“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 28 (PG-13)–Christmas Holidays Reveal Surprises for the Extended and Growing Wingate Family & Friends Part 2, July 07, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #426)
[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 Kirsten Dunst as Cassandra Hatch, 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: With everyone arriving at Dearing Manor by December 18th, 1826 for the Christmas holidays, the Wingates have a houseful. The eight months preganant with her third child Lady Louisa and Sir John Throckmorton and her family and pets are staying at the Manor–as are the MacGregors. However Sir Antony and Lady Charmaine Southwick are staying with Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine at the estates’ Hunting Lodge. And though Lady Katharine had been quite miserable in mistakenly thinking that her husband was having an affair in London because she could not get pregnant, the truth came out of him selling his bachelor townhome so that they could buy a new home together, as well as, his preventing her from becoming pregnant–when he had remembered to do so, wanting to have some shared time with his wife before their babies started coming. All was made well, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine made up–with him resolving to be a more attentive and considerate husband and she promising to share her worries with him. The extended Wingate family and friends plan to meet up together for Morning Prayer Sunday services in the Dearing Manor Chapel this wintery cold December 19, 1826 morning, and then spend the morning trimming their Christmas tree. But their plans will go awry–most unexpectedly and most joyfully.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 28 (PG-13): Christmas Reveals Surprises for the Extended and Growing Wingate Family & Friends Part 2
In the early morning hours of Sunday December 19th around 3:00am, all are asleep in their beds at Dearing Manor. Even the children’s beasts are asleep again after Sir John Throckmorton–husband of the Wingate daughter Lady Louisa–had rounded them up to go outside and pee since Henry’s puppy dog Raleigh and Lottie’s kitten Lovey are not water tight. Even the Wingate’s Irish Setter Kelly had tagged along after walking out of Anna’s room. But now, Sir John pads wearily back to his guest bedchamber with his wife for some much needed rest. He is not going to get it.
Sir John walks into his darkened bedchamber, quickly doffing his dressing gown fromover his bare chest and sliding into bed next to his very pregnant wife Lady Louisa. He gently places his hand on her belly, kisses her forehead, then lays his head down upon their pillow to sleep.
Lady Louisa: “Hhhhggg!” She moans in pain.
Sir John: Still sleepy, he asks. “I hope I did not waken you? I was just tending to the animals. Go back to sleep, My Darling.”
Lady Louisa: “Hh! Hh! Hh! Hh! Hh!” She breathes in sharp gasps as pain begins to wrack her body. “Nooo! It is too soon, John. But I think our baby is coming.” She looks at him with great alarm.
Sir John: “Are you certain, My Love?”
Lady Louisa: A large pain hits her and she cries out. “Aaaaggggggh!”
Sir John: “Stupid question!” Then Sir John quickly moves into baby birthing mode as he hurriedly ticks off what he plans to do as he stands up from the bed. “Right! I will alert your parents. Then we will send a carriage for a local midwife and doctor. Then we will notify the others.”
Lady Louisa: “John!”
Sir John: He looks up at her. “Yes?”
Lady Louisa: “Hurry!” She grimaces with another pain. Her pains this time are coming much more quickly than with her other two births.
Sir John: “Right!”
Sir John goes running out of their bedchamber toward Lord and Lady Wingate’s bed chamber, without so much as putting his dressing gown back on. So it is a good thing that he had not removed his drawers after returning from seeing to the pets. Reaching their door, he knocks softly but urgently. Initially, he gets no response. Then he knocks more forcefully and calls out to them.
Sir John: “Lord Charles, Lady Leonora! You must wake up! It is time!”
Lord Charles: Groggily opening his bedchamber door, having gotten out of bed with his still sleeping wife, he is not happy with being awakened. “Pipe down, John! It is still dark out! Morning Prayer will not be for hours.”
Sir John: “Louisa is in her birthing trials early. We must send for the doctor and midwife! I must go back to tend to her.” And Sir John runs back to his bed chamber.
Lord Charles: Now wide awake, but a soldier not accustomed to dealing with womanly issues–he was always at a posting when his wife gave birth to their children–he rushes to his bed to awaken his wife as he gently shakes her shoulder. “Leonora, wake up! Louisa is giving birth!”
Lady Leonora: Sitting bolt upright, she looks at her husband in alarm. “What did you say?”
Lord Charles: “The baby is coming! We need to send a carriage for the doctor and the midwife.”
Lady Leonora: “And we should also send for Mrs. Plunkett.” She says hurriedly rising from her bed and tossing on a dressing gown to go see her daughter Lady Louisa.
Lord Charles: “Why on Earth for? You cannot want her strawberry tarts now?” He says sarcastically.
Lady Leonora: She rolls her eyes. “No Charles! Mrs. Plunkett helped deliver Rafe and Louisa. She can help us until the doctor arrives.” Lady Leonora explains while she hurriedly heads for the door.
Lord Charles: “I did not know that.” He says in astonishment.
Lady Leonora: Racing down the hallway, she barks her orders to her husband. “Get dressed and send the carriages for the doctor, the midwife, Mrs. Plunkett, and Rafe and Katharine.” But as she looks over her shoulder, Lady Leonora sees Lord Charles is a frozen statue. “Move General!”
And Lord Charles follows his orders like the good soldier that he is. He may be a retired general, but his wife Lady Leonora always outranks him–happily so.
Rushing into her daughter’s guest bed chamber, Lady Leonora finds Lady Louisa having another birthing pain as she clutches her belly and screams.
Lady Louisa: “Aaaaggggh!”
Sir John: Looking at her in horror for her blood curdling scream, he states his keep grasp of the obvious. “That will wake the whole household up.”
Lady Leonora: “John, you are not helping. Charles has gone to notify the doctors and such. Go and help him!” Lady Leonora is of the mind that men are best not seen and not heard during birthing trials. She instantly goes to her daughter’s bedside and gives her a comforting hug. “I am here, Louisa.”
Lady Louisa: “Hh! Hh Hh! Mama, it is too soon! And the pains … have come … so quickly! I cannot … catch … my breath. Hh! Hh! Hh!” Lady Louisa is beginning to hyperventilate in her panic–exacerbating her slight asthma condition.
Lady Leonora: Experienced with her daughter’s breathing issues, she says in a calming tone. “Louisa, I am going to cup the sheet about your mouth and I want you to take slow deep breaths.”
Lady Louisa: “Mama! Hh! I cannot! Hh! Hh!”
Lady Leonora: “Yes you can.” She holds the sheet gently around Lady Louisa’s mouth and she starts to breathe into it raggedly at first and then more deeply. “And if you are a good girl, I will give you a treat.” She says enticingly.
Lady Louisa: “Hh! Hhhh! Hhhhh!” Lady Louisa pulls the sheet away from her face. “Mama, I am not a child anymore.” Then she puts the sheet over her mouth again and breathes deeply. “Hhhhh! Hhhhh! Hhhhh!”
Lady Leonora: “Yes, Louisa Dear. But you will always be my child.” She leans down and kisses Lady Louisa’s forehead with a motherly smile as her daughter’s breathing calms.
Lady Leonora continues to soothe her daughter with cold compresses to her face and encouraging words as they await reinforcements.
Meanwhile, the Dearing Manor stable grooms are dispatched in three carriages–to town for the doctor and the midwife, and then also a third carriage to Mrs. Plunkett’s cottage and Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine at the Hunting Lodge. After picking up Mrs. Plunkett, the carriage barely stops at the Hunting Lodge to drop off the extra groom to tell the news of Lady Louisa before returning to Dearing Manor. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine and the Southwicks will get dressed, then drive to Dearing Manor in their own carriage.
As Mrs. Plunkett [(2) right] enters Lady Louisa’s bedchamber, it is now about four o’clock in the morning, roughly one hour after Lady Louisa’s severe birthing pains started. The maids have changed the bedding and her nightgown for Lady Louisa since her water broke and they have also prepared the bedchamber with birthing supplies. Anna has gotten up with all the commotion and dressed and is sitting with her Aunt Louisa while her Grandmama has gone to get dressed.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Ooh Dearie!” She spies Lady Louisa looking very uncomfortable lying in her bed. “I am here now, all will be well.” For a retired manor cook, Mrs. Plunkett has a healthy opinion of herself in matters of baking and birthing.
Lady Louisa: “Mrs. P!” Lady Louisa sighs gratefully. “It is too soon for my baby to be born.” She shakes her head worriedly.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Now now Luzi, …” Her pet name for Lady Louisa. “… you will pardon me for saying so, but you look big enough for that baby to have come last week. I expect that you are off in your counting. But then, babies come in their own time.” She pats Lady Louisa’s hand soothingly.
Lady Leonora: Rushing back into her daughter’s bedchamber, a now dressed Lady Leonora sees Mrs. Plunkett. “Thank you for coming, Mrs. Plunkett. We have had birthing supplies made ready.” She gestures to a table laden with bowls of water, towels, fresh sheets, and baby blankets and such. “And we have also sent for the midwife and the new local doctor, a Dr. Blount. Though Lady Louisa has never met him. Kkhhh!” Lady Leonora coughs in slight nervousness and worry, then says sotto voce. “I hear that he is young.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “Well, well, doctors have to start somewhere. And I daresay we will teach him a thing or two. Now! Let me wash me hands and examine you, if I may Luzi.” Mrs. Plunket washes her hands in the basin provided.
Having returned from helping Lord Charles, Sir John paces the hallway in front of his bedchamber and hears his wife cry out in pain again as he wrings his hands together in frustration.
Lady Louisa: “Yes!” She sighs. Then another pain hits her. “Aaaagggh!”
Lady Leonora: She turns to Mrs. Plunkett again and states in hushed concern. “Her pains are so close together.”
Anna nods. Anna has not attended a birth before, but she had heard stories from the women in her former village home.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Let me take a look.” She bobs her head up and down. Then Mrs. Plunkett goes to Lady Louisa’s bedside and lifts up the sheet a bit. “Dearie, I am going to check your womb now–to see if it has widened.”
Mrs. Plunkett holds up her hand and wiggles her fingers.
Lady Louisa: “Alright. Go ahead.” Lady Louisa closes her eyes and turns her head to the side of her pillow to try to ignore the indignity of being touched in so personal a place. Birthing is trying in many ways. Lady Leonora pats Lady Louisa’s hand caringly.
Mrs. Plunkett does not get very far in her examination before she pops her head up from underneath the sheet and folds the sheet back onto Lady Louisa’s thighs.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Right! The babe’s head is at the gate! We need towels placed under her now! This baby wants to be born, doctor or no!”
Lady Louisa: “Oh Mama!” Lady Louisa cries fearfully as Mrs. Plunkett rolls her to one side to place several layers of towels under her to catch the birthing fluids.
Lady Leonora: “You will be alright, Louisa. I also gave birth to you quickly.” She fibs a little to lessen her daughter’s fear for her baby’s health.
Anna: “May I help in any way?” She asks solicitously after having stayed out of the fray when Mrs. Plunkett arrived.
Lady Leonora: “Anna Dear, please let your Uncle Sir John know that the baby is coming soon.”
Anna: “Yes, Grandmama. Best wishes, Aunt Louisa!”
Anna complies like a little ambassador between countries–that of the birthing room and that of the hallway of men. And as Anna opens the bed chamber door, Lady Louisa feels another pain.
Lady Louisa: “Aaaagghhh!”
Sir John: “Oh my Darling!” He calls through the open doorway to his wife, Lady Louisa writhing on her bed with her birthing struggles.
Anna: “The baby is coming soon, Uncle John.” She parrots what she has been told to say.
Sir John: “I must go to her.”
Sir John starts to walk through the bedchamber door, but his father-in-law Lord Charles holds him back.
Lord Charles: “Hold on! A birthing room is no place for a husband.”
Lady Louisa: “Aaaaggghh!
Sir John: “But she needs me!” He cries out.
Lord Charles: “What she needs is to having her birthing trials past and holding her baby in her arms. You will only make her upset to have you see her in such distress and disarray.”
Anna: “Are you certain, Grandpapa? In my village, fathers were always present at their babies’ births.”
That is all that Sir John needs to hear as he bolts into his bedchamber to the astonishment of his father-in-law and his smiling niece Anna.
Lord Charles: “I am getting too old for this.” He shakes his head, worrying for his dear daughter.
Lord Charles plops down on a nearby hallway chair as Anna walks back into Lady Louisa’s bed chamber.
Lady Louisa: “Aaaaagghhh!”
Mrs. Plunkett: “You must push harder, Luzi!”
Lady Louisa: “I am! But the baby will not come out!”
Sir John: “I am here my darling!” Sir John rushes to his wife’s bed and he lies down next to her, holding her hand. “What can I do to ease your pain?”
Lady Louisa: Squeezing her husband’s hand with a vice like grip she cries. “Promise never to do this to me again! Aaaaagghh!”
Sir John looks upon his wife Lady Louisa with horror–for he is guilty of causing her pain by giving her this child to be born.
Lady Leonora: “Now John, she does not mean that.” Lady Leonora soothes.
Lady Louisa: “Yes, I do! Aaaaagggghh!”
Anna: Looking around the room, she asks quizzically. “Do you not have a birthing chair?” [(3)]
Mrs. Plunkett: “Yes! I mean, no! But we can do something else. Sir John, help me to move Lady Louisa to sit up on the edge of the bed, with her legs hanging down.”
Lady Louisa: “What?” Lady Louisa looks at Mrs. Plunkett as if she has lost her mind.
Sir John: Seeing his wife’s doubt, he also asks. “Are you certain that is advisable?”
Mrs. Plunkett: “If you are asking me if it is a good idea, yes!”
All eyes turn to Lady Leonora as the matriarch of the family.
Lady Louisa: “Mama?”
Lady Leonora: “Ah! Yes Louisa Dear, that position might assist you.” She smiles knowingly, but not wanting to give away any personal details.
So, Lady Louisa is carefully moved and repositioned to the edge of the side of the bed with Mrs. Plunkett sitting on the floor at her feet–to essentially catch the baby when it is born. For precaution’s sake, Mrs. Plunkett has several layers of towels on the floor between Lady Louisa’s legs and a towel in her hands–because newly born babies are slippery little things.
Meanwhile, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine and her parents the Southwicks have arrived and are waiting in the hallway outside of Lady Louisa’s bedchamber.
Lord Rafe: “Has anything happened, Papa? Did we miss it?”
Lord Charles: “No news. Just Louisa screaming in pain. My poor dear!” He shakes his head sorrowfully.
Lady Katharine: “Where is Sir John?” She looks around.
Lord Charles: He gestures toward the door and shakes his head. “The fool insisted on going in there. I would much rather be on a battlefield than in a birthing room–and I was, both times.”
They all look at the closed bedchamber door, wondering what is happening inside.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Now Sir John, you kneel on the bed behind your wife and support her back.”
Sir John does as instructed. Then Lady Louisa lets out one more agonizing scream.
Lady Louisa: “Aaaaaaggggghhhh!”
And Baby Throckmorton enters the world, sliding into Mrs. Plunkett’s waiting arms.
Baby T: “Waaaa! Waaa!”
Lady Louisa Leans back into her husband’s arms in utter exhaustion from her two hour ordeal.
Sir John: “Oh Louisa, my Darling! Our baby is born!”
Lady Louisa: “Uhhh!” She sighs in almost a faint from her ordeal.
Mrs. Plunkett: She pops her head up with a smile while holding the towel swaddled baby in her arms. “Sir John, you best be getting Luzi laying back down for her comfort and so we can tend to her.”
Lady Leonora: “Well?” Lady Leonora looks pointedly at Mrs. Plunkett.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Oh my! I forgot to tell ye! Your bairn be a boy!”
Sir John: “A son! Oh my darling!” He leans over and kisses his wife Lady Louisa’s perspiring brow.
Lady Louisa: “A boy?” She lolls her head to the side of the bed to see Mrs. Plunkett rising and bringing her baby to her. Lady Louisa holds out her arms and Mrs. Plunkett places the baby in her arms. “Oh!” She sighs. “He is not too small. I was so worried.”
Sir John: Checking his son’s attributes, he pronounces. “Ten fingers, ten toes. He is perfect!”
Mrs. Plunkett: “Alright, Sir John. We have put up with you in here so far. But we need to tend to Lady Louisa privately.” By which she means cleaning up the after birth expulsions from Lady Louisa’s womb. “So please leave the room. You can tell your family your news.”
Sir John: “I will be back soon, My Darling!” He tenderly kisses his wife on the lips–for an extended period of time.
All eye brows rise in the room.
Mrs. Plunkett: “That will been enough of that! Be off with you and let us tend to Luzi.”
Sir John smiles and takes his leave, with Anna trailing behind him. Walking out of the bedchamber and into the hallway Sir John is accosted by his father-in-law and the rest of his family.
Lord Charles: “Well?”
Sir John: “Hhhhh!” Sir John sighs with a joyously beaming smile. But he has temporarily lost the ability to speak. He turns to Anna and nods.
Anna: “Aunt Louisa and the baby are fine. She had a boy!” She claps her hands together with glee.
Lord Rafe: Shaking his brother-in-law’s hand vigorously, Lord Rafe says. “Two sons! You have proved your manhood, John.” Lord Rafe states impishly.
Lord Charles: “Excellent!” He slaps his son-in-law on his shoulder. “Now, I am going back to bed.” And he does.
Anna and Lady Katharine embrace.
Lady Katharine: “We heard the screams. Was Louisa in very much pain, Anna?”
Anna: “Yes, but that will soon be forgot.” She says sagely.
Lady Charmaine: “Holding babies in your arms makes the pain worth it.” She smiles while unconsciously laying a hand on her tummy.”
With all of the birthing baby commotion, five year old Henry and three year old Lottie walk out of the nursery in their nightclothes and rubbing their eyes. Lottie has her kitten Lovey in her arms. Lottie goes to her cousin Anna and leans in to her. Anna puts her arm around Lottie and smiles down at her.
Henry: “Papa, did we sleep too long? Everyone is dressed.”
Sir John: “No Henry, it is early yet. Your Mama has given you a baby brother.” He smiles broadly.
Lottie: “Babeh come out to play?” She perks up.
Lady Katharine: Opening her arms wide and Lottie comes to her, she says. “No, Lottie. Your baby brother is too little for play now. But in a year or two, he will love playing with you.
Lottie removes her head from leaning against her her Aunt Katharine’s tummy and she looks up at her Aunt quizzically. Then she looks over at Lady Charmaine who smiles warmly at Lottie.
Lord Rafe: “So John, does your new son have a name?”
Sir John: “Oh gad! We have yet to name him!” He hits the side of his head. Babies are usually named and baptized quickly so that if they must enter heaven, God will know their name.
Lottie: “Baby Jesus?” She asks, because at Christmas time, baby Jesus is all little ones hear about.
Henry: “No, you goose! But you could call the baby Henry II.” He puffs up pridefully
The adults howl with laughter at the suggestions.
Henry: “What? Did I say something funny?
Sir John: “Your Mama and I will pick your brother’s name, young man–and young lady.” He tousles his son’s hair and caresses his daughter’s cheek.
Then Lottie detaches herself from her Aunt Katharine and walks over to Lady Charmaine.
Lady Charmaine: “Hello Lottie. Remember me? I am your Aunt Katharine’s Mama, Lady Charmaine.”
Lottie: “Uh huh.” Lottie looks up at the kind and pretty lady. Then Lottie gently places her hand on Lady Charmaine’s tummy and asks with a sweet smile. “When will your babeh come out to play?”
Sir John blanches, as does Lord Rafe–but for different reasons. Sir Antony smiles bemusedly. And Lady Charmaine and her daughter Lady Katharine blush–but also for different reasons.
Henry: “Lottie! You Goose! Lady Charmaine is a Grandmama. Grandmama’s do not have babies.” He frowns. And Lottie pouts.
Anna: Soothing Little Lottie’s hurt feelings, she says gently. “Now Lottie, not all ladies you meet are having babies.” She shakes her head with a smile.
Lottie: But little Lottie is determined. Lottie walks back to Lady Katharine and places her hand on her tummy and looks up at her. “Will your babeh and your Mama’s babeh be cousins?” Lottie has not quite figured out family relationships.
Sir John: Apologizing, he says. “Gad! I am so sorry, Ladies. And little Lottie’s baby predictions have been so accurate up to now. Lottie even told us that her Mama was expecting before we knew it. Ha ha ha ha ha!” He laughs.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine share a surprised glance at each other with widening smiles–time will tell if Lottie’s prediction for Lady Katharine is accurate.
Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony are not laughing, but they do smile.
Lady Charmaine: “I prefer Grandmere, little ones. But I also like being called Mama.” She looks over at her husband, Sir Antony. He shrugs his shoulders and she nods her head.
Lady Katharine looks at her parents curiously.
Sir Antony: “Kkkhh!” He coughs in nervousness. Then he pulls at his collar and adjusts his stance–delaying his comment. “Well, …” He runs his hand through his hair as a self comforting gesture. “It would seem that … Lottie’s record is unbroken … at least in our case.” He smiles and blushes. “We are having a baby in the Spring.” For a man of his age and maturity to have a baby on the way is unusual–but not unheard of. And Lady Charmaine at forty four years old is still young enough to have a child, despite her stroke last Summer.
Lord Rafe: “Oh my god!” He looks upon his in-laws with wonderment–certainly not fathoming his own parents making such an announcement at their age–just four years older than each of the Southwicks.
Lady Charmaine smiles and nods her head at her daughter. Of course, Lady Charmaine at forty four years old thought that she was long past her child bearing years. But she did not reckon on her loving husband’s attentions being quite so productive.
Lady Katharine: “Mama!” Lady Katharine squeals and rushes into her Mama’s arms.
Lottie: “I told you.” She nods her head in satisfaction.
Lord Rafe: Now vigorously shaking his father-in-law’s hand, he congratulates him. “Sir Antony! My felicitations!” Then Lord Rafe lifts his mother-in-law’s hand and kisses it. “My Lady Charmaine, I trust that you will grow only more beautiful with your impending motherhood.”
Sir John: “Thank you everyone. Let me usher my children back to bed. Then Louisa and I will decide on a name and I will tell you at breakfast in an hour, around six o’clock. And we still have chapel services and a Christmas tree to cut down and decorate today.” The children gleefully nod their heads about the tree trimming. [(4)]
So everyone says their good byes for now and returns to bed. Since it is still early and they do not want to travel back to the hunting lodge only to turn around and travel back again to Dearing Manor for breakfast, Lord Rafe has the staff open up another guest bedroom for the Southwicks–then he takes his wife Lady Katharine and they repair to his boyhood bedroom to make some new memories.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine walk into what is clearly a young boy or young man’s bedroom–filled with toys and mementos from each of his years such as kites, a rock collection, paper hats, wood twig boats, tiny metal soldiers and cannons, etc. Lord Rafe has been eagerly anticipating this moment–when he can take his wife to his childhood bed and banish all of his boyhood memories.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe takes his wife into his arms. “So, My Angel, little Lottie thinks that we are with child.” His eyes gleam and his smile broadens.
Lady Katharine: She smiles. “Then we would have had to have conceived last evening, for my courses came two weeks ago and you have been out of town in London.”
Lord Rafe: “How delightful! Make up lovemaking and babymaking all in one happy event.”
Lady Katharine: Teasingly, her eyes twinkle as she gently disengages herself from her husband’s embrace and she sashays around the room. “Of course, Lottie might merely be saying that a baby is at some point in our futures.”
Lord Rafe: He saunters over to his wife. “Nay Kate! You heard Sir John. Little Lottie predicts pregnancies.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine delicately marches two fingers up Lord Rafe’s vest and shirt, then cups his face in a caress as she gazes longingly at him. “And would you like to help Lottie’s prediction come true?”
Lord Rafe: Caressing her face as he leans down to kiss her he says. “Absolutely!”
Lady Katharine: Touching her ringlets, she smiles coquettishly. “I will need your hair protection assistance my husband.”
Lord Rafe: “Allow me, my wife.” Sliding his black silk cravat off of his neck and fastening it around her hair now loosely gathered in a bun at the crown of her head, he smiles.
Then Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kiss with a blinding passion as they quickly endeavor to remove their clothes. Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine spend a loving thirty to forty five minutes–depending upon if you count cuddling after–lost in each others’ loving arms as they tenderly make love with each other.
A similar happy scene is being played out in the Southwick’s guest bedroom. Whereas Anna gently guides little Lottie and Henry back to their bedrooms to change and they play with them quietly until breakfast and tree trimming, etc., with the MacGregors–who are sleeping in the guest wing–having been spared the early morning disturbance to their rest. This will be a loving and memorable Christmas gathering for all of the extended Wingate family and friends.
Meanwhile in another town, Mrs. Cassandra Hatch [(5) right] sits primly in the Hatch family pew this Sunday December 19th morning with her now six month old baby Beatrice, her ladies maid and babies nanny, and her sister-in-law Mrs. Edna Hatch, her late husband’s nephew Fr. Robert Hatch’s mother. The eighteen year old Cassie has a poised and ladylike demeanor about her. Never ostentacious, Cassie who is in half mourning and wearing a dove grey satin ensemble, she has her blond hair done up in the French style of loose curls framing her face and one long curl leading out of the bun at the back of her head and lying over one shoulder. And her jewelry is sparing, with only delicate pearl drop earrings from her dainty ear lobes. Cassie’s complexion is unblemished and more pale than alabaster. Her faintly rosey cheeks and rose red lips are matched in their youthful health by her piercing sky blue eyes. Cassie’s is a translucent and unadorned beauty that the twenty two year old Fr. Robert Hatch appreciates. However, a standing Mrs. Edna Hatch, Robert’s mother–since everyone else is standing just before the sermon–is not pleased that the baby is with them, lest its gurgling and wants disrupt her son’s first guest sermon before he will seek a parish of his own.
Fr. Robert Hatch: From the pulpit, Fr. Robert Hatch in tones seriously. “May the meditations of my mouth and the desires of our hearts be pleasing in your sight, Oh Lord. Please be seated.” He gestures and then looks kindly over at Mrs. Cassandra Hatch’s pleasant smile and then to his mother’s stern countenance. “Our gospel today for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is from Luke Chapter 1, verses 39- 45 [(6)]. It speaks of Mary’s pregnant kinswoman Elizabeth greeting Mary as the soon to be mother of Jesus–acknowledging Mary’s position as mother to our Lord.”
Everyone squirms in their pews, getting ready for a long sit. They have to endure it on Sundays when they have a newly ordained minister like they have guest preaching today.
Baby Beatrice: “Gh gh gh.” Baby Beatrice gurgles happily as she waves her arms about
Cassie: Whispering. “Hush little one, Robert is preaching the word of God.”
Mrs. Edna Hatch frowns–that is if one can discern a frown on her face that is distinct from any other scowl that usually resides there.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Both women were pregnant with babies. Elizabeth’s boy who will be born and named John, will become known as The Baptist, leading the way for Jesus and foretelling of his coming. And Mary’s baby who will be known as Jesus, the Christ child.”
Baby Beatrice: “Gh gh gh.” She almost sings her vocalizations. Mrs. Cassandra Hatch smiles sheepishly.
The local Squire’s son sitting in the pew in front of them turns around in his pew and perches on his knees looking down on baby Beatrice. Cassie smiles kindly to the young boy.
Squire’s son: Seeing the pink ribbons on the baby’s bonnets, he surmises that she is a girl baby. He reaches out his hand to gently touch the baby’s head. “She is so tiny–and very quiet. My baby sister cries all the time.” He smiles.
Squire: “Sit down, Hubert, and behave.” He whispers in embarrassment under his breath.
Hubert sits down and pouts. As a seven year old, he does not like church at all. And the Squire feels that children should be seen and not heard–and sometimes, it is better if they are not even seen–he thinks in regard to the baby sitting behind them. But the Christmas holidays brings whole families to church. So there are many children in attendance at this service.
Fr. Robert Hatch pauses and smiles at the Squire, and then at his Uncle’s young widow, Mrs. Cassandra Hatch. She smiles apologetically back at him. Then an inspiration hits Fr. Hatch as he looks down at his 10 pages of carefully written and rewritten sermon, picks up the papers, folds them, and puts them in his trouser pocket through the side slit in his vestments. Fr. Hatch smiles at the congregation and walks down from the pulpit and stands at the head of the center aisle. His Mama is aghast, her poor boy has lost his nerve about preaching his first sermon. Far from it.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Though I have what I like to think is a lovely prepared sermon, it is rather long.” He intones mirthfully. A few members of the congregation snicker. “And with families in attendance with their young children, I would like to do something different today and give a sermon for our children. So, I invite the children of this congregation to come forward and sit on the steps of the altar as I tell them about the meaning of our gospel for today.”
Congregation: “Hhhh. Hmmm. Hhhh.” The congregation mutters in astonishment. Of course, no one moves. Such a thing is unheard of, unprecedented, untried.
But the young like Fr. Robert Hatch, are not fearful about trying new things. So he walks a few feet over to Mrs. Cassandra Hatch.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Mrs. Cassandra.” He addresses her in the way he distinguishes her from his Mama. “I need an ally. Might you allow Beatrice to assist me?” He smiles broadly.
Cassie: A little wary, knowing without turning her head that Robert’s mother disapproves, she carefully conveys six month old baby Beatrice to his arms. “Of course. And here is her spit up cloth, just in case.” She lays it on Baby Beatrice’s tummy.
Fr. Robert Hatch: Then he looks ahead one pew and asks. “Squire, might Hubert also assist me?”
How can the Squire say no? So little Hubert hops down from the pew, glad to be free of so confined a space.
Mrs. Edna Hatch: Muttering under her breath. “I never heard of such a thing.”
Cassie: Leaning over, Cassie reflects a positive view to her sister-in-law. “Robert is very innovative to bring the message of God to his children. You have my compliments on raising a fine son.” Cassie smiles sweetly at her non-plussed sister-in-law, then Cassie returns to looking at Robert.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Thank you, Cassandra.” He nods with a small smile. She nods back at him. Then with Hubert walking beside him and Baby Beatrice in his arms, Fr. Hatch begins to walk down the church aisle, in the hope of collecting children as he goes. “Please come and join us children. We will sit up front and talk together.”
Little ones peek around their parents. Fr. Hatch smiles at the parents of each inquisitive child and the parent relents and lets the child walk out of the pew and into the center aisle. Soon Fr. Hatch has at least ten children around him and walks back up the aisle toward the altar, collecting more children as he goes. He has a throng of children around him as they sit on the steps leading up to the altar.
Little Girl: “Is that baby Jesus?” The little girl points to baby Beatrice in Fr. Hatch’s arms.
Fr. Robert Hatch: He chuckles. “Ha ha ha. No. But Jesus was a baby like this once. And our gospel today talks about a time before Jesus was born. Raise your hand if you have a baby brother or sister, or you expect one soon.”
Nearly all of the children’s hands shoot up. Robert smiles. The adults sitting in the pews smile, too–although more so because of their well-behaved children causing them pride. Then over the next five minutes, Fr. Robert Hatch proceeds to explain today’s gospel story at the children’s level–with them nodding their head now and again in understanding.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “So! What are the important parts of our bible story today that we should remember?” He smiles broadly at all of the children.
The children make some suggestions: “We were all babies once.” “Jesus was a baby.” “Babies grow up and do good things.”
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Those are all good ideas. Well done!” He smiles warmly at the children and their parents beam with pride. Then Fr. Hatch turns to the Squire’s son. “And what about you, Hubert? What do you think?”
Hubert: Seven year old Hubert purses his lips and thinks hard. Then he shrugs his shoulders and looks up at Fr. Hatch and replies hesitantly. “We are all God’s children?”
Fr. Robert Hatch: Smiling warmly at the boy and then his proud father, the Squire, Fr. Hatch nods respectfully. “Just so.” Then Fr. Hatch stands and turns to the congregation and he speaks the last words of the Gospel reading again. “And may we all have the simple and loving faith that these children do, for ‘Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ [(6)] Amen.” And then Fr. Hatch gestures to the children that they may return to their families in their pews. “Thank you for your help today, little ones. You may rejoin your families.” He smiles as the children walk back down the center aisle to their pews. Fr. Hatch returns baby Beatrice to her mother’s arms with a grateful smile and the worship service continues.
Later that morning at luncheon back at the Hatch estate–Cassandra’s former home with her late husband Gerald–there is a pleasant exchange of conversation around the small family dining table. The two ladies sit across from each other with Robert sitting between them on one side and baby Beatrice in a basket on a chair on their other side. It is perhaps unconventional to have a baby at table, but Cassie will not be parted from her Beatrice for even an instant.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “Cassandra, let me thank you once more for joining us for the holidays and for attending my first guest sermon. Baby Beatrice was the inspiration for my children’s sermon today–and I was well pleased with the cordial reception I received from the congregation.” He smiles at her warmly.
Cassie: “Thank you, Robert. I am pleased to join you and your Mother for the holidays this year–and to be present at your first sermon. It was marvelous how you engaged the children in learning about God. Your father and Uncle Gerald would be very proud of you.” Then she tears up thinking of her late husband Gerald and their first Christmas together here last year. They were never a great love, but they had a sincere fondness for one another.
Mrs. Edna Hatch sits stoically in her chair, politely ignoring her sister-in-law’s sadness. And secretly, she sympathizes with it–being widowed herself just last year of her son Robert’s father.
Fr. Robert Hatch: Seeing Cassandra’s distress, he guesses the reason for it and gets up from his chair, walks around to stand between Cassie and her baby Beatrice, then he kneels by her side. “I am being thoughtless! Cassandra, of course you are missing my late Uncle Gerald–as am I. But your loss is the greater one for you had so little time with him.” Then he gently takes hold of one of baby Beatrice’s hands. “And baby Beatrice will not get to know the wonderful man who was my uncle.” He says with tears in his own eyes.
Cassie: “Yes!” She sighs. But she is also feeling bereft for her orphaned family state with her parents now gone, too. “We two–Beatrice and I–are all alone in the world but for distant family such as you and our friends.”
Fr. Robert Hatch: Taking Cassandra’s hand in his, he smiles earnestly at her. “You shall always have our friendship and love, Cassandra. Never doubt that.”
Cassie: “Thank you. Please call me Cassie, Robert.” Since her late husband Gerald Hatch always addressed her formally as Cassandra, she wishes to make that distinction to not cause her pain.
Fr. Robert Hatch: “As you wish, Cassie.” He stands up and nods respectfully to her. Then he sits back down and they all enjoy the remainder of their meal. But a tiny idea begins to take root in Robert’s mind.
Later in the week, as they all walk into Christmas Eve worship services–with baby Beatrice left at home this time due to the lateness of the hour–Cassie walks comfortably with her arm hooked in Fr. Robert Hatch’s arm, while his Mama walks ahead speaking with one of her friends.
Robert: Feeling slightly nervous, but also emboldened by the growing accord between he and Cassie, Fr. Robert Hatch speaks from his heart. “Cassie, it is lovely having you and baby Beatrice with us for the holidays.”
Cassie: “That is very kind of you Robert. We are enjoying our time here as well.” She gazes up warmly at the tall young man before her–thinking upon his pleasing countenance and manners.
Robert: “Well, I hope that you will come for Christmas every year.”
Cassie: “So you plan to reside and take up your parish work here?” She asks curiously.
Robert: “Actually no. Fr. Bennett has many more years of faithful service to our parish ahead of him–perhaps ten more years. So I will be seeking a parish of my own elsewhere until such time that I might return here to our family seat as its vicar.”
Cassie: “Where will you go?” She smiles warmly at him.
Robert: “I have always liked the seaside–having gone on holiday there with my parents many times.”
Cassie: “I adore the seaside. My home in Maylandsea in Essex on England’s Eastern shore is a beautiful place of rest and relaxation.” [(7)] She smiles thinking of her home.
Robert: “And is the populace so relaxed that they have no need of a parish priest to guide them?” He asks mischievously.
Cassie: “Nay Robert. People always need guidance–whether they realize it or not.” She smiles impishly.
Robert: Then Robert impulsively squeezes Cassie’s hand on his arm as he stops their forward movement and he turns to gaze yearningly at her. “Please say it again.” He sighs.
Cassie: “Say what?” Cassie asks quizzically looking up at him. He is so wonderfully tall, yet not imposing, she thinks.
Robert: “My name. It sounds so musical upon your lips.” He sighs.
Cassie: “Oh!” She sighs. Cassie blushes and lowers her eyes demurely. She has never been in such a cordial relationship as she is with Fr. Robert Hatch. Her marriage to his Uncle Gerald Hatch having been arranged by her father, no courting was involved.
Robert: Noticing Cassie’s shy response, he apologizes for his forwardness. “I am sorry, Cassie. Have I spoken out of turn? Is it too soon for you to think upon … well, for you to think upon your future?” He asks vaguely, but his thoughts tend toward marriage.
Cassie: Her eyes widen. Then she responds hesitantly, not wanting to get her hopes up–and intuitively knowing that his Mama would not approve of a match between she and Robert. “Robert, I thank you for your solicitude.” She begins politely. “But I am still in mourning for three more months, out of respect and fondness for my late husband, your Uncle Gerald. Until then, I may not walk out with any man.” Cassie looks up at him earnestly. She does like Robert so very much. And their close proximity in age–being only four years apart–aids that familiarity greatly.
Robert: “Of course.” He nods his head to her respectfully. “Your dignity and honor do you and he credit. My Uncle Gerald was a fortunate man in his choice of wife.”
Cassie: “Thank you.” She nods politely.
Robert: “But Cassie, if I may be so bold as to request that I may write to you from time to time–to insure your well-being and that of baby Beatrice?” He asks hopefully.
Cassie: Cassie looks up at Robert with her kind eyes and she sees the sincerity in his eyes. “You may, Robert.” She gifts him with a polite smile.
Robert: “Thank you.” He smiles cordially, but strains not to do more so than in the common way. With he as a vicar and she as a widow, their courtship will need to be conducted with the utmost of probity [(8)] and decorum.
They go on to attend a lovely Christmas Eve service as the Hatch family–with Robert sitting in between his Mama and Cassie.
The day before Christmas Day, the Wingate Family’s Dearing Manor Estate servants and tenants each received their holiday gifts of a Christmas dinner goose for each of the tenant families and clothing fabric for the women and smokes for the men for the house and grounds servants, as well as a shilling a piece. Tenants also received a half cord of wood to keep them warm, and a flagon of ale for the adults and milk for the children. The bounty of the giving season is always shared by the Wingates–including their making private anonymous donations through the church for the poor–their caring benevolence being one reason why they are held in such high esteem by everyone.
Christmas morning at Dearing Manor this Saturday is filled with festive holiday greenery and ribbons [(9) right], as well as, a mountain of presents for the children and adults in the Wingate extended family and friends group–some presents under the tree and some not. Apart from the usual practical gifts of clothes, there is a baby dolly for Lottie, a pony for Henry, and a kitten for Anna.
Lady Louisa and the new baby–now named Edmund–are able to join in the early morning present opening just after breakfast. And Lord Rafe saunters over with a present that he bought for his sister before she gave birth to her son unexpectedly last week.
Lady Louisa: “For me, Rafe? Dare I ask if there are spiders or frogs inside?”
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Louisa Dear, I trust that you will find this gift from Kate and I a pleasant one.” Lord Rafe smiles mischievously and he winks at his wife Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Here Louisa, let me take little Edmund so that you may open your gift properly.” Happy and currently sleeping baby Edmund is deposited into her arms.
Lady Louisa: Lady Louisa lifts up the square box her brother gives her. “Hmmm. It is not heavy, nor is it light weight.” She shakes the box from side to side–hearing some rustling within. “Is it a shawl?” Lord Rafe shakes his head no. “Hmmm.” She is puzzled.
Henry: “Just open it up, Mama.” He is impatient because he is not allowed to see his pony until everyone’s presents are opened.
Lady Louisa: Lady Louisa unties the lovely ribbon around the box. She lifts the lid and sees only a linen cloth at first. Then she peels the cloth back to reveal that the box contains dozens of beautiful rolled up ribbons in every color of the rainbow and some with delicate embroidery on them for gown ornamentation. “Oh Rafe!” She tears up and tilts the box so everyone may see. “Mama, look.” She holds the box up for Lady Leonora to see.
Lord Rafe: Pleased that his sister likes their gift he says. “I fear that in childhood, I quite depleted your stock of ribbons for my kites. So as an act of contrition, we give you these ribbons for your adornment, Dear Sister.” He smiles broadly.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine smiles caringly at her sister-in-law as she gently rocks baby Edmund in her arms. “I fear that though the merchant was happy with our purchases, we quite nearly bought out his entire stock.”
Lady Louisa: Leaning in, she kisses Lady Katharine. “Thank you Katharine and Rafe. They are lovely.” Then she looks at her brother with a mischievous grin. “And I will not let you near these ribbons and keep them safe from your future kite flying adventures.” Lord Rafe merely smiles. Then Lady Katharine returns baby Edmund to his Mama’s arms. “My little one, you are so precious to me.” Lady Louisa kisses her baby son’s forehead.
Sir John: Standing behind his wife sitting on the sette, and beaming from having fathered three children in six years, and two of them boys–Sir John is full of joy and pride. “Little Edmund is a treasure. As is his Mama.” Sir John leans down and kisses the top of his wife’s head. She smiles up at him and fingers the delicate pearl necklace that her husband gave her as her present from him.
More gift giving ensues and Little Lottie watches carefully as to who gives what to whom–with each person giving their grateful thanks. The men mostly receive bottles of port and cigars–with Lady Katharine giving her husband a silver cigar cutter. And the husbands giving their wives jewelry. The couples, parents, and children all exchange their gifts with grateful thanks and hugs and kisses.
At one point, Anna stands up to look to see if the tree has any more gifts hiding underneath it, but it does not. So she goes to the window to wistfully survey the wintery scene [(10) right]–looking into the distance, knowing that beyond the hill lies her Mama in eternal repose, with fresh Christmas greens placed lovingly upon her grave by Anna, her Papa, and her Kathy yesterday. Stuart MacGregor notices Anna’s melancholy and starts to walk over to her, but little Lottie reaches her first.
Lottie: Clasping her cousin Anna’s hand in hers, Lottie asks. “Do you see something? Is someone coming?” Lottie puts her nose to the window glass and tries to peer out, but the glazed glass is too frosty and she is too short to see beyond the nearby trees.
Anna: “No, it is just snow. But it will be fine for our sledding after luncheon today.” Anna [(11) right] smiles in gazing out upon the new fallen snow dusting the tree limbs and the ground.
Lottie: “I like your kitten. You will be a good Mama to it.”
Anna: “Yes.” Anna sighs thinking that she is now a Mama to her kitten, but she does not have a Mama herself. Though her Grandmama Leonora is very nice. And her Kathy and Grandmere Charmaine are very kind to her. Anna admits to herself that she is a very lucky little girl to have such a loving family.
Stuart: Walking over to Lottie and Anna at the tall window, Stuart smiles. “Am I intruding ladies, or may I join you in looking out the window?”
Anna: “Hello, Stuart. Please join us.” Anna smiles cordially at him.
Lottie: Thrusting her baby dolly upward to Stuart, she asks. “Stuwat? Will you be my baby’s Papa?”
Anna cannot help herself and smiles amusingly at them both, stifling a laugh.
Stuart: Smiling wryly, Stuart bows deeply to Lottie. “I am honored, Lady Lottie.” Then he takes the baby dolly from Lottie and holds the dolly gingerly, like he would a real baby.
Lottie: “Good!” Lottie smiles broadly–she can never get her brother Henry to play dollies with her.
Stuart: Stuart smiles at little Lottie. “One day, I will be a Papa. But until then, your baby dolly will have to suffice.” Then Stuart looks over at Anna with a shy but friendly smile and she smiles back at him.
Lottie: Clasping Anna’s hand, she says. “I have a new butha.” Translation: Brother, Little Lottie is still dropping her r sounds–though less frequently now that she is a little older. Although, with little Lottie’s brother Henry’s overbearing ways, he can sometimes be a bother, too.
Anna: “I know.”
Lottie: “Come see. You too, Stuwat.” Lottie pulls Anna along around the Christmas tree and back to where her Mama is sitting on the sette, cradling baby Edmund in her arms.
Lady Louisa: “Lottie, Dear? Have you opened all of your gifts?”
Lottie: “Yes. I am tieyad, Mama. Stuwat is my baby dolly’s Papa.”
Stuart walks up behind Lottie and Anna still holding Lottie’s baby dolly as he would a real baby and Lady Louisa gives him an amusing look.
Lady Louisa: “Stuart, I see that you are as obliging with playing dollies as my brother Lord Rafe was. It is good practice for being a real papa one day. Stuart blushes.
Henry: “Grandpapa says that children do not need coddling.” He intones imperiously and salutes his General Grandpapa who salutes him back.
Lady Louisa: “And yet Henry, you will one day have children of your own to love and nurture as your Papa nurtures you.” She is making a point. So she stands and nods to her husband. “John Dear, will you please take baby Edmund for me? I want to see Anna’s new kitten.”
Sir John steps forward and eagerly takes his baby son in his arms and sits down on the sette, marveling at this little life who is his son. Lady Louisa takes Anna and Lottie’s hands in hers and they walk over to Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine who are minding the kittens at the moment.
Sir John: “Henry, you were once this small. Did you know that?”
Henry: “Hm! Then he will grow bigger and be more interesting some day.” Henry is five years old–going on fifty. Sir John thinks bemusedly that Henry identifies with his slightly gruff, but endearingly kind Grandpapa Lord Charles a bit too much at times.
Sitting on the sette over in the corner by the hearth, Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine are whispering sweet endearments into each others’ ears as they mind Anna’s kitten. Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony sit opposite them on a companion sette.
Lord Rafe: “Katharine, you are going to be a wonderful Mama. You are so loving and giving and kind, My Angel.” Lord Rafe [(12) right] looks upon his wife Lady Katharine with unabashed love and humble awe.
Lady Katharine: “Thank you. I hope so. And you will be a wonderful Papa, Rafe.” Lady Katharine [(13) right] gazes at her husband adoringly.
Lady Leonora: “Rafe and Katharine, I have no doubt that you will make a success of it. Your parenting of Anna so far has been exemplary.” Lady Leonora smiles contentedly.
Though Anna lives much of the time at Dearing Manor with her Grandmama–especially with regard to her morning studies with her governess Miss Page who is away with her family for the holidays–Anna also spends a great deal of time with her Papa Lord Rafe and his wife Lady Katharine, her Kathy, at their Hunting Lodge on the estate.
Lady Charmaine smiles at her little girl having a baby in the near future–even as she and Sir Antony expect a child in the late Spring.
Lady Louisa walks up with Anna and Lottie in tow.
Lady Louisa: “We have come to see Anna’s kitten.” She smiles.
Lottie: Looking wide eyed at her cousin as she now kneels down to pick up her kitten Lovey from an adjoining basket, she asks. “What have you named the kitten, Anna?”
All eyes turn to Anna.
Anna: “I … I do not know. I must think on it.” She purses her lips.
Lottie: “She is a nice owange cat.” (translation: orange) Lottie smiles, while picking her grey kitten, Lovey, from another kitten basket.
Anna: “Actually Lottie, her coloring is closer to the color of the confection caramel.” Anna thinks for a minute, then smiles. “That is what I will call her! Caramel!”
Everyone nods agreeably at Anna’s name choice. Anna picks up her kitten and caringly hugs it close to her neck. And the kitten purrs.
Caramel: “Rrrrr. Rrrrr.”
Henry: Little Henry marches to the center of the sitting room. And with his hands resting in annoyance on his hips, he whiningly asks. “Since all the presents are open, may I see my pony now?”
Everyone: The Wingate family and friends group turn to look at Henry. Then they burst out laughing. “Ha ha ha ha ha!” They wonder what took him so long to ask.
Yes, it is a blessed Christmas time for the Wingates and their extended family and friends. Anna feels more at home with family and they with her, now having shared in more of their lives.
And the coming new year will bring babies and deepening relationships–especially with regard to Mrs. Cassandra Hatch and Fr. Robert Hatch–who requested to write to her, and she agreed.
To be continued with Chapter 29
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 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 (my cap)
2) Mrs. Plunket image is of Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore in Downton Abbey season 2 picture 4 and was found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/images/season2_characters_slideshow_patmore_04.jpg
3) Historical information about birthing chairs is found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthing_chair
4) 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
5) Image of Mrs. Cassandra Hatch is that of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film of the same name and was found at http://www.thefancarpet.com/uploaded_assets/images/gallery/2338/Marie_Antoinette_33546_Medium.jpg ; for more information about the film, visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422720/?ref_=sr_2
6) The gospel reading for a fourth Sunday in Advent is Luke Ch. 1, 39-45 and was found at
7) Maylandsea Essex, England is on the coast near the modern day Dengie Peninsula; for more information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maylandsea
8) Probity is defined as “The quality of having strong moral principles; honesty and decency.” ; for more,visit https://www.google.com/search?q=probity&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a
9) The image representing the Dearing Manor Sitting Room Hearth at Christmas time was found at http://assets.freeprintable.com/images/item/thumb/christmas-living-room.jpg
10) Image serving as a Dearing Manor Sitting Room Window looking out upon wintery snow scene was found at http://static.dreamstime.com/thumblarge_107/1166553132z7Ta55.jpg
11) Image (hi-res, clr shrp) representing Anna Wingate is “Portrait of a Young Girl” by Sophie Anderson and was found at http://www.paintingall.com/sophie-anderson-portrait-of-young-girl.html
12) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, sharpened, color) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 1, pix 91 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-091.jpg
13) Lady Katharine Image is of: Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers 1995epi2 28mpix218 Mar2313GratianaLovelaceCapMaskHi-ResHairRevFlip (my cap)
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 27 is: