“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 22 (R rated): A Visit to the Seaside at Essex Brings Soothing Calm and Reflection Part 1, May 26, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #411)
[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, Raymond Coulthard as David Harriott, 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: After a whirlwind week and a half in London, Lord Rafe can see that his eleven year old Anna’s nerves were fraying from meeting so many new people and having new social obligations. Afterall, the young girl had just suffered the death of her mother just two weeks ago. And with Lady Katharine’s Mama, Lady Charmaine’s health continuing to recover, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine feel that they can continue their wedding trip. So they decide not to wait until August and they bring Anna with them to Lady Katharine’s seaside estate in Essex now. The calm of the country side will give Anna time to grieve properly and also to get to know her father Lord Rafe and his wife Lady Katharine better.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 22 (R rated): A Visit to the Seaside at Essex Brings Soothing Calm and Reflection
At the end of their third week of marriage–their second week in London–Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe are assured that Lady Charmaine is well on her way to recovery. So Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine decide to visit Lady Katharine’s seaside estate in Essex to continue their wedding trip–and take Lord Rafe’s daughter Anna with them for her to have a less hurried place without social engagements so Anna can mourn her Mama in peace and tranquility.
Lady Katharine’s Essex County seaside estate Sea Grove Cottage [(2) right]–located near the peninsular coast in the middle of the county near the village of Maylandsea [(3)]–is a lovely cottage nestled within the trees of a small 200 acre estate that includes a short 100 metres [(4)] walk to the small hill crest overlooking the beach of their private inlet bay. There are 20 graduated wooden stair steps built to access the beach from the hill. Once at beach level one can wade into the shallow area of the bay or walk upon a small boat dock that extends 50 meters into the bay. Due to the relatively shallow depth of the small inlet bay, only small excursion craft can safely maneuver its shoals–and then only at high tide. But, the small inlet bay’s shallowness makes it excellent for sea bathing, row boats, and such. Sea Grove Cottage and its surrounding lands are their private refuge of peace and calm.
Lady Katharine: “We are here!” Lady Katharine [(5) right] calls out cheerfully as they all look out their carriage windows.
As their carriage pulls up to Sea Grove Cottage’s front entrance circle drive [(6) right]–with its center garden of red roses flanking a three quarter life size bronze statue of the winged footed god Mercury (decorously clothed in leaves in strategic places)–Lady Katharine is eager to show her husband Lord Rafe and Anna around the cottage and the estate. It is late afternoon and they have been traveling all day from London to Essex County and then to her estate on England’s Eastern shore.
Lord Rafe: “This cottage looks charming, Kate.” Lord Rafe [(7) right] smiles benevolently at her as he squeeze her shoulders nestled in his arm. “How do you like it, Anna?” He asks as they alight from the carriage.
Anna: “It is very pretty–and not so big that I will get lost.” Anna says impishly.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles. “Yes! The day of the picnic at Dearing Manor I tried to locate a guest room to attend to a personal matter, but I only succeeded in finding a closet. However a maid redirected me.” She smiles sheepishly.
Anna: “Grandmama’s home is the largest one I have ever seen. But this cottage is just right.” Anna [(8) right] smiles as they all gaze upon the cottage en famille.
Lord Rafe squeezes Anna’s shoulders–glad that his daughter likes their chosen place of respite from a harried world. He hopes that here, Anna might find some solace.
Then the caretaker couple comes out to greet them. Mrs. Smith who is housekeeper and cook–and she has a village girl Mary come in to help with the cleaning when the family is in residence. And her husband Mr. Smith who serves as Butler and Valet nods at them respectfully. There is also footman named Arthur who comes out to help with the trunks. Mary and Arthur hang back until called for.
Mrs. Smith: Walking forward with open arms, Mrs. Smith embraces a smiling Lady Katharine. “Lady Kathy! You have grown since I saw you last Summer.”
Lady Katharine: “Hello, Mrs. Smith! It is good to see you again! I trust that you received my note about our arrangements.” Lady Katharine smiles warmly at their longtime retainer. To Lady Katharine, Sea Grove is fondly remembered by her as much for its beauty as for the people and friends she made here whilst growing up.
Mrs. Smith: Mrs. Smith nods respectfully. “Yes, Milady.” It is with no small amount of pride that Mrs. Smith sees that Lady Katharine has taken her place in society as a married woman and a stepmother after watching Lady Katharine grow up all of her life.
Lady Katharine: “Lord Rafe, and Anna, this is Mrs. Smith, our housekeeper and cook, and her husband Mr. Smith who serves as Butler and Valet. They take care of the place when we are not here.”
Lord Rafe: He nods his head with a smile. “Mrs. Smith, Smith.” He greets the couple warmly and they curtsy and bow to him.
Lady Katharine: “And this is my new husband Lord Rafe Wingate of Warwickshire and his daughter Miss Anna Wingate.” Lady Katharine smiles warmly. Lady Katharine still so wants to say our daughter in solidarity when referring to Anna in introductions and such. But she is ever mindful that Anna is still grieving deeply for her mother and Lady Katharine does not wish to intrude. And Lady Katharine is only seven years older than Anna, so they are more like sisters.
Smith: “We were expecting you Madam, Sir, and Miss.” He bows again to each of them. He motions to a footman. “Arthur, please take their trunks up to their bed chambers.” Then he gestures to Lady Katharine, Lord Rafe, and Anna. “Let me show you to your bed chambers and you settle in and then we will serve tea on the terrace in thirty minutes.”
Lady Katharine hooks her arm into her husband’s arm and smiles adoringly at him. Lord Rafe also holds out his other arm for Anna to hook her arm into his. Then they walk into Sea Grove Cottage together. The foyer is small–only about 10 meters square–with a side staircase leading to the second floor that they walk up. The cozy cottage has eight family and guest bed chambers to the left and right at the top of the stairs. Servants’ quarters for the Smiths are over the carriage house to the west of the cottage.
The first bed chamber they come to is obviously a girl’s room.
Lady Katharine: “Anna, I have given you my old bed chamber that I had growing up. It is the most feminine room in the cottage.” She smiles wistfully remembering her childhood. “It faces the sea, as do all of the bed chambers. I hope that you find it comfortable and cheerful.”
Anna: “Thank you, Kathy. I am certain that I will.” Though smaller in size than Anna’s bed chamber at her Grandmama’s home at Dearing Manor, this bed chamber is still bigger than the entire home that she lived in with her Mama.
Lord Rafe: Looking around the room at various sketches and paintings of people and scenery, he picks up a drawing and asks. “These are quite good. Are you an artist, my Love?”
Lady Katharine: “I am an amateur at best.” She demures. “But maybe I will have a chance to sketch a little while we are here over the next two weeks.” Then she smiles conspiratorially at Anna who nods her head with a smile. Lady Katharine has promised Anna to try to draw a likeness of Anna’s Mama for her from Anna’s descriptions.
Smith: “Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe, if you will follow, I will show you to your bed chambers.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you. Anna, we will be back after we have settled in to collect you for tea.”
Anna nods, and sees the hired village girl Mary in a maid’s uniform walk out of an adjacent door whilst carrying some of Anna’s clothes that she lays on the bed for Anna to decide what she wants to change into. The maid curtsies to Anna.
Smith: “Miss Anna, Mary here will unpack your clothes for you and see to any other requests you might have during your stay as your personal maid–in addition to being a housemaid.”
Anna: “Thank you.” Anna almost curtsies to the butler, but stops herself in time and merely nods her thanks.
Then Anna turns to her maid, Mary, as her Papa and Kathy walk to their own bed chambers.
The butler Smith and his wife Mrs. Smith lead Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe down the bed chambers hallway past several doors to the master suite at the end of the hallway. They step into a large and comfortable sitting room.
Lady Katharine: She leans in to her husband and whispers as they walk through the bed chamber door. “We are staying in Mama and Papa’s master suite.”
Lord Rafe: “Oh?” Though Lord Rafe likes the idea of banishing childhood memories from childhood bed chambers, he finds that he is a bit reluctant to be staying in his in-laws’ bed chambers–and in their bed. And he wonders if his wife will feel as comfortable making love in her parents’ bed as well.
Smith: “Lord Rafe, if I may show you to your bed chamber.” The butler gestures and walks in that direction, expecting Lord Rafe to follow him–which he does.
Though Lord Rafe turns back to look at his wife and shrug his shoulders with a perplexed look at the separate bedrooms arrangement again. Lady Katharine merely smiles and follows Mrs. Smith into her bed chamber.
Mrs. Smith: Once they are alone in Lady Katharine’s bed chamber, Mrs. Smith remarks. “You have a handsome husband, Lady Kathy.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you. I think so. And his daughter Anna is so dear. But as I mentioned in my note, despite our light colored seaside attire, Anna and we are in mourning for her Mama’s death. So, we want to have a calm and restful visit for Anna’s sake–with little to no social obligations. We want to be truly on holiday while we are here for the next two weeks.”
Mrs. Smith: “I understand.” Especially with regard to Anna’s parentage–servants have seen it all. “Lady Kathy, you have received a few letters from the Mayor, the Vicar, and Mrs. Hatch.” She hands Lady Katharine the notes.
Lady Katharine: “Mrs. Hatch? Who is that?” She asks quizzically.
Mrs.Smith: “She was the Miss Cassandra Lowens whom you befriended when you were children.”
Lady Katharine: “Cassie is married? Oh my! I cannot wait to see her!” Lady Katharine will finally have someone her own age to talk with about marriage and such. “I will have to ask her to tea. Though the others, I will beg off.” Lady Katharine blanches about herself being discourteous to the Mayor and the Vicar. But Anna is Lady Katharine’s priority while they are here–and Lord Rafe, of course.
Mrs. Smith: “It is my understanding that Mrs. Hatch has entered her confinement. Her baby’s birth is due imminently. So if you wish to see her, you will need to go to her. I imagine that her note explains all.” She says cryptically.
Lady Katharine: “All? Is there something you have yet to tell me about Mrs. Hatch?”
Mrs. Smith: “Only that I regret to inform you that she was widowed three months ago when her husband became ill and died upon a trip they took to his family estates. But at least she was with him at the end, however difficult that must have been for her.”
Lady Katharine: “How sad.” Lady Katharine’s eyes brim with tears for the loss that her friend has suffered. “I will reply to her note immediately.” She sighs with a heavy heart. Lady Katharine knows how bereft she would feel if her husband Lord Rafe were taken from her now.
Mrs. Smith: “Mary, the maid, can take your note for Mrs. Hatch into the village for you when she leaves for home later this afternoon.” Mrs. Smith curtsies, then she leaves Lady Katharine to her correspondence.
Lady Katharine nods absentmindedly at the departing Mrs. Smith and she sits down at her writing desk and reads her friend’s letter silently to herself.
Note from Mrs. Cassandra Hatch: “Dearest Kathy, I am so delighted that you and your husband will travel to Sea Grove Cottage soon and stay for a few weeks. It has been too long since we last saw each other–and much has happened. Last Fall, I was married to a kind older gentleman acquaintance of my Papa, a Mr. Gerald Hatch, of whom I developed a growing fondness for in our first year of marriage. And soon we learned we were to be blessed with a child. But sadly, three months ago, Gerald succumbed to a brief illness when we were visiting his family estates. My only solace is that I cradled Gerald in my arms as he breathed his last. My Gerald had become very dear to me and I miss him so. But I have our child to look forward to in the coming days ahead. It will not be long now. So I hope that you will come and visit me soon. I am staying in my parents’ home in the village. Ever your friend, Cassie
Lady Katharine picks up her quill pen and writes her reply to her dear friend: Dearest Cassie, I am sorrowful to learn that your note carries with it the sadness of your husband’s death. You have my deepest sympathies. But as are you, I am heartened that you will have your child to remember him by. Of course, I cannot wait to see you either. I will plan to visit you tomorrow morning, on Saturday, around 10 o’clock–if that is convenient for you. Do not hesitate to call upon me if you need anything. I wish to be of aid to you in any way that I can. Your loving friend, Kathy.
Lady Katharine did not mention details of her own marriage joy to her friend, preferring to share her news in person as appropriate. She seals her note and walks into the sitting room, then places her letter to her friend Cassie on the table near the hallway door.
Not seeing her husband in their sitting room, she wonders if he is still unpacking–him seeming to have just as many clothes as she does. So Lady Katharine opens Lord Rafe’s bed chamber door a crack. She sees her husband standing and staring at the bed. She smiles and quietly opens the door further in the hope of sneaking up on him. She is only a few feet away from him, when Lord Rafe wryly remarks, still with his back toward her.
Lord Rafe: “Katharine My Love, you will have to forgo a few of your petticoats if you do not want to announce yourself every time you enter a room.” Then he turns to gaze upon his wife with a wickedly impish grin. Even as a reformed rake, Lord Rafe is attuned to the petticoat sounds of ladies–in particular, of his wife, Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhhh! And I thought I was being quiet.” Then a thought occurs to her. “We shall have to test your supposition later–with regard to how many petticoats I might wear and not make a sound.” She smiles coquettishly.
Lord Rafe: “Yes!” Lord Rafe instantly gathers his wife to him and he kisses her tenderly, adoringly, then passionately. She responds in kind and they are locked together in feverish moments of passionate abandon. “Hmmmm.” He growls huskily.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhhh!” She sighs in happy accord as they continue to kiss.
Then suddenly, they hear a knock on the sitting room door to the hallway and they break from their kissing.
Lord Rafe: “Blast! Servants have the worst timing. Were we not expected to have tea with Anna in a few minutes, I would gladly take you to my bed this instant!”
Lady Katharine: “I know! I want you, too.” She sighs shyly as their foreheads lean against one another and they breathe heavily. “But we are parents now, Rafe. And Anna has to come first. There will be time enough for us later this evening.” Though Lady Katharine is just as eager as her husband to share their love with each other.
Lord Rafe: Heatedly kissing her neck, he groans. “I do not think I can wait that long.” Lord Rafe has discovered that one delightful benefit of marriage is the welcome and frequent conjugation of a loving husband and wife.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, we will have a light supper tonight, then bed since we are all tired from our travels.” She negotiates logically, but her kisses to his temple as she clings to him denies her wish to follow her own suggestion of tempering their desires at the moment.
Lord Rafe: “I am not that tired.” He growls in his velvety deep baritone.
Lady Katharine: She smiles demurely, then looks up at him. “Nor am I. Perhaps, we can have a bath before supper–to remove the dust of the road?” She smiles shyly, while remembering her husband rising from his bath like Adonis on the second day of their marriage.
Lord Rafe: “Right!” He clasps her hand in his and nearly drags her toward the door. “Let us have our tea, then our bath.”
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” She titters after her husband as they walk toward the sitting rooms’ hallway door.
They nearly collide with Mrs. Smith walking into the sitting room.
Mrs. Smith: “Beggin’ your pardon, Lady Kathy and Milord. But Miss Anna said that she felt dusty from the road and so we drew her a bath. So unfortunately, she will be delayed for tea.”
Lord Rafe: “Excellent! We shall do the same. We can fend for ourselves with our baths. I noticed that you had stoked the fires and made the water ready.” He starts to shut the door, eager to be one with his lovely wife.
Lady Katharine: “Wait! Mrs. Smith, here is the letter from me to be delivered to Mrs. Hatch this afternoon. And it is so late and we are tired from our long journey, please just have a light supper on the terrace made ready in lieu of tea.” She hands her the letter for her friend.
Mrs. Smith: “Certainly, I will let Miss Anna know. Supper will be ready in one hour.” She curtsies and leaves, with a knowing smile on her face. Mrs. Smith is glad to see her Lady Kathy so happy. The Southwick family had visited the seaside for only short stays over the last several years. But Mrs. Smith was aware of the dissension within the Southwick family. So she is heartened to see that Lady Katharine’s burden has been lifted and she finds herself in a happier family situation now.
Lord Rafe firmly shuts the master suite door behind Mrs. Smith. Then he turns to his wife, Lady Katharine.
Lord Rafe: “So! My Angel. Where were we?” Lord Rafe starts removing his outer clothing as he backs into his bed chamber. Lady Katharine follows him. He removes his jacket, vest, and shirt quickly–he undoes his trousers closure and they are barely scaffolded in place on his manly hips.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha!” She titters as she removes her skirt, then several petticoats until she is standing in her bodice and her silk drawers. “I will need some help removing my dress bodice and corset.”
Lord Rafe: “I can help with that.”
Standing bare chested before Lady Katharine, Lord Rafe whirls her around and he deftly unbuttons the back of her bodice, and slides it down her arms until it puddles before her on the floor. Then he turns his attention to her corset, loosening the ties with lightning speed. He had earned his reputation as a rake aptly. Once her corset is removed and she is before him in only her silken undergarments, he pulls her close to him as he stands behind her, kissing her neck and shoulders while caressing her.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhhh!” She sighs with his loving attentions, knowing of the pleasures they will share.
Lady Katharine reaches behind herself and pushes her husband’s trousers over his hips and down his thighs. Lord Rafe’s trousers puddle at his bare feet and he steps out of them. He is nude and wishes her to be also.
But she skitters away from his embrace and dashes into his bathroom–still wearing her silk chemise and her silk drawers. Her husband eagerly follows her. She sees the low fire and two buckets of water hanging on hooks. She pushes the buckets over the fire to warm them. There are two more buckets of water sitting in front of the hearth.
Lord Rafe: “We can have our baths after.” He tilts his head at the buckets of water. The buckets of water will take several minutes to warm, and he does not want to wait that long. Then he guides her back into the bedroom.
Lady Katharine: “You are wicked, Sir.” She gazes at his handsome muscularity. Then she touches her hair. “I will have to put my hair up so that it does not get mussed–or wet later.”
Lord Rafe: Languidly retrieving his fine linen black cravat from the chair, he says. “Allow me.” Then he pulls her ringlet curls up into a loose bun and ties his cravat around it securing it. “There! That should do nicely.”
Then he picks her up in his arms and carries her to his bed and gently places her on the turned out sheets before lying down with her. She is still wearing her silk undergarments, that he fingers seductively. “Katharine, My Angel, are you so chilly that my body is not sufficient to warm you?” He grins mischievously.
Lady Katharine: “Nooo.” She smiles shyly. “Close your eyes.”
Lord Rafe: “My dear, I have already gazed upon your beauty–many times.” He smoulders a trifle impatiently as he kisses and caresses her.
Lady Katharine: “I know. But I am feeling shy in the daylight.” She pulls the sheet up to her chin.
Lord Rafe: “Very well, my Love.” He closes his eyes–anything to make his wife feel more comfortable as a prelude to their making love.
Lady Katharine wriggles out of her silk drawers and silk chemise as she lies under the bed sheet–tossing her underclothes to a nearby chair. Then she slides over to her husband in their bed and she snuggles close to him–their nude bodies pressing so closely together that not even a whisper could pass between them.
An overwhelming need for him renders her speechless as she also closes her eyes. But now is not the time for speech as his mouth claims hers as he rolls himself on top of her.
Lady Katharine. “Hmm!” She whimpers feeling the weight of him–not in pain, but in desire. To be so completely covered by your beloved is to be within a cocoon of love. And Lady Katharine–as a much loved wife of three weeks–welcomes the loving haven of her lying within her husband’s strong arms as he possesses her with such caring and gentleness that it makes her heart sing with joy and love.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kiss and caress each other tenderly and passionately–exciting each other with delicate touches followed by firmly held embraces and lingering kisses. And then, their bodies join together in a fusion of loving adoration. They are one body, one heart, one soul in perfect union. Their love for each other deepens each time they make love–not only for the physical pleasures that they share, but for the growing bond of a timeless love that will sustain them for all their days, until they breathe no more.
After their passions are spent, they lay quietly in each others’ arms and sweetly kiss–delighting in this pure moment of love with their fingers entwined, even as their bodies remain entangled together. While skin lays against skin, they are reminded of their tactile understanding of love–the curve of her womanly hips fitted against him, the sinews of his arms holding her close in his loving embrace, and their lips that speak the language of love with their kisses.
And then the world beyond their marriage bed intrudes as the water buckets reach their boiling temperature and spill water onto the bathroom fires with steaming hisses. Their bath awaits them. Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe open their eyes and smile incandescently at each other. Then they rise in silence to set about their task of bathing as they enter the bathroom with its large tub. First Lord Rafe empties two unwarmed buckets of water into the bath. Then Lady Katharine pours the scented soap crystals onto the water’s surface. Finally, Lord Rafe uses a towel to lift each of the two heated water buckets in turn and pour their warmed water into the large tub bath–instantly foaming the soap crystals and releasing their pleasing scent. After insuring the bath water is not too hot, first Lord Rafe, then Lady Katharine sits in the bath–lightly washing their faces and bodies–with Lord Rafe also dunking his head below the water and Lady Kathryn pouring fresh water over his head to rinse his hair of the soap. Then they cuddle briefly in their rose scented warm repose.
But they have supper with Anna yet this night. So they rise from their bath and dry each other off, sweetly kissing each other every so often. Their loving lust is spent for now as they tenderly gaze upon each other in a final embrace and kiss. Then Lady Kathryn wraps herself in a towel and heads back to her bed chamber to put on fresh clothes, even as Lord Rafe does the same in his bed chamber.
Eventually, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine languidly walk up the bed chamber hallway to Anna’s bed chamber to collect her for their evening supper. Lord Rafe wears a loose shirt open at the collar over riding trousers and shoes. Lady Katharine wears an empire waisted dress that does not require her to wear a corset and her dress is in a comfortable lightweight cool fabric that she so favors when she is at the seaside during the warm Summer months–especially in the July heat that is just now starting to come on. Collecting Anna at her bed chamber, they find that she is attired in a simple dress as well. Then they all walk downstairs for their evening meal on the terrace. The sun is beginning its descent so they have candles lit as they munch on cold ham, bread, cheese, and fruit.
After their meal, they continue to enjoy the slight breeze as the sky darkens and they chat. This small family talks about the local area and where they might visit in a day or two–as well as their plans for sea bathing.
Anna: Looking at Lady Katharine interestedly, Anna compliments her with a sweet smile. “You have done something new with your hair, Kathy. It looks nice.”
Lord Rafe has a wicked grin, remembering that he had wound his cravat around Lady Katharine’s hair earlier before their tryst.
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” Her hands instantly flying to her hair in mortification, she remembers that her husband trussed up her ringlet curls with his cravat for their tryst and and their bath–and she had forgotten to take it down. However she recovers her poise quickly, but still blushes profusely. “Anna, your Papa had helped me put up my hair …” So far that is true. “… to try a style that will not get it wet …” Still true. “… when we go sea bathing.” Well, it is just a little fib–for propriety’s sake.
Lord Rafe: “You look charming, my Angel.” He lifts Lady Katharine’s hand to his lips and kisses her tapered fingers lingeringly as his eyes gift her with a smouldering gaze.
Lady Katharine: “Thank you, Rafe.” She smiles lovingly at him. “Well Anna, would you like to try sea bathing in a day or two?” She smiles challengingly at Anna, then at her husband. “And what about you, Rafe?”
Anna: “Kathy, is the water very deep? I do not know how to swim.” Anna looks at Kathy and at her Papa a bit fearfully.
Lord Rafe: “Then we will keep to the shallow area. I can teach you how to swim, Anna.” He says encouragingly.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, I am not certain that our voluminous sea bathing dresses will allow for actual swimming.” She shakes her head ruefully. “The fabric would become so wet that we would sink to the bottom.” She blanches.
Anna: “Grandmama had the maids pack my new bathing costume and it does have a lot of fabric.” She shrugs her shoulders wincingly.
Lord Rafe: “Do you know how to swim, My Love?” He asks interestedly of Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “I do. My Papa taught us. But we were young children then, not concerned with the proprieties of dress. I actually wore my brother’s drawers and under shirt.” She smiles thinking of it. Men’s under garment clothing being thicker than womens’–thus allowing for some modesty.
Anna: “I am still young.” She offers hopefully.
Lord Rafe: Smiling mischievously, he suggests. “Kate, I can loan you a pair of my drawers and a shirt. And if you have any of Percival’s clothes here from when he was Anna’s age, we might outfit her as well.”
Lady Katharine: “Rafe! I do not think that Anna and I can sensibly wear men’s drawers in public. Think of the scandal!” She chides.
Lord Rafe: “Perhaps.” He raises a curious eye brow. “However, the inlet bay is private, is it not?” Lady Katharine nods her head slowly. “Well then, we will avail ourselves of that privacy and all go seabathing in practical swimming costumes.” He intones bemusedly.
Anna: Anna claps her hands together gleefully and asks hopefully. “May we go tomorrow morning?”
Lady Katharine: “Well Anna, tomorrow morning, I am visiting a friend from the village who will soon welcome her first child.” Anna pouts.
Lord Rafe: “Now now, Anna. That will give you and I time to explore the estate a little bit.” He smiles warmly at his daughter. And it will give him his first chance to get to know Anna without them being on display around people.
Lady Katharine: Also wanting to assuage Anna’s disappointment, Lady Katharine suggests. “Anna, there are many lovely walks and pathways to explore around the grounds. And then in the afternoon, I thought that just we girls could do something together. I have my drawing supplies with me.”
Lady Katharine smiles conspiratorially at Anna about their planned project creating a portrait of Anna’s Mama Fanny, and Anna writing down her memories of her Mama in a book.
Anna: Brightening, she agrees. “Yes Papa Rafe, and Kathy, that sounds fun!”
Lady Katharine: “While we are engaged in the afternoon, your Papa may do whatever men do by themselves.” Lady Katharine scrunches up her nose at her husband and he smiles warmly at her.
Lord Rafe: “I will find something to keep myself occupied. Perhaps, I will visit the village on horseback.”
Lady Katharine: “Then tomorrow is settled. And we will all go sea bathing the day after that.”
Then the cottage feline, Arrow–so named because of a marking on her back–finally makes her presence known as she scrutinizes, then decides to adopt Anna by jumping up on her lap and purring as it rubs its head underneath Anna’s chin.
Anna: “Oh!” Anna startles, uncertain if this is a known cat.
Lady Katharine: Swooping the cat into her arms, Lady Katharine exclaims. “Arrow! Where have you been? Ha ha ha!”
Arrow: “Rrrrrr. Rrrrrr.” The cat purrs.
Lord Rafe: More of a dog person, Lord Rafe raises an eyebrow. “I take it that you know this cat, my Love?”
Lady Katharine: “Arrow and I are old friends. She showed up one day over ten years ago and she adopted us.” She scratches the cat’s ears and it purring becomes louder.
Arrow: “RRRRRRR. RRRRRRR.”
Anna: “Arrow seems friendly, Kathy. Papa Rafe’s dog Kelly slept with me at Dearing Manor.” She smiles wanly. It was nice to have something to cuddle with after her Mama died. Anna’s face saddens remembering her Mama again, but she does not cry–her fatigue winning over her sorrow at the moment.
Lady Katharine: “Then you shall have Arrow with you for your stay here, Anna.” Lady Katharine deposits Arrow back onto a delighted Anna’s lap.
Lord Rafe: “The cat looks well cared for and clean. I will allow it–if that is what Anna wishes.” He intones a bit imperiously.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Rafe, you sounded just like ….” She stops herself.
Lord Rafe: His eyes narrow. “Like what?”
Lady Katharine: Noticing his change to looking out of humour, she adds. “Well, like my father.” She sheepishly shrugs her shoulders.
Lord Rafe: “Ah! Well! I am Anna’s father. Ha ha ha!” He states the obvious, then he looks over at his daughter with a bemused smile. But again, though Lord Rafe is Anna’s father, they still need to develop their relationship.
Anna: “Yes, Papa Rafe.” She nods her head politely. Anna realizes that though she will live with her Grandmama and Grandpapa for now, that her Papa Rafe will have some control over her life.
And with Anna continuing to address her father still a bit formally–as Papa Rafe, not as Papa–Lord Rafe realizes that there is still a barrier of lost years between he and Anna that he must bridge. He has missed out on most of her childhood–and of even, getting to joyfully anticipate her birth. A brief silence ensues.
Lady Katharine: Breaking the silence, she stands and takes her husband’s and Anna’s hands in hers. “Come, let me show you the most beautiful moonlit view on the estate.”
Lord Rafe and Anna rise and follow Lady Katharine down the terrace steps and through the garden a little ways. Arrow also follows. They reach the crest of the hill where a lone bench is perched. And there they sit, looking up at the broad expanse of night sky with its canopy of twinkling starts beckoning to them–enraptured by the beauty of nature surrounding and enveloping them [(9) right.
Lord Rafe: “This is breathtaking, Kate! I have never seen such grandeur.”
Anna: “It is very nice.” She nods her head up and down sleepily as she strokes Arrow.
Just then, a light streaks across the dark night sky.
Lady Katharine: “A shooting star! That is lucky! Make a wish everyone.”
They close their eyes tightly–each silently thinking wish in their hearts.
Anna: Opening her eyes, she asks them. “Do we tell what our wishes are?”
Lady Katharine: “Only after they come true.” Lady Katharine looks caringly at Anna and caresses her cheek, then Lady Katharine gazes lovingly at her husband, Lord Rafe.
Anna nods. But Anna knows that she will not get her wish–to see her Mama once more, to receive her loving embrace, and to hear her whispered words of love and encouragement. Anna has other people in her life now who will try to care for her. But however kind and even loving they are, it is not the same as having her Mama with her. Anna lowers her eyes, pretending to be sleepier than she is so that her Papa Rafe and Kathy will not see the tears in her eyes.
Lord Rafe: Seeing what he presumes is fatigue in Anna, he suggests considerately. “It has been a long day. We should head back to the cottage and get some sleep to be fresh for our outings tomorrow.”
So, the three of them walk back to Sea Grove Cottage. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kiss Anna goodnight at her bed chamber door as she holds onto Arrow the cat. Then Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine walk into their own bed chamber suite for a loving [(10) right] and restful evening.
To be continued with Chapter 23
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) The image of Sea Grove Cottage and estate in Essex county is a fictional home represented by Runny Mead Cottage from The Buccanneers 1995 a Masterpiece miniseries vlcsnap-23h41m23s59 Mar1213 Gratiana Lovelace Cap Crop Color Sharp
3) Sea Grove Cottage estate is fictional place that I have sited in a real place called Maylandsea on the coast near the modern day Dengie Peninsula; for more information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maylandsea
4) ) British Imperial Units of Measurement using the metric system were established with the Weights and Measures Act of 1824 and its amended version of 1825, but not adopted officially until January 1826; information was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_units
5) Lady Katharine image is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George from The Buccaneers, a 1995 Masterpiece miniseries, vlcsnap-00h11m53s222 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace Cap CrpShrp
6) Sea Grove Cottage front view image is a fictional place that is represented by Runny Mead cottage from The Buccaneers 1995 a Masterpiece miniseries vlcsnap-00h46m00s199 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace Cap CrpClrShrp
7) Lord Rafe image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the BBC’s 2004 North & South as found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-040.jpg
8) Anna image is Emilie Francois-as Margaret Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility 1995 vlcsnap-19h23m13s39 Mar1613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap Hi-ResCrpBrtShrp
9) A moonlight sky representing the view a Sea Grove Cottage is from Series 3 of the BBC’s Robin Hood, episode 1 May 2413 Gratiana Lovelace Cap Crop-Hi-res-Shrp
10) Image (cropped, brt, shrp) representing Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kissing is of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniela Denby Ashe) in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 340) and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/slides/ns4-340.html
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 21 is: