“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 26– Letters Keep Wingate Family and Friends Connected During the Autumn, June 24, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #422)
(An original story by Gratiana Lovelace; All Rights Reserved)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Emilie Francois as Anna Wingate, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Sir Antony Southwick, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Charmaine Southwick, Catherine Deneuve as Lady Esmѐ Sinclair, Julian Sands as Sir Percival Southwick, Samantha Morton as Lady Lucinda Southwick, Raymond Coulthard as David Harriott, Rosamund Pike as Fanny Miller, Brendan Coyle as Uncle Miller, Princess Adelaide as herself, and 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: The small Wingate family of Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine, Anna, and her grandparents settled into a comfortable domestic pattern over the Summer months in 1826 after Fanny was laid to rest in the Wingate Family Cemetary on the estate of Dearing Manor. Lady Katharine even learned how to bake pies with the help of Anna and Mrs. Plunkett. But the spectre of Fanny’s death from the mines well water poisoning still hung over them–despite Sir Collin being named a Baronet for his investigation and discovery that saved countless lives, and Anna being elevated to the rank of Baroness when her father Lord Rafe asked for the recognition of his part in initiating the discovery of the mine water well poisonings go to Anna. It all came to a head at what started out to be a lovely royal garden party in August 1826 to celebrate the still Prince William’s birthday–and where Baroness Anna met the little Princess Victoria, who drew her portrait because she like Anna’s nose.
The outcast Montgrieves who had missed their boat for exile in Australia for their negligence in the poisonings as the mine owners turned up uninvited at the royal garden party. Lord Rafe and the other Wingate, Southwick, and Harriott family men confronted Lord Montgrieve about murdering Anna’s Mama and the others. Though Lord Rafe was held back from swinging at Montgrieve, David Harriott knocked Montgrieve to the ground and bloodied his nose. Then a solemn Anna walked forward unbidden and accused Lord Montgrieve of murder and said that he should be dead. The crowd of nobles concurred and surged forward. But Prince William reminded them that England has laws–and that in the Montgrieves failing to take their ship to exile that morning, they had forfeited any clemency from death, and they were hauled away. Anna fainted with the stress, but was revived by her father. Then she caringly tended to David Harriott’s bruised hand as they looked upon each other fondly.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 26: Letters Keep Wingate Family and Friends Connected During the Autumn
After the tumult of the Summer, the Wingate family hopes for a pleasant and uneventful Autumn. Well, life is rarely uneventful. And they keep in contact with friends and family through letters and such. And Stuart MacGregor [(2) right] is eager to begin writing his notes to Anna via his letters to her Papa, Lord Rafe. And yet, Stuart wants to make a good impression. So Stuart is somewhat formal in his writing and tone.
Stuart’s First Letter to Lord Rafe (and to Anna):
September 3rd, 1826
Lord Rafe Wingate
Hunting Lodge, Dearing Manor, Warwick
Dear Uncle Rafe,
I am settled into Eton [(3)] this term and I am quite focused upon my studies of Greek, Latin, literature, history, mathematics, and science. I especially enjoy literature and history, but my mathematics is not as agreeable. However my Papa says that if I am to be a useful person, I must gain all knowledge possible to put to that future endeavor. I appreciate his wise counsel and I will redouble my efforts where mathematics is concerned. When my parents deposited me at Eton two weeks ago and I told them of my upcoming letter to you, my Papa and Mama bid me to tender their kind regards to you.
I hope that this note finds you and your family well. Please give your esteemed parents, your lady wife, and your daughter my kind regards. And please convey my felicitations to Miss Anna upon her becoming Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick. Though I was distressed to learn from Papa that Baroness Anna and you had some unpleasantness at the royal garden party in August, I heard that Baroness Anna acquitted herself with poise and grace. I wish I could have been with you to lend my support and aid, but my school term was already underway. Please let Baroness Anna know that she will always have my support should she ever have need of it in the future.
I am aware that Baroness Anna was to begin her studies with a new governess. Perhaps Baroness Anna might share with me her favorite subjects to study. Is there a favorite story or poem she likes, and what might that be?
I will not see you again until the Autumn term is over and we come for our annual Christmas gathering up at Dearing Manor. So I do so look forward to your letter of reply.
Until then, I remain your devoted God Son,
Sir Stuart MacGregor, Eton College, Windsor
A few days later, Stuart’s letter is delivered to Lord Rafe at the Hunting Lodge [(4) right] on the estate of Dearing Manor near Warwick in Warwickshire. The butler carries the post on a small silver tray with today’s post into the solarium at the Hunting Lodge where Lord Rafe, Lady Katharine, and Baroness Anna are enjoying luncheon together after Anna’s morning studies with her governess, a Miss Page.
Butler Smithers: “Milord, the post has arrived.” He lowers the tray to near table height in front of Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “Thank you.” Picking up the letters, he uses the letter opener on the tray to open his letter. “Ah, a letter from Stuart.” Anna’s attention is instantly riveted to him. Then Lord Rafe hands Lady Katharine her letter and the letter opener.
Lady Katharine: “Thank you, Rafe! Oh! It is from Cassie!” She eagerly opens her letter and returns the letter opener to the tray and the butler leaves.
Anna looks back and forth between her Papa and Lady Katharine reading their letters. Though there is no letter for her, but that is not to say she has no news as she watches her Papa read his letter.
Lord Rafe: Looking down at his letter reading it, he knows that he has Anna’s eyes upon him and his lips curl up at the corners. Without looking up from his letter, he says. “Anna, Stuart says his studies have begun–with him preferring history and literature. And he inquires how your studies are coming along with your new governess. In particular, he asks if you have any favorites in literature.” Lord Rafe looks up at his daughter with a smile.
Anna: Anna hops up from her chair and dashes over to her Papa. No servants are in the room at the moment, so her girlish zeal may be excused. “Does he really, Papa? May I see?” She asks peering over her Papa’s shoulder.
But Lord Rafe does not want to let Anna read about Stuart mentioning the August difficulties–for fear of upsetting her. So he partially folds the letter to prevent her from reading it.
Lord Rafe: “Now now, this is a private letter from Stuart to me as his godfather.”
Anna: “Stuart has very fine handwriting–for a boy.” She remarks with surprise.
Lord Rafe: “Boys can write nicely. My penmanship was also quite laudable.”
Lady Katharine: Looking up from reading her letter, she smiles amusingly as she says impishly. “Yes Rafe, but Anna is interested in Stuart at the moment, not you.”
Lord Rafe: “Quite! Well Anna, I will also tell you that Sir Stuart sends his felicitations–his word–regarding your new title of Baroness.”
Anna: “That is nice.” Anna says benignly. Then she thinks for a moment before standing up and walking over to her father. She nervously squeezes the fabric of her Papa’s coat at his sleeve between her fingers. “Papa?”
Lord Rafe: “Yes, sweetheart?” He gazes at her and caresses her cheek tenderly.
Anna: “Miss Page has been giving me a history lesson this week about English peers and titles. Is my title of Baroness higher than Stuart’s title of Sir?” [(6)]
Lord Rafe: “Technically, yes–but only by one level.” He smiles.
Anna: “Oh! And David Harriott? Does he have a title?”
Lord Rafe: “No. But David is a gentleman and is therefore accorded the address of Mr. His future daughters will be young ladies addressed as Miss.”
Anna: “Hmmm. And am I a lady, like Kathy?” She smiles over at Lady Katharine who smiles back at her.
Lord Rafe: “Yes and no. You are a lady, in that you are my daughter, and granddaughter to the Marquess of Warwick, your Grandpapa Lord Charles Wingate. However, the title of Lady is reserved for wives of peers and their daughters.”
Anna: Looking slightly confused, she asks. “So may I not call myself Lady Anna as your daughter?”
Lord Rafe: Wanting to tread delicately, because were Anna of legitimate birth, she would be addressed as Lady Anna. “You might were you to marry a peer, but for now your title of Baroness Anna out ranks that of Lady Anna.” He dissembles a bit.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe [(7) right] smiles at Lady Katharine. “Anna Sweetheart, did you have a reply to Stuart about which literature you prefer?”
Anna: “Hmm.” Anna puts her finger to her chin and looks wistfully up at the ceiling–like Lady Katharine does from time to time–as she ponders his question. “Please tell Stuart thank you for his note. And that I am currently reading The Arabian Nights.” [(8)]
Lord Rafe: “You are?” He looks slightly askance at his daughter, given that the tale is about a virgin bride named Scheherazade who staves off her next day execution by spinning tales that keep her husband interested in finding out the end of each tale, such that he does not want to execute her. Then he smiles over Lady Katharine who is blushing crimson. “Kate, why do I feel that you have something to do with Anna’s reading tastes at present?” He asks with a bemusedly raised eyebrow.
Lady Katharine: She grins sheepishly. “Yes Rafe, I gave Anna the book. It was mine and I thought that she might enjoy it.”
Of course the fact that in The Arabian Nights, Scheherazade was a virgin bride who was not bedded on her wedding night–nor for many nights to come–and Lady Katharine was not bedded on her wedding night is a connection not lost on Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Well Anna, I will simply tell Stuart that you are reading fables–and I will leave it at that.”
Anna: “Oh, Miss Page is having me read Aesop’s Fables.”[(9)] Anna nods cheerfully.
Lord Rafe: “Well now, then I will be telling the truth.” He nods his head once.
Anna: “Papa and Kathy, may I please be excused to change into my riding clothes? I have a lesson this afternoon.” The young Anna has quite forgotten about Stuart as their conversation meandered on to other topics. But then, Anna is still so very young at eleven years.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, sweetheart. You run along.” Anna leaves. “And what news do you have of Mrs. Hatch, Kate My Love?” He takes a sip of tea.
Lady Katharine: “She is feeling better. Cassie has mostly recovered from Beatrice’s birth. But …” Lady Katharine bites her lower lip–this time in wondering what her husband will say to her request.
Lord Rafe: Setting is tea cup on its saucer, Lord Rafe looks at Lady Katharine curiously. “What is it?”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine gushes out the gist of the contents of Cassie’s letter in a torrent of concern for her friend. “Cassie’s late husband Gerald Hatch’s family is being horrid! Without warning, they sent her a trunk filled with her remaining possessions that were at the Hatch’s family home. The Hatches say that since Cassie did not produce a son and heir, but had a daughter, that they are under no obligation to provide for Cassie and the child. That Mr. Hatch’s nephew studying at Oxford University [(10)]–a twenty two year old man named Robert Hatch–is now heir.”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe forcefully throws down his napkin onto the table. “That is despicable! Had not this Mr. Gerald Hatch left a will which would provide an annual sum for her?” He asks incredulously.
Lady Katharine: “It seems that since he and Cassie had been married so short a time–despite his advanced age of 42–that he had not had time to draft a new will. Cassie will be destitute and she writes to ask us to assume guardianship of Beatrice as her god parents so that at least she will be taken care of.”
Lord Rafe: “Of course, we will help in any way we can–and help her to keep her child with her.” He says decidedly.
Lady Katharine: “Thank you Rafe!” Lady Katharine gazes upon her husband with love and adoration for his compassion.
Lord Rafe: “But Mrs. Hatch asks for nothing for herself?”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine bows her head and says quietly. “No. Cassie is very proud. Even when we were growing up together during my Summers at the sea side, she would not accept gifts beyond those of flowers or dinners together. She was always mindful that my family was wealthier than hers–and titled.”
Lord Rafe: “And her parents will left her nothing to live on?”
Lady Katharine: “She has the house. But the burden of its upkeep and the few servants wages will soon deplete her reserves and she will need to sell it. Where Cassie will go, I know not, if she will not accept our help.”
Lord Rafe: “Well, if she is proud, then she will not want to accept our help.” He surmises. Then an idea occurs to him. “Kate my Love, would your friend Mrs. Hatch prefer to stay in her parents’ home, or would she be willing to move?”
Lady Katharine: “Would you want to leave your home, Rafe?” She puts the question to him.
Lord Rafe: “Of course not. Right! Well then, we have two avenues of redress for Mrs. Hatch. Firstly, we will want to provide her with sustenance for her immediate needs. And secondly, we will need to gain Mrs. Hatch’s permission to act as her agent in interceding with her husband’s family to secure an annuity for her. I would first apply to this Mr. Robert Hatch to see if he is aware what his family is doing to his young Aunt.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you, Rafe. But how will we get Cassie to accept our help and funds?”
Lord Rafe: “She will do so because it will be she helping us.” He smiles.
Lady Katharine: She looks at her husband curiously. “How?”
Lord Rafe: “We will ask her to assume the role of Estate Agent of our Sea Grove Cottage Estate near her home in Maylandsea in Essex–with a commensurate salary of 25 pounds per month–since we are not able to visit often and we need to have a representative looking out for our interests there. Mr. and Mrs. Smith are older now and they should not have to bear the burden of overall decision making with regard to maintaining Sea Grove Estate. This should allow Mrs. Hatch to stay in her late parents’ home, while also feeling that her dignity is preserved.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine jumps out of her chair and rushes over to her husband, embracing and kissing him gratefully [(11) right]. “Oh Rafe! That is perfect! Thank you! Cassie had said that her husband’s home was a large estate that she had learned to manage in the nine months that they were married. So she will really be able to fulfill that role for us.”
Lord Rafe: “Then it is settled, My Angel. Please write to Cassie and lay out our plan, including with it the first month’s installment of 25 pounds. Then ask her permission for me to talk with this Robert Hatch on her behalf about an annuity for her.”
Lady Katharine: “I will go write to Cassie this instant!”
Then Lady Katharine dashes out of the room, leaving Lord Rafe to finish his lunch by himself–which he does quickly and then sets about to write his good friend Sir Collin MacGregor who lives in Oxford about possibly staying with his family a few days next week when he plans to visit Robert Hatch at Oxford University.
Lady Katharine’s note about their suggested plans to Cassandra Hatch is warmly received, and Mrs. Hatch replies within the week of her grateful acceptance of the Sea Grove Estate Agent position for herself, as well as, Lord Rafe’s help in securing an annuity and possible inheritance for her daughter Beatrice. So Lord Rafe travels to Oxford to stay with his good friends the MacGregors while he meets with Robert Hatch, nephew to Cassandra Hatch’s late husband Gerald Hatch. And Sir Collin MacGregor is able to clarify for Lord Rafe some of the finer points of law with regard to inheritance for widows and orphans. On the day following Lord Rafe’s arrival at Oxford, he meets with Robert Hatch over lunch at the Boar’s Head pub.
Robert Hatch arrives ten minutes before his appointed meeting time with Lord Rafe, eager to finalize the business at hand to everyone’s satisfaction. He rises when Lord Rafe enters the Boar’s Head pub–he knows that it must be Lord Rafe because there is no other person in sight that reflects the dignity and carriage of that rank. Lord Rafe is directed to Robert Hatch’s table by the proprieter.
Lord Rafe: Removing his leather gloves and slapping them against his palm, he looks imperiously at the young twenty-two year old university student Robert Hatch. “Mr. Hatch!”
RobertH: He bows deferentially. “Lord Wingate, I am honored to meet you. I hope that we are able to conduct our business with an outcome that will be agreeable to all parties concerned. Please sit.” Then he motions for the waiter to bring their food and ale–there being only one choice on the menu.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe responds cautiously. “I am glad to hear that you wish to be agreeable. Of course, for any proposal you make I will need to consult with Mrs. Cassandra Hatch regarding her wishes.”
RobertH: “Of course, Lord Wingate. As my dear late Uncle Gerald’s widow and mother of his child, Mrs. Hatch is to be accorded all that is her due. Despite the fact that I am my uncle’s heir, I feel certain that he would wish for his widow and child to be provided for.”
Lord Rafe: “Precisely!” Lord Rafe looks at him quizzically. “I must say that your response is surprisingly refreshing given the treatment Mrs. Hatch had received earlier from your family–her trunk of possessions summarily desposited on her doorstep with a note stating that nothing else would be forth coming from the estate.”
RobertH: “I must apologize for that. Were my father alive, Mrs. Cassandra Hatch and her child would be well looked after. But since Uncle Gerald’s death occurred while I was at school last Spring, my widowed mother made decisions which were not hers to make. I beg you to understand that my own mother’s grief at the loss of my father is still painful as he has not been gone a year. And I regret most sincerely any pain that Mrs. Hatch has endured on top of the very great grief she feels with my Uncle’s passing.”
Lord Rafe: “Two brothers dying within the same family within a year of each other. That is a very great loss. And you have my sympathies upon the loss of your own father.” Lord Rafe is grateful that his own Papa still lives and is hearty.
RobertH: “I thank you most sincerely.” Robert nods his head.
Lord Rafe: “Yet, you are still at university. Do you feel able to inhibit your mother’s possible future actions that seem counter to your own wishes?”
RobertH: “I do. I have informed Mama, that as a widow herself, I expect her to act more charitably with regard to the widowed Mrs. Cassandra Hatch. I mean to settle a sum of 2,500 pounds upon my aunt, the annual income from which should secure her and her daughter’s future. I will also pledge a comparable sum for my baby cousin Beatrice’s dowry when she comes of age.”
Lord Rafe: “Well! That seems most agreeable.” He says delightedly. Then he back peddles because accepting these arrangements is not his decision to make. “But as I say, the terms must be reviewed by Mrs. Hatch.”
RobertH: “Of course. I plan to visit Mrs. Cassandra Hatch during my term break week in a fortnight. If you would please send her a letter of the details of these terms and my wish to finalize them with her in person, I would be most grateful. I have never met her and I feel that your family connection with her will assist in resolving this matter to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Lord Rafe: “Excellent! I am staying with my friend Sir Collin MacGregor, the Lord Magistrate of Oxford. So he will be able to assist us in drawing up suitable documents stating the terms and arrangements you propose tomorrow.”
RobertH: “Very good. Uncle Gerald was my favorite Uncle, and I mean to do right by his family.” The two men shake hands. “Pray tell me Sir, can you share a bit with me about my aunt? My mother has not seen fit to describe her to me.”
Lord Rafe: “As you know, Mrs. Hatch and my wife, Lady Wingate are lifelong friends. I believe that she and my wife are about the same age of eighteen years.” Lord Rafe was going to continue his description, but he sees the look of utter astonishment upon the young man’s face.
RobertH: “Eighteen! My uncle’s widow is eighteen?” He looks at Lord Rafe incredulously.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, it seems that her father had long been friends with Mr. Hatch and arranged the marriage so that his daughter would be cared for. But I understand that they developed a sincere regard for each other–especially after they knew that they were expecting a child.”
RobertH: “Pardon me, but I always assumed that Uncle Gerald’s wife was a more mature woman closer to his own age of forty two. The poor lady. So young to be a widow, and I am given to understand that her parents have also died in the past year. Such heartbreak for her.” He shakes his head as he looks at Lord Rafe compassionately, thinking again of his own father’s loss.
Lord Rafe: “Indeed. Mrs. Hatch has had to bear much grief this past year. But the joy of her daughter’s birth is a solace for her.”
RobertH: “That is a comfort. Lord Wingate, you can be assured that both my aunt and my baby cousin Beatrice will have my protection from this day forward.”
The two men go on to have an amiable meal, talking about all manner of manly things. And Lord Rafe feels more and more confident about the honor of Robert Hatch. The next day, Mr. Robert Hatch visits the court offices of the Lord Magistrate of Oxford, Sir Collin MacGregor, with Lord Rafe and they draw up two copies of the annuity terms proposed–one copy for Robert Hatch and one copy for Lord Rafe to send to Cassandra Hatch with his letter outlining the details and that Robert Hatch will visit her to finalize the arrangements in a fortnight.
A month later, Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe receive a glowing letter full of hope and thanks from Mrs. Cassandra Hatch:
October 12th, 1826
Lord Rafe & Lady Katharine Wingate
Hunting Lodge, Dearing Estate, Warwick
My Dearest Friends, Kathy and Lord Rafe,
My present joy is unbounded with the assistance you have provided in securing the future for myself and my daughter. The depths of my gratitude are beyond expression, but this missive is a pale attempt to relate to you my sincerest appreciation.
I find that I enjoy greatly the time I spend at Sea Grove estate on my weekly visits–bringing back fond memories of when Kathy and I were young girls there. I am honored that you have entrusted its oversight to me and I assure you that I will contact you should the need arise for more than the mundane happenstance.
And I must relate to you my utter astonishment at the now welcome reception I enjoy from my late husband Gerald’s family–or at least from his nephew Robert Hatch. I had not met him before since he was away at school when Gerald and I were married and then we spent Christmas with my family last year. But I find Robert Hatch to be earnest and honorable. Though a brief visit is perhaps not sufficient to take the measure of a man, his actions in establishing my annuity and his pledge to fund Beatrice’s future dowry–with great thanks to Lord Rafe for his intercession on my behalf–speak volumes about Mr. Hatch’s sincerity. He has even written to me since his visit to ensure that the arrangements have been completed to my satisfaction.
At first I was worried that upon meeting Mr. Robert Hatch, he might cause me to think sorrowfully upon his uncle, my late husband Gerald Hatch. But I find that the opposite was the case. Mr. Robert Hatch bears little physical resemblance in his face to my late husband–which is a blessing. Though Mr. Robert Hatch’s countenance is a pleasing one, I must admit. His eyes are so piercing when they look at one. And his voice has a soothing tone to it.
And I might even take Beatrice and spend the Christmas Holidays with the Hatch family in Suffolk. Mr. Hatch was quite taken with my little one when he visited me–and Beatrice also enjoyed her time with her cousin. You see, Mr. Hatch is to become a vicar with his own parish soon and he will give a guest sermon the Sunday before Christmas. So he has invited me to attend his worship service and then stay for the holidays–and I am considering it. He seems most in earnest about wanting to be a good vicar–the type who gently guides his parishioners so as not to need to admonish them too much. All in all he seems very agreeable and I have no doubt that he will be a success. And I wish him well in all of his endeavors.
I must end this rather long letter with my sincere thanks once again. You both have acted so kindly toward myself and my baby Beatrice. We are forever in your debt as the bonds of friendship we share grow even stronger.
Your devoted friend, Cassie (with Beatrice)
Mrs. Gerald Hatch, Maylandsea, Essex
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine were not only delighted to receive Mrs. Cassandra Hatch’s letter of thanks and praise, but they also noticed that Mrs. Hatch is on increasingly good terms with her husband’s family. Of course Kathy has additional thoughts in that regard, but she will wait to see what develops.
Over the Autumn, Stuart sends two more monthly letters in October and November to Lord Rafe that are really missives for Anna–trying to maintain his friendship with her that they began last Summer. Stuart is always sure to ask a question of Anna so that Lord Rafe might respond to him with her message. Anna is glad for Stuart’s friendship–especially since his family is so closely connected with the Wingates.
Stuart’s final monthly letter to Lord Rafe (and Anna) this Autumn term occurs in early December 1826–before the Christmas holidays that the MacGregors will spend with the Wingates. And Stuart’s letter is filled with his usual talk of school. For as a young man with little experience of socializing with young ladies, he does not have varied topics to discuss yet. But he gamely plows ahead anyway, in a breezily written style that is now much less formal than his first letter–but still with his characteristic bent for the dramatic.
December 11th, 1826
Lord Rafe Wingate
Hunting Lodge, Dearing Manor, Warwick
Dear Uncle Rafe,
I can hardly believe that the school term is almost over and I look forward to seeing you all again. We have exams this week that I am studying for all night and all day–I barely sleep and I do not eat. I am the most wretched creature on Earth. This cannot be what our teachers intend, but we want to do our best and so we study hard. I am exhausted, but hope that my extra efforts will be rewarded.
Mama and Papa will collect me at the end of the week to take me home for a few days before we travel to Dearing Manor on December 18th for our annual Christmas visit. I am so looking forward to seeing you all again. Five months is too long to be apart from old friends–and from new friends.
I was glad to learn from your previous letter that Baroness Anna is now reading Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” [(12)]. It is one of Mama’s favorite books. Perhaps we will give her another of Mama’s favorite books as our Christmas present to Anna this year. Please give Baroness Anna my regards. But please keep our book gift idea a surprise.
I send my very best wishes to you and your family as we look forward to visiting you again.
Your devoted God son, Stuart
Sir Stuart MacGregor
Eton College, Windsor
Again, with Stuart mentioning a surprise for Anna–her Christmas gift of a book from the MacGregors–Lord Rafe did not let Anna read Stuart’s letter directly. And Anna was a little perturbed that Stuart did not pose a question to her as is his usual habit. But Lord Rafe assured Anna that with Stuart arriving next week that she and he may converse as much as they like. This thought seemed to mollify her. Then Anna left with Lady Katharine to take their weekly food baskets and blankets to the sick and infirm on the estate. As the weather has become colder, the Wingates are particularly aware of their tenants needs–wanting to ensure that all have enough wood for their fires and bread for their tables. The tenants and vassals [(13)] work hard on the land of Dearing Manor Estate during the main agricultural growing seasons of Spring through Autumn that is essential to the prosperity of the estate and they have thus earned this consideration by their feudal Lord.
With all of the Wingate extended family and the close friends the MacGregors descending upon Dearing Manor in one week’s time, the estate will be a bustle with activity. Lord Charles and Lady Leonora Wingate are especially pleased that their daughter Lady Louisa and her family are still able to attend, since Lady Louisa is almost to her last month of her pregnancy and will be confined to bed rest when she returns home. Their precious grandchildren little Henry and Lottie and now Anna will give them a houseful of joy–and then some.
To be continued with Chapter 27
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) Stuart MacGregor image (brt, shrp, hi-res)is Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence amused in the 1994 film Little Women was found at http://www.quotesworthrepeating.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Little-Women-Laurie-140×195.jpg
3) For some information about England’s Eton College, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eton_College
4) Image of Wingate Hunting Lodge is actually Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough, Ireland (image manip for symmetry of background) was found at
5) Image representing Anna Wingate reading Stuart MacGregor ‘s envelope was found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-love-letter-jessie-elliot-gorst.html
6)Titles of Baronetcy are found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_extant_baronetcies ; titles of Marquess are found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_marquesses_in_the_peerages_of_Britain_and_Ireland
7) Lord Rafe image (crop, hi-res) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 1, pix 105, Mar2513 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-105.jpg
8) The collection of Asian fables known as “1001 Arabian Nights” was first translated from Arabic into English in1706 as The Arabian Nights; for more information visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Thousand_and_One_Nights
11) Image(cropped, brt, shrp) representing Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kissing is of John Thornton’s (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale’s (as portrayed by Daniela Denby Ashe’s followup kisses in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 340) 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. 25 is: