“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 23 (PG)–A Visit to the Seaside at Essex Brings Soothing Calm and Reflection Part 2, June 02, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #413)
[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, Rosamund Pike as Fanny Miller, and others, etc.] [Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine took his daughter Anna with them to the sea side Essex County home of Lady Katharine, Sea Grove Cottage. While it is unusual for couples on their wedding trip to include others in their travel plans, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine both feel that the quiet and tranquil nature of the countryside–without the bustle of social obligations that is so common to London–will give Anna the time and space to properly grieve for her Mama. And they also hope to get to know each other better as a new family.
“To Love is a Choice”, Ch. 23 (PG)– A Visit to the Seaside at Essex Brings Soothing Calm and Reflection Part 2
After seeing off Lady Katharine to visit her friend Mrs. Cassandra Hatch in the village on Tuesday morning, Lord Rafe and his daughter Anna set about exploring on foot some of the 100 acres of the estate lands surrounding Sea Grove Cottage. At first, they walk in silence as they enjoy the beauty of their surroundings [(2) right]–neither knowing what to say to each other at first, this being the first time that they are really alone together as father and daughter. Their silence is reflective of the divide that still exists between them–a new father who has missed out on his daughter’s early life but who so wants to forge a relationship with her, and a young girl of eleven years who must somehow reconcile herself to being orphaned with her Mama’s death while she also has to navigate what it means for her to be the illegitimate daughter of a Lord, Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: As the elder of the two walking companions, and Anna’s Papa, Lord Rafe feels that he must be the one to breech the silence between them. “Anna …?”
Anna: Anna looks at Lord Rafe questioningly. “Yes, Papa Rafe?”
Anna calls him that–Papa Rafe–because that label was suggested to her when they first met a little over two weeks ago. She does not yet feel comfortable in calling him just Papa. Though her Mama had spoken of her Papa with love and affection as Anna was growing up, Anna had been lead to believe that her father was the Miller, her Mama’s husband. And the young Anna–not so unlike grown adults–cannot change her affections and loyalties upon mere say so, nor within so short a span of time.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe speaks with uncharacteristic awkwardness as he leads the way through the woods. “Anna, do you … like to walk?” Not a very original conversational gambit, he thinks. He rolls his eyes that no one sees since he is walking ahead of her.
Anna: She ponders the question as she follows behind him. “I guess that I do, Papa Rafe. I am unaccustomed to traveling by carriage–except recently.” Her voice lowers in volume. Then she perks up. “And I am grateful that I am not in pain when I walk, as Jimmy is. His broken leg never healed properly and he must walk with crutches.”
Lord Rafe: “Jimmy? Who is he?”
Anna: “Jimmy is a local boy of nine years in our village.” She stops herself and frowns [(3) right] –there is no longer an our with her Mama, nor does Anna live in her old village. She feels that all of her old friends–few though they may have been–have no place in her new life that is so far removed from them in distance and in social station. Anna begins to tear up as she lowers her eyes. It seems that everything she says or thinks about triggers a memory of her old life–a life that will never be hers again.
Lord Rafe: Noticing Anna’s return to silence, Lord Rafe turns around and sees Anna’s lowered head. “Anna, are you unwell?”
Lord Rafe lightly touches his daughter’s shoulder caringly–but gingerly, as if he thinks she might break. In truth, Anna is already breaking.
Anna: “I do not know.” She replies honestly in a hushed voice without looking up at him as her tears fall and she tries to wipe them away with her hands without him noticing. And she whimpers pitifully as she tries to stifle her cries. “Hhhh. Hhhh. Hhhh.”
Anna’s whole world has changed without her seeking it in the last two weeks since her Mama died. She feels adrift–homeless, without the Mama she loves and who loves her. And Anna must now become someone whom she never aspired to be, Miss Anna Wingate, Lord Rafe Wingate’s daughter–when Anna Miller, daughter of Fanny Miller, was perfectly good for Anna before before her Mama died.
But, of course, Lord Rafe does notice Anna’s distress. Lord Rafe feels that this is the moment that will forever define his relationship with his daughter–if he is even to have a relationship with his daughter. He has a crying child before him and he does not know how to comfort her, nor how to make her feel better. Yet, in Lord Rafe’s feelings of helplessness, might be the beginnings of common ground with his daughter.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe kneels down and gathers Anna into his arms in a caring embrace. “Oh Anna, Anna.” He whispers in hushed tones as he gently rocks her in his arms and slowly strokes her back. “I understand. I know that I am not who you want. You want your Mama.”
Anna: “Hhhh. HHhhh. Hhhhh.” Anna’s crying becomes weeping and then sobbing as she gives in to her grief. “Mama! I want to be with my Mama! Hhhh. HHhhh. Hhhh.”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe’s tears tumble down his own cheeks as he stands, then sits on a nearby log and guides Anna to sit next to him as he cradles and rocks her in his arms. “Anna, your Mama loved you so, she would not have left you so young were it not for her illness. And Fanny was a joyous caring soul. She would want you to live your life and be happy.”
Anna: She sniffels. “I know Mama wants me to be happy. Mama told me in the letter that Grandmama gave me.” Anna reaches into her dress bodice and pulls out a folded fine linen handkerchief that she has been keeping next to her heart. She hands it to him.
Lord Rafe [(4) right] caringly gazes at his daughter Anna. Then he looks curiously at what Anna hands him–realizing that the handkerchief feels stiff to his touch–as if it encases paper.
Lord Rafe: “Anna, may I?” He reverently lifts the small package and tilts his head at her.
Anna: “Yes, Papa Rafe.” She nods her head in meek agreement.
Then Lord Rafe carefully pulls back each side of the folded linen, revealing a glimpse of paper similar to stationery that they have a Dearing Manor. The paper is folded twice and has writing on it, but he does not open it yet.
Lord Rafe: “You say that your Grandmama gave this to you from your Mama?” He asks questioningly, wondering if Anna’s Mama Fanny had actually written it, or if his Mama had written the note to help assuage Anna’s grief.
Anna: “Grandmama said it was inside the letter that I gave her from Mama when I arrived.”
Lord Rafe: “But the paper, it is very fine.” He says without thinking–alluding to the fact that Fanny could probably not afford paper, let alone stationery. And frankly, he was not aware that Fanny could read nor write–beyond what was needed for her baking. He chastises his then sixteen year old self–and his now twenty eight year old self– for not realizing that Fanny Miller was more than just a pastry cook, and more than just a servant or trades person. After all, Fanny was the mother of his child, Anna.
Anna: “When I started school five years ago, Grandmama began giving us paper for me to write to her and other things that I might need for my studies.” Anna’s tears are drying.
Somehow for Anna, talking about her life then, helps her to cope. It is in the not talking about her past with her Mama that makes it so wrenching for Anna–as if the silence is an eradication of her Mama, and of what Anna was when her Mama was alive, a much loved daughter.
Lord Rafe: “May I read this note from your Mama?” He asks her respectfully.
Anna: She nods her head. “Yes. Please read it out to me, Papa Rafe.” She asks plaintively–wanting to hear her Mama’s voice again.
But her Papa is all she has now. Her Papa, and Kathy, and their family. Yet for all of Anna’s new family in the Wingate’s, the Throckmorton’s, the Southwicks, and the Harriott’s that Anna has met the past two weeks, she has never felt more alone–except, perhaps, just after her Mama breathed her last and died peacefully in Anna’s arms.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe carefully opens the letter that has many wrinkles and smoothing of ink on it from being read often by Anna. Anna closes her eyes as Lord Rafe begins to read aloud Fanny Miller’s letter to their daughter, Anna. And Lord Rafe’s voice chokes back tears when he is toward the end of the letter, where Fanny talks about him:
My Dearest Anna,
I love you with all of my heart my darling daughter. You are my joy! I am so proud of you and the wonderful little girl that you are, and the great lady that I know you will become.
I wish that my illness had not parted us. I wanted to share in your life as you continue to grow up–and one day, to be a Grandmother to your children. But it was not meant to be. And I know that you have found a loving home with your Grandmama Leonora. She will guide you as you continue to grow up. She has been good to us. Though she was not my Mama as I am sorry to admit that we mislead you to believe–she is your father’s Mama, Lady Leonora Wingate. And I have come to regard her with great fondness and respect.
I hope that you will also get to know your Papa, Lord Rafe Wingate. He was the love of my life–next to you. And my only regret is that I did not tell him about you. He is a good man, and I trust that he will be a good Papa to you. Get to know him and let him get to know you. I hope that in time you will love each other as I love both of you. Please forgive me for not giving you your Papa earlier. And I hope that your Papa Rafe will also forgive me for not giving him his daughter earlier.
I wish for you every happiness that you wish for yourself, my Sweetheart. I will look upon you from heaven and smile knowing that you are living a full and happy life. So do not feel sad when you should be happy–because your happiness, is my happiness.
You carry my love with you always, Your Mama
There is a long pause after Lord Rafe finishes reading Fanny’s letter, for both he and Anna to collect themselves. But some emotions cannot be suppressed–such as great loss.
Lord Rafe: “Oh Anna!” Lord Rafe lets his own tears fall. “This is a beautiful letter from your Mama.” He says sincerely as he squeezes Anna’s hand in his hand.
Anna: “That is what Kathy said.” She nods her head, with tears brimming in her eyes.
Lord Rafe: “You showed this letter to Kate? Before you showed it to me?” He feels a little hurt, and it shows.
Anna: Realizing that her Papa feels slighted, she earnestly tries to explain. “Papa, it was only that Kathy came upon me after I read Mama’s letter for the first time–and Kathy comforted me.” She wants her Papa to understand and not to be jealous or mad at her.
Lord Rafe: Instantly correcting himself for his foolish pride, Lord Rafe softens and caresses her cheek. “Of course, Anna. I am glad that Kate was there to comfort you.”
Anna: Anna gazes into her Papa’s eyes, searching for something, an answer perhaps to a question she has not dared ask him directly–until now. “Papa, if you had known about me, would you have married my Mama and I could have been your little girl when I was growing up?” It is the hard question that she put to her Grandmama Leonora about her father’s intentions toward them.
Lord Rafe: “Well, I …” Lord Rafe startles at being asked the question so directly.
Anna: But Anna so missed not having a father. Then Anna continues. “Grandmama said that you were very young when I was born and that my Mama did not tell you about me because she might have thought you were too young to become a father.”
Lord Rafe: “Anna, I was young when your Mama Fanny and I met–just sixteen.” Then he adds sincerely as he remembers the loving and lovely woman who was the Fanny Miller he knew. “Your Mama was my first love.” Then Lord Rafe caresses Anna’s cheek and kisses her forehead. “And you are the living proof of our love, sweetheart.”
Anna nods her head and smiles wanly in vague understanding of the love that her parents shared that became her. For she is still too young to know about romance between men and women–other than that children are born, usually and preferably to people who are married to each other.
Anna: Then Anna’s brow furrows. “Grandmama said that you were too young and that she and Grandpap probably would not have let you marry my Mama.”
Lord Rafe: He smiles wryly with the thought of his Mama trying to make him look good in Anna’s eyes. But Lord Rafe seriously answers his daughter’s honest question. “Anna, I will not lie to you–I do not know what would have happened between your Mama and I back then–I do not know if we would have gotten married. But Anna, I would have at least acknowledged you as my child and cared for you and been in your life–I could not do otherwise for my daughter.” Lord Rafe squeezes Anna’s shoulders.
Anna: “Papa?” She asks tentatively.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, Anna dear?” Lord Rafe’s mouth curls up in a small smile, finally realizing that Anna has been addressing him as just Papa for the last few minutes, rather than more formally as Papa Rafe.
Anna: “I want to remember Mama always. Kathy said that she will help me by drawing her picture from my description. And she also suggests that I write down my memories of Mama and I together.”
Lord Rafe: “That sounds like a fine idea, Anna.” He smiles at her lovingly.
Anna: “Papa, will you also help me remember Mama? By writing down your memories of her for me, and helping tell Kathy what Mama looked like for her to draw Mama’s portrait?”
Lord Rafe: “Of course, sweetheart.” He smiles and brushes Anna’s curls from her teary eyes. “I will be honored to help you remember your Mama, Fanny.” Then a thought occurs to him as to how they may also honor Fanny. “And we might also think about bringing your Mama to lie in rest in the Wingate family cemetery at Dearing Manor–so that she can be near for us to visit her and to put flowers on her grave.”
Though the Wingate immediate family has a large stone crypt for interments, there is a surrounding cemetery where cousins are buried that will be suitable for Fanny Miller’s grave.
Anna: “Oh Papa! Thank you! I cannot not bear to think of Mama all alone and so far away.” Anna flings her arms around her Papa’s neck and hugs him in grateful thanks as she weeps happy tears now.
Lord Rafe and his daughter Anna embrace each other in greater understanding and love as father and daughter. For all any little girl needs is to know that she is loved and cherished–and that the people she loves and cherishes are respected and valued, like her Mama. They sit like this for several moments–embracing each other and rocking back and forth in companionable silence.
Lord Rafe: Slowly, Lord Rafe sits back from Anna to gaze at her as he squeezes her shoulders. “Well now Anna, should we head back to the cottage for some tea or do you want to walk some more?”
Anna: “Papa, might we walk and you tell me about the flowers and insects and birds–like Aunt Louisa said you did with her when she was a little girl?”
Lord Rafe: He smiles with that memory. “Your Aunt Louisa remembers that, does she?”
Anna: “She told the children and I about it at tea last week. And Papa, if I get tired walking, will you carry me on your back to return to the cottage?” She asks hopefully in childlike innocence.
Anna may have missed out on sharing her childhood with her Papa, but she is determined to make up for lost time–so is her Papa.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter. “I will give it my best try, Anna. But I am an older man now–and you weigh a bit more than a six year old Louisa did.” He grins.
Anna: “Not much more, surely.” She pouts impishly. “After all, I am only eleven.”
Lord Rafe: “Very well. Come daughter, let us explore this new world of Sea Grove Estate together.” Lord Rafe holds out his hand to Anna and she takes it as they both stand up.
Then hand in hand, Lord Rafe and his daughter Anna begin their nature walk through Sea Grove Estate–delighting in the flowers, insects, animals, and birds that they see. For today Lord Rafe and Anna have come to a new understanding about each other that begins the start of a lifelong loving and cherished relationship between father and daughter.
Meanwhile, Lady Katharine rides in the open gig to the village of Maylandsea around half past 9 o’clock in the morning to see her friend Mrs. Cassandra Hatch. Mrs. Smith rides with her and will buy food supplies in the village while Lady Katharine visits her friend. You see, no lady should ride unchaperoned–even to a village that is only two miles away, for fear that ne’er do wells and miscreants might be about to thieve and do violence. So for good measure, the strapping young footman Arthur drives the gig to afford Lady Katharine and Mrs. Smith added protection.
Upon being ushered into her friend Mrs. Cassandra Lowens Hatch’s parents’ home by an unfamiliar parlor maid, Lady Katharine finds a very different scenario than what she expected. The parlor maid curtsies, but seems flustered and not at all welcoming.
Lady Katharine: “I am Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate. I am come to see to my friend, Mrs. Cassandra Hatch.” The maid looks at Lady Katharine with alarm, but says nothing. Lady Katharine continues to explain. “I sent a note yesterday?”
Maid: Curtsying again, she says. “Beggin’ ya pardon, Milady. But we have been too busy and worried to prepare for your visit to Mrs. Cassandra.”
Lady Katharine: “Oh? Is everything alright?”
Then a baby wails its birthing cry–and Lady Katharine has her answer.
Baby: “Waaa! Waaa!”
Maid: “Oh! God is merciful!” The maid crosses herself. “The Mrs. has had ever so long a night of trying to deliver her baby. We sent for the doctor, but he said it was in God’s hands.”
Lady Katharine: Removing her hat and gloves quickly, Lady Katharine hands them to the maid and commands. “Take me to my friend at once!”
Maid: “Yes, Milady. Mrs. Cassandra is in her Mother’s room.”
Thinking that it is odd that her friend Cassie is in her mother’s room and not her own room, Lady Katharine tilts her head quizzically at the maid. But no explanation is forthcoming from the maid. The maid deposits Lady Katharine’s things on the hall table and she barely manages to precede Lady Katharine up the stairs–because Lady Katharine is so eager to see that her friend is well. Lady Katharine had spent many an overnight stay with Cassie in the Summers while they were growing up, so she is very familiar with the layout of the Lowens’ home.
Lady Katharine sees a bustle of activity at the end of the short bed chamber hallway. The longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Black, exits Cassie’s mother’s room with an armful of blood stained towels that she passes to the parlor maid with Lady Katharine.
Mrs. Black: “Please return with clean towels and warm water to bathe Mrs. Cassandra with.” The maid takes the soiled towels and leaves. Then Mrs. Black recognizes Lady Katharine. “Oh Lady Kathy! Mrs. Cassie has just had her baby.” She puffs breathily with fatigue and relief.
Lady Katharine: “Are Cassie and the baby well? May I see them?”
Mrs. Black: “She is well now. But Mrs. Cassandra had such a long and painful night. I thought that we would lose her and the baby.”
Though on the decline, death of mother or child during childbirth was an all too frequent occurrence even in the enlightened age of 1826 [(5)].
Lady Katharine: “When may I see Cassie? Is Mrs. Lowens with her now?”
Mrs. Black: A look of sadness crosses Mrs. Black’s face and she replies mournfully. “I regret to inform you that Mrs. Lowens went to heaven not long after Christmastide.” Lady Katharine looks shocked. “And a grief stricken Mr. Lowens followed her soon thereafter. Then with Mrs. Cassandra’s husband dying three months ago in early Spring, she has had a sorrowful time awaiting her baby’s birth.”
Lady Katharine: “That is so sad. Oh my poor Cassie. I will do whatever I can to help her.”
Mrs. Black: “I am certain seeing you will be a comfort to her. Mrs. Cassandra spoke of your coming warmly when she received your letter of reply last night before her birthing pains started.” She starts guiding Lady Katharine downstairs. “But she has had quite an ordeal. So before you see her, let us tidy up Mrs. Cassandra and make her feel fresh–that should help make her more comfortable.”
Lady Katharine: “Of course, you are right.” Lady Katharine realizes that her friend Cassie’s needs must come first.
Mrs. Black: As they reach the bottom stair steps, Mrs. Black offers cordially. “I will have tea brought to you in the parlor right away. Then we will call for you to see Mrs. Cassandra in about a quarter hour.” She smiles warmly.
Lady Katharine nods and walks into the Lowens’ smallish parlor–it was the site of many a girlish chat between she and her friend Cassie. The minutes pass by slowly, even with the promised tea to sustain her. But finally, after about twenty minutes, Mrs. Black returns to fetch her to see Mrs. Cassandra.
Lady Katharine: Rising from the sette, Lady Katharine asks. “May I see Cassie now?” She asks with concern.
Mrs. Black: Mrs. Black smiles cordially. “Yes, Mrs. Cassandra is eager to see you and to show you her baby.” Mrs. Black does not say if the baby is a boy or a girl because Mrs. Cassandra instructed her to let her be the one to tell her friend Lady Katharine.
Mrs. Black leads the relieved Lady Katharine up the stairs and down the bed chamber to what had been Mrs. Lowens bed chamber and is now Mrs.Cassandra’s bed chamber. She opens the door and Lady Katharine eagerly rushes in.
Lady Katharine: “Cassie, I am so glad to see you!” She gushes as she rushes toward her friend lying on her pillows ina fresh nightgown after her servants had given her a sponge bath and changed her bed sheets to make her feel fresh..
But Lady Katharine quickly sees the toll that the long birth has taken on her friend. Cassie’s face is very tired, but smiling as she holds her baby. So Lady Katharine hugs Cassie’s shoulders gently and places a soft kiss on her friend’s pale cheek.
Cassie: “Kathy! Come see my daughter.” Cassie’s face lights up as she gazes upon her long time friend. Then Cassie leans down and kisses her sleeping daughter [(6) right] in her arms.
Lady Katharine: Whispering so as not to wake the baby as she leans over to kiss the baby’s forehead. “Oh, Cassie! She is perfect!” She sighs. “But you look exhausted.” She blanches as she sits in the nearby chair provided for her.
Cassie: “I am exhausted!” She sighs wearily. “My little one did not want to come until her time.”
Lady Katharine: “How long was the birth?” She asks, thinking ahead to the time when she will have her own little ones.
Cassie: “Nearly ten hours.” She sighs in disbelief. “The pains started just after midnight. I’m afraid that little Beatrice and I have kept everyone up all night.” She smiles wanly at Mrs. Black who is hovering protectively near the door lest Mrs. Cassandra need anything. Mrs. Black smiles back at Mrs. Cassandra, then leaves to bring Mrs. Cassandra some refreshment.
Lady Katharine: “Oh my! Are you well, Cassie? Truly, you look very weak.” Lady Katharine [(7) right] tries not to show concern for her friend on her face and fails.
Cassie: “Ha! Trust you, Kathy, to be honest with me. My servants have not let me see a mirror yet.”
Lady Katharine: “Now I do not mean that you look bad, just tired from your ordeal.” She says caringly.
Cassie: “That it was. But it was worth it for my little girl. Kathy, would you like to hold your namesake? My daughter Beatrice Katharine Lowens Hatch?” Cassie wanly holds the baby out to Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Cassie. I am so honored that you gave her my name.” Lady Katharine tears up as she stands up and takes the baby into her arms, then she sits back down again. “How precious she is.” Lady Katharine whispers softly as she gazes as the tiny baby in her arms.
Cassie: “Will you do something for me, Kathy?”
Lady Katharine: “For you? Anything, Cassie.” Lady Katharine smiles warmly at her friend, Cassie–her heart’s loving sister.
Cassie: “Will you be Beatrice’s Godmother?”
Lady Katharine: “Oh! Thank you, I will be honored! I am so touched.”
Cassie: “And her guardian–should the need arise?” Cassie asks hopefully.
Lady Katharine: She looks up quickly. “Of course! But is there something you are not telling me? Are you more ill from giving birth than you have said?” Lady Katharine remembers what the parlor maid said about the doctor saying that the birth was in god’s hands now.
Cassie: She begins quietly. “With my parents dying and then Gerald three months ago …”
Lady Katharine: “I am so sorry, Cassie. I did not know about your parents or your husband until I arrived.”
Cassie: “Thank you. But with Gerald gone now, too, these last months of my pregnancy were very difficult. I was mostly on bed rest. And her birth has taken a lot out of me. The doctor says that I will eventually recover and that I must rest more than his other mothers who give birth.” She pauses to get her breath, it is straining remaining energy for her to talk. “But knowing that I have no close relatives, he also told me that I should plan for my baby’s welfare if I become too ill to care for her.” She pauses. “He means if I die.” Cassie would be weeping if she could, but she does not want to waste any of the moments she has with her daughter and her friend on regrets and sorrow.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Cassie. Of course! I would care for Beatrice as if she were my own. But I will not need to. You will be well after you recover.” Lady Katharine reaches out her hand and clasps her friend Cassie’s hand and squeezes it gently.
Cassie: “Thank you, Kathy. That relieves my mind from worry–knowing that Beatrice will be taken care of. May I have her back now please?” Cassie holds out her arms and Lady Katharine deposits baby Beatrice back in them. Baby Beatrice starts to wake up and moves her mouth as if making sucking motions. Cassie smiles. “I think she is hungry. Kathy, will you please unbutton my gown and I will try to nurse her?”
Lady Katharine: “Of course.” She smiles. Lady Katharine gingerly unbuttons Cassie’s night gown, then sits on the end of the bed across from her–transfixed. Lady Katharine has never seen a newly born baby before now–let alone seen a mother nursing her child. Most intimate mothering moments like these are kept behind closed doors and only spoken of in a whisper.
Cassie: “Thank you.” Cassie lowers her nightgown and pulls her child to her breast. Baby Beatrice instantly latches onto her Mama’s breast and suckles eagerly [(8) right]. “Ooh my! She is hungry! Ha ha ha!” Cassie laughs softly at this moment of bonding between she and her daughter. But she winces also.
Lady Katharine: Seeing her friend wince, she asks. “Does it hurt?”
Cassie: “Just a little.” She smiles. Then she looks impishly at her friend. “At least she has no teeth at this point. Ha ha ha!”
Lady Katharine: “ Ha ha ha!” She giggles with her friend.
The two old friends spend a lovely hour together chatting about their lives now and reminiscing before Cassie and the baby must rest. So Lady Katharine says her goodbyes and promises to come back tomorrow afternoon–planning to tell Cassie all about her step daughter Anna’s seabathing adventures tomorrow morning.
As Lady Katharine and Mrs. Smith drive up to Sea Grove cottage upon their return from the village, they see Lord Rafe and Anna returning from their discovery walk to greet Lady Katharine upon her return. With Lord Rafe carrying Anna on his back, as he did with his little sister Louisa when she was a girl.
Lady Katharine: Alighting from the carriage with a large grin on her face, Lady Katharine asks impishly. “What is this I see? Have we increased our stable ponies by one?”
Anna: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Papa is carrying me like he carried Aunt Louisa as a girl.”
Lady Katharine: Smiling at the happy faces of her husband and his daughter, Lady Katharine says knowingly. “He did, did he?”
Lord Rafe: Panting and slightly out of breath from his exertion, he gasps. “Yes! But Anna at eleven is quite a bit more to carry than I remembered Louisa being at six.”
Anna: She pouts. “But Papa, I am of a slight build–my Mama always said so. And you said that you are old now.”
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter. “Anna, I said that your Papa was older, not old–there is a difference.” He pouts impishly. “I am merely twenty eight and in my prime.” He puffs up a bit.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles remembering that she thought her husband, Lord Rafe, old on their wedding day. “But the meaning of old compared to older is not so very great a difference for an eleven year old, my husband.” Lady Katharine leans into him and kisses him sweetly on his lips to assuage his mock hurt feelings for being called old.
With an arm around the waist of each of his ladies–his wife Lady Katharine and his daughter Anna–Lord Rafe guides them into the cottage.
Lord Rafe: “Kate, My Angel, did you have a pleasant visit with your friend?”
Lady Katharine: “I did. And within a few minutes of my entering her home, she gave birth to my god daughter, Beatrice Katharine Lowens Hatch.” Lady Katharine says triumphantly. Of course it was her friend Cassie who actually gave birth, who has the triumph.
Anna: “Oh Kathy, is the baby so very tiny? I have only seen a new baby after a few weeks–at its christening at our local village church.” Anna slips again, referring to our and her former village home.
Lord Rafe: Putting his arm around his daughter Anna’s shoulders he gives her a hug. “Anna, there is nothing wrong with you remembering things about the village you grew up in. But in time, I hope that your memories of Dearing Manor and us will also share space in your heart.” He smiles warmly at her and kisses her forehead.
Anna: “Yes, Papa.” She nods her head and wraps her arms around his waist as she holds back her tears.
Lady Katharine: Touching Anna’s cheek, she asks caringly. “What is this? I come home to find you galloping around the cottage and now tears?”
Anna looks at Lady Katharine, but she cannot speak as she buries her face into her Papa’s chest and cries softly. Lord Rafe gently strokes Anna’s hair and back, then he kisses the top of her head.
Lord Rafe: “There there, sweetheart.” He soothes Anna. Then he explains to his wife. “Kate, my love. Anna and I had a long talk. She shared her Mama’s letter with me and also news about the project you two will begin this afternoon. She asked me to help in remembering her Mama.”
Lady Katharine: Touching her husband’s shoulder, she smiles sincerely. “I think that will be lovely. So you will not take a ride into the village after lunch?”
Lord Rafe: “No, actually I will travel there–but for another reason.” Then he kneels down in front of Anna as he caresses her face. “You see, Anna and I have decided to bring her Mama to rest in the Wingate family cemetery at Dearing Manor–so she can be near for us to visit and to put flowers upon her grave.”
Anna: “Thank you, Papa.” Anna flings her arms around her Papa’s neck in grateful thanks.
Lord Rafe: “So I will write a letter to my good friend Sir Collin MacGregor, asking him to undertake this commission for me. I will also write a letter to Mama and Papa so they will make the estate cemetery ready to receive Fanny. Then I will post the letters in the village for the next coach post run this afternoon.”
Lady Katharine: Touching Anna’s shoulder, she asks. “Anna, would you like a small burial service when your Mama is laid to rest at Dearing Manor?”
Anna: Leaning back from her Papa, she looks up at Lady Katharine. “Yes, please. Uncle Miller would not pay for the Vicar to say mass for Mama, nor even hold a burial service.” Then she adds quietly. “They just sewed her into a burial sack and placed her into a shallow grave. But I prayed the Lord’s prayer over Mama–even if it did not count since it was just me.”
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine exchange stricken looks with each other after learning more about the events surrounding Fanny Miller’s death.
Lady Katharine: “Your prayers for your Mama were fitting, Anna. I am certain that God–and your Mama–heard you.” She squeezes Anna’s hand compassionately.
Lord Rafe: “Anna, your Mama Fanny deserves a full mass and a burial service. I will write to Mama and Papa to arrange it for after our return to Dearing Manor–even as I ask Sir Collin to arrange for Fanny’s body to be transferred to Dearing Manor. And Anna?” He caresses his daughter’s cheek. “Your Mama shall have a finely carved wooden casket with satin padding in it for her to lie in comfort for all eternity. And I will commission a stone marker to be erected for her–though the marker will take some time to be carved by the stone carver.”
Anna: “Thank you, Papa and Kathy. Mama will like knowing that we have not forgotten her.” Anna smiles wanly, but hopefully, at her Papa and Lady Katharine.
That afternoon, Anna and Lady Katharine begin Fanny’s portrait as Anna describes what her Mama looked like to Lady Katharine. Lady Katharine hopes to have the wall portrait completed before they leave. Lord Rafe rides into the village to post his letters and then buys a wall size frame and a miniature pocket sized frame to the dimensions requested by his wife. Then upon his return, he also aids in describing Fanny’s countenance to Lady Katharine before sitting down to write down his memories of Fanny for his daughter, Anna.
The next morning’s seabathing excursion to their private inlet bay [(9) right] at Sea Grove Cottage proves more daunting than Lord Rafe had hoped. They are able to find boy’s undergarments to fit Anna–leftover from when Sir Percival Southwick was a boy. However Lord Rafe’s undergarments are still over large for Lady Katharine–as was his night shirt on their wedding night–and she is not sure how she will keep them on her. But she relents after Lord Rafe finds some rope and securely ties the drawers and undershirt on her. They are rather a motley looking family grouping as they head to the inlet bay on Wednesday morning.
After walking down the wooden steps to the beach level, they acclimate themselves to the chill of the water by wading in just above their ankles. At first, they have a fine time locating shells and smooth rocks. A few small fish dart around their feet, tickling their skin. But swimming is their goal–and needing to teach Anna how to do it. So Lord Rafe and and a rusty Lady Katharine demonstrate floating and then swimming. Of course, the muscular Lord Rafe wearing his own undergarments that are the proper size has an easier time of it than Lady Katharine. Actually, he is a bit of a show off swimming out and back and then around them as Lady Katharine and Anna stand together in nearly waist deep water giggling as the current pulls them to and fro–but making them appreciate the current’s strength. Anna, eager to try to swim herself has trouble with floating at first in shallower water–even with her Papa holding her back up from underneath the water. But Anna eventually is able to float a little bit–with the admonishment from her Papa for her never to swim or float alone, because the current might pull her out to sea and she could drown. But with safety in mind, they have a fine time sea bathing such that they decide to repeat the experience on alternate days for the duration of their visit. Tomorrow morning, they will try row boating as one of their family outing alternate activities. Though Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine’s visit to Sea Grove Cottate was initially meant to be a wedding holiday, the addition of Lord Rafe’s daughter Anna is a welcome one as this little family of three finds their way together.
Over the course of the next week and a half of their seaside wedding trip, their activities fall into relaxing patterns of quiet domesticity. Mornings are outdoors, exploring the estate, swimming, or boating. In the afternoons, Lady Katharine sometimes visits her friend Mrs. Cassandra and baby Beatrice, often taking Anna with her. Or she and Anna work on Fanny’s portrait and memories book. Lord Rafe makes riding forays into the surrounding villages and begins to appreciate the lovely seaside area even more. Their evenings–after putting Anna to bed–are just for the two new lovers, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine, as they continue their tender and passionate lovemaking, hoping to be blessed with the news of their own baby coming someday soon. Then, the Sunday before their last week of wedding holiday, they all attend the in home christening of baby Beatrice–since Mrs. Cassandra Lowens Hatch is still too weak to venture out of doors. Though Cassie’s health improves with each passing day.
On the last night of their stay at Sea Grove Cottage, Lady Katharine reveals her pastels drawing portraits of Fanny [(10) right] to Anna and Lord Rafe to their sincere praise. The larger 18 x 24 inch portrait will be hung on the wall of Anna’s bed chamber at Dearing Manor, and there is also a smaller more portable image for Anna’s gold frame pocket miniature. Lady Katharine has done two lovely portrait renderings of Fanny from Anna’s and Lord Rafe’s descriptions. Anna is overwhelmed to see her Mama’s kind and loving face again as she embraces her Papa and Kathy with happy tears in her eyes. Anna and her Papa have not only bonded during this family holiday, but Anna is also slowly beginning to come to terms with her Mama’s death–though Anna will always mourn her loss as a faithful and loving daughter.
And Lord Rafe has received word from his parents in response to him requesting that a grave near a shade tree be made ready to accept Fanny Miller’s burial in the Wingate family cemetery at Dearing Manor. However, apart from Lord Rafe initially hearing back from his friend Sir Collin MacGregor accepting his commission to transfer Fanny Miller’s body from her village to Dearing Manor for a formal church mass and burial service, Lord Rafe has not heard back from his friend that it has been accomplished. So Lord Rafe hopes that Sir Collin was not unduly taxed with this obligation due to their bonds of friendship. But what Lord Rafe does not know is that the events surrounding the sudden illness and death of Anna’s Mama–the previously healthy and young thirty two year old Fanny Miller–will evolve into a dark mystery as to what truly happened to cause Fanny’s death.
To be continued with Chapter 24
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, pix 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 estate woods surrounding the fictional Sea Grove Cottage is represented by a beautiful Thomas Moran painting of a forest scene was found at http://www.paintinghere.com/painting/Forest_Scene_6269.html; for information about buying this painting, visit http://www.paintinghere.com/painting/Forest_Scene_6269.html
3) 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/
4) Lord Rafe Image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in N&S epi4-pix285 Apr1913 and was found at. http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-285.jpg
5) Though on the decline, death of mother or child during childbirth was all too frequent occurrence even in the enlighted age of 1826–5 out of 1,000 for the mother and less than 200 out of 1,000 for the child. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1633559/ (a-maternal mortality rate); and
http://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/32 (b-infant mortality rate, p. 35 of document)
6) Baby Beatrice image is from MS Office Clip Art May 29, 2013 and is found at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=baby&ex=2#ai:MP900409148|mt:2|
7) Lady Katharine Image is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers 1995vlcsnap-23h12m53s135 Mar1213 Gratiana Lovelace Cap crp-hi-res-brt
8) I found the sweet mother suckling her babe picture that is used here to represent Cassie and Beatrice at
9) Sea Grove Cottage Inlet Bay is from The Buccanneers 1995 vlcsnap-08h57m03s89 May2613 Gratiana Lovelace Cap crp-shrp
10) Fanny Miller image (crop, rough pastels) is of Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennett in the 2005 film “Pride & Prejudice” found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/06/jane-austen-darling-child-turns-200
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 22 is: