s cheek and guides her to look at her. “Anna Dear, of course your Papa will like you. And he will love you, too. And I will love you.” Lady Katharine places a gentle kiss upon Anna’s forehead.
Anna: Feeling somewhat calmed by this, Anna asks shyly. “What … what do I call you?”
Lady Katharine: She puts her index finger to her chin to ponder that question with an amused expression on her face. “Well, we are more like sisters in age. I am only a little bit older than you–eighteen years to your eleven years.” She wraps her arm around Anna’s shoulder and gives her a hug. “So would you like to call me Katharine?” Anna nods. “And maybe when we are just by ourselves, you might call me Kathy–that is what my family calls me in private. But Rafe’s family does not know that.” She smiles conspiratorially.
Anna: “Alright, … Kathy.” Anna grins at having a secret with this nice lady married to her new Papa.
Lady Wingate: Calling to them from the other side of the dressing screen. “How are you coming along, my dears?”
Lady Katharine: She pops her head out from behind the screen and smiles. “We are almost done.”
Lady Katharine holds the light blue silk dress over Anna’s head and helps her into the dress. Once buttons are fastened and sashes tied, they both walk out from behind the dressing screen to Lady Wingate.
Lady Wingate: Upon seeing the vision of her pretty little granddaughter Anna [(5) right], Lady Wingate holds one hand to her heart and the other out for Anna who comes to her. “Anna dear, you are the picture of your Aunt Louisa as a girl. Come, let us join our family and friends for dinner.” Lady Wingate smiles encouragingly at her granddaughter. Anna nods shyly, then looks at Lady Katharine, who smiles at her as well.
Meanwhile, Lord Wingate and Lord Rafe enter the parlor to inform their guests of their dinner delay–and their family news. It is a small and intimate group of guests since they had already hosted an elaborate wedding just yesterday. Lord Rafe’s sister Lady Louisa and her husband Sir John Throckmorton are standing chatting with their local vicar and his wife, Vicar and Mrs. Soames. And Lord Rafe’s 3 years older best friend and his wife, Sir Collin and Lady Frances MacGregor and their teenage son Stuart are admiring a ceramic vase with delicately painted floral ornamentation on it. The guests turn to the parlor door and their hosts when the door opens.
Lord Wingate: “Welcome to our dinner party, everyone. I am sorry that I was not here to greet you earlier. I trust that Lady Louisa and Sir John made our apologies.” He nods toward his daughter and her husband–who nod back to them in agreement.
Sir Collin: “Of course, Lord Wingate.” Sir Collin [(6) right] strides over to his friend, Lord Rafe. “Rafe! It is good to see you again, my friend. You have not lost your bride already, have you?” He jests wryly.
Lord Rafe: Remembering last night when he had briefly lost his bride, Lord Rafe smiles sheepishly and shakes his head no. “No Collin, old man. She will be down directly.” He shakes his friend’s hand warmly.
Sir Collin: Then Sir Collin leans in and asks sotto voce with a bemusedly raised eyebrow–for it was long feared that no lady would capture Lord Rafe’s heart into matrimony. “And how do you like being a husband?”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe says sotto voce back to his old friend. “I feel very blessed.”
Of course, Lord Rafe is thinking about his sweet wife taking the news of him having fathered a child out of wedlock with grace and poise. Their marital intimacies are yet to come. But with this new development of him having an illegitimate daughter, Lord Rafe wonders how willing his wife might be tonight for his loving attentions–despite the lovely way she responded to him this afternoon before dinner. And in truth, the revelation that he has a daughter by his first love, Fanny, who has died recently has shaken Lord Rafe to his core.
Lord Wingate: “Lady Katharine is a welcome addition to our family.” Lord Rafe’s Papa smiles broadly.
And though Lord Wingate does not intend to give offense, Lord Rafe takes his Papa’s statement as a slight criticism of his daughter, Anna–her being an unexpected, if not an unwelcome addition to the family. However, Lord Rafe adopts a pleasant smile to hide the inner turmoil that he is experiencing.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe decides to change the subject. So to both his friend Sir Collin and his wife Lady Frances he says pointing to their son. “I see that Stuart has grown quite tall. I had not noticed it yesterday at the wedding.”
Stuart blushes and nods at his god father, Lord Rafe.
Lady Frances: “Now Rafe, bridegrooms may be excused for only focusing on their lovely brides. And Lady Katharine was very beautiful.” She says sincerely as Lord Rafe kisses her hand.
Lord Rafe: “Thank you, My Lady Frances.” He nods. “My Lady Katharine looked exquisite as a bride.” He smiles.
Lady Louisa: Walking over to Lord Wingate, she asks him. “Papa? Why is mother not with you? Did the children need something?” She turns to her husband. “John, perhaps I should go to the nursery to check them?” She frets. Though Lady Louisa is an aristocrat–and they have nurses for the children’s basic needs and when their parents must be away from them–she is still a doting and loving mother.
Lord Wingate: “Louisa my dear, your Mama will be along shortly. She is attending to another matter.” Then he looks pointedly over at his son. “Rafe, perhaps you should tell our guests your news now, so that any surprise on their part is contained when the ladies arrive.” He suggests pointedly.
Lord Rafe: “Hhhh! Yes, you are right, Papa.” He sighs. Then he presses forward as he looks around the room at everyone. “It seems that I am twice blessed. I have my lovely Lady Katharine as my wife. And today, I …” He falters. Does he say found, discovered, met? “I was delighted to learn that I am the father of a young girl whose mother has sadly just recently passed away.” He states his relationship to his daughter a tad awkwardly. “Since the child, Anna, is still grieving the loss of her mother last week, I know that you will join me in treating her with compassion and understanding. She is only eleven years old.” He winces. As yet, Lord Rafe has not referred to her in company as his daughter.
Lady Louisa: She looks between her brother and then her father. “Papa? Is this true? Rafe has fathered a child?”
Lady Louisa is quite stunned and shocked as she gazes at her elder brother. Lord Rafe meets his sister’s gaze and hopes for her understanding.
Lord Wingate: “Yes Louisa. The details are not important now. Our hope is to make little Anna feel welcome and loved. Your Mama and Katharine are helping her change out of her traveling clothes and into one of your old party dresses.” He says to smooth away any ruffled feathers now, before Anna arrives in Lady Louisa’s old gown.
Sir Collin: Clapping his friend on the back, he exclaims. “Rafe! You rogue! You a father–of an eleven year old? And you have kept it from me all this time?”
Lord Rafe: All eyes are upon Lord Rafe as he turns to his friend. “I have only just learned of her existence this night. But I am told that Mama has been Grandmama to her for five years.” He nods wincingly. “And now my having met her, Miss Anna Wingate is a lovely young lady, whom I look forward to getting to know and to love as my daughter.” He states emphatically.
Lord Wingate: “As I said, details are not important. Anna is Rafe’s daughter, Louisa’s and John’s Niece, their children’s cousin, and our granddaughter.” The distinguished Lord Wingate [(7) right] states pointedly for all concerned. Lord Wingate is a Grandpapa first, and an aristocrat second in his mind. The footman opens the parlor door to the hallway. “Ah! Here they are now.” He gestures toward the door.
In the open parlor doorway stands Lady Wingate holding the hand of her slightly trembling granddaughter Anna, whose other hand is held by Anna’s Papa’s wife Lady Katharine. Anna looks about the room a bit fearfully, wondering who knows about her parentage and the circumstances of her birth. Anna’s darting eyes as she looks about the room, slightly betray her fear of being shunned for what she is–a child born on the wrong side of the blanket. Anna is also fearful of saying or doing the wrong thing that might displease or embarrass her Grandmama. But her Grandmama and Lady Katharine gently propel Anna forward into the room with them as they walk forward. They are not ashamed of Anna and they are determined to help relieve Anna of any shame she might feel regarding the circumstances of her birth.
Lord Wingate: He strides over to the parlor door and he warmly greets each of them with cheek kisses. “Leonora, Anna, Katharine.” They smile at him–even Anna gives her new Grandpapa a small smile.
However Lord Rafe stands back, looking plaintively at his wife Lady Katharine–wondering how Anna is doing. Lady Katharine smiles and nods at her husband, Lord Rafe, steps forward to them.
Lady Katharine: Putting her arm protectively around Anna’s waist, then kissing Anna’s temple, Lady Katharine smiles at her husband. “Anna dear, let your Papa, Lord Rafe, and I introduce you to our friends and family.”
All eyes in the room are on Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine, and Anna. With a small encouraging smile, Lord Rafe [(8) right] holds out his hand to Anna. Slowly, Anna extends her hand to him and he clasps her hand in his.
Lord Rafe: “Come with me, Anna Dear.” He says in a familiar and in a familial way. They walk over to his sister and her husband. “Louisa, John, this is my daughter, your niece Anna Wingate.” He nods at them, using Anna’s new last name–though her use of his name is not entirely legal at the moment, Lord Rafe will attend to the technicalities. “Anna Dear, this is my younger sister Lady Louisa and her husband Sir John Throckmorton.” Then Lord Rafe smiles encouragingly at his daughter. Anna curtsies and bows her head as she has been taught to do.
Lady Louisa: Lady Louisa smiles and steps forward. She gives Anna a gentle hug and kisses her cheek. “Welcome Anna dear. I am your Aunt Louisa and this is your Uncle John. We have two children whom you will meet tomorrow–they are five year old Henry and three year old Charlotte.”
Sir John: “Your cousins are a handful, Anna. So you are forewarned.” He smiles broadly.
Anna nods with a small smile. As yet, Anna has not opened her mouth to saying anything to anyone in the room. She is still quite overwhelmed with her new reality–and her new family.
Lady Katharine: “And Vicar and Mrs. Soames, this is Miss Anna Wingate, Rafe’s daughter.” Lady Katharine places her arm encouragingly around Anna’s waist again. Lady Katharine wanted to add and my daughter–as a means of showing solidarity. But Lady Katharine was worried that Anna might take offense at the gesture since her Mama has died so recently. Lady Katharine knows that she cannot replace Anna’s mother, but she hopes to be a kindly mothering influence for her.
Anna nods her head and curtsies to the Vicar and his wife.
Vicar Soames: The Vicar and his wife nod their heads politely. “Miss Wingate.” It would not do for the Vicar to openly disdain the illegitimate granddaughter of his patron, Lord Wingate. For that matter, Vicar Soames will not voice his disdain privately, either. His keen sense of self-preservation will cause him to behave compassionately toward young Anna–even if his responsibilities as shepherd to his flock does not induce him.
And thus the most uncertain introduction of Anna this evening–to the Vicar and his wife–has been accomplished with poise and grace. The unfortunate circumstances of Miss Anna’s birth are handled with so much more finesse when one is titled and a wealthy landowner, such as Lord Charles Wingate and his son Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “Anna Dear.” He touches her elbow guides her over to his friend and his family. “Anna, may I introduce my old friend Sir Collin MacGregor and his wife Lady Frances and their son Stuart?”
Sir Collin: “It is right good to meet you, my dear.” He smiles cordially. Anna nods and curtsies again.
Lady Frances: She kisses Anna’s cheek. “Anna Dear, you are so sweet. I wish I had a daughter. However, we have a very nice son. This is Stuart.”
Stuart: Fourteen years old and gawky–Stuart having just had another growth spurt to the chagrin of his parents and their tailor who keeps having to let out his jacket sleeves and his trouser hems–Stuart [(9) right] greets Anna shyly but warmly and without artifice as he shakes her hand. “How do you do, Miss Anna. I did not know that Uncle Rafe had a daughter. I am very pleased to meet you.” He smiles at her, thinking that she looks very pretty in light blue–and he especially likes her dark blond ringlets on either side of her face. Stuart is only just now to the point of being interested in girls–or young ladies. And Miss Anna is the first girl whom he thinks is pretty.
Anna: “Uncle?” She looks at Stuart questioningly and then at Lord Rafe.
Patrick: “Well, honorary uncle. He is my god father.” He grins sheepishly. “You see my Papa and your Papa were at school together. So they have known each other since they were our ages.” Then he pauses. “How old are you? If I may ask?” He back peddles for having asked such an impertinent question as a lady’s age.
Anna: Glad to have someone near her own age to talk to, rather than being completely surrounded by adults, she opens up a bit with Stuart. “I am eleven.”
Stuart: “I am just fourteen.” Then he adds shyly. “Perhaps we will also become lifelong friends.” He smiles hopefully.
Butler Holmes: “My Lords and Ladies, dinner is served.” He says momentously at the parlor doorway.
Lord Rafe: “Shall I escort my two ladies into dinner?” He smiles while offering each of them an arm.
Katharine: She takes her husband’s arm. “Yes, Rafe. Thank you.”
Anna: Following Lady Katharine’s lead, she lightly takes a hold of her Papa’s other arm. “Thank you.” She nods politely.
Everyone else files into the dining room two by two–except for Stuart who walks alone behind his parents while pouting a bit because he did not get a chance to ask to escort Miss Anna into dinner.
Dinner was mostly uneventful with everyone concentrating on their food–and not being able to talk with their mouths full. However, between courses, there is the usual small talk focusing on the wedding, gardens, travel, and the state of the roads. Everyone studiously avoids the topic of the newly revealed daughter, granddaughter, and niece, Anna–though they do include her in their conversations. Anna mostly nods and smiles politely. And she finds that she does not have much of an appetite after all after eating a few bites of food.
After dinner, the men stay in the dining room for their port and cigars while the ladies return to the large front parlor for their conversations. However the vicar and his wife take their leave of everyone since it is late–and they are the only dinner guests not staying at the manor, except for Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine who are staying at the hunting lodge. Both the Throckmorton and MacGregor families have been guests of the Wingates at Dearing Manor for the past week for Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine’s wedding. Still hovering between the world of men and being a child, Stuart elects to join the ladies, the better to chat with Miss Anna some more.
After pouring their drinks and waving the servant out of the room, the four men–Lord Rafe Wingate, his father Lord Charles Wingate, his brother-in-law Sir John Throckmorton, and his friend Sir Collin MacGregor–puff on their cigars. They are contemplating how to begin tonight’s more complicated conversation regarding Lord Rafe’s newly revealed daughter, Anna. Because, the men always discuss matters of the world big and small with frankness.
Sir Collin: Ever the one to get straight to the facts–and being the oldest friend Lord Rafe has–Sir Collin asks for details about Anna with his characteristic aplomb. “So Rafe, if Miss Anna is eleven, then you must have been very young when she was born–I dare say that you beat even me out of the gate on that one. Ha ha ha ha ha! My own dear wife giving birth to their son, Stuart, when we were both 17 years old in the first year of our marriage.”
Lord Rafe: “Quite!” He blushes, deciding not to relate too much information about Anna or her mother, Fanny, lest it become known among less intimate acquaintances than these. Aristocrats are nothing if not discreet–even amongst their most intimate confidantes.
Sir John: “Well Anna is lovely and it will be nice to have a cousin to help play with our children. Who knew little ones had so much energy? Ha ha ha!” He shakes his head amusingly.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, perhaps we will have a picnic with games on the lawn tomorrow–to welcome Anna.” He thinks out loud.
Lord Wingate: “That is a capital idea, Rafe!” Then he puts his hand on his son Rafe’s shoulder. “My son, I know this news about Anna has taken the wind out of you.” Lord Rafe nods ruefully. “But I am proud of the way that you have stepped forward to claim her as your daughter.”
Lord Rafe: “Thank you, Papa. But I could not do otherwise. She is my daughter.” He nods resolutely. His mind has grasped this concept of him now being a father with a daughter, but his heart still needs to catch up to it so that he can be the kind of loving father that he wants to be–and the father who Anna deserves.
Lord Wingate: “And may I also say that you have chosen most wisely in Lady Katharine as your wife. She has taken this news with grace and poise as a new bride–and for one so young herself.” He smiles, then winks at his son.
Lord Rafe: “I am very blessed, Papa. Kate is my angel.” He smiles sweetly.
The other three men in the room exchange knowing glances at each other and then at the new bridegroom, Lord Rafe.
Sir Collin: Sir Collin nudges his old friend, Lord Rafe, in the elbow good naturedly. “Well? How was the wedding night, old man? Tears and shy modesty? Or temptress divine?”
The three men all laugh, “Ha ha ha ha!” Lord Rafe merely winces.
Lord Rafe: “Gentleman! I am not going to give you details about my wedding night.” He good naturedly protests–especially since it has yet to happen, he thinks. They pout at not receiving even the smallest detail from Lord Rafe. So Lord Rafe relents–but only slightly. “Let me just say that I look forward to a long, happy, and loving marriage.” Lord Rafe smiles with a small studied smirk for their benefit that he hopes will satisfy their curiosity.
Sir Collin: “Oh ho! The rake is reformed!” Sir Collin claps Lord Rafe on the back while his father and brother-in-law nod their heads knowingly at Lord Rafe.
Lord Wingate: “I look forward to more grandchildren, Rafe–especially a grandson and heir.” He smiles as he also claps his son’s back. “Now! Shall we join the ladies after we finish our cigars?”
The men all nod and they puff away. [(10)]
Meanwhile in the large parlor earlier, the ladies–Lady Louisa Throckmorton, Lady Katharine Wingate, Lady Leonora Wingate, and Lady Frances MacGregor–are playing cards with a game of Whist [(11)], whilst the children–Stuart and Anna–sit off to their side sitting on the sette and chatting.
Lady Katharine: She leans back in her chair and asks. “Stuart, how long might we enjoy your family’s company? I am so looking forward to getting to know all of you better as your Uncle Rafe’s old friends.” She smiles sincerely. Of course, she could have asked his Mama, Lady Frances, sitting to her right, but Lady Katharine wants to involve the younger people in their conversation. She also smiles caringly at little Anna–who smiles back at her.
Stuart: “Only a few days, Lady Katharine. Then we return home this weekend. Papa is a magistrate and he has legal matters to attend to.” He smiles politely, pleased to be asked a direct question by a grownup.
Although Lady Katharine Wingate is only four years older than Stuart MacGregor, she is a married lady now and thus has the distinction of not being a child. However her sensibilities might be much nearer to her youth than to her blossoming womanhood.
Lady Wingate: “Well, it is pleasant that your Papa, Sir Collin, was able to get away for a few days for the wedding. Especially since Lord Rafe counts your Papa as his oldest and dearest friend.” Stuart nods and smiles at her. “Anna dear, please let me know if you require anything and I will ring for it.” Anna’s Grandmama asks solicitously.
Anna: “Thank you Grandmama. I am fine.” She smiles at her Grandmama, who smiles and nods back at her.
The ladies return to their card game. Stuart and Anna look at each other shyly. There is a silence between them as they each try to think of something to say. It is awkward because they do not know each other. And Stuart is just fourteen years old–at that very awkward age for young men. He is only three years older than she, but he is much taller–Stuart having had an initial growth spurt and Anna being petite. The Wingate’s Irish Setter dog, Kelly, sits next to Anna, who pets the dog absentmindedly.
Stuart: Also petting the dog Kelly, he says hesitantly. “Kelly is such a nice dog. She does not jump up on people at all.” He nods his head enthusiastically. Then Kelly licks Stuart’s hand.
Anna: “She is a nice doggie.” Anna smiles as she sighs. Then her face brightens with a memory. “I had a dog when I was little, a terrier we named Rascal. He was fun to play with and small so that he could sleep in our bed. But he kept getting into the flour bins at the mill and my Uncle Miller made us give him away.” She pouts and purses her lips thinking about her grumpy uncle–who is not really her uncle anymore. But she regroups. “Do you have a dog, Stuart?”
This is the first time that Anna has said Stuart’s name, and he likes the musical way it sounds with her girlish high voice. He blushes.
Stuart: “No, Miss Anna.” He smiles and shrugs his shoulders. Anna blushes for his politeness to her in his form of address. “My Mama favors cats.” He scrunches up his nose at the thought of cats.
Anna: “Ooh! I like kittens, too.” She brightens. “Did you bring your cats with you?” She asks eagerly as she continues to pet Kelly.
Stuart: “Ha ha ha! No, but not for their not lack of trying.”
Anna: “What do you mean?” She tilts her head quizzically.
Stuart: “Ceres tried to jump into Mama’s trunk.” He says with his eyes wide with glee.
Anna: “Ha ha ha! That is funny.”
Stuart: “Ceres is named after a Roman Goddess.” [(12)] He states knowingly, preening a little for knowing the history of their cat’s name.
Anna: “I know, of farming.” She perks up her little eye brow feeling a sense of pride about her knowledge of such things.
Stuart: He looks at her in awe. “You know about mythology?”
Anna: “Yes, a little.” She nods her head once. “The nuns of my school at St. Mary’s Convent taught us.” She says matter of factly.
Stuart: “You go to school? Sleep away like me? I’m at Eton.” He says pridefully.
Anna: “No, I go to school in the daytime.” Her brow furrows. “But if I am now to live with Grandmama here, and the convent is so far away, I do not know.” She begins to worry if her Grandmama will have her sleep at the convent away from her family, like some of her classmates do. “Stuart, will you please excuse me a moment?” She asks politely as she stands.
Stuart: He stands up and bows. “Of course.”
Anna: Anna walks over to her Grandmama who is sitting playing cards. Anna hesitates and sighs. “Hhhh!” Then she gently taps her Grandmama on her shoulder. “Grandmama?”
Lady Wingate: Turning her head back to Anna, she asks with a smile. “Is there something you need, Anna child?” Anna is silent but she bites her lower lip as she looks at her Grandmama tearfully. Seeing her granddaughter’s distress, Lady Wingate pulls Anna into an embrace and asks her. “Now Anna Sweetheart, what is troubling you?”
Anna: Anna leans into her Grandmama, laying her head on her Grandmama’s shoulder and whispers worriedly. “I have only just come to live with you, Grandmama. But my convent school is far away now. Will I have to live there and be away from you?” Anna’s voice trembles, waiting to hear what her Grandmama will say. Anna has lost her mother and her emotions cannot bear being away from her Grandmama at this time.
Lady Wingate: “Anna, Sweetheart.” She caresses her face and kisses her cheek. “I have not thought about your schooling. But we will figure something out. I want you to stay here with me, my dear. Maybe we will arrange a governess for you as we did for your Aunt Louisa.” Lady Wingate gazes lovingly into her granddaughter’s tearful eyes as she soothingly rubs her back.
Anna: “Oh thank you, Grandmama!” Anna gushes gratefully as she gives her Grandmama a hug and kiss on her cheek. “I want to stay with you.”
Everyone at the table smiles at this tender scene. Stuart walks slowly toward the gathering of ladies–not to eavesdrop, but to be included.
Lady Katharine: Taking Anna’s hand in hers, she suggests. “And I hope that someday soon you will also visit your Papa, Lord Rafe, and I in our home. We will be going to London in a few days to see my family. But when we return we can discuss it more.” Lady Katharine caringly smiles at Anna and gently squeezes her hand.
Anna: Anna smiles, looking between her Grandmama and Kathy, her Papa’s wife. “Thank you Katharine. I would like that, too.” Anna says politely–not using Kathy since they are not in private–but she smiles sincerely.
With a shy smile, Stuart hovers a bit behind Anna.
Lady Louisa: “Anna dear, I think Stuart wants to take you away from us.” She smiles knowingly about the shy young man.
Lady Frances: Looking up at her son. His politeness is well known to her, but his being this solicitous of a girl is not–and she smiles. “Is that your wish, Stuart?”
Stuart: With all eyes upon him–even Anna’s eyes as she turns to smile at him–he stammers. “Yes, Mama … if that is Miss Anna’s wish.” He looks at her earnestly as he holds out his hand to her.
Anna looks to her Grandmama for guidance as to whether she should take Stuart’s hand. Her Grandmama nods with a smile and releases her from her embrace.
Anna: “Yes, thank you.” She smiles and takes his hand as they walk back to the sette where Kelly the dog is sitting nearby.
Anna and Stuart sit on the sette again. Though Stuart releases Anna’s hand from his, the memory of how small and delicate her fingers were lingers in his mind. Stuart does not even have any girl cousins, and he has not held a girl’s hand before. So Stuart holding Anna’s hand–however briefly–was a new experience for him. In truth, Stuart is quite smitten with Miss Anna–in a sweet young man just leaving childhood way.
Anna being just eleven–and thinking of Stuart only as a boy–she is glad that Stuart did not crush her hand as some boys like to do as a mischief. Anna thinks that Stuart is quite alright–for being a boy. But then, Stuart has been taught more manners than some of the boys in the village where Anna had lived with her Mama. Yes, Anna thinks that she likes Stuart–in a sweet still a child way.
They pet the dog for a few moments as they ponder what to say to each other next.
Anna: Then Anna asks curiously about Stuart’s father. “I did not know that your father is a Magistrate. Does he like being a Magistrate?” Anna has heard the word before when her Mama told her of a local dispute that needing settling–and the magistrate was the one who settled it.
Stuart: He shrugs his shoulders. “I think so, Miss Anna. But he has very long days hearing cases during the weeks that he holds court. So we do not get to see him much at those times. But then, I am in school myself at Eton during most of the year.” He says pridefully again, hoping to impress her. “So, I would not see him anyway.”
Anna: “Ah.” She nods in acknowledgement. “That must be hard to be away from your family. I am glad that my Grandmama will keep me with her. I have never been away from family before…” Then she saddens. “… except these last few days since my Mama died, before I came here.”
Anna’s eyes tear up remembering the loss of her Mama that is never far from her thoughts. Anna has felt so alone in the five days since her Mama’s death, before she found her Grandmama and her other family here. Little Anna’s tears flow again. She has been stoic most of the evening–to please her Grandmama. But even a well brought up eleven year old can be excused for feeling overwhelmed with sadness–especially when the adults around her are also feeling overwhelmed. And Anna’s tears fall on her cheeks as she quietly weeps.
Since Anna and Stuart are sitting facing away from the ladies–and slightly hidden by the high back of the sette–only Stuart is aware of Anna’s distress. Pulling a clean handkerchief out of his coat pocket–and he was glad that his Mama suggested that he replace it tonight–Stuart hands it to Anna, who takes it from him gratefully and dabs at her tears. Then he lightly puts his arm around her shoulders and gathers her to him as she has her little cry out.
Stuart: “I am so sorry for your loss, Anna. I cannot imagine your pain. But I know how much I love my Mama and Papa–and what a wrench it would be for me if something happened to them.” He rests his cheek on the top of her head as he soothingly rubs her back. “There there, little one. You are among your family and friends who love and care for you. We will help you get through this.” Stuart consoles Anna with a compassion seemingly beyond his fourteen years–for children [(13)] of this era are expected to assume a mature disposition in their teen years and considered to be on the cusp of adulthood.
Lady Katharine’s hearing being more acute than Lady Leonora Wingate’s, she notices Anna’s crying. Lady Katharine quietly excuses herself from the card game for a moment and walks over to the children–where Stuart is comforting Anna on the sette. Lady Katharine sits down next to Anna and also rubs her back.
Lady Katharine: “Anna Dear, is there anything I can do for you?” She asks caringly.
Anna turns to look at Katharine, and in so doing sits up a bit out of Stuart’s embrace. Stuart smiles knowingly and he nods to Lady Katharine, who now embraces Anna.
Anna: “I am remembering my Mama.” She sniffles.
Lady Katharine: “Of course you are.” Lady Katharine takes the handkerchief in Anna’s hands and brings it to Anna’s nose. “Blow.” Anna blows her nose, creating a most unladylike honking noise.
Stuart: “Ha ha ha ha ha! I did not realize that young ladies also made sounds like that.” He squeezes Anna’s hand as he smiles warmly at her.
Anna: Biting her lower lip, Anna smiles sheepishly at Stuart and then at Katharine. “It is a failing, I know. But I have not been able to rectify it.”
Lady Katharine: Kissing Anna’s cheek, she caresses her chin with her finger. “May I tell you a secret, Anna?” Her eyes twinkle. “I sound even louder than you when I blow my nose.” She grins conspiratorially.
Anna: “You do?” She asks in astonishment. “I did not think that ladies of refinement made such noises.”
Lady Katharine: “Anna dear, I am afraid that noses are disrespecters of what class of person they belong to when it comes to the sounds they emit.”
Stuart: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He slaps his knee and rocks his head back in laughter.
And his laughter is infectious as the ladies also laugh.
Anna and Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” They giggle, all traces of Anna’s melancholy gently eased away by their caring–for now.
The parlor door opens and the men file in–Lord Charles Wingate, his son Lord Rafe Wingate, Sir John Throckmorton, and Sir Collin MacGregor. The men go to their wives’ sides. And seeing the giggling group over at the sette, Lord Rafe instantly goes to his wife’s and daughter’s sides.
Lord Rafe: “What is this? Having fun without me? This will not do.” He shakes his head in mock consternation with an impish grin on his face.
Stuart: Stuart stands out of courtesy. “Uncle!” They clasp hands in a friendly hand shake. “Lady Katharine was just telling us about her nose noises.”
Lady Katharine: Blushing to seem so unladylike, she shushes him in mock dismay . “Fie, Stuart! You are telling tales on me.” She purses her lips cutely as she juts out her chin. [(14) fie]
Stuart: “I am abjectly sorry, Lady Katharine.” He bows to her in regret. But while still being bent over, he turns his head toward Anna and winks.
Lord Rafe: “I saw that wink, Stuie.” He intones humorously.
Anna: She looks from her father then at Stuart questioningly about her father’s nickname for him. “Stuie?”
Stuart: Blushing, he whines in embarrassment. “Uncle Rafe, you only called me Stuie when I was little–and in the nursery.”
Lord Rafe: “Well Stuart, I called you Stuie until you were at least Anna’s age of eleven. Are you telling the ladies here that you were still in the nursery then?” He mock challenges his godchild. Then Lord Rafe erupts in laughter. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”
Stuart: “Uncle Rafe.” Stuart pouts. Stuart is trying so hard to seem like a young man for Anna’s benefit.
Sir Collin: Ambling over to see what the commotion is about. “Well now, everyone seems to be in a jovial mood. Rafe, have you told them about the picnic tomorrow in Miss Anna’s honor? It is your Papa’s idea, my dear.”
Anna: Wide eyed, Anna looks up her father, Lord Rafe. “A picnic? For me?”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe smiles at Anna’s interest. “Yes Anna. I thought that you might enjoy it.” Then he clasps Anna’s hand in his. “And my discovering that I have a daughter is something worth celebrating.” He smiles and lifts Anna’s hand to his lips and kisses it.
Anna: “Thank you,… Lord Rafe.” She smiles eagerly.
But Anna does not yet feel comfortable in calling him Papa–which everyone notices. Lord Rafe smiles agreeably, but inside he is disappointed at Anna’s continuing formality with him. But he realizes that Anna’s parent he may be, but he will have to earn the right to be her Papa. He must give her time and patience.
Lady Katharine: Walking up to her husband and rubbing his arm, she smiles encouragingly. “Oh, Rafe! A picnic is a splendid idea!”
The rest of the adults gather around them. Then before anyone else gets there before him, Stuart asks.
Stuart: “Miss Anna, may I be so bold as to escort you to the picnic tomorrow?”
The adults’ eyebrows raise in amusement–not the least of which Stuart’s Papa Sir Collin chuckles.
Sir Collin: Slapping his son gently on his back, he praises him. “Ha ha ha! Well done, my boy.”
Stuart: Without taking his eyes off of Anna, he says. “Thank you, Papa. Miss Anna?” He asks for an answer.
Anna looks at Stuart, then at her Grandmama, then at her father Lord Rafe, and then at Lady Katharine. Lady Katharine smiles and nods at Anna in encouragement.
Anna: “Thank you, Stuart. I shall be pleased to accompany you.” Anna says warmly. Stuart grins broadly.
The gathering goes on to chat about the food and activities they will have at the picnic and then relating same to the servants before the party breaks up for the night. A footman also takes Kelly outside for her pre bed walk.
Though the others are staying at Dearing Manor, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are staying at the Hunting Lodge whilst they are still on their wedding trip. So after Lady Louisa and Sir John head upstairs to check on their children before retiring to bed–and Sir Collin and Lady Frances and their son Stuart also say their good nights and head upstairs as well–Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine say good night to Anna only in the presence of his parents in the foyer.
Lady Katharine: “Good night, Anna. I am glad that you are here. We can both be new Wingate family members together.” Lady Katharine suggests in solidarity. Then Lady Katharine embraces Anna and kisses her cheek. “We will see you on the morrow.”
Anna: “Good night Katharine. I am glad to be here.” She smiles at Lady Katharine and then at her Grandmama, Lady Wingate. Anna still sorrowfully misses her Mama. But she also knows that not every orphaned child is welcomed warmly into someone else’s home and family as she has been this night. So Anna is grateful.
Lady Katharine steps back from Anna. It is now Lord Rafe’s turn to bid his daughter good night–and he is all nerves again. Despite his jovial bravado earlier, Lord Rafe is still just a man trying to find his way to being a good father to his child, Anna.
Lord Rafe: He takes both of his daughter’s hands in his. “Anna, I know that we have only just met today. But I look forward to getting to know you and to have you in my life–and I be in your life. I pledge to you now before my family here, before God, and in loving memory of your Mother Fanny, that I will protect you, nurture you, and love you as is your right as my child.” He smiles hopefully at her, and she smiles shyly back at him and nods her head, slightly tearing up at his mention of her mother. And he hesitantly steps back from her and stands at his wife’s side.
Lady Katharine: She nudges her husband, Lord Rafe. “Oh, go on. You know that you want to hug your daughter good night, too.”
Lord Rafe: Looking sheepishly hopefully back at Anna, he kneels down and asks with open arms. “May I hug you good night, Anna?”
Everyone’s breathing stills, waiting to see what will happen. Anna haltingly walks three steps toward her father. She leans into him and lightly hugs him around his shoulders.
Anna: “Good night.” Though Anna still does not call him Papa, she finds that she feels safe with her father Lord Rafe and her new family. Then she rests her head on her father’s shoulder.
Lord Rafe brings his arms around Anna in a big bear hug and rocks her in his arms as he soothingly strokes her back and kisses her head as his parents and his wife tear up.
Lord Rafe: “My dearest girl. You are more precious to me than you know. I loved your Mama, Fanny, and she loved me. You are the living proof of our love. Always remember that, Anna–you were born in love.” He says thinking about Anna’s first reaction to her being born out of wedlock. Then he kisses her cheek and stands her upright again, but still keeps her in his embrace.
Anna: Anna pulls back from her father, Lord Rafe, and looks at him with tears in her eyes. She puts a small hand to his face as she gazes deeply into blue eyes so similar in shape to her own hazel eyes. “Thank you … Papa.” She leans in and kisses her Papa’s other cheek.
Lord Rafe: He caresses her face and kisses her other cheek. “Good night, Anna.” He smiles lovingly at her.
Then Lord Rafe stands and his Mama, a tearfully happy Lady Wingate, Anna’s Grandmama, gently takes Anna’s hand out of his.
Lady Wingate: “Good night, Rafe and Katharine.”
Lord Rafe: “Good night Mama and Papa.” Lady Katharine also nods at them.
Lady Wingate: “Come Anna, it is time for bed.” Anna nods.
Lord Wingate: “Goodnight.” He waves at his son and daughter-in-law–who wave back and take their leave to head to the hunting lodge.
It has been a whirlwind of an evening. As the three of them wearily walk upstairs–Lord and Lady Wingate and their granddaughter Anna–their Irish Setter Kelly joins them, refreshed and emptied out from her evening walk. Lord Wingate says good night to Anna at her bedchamber door.
Lord Wingate: Kissing Anna’s forehead good night, he says. “Sleep well Anna dear. Come Kelly.” He tries to get Kelly to follow him to his bed chamber as usual, but Kelly is being obstinate tonight and does not budge.
Lady Wingate: “Charles, I think Kelly wants to stay with Anna tonight.” Then turning to Anna, she asks. “Would you like to have Kelly stay with you tonight?”
Anna: “Yes, thank you.” Then she says quietly, tearfully. “I have been lonely since Mama died. She and I would sleep in each others’ arms.”
Lady Wingate: “Oh, my dear.” She embraces her granddaughter soothingly. “Then you shall have Kelly with you.”
Lady Wingate helps Anna change into her linen nightgown–the servants having distributed Miss Anna’s clothes from her trunk into the dresser cabinet and hangers in the dressing room. Then she tucks her granddaughter into bed–with their dog Kelly lying on top of the covers next to Anna. Having the dog Kelly on the furniture is usually frowned upon by Lady Wingate–but for Anna, she will make an exception. The moon is bright tonight and shines through the sheer center drapes in Anna’s bed chamber, giving the room a not so dark and unfamiliar feel to it this night. After singing Anna a lullaby, Lady Wingate sits with Anna until her granddaughter falls asleep with her arms hugging Kelly. Then Lady Wingate quietly walks out of Anna’s room, leaving the door ajar slightly should the dog need to be let outside during the night by a servant.
To be continued with Chapter 10
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 screencap (cap)
2) Pretty pink girl’s bedroom done in a French style was found at
3) Image for Lady Leonora Wingate, Mama to Lord Rafe and GrandMama to his daughter Anna is a painting titled “Lady Violet Henderson” by John William Waterhouse that was found at
4) Lady Katharine in a 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
5) Anna Image is Emilie Francois as Margaret Dashwood in “Sense & Sensibility” (1995) vlcsnap35m50s209 Mar1613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap MaskClrBrtShrp.
6) Sir Collin MacGregor image is of Mark Strong as George Knightly in 1996’s Emma Mar2513 was found at http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/2/Open/Ernst%20Seibold/Jane%20Austen’s%20Emma/_derived_jpg_q90_250x250_m0/Emma%20Kate%20Beckinsale%20Mark%20Strong_809869.jpg?partner=allrovi.com
7) Lord Charles Wingate image (hi-res,shrp) is Alan Bates and was found at http://www.peoplequiz.com/images/bios/alan_bates.jpg-1290.jpg
8) Lord Rafe image (crp, brt, shrp, hi-res) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 1, pix 126, Mar2513 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-126.jpg
9) 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/041.jpg
10) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigar NB: Severe health risks regarding tobacco use only became widely known and researched in the 20th century. Cigar smoking in this story in no way endorses smoking–its mention is merely used within an historical context.
12) Historical information for the Goddess Ceres is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceres
14) Definition of the word fie is found at http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fie
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch.7-8 is: