“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 27 (PG-13)–Christmas Holidays Reveal Surprises for the Extended and Growing Wingate Family & Friends Part 1, June 30, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #424)
[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 Autumn of 1826 had flown by with many letters exchanged between old and new friends. The fourteen year old Sir Stuart MacGregor wrote to eleven year old Baroness Anna via his monthly correspondence with her Papa and his godfather, Lord Rafe. And having learned of the financial difficulties of Lady Katharine’s friend Mrs. Cassandra Hatch was experiencing due to the treatment of her late husband Gerald Hatch’s family, Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe retained Mrs. Hatch as the estate agent for Lady Katharine’s Sea Grove Estate near her home in Maylandsea Essex. And Lord Rafe also interceded for Mrs. Hatch with her husband’s twenty-two year old nephew and heir, Robert Hatch–who was most amenable to settling a substantial sum of money on Mrs. Cassandra Hatch and pledging appropriate funds for a dowry for her baby Beatrice Hatch when she has need of it. In fact, Mr. Robert Hatch invited Mrs. Cassandra Hatch to his home for the holidays and to hear him preach his first guest sermon as a newly ordained minister. The eighteen year old Mrs. Cassandra Hatch told Lady Katharine in a letter that she found Mr. Robert Hatch to be very agreeable, such that she positively gushed about his piercing eyes and his soothing tone of voice. Hmmm.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 27 (PG-13): Christmas Holidays Reveal Surprises for the Extended and Growing Wingate Family & Friends Part 1
In the middle of December 1826, most persons’ thoughts have turned toward the upcoming Christmas holidays–with special decorations and the exchanges of small gifts, in addition to the religious significance [(2)]. And the extended Wingate families and friends will join together to celebrate it at Dearing Manor. Dearing Manor looks resplendent with touches of fresh fir wreaths and trimmings on mantels, with gold ribbons and balls interspersed throughout. Though a Christmas tree has been chosen, they will wait to cut it down and bring it into the manor hall to decorate it after everyone has arrived.
First to arrive at Dearing Manor near Warwick on December 15th are the Throckmortons–Sir John, Lady Louisa who is Lord Rafe’s sister, and their children five year old Henry and three year old Charlotte. And the Throckmortons bring with them their recently acquired beasts–Henry’s spaniel puppy Sir Walter Raleigh [(3)], Raleigh for short; and Lottie’s soft grey kitten Lovey. The children are still learning how to be responsible pet owners under their father’s watchful guidance. So their pets have limited access to the Dearing Manor sitting rooms and bed chambers for now to lessen the likelihood of messes–which still happen once in a while even now that they have had the pets for two months. Sir John has taken the task of helping their children house train and care for their pets mostly upon himself because his dear wife Lady Louisa is beginning her final month of pregnancy with their third child–who is due to arrive just after the new year–and she must rest as much as possible. Ever the doting Grandmama to be for a fourth grandchild, Lady Leonora Wingate pampers her daughter by having all of her favorite foods made for her and entertaining Henry and Lottie so that her daughter Lady Louisa may nap and take her ease.
Then, the MacGregors arrive on December 18th, also staying at Dearing Manor proper. Though they are staying in the guest wing, not the family wing, so as to keep propriety satisfied with regard to two young people being under the same roof–those being eleven year old Baroness Anna and fourteen year old Sir Stuart. Finally, later in the day, Lady Katharine’s parents arrive to stay with she and Lord Rafe at the hunting lodge on the Dearing Manor Estate. They will meet up with everyone else tonight for large family dinner at Dearing Manor.
But for now, an abundantly cheerful Sir Antony and Lady Charmaine settle into their rooms–really a large bedchamber with a separate dressing room with a cot for Sir Antony, but he will sleep with his wife. Lady Katharine chats with her Mama while her ladies maid unpacks for her in Lady Charmaine’s dressing room.
Under the loving home she now has with her devoted husband Sir Antony, Lady Charmaine has thrived and blossomed. Gone are the gaunt and pinched features, replaced with a pleasingly slight plumpness that gives her an even more youthful appearance since her wrinkles are smoothed out. Her figure is still trim, but now has a womanly curvy roundness to her hips and breasts.
Lady Katharine: “I am so glad to see you looking so well, Mama. You are positively glowing.” She smiles sweetly at her Mama–grateful that she has continued to be a loving and kind Mama since her stroke almost seven months ago.
Lady Charmaine: Caressing her daughter’s face, she smiles warmly at her. “Thank you Kathy, my dear. I have much to be thankful for. Your dear Papa and I continue to love and cherish each other since I recovered from my illness.” The forty four year old Lady Charmaine, averts her eyes with a secret smile for her loving and attentive husband–and then some.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine notices her Mama’s blushing facial expression and asks her with a curious smile of her own.“What is It, Mama?”
But there will be time for Lady Charmaine’s news later.
Lady Charmaine: “I am just happy to be here, Kathy.” Lady Charmaine dissembles. Mother and daughter hug. “Now tell me of you and Rafe. What have you been up to lately?” She smiles impishly.
Lady Katharine: “We are the same as you find us. We celebrated our seven months of being married quietly last week.” She says stoically.
But Lady Katharine’s face saddens a bit and her Mama notices.
Lady Charmaine: “Come now, Kathy my pet. Tell me. What is wrong? Do you and our little Baroness Anna continue to develop a loving bond?”
Lady Katharine: “Yes, we do. And Rafe has really come into his own as her Papa. Hhhh!” Lady Katharine sighs in frustration. “It is just that I, well, …” She bites her lower lip–a gesture that in this case means that she is troubled by something.
Lady Charmaine: “Kathy, you can tell me, whatever it is.” She encourages.
Lady Katharine: She blurts out in sobs. “I am barren!” Then Lady Katharine [(4) right] weeps as she falls into her mother’s caring arms.
Lady Charmaine: “Oh Kathy. Kathy? Of course you are not barren. Whatever would make you think that?”
Lady Katharine: She speaks in short bursts through her sobs. “Rafe and I lie together as husband and wife … every day … sometimes more.” She adds blushingly. “But my courses still come. I am desperate to have a child and give Rafe his son and heir. But I fear that I cannot and he will soon want to dissolve our marriage and find someone who can give him sons.” She sobs.
Lady Charmaine: “Kathy .. Kathy, look at me.” She guides her daughter’s tear stained face upwards to look at her. “I cannot believe that Rafe would want to replace you. The man is completely besotted with you.” But of course, Lady Charmaine has not seen her son-in-law lately.
Lady Katharine weeps as she continues sharing her fears and self doubt with her Mama.
Lady Katharine: “But with his sister, Lady Louisa, having her third child, Rafe talks of nothing but babies. And he looks at me in such a longing way. And … and … he … he kisses my tummy all the time when we make love–as if he hopes to kiss me where our baby would be, where our baby should be. Oh Mama! I love Rafe so much! But I have failed him in not being able to give him what he wants most–a son!” Lady Katharine plunges her head into Mama’s lap as she weeps.
Lady Charmaine: “Kathy, your Papa and I did not have your older brother until three years into our marriage. Until then, we enjoyed just having the two of us–as you and Rafe should be enjoying your early married life. Consider this time that you have together a blessing.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine sits up again and looks pleadingly at her Mama. “Oh Mama, I wish I could do so. But I cannot. Rafe has spent more time in London the last month–going there for a few days every week. He is there now, though he promises to be back in time for dinner up at the manor with all of us. Rafe says he is going on business, but I know he is lying to me. I can tell by the way he purses his mouth when he tries to hide his smile.” Lady Katharine looks sorrowfully at her Mama as she dabs at her eyes with her linen hankie. And then she makes a most unladylike noise as she blows her nose into the hankie. “And he does not call me by his pet names for me anymore. Mama, I think Rafe has tired of me and taken up with one of his former mistresses. His father, Lord Charles, let slip one time that Rafe had gone to his bachelor townhouse–when I had thought that he had sold it long ago. And Rafe is not a bachelor. So he must be having an affair. Mama, I have lost the only man I will ever love.” Lady Katharine cries mournfully.
Lady Charmaine gazes upon her bereft daughter with sympathy and compassion. For though Lady Charmaine does not remember much of her eight years of estrangement from her husband Sir Antony when she falsely accused him of adultery, Lady Charmaine remembers the despair she felt. Then she gently holds her daughter’s face in her hands.
Lady Charmaine: “Kathy, you are wrong to be so distrustful of Rafe–just as I was wrong to accuse your father. Do not repeat the same mistakes that I made. For if you do repeat them, you will make your life a living misery. Talk to Rafe, tell him how you feel. Give him a chance to explain himself. Then when he tells you that he loves only you, believe him.”
It was a hard lesson for Lady Charmaine [(5) right] to learn–to trust in her husband’s love and fidelity. And it is a lesson that she hopes her daughter, Lady Katharine, will not ignore. Lady Charmaine continues to try to soothe her daughter as they chat.
After a little while, Sir Antony returns to his guest bed chamber with Lady Charmaine so they can change for dinner. And Lady Katharine leaves to go to her own room to change as well. When they are alone, Lady Charmaine explains their daughter’s distress to Sir Antony and he has thunder in his eyes.
With barely an hour before dinner is to begin at his parents’ home Dearing Manor, Lord Rafe finally arrives home to the hunting lodge from London and dashes into his bedchamber with Lady Katharine to bathe and dress. He finds his wife sitting at her vanity mirror putting on her pearl stud earrings.
Lord Rafe: “I know, I know! Don’t tell me, Kate! I’m late!” He says in a clipped voice while he hurriedly divests himself of his brief case, suit jacket, shirt, and trousers by flinging them on the bed.
Lady Katharine: Gladdened to see her husband home, but disappointed in his brusque manner of greeting her, she smiles wanly. “I would never admonish you so, Rafe.” Lady Katharine’s insecurity about her marriage could not be more absolute.
Lord Rafe: Striding into his dressing room where his bath is–without stopping to kiss his wife–he says. “I will take a quick bath, then we can talk while I am dressing.”
Lady Katharine: “As you wish.” Lady Katharine says agreeably, but woodenly–with forboding in her heart, wondering what he wants to talk about.
Lord Rafe shuts the door to his dressing room–something that he normally does not do when he bathes, which Lady Katharine notices. She takes the closed door as a sign of the increasing separation between them. Lady Katharine looks at herself in the mirror–how the strain shows on her face, in her simple chignon hairstyle with no flouncy youthful ringlets, in her pale cheeks, and in her lack luster eyes. Then she notices her husband’s overflowing briefcase in the mirror. She stands up shakily and turns around to face the bed. She wants to move closer to their bed to see the papers more clearly, but her feet will not move. They are rooted in the spot at her vanity–in fear of what she might find there.
But somehow, Lady Katharine forces herself to walk forward until she is standing two feet in front of their bed. She can see now that the papers seem to be legal documents, but she cannot read the words on them clearly. Lady Katharine reaches for the briefcase, just as her husband walks out of his dressing room after his bath in his dressing gown over his drawers–so engrossed in finding out the truth that she does not even hearing him open the door.
Lord Rafe rushes over to the other side of their bed, he retrieves his briefcase and stuffs the papers in there more securely. Lady Katharine slowly retracts her arms and places them at her sides as she looks at her husband seemingly wanting to conceal something from her.
Lord Rafe: “I am sorry to make such a mess! I did not mean to leave this lying about. Just some of the tedious business I have had to deal with in London.” Seeing Lady Katharine’s questioning look, he adds. “Oh, nothing to trouble you with. I will just put this in my dressing room.” It is the one place that his wife rarely goes–unless she is bidden to enter it by him. And he puts his briefcase up on a high shelf–to further put the contents of the briefcase out of her reach. Then Lord Rafe, puts on his evening attire and strides back out into their bedchamber.
Lady Katharine: Feeling that she has confirmation that her husband is definitely keeping something from her, Lady Katharine resigns herself to finding out what it is, then taking the proper steps. Eerily calmly, she puts on her shawl and turns to her husband. “We should collect Mama and Papa, then head to the Manor.”
Lord Rafe: “Of course.” He nods. Their talk will have to wait until later.
The enclosed carriage ride to Dearing Manor this cold December evening of Saturday December 18th is chilly for more than the temperature outside. The two couples sit across from each other and Lord Rafe notices the pursed lips of his mother-in-law Lady Charmaine and the steely gaze of his father-in-law Sir Antony. And Lord Rafe wonders if Lady Katharine’s ill humor earlier is related to her parents’ foul mood. It is, but not in the way he thinks. Lord Rafe just hopes that for all of their sakes that Lady Charmaine has not returned to being the dragon lady.
And before this night is out, Lord Rafe, his wife Lady Katharine, and the rest of the family will discover the secrets that are threatening to undo their previously loving and harmonious lives.
As they walk into his parent’s home at Dearing Manor, Lord Rafe whispers a questioning concern to his wife, Lady Katharine.
Lord Rafe: “Kate? Your parents seem out of sorts. Is everything alright?”
Lady Katharine: She whispers her answer cryptically. “Who can ever know what happens between two people in a marriage? Sometimes they do not even know.”
Stuart: “Baroness Anna.” Stuart [(6) right] lifts her hand to his lips and kisses it. “It is good to see you again.” He says with a slightly deeper voice and he smiles eagerly.
Anna: “Thank you, Stuart. It is good to see you again as well.”
There is a pause of silence between them. Because though they have been somewhat corresponding monthly, that is not the same as having a friendship where your relationship develops from sharing thoughts and experiences together on a more regular basis. And they have each grown and changed a bit since they were together last. Anna’s dark blond hair now showing some of the auburn highlights present in her father Lord Rafe’s coloring when he was a boy. And Stuart is less nervous and gangly around her, him having adjusted to his new height and his schooling bringing a maturity to him. And Anna [(7) right] gazing up at Stuart is also blossoming from the young eleven year old girl to the soon to be young lady of twelve. So, in effect, Stuart and Anna will have to start all over again to get to know each other. But that is something that they both welcome.
The married couples in the room stand arm in arm and paired up with their mates. Henry and Lottie are also in attendance–unusually so for them because the custom is for them to eat their dinner in the nursery. But this is Christmas time, so the children are allowed to dine with the adults. Little Lottie walks over to her Mama’s rather plump silhouette with her being eight months pregnant and Lottie leans in to her. Then as her Mama, Lady Louisa rubs her back, Lottie [(8) right] gently places her little hand on her Mama’s pregnant belly and asks in earnest.
Charlotte: “Mama, when will the babeh come out to play wit me and Lovey?” Lovey is Lottie’s kitten.
Lady Louisa: Smiling down at her little cherub, Lady Louisa [(9) right] smiles warmly, but with a bit of fatigue since this third pregnancy is really tiring her out. “Only a few more weeks now, Lottie.”
Henry: “Lottie, you goose! You ask too many questions.” So says the little enforcer while shaking his head.
Sir John: “Now, now, Henry. Lottie is younger than you. So her questions are natural. And My Love Louisa is the picture of womanly beauty in her current happy condition.” Sir John beams with pride and love for his dear wife Lady Louisa as he leans in and kisses her cheek. With her about to gift him with their third child, he is most attentive and solicitous of her. A quality that Lord Rafe would do well to imitate with his young wife.
Lord Rafe: Stepping forward and lifting his sister’s hand and kissing it, Lord Rafe adds. “You are breathtaking in your impending motherhood, my dear sister. My zeal at being an uncle will only be eclipsed when I hold Kate and my child in my arms–something I missed being able to do when Anna was a baby.” He adds for Anna’s benefit.
Lady Louisa blushes at all of the attention she is receiving. However, Lady Katharine pales even further–if that is possible–at her husband’s remark about wanting babies. And she takes a halting step backward. Lady Katharine’s Mama Lady Charmaine standing near her, puts her arm about Lady Katharine’s waist to steady her on her feet and they share a knowing and sad glance at each other.
Lady Leonora: “Welcome to our home, everyone. We are delighted that you are able to join us for the holidays.” Lady Wingate [(10) right] gazes upon her extended family and friends with her characteristic serene love and happiness.
Everyone walks into the dining room coupled up–and they sit together that way, too–flouting etiquette which states that husbands and wives should not sit together. But that rule must have been invented by spouses who longed for the hour or two in someone else’s company that fine dining affords them. These couples at Dearing Manor are all happy ones. Well, except for siblings Henry and Lottie–since Henry is often out of sorts as a boy. And, of course, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine. Though Lord Rafe seems to be unaware of his wife’s unhappiness as everyone–but a very quiet Lady Katharine–chats amiably with each other around the table.
Yet, Lady Katharine’s father, Sir Antony had noticed the change in his daughter–even before his wife mentioned something to him today. And he is not happy about it–not one jot. So as the ladies and children file out of the dining room and walk to the parlor and the men walk to Lord Charles Wingate’s study for some port and cigars–with Stuart electing to stay with the men as a means of emphasizing his maturity to Anna–Sir Antony takes Lord Rafe aside as they enter the study.
Sir Antony: “Lord Rafe, may I have a word with you?” Sir Antony [(11) right] speaks formally in his address to his son-in-law, while trying to control his growing anger at the obvious sadness his daughter Lady Katharine is experiencing in her marriage.
Lord Rafe: Smiling in hopes of encouraging a lighter tone out of Sir Antony, he agrees. “Of course, Sir Antony. May I offer you some port first?”
Sir Antony: “No thank you.” He gestures to the other side of the room from where the other men are so that they may discuss the matter privately.
Lord Rafe: “Very well.” He follows his father-in-law to a quiet corner, then waits patiently for Sir Antony to speak.
Sir Antony: “I will get right to the point. You have failed to keep your promise to insure my Kathy’s happiness, you bastard!”
Lord Rafe: “I beg your pardon!” He says loudly indignantly such that the other men in the room turn their attention to them.
Sir Antony: “Kathy is miserable. Her Mama and I could tell something was wrong from the sadness in her eyes, even before she said something to her Mama.”
Lord Rafe: “Kate told her Mama that she is unhappy?” He asks incredulously. “But why? We are very happy together.” He asserts.
Sir Antony: “Perhaps your taking a mistress has something to do with it.” Sir Antony’s eyes narrow.
Temporarily speechless, Lord Rafe stares at his father-in-law in utter stupefaction.
Lord Charles: Striding over to the two men, he defends his son. “Rafe would never break his marriage vows promised before God!”
Sir Antony: “Then why do you go to London so often–and stay at your bachelor home?” Sir Antony accuses Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “Oh my god! It is not what you think! It is not what Kate thinks. I can explain.”
Sir Antony: “Inevitably, you have something plausible to say, but I doubt that it is true. Once a rake, always a rake. I should have listened to my Charmaine.”
Lord Rafe: “Your censure is uncalled for, Sir! If you were not my wife’s father, I would call you out!”
Though by 1826, some British laws [(12)] had tried to curtail the deadly practice of dueling, they had not succeeded. Lord Rafe’s father holds him back from striking Sir Antony.
Sir Antony: “I welcome it! Name your second. I will call upon my son Sir Percival.” He says stridently, while being held back from hitting Lord Rafe by Sir John.
Lord Rafe: “Sir Collin, I hope I can count on you for my second.”
Sir Collin: “Rafe, I am a Magistrate. I cannot duel, nor serve as your second.”
Stuart: Stuart does not know where to look, but he knows that he is on Lord Rafe’s side. “Uncle Rafe, I am under no such limitation upon my actions. I will proudly serve as your second.
Lord Rafe: “Thank you, Stuart. At least I can count on one of the MacGregors.” He shoots daggers at his friend Sir Collin.
Sir Collin: Looking upon the father-in-law and son-in-law and now his own son in horror, Sir Collin [(13) right] admonishes them. “Gentleman! You are family! And this is a misunderstanding of a most grievous nature. I beg you to reconsider and resolve your differences with probity and decorum.”
Sir John: “I agree! This is calamitous! Let us get this straightened out. I do not want my Louisa caused any worry in her delicate condition.”
Sir Antony: “The only straightening out I want is for our Kathy to be happy again–as she once was.”
Lord Rafe: “Kate’s happiness is ever my life’s focus.” He says earnestly. “I cannot fathom why she thinks otherwise. Our life is pleasant and loving. What more could she ask for?” He throws his hands up in frustration.
Sir Antony: “Perhaps if you were a more attentive husband whose interests are not directed elsewhere, that would help. You have made her feel unwanted because she has not gotten pregnant yet. Kathy thinks you have moved on to a mistress and that you will abandon her.”
Lord Rafe: “I would never do that!” Lord Rafe spits out, choking with fury for Sir Antony–and his wife, Lady Katharine–to accuse him of such immoral actions. “Of course, Kate and I want children–but in the future, after we have enjoyed time for just the two of us.”
Sir Antony: “Well, then you need to tell her that.”
Lord Charles: “And this business about Rafe going to London on business and his bachelor townhouse is completely above board. Rafe has been in the process of getting it ready for sale–removing his personal effects and selling the rest. It only just sold this week.”
Lord Rafe: “I plan to surprise Kate at Christmas by saying that we will go house hunting for a new London home together in the new year.”
Sir Antony: “And what about your inattentiveness and lack of consideration? Kathy feels that you take her for granted.”
Lord Rafe: “I am at a complete loss.” He shakes his head. “We are a loving couple.” By which he means that they make love.
Sir Antony: “Yes, but do you woo her my boy–with flowers and endearments and such? Have you even kissed her today?”
Lord Rafe: “Woo her!?! She is my wife, my Angel!” The first time Lord Rafe has referred to her as such this night, when in the past, every other mention he would make of her would call her that.
Sir Antony: “Then you, Sir, are not a bastard.” He says evenly.
Sir Antony: “You are an idiot!” Sir Antony throws up his hands in frustration.
Lord Rafe: “Now see here! I do not like your tone–even if you are my father-in-law.” Lord Rafe [(14) right] is fuming again.
Sir Antony: Then he softens. “My boy, you have much to learn about being a husband.” The other husbands in the room nod their heads sagely–and Stuart listens attentively. “A wedding is not the end of wooing your lady. Marriage is the beginning of a lifelong courtship if you are to have a happy life together. And husbands should never keep secrets from their wives–it always becomes misconstrued. Wives do not like surprises–nor do they react well to them.”
The other men–experienced husbands all–nod their heads in agreement and sigh. Stuart not yet a husband tucks away this nugget of wisdom in his brain for future employment.
Lord Rafe: “Alright. But what about the other thing?” Sir Antony looks at him questioningly. “Kate thinking that I thought she could not give me children.”
Sir Antony: “I gather that you rather harp on about the subject of babies–like tonight when you greeted your sister–and especially during your private moments with Kathy.” Sir Antony says sotto voce–not wanting to mention Lord Rafe kissing his wife’s Lady Katharine’s tummy during lovemaking. Fathers rarely want confirmation that their daughters are having sex with their husbands–because they will always be their little girl.
Lord Rafe: “Blast!” Lord Rafe puts his hands on his head in utter stupefaction. “I am an idiot!” He looks pleadingly at the other husbands. “How do I fix this?”
Lord Charles: “I suggest you grovel, my son. It always works for me.” He says matter of factly. “Forget what society tells you about you as a husband being master of your domain. Because a man’s domain is nothing without his wife to share it with him. Your own happiness should always be in direct synchrony with your wife’s.
Sir John: “I can vouch for that. My Louisa is My Pearl, and I tell her so everyday–especially now that she is so large with our child and she feels uncomfortable and unattractive. Louisa needs reassurance that she is more beautiful to me now–and she is.”
Sir Collin: “Groveling on your knees would be best, Rafe.” He adds his helpful tip.
Rafe ponders all that has been said to him.
Sir Antony: “Rafe!” Sir Antony has switched from his formal address now that he no longer accuses his son-in-law of misdeeds. Lord Rafe looks up quickly at his father-in-law. “What are you still standing in here for? You have a wife who needs your love and tenderness and reassurance.”
Now the men–husbands all, but for Stuart–propel Lord Rafe out of the study and toward the large sitting room where the ladies are playing cards and chatting. And they follow behind. None of them want to miss what comes next.
Lady Katharine and the ladies are sitting in the Sitting Room playing bridge together–Lady Katharine, Lady Frances MacGregor, Lady Charmaine, and Lady Leonora–with Anna watching to learn the game while Lady Louisa has a lie down on the sette after Henry and Lottie were taken up to bed earlier by their nanny. But Lady Katharine’s mind is not in the game as she lays down the wrong card–as her card partner tells her.
Lady Charmaine: “Hhhh! No Kathy, clubs are trump.” She looks at her daughter encouragingly.
Lady Katharine: “What? Oh, I am sorry Mama. My mind is not focusing tonight.” She rubs her head in fatigue. Then Lady Katharine lays down a club.
Lady Katharine’s back is to the Sitting Room door–and she does not see the husbands and Stuart enter and give nods to their wives as they go to them. Stuart beckons to Anna to come to him and she looks at him curiously, but detaches herself from standing between her Grandmama and her Kathy. Seeing her card table mates leave, Lady Katharine looks up, now noticing the men–and wondering where her own husband is as she turns back to look at the door.
Lord Rafe stands riveted onto the spot. He would rather have a private discussion with his wife, but that is not meant to be. He strides forward to his wife and kneels before her and takes her into his arms.
Lord Rafe: “Katharine, My Angel!” He calls her by two endearments for good measure to start off with. “I am an idiot! Please forgive me.”
Lady Katharine: Recoiling from him slightly, she worries that her fears of her husband’s infidelity are confirmed and she asks him with trepidation. “Why should you have need of forgiveness?”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe wonders where to begin. So he just blurts it all out. “My Angel, my Christmas present surprise for you will have to come now, because your father tells me that you have mistook my purpose and it is causing you grief.”
Then Lady Katharine looks up at the stern countenances of her father, her father-in-law, her brother-in-law, and their family friend Sir Collin.
Lady Katharine: “Papa?”
Sir Antony: “Just hear him out, Kathy Dear and all will be well.” He nods at her compassionately. Lady Charmaine looks up at him and he smiles at her.
Lord Rafe: “My Love, the reason that I have been going down to London so often was to pack up my possessions and sell the rest before putting my bachelor townhome on the market. It sold just this week. My surprise Christmas present for you is that I want us to buy a new London home together in the new year.” He smiles up at her earnestly.
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” She says feeling disconcertedly off balance–trying to reconcile her worries with her husband’s explanation about his actions.
Lord Charles: “It is true, Katharine. Rafe has been storing his clothes and furniture in our London home until they can move to your new home.”
Lord Rafe: “And the only furniture I kept was from my study–because it belonged to my Grandpapa Wingate. I have sold the rest of the furniture and you may have carte blanche in decorating our new home.” Lord Rafe did not think that his wife would want to sleep in a bed where he had entertained his paramours during his bachelor days–rightly so.
Lady Katharine: She gives him a small smile–not quite hopeful, but less despairing. “That will be nice.” But there is still a nagging doubt in her mind–about her ability to have children. And that doubt plays across her face.
Lord Rafe: “What is wrong, My Angel?”
Lady Katharine: Tearing up, she whimpers. “Hmmmhhh!” Lady Katharine averts her eyes from her husband’s gaze. She cannot reveal her darkest worry with all of her family present.
Lord Rafe: “Please tell me.” But Lady Katharine will not divulge her pain in so public a way. So Lord Rafe turns to the other husbands pleadingly. “Gentlemen, what am I forgetting?”
Sir Antony unconsciously points to his own wife’s abdomen, to indicate the babies issue. But Lord Rafe looks at him quizzically.
Sir Antony: “Babies, my boy.” He says quietly, but everyone hears him–including Lady Katharine. And Lady Charmaine unconsciously lays her hand across her tummy.
Lord Rafe: “Hhhhh!” He sighs in remembering.
Lady Katharine: Her tears fall and she weeps as she whispers into her husband’s ears. “I fear that I am barren, Rafe. We lie together, but I am not yet with child.”
Lord Rafe: “Shhh! Shhh!” He comforts her as he rocks her back and forth. And also not wanting to reveal their private intimate moments in company, Lord Rafe leans in to Lady Katharine and whispers into her ear. “My Angel, you are not barren, I have been preventing you from getting pregnant–well, most of the time that I remember to do so.” He states sheepishly for the passion that they share is overwhelming to him.
Lady Katharine: “Preventing?” She whispers, not understanding how her husband might do this. “Then it is not my fault that we are not expecting a child yet?” She asks hopefully.
Lord Rafe: “No it is not your fault, my Love. I am so sorry. I did not realize that you wanted to start our having babies so soon. I hoped that we could have some time together for just the two of us–well, and with Anna–before we start having more children.” He smiles at her encouragingly and she smiles back to them through her tears.
Lady Katharine: “But I really want a baby in the coming year.” She bites her lower lip. She thinks, in case her Mama’s recovery falters. So that she may give her Mama a grandchild.
Lord Rafe: Brushing her curls from her eyes and caressing her cheek, Lord Rafe smiles lovingly at his wife and says. “Then you shall have your wish, and that is something that we will have to work on together, my Darling.”
The smoulder in Lord Rafe’s voice is evident to all–because he forgot to whisper. Then Lord Rafe leans forward and kisses his wife achingly tenderly and respectfully–and she responds joyfully to him.
All of the married couples smile at this happy scene. Even Stuart smiles and then he looks down at Anna standing next to him. Anna turns to look up at Stuart and she smiles at him.
Lord Rafe: Wanting to get his wife home to continue his apologies, Lord Rafe entreats the other couples present. “Pray dear family and friends, might you excuse Lady Katharine and I until Morning Prayer on the morrow for Sunday services? We have much to discuss about the coming new year.” Of course, Lord Rafe is using husband code for making love with his young wife.
Lord Rafe stands and helps his wife, Lady Katharine, to a standing position also. Then without waiting for their family’s and friends’ reply, Lord Rafe whisks his wife out of the Sitting Room to the front hall for their cloaks, and thence to the courtyard after the butler sends for their carriage to return from the stables.
Lord Wingate pops his head outside after Lord Rafe helps Lady Katharine into their carriage.
Lord Charles: “Rafe, the Southwicks will stay for an hour or so longer. So we will send them home in our carriage.”
Lord Rafe: “Thank you, Papa.” Then Lord Rafe yells to the driver as he enters the carriage. “Drive on, and be quick about it.”
Though the carriage ride from Dearing Manor to the Hunting Lodge usually only takes a quarter hour, it takes nearly a half hour. It is December and the snow on the ground crunches under the wheels of the carefully moving carriage. Lord Rafe uses the time to let Lady Katharine know just how much he adores her in the longest, continuous, unbroken kiss they have ever shared. When their lips part as the carriage turns up the drive to the hunting lodge, they gaze at each other lovingly with tears in their eyes [(15) right].
Lord Rafe: “Katharine my Love, you are the sole reason my life is worth living. I am sorry that I have made you feel otherwise. I promise to be a better husband to you in the future. But I am certain that I will need much guidance on your part–which I welcome delightfully.”
Lady Katharine: “Oh Rafe! I love you so!” She sighs in relief as her tears fall.
Lord Rafe: “And may I ask a favor of you, my Angel?”
Lady Katharine: “Of course.” She nods shyly.
Lord Rafe: “Never be afraid to tell me your fears and worries. If I can allay them, or comfort you in some way, I will.”
Lady Katharine: “Alright.”
Lord Rafe: “And I promise to have no more surprises–like selling my old townhouse so that we can buy a new home together. Anticipation is half of the fun. But is there anything else you would ask of me? You have but to command me and I will obey.”
Lady Katharine: “Just love me always.” She sighs.
Lord Rafe: “That I already do, my Angel.” They kiss tenderly once more.
The carriage comes to a stop and Lord Rafe assists Lady Katharine out of the carriage and into their Hunting Lodge where Smithers the butler and Matilda her ladies maid take their cloaks and gloves and hats. Then Lord Rafe has a command for his Butler.
Lord Rafe: “Please have the carriage and horses sheltered for the night. The Southwicks will return from Dearing Manor in an hour or two via my father’s carriage.”
Smithers/Butler: “Very good, Milord.”
Lord Rafe: “Oh, and Lady Katharine and I wish not to be disturbed.”
Smithers bows his head. Then Lord Rafe lifts Lady Katharine into his arms and carries her up the stairs to her squealing delight.
Lady Katharine: “Eeee! Ha ha ha! Rafe! Please don’t drop me!” She holds onto him for dear life. “Just put me down!”
Lord Rafe: “Not until we reach our bedchamber, my Love. I am going to adore you so completely this night that you will never again doubt my love for you.”
And Lord Rafe does adore his lovely wife Lady Katharine this night with such aching tenderness and passionate love that it makes them both weep for joy. Finally after several expressions of their love’s purity, they fall fast asleep lying blissfully naked in each others’ loving arms in the early morning hours of Sunday, December 19th. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are so exhausted from their loving conjugations this night–with no baby making preventions employed by Lord Rafe–that they are likely to miss Morning Prayer worship services in the Dearing Manor chapel.
However, events will unfold this early Sunday morning of December 19th that will cause everyone’s plans on the Dearing Manor estate to go awry–in a most surprising and joyful way.
To be continued with Chapter 28
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 (BBC, 2004) episode 2, picture 66 was found at
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 celebration of the Christmas season has evolved over the years, but we can see some traditions in 1826 surviving to this day—such as special decorations and a Christmas tree. Per Wikipedia, “The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. In the 15th century, it was recorded that in London it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”.[45 ] …From Germany the custom was introduced to Britain, first via Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, and then more successfully by Prince Albert during the reign of Queen Victoria. By 1841 the Christmas tree had become even more widespread throughout Britain.” For more information about Christmas celebration traditions, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
3) The history of Sir Walter Raleigh is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walter_Raleigh
4) Lady Katharine image is Carla Gugino as Duchess Nan in The Buccaneers (1995) episode 3 vlcsnap-17h20m03s42 Mar2313 Gratiana Lovelace Cap CropSkinOvalBrt
5) Lady Charmaine image is Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Olenska in The Age of Innocence tumblr_lfi51979mL1qelclno1_500Apr1313costumedramastumblrcom was found at http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lfi51979mL1qelclno1_500.jpg
6) Stuart MacGregor at 14 image (my cap) is of Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence in the 1994 film Little Women and was found at
http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/133561/Little-Women/overview ; http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/133561/Little-Women/trailers
7) Image (hi-res, clr shrp) representing Anna Wingate as a young teen gazing at the boy she loves, Stuart MacGregor is “Portrait of a Young Girl” by Sophie Anderson and was found at http://www.paintingall.com/sophie-anderson-portrait-of-young-girl.html
8) Charlotte/Lottie image (cropped, hi-res, sharpened and dress darkened) is represented by the William Adolphe Bouguereau painting “Little girl holding apples in her hands” found at http://www.paintingall.com/william-adolphe-bouguereau-little-girl-holding-apples-in-her-hands.html
9) Image representing Lady Louisa is Portrait of a Young Woman” by Franz Seraph Stirnbrand and was found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/portrait-of-a-young-woman-franz-seraph-stirnbrand.html
10) Image for Lady Leonora Wingate, Mama to Lord Rafe and GrandMama to his daughter Anna is a painting titled “Lady Violet Henderson” by John William Waterhouse found at
11) Sir Antony Southwick image (cropped sharp) is a composite image of Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer (his clothes) in The Age of Innocence (1993) in a production still from The Age of Innocence was found at http://s1.hubimg.com/u/3614944_f260.jpg ; and a modern day portrait of the actor (his head) found at http://sbiff.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/ddl_cropped-300×300.jpg ; for more about the film The Age of Innocence, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106226/; for more about the Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Age_of_Innocence
12) For some history about dueling, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duel
13) Sir Collin MacGregor image is of Mark Strong as George Knightly in 1996’s Emma Mar2513 was found at http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/2/Open/Ernst%20Seibold/Jane%20Austen’s%20Emma/_derived_jpg_q90_250x250_m0/Emma%20Kate%20Beckinsale%20Mark%20Strong_809869.jpg?partner=allrovi.com
14) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, hi-res) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2 pix 128, and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-128.jpg
15) Image(cropped, brt, shrp) representing Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine gazing lovingly at each other is of John Thornton (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) and Margaret Hale (as portrayed by Daniela Denby-Ashe) in the BBC’s 2004 production of North & South, episode 4 (Pix 347) was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode4/ns4-347.jpg
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 26 is: