“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 11-12: Breakfast with Grandmama; and Fanny’s Letters, April 5, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #391)
[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 young 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: Lord Rafe offered to annul his marriage to Lady Katharine out of his sense of honor–due to his now being found to have an illegitimate daughter who will complicate his life. At first, Lady Katharine thought that her husband was tired of her previous refusals to make love with him due to a baseless fear that her Mama had instilled in her. But she revealed to him that she loved him and no other–and he declared the same to her. They realized that their love can sustain them through any difficulties they and his daughter, Anna, might face–and they lovingly consummated their marriage that night, in the early morning hours, and then again after dawn. Lord Rafe was tender, loving, and patient with his wife when they first made love. And Lady Katharine was pleasantly and pleasurably surprised to find that being a passionately loved wife is a very good thing. So Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are now a well and truly marriedas a loving husband and wife.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 11: Breakfast with Grandmama
Though Anna slept somewhat fitfully her first night under her Grandmama’s roof, she was calmed by the presence of their Irish Setter dog Kelly lying next to her on her bed. Anna had been accustomed to sleeping in her mother’s arms before Fanny became ill and died. So being bereft of the physical closeness of her mother’s embrace since Fanny died has been a stark and lonely reminder of her new motherless reality. But in the morning before Anna awakens, Kelly slips out of Anna’s bed chamber and pads to her master’s temporary bed chamber–due to them having guests under their roof. Lord Wingate is awake and dressed as he greets Kelly. Then he walks with Kelly downstairs and out beyond the back garden as is their usual habit in the early morning hours. After 30 minutes of playing fetch with a stick, they return to the manor by way of the kitchen–acquiring a mug of tea and a pastry for Lord Wingate–and some bread crusts for Kelly. Lord Wingate and Kelly return upstairs and he deposits the dog in his still sleeping grandchildren’s nursery bed chamber before heading to his wife Lady Wingate’s bed chamber for their usual morning chat. Though when guests are not in residence, Lord Wingate merely turns his head on his pillow to wish his wife good morning.
The much loved family dog Kelly walks to and fro between five year old Henry’s and three year old Charlotte’s small beds in the nursery–watching over them as a mother would–whilst head Nanny Shaw sleeps nearby. Eventually, the toddlers arise and with help from their nannies put on their play clothes–since they will have a picnic this day, though they have not heard the reason why they are to have a picnic. But then, children like fun things like picnics whether or not there is a reason for them.
Little Charlotte [(2) right]–called Lottie by her family–is sweetly cherubic, made more so by her soft brown curls falling just above her shoulders and her small chubby fingers trying to hold onto some apples that their nanny had brought them to munch on. She is a darling little girl–the much loved daughter of Lord Rafe’s sister Lady Louisa and her husband Sir John Throckmorton. In truth, little Lottie is her family’s darling princess.
Lottie’s slightly older brother, but still young, Henry [(3) right] likes to dress up like the men in coats and hat. He can’t wait until they teach him how to ride a horse, then he can go hunting with his Papa–not something his Mama, Lady Louisa, is eager to have happen. Henry is particularly a favorite of his Grandpapa Lord Wingate–who dotes on him, perhaps because Henry inherited the reddish flame colored hair that is found only rarely in the Wingate family. And like his brash hair color, Henry is a force of nature to be reckoned with. Both of his parents expect great things of their son some day.
As the children walk with the family dog Kelly toward their parents’ bed chamber, Kelly pauses outside of Anna’s open door, then Kelly walks inside. Henry and Charlotte look at each other, wondering what the dog is about. But they follow Kelly into the still dimly lit room since the morning sun does not shine through its Western facing window.
Henry: “Kelly girl, where are you going?” Five year old Henry follows the dog over to the window.
Meanwhile, 3 year old Charlotte wanders over to the bed–and sees that it is not empty.
Charlotte: “Eek!” She squeals. “Henny, look!” She points to the bed. Her brother’s name Henry being a bit difficult to pronounce with the “r” sound, she fudges it a bit.
Henry goes to see what startled his sister. Now both he and Charlotte are standing at the side of the bed looking at someone in it.
Of course, this commotion wakes up Anna–who pulls the covers to her neck and she leans back from the edge of the bed where there are two small children and the dog Kelly peering at her. Anna [(4) right] looks at the children a bit startled to be awakened so abruptly. She surmises who they are since they were the only two children mentioned to her last night. And technically, at eleven years of age Anna is on the cusp of her young adulthood.
Henry: “Be quiet, Lottie. Mama and Papa will hear you.” Henry shushes her as he shakes his head as her older brother–the barely two years older enforcer.
Charlotte: “See? I saw.” Lottie points to the girl in the bed–Anna. Little Lottie’s vocabulary is still somewhat limited.
Anna smiles at her two cousins in wry bemusement.
Henry: Never one to beat about the bush, he asks. “Who are you?”
Lady Louisa: Having surmised her children went on a detour since they did not arrive at her bed chamber as she was informed by their nanny they would, Lady Louisa [(5) right] slips into her niece Anna’s bed chamber still wearing her nightgown under her dressing gown. At just twenty-four years old, Lady Louisa has been married six years and a mother for five of those years. Yet, she looks as fresh and lovely as the day she was married to her husband, Sir John. The loving and caring marriage and family that she enjoys aids in her youthful appearance. “Children, please mind your manners.” She gently admonishes them with a smile.
Henry: Henry stands up straight. “My apologies, Mama.” Then he glances at the girl in the bed again.
Charlotte: Charlotte runs over to her Mama who picks her up in her arms. “We found her.” Lottie proclaims proudly as she points to the girl in the bed for her Mama. it is not often that children come upon new things before their elders. So Lottie is excited to show her Mama her prize. Then Charlotte looks at the girl in the bed. “Who are you?” She parrots what she heard her brother say.
Lady Louisa: “Ha ha ha! Good morning, Anna Dear.” Lady Louisa deposits her daughter on the bed and then she leans in and kisses Anna’s forehead before sitting on the edge of the bed. “As your Uncle John told you last night, our children are a handful. Ha! Anna, these are my little waifs, Henry and Charlotte–we call her Lottie. Henry and Lottie, this is your cousin Anna–your Uncle Rafe’s daughter.”
Charlotte: “Ohhh!” She claps her hands gleefully together. Three year olds are always gleeful. Aren’t they?
Henry: “But Uncle Rafe does not have a daughter.” He asserts knowingly at five years old.
Lady Louisa: She rolls her eyes at her son. “Well, he does now.” Lady Louisa smiles at Anna again, and then she nudges her daughter Lottie and nods toward Anna–and Lottie crawls on the bed, moving over to sit next to Anna. “Did you sleep well, Anna Dear?”
Anna: “I did, Aunt Louisa.” She nods and smiles, finally finding her voice. “Thank you for asking.”
Charlotte: Liking the fact that this new cousin Anna is a girl, Lottie leans into her and asks her cutely coyly. “Play dollies wit me?”
Anna: “If you like.” Anna smiles warmly at her sweet little cousin.
Lady Louisa: Reaching out and caressing her daughter’s cheek lovingly, Lady Louisa softly suggests. “You will have time for dollies later, Lottie. Now we need to have our breakfast with Grandmama.” Lady Louisa turns to Anna. “Anna, it is our habit from my childhood. Just throw a robe or shawl over your night gown and we will all to go Grandmama’s bed chamber for breakfast. She has a small table in the bay window that we ladies and the children eat at.” Then she leans in conspiratorially to Anna. “The men fend for themselves at breakfast. Ha!”
Anna: “Ha!” She nods her head. “That sounds nice.” Anna and her Mama often enjoyed breakfasting together while still in their nightclothes. It is a bittersweet memory of the past for Anna. But Anna is glad to find that her new family seems very much like a family as Anna defines it–loving, kind, and caring–and not, fearsome unfeeling aristocrats that she would often hear the villagers and her grumpy Uncle Miller talk about.
So, a growing assemblage of Wingate grandchildren, an aunt, and a dog walk to the end of the family bed chambers wing corridor to Lady Leonora Wingate’s large and airy bed chamber.
In the meantime, Lady Leonora Wingate is just saying good bye to her husband Lord Charles Wingate [(6) right] for the morning.
Lady Wingate: “Charles, are we doing the right thing for Anna by announcing to society so quickly that she is ours?”
Lord Wingate: Lifting her hand to his lips, he gazes at his wife tenderly. “Leonora, my love. We can do no less. She is ours and we are hers.” Then he gets is dander up. “And if anyone insults Anna or tries to diminish her, I will have their guts for my garters!”
Lady Wingate: Caressing her husband’s cheek, she smiles at him warmly. “I knew that I married the right man so many years ago, My Dear. You have a heart of honor and compassion. It is why I love you still.” Lady Wingate [(7) right] looks wistfully at her husband.
Lord Wingate: Leaning in to his wife, he gently kisses her lips. “And I love you still, my darling.” There is a knock at the door.
Charlotte: “Gama, I’m hungry!” Lottie whines succinctly as she leans on the closed bed chamber door with both hands. Grandmama being too long a word for her small tongue to master, little Lottie has shortened it to Gama (gah-mah). “Ha ha ha!
Henry: “Me too! Ha ha ha!”
Anna: Getting into the spirit, she says. “Me, three! Ha ha ha!”
Lady Wingate: “Just a moment!” She calls out to her giggling grandchildren on the other side of her closed bed chamber door.
Lord Wingate: “Ah! Our little ones must have breakfast with their Grandmama.”
Lady Wingate: “Oh you! You would think that I never pay you any attention.” She smiles wryly.
Lord Wingate: “With the wedding this past week, I have had precious little of it.” He pouts. “When will our guests be gone and I may return to your bed?” He asks plaintively.
Lady Wingate: Blushing, she smiles. “Charles, really. Ha! The day after tomorrow Louisa and John go home to London. The MacGregor’s leave tomorrow–the same day that Rafe and Katharine travel to London to see her family.”
Lord Wingate: “Very well, My Dear! Enter!” He says in a booming voice as he stands upright again. And an explosion of three grandchildren, one aunt, and one Irish Setter dog bound into the room. “I will leave you all to your Grandmama’s care.” He smiles. Then he lifts his wife’s hand to his lips again, kisses it, and heads toward the door.
Lady Wingate: “Farewell, Charles. You and the men enjoy your hunting.”
Lady Louisa: “Hunting animals? Papa? Is that what you and the other men are about this fine morning? Killing animals?” She wrinkles her nose disdainfully. Lady Louisa dislikes hunting–being on the side of the poor animals they kill. But then again, she still enjoys eating the bounty that the men provide. This is a seeming contradiction that Lady Louisa does not try to reconcile. But it amuses her husband, Sir John, to no end–and he needles her about it when she is petulant about him going hunting.
Lord Wingate: “We shall try, Louisa dear. Perhaps the animals will have the upper hand this time.” He states mischievously as he kisses his daughter’s cheek.
Then Lady Louisa goes to greet her Mama, Lady Wingate. Lord Wingate picks up little Charlotte and twirls her around in the air high above his head as she squeals and giggles with delight.
Charlotte: “Old Papa, old Papa, I am dizzy. Ha ha ha ha ha!” Old Papa being her name for his too long Grandpapa name.
Lord Wingate: “Now you know that you like to twirl, Lottie.” He smiles at her and sets her down on the floor. However, Lottie still feels a little dizzy and plops herself down on the floor, then she sways her head from side to side exaggerating her dizziness.
Henry: Rolling his eyes at his sister’s attention getting ploy, he taps her shoulders. “Lottie, you goose!”
Then Henry very brotherly helps Lottie stand up–to their Grandpapa’s amusement. Then Lottie runs over to Anna and takes her hand in hers as Anna smiles at her.
Lord Wingate: Then Lord Wingate–the old soldier–greets his grandson, Henry, as he mock seriously asks with his hand on Henry’s shoulder. “And what are our troops doing today, my young captain?”
Henry: Henry straightens up–at attention. Then Henry intones with all the seriousness of a battle commander. “Grandpapa, my General! Our regiment will lay siege at Calais–to prevent the French ships from sailing the Channel to England–even if we have to die in the attempt.” He states boldly about his battle plan. Henry likes to wage mock wars–especially against the French.
Lord Wingate: “Interesting gambit, young man.” Lord Wingate smiles at his grandson. “We shall see if it is successful, Captain Henry.”
Henry: Henry nods pridefully with his Grandpapa’s attention. Then Henry juts out his chin resolutely. “Failure is not in my nature, Sir.” Of course, at five years old, little Henry does not have much opportunity to fail–especially since he no longer wets his bed at night.
Lord Wingate: Then Lord Wingate turns to his granddaughter Anna. “So Anna Dear, have our rather informal family interactions given you pause?” His eye brows raise.
Anna: Having delighted in seeing her Grandpapa interact with his other grandchildren so charmingly, Anna responds to him with impish glee. “No Grandpapa. Only Kelly has given me paws.” She smiles wryly at her pun.
Lord Wingate: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He laughs uproariously. “Excellent! You have inherited my wit!” He beams at her and pats her cheek. “Well, I am off, Leonora and everyone.” He waves around the room and departs with a spring in his step.
Lady Wingate: “Farewell, Charles.” She waves back at him. “Now children! Our breakfast will arrive any minute.” She stands and walks toward her bed. “So who wants to join me in bed while we wait for it?”
Lady Louisa: Chiming in with her children. “Me!” All eyes turn to Anna.
Anna: “Me!” She smiles. And they all pile into Lady Wingate’s bed–with the small grandchildren Lottie and Henry snuggling up on either side of their Grandmama and Anna and Lady Louisa sitting at her feet.
Lady Wingate: “I love having a bedful of children when you and the children visit, Louisa! I am quite bereft without you.” She smiles bemusedly.
Lady Louisa: “Oh Mama. I miss you, too. But I dare say that Papa, misses you more when we are here.” She smiles knowingly at her mother. It is well known that Lord and Lady Wingate are a love match.
Lady Wingate: Playfully swatting her daughter’s arm, she admonishes her. “Now Louisa! You will make our Anna think that I am quite brazen.”
Anna: Smiling sweetly, Anna asks forthrightly. “Is there something wrong with being brazen, Grandmama?”
Lady Wingate: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh Anna Dear, you and I are going to have such fun together.” She says with a twinkle in her eye.
Anna: “Thank you again, for taking me in to live with you Grandmama.” She smiles gratefully, but a little sadly while remembering why she is now living here–that Anna’s Mama has died.
Charlotte: Seeing Anna’s face sadden, Lottie crawls over to her cousin and she pats Anna’s face and gives her a hug. “Gama is fun! You will like it heeya.” (heeya = here in Lottie speak)
Henry: Ever the one to seek details, he asks curiously, but without malice. “Anna, why have you come to live with Grandmama now? Why did we not know about you before?” He looks between Anna, his Mama, and his Grandmama.
Anna: “Hhhh!” She sighs, but does not reply to him, because she does not know how much her Grandmama or their Mama her Aunt Louisa wants her cousins to know about her.
Lady Louisa: “See what I mean, Anna? My children are a handful.” She shakes her head, smiling ruefully as she pulls them to her in an embrace.
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate holds out her arms to Anna, and she nestles in for a hug. Ever the one to open windows and shed light and fresh air on topics that others would try to hide, Lady Wingate states plainly. “Henry and Lottie, I came to know your cousin Anna about five years ago when I met her Mama again. We have had lovely monthly visits together over the years–and time got away from us in introducing Anna to you before now.” She dissembles. Then her tone softens and quietens. “Sadly, Anna’s Mama became very ill and died last week.” Anna tears up and buries her face into her Grandmama’s shoulder as they embrace each other as she cries. “So Anna will now live with me and Grandpapa as her new home.”
Charlotte: She leaves her Mama’s embrace and leans onto Anna’s back and hugs her. “I sowwy.” (sowwy = sorry in Lottie speak) Little Lottie doesn’t understand what her Gama just said, but as a three year old she understands that Anna is sad. And Lottie feels that hugs make things better.
Henry: Realizing his gaffe in asking so direct a question to Anna who is in mourning–Henry is five years old going on twelve years old–he apologizes to his cousin, Anna. “You have my sympathies, cousin Anna. I am sorry for your loss.” He parrots phrases he has heard the adults around him say in times of sorrow.
Anna: “Thank you, Lottie and Henry.” Anna nods her head as her crying lessens to sniffles.
Lady Louisa smiles at her two caring children and then at her niece, Anna. She shares a look with her Mama, Lady Wingate–who also smiles. These mothers have each raised their children well.
Henry: Then Henry brightens, hoping to perk up his cousin Anna’s mood. He reaches out and squeezes Anna’s hand. “Nanny Shaw said we are to have a picnic and games outside today. It will be fun!” Anna smiles her thanks to him for his kindness in trying to cheer her up.
Lady Wingate: “That is right, Henry! It is your Uncle Rafe’s idea–to welcome Anna.” She smiles warmly at Henry, Lottie, Lady Louisa, and then at Anna.
Then breakfast arrives, and the adults and children repair to the table in the bay window–where crumbs from haphazard child eating habits are not so distressing as they would be in bed.
To be continued with Chapter 12
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 12: Fanny Miller’s Letters to Lady Wingate and to her daughter Anna
As the children start to leave their Grandmama’s bedroom after breakfast, Anna hangs back and looks soulfully at her Grandmama.
Lady Wingate: Waving her hand at her daughter Lady Louisa and her other grandchildren, she shoos them off. “You go on. Anna and I will have a little talk.”
They nod their heads, wave, and leave Lady Wingate’s bed chamber.
Anna: “Thank you, Grandmama.” She smiles wanly.
Lady Wingate: “What is it, Anna child?” She asks while caringly caressing her granddaughter’s cheek.
Anna: “I forgot to tell you something last night.” She bites her lower lip in uncertainty.
Lady Wingate: “Well Anna Dear, it was a busy night!” Lady Wingate widens her eyes in astonishment at Anna being lost, then found, then introduced to her father and having a fit about it, then introduced to the rest of the family, and having a dinner party on top of things.
Anna: “I have a letter for you, from Mama. May I get it?”
Lady Wingate: “A letter?” Lady Wingate asks curiously. Anna nods. “Yes Sweetheart. Go and get it and bring it back here.”
Anna kisses her Grandmama’s cheek and dashes out of her bed chamber and goes to her own bed chamber to retrieve the letter. Neither of them knows what the note says.
Lady Wingate moves to her dressing table and puts on her earrings and rings, while still in her dressing gown. She will have her maid help her dress after she reads the letter. In truth, she is keeping herself busy to keep from worrying about what Fanny Miller’s letter might contain.
Anna returns to her Grandmama’s bed chamber and leans against the door frame. Lady Wingate sees her in her dressing table mirror, turns around, and she beckons Anna to come to her.
Anna: Placing the thick folded and wax sealed letter into her Grandmama’s hands, Anna says. “Mama gave this to me for you the week before she died–when she still felt well enough to sit up and write. She did not tell me what it says.”
Lady Wingate: Looking at the letter labeled, Grandmama Leonora, Lady Wingate looks back at her granddaughter Anna and smiles. “Come Anna, Dear. Let us sit on the sette as I read your Mama’s note.”
Anna nods. They both walk over to the small sette and sit near each other, but with some room between them–to give Lady Wingate some privacy in reading the note. Lady Wingate breaks the wax seal and unfolds the letter. A smaller wax sealed letter–labeled Anna–tumbles out. But only Lady Wingate sees this letter and she sets it to her other side, away from Anna–in case there are instructions in Lady Wingate’s letter from Fanny for when Anna is to receive her letter. Then Lady Wingate reads Fanny Miller’s letter silently to herself.
Fanny Miller’s letter to Lady Wingate:
My Dear Lady Wingate,
I fear an illness that has quickly overtaken me the last few weeks, will be my undoing. Though I hope to have time to see my child Anna, your granddaughter, safely into your care.
I have been remiss in not allowing her to visit you before now, and I regret that deeply. I hope that you will understand that my reluctance was not due to you. You have been unfailingly supportive and caring of Anna and I.
I am also sorry that it will fall to you to guide Anna to her father, Lord Rafe. I should have made Rafe aware of Anna long before now. I hope that both he and Anna will forgive me for keeping her only to myself these past eleven years–but for your presence in her life.
And now, I entrust my precious Anna to you. I know that you will love her, protect her, and nurture her. And I bless you for it.
With gratitude, Fanny Miller
P.S. Please give Anna my letter to her, when you think best. Anna has been my joy. And if my love for her could keep me in this world, I would still be with her now.
Lady Wingate lays her hands in her lap–still holding onto the letter–even as she looks up with teary eyes into her granddaughter Anna’s hopeful and questioning eyes.
Anna: “What does my Mama say, Grandmama? Does she have a message for me?” She asks pleadingly, her tears brimming in her eyes. Anna needs something to remember her Mama by, since she does not even have a small portrait of her Mama Fanny because they lived frugally and could not afford such luxuries–even with her Grandmama’s largesse. “When Mama became so very ill at the end, she could not speak or rise from her bed. She could only gaze at me with weeping eyes. I tried to give her comfort by putting cool compresses on her forehead, feeding her broth when she would take it, and holding her hand in mine–as she did for me when I was sick as a child. But I could not make her well and she died.” Anna wails and sobs into her Grandmama’s loving embrace. For Anna to watch her once vibrant Mama wither away and die so unexpectedly has troubled Anna about life and death. And Anna wonders if she is at fault for not helping her Mama get well. It is a crushing burden for a child to feel–helpless in the face of inevitable death, and being ill equipped to understand why it is happening.
Lady Wingate: “Oh my sweet child.” She says through her own tears and she rocks Anna in her embrace as she soothingly rubs Anna’s back. “There was nothing you could have done to prevent your Mama’s death.” She says soothingly. Though Lady Wingate still does not have all of the particulars about Fanny’s illness–that will come in time as Anna feels able to tell her–Lady Wingate feels with certainty that it must have been an illness of such devastation that even the most skilled physician would not have been able to enact a miracle recovery of the patient.
Grandmama and granddaughter sit like this together for some time–just holding each other, consoling each other. The loss of her Mama will be a lifelong pain for Anna that none can assuage. Our mothers are our touchstones in the world, our guideposts through life. And for Anna to lose her mother to death when Anna is only eleven years old is an even more deeply felt sorrow since there are life lessons no longer to be learned and memories of shared happy times that will no longer be created. But though Fanny Miller is no more, her daughter Anna will be Fanny’s legacy in the world. And in time, that may offer some small comfort to Anna.
Anna: Regaining her composure, Anna sits back from her Grandmama a bit, but still holds her hand. “Thank you for being kind to me, Grandmama. Mama always said that you were my guardian angel.
Lady Wingate: “Your Mama was very kind.” Lady Wingate tenderly caresses her granddaughter’s cheek. “Anna, would you like me to tell you what your Mama says in her letter to me?” She asks, not wanting to distress Anna further by having her read the letter from Fanny herself. She will save the letter for Anna to read when she is older. Anna nods her head. “Well most importantly, your Mama said that you were her joy and that she loved you very much and wished she could have stayed with you always.”
Anna: “I wish she was with me now. I loved her so much.” Anna nods with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Lady Wingate: “I know my dear. And your Mama knows that you loved her. She also entrusts you to my care, but hopes that you and your Papa, Lord Rafe, will come to know each other as father and daughter.”
Anna: She looks up into her Grandmama’s eyes and reveals the burning question that has been on her heart. “Grandmama, why did my Mama not tell Lord Rafe about me? Was she ashamed of me?” She bursts into tears again and sobs in her Grandmama’s embrace.
Lady Wingate: “No, No! Anna child, your Mama was never ashamed of you. She was only ever proud of you. She loved you with all of her heart.” She states caringly while she rocks her granddaughter in her arms.
Anna: “But why then did she keep us apart? Lord Rafe seems nice. Had they quarreled?” Anna has reverted to referring to her Papa more formally again. Her briefly addressing him as Papa last night was perhaps premature on her part–with regard to her feelings about him.
Lady Wingate: “Families are complicated my dear. When your Papa Rafe met your Mama Fanny, he was only sixteen years old–just five years older than you are now–and not fully grown into manhood. Your mother was a bit older than he. Perhaps she felt that he was too young to be a Papa?” She dissembles, knowing the full reason.
Anna: “But there were young married couples in our village of even fifteen years old.” Anna counters. Her education paid for by her Grandmama has developed Anna’s keen mind.
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate responds delicately. “True. Among the villagers, they often marry young. But we do not necessarily marry young. Nor is marriage solely for love. That is hoped for, of course.” She adds quickly. “But the interests of family and tradition must also be upheld when choosing one’s spouse.”
Anna: She sits back from her Grandmama. “You mean that my mother was low born, and Lord Rafe is a noble. Are you saying that he would not have married my Mama even had he known about me? That you would not let him marry my Mama?” Anna looks at her Grandmama with a painful new understanding.
Lady Wingate: “I want to be truthful to you, Anna. And the truth is that we would have probably counseled your Papa Rafe against marrying your Mama Fanny–because he was so young. However, I do not know if your Papa would have listened to us, if he had known that their love had produced a child.” She says hoping to give her son the benefit of the doubt in Anna’s mind.
Anna: “But why did you not tell Lord Rafe about me when you found me five years ago? Was he not old enough then to marry my Mama and to become my Papa?” Little Anna is asking the tough questions of her Grandmama. But they are questions that Anna’s heart needs the answer to. Anna feels cheated by being intentionally separated from her father–as well she should.
Lady Wingate: “I have no excuse, but that your Mama asked me not to tell him as a condition of my being allowed to see you.” She finally reveals delicately.
Anna: “Mama did not want Lord Rafe to know about me?” She asks incredulously. “I still do not understand why? Mama always spoke of their love for each other.” Anna is confused.
Lady Wingate: “Yes, Anna Dear. But your Mama also knew that we are wealthy and titled–powerful in her eyes. I think she feared that we would take you from her and she would never see you again.” Lady Wingate finally reveals.
Anna: “And did you not tell her you would not take me away from her, Grandmama?”
Lady Wingate: “I did, many times. And I hoped that as she and I came to know each other over time, that she would relent and let you visit us. … But I think another worry then entered her mind.”
Anna: “What was it?”
Lady Wingate: “Though your Mama never stated it to me, perhaps she worried that you would prefer living with us–in our large home, with servants to do your bidding, and pretty clothes to wear–and all of the advantages that we can provide for you. I know that she would think only of your wishes and let you go, to come live with us if that was your wish–however much it would have broken her heart.”
Anna: “But I would have never left Mama! I loved her!” She vows.
Lady Wingate: “I know. And I think she knew that, too. But as time went on, it became harder for her to find a way to tell Rafe that he was a father–just as it was hard for me to find a way to tell him. Do not judge your Mama harshly, she meant well.” And Lady Wingate hopes that Anna does not judge her harshly either.
Anna: “I would have liked to have had a Papa, when I was growing up. Everyone else had a Papa, but me.” She says forlornly–fully comprehending the void in her life that not having a father caused.
Lady Wingate: “Anna, your Papa Rafe wants to be a father to you now. Will you give him a chance, and get to know him? And let him get to know you?”
Anna: “I will try, Grandmama.” Anna says stoically. She has already lost her Mama. Now that she has found her Papa–unknown to her as he is–she does not want to lose him as well. “His wife Katharine is very nice to me.” Anna offers positively.
Lady Wingate: Smiling, she strokes Anna’s head. “Katharine is a dear lady. Rafe is most fortunate in his choice of wife.” Again, an elder Wingate has unintentionally given offense without meaning to–this time, insulting Anna’s Mama, Fanny.
Anna: “But my Mama was not suitable to be Lord Rafe’s wife.” Anna says woodenly, beginning to understand the intricacies of the society she will now live in. Anna has cried so many tears that navigating from who she was as a Miller to who she is now as a Wingate is one more burden she must bear and undertake. “And I am Lord Rafe’s bastard child. Though you as my family accept me, who else will?” Anna looks resolutely at her Grandmama–it is a strength born of her combined parentage of Fanny Miller and Rafe Wingate.
Lady Wingate: “You are wrong, my dear. You will be accepted. As we introduce you to our wider circle of friends, you will find that there are many, such as yourself, who are members of several well known families. And we will see to your dowry which will make you an attractive wife for anyone of good breeding.”
Anna: “But Grandmama, I do not want a husband who is bought for me. When I marry, I want to marry for love.”
Lady Wingate: “And so you shall, Sweetheart.” She smiles at her granddaughter encouragingly. But there is one more promise, Lady Wingate must keep. And she lifts up the letter from Fanny to her daughter Anna, that she had put on the other side of her so that Anna would not see it initially. Lady Wingate hands Anna her Mama’s letter to her.
Anna: “What is this?”
Lady Wingate: “It is a letter to you from your Mama that was inside her letter to me. She asked me to give the letter to you when I thought it was right. But you have had so much kept from you, Anna, that I feel that you should have her letter to you now. I do not know what it says.” She says with some trepidation.
Anna: Holding her Mama’s precious letter to her heart, she tears up again. “Thank you, Grandmama. If you will excuse me, I will take this back to my bed chamber and read it privately.” She says with poise and grace.
Lady Wingate: “Of course you want to read your Mama’s letter alone.” She smiles encouragingly.
Anna stands, squeezes her Grandmama’s hand, then curtsies to her. Lady Wingate nods respectfully to her granddaughter. Then Anna turns and walks out of her Grandmama’s bed chamber and walks down the hallway to her own.
When Anna returns to her bed chamber, she finds that her Aunt Louisa has kindly sent the maid to help Anna dress. Not wanting to seem ungrateful, Anna tucks her letter from her Mama into the top drawer of her dresser and she lets the maid help her with her morning toilette and then Anna gets dressed in a simple day dress suitable for the outdoor picnic and games today–the dress being another gift from her Grandmama.
Finally, Anna is alone in her bed chamber and takes out her letter from her Mama, sits on her bed, and breaks the wax seal on the note. Anna thinks of her favorite and fading image memory of her kind and loving Mama, sitting in a field of red poppies in a blue dress and bonnet, smiling as they enjoyed the day together [(8) right]. Then Anna reads her Mama’s letter silently to herself–hearing her mama’s voice in her heart.
Fanny’s letter to her daughter, Anna:
My Dearest Anna,
I love you with all of my heart my darling daughter. You are my joy! I am so proud of you and the wonderful little girl that you are, and the great lady that I know you will become.
I wish that my illness had not parted us. I wanted to share in your life as you continue to grow up–and one day, to be a Grandmother to your children. But it was not meant to be. And I know that you have found a loving home with your Grandmama Leonora. She will guide you as you continue to grow up. She has been good to us. Though she was not my Mama as I am sorry to admit that we mislead you to believe–she is your father’s Mama, Lady Leonora Wingate. And I have come to regard her with great fondness and respect.
I hope that you will also get to know your Papa, Lord Rafe Wingate. He was the love of my life–next to you. And my only regret is that I did not tell him about you. He is a good man, and I trust that he will be a good Papa to you. Get to know him and let him get to know you. I hope that in time you will love each other as I love both of you. Please forgive me for not giving you your Papa earlier. And I hope that your Papa Rafe will also forgive me for not giving him his daughter earlier.
I wish for you every happiness that you wish for yourself, my Sweetheart. I will look upon you from heaven and smile knowing that you are living a full and happy life. So do not feel sad when you should be happy–because your happiness, is my happiness.
You carry my love with you always, Your Mama
Anna folds her Mama’s letter again, presses it to her heart, then she lies down upon her bed and weeps for her loving Mama–whose memory Anna will treasure and cherish all the days of her life.
To be continued with Chapter 13
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) Charlotte/Lottie image (cropped, hi-res, sharpened) is represented by the William Adolphe Bouguereau painting “Little girl holding apples in her hands” found at http://www.paintingall.com/william-adolphe-bouguereau-little-girl-holding-apples-in-her-hands.html
3) Henry image (hi-res, crop, sharp) is of “The Three Brothers, the Sons of Thomas Dallas” thought to be painted by George Watson and found at http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/boys.jpg
4) Anna Miller Image (cropped hi-res) 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/
5) Image representing Lady Louisa Throckmorton is “Portrait of a Young Woman” by Franz Seraph Stirnbrand and was found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/portrait-of-a-young-woman-franz-seraph-stirnbrand.html
6) ) Lord Charles Wingate image (hi-res,shrp) s Alan Bates and was found at http://www.peoplequiz.com/images/bios/alan_bates.jpg-1290.jpg
7) Image for Lady Leonora Wingate, Mama to Lord Rafe is a painting titled “Lady Violet Henderson” by John William Waterhouse found at
8) Fanny Miller image is of Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennett in the 2005 “Pride & Prejudice” found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/06/jane-austen-darling-child-turns-200
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 10 is: