“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 13 (PG): Picnic Celebrating Anna Joining the Wingate Family, 4/08/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #393)

“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 13 (PG):  Picnic Celebrating Anna Joining the Wingate Family, 4/08/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #393)

aaaLove_is_a_Choice_story_logo_Mar1313GratianaLovelace225x280(An original story by Gratiana Lovelace; All Rights Reserved)

[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of:  Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine 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:   Anna met her cousins, three year old Charlotte called Lottie and five years old Henry when they followed the dog Kelly into her bed chamber this morning–after her Aunt Louisa, their mother, made the introductions.  They all walk to Grandmama’s bed chamber where they find Grandpapa who greets them all warmly before setting off hunting with the men.  Then the  grandchildren and Lady Louisa all had breakfast in Grandmama’s bed chamber.  Afterward, Anna gave her Mama Fanny’s note to her Grandmama and found that there was a note inside if for her as well.  Anna took the note back to her room and read it after the maid helped her dress for today’s picnic.  Meanwhile, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine had enjoyed a loving morning tryst–their third as husband and wife.  But who is counting?  Well, maybe the love struck and eager bridegroom, Lord Rafe.  But today, the Wingate family looks forward to a picnic to celebrate Lord Rafe’s daughter Anna joining  their family.

“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 13:  Picnic Celebrating Anna Joining the Wingate Family

The men–Lord Charles Wingate, Sir John Throckmorton, Sir Collin MacGregor–return from their brief morning hunting expedition quite pleased with themselves.  Between them they bagged three pheasants that they instruct the servants to prepare for the evening meal later.  Though Lord Wingate was not among the successful hunters this morn, due to his slightly age diminished eye sight.  Lord Rafe Wingate was excused from their hunting, because as a bridegroom he had other responsibilities.

It is now about 11:00am as Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine ride up the long drive to Dearing Manor in the open gig carriage.  Lord Rafe is testing his newly paired horses at rather a fast gallop and he and his wife are laughing and giggling as she holds tightly to his arm so she does not fall out.  As his father and the other men walk up to them, Lord Rafe brings the carriage to a screeching stop near the stables–as much as horses and wheels can screech.  Lord Rafe assists Lady Katharine from stepping down from the carriage as he hoists her up in the air by her holding her under her arms to her squeals.

Lady Katharine:  “Rafe!  You fiend!  Put me down.   Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Lord Rafe:  Twirling her around in his arms, he says.  “Never!  Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Lord Wingate:  Gazing upon his son and daughter-in-law with unabashed amusement, he jests.  “I would say we missed you in our hunting party, but clearly you do not regret abandoning us.”  He pouts in mock indignation.LordRafeImageisRichardArmitageasJohnThorntoninNorth&Southepi2-035Apr0813ranetCropClrShrpHi-res

Lord Rafe:  He sets Lady Katharine down on the ground, keeping a proprietary arm around her waist as he kisses her hand–since the wide brim of her bonnet his temporarily preventing him from kissing her forehead.  “You are quite right, Papa.”  Lord Rafe [(2) right] smirks smugly as he gazes lovingly at his beautiful bride who blushes quite charmingly.LadyKatharineisCarlaGuginoasNanin2005TheBuccaneers_vlcsnap-2013-03-13-00h35m14s151Apr0713GratianaLovelaceCapFlipShrpHi-res

Lady Katharine [(3) right] regains her poise and looks at the other men pleasantly.  She is wearing ringlet brunette curls again–something her husband is trying hard to resist tangling his fingers in.  But she maintains her ladylike demeanor, in the face of her amorous husband’s teasing gaze.

Lady Katharine:  “Good morrow, Papa Wingate!  Gentlemen!”  She nods cheerfully at the three of them.   Then she leans in to her husband, Lord Rafe, and whispers confidentially.  “I will go in and see how Anna is faring today.”

Lord Rafe:  Feeling his wife’s breath on his neck and wanting so much to kiss her on her sweet lips, but knowing that decorum demands that he cannot in the presence of others–even though they are family and his closest friend, Sir Collin, Lord Rafe whispers back.  “Thank you, My Angel.  I will see you soon.”  Then he brings her hand to his lips and kisses it lingeringly.

The other men smile at the tender exchange between the newlyweds–surmising that some lovers’ heartfelt expression was the currency of their spoken messages.   Lady Katharine starts to walk away from her husband.  Then Lord Rafe still holding her hand, he gently pulls her back to him in a tender embrace as he kisses her sweetly on her pink lips.  With such loving ministrations, what is a young bride to do but kiss her bridegroom back?

Sir John, Sir Collin, and Lord Wingate look at each other bemusedly.  For having already been married two days, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are acting still very lovey dovey.  Well, it is only two days.

Lord Wingate:  “Kkkhhh!  Rafe!  You are making a spectacle of yourself.”  He bemusedly admonishes his son as he smiles remembering his early own wedding days.

Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine come up for air from their kissing looking rather sheepishly at the men.

Sir Collin:  Leaning over to Sir John, Lord Rafe’s brother-in-law, he wagers saucily.  “Nine months to the day, old man.”

Sir John:  “I’ll take that bet, and say nine months and one day.”  He cocks his head to one side with a raised eyebrow.

Lord Rafe:  “What is this?”  He asks bemusedly.

Sir Collin:  “A wager.”  Sir Collin raises a saucy eyebrow at his best friend.   “We were predicting when your first child will be born.”

Lady Katharine:  Lady Katharine blushes crimson.  “Oh!”  She startles in surprise, understanding their implication.

Lord Rafe:  Wanting to put her at her ease, he chides the men.  “Now fellows, My Lady and I will feel blessed whenever we do have a child together.”   Then he thinks of Anna and adds.  “And our children will be blessed to have Anna as their older sister.”

Lady Katharine:  Regaining her composure.  “Quite right, Rafe Dear.  Gentleman!”  She nods to them, turns, and sashays toward the manor–Lord Rafe admiring the view of her womanly form until she enters the house and she slips from his gaze.

Lord Wingate:  Clapping his son on his shoulders, he smiles.  “Well Rafe, you seem very chipper this morning.  Even more enthusiastic than yesterday.  Sleep well?”  He asks wryly.

Lord Rafe:  Returning his attention to the men, he says discreetly, but with a small smirk and a raised eye brow–this time, for real.  “Yes Papa.  We slept well.”

Sir Collin:  “Only slept?”  He grins broadly.  “Somehow, I do not think much sleeping went on.  Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Lord Rafe raises an eye brow in amusement, but says nothing.  His discretion is legendary–to everyone’s consternation.

Sir John:  “Now, now, let us leave the poor fellow alone.  We three are blessed with loving marriages to our dear wives–and now Rafe is blessed, too.”

Lord Rafe:  He gushes.  “She is my angel!  Hhhhh!”  Remembering last night’s and this morning’s trysts, Lord Rafe blushes.  His pulse races and he feels an ache for his lovely wife that only a passionate tryst in their bed will cure.

Lord Wingate:  “Besotted!  Ha ha ha ha ha!”  He claps his son on his back again. Who would have thought that Lord Rafe Wingate, the rake of Warwickshire, would be so completely transformed by marriage?  But then, when one finds and marries the right wife a man’s happiness cannot be contained.  The same is true for the ladies in finding the right husband.  “Come gentlemen, let us go to my study for a quick drink to celebrate.  Of course, Lord Wingate will like nothing more than when Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine give him a grandson and heir.
***

As Lady Katharine walks into Dearing Manor by way of the South terrace’s open French doors into the South Parlor–the breeze billowing the drapery sheers gently–she spies Stuart MacGregor draped akimbo over the arms of a large wing chair as he intently reads a book in the South parlor.  Dearing manor is so large a mansion that it has several parlors.  Stuart presents an amusing sight, precisely because the now tall and gangly Stuart overflows the generous dimensions of the wing chair.

Lady Katharine:  Smiling in amusement, she clears her throat to make her presence known to him.  “Khhh!”

Stuart:  Stuart looks up startled to see Lady Katharine.  “Oh!  My apologies, Lady Katharine!”  He tries to scramble to stand upright, drops his book, lunges for it, then ends up prostrate on the floor at her feet.

Katharine:  “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”  She cannot help laught at such a comical scene.  Stuart blushes crimson as he stands up.  “I am sorry Stuart.  But I have never seen anyone fall out of a chair before.”

Stuart:  “Nor have I.  It is merely because I am not accustomed to this chair–and I dropped my book.”  He pouts.  “Normally, I do not fall out of chairs.”  He asserts with hurt pride.

Katharine:  “Ha ha ha!  Well, I should hope not.  You might injure yourself.”

Stuart:  “You will not tell my Mama and Papa of my behavior, will you?  I strive to appear gentlemanly in all things–but my longer legs have other ideas.”

Katharine:  “Do not worry, Stuart.  Your parents need not know of your small … gaffe.  Were each of us to have a tally sheet of our misadventures around our necks, I dare say that no one would take a superior attitude about anyone else.”  She says knowingly.  “Now!   I am looking for Miss Anna.  Is she about?”

Stuart:  “I do not know.  I breakfasted with Lord Wingate, Sir John, and Papa before they went hunting.  But I stayed behind to  …  well, that is, to …” He does not want to admit that he was also hoping to see Miss Anna.

Katharine:  Lady Katharine smiles and nods her head knowingly.   “Uh huh.  I will seek out Lady Wingate to see how our picnic planning fares, then look for Miss Anna.”  Stuart looks at her earnestly.  “Stuart, do you have a message that you wish me to convey to anyone in particular?”

Stuart:  “Yes!   I mean, … well … uh …” He stammers nervously.

Katharine:  “Shall I tell anyone who asks that you are sitting in the South parlor reading?”  She prompts him.

Stuart:  “Hhhh!   Yes, please!”  He nods his head while grinning cheerfully.

Katharine:  “I will do that.”  She nods with a smile.  Stuart bows respectfully to her.  Then Lady Katharine turns and gracefully walks out of the room–smilingly taking care around the chairs, lest they attempt folly with her as what befell Stuart–and she heads upstairs toward the family bed chambers.  Stuart returns to his reading.

***

At the top of the stairs, Lady Katharine asks a maid to direct her to Lady Wingate’s bed chamber.  Once taken there, the maid announces Lady Katharine and Lady Wingate bids her to enter.  The maid retreats.  Lady Katharine enters the bed chamber and finds Lady Wingate sitting at her desk writing some notes. Lady Wingate looks up and nods with a warm smile upon seeing Lady Katharine.

Lady Wingate: “Katharine, my dear!  Come here.”  She beckons for her to come closer.  “You are glowing!” She smiles knowingly.

Lady Katharine:  Touching her hands to her cheeks, she gasps.  “Hhh!   Am I!?!”    She winces in embarrassment, thinking Lady Wingate knows that Rafe and I are truly husband and wife now.  Despite her husband kissing her in front of his father, brother-in-law, and friend when they arrived this morn, Lady Katharine did not think her deportment that much altered.

Lady Wingate:  “Now now.” She pats Lady Katharine’s hand.  “You are a bride, my dear.  Happiness is to be expected. And I am delighted that expectations have been fulfilled.  Hhhh!”  Lady Wingate sighs relieved to have her son and eldest child Lord Rafe, well and happily married.   “Let us sit in the window seat.”  She stands and guides Lady Katharine to the window where they sit.  “It is a beautiful day for a picnic.  Is it not?”  She smiles gazing briefly out the window again.

Lady Katharine:  “Yes, Mama Wingate.” She smiles sheepishly and nods at the bright sunny day shining through the window.

Lady Wingate:  “Oh dear!   That name will not do!  Mama Wingate was my mother-in-law, a more odious woman there never existed.  You would have thought that her son was the Prince of Wales with how tightly she managed his interactions beyond the family.  It is a wonder that Lord Wingate and I ever met.” She says breezily.  “Please simply call me, Mama, if you will.”

Lady Katharine:  She claps her hands over her mouth to stifle her laughter, but giggles erupt anyway.  “Ha ha ha ha ha!  I am sorry to laugh, but I have not heard so frank an assessment of a relative as you gave just now.”

Lady Wingate:   “I tend to speak my mind.”  She smiles blasely.

Lady Katharine:  “So how did you and Lord Wingate meet if his mother was the gatekeeper.”  She asks cheekily.Queen_Charlotte_by_studio_of_Allan_Ramsay_231pxApr0813wikiHi-resShrpCrop2

Lady Wingate:  “Well, our first meeting was quite by accident.  As a young lady before I was wed thirty years ago, I was Lady in Waiting to then Queen Charlotte [(4) right]–for whom our little granddaughter is named, because the Queen was such a dear and kind lady.  And Lord Wingate’s regiment was posted to the palace as added protection during one of the many tense diplomatic difficulties with the French in 1796.”

Lady Katharine: “Do you mean Napoloean [(5)]?”

Lady Wingate:  “Yes.  But we do not speak of him by name.  He was the scourge of Europe and under watchful English military eyes   even thirty years ago in 1796.”  She shakes her head slightly.  “It was at a state banquet.  I was running through the hallways back to the banquet after having fetched a diamond and sapphire fleur de lis broach that the Queen had intended to wear on her sash but had mistakenly left it off.   Perhaps she purposely left it off. There was no love lost between her home country of Germany and the French.  The dear queen could be minxish that way.  But the Prime Minister insisted that she wear the broach as a matter of state protocol.   It was a gift from the French people to her majesty and the French ambassador would have taken offense were she not to have worn it in his presence.”

Lady Katharine:  “The Queen cared about that?”

Lady Wingate:  “Well, the Prime Minister cared.  Therefore, the Queen cared.  So she acquiesced and I went scurrying for the broach–my then having young eighteen year old legs that could fly like the wind, even with my ball gown skirt weighing me down.  Ha!  Anyway.  I lost my footing on the polished tile floor and slipped, thereby spraining my ankle.”

Lady Katharine:  “Oh no!”

Lady Wingate:  “Precisely!  So there I sat in the middle of the hall with footman standing at attention at various doorways, but not permitted to move from their posts.  The minutes were ticking by as people were being presented to their majesties.  But I could not walk.  Then, a blessing in a red uniform lifted me up off of the floor and deposited me on a nearby bench.”

Lady Katharine:  Rapt with attention, she asks breathlessly.  “Was it Lord Wingate?”

Lady Wingate:  “Yes.”  She smiles.  “I had seen Charles in the regimental group at an earlier reception–him being a young dashing captain then–but I did not know his name.  However, there was no time for pleasantries.  I thrust the broach into his hand and begged him to take it to the Queen immediately.  He bowed and left to do so.  I do not know where Charles found the bravado.  But he marched into the receiving room–bypassing everyone in line to the consternation of all–and he walked up to his Majesty, the King just as the French Ambassador was being presented.  Charles bowed and offered the broach, indicating that the clasp must not have been fastened securely or broken because the broach was found in the corridor.”

Lady Katharine: “In the corridor?”  Her eyes twinkle.

Lady Wingate:  “Well, Charles was not lying in the strictest sense.  He found me in the corridor.  And I had the broach with me.  Ergo, the broach was found in the corridor.”  She shrugs her shoulders and smiles amusingly.   “And Charles had slightly bent the pin on the clasp so that it really did look like it might have become unfastened on its own–rather than having been forgotten altogether.  And, the beauty of the broken clasp was, that the dear Queen did not have to wear the disliked French broach afterall–for fear that it might fall to the floor again and be damaged.  Ha ha ha ha ha!   They set the broach on a nearby kneeling cushion on the floor at her feet.”  She winks.

Lady Katharine:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!  Then did Lord Wingate carry you to your room since you had a sprained ankle?”

Lady Wingate: “No.  Two extra footman came to my aid, placed me on a chair, then carried me to my room and sent for the doctor. So I was long gone when Charles returned to the hallway.  But he found out my name from the Queen–who was most grateful to both receive the broach and not have to wear it.  So, Charles sent me a single red rose and a short note inquiring after my ankle the next day–and a beautiful rose every day after that.”  Lady Wingate smiles fondly.  “The rest is history and we were married a few months later.”  She waves her hand in the air.

Lady Katharine:  “That is such a good meeting story!  I only wish Rafe and my meeting was as interesting and romantic.”  She sighs wistfully.

Lady Wingate:  “Oh?  I thought Rafe falling in love with you the moment he saw you at your coming out ball was quite romantic.”  Lady Wingate leans in and pats Lady Katharine’s hand.

Lady Katharine:  “It is.  It is just that, …  well … that Rafe never sent me notes or flowers.  His father, Lord Wingate, handled the marriage negotiations.

Lady Wingate:  “My dear, I am afraid Rafe’s restraint in courting you was at our request–his Papa’s and mine.  Frankly, Rafe was very eager to court you.  But for your sake, we wanted to ascertain that Rafe’s interest in you was sincere–and long lasting.  Marriage is forever and we wanted to make certain that your lives would be happy ones–given that Rafe had never shown an interest in marrying before.”  She states vaguely.

Lady Katharine:  “You mean, because of his … paramours?”  Lady Katharine pouts.

Lady Wingate:  Startled at her daughter-in-law’s frankness–but liking it–she continues. “Yes, my dear.  But as it has turned out, all is well and happy.”  She smiles.  “And you have been most gracious in welcoming our little granddaughter Anna, my dear.  Bless you!”  Lady Wingate leans forward and kisses Lady Katharine on her cheek.

Lady Katharine:  “Thank you, Mama.”  She smiles, using her new name for her mother-in-law.  “Anna is actually why I came to speak with you.  Have you seen her this morning?   How does she fare?  Last night was quite the upheaval–for her most of all.”  Lady Katharine asks with great concern and sincerity.

Lady Wingate:  Patting Lady Katharine’s cheek, she smiles warmly at her.  “Your compassion does you credit, my dear.  We will all need to be patient with Anna during her mourning period for her Mama.  But this morning, she shared with me a letter from her Mama that verified for Anna that Rafe is her father.  Frankly, Anna asked me some very pointed questions about her separation from her father and I answered them as best I could.  Then I gave Anna a letter from her Mama to her, that was inside Fanny’s letter to me.  I do not know what Anna’s letter says.  Anna took it back to her bed chamber almost an hour ago, and I have not seen her since.  I admit that I am a little worried about her and I intended to seek her out before you joined me here.”

Lady Katharine:  Having listened respectfully to Lady Wingate’s news about Anna, she suggests.  “If I may be so bold, Mama?”

Lady Wingate:  “You have a suggestion?  Please share it.”  She nods.

Lady Katharine:  “Last night, I felt that Anna and I were developing a pleasing rapport with one another.  I told Rafe that I would check on Anna.  So would you like me to see how she is doing?”

Lady Wingate: “Yes, that will be lovely, Katharine.  Thank you.  It is good for Anna to be reminded that her entire Wingate family loves her and cares for her well being.”  Lady Wingate nods.

Lady Katharine:  She stands up.  “And apart from my husband, there is another young gentleman who also inquired after Miss Anna this morn.”  She smiles knowingly.

Lady Wingate:  “Oh?  Might that be Stuart MacGregor?”  Lady Katharine nods.  “He is a dear boy.  But I urge caution there.  At just fourteen, Stuart will not finish his schooling at Eton for two years.  And then he will go to university and perhaps the military after that.  Anna must not be falsely led to expect that he will be in company regularly for her to get to know him better.   Anna is so fragile just now.  I do not want her to be disappointed in any way.”

Lady Katharine:  “Of course, you are right.  I would imagine Stuart’s parents will also urge him to act with consideration for Anna’s feelings. I will go to her now.”

Lady Katharine waves farewell to Lady Wingate as she walks out of her bed chamber.   Lady Wingate nods her head and then returns to her desk to finish writing her letters. The first letter is to Miss Nance, Lady Louisa’s former governess to see if she is available–or if she can recommend a governess to be considered for Anna.   The second letter is to her dressmaker–so that Lady Wingate’s granddaughter Anna may be outfitted with a new wardrobe befitting her hew status.  And the third letter will be sent through  a royal courier because it is to her good friend Princess Adelaide, relaying that she and Charles must regret attending Princess Adelaide’s husband Prince William’s [(6)] birthday in August due to assuming the guardianship of her granddaughter and they are in mourning for her granddaughter’s mother.  Lady Leonora had previously apprised Princess Adelaide of Anna’s existence as her only counsel on the matter.

***

Walking down the family bed chamber wing hallway, Lady Katharine finds Anna’s bed chamber–having been in it last night to help Anna dress for dinner–and she knocks on the door. Inside the now calmed and no longer weeping Anna still lies on her bed–the Irish Setter dog Kelly having joined her and comforted her a little while ago.

Anna:  “Who is it?”  She softly asks.

Lady Katharine:  Seeing no one about, she says.  “It is Kathy, Anna.  May I come in?”

Anna:  Sitting up in bed and drying her tears, she says.  “Yes, please come in Kathy.”  She is glad that her father’s kind wife is here.

Lady Katharine opens the door and sees Anna sitting on the bed with Kelly curled up next to her, and smiles.  But upon walking closer, Lady Katharine sees Anna’s red and teary eyes and rushes over to her instantly, sitting on the bed next to her and gathering her into her arms for an embrace.

Lady Katharine:  “Oh!  Anna Sweetheart.” Leaning back from their embrace, Lady Katharine kisses Anna’s forehead and caresses her cheek as she asks caringly.  “What distresses you, Anna Dear?  Can I help?”

Anna:  “It is my letter from my Mama.”  Anna holds it out to Lady Katharine.

Lady Katharine:  “Ah.” She holds her hand up to beg off.  “Nay Anna, I do not wish to intrude upon your privacy by reading your Mama’s letter to you.”

Anna:  “No, I want you to read it.”  Anna hands Lady Katharine the letter.

Lady Katharine:  Lady Katharine reads Fanny Miller’s heartfelt letter to her daughter, then she returns the letter to Anna.  “Your Mama wrote you a lovely letter, Anna.  You will treasure it always.”

Anna:  Little Anna nods.  “I will.  And I know that she wants me to be happy here.  But in time, I fear that I will forget her and our life together.  I do not even have a portrait of her to remember her by.”  Anna looks stricken, as her tears fall again.

Lady Katharine:  Gathering Anna into her arms once more, she soothes her.  “There there, my dear.  Of course you miss your Mama, and you want to remember her.  …  Anna, I have a suggestion.  Try writing down your memories of your mother and you together while they are fresh in your mind. … And if you like, I have a small talent for drawing.  So if you could describe what your Mama looked like, I could try to draw her portrait for you.”

Anna:  “Oh thank you, Kathy!  Those are wonderful ideas!”  She smiles through her tears.

Lady Katharine:  “Good!   When Lord Rafe and I are in London over the weekend, I will collect my drawing supplies from my parent’s home before we return to Warwickshire next week.”  She smiles, thinking that her home is now with her husband, Lord Rafe.  “Now, remember we are having a picnic in your honor today.  So let us dry your eyes and go down stairs.  By the way, I passed a young man on my way in who inquired after you.  He was reading in the South parlor, off the terrace.

Anna: “Oh? Do you mean Stuart?” She asks amiably.  It is nice to have someone almost her own age around–since her dear sweet cousins Lottie and Henry are so much younger than she is.

Lady Katharine:  “Yes.”  She smiles conspiratorially.

Then Anna splashes some water on her face before they will look for the others, then head downstairs.

***

After the men had each had their drinks in Lord Wingate’s study celebrating their SirCollinImageisMarkStrongasKnightlyin1996Emma_809869Mar2513rovicorpCropBrtShrppheasant shooting prowess this morning, they set about looking for the other family members in the house to gather for their picnic.  Lord Wingate went in search of his wife, as did Sir John for his wife and children.  Lord Rafe went in search of his wife and daughter Anna.  Finally, Sir Collin MacGregor [(7) right] finds his son still reading in the South parlor just off of the open terrace  doors.

Sir Collin:  Bemused, he asks.  “Still with your nose in a book reading, Stuart?  They must really crack the whip at Eton.” Sir Collin was educated at a different private school, with Lord Rafe.

Stuart:  Stuart closes his book quickly, though not dropping it, nor falling out of the chair after it this time, he startles as he stands up.  “Papa!  I loving reading!   And I am waiting for the picnic to start.”  Stuart looks anxiously toward the open door leading to the empty hallway.

Sir Collin:  “Looking for someone, Stuart?” Sir Collin asks wryly as he crosses his arms–a gesture he usually affects when he is about to have a father to son chat.

Stuart:  Returning to look wide eyed and gape mouthed at his Papa, Stuart stammers. “Yes!  No! …  I mean.  Where are the others?”  He asks sheepishly.  Stuart’s cheeks and neck become a splotchy red in embarrassment.

Sir Collin:  “By others, I assume that you mean Miss Anna Wingate?”  He intones mock seriously, trying to hide his smile.

Stuart:  “Welllll.”  His eyes dart about the room, not looking directly at his Papa.

Sir Collin:  “Hhhh!”  He realizes that he will have to have his father to son talk sooner than he expected.  “Sit with me, Stuart.” Stuart nods and they sit on the large sette in the middle of the room.  Stuart sits with his back very straight.  “Stuart, you are becoming a young man and there are words of advice and counsel that I wish to share with you.”

Stuart:  “As you wish, Papa.”  He blanches.  Here it comes, Stuart thinks–the talk.  Several of his classmates at Eton have already had their talks from their fathers and shared some of this knowledge amongst their group of friends.  The talk mostly consisting of recognizing the difference  between  a woman who might fulfill a man’s base needs versus a wife who is a lady and due  a man’s love and respect.  But Stuart wonders.  What are base needs?

Sir Collin:  “Having been at school myself years ago, Stuart, I know that you and your friends are already probably talking about being interested in women and ladies.”

Stuart:  Stuart nods his head sheepishly. “But are not a woman and a lady one and the same?”  He tilts his head as he asks his naïvely.

Sir Collin:  “Kkkhh!” He coughs nervously.  This talk will be more difficult than he thought.  “Stuart, all ladies are women–but not all women are ladies.”  He leans forward looking at his son intently, hoping that with the concision of his reasoning, his meaning is not lost on his son.

Stuart:  “Oh! You mean the difference between women who are servants or in trade compared to Mama and ladies with noble titles.”

Sir Collin:  “Splendid!” Sir Collin smiles, pleased with himself for having accomplished his goal.  But he is counting his chickens before they are hatched.

Stuart:  “What about them, Papa?”  He asks with a quizzical expression.

Sir Collin:  Sir Collin’s smile fades.  “Hhhhh!   Stuart, my boy, people of our rank and position marry ladies.   Though before they wed, some men might have assignations with women.”  Now Sir Collin is blushing, thinking of his friend, Lord Rafe’s many conquests.  Stuart looks at his father questioningly–still not understanding what his father is trying to say.  Then Sir Collin hastens to add.  “But your dear Mama, is the only lady who has ever claimed my heart.”

Stuart:  “But Papa, there are also ladies who are addressed as Miss–such as Miss Anna.  What about her?”

Sir Collin:  Sir Collin was afraid it would come to this, but he must be frank for his son’s sake.  “Stuart, she is Miss Anna because she is the daughter of my oldest friend, Lord Rafe. The Wingate family has a long and storied history in England as counselors to the crown and battle commanders.  And as a member of that family, Miss Anna Wingate receives our respect and compassion.”

Stuart:  “But what if Anna had merely been a miller’s daughter when I met her–or her father was in some other trade?”

Sir Collin:  “Then, she would merely be a woman–not someone whom you are likely to meet, let alone, interact with in a social setting such as this.”  He gestures to the elegant room, and referring to their status as guests of the noble Wingate family.

Stuart:  “But is it not our duty as men to protect the honor of all women?”  He asks his father pointedly.

Sir Collin:  “Stuart, each man–as he is able–is destined to protect the ladies of his acquaintance, within his own social sphere.  Miss Anna is a lady of your acquaintance.  Therefore we must be considerate of her feelings and wishes.”  He states portentously.

Stuart:  “Yes of course, Papa.  Is there anything else?”

Sir Collin:  “Stuart, your actions as a young man on the cusp of adulthood will now be under closer scrutiny by society.  Your interactions and behavior must be above reproach–for your own sake, as well as for the sake of any lady you might wish to know better.”

Stuart:  “What is your point, Papa.”  He sighs in frustration.

Sir Collin:  “Just this.  That you are reaching an age when your interactions with ladies might be considered courting behavior [(8)].     As you know, your dear Mama and I met in our fifteenth years, we courted for two years, and then we married in our seventeenth years–being blessed with you in our first year of marriage.  We were very young, but our families desired the match–creating an alliance between our two families.  And happily, in time, we also welcomed our growing bond of sympathy with each other.  Such that by the time we were married, your Mama and I were a love match.”  He smiles.

Stuart:   “Oh! I did not realize that you and Mama had an arranged marriage.”

Sir Collin:  “Sometimes arranged marriages are best.  And happily, our marriage is a blessing.”

Stuart: “So what does your advice mean with regard to my liking Miss Anna Wingate?”  Stuart asks boldly while also stating his preference for Anna.

Sir Collin:  “To the point, well done, Stuart.  You will be away at Eton for two more years and then four years at university followed by establishing yourself in a profession or entering the military.  So you will not have much chance to interact with Miss Anna, except at infrequent joint family gatherings at holidays and such.  Though you might write to Miss Anna–after first  seeking permission from her father, Lord Rafe, of course–I would urge you not do so often.  Frequency of letter writing can convey–without meaning to–a preference for her that might make her think that you two might be matched together.   It would not be fair to presume that you and she might court and wed when she is so young–because courting is not undertaken lightly.  You only court a lady as prelude to marriage with her [(8)].  And though I will not arrange your marriage for you unless you wish it–your grandparents on both sides having been lucky to guess correctly that your Mama  and I were a good match–you have many years before you need to think about marriage.” He says hoping that his son will not be married as young as he was–to give Stuart more time to grow up before he has to assume the responsibility of a family.  “So your wishes and interests may change as you grow older and develop a wider sphere of acquaintance.  Similarly, Anna needs time to settle into her new family and she also needs time to grow up.  She is very young at eleven years of age.” Then he continues delicately.  “And Stuart, Lord Rafe might wish to match his daughter to a noble such as he–or perhaps, higher.”

And it would be awkward for and strain Sir Collin’s friendship with his oldest friend Lord Rafe were Sir Collin’s son Stuart be refused to even be allowed write to Lord Rafe’s daughter, Miss Anna.

Stuart:    “I see.  And I am just Stuart MacGregor.  I have no title.”  Stuart’s face saddens with the reality of his lesser rank and he lowers his eyes from his Papa’s penetrating gaze.  Though Stuart comes from a wealthy family and he has good connections through his family and his classmates at Eton, unless he distinguishes himself somehow–as his Papa has done–he will always be just Stuart MacGregor.  He raises his eyes to his Papa. “Then I will make myself worthy to be anyone’s son-in-law, Papa.”  But Stuart has only one father-in-law in mind.

Sir Collin:  Patting his son’s shoulder, he says warmly.  “I am certain that you will, my son.  I have great hopes for you.  I am proud of you already.”

Stuart:  “Thank you, Papa.  And I am proud of you.”

It is a father and son bonding moment of shared love and deepening confidences.

Sir Collin departs from his son to collect his wife, Lady Frances, for the picnic.  And once again, Stuart returns to his reading.  Though now, Stuart has more on his mind than before–with regard to how he must conduct himself with Miss Anna.

***

Lord Rafe has combed nearly all of Dearing Manor for his bride and his daughter–looking first into Anna’s empty bed chamber–but finding neither.  As he begins to mount the stairs to the family bed chamber wing again he is greeted by a cavalcade of children dogs, aunt, Grandmama, and bride, walking toward him down the stairs.

Lord Rafe:  “There you all are!   I was beginning to think that you had gone out doors and started the picnic without me!”  He smiles in mock consternation.

Lady Katharine:  Gracefully descending the stairs, she stops one step before her husband’s step at the bottom–which puts their faces level with each other.  “My lord, you must not have been good at hiding when you were a child, for we were touring the guest wing.” She smiles impishly as she lightly lays a hand on his shoulder.  She wants a kiss from him, but she feels it is too brazen for her to initiate the action in front of their family.

Lord Rafe:  “Kate, you have me at a disadvantage, then–for I did not think to check there.”  His hand seeks out her other hand and kisses it.TheThreeBrothersTheSonsofThomasDallasbyGeorgeWatsonApr0413PersephoneBooksCrpShrp

Then children and other family members file past Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine.

Henry:  “Hello Uncle Rafe.  We are heading to the picnic.”  Five year old Henry [(9) right] points to the door, as if he were directing his troops.

Charlotte:  “Picnic!”  Three year old Lottie [(10) right] toddles after her brother William-Adolphe-Bouguereau-Little-girl-holding-apples-in-her-hands-Oil-PaintingApr0413PaintingAllHi-resShrpcheerfully–her loose brown curls bouncing merrily upon her shoulders as she goes.

Lady Wingate:  “We will see you on the terrace, Rafe and Katharine.  We will gather for a game of croquet on the lawn, before our picnic luncheon.”

Lord Rafe:  “Yes Mama.”  He replies without taking his eye off of his lovely bride, Lady Katharine.

Lady Katharine:  “Yes.  Oh and Anna, you remember what I told you about the South Parlor?”  She says obliquely as she points in the direction of the room.

Anna:  “Yes, thank you Katharine.”  She smiles.  “Good morning, Lord .. Papa.” She switches greetings.  She realizes that she needs to treat Lord Rafe like her Papa if she is to learn to think of him as such.

Lord Rafe:  “Good morning, Anna Dear.”  He smiles and pats her cheek.  “We will see you soon.”  He returns his gaze to his lovely bride, Lady Katharine.

Anna nods and walks in the direction of the South Parlor.

Lady Louisa:  She gazes at her brother and his tightly coiled posture holding himself in check from taking his bride into his arms for a kiss.  “Uh huh.  Rafe and Katharine, we will get started with croquet on the lawn before our picnic luncheon in an hour.”  Then she leans over to them and adds in a saucy whisper.  “Rafe, have you shown Katharine your boyhood bed chamber yet?  I trust that we will see you both in time for the luncheon?”

Lady Katharine blushes and lowers her eyes.  However, Lord Rafe meets his sister’s gaze squarely.

Lord Rafe:  Catching his sister’s allusion, he pounces on it. “Excellent notion!”  Then he turns to his wife.  “Come my dear, I would show you something of interest in my boyhood bed chamber.”  Then he takes Lady Katharine by the hand before she can say anything in blushing protest and he guides her upstairs–for more than a nostalgic tour.

***

Having stopped for directions to the South Parlor from two different footmen in the long AnnaImageisEmilieFrancoisasMargaretin1995Sense&Sensibilityvlcsnap-2013-03-16-19h30m19s213Apr0813GratianaLovelaceCapcropClrShrphallway, Anna quietly opens the parlor door and peeks in.  At first, the room looks empty.  Thinking that Stuart must have gone outside already, Anna starts to walk toward the open doors to the terrace to meet up with her other family.  Then she spies a small spinet piano in the corner that she walks over to and opens the covering to the keyboard [(11) right].  Anna has only learnt to play a little, taught by the nuns.  But she did not have a piano in her home with her Mama.  So she could not play every day.   Anna thinks that she will have to ask her Grandmama if she may play this piano–perhaps even to resume her piano lessons.

Anna: Anna strokes the fine wood finish of the piano as she closes the lid to the keyboard.  “Hhhhh!”  Anna sighs dejectedly at not finding Stuart as she was told he would be here.

Stuart:  Looking up from his book and realizing that someone else is in the room, Stuart stands up quickly from his chair–this time, blessedly not falling down–and he calls out to her as he walks forward.  “Miss Anna!”  Seeing Anna’s dark blond ringlets set against her pale blue day dress looks very charming to Stuart.  He does not know why he thinks that she looks charming, he just knows that he does.

Anna:  Whirling around, Anna sees Stuart striding toward her–looking taller than he did last night when she first met him.  She is a bit bowled over by him, but she greets him warmly.  “Good morning, Stuart.  I thought that you might have gone outside already.  I am told by my Grandmama that we are playing croquet on the lawn first and then we are having our picnic lunch.”  She smiles pleasantly.

Stuart:  “I was waiting to escort you.”  Stuart nods politely, straightening his posture. Then he juts out his arm. “May I?”  But he smiles benignly, attempting to behave as he ought.  The talk his father had with him about guarding his feelings has had its effect, for now.

Anna:  Noticing that Stuart’s politeness to her seems a little less relaxed than it did last night, she matches his mood–and his politesse.  “Of course.  Thank you.”  And she takes his arm with a poise beyond her eleven years.

They walk out onto the terrace and see their families on the lawn.

Stuart:  “Wanting to still have a private moment of conversation with her–despite his father’s caution–he states blandly.  “It is a fine day for a picnic.  I do not see a rain cloud in the sky.”

Anna:  “I do not think a rain cloud would have the courage to ruin my Grandmama’s picnic.”   She smiles impishly.

Stuart:  “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!”  He roars with laughter, his pretend stoic stodginess broken.  “Lady Wingate is a force to be reckoned with.  I heard tell that she once kept the Prince of Wales waiting for a dinner she hosted in his honor in London–because he had arrived ten minutes early and she wanted to teach him a lesson about proper punctuality.”

Anna: “No! Really?”  She turns to look at her Grandmama and gawks at her with her eyes and her mouth wide–and now noticing that all the family is dancing attendance around her Grandmama’s seated form as servants also hover deferentially nearby.  “Grandmama has always been so kind and caring with me. I guess that I never thought that she might have other … qualities to her personality.”

Stuart:  “She is quite the grand lady.”  He smiles, intending to be complimentary.

But his remark seems to have the opposite effect upon Anna.  For to Anna, her surroundings at Dearing Manor and the titled and noble people all around her in her family and their friends–though exceedingly kind and caring to her–remind her that she is of humble birth–despite Lord Rafe being her father.

Anna:  “Yes, she is.”  Anna smiles wanly.StuartImageOutsideisChristianBaleasTheodoreLaurencein1994LittleWomenMar2513tumblr_lavpduBrtShrpHi-res

Stuart:  Stuart notices Anna’s changed mood and attempts to cajole her back to cheerfulness by pouting out his face cutely [(12) right].  “Why so glum, Anna?  Did your cousins put spiders in your bed?”

Anna:  She startles.  “No!  And please do not give them any ideas.  I think Henry might have enough of a devil in him to try that.  As for Lottie?  She is a sweet little thing who follows where he leads.  Ha!”

Lord Wingate:  Walking over to  Anna and Stuart, he urges them to keep up.  “Now do not straggle behind.  We have much croquet to play before luncheon.”

Anna:  Turning to her Grandpapa, she says.  “I do not know how to play, Grandpapa.  The only croquettes [(13)] I know are the ones that I make in the kitchen.”  She smiles winsomely.

Lord Wingate:  “Another pun!  Ha ha ha ha ha!”  He pats her cheek.  “You are to be on my team Anna.  I will teach you how to play.”

Anna:  “Thank you, Grandpapa.”  She smiles warmly at him as he takes her arm from Stuart and puts it in his arm.

Stuart:  “But Miss Anna, I…”  Thwarted again!  Stuart had so wanted to be the person to teach Miss Anna how to play croquet.

Anna:  “Yes, Stuart?”  Anna looks back at Stuart amiably as he walks away from her.  In her mind, they will all be playing together–even if they are on different teams. So Anna still considers herself playing croquet with Stuart.

However, Stuart mopes away in disappointment  by walking to the edge of the croquet field–a real pout on his face now.  He keeps himself turned away from the others so as to not reveal his feelings.  In Stuart’s mind, Lord Wingate taking Anna away from him indicates to Stuart that Lord Wingate feels that he/Stuart is not suitable for his granddaughter–maybe not even as a friend.  Stuart at fourteen years is at such an awkward age of wanting to be a young man, yet still having childlike hurts and misunderstandings due to his insecurities.  And Stuart’s insecurities were not helped by his Papa Sir Collin’s pointing out earlier today that though the MacGregor’s are family friends of the Wingate’s, the MacGregor’s are of a much lower rank than their hosts.

Lord Wingate:  “What is wrong with him?”  He asks about Stuart to no one in particular.

The other couples–Sir John and Lady Louisa, and Sir Collin and Lady Frances–give knowing looks in Stuart’s lovesick puppy dog direction.

Anna:  “I do not know, Grandpapa.  But he is a boy, and boys are grumpy and mischievous sometimes.”

Grandpapa: “Hhhh!  Yes, Anna dear.”    He pats her hand sighing.

Charlotte:   Running over to Anna, Lottie grasps Anna’s free hand.  “Play co-kay wit me?”  “R” sounds are still a consternation to little Lottie.

Anna bends down to her little cousin and lifts her into her arms.

Anna:  “That sounds fun, Lottie!”

Charlotte:  “Fun!   Henny, too?”  She asks cutely for her brother as she wiggles her finger pointing to him.

Anna:  “Henry, too.”  She smiles at him.

So with Grandpapa teaming up with his three grandchildren, the remaining team is assembled, consisting of the four parents–Sir John & Lady Louisa, and Sir Collin & Lady Frances.  Of course, Lady Wingate will watch happily and serenely from her seated position to the side of the croquet field.  That still leaves Stuart odd man out.  That is, until Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine come strolling across the lawn–much earlier than expected by his sister Lady Louisa.

Lady Louisa:  “Why Rafe and Katharine?  I thought we might not see you until luncheon.”  She smiles saucily at Lady Katharine who blushes.

Lord Rafe:  “Now Louisa, I cannot miss out on the family games before the picnic when they are in honor of my daughter Anna, can I?”

Anna smiles shyly at her Papa, Lord Rafe.  Lady Wingate, smiles pleasantly at her son–pleased at his sense of responsibility.

Lady Louisa:  Not letting the point die, she asks. “But I thought you were showing Katharine your boyhood bed chamber?”

Lady Katharine:  “And so he did.”  She nods curtly.  Then she turns back to her husband and gives him a glowing smile, remembering their stolen kisses they shared in his boyhood bed chamber.

Lord Rafe:  “Yes, I did!”  Lord Rafe raises his eyebrow and kisses his wife’s hand–while also remembering their passionate kisses in his former bed chamber.  If there had not been a compelling reason for them to leave the room–namely, his daughter Anna’s picnic–they might have stayed in the bed chamber for a passionate tumble.  Thoroughly purging his boy hood domain of its childish memories will have to be one delight that he and his wife will have to wait to enjoy.

Lady Wingate:  “Rafe and Katharine, your Papa has claimed the grandchildren for his team.  And the Throckmorton’s and MacGregor’s are another team.”  She smiles and then nods in the direction of young Stuart MacGregor.

Lord Rafe:  Walking up to his godson Stuart and clapping him on the back, Lord Rafe asks.  “Well, Stuie!  It looks like you are on my team.”  Lord Rafe smiles broadly at Stuart.  Then he catches sight of Stuart’s sad expression and he lays his arm across Stuart’s shoulders and asks caringly sotto voce. “What is wrong, my boy?”

Stuart:  Stuart jerks his arm back to remove Lord Rafe’s arm from his shoulders.  “Uncle Rafe, I am not a boy!”  Stuart says stridently.

And unfortunately, Stuart is loud enough for his Papa Sir Collin and everyone else to hear him.

Sir Collin:  Mortified with his son’s rebuke of his oldest friend, Sir Collin stalks quickly over to his son Stuart and his best friend Lord Rafe, and he hisses.  “Stuart!   If you do not want to be thought of as a boy, then do not act like one!  Behave yourself and apologize to Lord Rafe this instant.”

Stuart:  “But Papa.”  He whines.

Then Anna walks over to the three of them.  And Stuart feels that his humiliation is complete. Anna looks back and forth at the fathers, then at Stuart.

Anna: “Papa Rafe?”  She looks at him in concern.  She wonders if her Papa will turn out to be grumpy like her Uncle Miller.

Lord Rafe:  Sensing that a rapprochement is required of him, Lord Rafe tries to smooth everyone’s ruffled feathers.  “Nay Collin, old man.  I thank you for your concern.  But Stuart is right.  I was wrong to be condescending to him.”  Then he turns to Stuart.  “Stuart, I apologize.  You have grown from a boy into a young man so quickly that I did not have time to notice it.  Forgive me?”  Lord Rafe holds out his hand to Stuart.

Stuart:  “Hhhh!  Thank you Uncle Rafe.  I am sorry for my outburst.  Forgive me?”  Stuart shakes his honorary uncle’s hand.

Sir Collin:  “You are very obliging, Rafe.  Thank you.”  He says in an even tone, now that his own temper has cooled.

Anna:  Anna takes Stuart’s hand to lead him back to the croquet field.  “Come Stuart.  We have croquet to play.  Then our picnic.”  She smiles at him sweetly.

Stuart:  “Yes Miss Anna.  I will be with you in a moment.”  He squeezes her hand and lets it drop.  She nods and walks back over to her Grandpapa.

Turning back to Lord Rafe and his Papa, Stuart struggles with what he wants to ask.  Then he blurts it out.

Stuart:  “May I write to Miss Anna, Uncle Rafe!?!”  Then Stuart covers his mouth as if shocked by what he just requested, knowing that his Papa had cautioned him against it.

Sir Collin:  “Hhhh.  Stuart, I told you this morning  that Miss Anna needs time to grow up before she receives letters from a young man.”

Lord Rafe:  Turning to look at his lifelong friend, Sir Collin, with narrowing eyes, Lord Rafe asks him boldly.  “Is your reticence on her part, or on Stuart’s?”  Now Lord Rafe really has taken offense, wondering if the circumstances of Anna’s birth are offensive to his friend with regard to her associating with his son, Stuart.

Sir Collin: “Old Man, on hers, of course.”  He assures his friend.  But it is not quite good enough.

Lord Rafe:  “Somehow, I do not believe you.”  Lord Rafe says sadly, feeling that his friend does not want his son connected to his bastard child, Anna.

Then Stuart interjects to advocate for himself–which, in turn, helps to salvage his Papa’s and Uncle’s relationship.

Stuart:  Speaking sotto voce–so only the men can hear him.  “Uncle Rafe, Papa cautioned me that my writing to Anna might convey to her and to others that I was courting her.  But she is still so very young and I have more schooling ahead of me before courting might be allowed.  And that she might find another whom she prefers in that time–as I might also.   And, well, that despite our wealth, I am of a lower rank than she–and I do not even have a title.  But I promise to make myself worthy of Anna, Uncle Rafe.   If you will let me try.”  He says fervently.

Lord Rafe gazes at his godson with new eyes, but remains silent while pondering his response.

Sir Collin:  “Rafe, you need not answer Stuart now.  He and Anna are both very young.”  He says pridefully, wishing his son had not revealed his concerns about rank–not wanting to have the discomfiture of Lord Rafe refusing Stuart’s request.

Lord Rafe:  “Your Papa is right, Stuart.”  He says solemnly

Stuart:  “About which part?”  He asks hesitantly.  Sir Collin also wonders which part?

Lord Rafe:  “That you and Anna are both very young.   I am glad that you have formed a liking for Anna. Though I do not know her well yet myself, Anna seems pleasantly disposed toward you.  But beyond that, I would not venture a guess as to her feelings or wishes.  So I would ask a favor of you, Stuart.”

Stuart:  “Of course, Uncle Rafe.  What is it?”

Lord Rafe:  “Please give Anna and I time to get to know each other as father and daughter before she enters into a friendship with you.”  Stuart nods in understanding, but he is still crestfallen as he lowers his eyes to look at the grass.  “Rather than you writing Anna directly, if you wish to write to me and convey your regards to her in those letters, I will allow it and pass on your messages to her.  But no more than one letter per month, mind you.  And in turn, in my reply to you, I will convey to you any message that Anna wishes to send to you.”  For all his rakish past, Lord Rafe is now a father–in every responsible and protective sense of that word.

Sir Collin:  “That is most sensible, Rafe.”  He nods his thanks for Lord Rafe letting his son down easily.

Stuart:  Standing up straight and bringing his eyes up to gaze at Lord Rafe, Stuart says with great poise.  “I find that acceptable, Uncle Rafe.  Thank you.  I shall look forward to our correspondence.”

Lord Rafe:  “Good!  Now!   Shall we play some croquet and then have our picnic?   I am getting quite hungry.”  He smiles now that the misunderstanding has been cleared up.

The Wingate family and friends go on to have a lovely and spirited game of croquet on the Warwick_Castle_South_Exterior_800px_from_across_the_River_Avon,_2009Mar1313wikibeautiful grounds of Dearing Manor [(14) right].  And though Anna did not know how to play at first, she is found to have quite a skillful striking arm with her mallet.  The picnic lunch consists of their meal eaten as they sit on blankets on the lawn–except for the grandparents who sit at a small table nearby.  The children–and Anna and Stuart–have a wonderful time getting to eat cold foods with their fingers, swatting flies, and fending off food begging requests from the Irish Setter Kelly.

Then after the picnic lunch, the bright and sunny afternoon is taken up with games of hide and seek in the garden, running the hedge maze contests, deviled and raw egg relays, etc.–and of course, kite flying.   It seems that in addition to Lord Rafe showing his wife his boyhood bed chamber earlier–and kissing her soundly–he retrieved his teenaged kite off of his boyhood bed chamber wall. Then Lord Rafe also slipped into his sister Lady Louisa’s guest bed chamber and pilfered a selection of her brightly colored hair ribbons for the kite’s tail.  A grown man Lord Rafe might be, but the mischievous boy in him is never far from the surface.  Lady Louisa just shakes her head and smiles.  It seems that she had safely tucked away her most favorite hair ribbons in her valise–just in case.

Lord Rafe:  After returning from the manor, Lord Rafe holds something high in the air as he walks back toward the family gathering.  “Anna!  Come see what I have!”  He holds up the faded fabric diamond shaped kite with its new brightly colored hair ribbons tail.

Anna:  “Oh Papa Rafe, it is beautiful!”  Anna’s compromise for addressing her father is still warmly said.  “Will it fly?”

Lord Rafe:  “Let us test it out.”  He hands Anna the stick with yards and yards of string wound around it.  “Now we will let out the string and then with you holding the end and I holding the kite, we will run in parallel until the wind catches it and it floats upward.”

Anna:  “Alright.”  She nods eagerly.  Anna has only seen kites a few times, at fairs.  But she has never flown one before.

Lord Rafe:  “Ready, set, go!”

Anna holds the stick with the end of the ball of string high as she runs–her father, Lord Rafe, runs after her.   When the wind pulls on the kite, he lets it go and the kite flies aloft.

Lady Katharine:  “Anna, you are flying the kite!”  She claps her hands with glee.

Lord Rafe:  “That’s it, Anna.”  She continues running with the kite, but looks up to watch it fly, rather than where she is running.  “Anna, watch out!”

Anna Wingate runs pell mell into Stuart MacGregor–knocking him over as if she were as big and tall as he, with her landing almost on top of him.  The kite no longer under tension, floats to the ground–dropping the string all around them.

Stuart:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!  Felled by a kite!”

Anna:  Sitting up off the ground, she pouts.  “I am so sorry, Stuart.”

Lord Rafe:  Lord Rafe walks over to them and helps Anna stand–brushing off her skirt.  “You are alright.”  Then he yanks Stuart up with one arm.

Lady Wingate seeing Anna fall, also walks serenely across the lawn to ascertain that her granddaughter has not broken any bones.

Lady Wingate:  “Anna dear, are you injured?”  She asks fretfully.  Broken bones are a very serious injury in 1826.

Anna:  “No Grandmama–just my pride.”  She wrinkles up her nose.

Lord Rafe:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!   You had the kite flying beautifully, my dear.”  He pats her cheek–then he impulsively leans down and kisses her forehead.  “But you forgot the first rule of kite flying.”

Anna:  “Oh?  What is that?”

Lady Louisa:  “Do not steal your sister’s hair ribbons?”  She jests and everyone laughs.

Everyone:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Lord Rafe:  “No!”  He rolls his eyes amusingly at his sister.  “Look out in the direction you are running to make sure there are no obstacles in your path.”

Anna:  “Oh!  But Stuart is not an obstacle, Papa Rafe.”

Stuart:  “Thank you, Miss Anna!”  He grins broadly to be defended by her.

Henry:  “Then what is Stuart?”

Charlotte:  “What is Stu-wat?”  Lottie mimics.

Anna:  Looking from her cousins to her Grandmama, to Stuart, to her Papa and his wife, then back to Stuart, Anna replies.  “Stuart is … a friend.”  She smiles pleasantly and sweetly–for sweetness is in Anna’s nature.

Stuart:  Stuart bows to Anna, while trying to contain his grin.  “Thank you for the compliment, Miss Anna.”

It is a glorious day of togetherness and fun activities for the extended Wingate family that help make Anna feel even more welcomed by her new family and into her new home.  And the day also gives Anna and her Papa Lord Rafe more opportunities to interact and converse congenially with each other.   Lady Katharine is not jealous and encourages her husband to engage Anna as much as possible.  Lady Katharine hopes that Lord Rafe and Anna will eventually form a loving bond that will be one of the cornerstones of their family.

Then after their evening’s dinner–it being the last one they will all spend together until Christmas in six months time–they say their fond farewells.  On the morrow, the MacGregor’s head for their home–and then Stuart heads back to Eton.   And Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine will head to London to visit her family.  However, Lady Louisa’s family will not leave until the day after next. So Anna and her little cousins Charlotte and Henry will have another day of play together.  Then Anna and her Grandmama and Grandpapa will continue the process of acclimating Anna to her new home, outfitting her with a proper wardrobe, finding her a governess, and introducing her to their friends in the area.

And this night, the third night of Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine’s marriage?  The second night of their being a lovingly romantic couple?  Well, though with their travel plans to London for the next day to visit with her family, they should be getting some sleep and rest–their passions have other ideas. Besides, they may sleep in the carriage on their way to London the next day–assuming the roads have been dry and they are not too bumpy.

To be continued with Chapter 14

                                                                References

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) Lord Rafe image (cropped, color, sharp, hi-res) is Richard Armitage asJohn Thornton in the BBC’s North & South (2004) episode 2, pix035 Apr0813ranet found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-035.jpg

3) Lady Katharine image is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in 2005’s The Buccaneers, vlcsnap-2013-03-13-00h35m14s151 Apr0713  Gratiana Lovelace Cap FlipShrpHi-res.

4) Queen Charlotte was married to King George III of England who reigned  from 1760 to 1820 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_monarchshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_of_Mecklenburg-Strelitz

5) Napoleon Bonaparte information was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napoleon

6) Princess Adelaide and Prince William in 1826 would become the King and Queen of England in 1830.  19th century English monarchy information was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_monarchs ; the friendship relationship between Lady Leonora Wingate and Princess Adelaide is completely fictitious.

7) 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

8)        Courting  Behavior, general customs are found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtship

9)        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

10) 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

11) Anna  Wingate image is Emilie Francois as Margaret Dashwood in 1995’s Sense & Sensibility vlcsnap-2013-03-16-19h30m19s213 Apr0813 Gratiana Lovelace screencap CropClrShrp

12) Stuart MacGregor image (brt, shrp, hi-res)is Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence outside in 1994’s Little Women was found at http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lavpduFdY21qzadhwo1_r1_500.png

13) Croquettes are a fried potato or other vegetable and are mentioned as early as the 1760’s as found at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/croquette

14) Dearing Manor and grounds are represented by Warwick Castle (from 2009), South Exterior on Avon River  in Warwick was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Exterior_of_Warwick_Castle_from_across_the_River_Avon,_2009.jpg

“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 11-12 is:
https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/love-is-a-choice-ch-11-12-breakfast-with-grandmama-and-fannys-letters-april-5-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-391/

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About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
This entry was posted in "Love is a Choice" story, Creative Writing, Fiction, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Romance and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “Love is a Choice”, Ch. 13 (PG): Picnic Celebrating Anna Joining the Wingate Family, 4/08/13 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #393)

  1. aj daisy says:

    Oh this is lovely I love everything about it. Thank You Grati

    Like

  2. Pingback: “Love is a Choice”, Ch. 14: Heartfelt Farewells, April 12,2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #395) | Something About Love (A)

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