“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 25 (R)–Just Desserts, Just Rewards, and Just-ice, June 17, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #420)
[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, Brendan Coyle as Uncle Miller, Princess Adelaide as herself, Princess Victoria as herself, 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.
Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links I cite contain general information merely to indicate that a place, person, or artifact, etc., possibly existed. Though I try to use real locations in England and I make reference to some historically complementary information whenever possible, the fictionalized history that I write about for these towns, towns folks, and areas in my story are mostly figments of my imagination and should not be taken as fact.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: Anna’s Mama’s body was exhumed and transferred to Dearing Manor’s Wingate family cemetery, with proper funeral and burial rites. It was a sad time for all. Made more so because Anna’s Mama’s Fanny Miller’s death was revealed to be caused by arsenic poisoning from the mine water wells owned by an absentee landlord, Lord Montgrieve. Sir Collin MacGregor investigated and found that several dozen people had died or were ill from six villages due to the negligence of the mine owner in not informing the citizens of the dangerous tainted water in mine water wells. So Fanny’s Miller’s and the other deaths were heartbreakingly preventable. As a magistrate, Sir Collin informed the Crown and a formal investigation is underway.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 25 (R)–Just Desserts, Just Rewards, and Just_ice
With Anna returning to Dearing Manor and to her Grandmama’s care–whilst her Papa Lord Rafe and his wife Lady Katharine take up formal residence at the Wingate Hunting Lodge [(2) right] to be near Anna–Anna’s life begins to have a comfortably predictable pattern of new family togetherness and small social forays. Anna has breakfast and quiet ladylike mornings doing needlepoint with Grandmama–while newlywed lovebirds Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine enjoy lingering in their bed chamber as they share their love and tenderness together. Then there is a swap midday as Anna spends time with her Papa and Lady Katharine for luncheon and activities such as riding lessons or exploring the local villages and countrysides in the afternoons. Anna especially likes helping Lady Katharine make up and deliver the food baskets for those tenants who are ill or infirm. Anna’s Mama Fanny always had a soft heart for their former neighbors and would give away special pastries to brighten another’s day. Then the Wingate family all meets up for dinner at Dearing Manor.
But it is the afternoons of Tuesdays and Thursdays where Lady Katharine and Anna are alone together while Lord Rafe and his father Lord Charles are away attending to estate matters, that Anna really enjoys. Because Anna and Lady Katharine are keeping a very great secret from Lord Rafe. Anna had missed not baking with her Mama–and baking was the ruse for which her Mama sent her to Mrs. Plunkett. So Anna started spending Tuesdays with Mrs. Plunkett baking and Lady Katharine became so curious, she joined them. So now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Anna and Mrs. Plunkett are teaching Lady Katharine how to cook pastry treats so that she can make a dessert for her husband soon. Of course, a lady of Lady Katharine’s station would never have need to know how to cook–let alone even set foot in a kitchen. But Lady Katharine is nothing if not unconventional and she wants to surprise Lord Rafe by making him dessert one evening. One just hopes that Lady Katharine’s efforts do not create a gastronomical catastrophe.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Lady Katharine, dearie, would you mind trying to get more flour into our pastries than onto my cottage floor? It will be sure to attract mice.” Mrs. P [(3) right] huffs bemusedly with her hands on her hips as she surveys her now thoroughly flour dusted floor in her cottage’s kitchen.
Lady Katharine: A flour smudge on her cheek, flour covering her cooking apron, and flour dusting her brunette ringlets, Lady Katharine looks apologetically at Mrs. Plunkett. “I am sorry Mrs. P. But the flour is so fluffy that it gets away from me.” Lady Katharine blows a wilting tendril from out of her eyes while her hands are busy kneading dough to make a pie shell. “Pfff!”
Anna: Smiling from the sidelines–and neat as a pin from her years of experience helping her Mama Fanny make pastries–Anna says encouragingly. “You are improving, Kathy. At least there is less flour on the floor than when we started these lessons four weeks ago.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “Not by much!” She states challengingly.
Lady Katharine: “I will help clean up your floor, Mrs. P.” She nods apologetically. Though Lady Katharine has never cleaned anything in her life and she does not know how to go about it.
Mrs. Plunkett: “You will do no such thing, dearie!” She says in shock. “What would the manor staff think of me were I to have the young master’s wife cleaning my floors? Let alone, what would the young master think?” Mrs. Plunkett shakes her head. “But I am grateful for ye offring.” She smiles.
Lady Katharine: “I do so appreciate you helping me, Mrs. P. I think Rafe will enjoy my surprise.” Lady Katharine smiles hopefully.
Anna: “Now remember Kathy, this time that you make the Dutch apple pies, be certain to put brown and white sugar and lemon juice over the pie slices before you place the top crust on. Your pie last week was a bit tart without the sugar.” Then Anna winces at her impolitic gaffe of pointing out Lady Katharine’s Dutch apple pie [(4)] baking error in front of another, Mrs. Plunkett–and Anna adds quickly. “But, of course, some people like their pies tart.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “Lady Katharine, Are ye certain that you want me to bring your Dutch apple pies when they are baked for dinner tonight–as if they were made by me?” Mrs. Plunkett enjoys her weekly evenings of baking special desserts for Dearing Manor dinners–not the least of which is they send a carriage for she and her desserts. And Mrs. P would be loathe to not be asked back were her desserts tonight not deemed up to her usual excellent standards.
Lady Katharine: She pouts. “Do you not think I am ready to have someone other than us eat my desserts?” Lady Katharine so tries to get the dessert and pastry recipes right–but she has a penchant for inadvertently leaving out key ingredients–like sugar–that tend to be important in sweet desserts.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Aye.” She says warily. Then she sighs. “I suppose that your desserts have to be tested sometime.” She smiles, then casually looks away from Lady Katharine and whispers under her breath and shakes her head. “Oh lord!”
Lady Katharine does indeed make two Dutch apple pies for tonight’s Dearing Manor dessert that Mrs. Plunkett will take to the manor for her once they finish baking.
Meanwhile, Lady Katharine drops Anna back at the manor in her open gig before she returns to Wingate Hunting Lodge. But Lady Katharine is late and she will be pressed for time to tidy herself up before her husband Lord Rafe sees her. Racing upstairs and calling out to their butler Smithers, Lady Katharine is hopeful that tonight will be a triumph–or at least, not a complete dessert disaster.
Lady Katharine: “Smithers, has my ladies maid prepared my bath?”
Butler Smithers: “Yes milady.” He calls out to her speeding up the stairs. “But I fear it has been waiting for you long and might need rewarming.” He winces.
Lady Katharine: “I will be fine! I will start my bath. Just please send my ladies maid to me with some more hot water. Thank you.” Her voice trails off as she enters her bed chamber and shuts the door.
Lady Katharine sheds her clothes even faster than when her husband assists her before their romantic trysts. She spies the tub in her dressing room and steps into it.
Lady Katharine: “Eeeeee!” She screams with the chill of the water assaulting her body. But she begins to wash herself, praying for the hot water to come soon.
Downstairs, Lady Katharine’s cry is heard.
Lord Rafe: Just entering his front door. “Good god, man! What is wrong?” Lord Rafe worriedly looks at Smithers as he quickly heads for the stairs.
Butler Smithers: “Lady Katharine just arrived and her bath water had gone cold. I warned her to wait for rewarming, but she asked me to have her ladies maid bring her some hot water.” He shrugs his shoulders.
Lord Rafe: Smiling mischievously as he turns around, he asks. “Did she now? Hmmm. Well, I will be the one to take the hot water to My Lady. And please have my valet make my bath water made ready in my dressing room.”
Butler Smithers: “Of course, My Lord.” Butler Smithers eyes widen. He knows that Lord Rafe is a newlywed, but Smithers finds Lord Rafe’s husbandly devotion more shocking than when Lord Rafe’s paramours visited. But he bows deferentially. “Please wait here and I will bring you Lady Katharine’s hot water myself.”
Lord Rafe: “Thank you, Smithers.” Lord Rafe smiles with a wickedly raised eyebrow as he removes his gloves and slaps them on the palm of one hand. He has a rather devilish gleam in his eye.
After receiving the large metal pitcher with two gallons of hot water in it, Lord Rafe walks briskly up the stairs. He enters their bed chamber and sees Lady Katharine’s dressing room ajar. She is sitting in her bath with her back to the door.
Lady Katharine: “Matilda! Is that you?” She barely glances over her shoulder. “Please come and pour the warm water in my bath. The water is colder than I had thought and I am freezing!”
Lord Rafe moves without speaking toward the dressing room. He enters and sees his wife’s lovely bare shoulders–also noticing the powder in her hair.
Lord Rafe: Touching the dusted top of her hair, he smilingly asks. “Going for the French style, My Angel?”
Lady Katharine: “Rafe!” She startles and then plunges her head under the water–completely soaking her hair.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter as he walks around to the foot of the tub facing Lady Katharine as she surfaces, holding her arms in front of her breasts. “Hmmm.” He growls. “You are like a mermaid rising from the sea with your wet hair clinging about your shoulders.
Lady Katharine: Knowing his eager tone, she tilts her head askance and rolls her eyes–while still modestly covering her breasts with her arms. “Not now, Rafe. We do not have time. I must wash my hair and then style it for tonight. But I fear it will still be damp when we go to your parents for dinner. May I have the warm water please?” She asks eagerly as she shivers.
Lord Rafe: “Of course, My Love.” He smiles and slowly pours some of the hot water into her bath. “Now let me know if it gets too hot.”
Lady Katharine: “Ahhh! It feels wonderful! Thank you! Let me put some soap in my hair to clean it of the … dust …” Really of the flour. “… and then you can rinse it for me.” She smiles, now completely at ease with being naked in her bath in front of her husband and having him participate in such intimacies as assisting her with rinsing her hair.
Lord Rafe: “As you wish, My Angel. And, then may I join you?” He smiles wickedly.
Lady Katharine: “Oh but Rafe! We will get water everywhere …” She blanches impishly, then she blushes. “… like the last time.” It seems that Lady Katharine does not mind the floor of Mrs. Plunkett’s cottage being overrun with flour, but she wants her own dressing room to stay neat and tidy.
Lord Rafe: He holds out his hands to her. “What about a compromise then? We shall go to my dressing room to bathe together. I do not mind sloshing water onto my dressing room floor.” He grins from ear to ear.
Lady Katharine nods her head shyly. Then Lord Rafe pours warm water over her hair–rinsing the soap out of it–before he assists her in stepping out of her bath, patting her dry a bit as he kisses her. And then she puts on her robe to dash into his dressing room, after they are sure that his valet has left his dressing room.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine scamper into his dressing room, doff her robe and his clothes before they sit in the tub–with lady Katharine straddling her husband’s abdomen, facing him. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kiss each other adoringly as they slosh water everywhere in his tub and over the edge and onto his towel covered dressing room floor. Then Lord Rafe’s kisses move to his wife’s lovely neck as he pulls her closer to him, but they are not yet joined as one.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, are we ever to be on time for your Mama’s dinner parties–even if it is just family?” She pouts cutely.
Lord Rafe: Looking up from kissing her neck adoringly, Lord Rafe responds succinctly with a gleam in his eyes. “No!”
Lady Katharine: “But what must they think of us?” She bites her lower lip primly, though desire is in her eyes.
Lord Rafe: “Kate, they will think that we are busy attending to their wishes.” He smiles impishly.
Lady Katharine: “Their wishes?” She asks quizzically.
Lord Rafe: “Yes! The getting of more grandchildren for them–and an heir to the title. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Lord Rafe eases Lady Katharine over him and pulls her toward him as they join their bodies together.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe!” She cries out in mortification for his words’ intent, mixed with pleasure as her husband kisses and caresses her adoringly as they couple together again, and again, and again, and again, etc.
Lord Rafe: “My Angel.” He smoulders as he kisses and caresses her loveliness before him, inciting gasps out of Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Oh! Oh my!” Lady Katharine closes her eyes as she runs her fingers through her husband’s hair with his face is buried in her breasts.
The two of them create quite a bit of sloshing tub water that spills over onto the surrounding towel covered dressing room floor. And then, their lovemaking culminates in perfect shared bliss as they tremble in passionate synchronicity. Their panting breathing eventually slows as they cuddle in the water together for a few moments more of loving togetherness, kissing each other sweetly. But then they must rise and dry themselves before dressing and heading to the Manor house for tonight’s family dinner.
Though Lady Katharine’s long hair did not have time to dry, her ladies maid Matilda braided her hair into a long braid at the back that she then fastened into an oval bun at her crown. Of course, the family politely says nothing about Lady Katharine’s hair being wet as they enjoy their evening meal. Then dessert arrives carried by the footman on a silver platter.
Lady Leonora: “We have a treat tonight. Mrs. Plunkett made us some Dutch apple pie for our dessert. I do so love her pies.” Lady Leonora smiles at everyone.
Lady Katharine’s stomach does flip flops worrying that her pies might not have turned out alright. She watches closely as everyone receives their slices. Anna smiles at her encouragingly.
Lord Charles: “Well, I can’t wait to eat mine.” He cuts a large portion of his pie slice with his fork and scoops it up into his mouth “Hmmm.” He growls in appreciation.
Lady Katharine: “Do you like it, Papa?” She asks hopefully of her father-in-law.
Lord Charles: “I do!” Lord Charles Wingate is an eager epicure [(5)]–especially of desserts.
Everyone takes a bite of their pie to taste it–even Lady Katharine. And she is pleased with the result as well.
Lady Katharine: “It is good.” She admits with a bit of astonishment.
Lord Rafe: “Well, Mrs. Plunkett is one of the best dessert cooks around.” He smiles.
Anna: Piping up, she announces cheerfully. “Except Mrs. P did not make these pies–Kathy did.”
Everyone looks in astonishment at Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Guilty.” Lady Katharine smiles sheepishly back at her family.
Lord Rafe: “My Angel! You have hidden talents!” He leans over and nuzzles her neck.
When they are eating en famille, the husbands and wives sit together. And since Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are newlyweds–and only dining with family this night–their display of affection in front of their family is tolerated with bemused smiles.
Lady Katharine: “Not really. I have just had a few lessons from Mrs. P. and Anna over the last few weeks.”
Lady Leonora: “Well this is scrumptious, my Dear.” She smiles warmly at her daughter-in-law. Then turning to Anna, she tweaks her nose. “And you little minx, you never gave away the secret.”
Anna: “Well Grandmama, Kathy wanted to surprise everyone. I could not ruin her surprise.” She smiles sweetly.
They all go on to finish their yummy desserts and their family dinner. And that night, Lord Rafe shows his appreciation to his wife for her delectable desert in a more tangible way.
Inevitably, the Crown’s investigation into the multiple mines wells poisonings does develop into a full blown scandal. Lord William Montgrieve as the mines’ owner is brought to trial and disgraced for the mine well water poisonings and his negligence in warning people that caused the several dozen deaths. But, his negligence was not intentional–however his disregard for public safety was. So the Crown gives Lord Montgrieve a choice. And he elects to move his family to Australia rather than go to prison in England and then to the gallows for manslaughter.
For his role in discovering the arsenic poisoning and realizing what was going on, Sir Collin MacGregor is made a peer with the title of Baronet of Oxford [(6a)] for his service to the crown and the English people. This title does not change their mode of address–he is still Sir Collin MacGregor, Lord Magistrate of Oxford and his wife is still Lady Frances. However, with the succession [(6b)] incumbent upon Baronets, their son Stuart MacGregor will inherit the baronetcy and until then may style himself as Sir Stuart. Stuart is overjoyed that he will have a title in their class conscious society–a small title, to be sure–but a title that will allow him to compete for any lady’s hand in marriage when the time comes, especially one lady.
Lord Rafe is also slated to receive the crown’s recognition since he had been the one to initiate having Fanny Miller’s body be moved, and thus the poisonings were discovered. Lord Rafe wants nothing for himself–but he does for Anna, his and Fanny Miller’s daughter. And Anna having been long in the mind of Lady Leonora’s good friend the Princess Adelaide who will be queen one day, is bestowed the title of Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick. So no one will besmirch Anna’s character now because of the circumstances of her birth. They would not dare.
But, one has not reckoned with the outgoing Lord and Lady Montgrieve for daring before they leave for exile in Australia. They plan to crash a royal party to exact their revenge. But it is they who will feel society’s censure. For the Montgrieves had not taken into account that the toll of their negligence impacted a noble family with royal connections.
It is August 1826 at a London garden party with some children’s activities that will be hosted at Kensington Palace [(7) left] as part of the birthday festivities for heir to the throne Prince William, Duke of Clarence and planned by his wife Princess Adelaide [(8) right].
Now in half mourning for Anna’s Mama Fanny, the Wingate family relents and graciously accepts the Duchess of Clarence’s, Princess Adelaide’s kind invitation to the Royal garden party in honor of Prince William. An afternoon Royal garden party social gathering being less formal than an evening Royal dinner that Lady Leonora had previously had felt that they needed to decline for Anna’s sake.
The newly titled Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick, is especially included in the invitation since Princess Adelaide wants some young people there to help entertain her seven year old niece, the Princess Victoria [(9) right]–this being a rare time when they were able to pry the little princess away from her Mama, the Duchess of Kent. And this was only accomplished because the garden party is being held on the grounds of Princess Victoria’s home, Kensington Palace–with her Mama the Duchess of Kent unfortunately needing to stay indoors due to a headache. The Duchess not wanting to have to wish her brother-in-law Prince William a happy birthday, but realizing the necessity of having her daughter Princess Victoria do so in order to maintain some meager benevolence from the Royal Family.
The Wingates walk through the receiving line–with Anna wishing Prince William a happy birthday and then meeting his wife Princess Adelaide with a deep curtsy that her Grandmama Leonora had taught her–with Princess Adelaide caressing Anna’s cheek.
Princess Adelaide: “Baroness Warwick, you are charming my dear–just as my dear friend your Grandmama Lady Leonora described you.” Princess Adelaide smiles at Anna, then at her friend Lady Leonora who is beaming.
Anna: Curtsying again, Anna replies with a shy smile. “Thank you your Highness.”
Princess Adelaide: Turning to her niece at her side, she says. “Victoria, allow me to introduce Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick. Baroness Anna, this is my niece, the Princess Victoria.”
Both girls smile, nod, and curtsy to one another. But Anna may not speak to Princess Victoria until the princess speaks to her first.
Princess Victoria: “Baroness Anna. I am glad to meet you. Everyone else here today is so tall.” The petite seven year old princess is, of course, referring to all of the adults in attendance.
Anna: “Ha ha ha!” She giggles. “Just so, Princess Victoria.”
Anna: Curtsying again, Anna [(10) right] smiles. “I would be honored, Princess.”
Princess Victoria: Turning to her Aunt, she asks brightly after standing in the receiving line for an hour. “Aunt Princess Adelaide, may I please be excused to seek refreshment with my new friend? I want to draw her nose. And I have been greeting people for over an hour.” She may be only seven, but Princess Victoria’s facility for strategic bargaining is well developed.
Princess Adelaide: “Yes my dear. Baroness Lehzen may retrieve your drawing pencil and paper for you from your room.” She motions to the princess’ nanny.
Princess Victoria: Princess Victoria admits sheepishly. “No need Aunt, Lehzen already has some with her. I bade her bring them with her thinking that I might see some interesting faces today.”
Princess Adelaide: Completely bemused by being out maneuvered by a seven year old, she relents. “Then my dears, be off with you. I entrust you to the care of my favorite friend, Lady Leonora Wingate. My Dear.” Princess Adelaide and Lady Leonora kiss cheeks.
Lady Leonora: She curtsies. “Princess Adelaide. I am honored to undertake such a charge.” She smiles at the two girls in deep conversation. “They seem to have taken to one another.”
Princess Adelaide: “C’est bon! Little ones are so dear.” She smiles at Lord Wingate who then escorts his wife, Anna, and Princess Victoria to the refreshment tent–with Baroness Lehzen trailing behind. And then Princess Adelaide turns to the newlyweds. “Ah, we see the bridal couple. Lord Rafe.” She extends her hand to him.
Lord Rafe bows, then kisses Princess Adelaide’s hand.
Lord Rafe: “Your Royal Highness, may I present my wife, Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate.”
Lady Katharine curtsies and smiles at Princess Adelaide.
Princess Adelaide: Caressing Lady Katharine’s cheek as well, Princess Adelaide smiles kindly at her. “Charming. This is your first time at court, I believe my dear.”
Lady Katharine: “It is, your Royal Highness. It is most gracious of you to invite us.” Lady Katharine has been practicing that line their whole carriage ride here. Lady Katharine is a little in awe of being in the presence of royals, her not having been at court before–she was married almost as soon as she was out, and thus had no time to circulate.
Princess Adelaide: “I am delighted. I believe your dear parents and brother and his family arrived earlier.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you, your Royal Highness. I will look for them.” She smiles.
Everyone curtsies and bows again as they leave the receiving line headed for the refreshment tent.
Once in the refreshment tent, the Wingate family spies their daughter Lady Louisa and her family at a table and join them. Baroness Lehzen sits out of the way at a nearby table–watching over Princess Victoria from a discreet distance. After introductions to Princess Victoria are made,the men–Sir John Throckmorton, little Henry, Lord Charles and Lord Rafe–seek out punch for their ladies and the children.
Meanwhile, Princess Victoria and Anna sit off to the side of the table nearer the open flap of the tent for more sunlight as Princess Victoria begins to draw the face of her new friend–starting with her nose. Lady Leonora, Lady Katharine, Lady Louisa and little Lottie look on with warm amusement
Princess Victoria: “Now you must hold still Baroness Anna, or I will not get your portrait right. I am good at drawing eyes, but noses continue to elude me.” She pouts with her seven year old lips cutely. “So I apologize ahead of time.” She shrugs her shoulders sheepishly.
Anna: “I am certain you will do a fine job, your Royal Highness. I have no talent for drawing myself. But my Papa’s wife Lady Katharine does. She drew my Mama’s portrait for me.” Her face saddens a little.
Princess Victoria: “Oh?” Princess Victoria looks over at Lady Katharine. “Lady Katharine is not your Mama?” Princess Victoria has been spared the details of how Anna came to live with her father, Lord Rafe.
Anna: Anna replies cautiously. “No, my Mama, Fanny Miller, died three months ago. Lady Katharine is my …” She falters for how to describe their relationship. “She is … my Kathy.” Anna concludes as she looks over at Lady Katharine and smiles. Lady Katharine smiles back at Anna. “Here is the portrait of my Mama that Lady Katharine drew for me.” Anna takes the small framed portrait of her Mama [(11) right] that she always has with her out of her reticule and shows it to Princess Victoria.
Princess Victoria: “Your Mama looks lovely. I am sorry for your loss.” Anna nods her thanks for Princess Victoria’s kind solicitude. “And this is a very good drawing.” Princess Victoria compliments the artist and Lady Katharine nods her thanks.
The Wingate and Throckmorton men return with the punch and several plates with selections of treats and sandwiches on them that they share with their ladies. The ladies consume them hungrily then return to their chats and drawing. Clutching a chocolate éclair in one hand and meat sandwich in the other hand, three year old little Lottie toddles over to Anna and Princess Victoria.
Charlotte: Looking at Princess Victoria closely, Lottie asks–without waiting to be spoken to first. “I am Lottie! Aw you a weal pincess?” (Are you a real princess?) The letter R is still a problem for Lottie. Then Lottie takes a bite of her chocolate éclair, getting a bit of chocolate frosting on the tip of her nose.
Princess Victoria: Smiling amusingly at the only four years younger Lottie, Princess Victoria takes her napkin and wipes the chocolate off of Lottie’s nose. “Yes, Lottie. Are you enjoying the refreshments?” Princess Victoria asks politely.
Charlotte: “Yes!” She takes another bite. Her Mama, Lady Louisa shakes her head and smiles. Charlotte leans into her cousin Anna and Anna wraps her arm around Lottie’s shoulders. “Anna and I made a pincess towah.” She smiles recalling the blocks stacked on top of each other.
Henry: Not wanting to be left out of the conversation, five year old Henry saunters over to the Princess and bows deferentially. “Your Royal Highness.” Then he reaches for Princess Victoria’s hand to kiss it–like he has seen the men do. But he is thwarted in his attempt.
Princess Victoria has her hands full with a napkin in one hand and her drawing pencil in the other–that she holds up to show him. So she shrugs her shoulders with a smile. Princess Victoria has not been around many children near her own age, but she usually finds that the boys are mischievous. Undeterred from not getting to kiss his princess, Henry gazes at her adoringly.
Anna: “That was quite a bow, Henry.” He does not respond. Then Anna gently nudges him.
Henry: “What, Anna?” He looks at his cousin with annoyance. “I can look at Princess Victoria if I want to.” Then he turns to the princess again and says. “Our fleet of ships are in port at London and ready to take you wherever you want to go your Royal Highness.”
Princess Victoria looks at him quizzically–her not being clued into five year old Henry’s war games.
Charlotte: Ever the literal one at three years old, Lottie corrects her brother. “Henny, the pincess is not high, she is low–like us.” Lottie taps the top of her head with the palm of her hand–to indicate her shortness.
Anna starts giggling, then Princess Victoria giggles, then the whole Wingate extended family giggles
Charlotte: “I funny.” Lottie says pridefully. Though, of course, Lottie does not realize how she is being funny–she just likes everyone laughing.
A little while later, the Southwicks enter the refreshments tent–Lady Katharine’s parents Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony Southwick, and Lady Katharine’s brother Sir Percival Southwick and his wife Lady Lucinda Harriot Southwick, with Lady Lucinda’s eighteen year old brother David Harriot in tow. This is one of the first public events that Lady Charmaine has attended since her recovery from her stroke two months ago. More introductions are made to Princess Victoria and more polite enjoying of refreshment ensues.
David brings his punch and plate of sandwiches and treats and sits down next to Anna who has returned to sitting patiently for Princess Victoria’s portrait of her.
David: “I see that you have captured the royal attention, Baroness Anna.” He smiles warmly at her while using her new title.
Anna: Wrinkling up her nose at him, she smiles while still facing forward. “Oh David, we are friends. You need not use my new title when speaking with me.”
David: He bows his head. “I am honored to be accorded such intimate familiarity with my lady.” David picks Anna’s hand up and kisses her knuckles.
Princess Victoria: “Baroness Anna, I am moving to drawing your nose now. Please kindly do not move it.”
Anna: “Yes, your Royal Highness.” She smiles.
David: “I fear that I have intruded.” He smirks with a gleam in his eye. “I will leave you ladies to your art.” He stands and bows deeply to Princess Victoria, then nods his head to Anna. Then he walks over to his sister Lady Lucinda and chats with her.
Princess Victoria: “David seems nice–and he is certainly handsome. I like his nose. Are you going to marry him, Baroness Anna?” Princess Victoria looks up at Anna with an impish grin.
Anna: Flustered, she asks. “Why do you ask?”
Princess Victoria: “I do not meet many younger people. And the boys whom I do meet usually want to marry me–or their parents want them to marry me.” She shrugs her shoulders.
Anna: Anna looks at Princess Victoria in astonishment. “Forgive me Princess Victoria, but you are only seven years old and I am only eleven years old. Do you not think that there is much time before we have to make such a momentous decision as to whom we wish to marry?”
Princess Victoria: Setting down her drawing pencil, Princess Victoria looks at Anna with a knowing eye. “Ah ha! I have uncovered a secret! Baroness Anna, is there another boy whom you like that David Harriott is in competition with?”
Anna: “Well.” Anna lowers her eyes and looks to the side. Then she leans forward and whispers to Princess Victoria. “His name is Stuart MacGregor. He is fourteen and his father is my Papa Lord Rafe’s oldest friend.”
Princess Victoria: “Hmmm.” She smiles.
The two young girls continue to chat as Princess Victoria draws.
Lady Charmaine: Gazing out upon the throng of garden party attendees heading toward the refreshments tent where they are sitting, Lady Charmaine spies something amiss and whispers to her husband. “Good heavens! What are they doing here? They cannot have been invited.”
Sir Antony: “What?” Lady Charmaine points in the direction of the Montgrieves walking straight for them. “Oh Lord!”
Knowing that the Montgrieves walking toward them are being exiled to Australia for the mine poisoning scandal that took Anna’s Mama’s life, Sir Antony hopes to spare Anna any additional distress. So Sir Antony strides over to his son-in-law, Lord Rafe, and taps his shoulder.
Sir Antony: “Look!” As he points to Lord and Lady Montgrieve [(12) right] still 50 yards away, but walking toward them.
Lord Rafe: “Lord! I thought they would have been assigned to oblivion by now. We must prevent Anna from seeing them.” He looks over at his daughter enjoying chatting with her new friend, Princess Victoria.
Sir Antony: “My thoughts exactly. I say we intercept them.” Then he turns to the men in their extended family group. “Gentleman, we have intruders to eject.”
The men look in the direction of the Montgrieves who have been the source of much grief for the Wingate, Southwick, and Harriot families. Lord Rafe, Lord Charles, Sir John, Sir Antony, Sir Percival, and David storm out of the refreshments tent toward the Montgrieves–a solid wall of titled, male, filial, and fuming nobleman approach and detain the Montgrieves who do not back down easily. If the Montgrieves are being forced to leave England, they are doing so most unwillingly. Of course, everyone inside and outside of the refreshments tent becomes riveted to the unfolding drama before them. The garden party attendees–and their royal hosts Prince William and Princess Adelaide–begin to gravitate toward the group of obviously agitated men.
Lord Montgrieve: Billy Montgrieve throws the first salvo, dripping with sarcasm as he pats his wife’s hand on his arm. “Well, well, well, Southwick, I see that you have reconciled with your son … David Harriott.”
Sir Antony: Sir Percival holds his father back from jumping onto Lord Montgrieve. “You are a cad! I have only one son! No offense, David.”
David: “None taken–except from this low life who has caused my family harm.” And David having no family member to restrain him, hauls off and punches Lord Montgrieve in the nose for having besmirched his mother’s honor. “That was for my Mama, a kinder more honorable woman never existed.”
Lord Montgrieve: Lord Montgrieve stumbles backwards and falls to the ground, grabbing his bleeding nose. “Ow! He accosted me! Arrest him!” He pleads to the Royal Guards standing at attention throughout the garden party. But the guards do not take orders from convicted criminals.
Lady Montgrieve: “Billy dear, are you alright?” She frets, but recoils from the bloody mess that is his face. She does not want to soil her new garden party frock. Clearly, Lady Montgrieve has misjudged the gravity of the situation that she and her husband now find themselves in.
Lord Rafe: Clenching his own fists, wanting to hit Montgrieve, but being held back by both his father and his brother-in-law, Lord Rafe [(13) right] hisses. “You murderer! You bastard!”
Lord Montgrieve: Lord Montgrieve shifts to a sitting position on the ground as he holds a pressed linen hankerchief to his bloodied nose and he turns his cold calculating eyes to Lord Rafe and spits venom. “Lord Rafe, I should think that you are the one acquainted with bastards–considering you fathered one.”
Lord Rafe: “Argggg! Let me go! Let me at him!” Lord Rafe struggles to break free to pummel Lord Montgrieve.” But his father and brother-in-law hold him fast.
Then a small person with the most claim of grievance against Lord Montgrieve walks through the line of men to stand in front of Lord Montgrieve and accuse him before all in an eerily calm voice belying her tender eleven yeras.
Anna: As tears stream down her cheeks, Anna slowly lifts her arm and points to the man on the ground, Lord Montgrieve. Her voice is solemn but determined–mounting in volume and fury as she continues. “You killed my Mama. She was only thirty two years old when she died from your poisoned water. I loved her and she loved me. And you killed nearly forty other mothers and grandmothers and daughters in six villages. What right have you to be alive now? You should be dead, dead from drinking the poisoned water that killed my Mama and all of the others.”
Anna had moved forward during her scathing attack and now stands towering over the sitting man. Lord and Lady Montgrieve shrink back from her as they see the menacing crowd’s faces around them.
Crowd: And the nobles in the crowd begin to chant a shunning cry. “Death to Montgrieve! Death to Montgrieve! Death to Montgrieve!”
Prince William, Duke of Clarence gently unhooks his wife’s hand from his arm and walks forward to stand next to Anna. He raises his hand to silence the angry mob of nobles.
Prince William: “My countrymen, we are a people of laws.” The crowd murmurs its dissent. “And this man has submitted himself to that justice and he was judged guilty and sentenced.”
Crowd: “No! Hold him accountable! He is a murderer!”
Prince William: Turning to look down at Lord Montgrieve, he states in an even tone. “This man’s punishment was to be exiled to Australia with his family–in lieu of imprisonment and death were he to stay in England.”
Crowd: “Boo! Boo!”
Prince William: “I said was.” The crowd becomes silent. “Lord Montgrieve, the ship you were to have taken to Australia sailed this morning. But you were not on it.” Prince William intones sardonically.
Crowd: The crowd of nobles gasp in realization. “Hhhh!”
Prince William: “I am pleased to learn that you submit yourself to the proper judgement of prison and death. And your family will also not escape your disgrace–and your lands and fortune are forfeit.”
Lord Montgrieve: Finding his voice, Lord Montgrieve fumbles in astonishment. “Bbb … but, we decided to take the ship next week!”
Prince William: “The decision to delay your departure was not yours to make.” Then Prince William turns to the soldiers standing at attention. “Guards, remove this man to the Tower to receive his judgement of death–by the very water that killed all of those people, especially this young lady’s Mama.” The soldiers move quickly to carry out their orders. “Baroness Anna.” Prince William gestures and bows to Anna, she holds her head high and curtsies to Prince William. Then Prince William turns to his guards leading away Lord Montgrieve and he also sees a cowering Lady Montgrieve. “Remove his wife as well–I care not where. I hear that she is as much of a snake as her husband.”
Crowd: Then a cheer goes up. “Hurrah! British justice prevails! God save Prince William!”
Prince William: Giving the Royal wave, he thanks the crowd with a nod. “Now let us enjoy the rest of our party.” And he and Princess Adelaide each kiss Anna’s cheeks before returning to the receiving line to greet their invited guests.
Anna watches Prince William and Princess Adelaide leave and the crowd disperses–leaving her alone, but for her father Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: Coming up to stand behind his daughter, Lord Rafe gently touches her shoulder and whispers. “Anna, I am so proud of you.”
Anna: “Papa!” Anna turns and sees her Papa, then she falls into his arms in a faint from the strain of it all.
Lord Rafe quickly catches his daughter and lifts her into his arms, carrying her back to the refreshments tent where their family is. And where they might get cool water to dab her face with. Lord Rafe sits in a chair, cradling an unconscious Anna in his arms.
Lady Leonora: “Oh Anna!” She covers her mouth in shock and worry. What had begun as a lovely day, has ended most tryingly.
Lady Katharine: “Here is a cool cloth.” She gently dabs the linen napkin dampened with cool water onto Anna’s forehead, cheeks, neck and chest.
Anna: Starting to rouse, Anna whimpers a bit. “Hmhh, hmhh.”
Lord Rafe: “I think she is starting to come around. Anna Dear, Anna.” He whispers gently. And then Lord Rafe blows on his daughter’s forehead. Lord Rafe does not know why he is blowing on her forehead, he just instinctively feels that it might help.
Lady Leonora gazes at her son with a knowing smile.
Anna: “Mama?” Anna’s eyes flutter open.
Lord Rafe: Wincing, he says softly. “No Anna Sweetheart, it is just me–your Papa.”
Anna: “But I felt Mama. She blew on me. Mama used to blow on my face to wake me up in the morning.”
They all gasp. And Lord Rafe looks to the side, as if he is remembering something.
Lord Rafe: “Oh!” Lord Rafe whispers and tears up.
Lady Katharine: “What is it, Rafe?” She asks tenderly.
Lord Rafe: He smiles as he gazes down at Anna. “I remember now, Anna. It was a game your Mama and I played after we napped when we picnicked in the woods.” Of course, more than picnicing and napping went on, but Lord Rafe is telling the age appropriate and mixed company version of the story. “Either I would blow on your Mama’s face, or she would blow on mine as a way of gently waking each other up. I do not know which of us started it.” He shrugs his shoulders.
Lady Leonora: Tearing up, Lady Leonora rests her hand on her son’s shoulder as she gazes at her son and granddaughter. “Rafe, it must have been you that started it with Fanny. Because when you were a little baby and toddler, that is how I would wake you up. You must have remembered that.”
Lord Rafe smiles up at his Mama. They both have tears in their eyes.
Lord Rafe: Then looking back at his daughter Anna with love and tenderness, he caresses her face as he helps her sit up. “Anna Sweetheart, maybe your Mama blowing on your face to wake you up was somehow her way of linking you to me.”
There is not a dry eye in the tent.
Anna: “I think so, Papa. We shall have to put that in my memory book about Mama.”
Lord Rafe: “Yes we shall, Anna Dear.” He caringly smiles at his daughter.
Anna stands up from her father’s lap and steadies herself as he offers her his arm. Then a thought occurs to her.
Anna: “Papa, where is David!?” She looks around the refreshments tent.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe looks around also, but his family are standing too close, obscuring his vision. “I do not see him.”
Lord Rafe stands up and he encloses his arm around his wife Lady Katharine’s waist and she lays her head on his shoulder. There is no jealousy in her about her husband remembering his loving time with Anna’s Mama–because Lady Katharine knows that Lord Rafe loves her. He shows his love to her every day in the consideration he gives her, in the tender way he talks to her, and in the loving nights of passion that they share.
David: “I am here, Baroness Anna.” David [(14) right] says softly as he bows deferentially to her, clearly favoring his right hand that he cradles in his left hand. “My compliments, you were most courageous to do what you did.” He smiles warmly at her.
Anna: Anna walks over to David and lightly touches his elbow. “As were you, thank you, David.” Anna looks up into eighteen year old David’s eyes and she notices how blue they are and how tall he is.
David: “My pleasure. I only did what we all wanted to do.” He smiles humbly at the men in his extended family–including Lord Rafe–and they nod back at him.
Anna: “We should get you some ice for your hand, David.” She suggests solicitously. Then Anna gestures to a server who puts some crushed ice from surrounding the fruit bowl keeping it cold, into a clean linen napkin and hands it to her. Anna carefully wraps the ice in the napkin and then gently presses it to David’s knuckles. “There. Is that better?” Anna asks caringly looking up at him again.
David: “Yes. Thank you, Anna.” David sighs as he gazes tenderly down into the very young eleven year old Anna’s eyes. And he thinks, maybe some things are worth waiting for.
And seven year old Princess Victoria sitting off to the side of the Wingate family members nods her head with a knowing smile.
To be continued with Chapter 26
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 of Wingate Hunting Lodge is actually Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough, Ireland (image manip for symmetry of background) was found at
3) Mrs. Plunkett image is Lesley Nicol portraying Mrs. Patmore in Downton Abbey series 3 epi 6 from IMDB http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BNDQ3MTYyNjkwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjA3NDIwOQ@@._V1._SX640_SY427_.jpg
6) a)-A list of British titles of the nobility is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_nobility ; b) information about and examples of Baronetcy titles is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extant_baronetcies
7) History about Kensington Palace was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kensington_Palace ; and the image for Kensington Palace was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Victoria_and_Kensington_Palace.jpg
8) Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen born near Thuringia, Germany (portrait by William Beechey circa 1831) married William, Duke of Clarence of England in 1818. They were crowned King and Queen of England in 1831—he becoming King William IV. Portrait link is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Adelaide_Amelia_Louisa_Theresa_Caroline_of_Saxe-Coburg_Meiningen_by_Sir_William_Beechey.jpg ; For more information about the royal couple, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Saxe-Meiningen
9) Image of Queen Victoria at age four in 1823 (elongated to make her look seven years old) was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Denning,_Stephen_Poyntz_-_Princess_Victoria_aged_Four_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg
10) Anna image (cropped, color) is Emilie Francois as Margaret Dashwood in the film Sense & Sensibility (1995) and was found at http://tv.burrp.com/images/s/f/i/fig58z9g_6u7_2_300.jpg
11) 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
12) Lord and Lady Montgrieve image is of James Fleet and Harriet Walter in Sense & Sensibility 1995 and was found at http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-b_mCVspQhIU/T3FJwp8XjBI/AAAAAAAAB3A/JRelTQE4snk/s1600/c03-4.jpg
13) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, hi-res, color) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2 pix 171, and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-171.jpg
14) David Harriott image is of Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill in Emma 1996 May1913austenitisblogspot was found at
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 24 is: