(An original story by Gratiana Lovelace; All Rights Reserved)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Emilie Francois as Anna Wingate, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Sir Antony Southwick, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Charmaine Southwick, Catherine Deneuve as Lady Esmѐ Sinclair, Julian Sands as Sir Percival Southwick, Samantha Morton as Lady Lucinda Southwick, and others, etc.] [Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: The Southwick Family experienced several reconciliations at breakfast and at luncheon on Saturday–the day after Lady Charmaine had her small stroke that has left her with weakness on her left side, no memory of the past eight years, and now a seeming difficulty with swallowing. Lady Katharine and her brother Sir Percival and their spouses have a lovely luncheon before Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe visit her Mama again. After the busy morning, Lady Esme keeps to her bed for the remainder of the day to rest. Her absence, gives Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine the opportunity to inform Lady Charmaine about Anna. It goes better than expected and Lady Charmaine wants to meet her new nearly grown granddaughter when she comes for tea with the Wingates this Saturday afternoon. But that is several hours away and the newlyweds Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe–and the newly reconciled Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony–have very loving afternoons.
Meanwhile, the Wingates will travel to Londonand settle in before attending tea at the Southwicks.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 20 (PG): The Wingates bring Anna to London during Lady Southwick’s recovery, Part I
Lord and Lady Wingate speed to London on Saturday–with 11 year old Anna in tow–to see if they can provide consolation to Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine with regard to her Mama’s stroke and to also buy Anna some new clothes in London. Until they reach their London home, they have not had further updates about Lady Charmaine’s condition and they fear the worst, that she has died. However, upon arriving at their London Townhouse, they discover a note from their son Lord Rafe stating that Lady Charmaine is recovering and that they are invited to tea almost as soon as they arrive. So they send word ahead of them to the Southwick home that they will be delayed an hour and a half before joining Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine–to give them time to change out of their traveling clothes and wipe the road dust off of them.
However after freshening up and changing clothes, the Wingates have other visitors–Lady Louisa [(2) right] and Sir John, and their two children, 5 year old Henry and 3 year old Charlotte/Lottie are shown into the parlor by the butler. Lord Rafe had also informed his sister Lady Louisa of Lady Charmaine’s illness and that their parents were coming to Town and would be in residence.
Walking into the parlor behind her Grandmama and Grandpapa Wingate, Anna spies her cousins Henry and Lottie and lets out an unladylike, but heartfelt, squeal of delight.
Little Lottie lets go of her Mama, Lady Louisa’s hand and and races to Anna, maneuvering past her father trying to catch her, her brother swatting at her, and in between her grandparents.
Charlotte: “Anna!” She exclaims as she tumbles into Anna’s legs. “I missed you!”
Anna: Picking up Charlotte and embracing her, Anna replies. “It has only been two days, Lottie.” Charlotte pouts cutely. “Oh well, I missed you, too.” Anna embraces Lottie caringly and rocks her back and forth in her arms.
Lady Louisa: “Lottie dear, is there anyone else you missed?” She hints and points to her parents, her children’s grandparents as she greets her Mama with a kiss.
Henry: “Well, I missed Grandmama and Grandpapa.” He juts out his little chin.
Lord Charles Wingate: Smiling and placing his hand on his grandson’s shoulder he asks. “Captain Henry, how did our troops fare in the Calais mission?” The fictional military maneuvers game that he plays with his grandson. His son-in-law Sir John Throckmorton looks on in amusement.
Henry: “My general, not good.” Henry blanches convincingly in despair. “The Channel was crowded with so many ships that our navy could not discern who among them was our enemy.”
Lord Charles Wingate: “So what was your strategy, Captain?”
Henry: “Sink them all and sort it out later, Sir.” Henry purses his lips resolutely and narrows his eyes.
Lord Charles Wingate: “A bold plan! However, it has the result of possibly losing us fresh troops and supplies when you sink British boats, too.”
Sir John: “A slight drawback there, Henry.” He smiles wryly at his son and then Lord Wingate.
Charlotte: “Henny kiz evywan.” (Henry kills everyone. ) Lottie sneers successfully to her cousin Anna as she drops her r and l sounds.
Anna smiles in amusement.
Lady Wingate: “Yes, well.” She rolls her eyes in amused disdain. “Let us call a truce so that we may attend tea at the Southwicks. I am sorry Louisa, but we are already engaged.”
Lady Louisa: “Oh! We were hoping to take you out to tea at the park pavilion, Mama. Might Anna at least accompany us?” Lady Louisa asks delicately because she is not certain that Anna was invited to the Southwick’s for tea. And with Lady Southwick’s illness, the Wingate family does not want to upset little Anna who so recently lost her own mother to an illness.
Lady Wingate: “Thank you Louisa, that is most kind–perhaps, tomorrow. Anna has also been invited to tea, and she will be reunited with her father and Lady Katharine.”
Lady Louisa: “Very well. How does that suit you, Anna?” She smiles warmly at her neice.
Charlotte: Tugging at her Grandmama’s skirt, Lottie [(3) right] looks up at her. “Gamah?”
Lady Wingate: Smiling down at her granddaughter Lottie, she asks. “What is it Lottie dear?”
Charlotte: Holding up her arms and waving them, wanting to be held by her Grandmama, she asks. “I want a kitten. May I?” Lottie speaks clearly when no r sounds are involved–or when she is asking for something and she wants to make sure her request is understood.
Lady Wingate: Lady Wingate sits down on the sette and she pats her lap–whereupon little Lottie climbs onto her Grandmama’s lap. “Lottie, dearest, you need to ask your Mama and Papa that question.”
Henry: Henry interjects decisively. “Lottie, we are getting a dog! I am older, I get to decide.” He harumps as only a 5 year old can.
Charlotte: She puts her hands over both of her ears to shut out what her brother is saying. “Kitten, kitten, kitten!”
Lady Louisa shakes her head ruefully to the suggestion of pets as she gazes pleadingly at her husband, Sir John.
Sir John: Noticing that his wife is still averse to the concept of them having a pet–be it dog or cat–he closes ranks [(4)]. “Henry and Lottie, whether or not we welcome a pet into our home at some point in the future will be a decision for your Mama and I to make.”
Lottie and Henry pout–as children not getting their way do.
Lady Louisa: “Thank you dear.” She smiles, glad to have a truly supportive parenting partner in her husband. “But we must be off for home to let you be off to the Southwicks. Anna we will see you tomorrow.”
Anna: “Thank you Aunt Louisa.” Anna smiles and curtsies.
Lottie: “Bye Anna.” She waves cutely.
Anna: “Good bye Lottie and Henry.” Anna gives them each a hug.
Henry: “Anna.” Henry nods his head curtly after he wriggles out of Anna’s embrace. It would not do for five year old Captain Henry to be seen showing emotion. He must be ruthless in his purpose–especially if he wants to convince his parents that they should get a dog.
Then the Throckmorton’s depart for their London home nearby and the Wingates plus Anna take their carriage to the Southwick home.
After having been shown into the large plant filled parlor at the Southwick home, Lord Charles, Lady Leonora, and their granddaughter Anna Wingate sit calmly on the sette waiting for Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine to greet them. They wait only a minute or two when Lord Rafe enters with his apologies.
Lord Rafe: Raking his fingers through his hair, trying to tame it into submission after the tumbling it received during this afternoon’s romantic interludes with his wife–him only just having donned his clothes again–Lord Rafe smiles contentedly pleasantly at his parents and his daughter. “Mama and Papa!” He kisses his Mama’s cheek and shakes his now standing Papa’s hand. “Anna!” He holds out his hands.
Anna: Anna rises politely. “Good morrow, Papa Rafe.” Lord Rafe kisses Anna’s cheek and smiles at her while he squeezes her hand in his.
Lord Rafe: “I am sorry that we were not down here to greet you promptly. Kate will be down shortly.” After her ladies maid helps her get dressed again, he thinks privately to himself with a small satisfied smile.
Lady Wingate: “Rafe, I do hope that your recent message was correct–that Lady Southwick’s health is improving.” Lady Wingate [(5) right] asks with great conern.
Lord Wingate: “Yes, I hope so, too. Dreadful business strokes–my parents had them and died within a month.” He says gruffly, but not meaning to cause offense or alarm. Bluntness is just his way.
Lord Rafe blanches at his father reminding him of that–worried for Lady Katharine were her Mama to die when she is so young. Anna lowers her head and casts her eyes downward, thinking of her own Mama who died not two weeks ago.
Lady Wingate: “Charles, please!” Lady Wingate chides him. “We should let Rafe speak.”
Lady Wingate tilts her head at their granddaughter Anna. Lord Wingate shrugs his shoulders and winces apologetically.
Lord Rafe: “Yes thank you, Mama.” He nods to his Mama. “Lady Charmaine is recovering. Though she still has weakness in her left arm and leg–and she is having a bit of trouble swallowing large bites or gulps of water.”
Lady Wingate: “Well! Since ladies do not take large bites, nor gulps of beverages, I hope that she will not be troubled too much.” she states primly. “Where is Katharine? With her Mama?”
Anna: “Will we see Katharine?” She asks eagerly–for Anna feels a sisterly kinship with Lady Katharine that helps her bridge the separation that she and her Papa Lord Rafe had endured.
Lord Rafe: He smiles at his daughter. “She will join us momentarily, Anna. She is attending to …” He cannot very well tell them that she is getting dressed again after they made love all afternoon. “well, whatever you ladies attend to.” He says off handedly.
Butler: Knocking swiftly twice, then entering, the Butler and the footman bring in the tea tray and foods trays–setting them down on the short table in front of the sette. “My Lord, is there anything else you require?”
Lord Rafe: “No, thank you. This all looks lovely. But please inform Sir Antony that my parents have arrived.”
Butler: He bows deferentially. “Very good milord.” Then the Butler and the footman back out of the room. With the Butler heading upstairs to relay the message to Sir Antony.
Lord Rafe stares at the tea and food trays–as does his father. The Wingate men are avid high tea [(6)] observers–and both of their stomachs are growling.
Lady Wingate: “Perhaps until Katharine arrives, Anna might assist me in serving tea.” She smiles at her granddaughter.
Lord Rafe: “Thank you Mama.” He smiles and sits down on the opposing sette while his Papa Lord Wingate sits down on the sette next to his wife, Lady Wingate.
Lady Wingate: “Anna is always my good helper at tea, are you not my dear?” She caresses Anna’s face and smiles at her caringly.
Anna: “Yes, Grandmama.” She waits for instructions. However Anna is a little sad, because when she shared tea with her Grandmama in the past, her late Mama Fanny was also with her.
Lady Wingate: “I will pour and Anna will hand you your cups and saucers.”
Tea in cups is poured and distributed.
Lord Wingate: “Might we try some of the sandwiches and scones? They look delicious!” He salivates hungrily. Well, it was a long journey from Dearing Manor in Warwickshire all day to London.
Lady Wingate: “Yes, Charles.” She rolls her eyes bemusedly.
There ensues quiet sipping and noshing for the next several minutes. Anna eats her small cucumber and meat paste sandwich by nibbling on it in a circular direction. Anna glances over at her father whom she presumes is chomping away on his sandwich–as is her Grandpapa. But to Anna’s amusement, her Papa Lord Rafe is also absentmindedly nibbling on his sandwich in a circular direction. Her Grandmama, takes delicate bites out of her sandwich, then sets it down on her saucer between bites. Everyone enjoys the tea and food in companionable silence.
After five minutes, there is a sharp double knock at the parlor door, then the Butler opens it. Sir Antony Southwick and his daughter Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate enter the parlor. Lord Rafe, Lord Wingate, and Anna stand politely. Lady Wingate stays seated as the lady she is.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe rushes to his wife’s side and kisses her cheek. “Kate my darling, I had almost given up hope for you joining us!” He jests and she smiles charmingly at him.
Sir Antony: Smiling bemusedly at the newlyweds, he mutters under his breath. “Besotted.”
Lady Katharine: “Oh Rafe! You know we ladies take time to get dressed.” She smiles. Then her smile freezes–because she has just admitted that she was recently undressed, her having made love with her husband Lord Rafe all afternoon long. Lady Katharine stammers embarrassedly as she pinkens charmingly. “That is, well, I mean that, I wanted to put on this new frock to greet your parents.”
With a mischievously raised eyebrow, Lord Rafe nods smilingly at her for her adroit recovery.
Sir Antony: He smooths down his waistcoat–he also having dressed again recently, for the same reason as his daughter–though, he does not know that. Then Sir Antony strides over to Lord Charles Wingate. “Lord and Lady Wingate! It is my pleasure to welcome you to our home.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine walks over to her mother-in-law and they kiss cheeks. “Lady Wingate.” Lady Katharine [(7) right] smiles warmly at her mother-in-law and she sits down next to her on the sette.
Lady Wingate: “Katharine.” Lady Wingate caresses Lady Katharine’s cheek. She can see the strain on her daughter-in-law’s face. “My dear, you have had a difficult few days.”
Lady Katharine: “It was so frightening!” Then Lady Katharine bursts into tears and Lady Wingate embraces her soothingly.
Lady Wingate: “There, there my dear. All will be well.”
Lord Rafe: Instantly going to his wife’s side and he also sits down on the sette and he rubs her back tenderly. “Katharine, my Love?”
Lady Katharine: She turns around from her mother-in-law’s embrace and clings to her husband Lord Rafe. “Oh Rafe!” She continues to cry, but it is lessening with her being comforted by her family. For all her being a young lady and a married lady at that, Lady Katharine is still just an 18 year old girl whose Mama is very sick.
Sir Antony looks caringly at his daughter, knowing full well the stress that they have all been under with Lady Charmaine’s illness.
Lord Rafe: “Your Mama gets better every day, my Angel. We must focus on that.”
Lady Katharine: “I know. I should be grateful.” She lifts her teary face from her husband’s shoulder and looks at him and then at the Wingates. “But my Mama does not know me.” Then she buries her face in her husband’s chest and she weeps some more as her her husband places delicate kisses on her temple and rocks her back and forth in his arms.
Lord and Lady Wingate look questioningly at Sir Antony.
Sir Antony: In the end, it is Lady Katharine’s father who provides the explanation. “In addition to Lady Charmaine having weakness in her left arm and leg due to the stroke, she seems to have forgotten the past eight years. My wife remembers Kathy as a ten year old.” He states sorrowfully. Then his gaze shifts to the one person in the room who is almost a ten year old, the eleven year old Anna whom he has not yet met.
Anna has been so focused on the crying Lady Katharine–and remembering her own recent loss sadly–that it takes Anna a moment to realize that all eyes in the room have turned to her.
Lord Rafe: Whispering into his wife’s ear, he says as she calms. “Kate my Love, Are you feeling better so that we may introduce Anna to your Papa?”
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” She nods her head and begins to dry her eyes. “Of course. I am sorry for my display of emotion.”
Lady Wingate: “It is understandable, my dear.” She intones caringly as she nods her head.
Then the quarter not yet heard from also offers her sympathy.
Anna: “Kathy, I am sorry that your Mama is ill. But I am glad that she is getting better.” Anna’s eyes are teary, but she stoically does not burst into tears as Lady Katharine has just done. Anna has cried so many tears over the last several weeks as her Mama’s illness worsened and then she died, that Anna is almost cried out at the moment.
Lord Rafe smiles warmly at his little daughter, for Anna’s kindness to Lady Katharine even in the face of her own grief over her Mama Fanny’s death.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine stops clinging to her husband and she turns to Anna and embraces her. “Thank you, Anna Dear. I am sorry to bring up sad memories for you of your own Mama’s illness.”
Anna: Anna embraces Lady Katharine. “I miss my Mama every day. But if I cannot have her with me, then at least I have my memories of the happy times we shared together.”
Lady Katharine: “Just so, Anna.” Lady Katharine caresses Anna’s face, marveling at this young girl’s inner fortitude in losing her Mama so young, but having such grace to endure it. “Your Mama would be very proud of you as her daughter, Anna. And you are her living legacy to the world–carrying her memories, her lessons to you , and her love for you throughout your life.”
Anna and Lady Katharine look at each other, an ever deepening understanding developing between them for their shared loss.
Lord Rafe: “And I am proud of you, Anna.” He caresses Anna’s cheek. “I did not know what love is until I learned that I was your Papa. You are a treasured gift to me whom I will always cherish, as I also honor your mother Fanny for giving you to me.” He puts his arms around his wife and his daughter and then he kisses the top of Anna’s head.
Anna: “Thank you, Papa Rafe.” She smiles up at her Papa through her unshed tears.
Frankly, there is not a dry eye in the room. Even the older gentlemen–Lord Charles Wingate and Sir Antony Southwick–are tearing up.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe turns to Sir Antony, to finally give the introductions. “Sir Antony, may I present my daughter, Miss Anna Wingate.” Anna tugs at her Papa’s sleeve and he leans down as she whispers something to him. He nods to her and stands up again. “A slight correction, in honor of her Mama Fanny, may I introduce my daughter, Miss Anna Frances Wingate.” [(8)] Lord Rafe smiles warmly at his daughter. “Anna, this is Sir Antony Southwick, my wife Lady Katharine’s father.”
Anna curtsies to Sir Antony.
Sir Antony: Striding forward, Sir Antony bows before Anna, takes her hand in his lips and he kisses it. “Miss Anna.” Then he drops to his knees. “I am Kathy’s Papa. So that makes you my new granddaughter.” He opens his arms wide with a smile.
Anna smiles shyly at the tall man, Sir Antony. Then Anna looks at Lady Katharine who nods her head and smiles encouragingly at her.
Lady Katharine: “Go ahead, Anna. My Papa won’t bite.”
Sir Antony: Looking at Anna’s sweet young face with its dark blond ringlets [(9) right]. “Kathy, your Mama will definitely want to meet Anna. She could be a blond version of you when you were eleven.”
Lady Katharine: “Yes, Papa.” Lady Katharine says pleasantly, stoically, knowing what her Papa is getting at–that her Mama, Lady Charmaine, remembers a ten year old Kathy. That Lady Charmaine grieves for her lost little daughter, Kathy. And seeing Anna might be good for Lady Charmaine. But the question is, will it be good for Anna?
Lord Rafe: “Anna, Lady Charmaine has expressed a wish to meet you when you were here for tea. So shall we pop in and say hello? Hmmm?”
Anna: “I will be honored to meet Lady Southwick, Papa Rafe and Kathy. But if she is so sick that she keeps to her bed, might my visiting her be too tiring for her?” Anna had watched her mother’s failing health take away her comfort in meeting with visitors.
Lady Wingate: “Your consideration of Lady Southwick’s health does you credit, Anna dear.” She smiles caringly at her granddaughter, Anna, who is well on her way to being a fine lady someday.
Sir Antony: Loading up a plate with sandwiches and treats for he and Lady Charmaine, Sir Antony suggests. “I really should be getting back to Charmaine. But I do not want to deprive our guests the Wingates of all of their hosts.” He looks over at his daughter to broker a compromise.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, let just Papa, Anna, and I go up to see Mama. We will keep it brief. Then Anna and I will return to you.”
Lord Rafe: “Anna, will you be alright?” He asks, worried that Anna seeing Lady Katharine’s mother ill and in bed will trigger sad memories for Anna of her own Mama.”
Anna: “Yes, thank you Papa Rafe.” She smiles pleasantly.
So, Sir Antony, Lady Katharine and Anna leave the parlor and walk upstairs toward Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber.
Now that they are alone with their son, the Wingates seek further information.
Lady Wingate: “Is this true, Rafe? Lady Charmaine has lost her memory?”
Lord Rafe: “Indeed, it is. But that and some weakness on her left side–coupled with some swallowing difficulties–seem to be her only residual complaints.”
Lord Wingate: “But will she recover fully? Or does she risk having more strokes?”
Lord Rafe: “Papa, the doctor does not know. We hope that this improvement of her health continues. But more strokes are possible.”
Lady Wingate: “How sad that would be were Lady Southwick to succumb.” She shakes her head sorrowfully.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, but at least the family has reconciled. What drove them apart and created a schism in the family seems to be mended.” He sighs.
Lord Wingate: “Schism? What about?”
Lord Rafe: “I would rather not go into particulars. But let me say that false rumors circulated 8 years ago–and Lady Charmaine believed them. It seems that it created dissension in their previously harmonious family. But now, though she was told about the rumors that she forgets, Lady Charmaine discounts them and firmly believes in her happy family. For Kate’s sake–for all of their sake’s–I hope their reconciliation lasts.”
Lady Wingate: “But if she fully recovers her memory, might she not remember why she believed the rumors and believe in them again?” She asks fretfully. Creating a happy and stable home life for her family has been Lady Wingate’s primary mission in life.
Lord Wingate: “Leonora, we cannot control what happens to Lady Southwick and her family. We can only control how we respond to it.” Then he looks penetratingly at his son, Lord Rafe. “You will need to be extra considerate of Lady Katharine if either Lady Southwick’s memory returns, or her recovery falthers.”
Lady Wingate nods sorrowfully.
Lord Rafe: “Mama and Papa, I dread either outcome. I had a taste of the imperious Lady Charmaine before her stroke rendered her caring and forgiving. The Southwick Family cannot endure returning to that way of life–censured and falsely accused by Lady Southwick of wrong doing.”
Lady Wingate: “Then you must hope and pray for Lady Southwick to continue her recover–and for her to remain reconciled with her family.
Lord Rafe nods. Then while they wait for Lady Katharine and Anna to returnto them, the Wingates enjoy more tea.
Meanwhile, Sir Antony, Lady Katharine, and Anna walk toward Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber. As they get closer to the sick room, Anna’s pace slows down. Lady Katharine notices this.
Lady Katharine: “Anna, you do not have to meet my Mama, just because she asked to meet you. You have had an overwhelming week meeting so many new people. You could always meet my Mama another day.”
Anna: Nodding her head shyly, she says. “Thank you, Kathy. But Mama’s do not always get well.” Anna is thinking of her own dear Mama who died not quite two weeks ago. “So, I should like to meet her now.”
Sir Antony: “Living each moment and not putting things off is a good course of action, Anna.” He nods in agreement. “We none of us know when our time is at an end.” He looks absentmindedly at his mother-in-law, Lady Esme’s–bed chamber door.
Lady Katharine: “Is Grandmere alright, Papa?”
Anna: “Your Grandmama is also staying with you?” She asis curiously.
Sir Antony: “Yes, for the time being, Anna. Kathy, your Grandmere is getting older. And the inevitable will happen one day.”
Lady Katharine: “But not soon, Papa?” She pleads.
Sir Antony: “Let us hope not. So, here we are.” He smiles at them and they nod. Then Sir Antony raps twice on the bed chamber door. “Charmaine, my Love. I have Kathy here–and she brought a visitor to see you.”
Sir Antony, Lady Katharine, and Anna walk into Lady Charmaine’s large and elegant bed chamber. It is a beautiful feminine room, which Anna very much likes. For Anna, who had been accustomed to the spare existence of her home with her late Mama Fanny, and the austere atmosphere of her convent school, but private homes of her grandparents the Wingates, and now Lady Katharine’s parents the Southwicks is a revelation to her.
In fact, Anna is so taken by the ethereal image of the beautiful Lady Charmaine in her silk nightgown and dressing gown–and who is reclining upon a pale pink velvet chaise longue with gilt detailing on the wooden frame–that Anna walks straight over to her. Perhaps Anna is struck by the fact that Lady Charmaine has golden hair similar to her Mama’s–though Fanny’s hair was much lighter in color and less curly in texture. Or perhaps Anna recognizes the very frail countenance of Lady Charmaine before her.
Sir Antony and Lady Katharine follow Anna over to Lady Charmaine. The maid who had been sitting with Lady Charmaine during Sir Antony’s brief absence curtsies and leaves. First Sir Antony and then Lady Katharine, kiss Lady Charmaine’s cheeks.
Lady Katharine: “Mama,you look well.” She smiles at her mother–who smiles back at her.
But Lady Charmaine’s eyes are riveted on the young girl before her, Anna.
Sir Antony: “Charmaine, my Love. Our visitors have arrived.” He places his hands lightly on Anna’s shoulders.
Lady Charmaine: “I see that, Antony.” Charmaine’s eyes gleam. “Come closer child.” She beckons to Anna.
Anna takesone step forward.
Lady Katharine: Sitting on the chaise near her mother’s feet, Lady Katharine pats a place beside her. Sit here Anna.” Anna sits.
Anna sits–still staring at the beautiful lady.
Lady Charmaine: “Might either of perform the introductions? Or must Anna and I do it ourselves?” She asks minxishly.
Lady Katharine: “Mama, this is Rafe’s eleven year old daughter, Miss Anna Frances Wingate. “Anna this is my Mama, Lady Charmaine Southwick.”
Lady Charmaine nods her head at Anna, and Anna nods her head back to her.
Sir Antony brings the treats plate over to show his wife–hoping to entice her to eat.
Sir Antony: “Can I tempt you with anything, Charmaine my Love?”
Lady Charmaine: “Not at the moment, Antony Dear. But if Anna would like a treat.” Lady Charmaine reaches out and touches one of Anna’s blond ringlets. “So like Kathy.” Lady Charmaine mutters and her daughter, Lady Katharine, notices resignedly.
Anna: “Thank you, no, Lady Southwick. I have already eaten some downstairs. It was delicious!” Anna smiles warmly.
Lady Charmaine: “Now, I have two granddaughters.” She smiles.
Anna: Anna looks at Lady Charmaine quizzically. “You do?”
Lady Katharine: “Mama is referring my brother Sir Percival’s 10 month old daughter Eliza–she is a cherub. So you have another cousin.”
Anna: “That is nice.” Anna nods. “I hope you feel better soon, Lady Southwick.” Anna says politely.
Lady Charmaine: “Thank you Anna. Did you have a comfortable journey to London?”
Anna: “Yes Milady.”
Lady Charmaine: “Anna, will you please call me Grandmere? Or at least, Grandmama?” She asks her hopefully.
Anna: “Certainly,… Grandmere.” Anna does not want to confuse her grandmothers.
Then they spend a lovely ten minutes chatting before Lady Charmaine becomes too tired and needs to nap.
To be continued with Chapter 21
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) 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
3) 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
4) The phrase “closing ranks” is an idiomatic http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/close-ranks
5) Image for Lady Leonora Wingate, Mama to Lord Rafe is a painting titled “Lady Violet Henderson” by John William Waterhouse found at
6) The phrase and custom of high tea being coined the year before, in 1825;further informationi was f ound at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_%28meal%29
7) Lady Katharine Image is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers 1995 vlcsnap10m52s195 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace Cap crop flip
8) The name Frances can have a nickname of Fanny as found at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Frances#English
9) Anna Miller Image is the then child actress Emilie Francois who portrayed Margaret Dashwood in “Sense & Sensibility” in 1995 (vlcsnap-19h26m42s98 Mar1613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap CropBrtClrShrpRev); for more on the movie, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114388/
10) Lady Charmaine image is of Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Cherie Apr2213 and was found at http://www.screenweek.it/film/11894-Ch%C3%A9ri/galleria/47384
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 19 is: