“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 30 (R-rated)–A Friendship Blossoms into Love, Part 2, July 22, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #430)
[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, Lady Violet Henderson as Lady Leonora Wingate, 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, Kirsten Dunst as Cassandra Hatch, Matthew MacFadyen as Fr. Robert 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: Lady Katharine Wingate’s longtime friend from childhood, Mrs. Cassandra Lowens Hatch, welcomed her late husband’s nephew Fr. Robert Hatch as the new vicar of the Maylandsea Parish church in Essex–where Mrs. Hatch returned to her late parents’ home to raise her now nine month old daughter Beatrice after her husband died over a year ago. Cassie was now out of mourning. And having met Robert briefly when he settled some estate monies on she and Beatrice–and then their cordial Christmas visit and subsequent twice monthly correspondence–Cassie had become quite fond of Robert. Then the day after Robert arrived at Maylandsea on the first Friday in April 1827, he quite ineptly proposed marriage to Cassie. And she refused him. But after he finally conveyed that he truly loved her–and she admitted the same for him–they became engaged. Their first tentative and tender kisses both delighted and stirred them. Theirs will be the love match that Cassie has always hoped for–her first marriage being arranged for her to a much older man. And after announceing their betrothal and saying the banns at church on Sunday–with the intention to be married in two weeks when the Bishop comes to install Fr. Robert officially as vicar–Robert and Cassie and Beatrice continue to get to know each other, plan their wedding, and rely on their good friends Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine Wingate to safely shepherd them into the wonders of matrimony and sharetheir insights into having a happy and loving marriage.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 30 (R rated)–A Friendship Blossoms into Love, Part 2
During the church reception for Fr. Robert Hatch’s arrival as the new vicar–and an impromptu engagement reception for he and Mrs. Cassandra Lowens Hatch–Mrs. Black had to take Cassie’s nine month old baby Beatrice home to change her since the Maylandsea’s Church parish hall has no facilities for mothers and babies. Still at the reception, Cassie chats with Mrs. Smith, the Housekeeper of Seagrove Estate, where Cassie is the Estate Agent for the Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine Wingate–her being lifelong friends with Lady Katharine. Cassie has had little acquaintanceship in Maylandsea upon her return home over a year ago–what with her time involving caring for her parents in their illnesses, then her late husband falling ill, and then her being out of public life during her pregnancy. And it is not as if widowhood is contagious by association, but Cassie has been so focused on her daughter Beatrice that she hardly notices her lack of society. Only the Agency of managing Seagrove estate has given her an outlet of her own.
Robert walks up to his soon to be new wife after him parting cordially from Dr. Byrd at the church reception–no dismissals by Robert needed this time.
Robert: “Mrs. Hatch.” He always addresses Cassie formally when they are in the company of others. “I do believe that we have met everyone and that we may now sit down and enjoy some refreshments ourselves.” He smiles cheerfully and holds out his arm to her.
Cassie: “Yes, thank you, Fr. Hatch.” She also replies formally as she takes his arm with a smile, but she tiredly blows a wisp of hair that has come loose out of her eyes.
Robert: “Mrs. Smith, would you care to join us?” He asks cordially of the Seagrove Estate Housekeeper.
Mrs. Smith: “No thank you. My husband and I must be getting back.” She nods and leaves to join her husband.
Robert: Robert returns his attention to Cassie. “You look tired, my Dear. Here you sit and let me obtain our refreshments for us.”
Cassie nods and sits gratefully. It has been a whirlwind few days and the thought that her life will change even more drastically in two weeks is starting to creep into her thoughts. Robert returns, first with their punch, and then back again with a plate of cakes.
Robert: “I thought that since we are to be husband and wife, that you would not mind sharing a plate of treats with me. Did I make a good selection? Do you find something to tempt you?” He smiles warmly.
Cassie: “Yes, thank you.” She smiles shyly at his accurate assumptions about her wishes and preferences.
Cassie selects a lemon cake. Robert selects a chocolate cake. They munch happily for a few minutes as they wash down their cake with some punch–all the while continuing to greet well wishers who stop by their table.
Finally, the church welcome and engagement reception is over and arm in arm, Robert walks Cassie back to her home a few blocks away from the church in Maylandsea.
Robert: “We are here, Cassie.” He states expectantly as they arrive at her home.
Robert not having received a luncheon invitation elsewhere, he hopes to receive one from Cassie. But then he thinks, she feeds him dinner each evening, so maybe an impromptu luncheon is too much to expect. Robert is in no way presumptuous of Cassie’s attentions, wishes, or feelings. Not taking one’s partner for granted is always in good form.
Cassie: “Yes. Thank you, Robert.” She smiles warmly up at him. “I would invite you in for a light lunch, but I suspect that you have been invited to the Byrds for luncheon.”
Robert: “Actually no one invited me for luncheon today.” He looks at her pleadingly.
Cassie: She smiles at him for their good fortune. “Well then, would you like to join Beatrice and I for lunch? I am afraid that we are rather informal at Sunday lunch–none of the proprieties are observed.” She smiles primly. “In fact, we usually picnic on the lawn–even sitting on the ground.” She raises her eyebrows in mock shock and smiles at him hopefully about her casual arrangements.
Robert: “I can think of nothing more delightful.” He beams.
After Cassie changes into a lighter weight simple day dress compared to the gown she wore to church , she and Robert collect nine month old Beatrice who claps her hands with glee about their picnic outing while being carried in her Mama’s arms. Robert soldiers forth with a large picnic basket and blanket that Mrs. Black prepared for them as they walk into the almost medium sized garden that is adjacent to the Lowens-Hatch home. There are a few lovely planting beds with tulips in full flower and several nice shade trees interspersed throughout. It is not a formal English Garden per se–not having a water feature nor a temple [(2)]. The Lowens-Hatch garden is mostly left to its grassy splendor–that will soon see Beatrice running and playing in it when she advances to walking. One particularly helpful feature of the garden is the tall hedge serving as a wall surrounding the garden in a cocoon of privacy. Cassie guides Robert over to particularly lush section at the end of the garden [(3) right].
Cassie: “Here would be a good place, Robert.” Cassie gestures as she shifts Beatrice into her other arm. “This is our favorite spot to picnic.”
Robert: Robert looks around at the neatly trimmed green grass in counterpoint to the lush overhanging shade trees, and pockets of colorful flowers in bloom amongst the bushes with only a few buzzing insects and flitting bird activity. “This is a lovely spot, Cassie. Allow me.”
Robert sets the picnic basket on the ground. Then he unfolds the large picnic blanket and lays it on the ground before them under a shade tree. Cassie sets Beatrice on the blanket sitting up. Then Cassie gracefully and modestly sits down upon the blanket and looks up at Robert. Robert smiles at Cassie, then he moves the picnic basket next to Cassie and he somewhat awkwardly joins her sitting on the blanket. However since Robert is such a tall and a big man–with long legs and a massive torso–he literally dwarfs his intended Cassie and her daughter Beatrice.
Cassie: “Oh Robert. Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles
Beatrice: Clapping her hands together, nine month old Beatrice joins in on her Mama’s giggling. “He ha he ha he ha!”
Robert: He grins sheepishly. “I think that this blanket has shrunk since I laid it on the ground.” Robert says in mock consternation with a whimsically arched left eyebrow. “Ha ha ha!”
Cassie: “Ha ha ha!” She giggles.
Robert: “Or, I have stepped into the land of Lilliputians, as in …” Robert lies back on the ground, prone like Gulliver.
Cassie: “Gulliver’s Travels!” [(4)] Cassie exclaims eagerly. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Now Cassie claps her hands together.
Robert: Robert turns his head to Cassie. “You know the tale?”
Cassie: Cassie nods eagerly. “I adore reading tales of faraway and fanciful places!” Cassie opens up the picnic basket and begins to set out their plates and napkins.
Robert: “Well, I guess I should be glad that Beatrice has not yet learned how to knit or sew, or she might have me tied to the ground with stakes like Gulliver was.” He smiles.
Hearing her name, nine month old Beatrice crawls over to Robert and pats his arm. Then spying the cloth napkins for their picnic, Beatrice picks them up and one by one starts laying the napkins across Robert’s chest.
Beatrice: “La la la!” She sings as she diligently works–albeit with a studied haphazard arrangement of napkins.
Robert: Robert turns an impish grin to Cassie. “Has Beatrice also read the story? Ha ha ha ha ha!” Then Robert lifts Beatrice up in the air, holding her over him as he lies on the ground.
Beatrice: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles in delight.
Cassie: “Careful there, Robert. Babies sometimes spit up at odd moments.”
Robert quickly sets Beatrice down on his chest. And sure enough, some spit up comes drooling out of her lips.
Cassie: Taking one of the napkins lying on Robert’s chest and dabs it at Beatrice’s mouth, Cassie looks at Robert with a pixieish grin. “That was a disaster averted. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!” She jests.
Robert: “I am sorry, Cassie. I did not mean to make Beatrice unwell.” He frowns worriedly. Robert thinks rather melodramatically that he has much to learn to be a parent–with him only engaged for barely two days and he has sickened his soon to be stepchild already.
Cassie: “You did not make her unwell, Robert. Babies spit up–all of the time.” Cassie shakes her head and rolls her eyes bemusedly as she lifts Beatrice off of Robert’s chest and puts Beatrice into her own lap as Cassie sits most comfortably, but a tad indecorously, crosslegged on the picnic blanket. Then Cassie gives Beatrice [(5) right] a flower to play with and Beatrice crawls out of her Mama’s lap and sits on the blanket edge near the grass that Beatrice also runs her fingers through.
Then feeling completely at ease and at peace, Cassie [(6) right] impulsively lies down on the blanket and facing Robert with a small smile on her face as he is also still lying down–with her back to her modest but lovely home on the outskirts of Maylandsea in Essex [(7)].
Robert: “Cassie, do you know how lovely you are to me at this moment?” Robert [(8) right] speaks to her deeply, with a resonance of timbre in his voice betokening his love for her.
Cassie: Blushing, Cassie shys away from his compliment. “Oh Robert, do we need to give you spectacles as well as your own spit up cloth?” She smiles impishly.
Robert: He grins bemusedly. “Ha ha ha! Nay Cassie. My eyes and heart see clearer than ever before.” Robert and Cassie gaze adoringly at each other. “And as to the spit up cloth?” He tucks a napkin into his vest. “Spit up cloths could become the fashion.” Robert impishly raises his eyebrows up and down several times.
Cassie: Cassie sits up and begins giggling. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Then she becomes a bit tearful as her mood changes and she whimpers. “Hmm hmm.”
Instantly recognizing Cassie’s distress, Robert moves to sit by her side and puts his arms lightly about her shoulders to comfort her.
Robert: Kissing Cassie’s forehead, Robert asks in concern. “What is it Cassie, my Love? Is my sense of humor not to your liking? I can learn to curb it. Mama says that I am too irreverent at times for my own good.”
Cassie: “No! I love your sense of humor!” She sniffles as she looks up at him with tears in her eyes.
Robert: He gives her a questioning look. “Then why the tears?” Robert has much to learn about women, and his soon to be wife.
Cassie: “It is just that I did not know … that a husband and wife–or soon to be, in our case–could be in such happy accord with each other as we are.” She smiles as her tear falls down her cheek. “I have been so alone this past year–even with my precious Beatrice.”
Robert: Kissing Cassie’s forehead, then her cheek where her tear has fallen, he soothes. “Ahh! Cassie my love, we are so right for each other. I have to believe that we were destined to meet and fall in love. And as long as I breathe, you will never be alone again. We will always have each other now.”
Then Robert tenderly kisses Cassie on her lips for several moments. And they stay in this attitude of kissing fiance’s until a little one makes her hunger known.
Beatrice: A hungry baby Beatrice tries to get their attention. “Mah mah.” Then Beatrice pats her mouth.
Robert and Cassie break apart from their kiss as baby Beatrice speaks.
Cassie: “Oh Robert! Beatrice said Mama! That is her first real word!” Cassie pulls her daughter onto her lap and into her arms as she kisses Beatrice’s face several times. “Say it again, Beatrice. Say Mama.”
Beatrice: “Mah.” Beatrice says the word part way because she is hungry and not focusing on her vocabulary at the moment.
Robert: “This is wonderful! Beatrice’s first word! And I was here to witness it! Oh Cassie, I love you both so very much.”
Cassie: “And we love you, Robert.”
Then Cassie and Robert kiss again–but not for too long since they have to feed Beatrice and themselves.
The following week, it is Sunday evening, April 11th after their daily evening family dinner at Cassie’s Maylandsea home–the second banns for Robert and Cassies’ wedding next Sunday were read in church this morning. And family and friends are expected to arrive from out of town this week. As they start the last week of their engagement, Cassie and Robert have dinner to discuss blending their future lives together–such as Cassie continuing as Seagrove Estate Agent for the Wingates, keeping the Hatch estate monies that Robert settled on she and Beatrice, etc.–and how they will arrange the Lowens-Hatch home to accommodate Robert, a room for his study on the main floor and their sleeping rooms or room.
Robert sits with Cassie on the front parlor sette as they gaze at the fire crackling in the fireplace giving a warmth and glow to the room. Robert gently holds Cassie’s small hand in his large hand. He is still in awe of him being allowed even this small intimacy with her, while looking forward to their tender kisses which always happen after dinner, and realizing that the full intimacies of their marriage begin in one week’s time. They are each becoming a little nervous about their impending nuptials–Robert for his total inexperience, and Cassie for her lack of it. Although, neither feels comfortable enough yet to share their anxious feelings with each other.
Robert: “Dinner was wonderful as always, Cassie. You spoil me with such tempting foods I fear that I will need to let out my waistcoat soon.” He smiles sheepishly.
Cassie: Blushing at his mention of his personal physical attributes, she demures. “I am certain that will not be so. You are such a vigorous man–walking to the village and back for church and such, when others ride in carriages.”
Robert: “I enjoy walking. But of course when we are wed–and I move in here with you–I will have less distance to travel.” Now he blushes.
There. Robert said it–mentioning when he takes up residence with Cassie in her Maylandsea home after they are wed.
Cassie: “Robert, have you given any more thought to your using the small parlor at the back of the house for your study?” She smiles, wanting to make him feel welcome. “The view of the garden is delightful.”
Robert: “But is that not currently your place to manage the household as well as your Agency of Seagrove Estate?”
Cassie: “It is. But my own desk space needs are minimal.” She demures. “And, I did not know if you would wish me to continue as the Estate Agent? Will I not have new duties as a vicar’s wife that will claim my attentions?” She smiles up at him shyly.
Robert: “I daresay that you will be a wonderful force in our parish as my wife. But my thought is that your participation at church and your decision to remain the Estate Agent or not, should be your choice.”
Cassie: “I want to do what pleases you.” She says agreeably.
Robert: “Well, what pleases me is what pleases you. So I leave it for you to decide. Perhaps a natural decision will become clear to you at some point in the future.”
Cassie: “Perhaps.” She nods.
Robert: “So until you make a decision, we can share the study.”
Cassie: “As you wish.” She pauses. “There is also the other matter regarding our living arrangements.” Cassie states primly as her cheeks pinken in a charming blush, thinks Robert.
Robert: “Is there?” Robert asks obtusely. “Ah! Dr. Byrd mentioned an increased living allowance for me when I marry. So that should help with food and the purchase of coals for the fires, and such.” He smiles.
Cassie: “That will be welcome.” She nods. Then she blushes. “But I refer to our bed chambers.” She states this with a poise belying her shyness about the subject of what their sleeping arrangements will be when they are wed.
Robert: “Oh!” Robert’s breath catches in his throat and then it quickens.
Cassie: “Though my parents shared their large bed chamber–which I now inhabit, my having given Beatrice my room for her daytime sleeping room–there are enough bedrooms to allow for us to each have our own bed chambers as befits our station and for convenience in dressing by our attendants. And my Papa also had a bed chamber that he used as a dressing room.” She smiles at him questioningly.
The Lowens were not a wealthy family compared to Lady Katharine’s, or even compared to the Hatch family that she married into with her first marriage to Robert’s Uncle Gerald Hatch. But the Lowens had sufficient funds for employing servants to meet their various personal and household needs–a ladies maid for her Mama and herself, and the first footman out of two who also served in the role as valet to her father.
Robert: “Ah! Yes, my Mama and Papa each had their own bed chambers–as did …” But he stops himself from mentioning his Uncle Gerald and Cassie’s living arrangements as husband and wife in what is now his family home where is mother resides.
Cassie: She lowers her eyes demurely. “Just so.” Cassie hesitates. “Robert, I would like to check on Beatrice, to see if she is asleep yet.”
Robert: “Of course.” He wonders if their evening is at an end–though it is only 9 o’clock and they usually keep company with each other until about 10:00pm.
Cassie: Then Cassie blushes crimson at what she is about to propose. “Robert, you could join me and then we can tour the upstairs to see which bed chamber you prefer so that we can make it ready for you.”
Robert: “Oh!” Now Robert blushes crimson. He has never been on the second floor of Cassie’s home. And the prospect of touring bed chambers increases Robert’s nervousness about their upcoming wedding–and their wedding night.
Cassie: “Mrs. Black will join us since she will be the one making your room ready for you.”
And, of course, it is tacitly understood that Mrs. Black will be acting as their chaperone should anyone try to intimate that it is unseemly for Fr. Robert to be in Cassie’s home’s bed chambers before they are married. Cassie is very sensitive that no one misconstrue their behavior and tarnish their reputations. However, the composed Cassie appears serene despite her own flutterings of anxiety about their wedding.
Cassie stands, then Robert stands. She holds out her hand to him and they walk into the foyer and then up the stairs. Robert feels a shiver run through him as he contemplates what his husbandly duties will be–not knowing precisely what occurs between a husband and wife in their marriage bed–and he is beginning to feel ill prepared for the task. Robert stops walking at the top of the stairs.
Robert: “Perhaps my choosing a bed chamber can wait until after our wedding.” He suggests nervously–which Cassie notices.
Cassie: “With you transferring most of your personal effects to this house the few days before our wedding, we need to know where to place them.” She states logically. “But let us look in on Beatrice first.”
Cassie and Robert walk to the end of the bed chambers hallway, past several doors. And Robert wonders which of those doors might be Cassie’s bedchamber. Then he mentally chastises himself for thinking about such intimate thoughts before they are married. They stop at the bed chamber door at the end of the hallway.
Robert: “You have several bed chambers here.” He says trying to focus on the layout of the home, rather than the fact that they are bed chambers. But it does not work and he begins to feel like he is in forbidden territory. Well, it is only forbidden for a few more days.
Cassie: “Well, a few bed chambers. Some are suitable only to be a dressing room with a small bed in it–as my Papa used.” Cassie gestures to a door to the right of her bedchamber–that has a connecting door to her bedchamber. Then Cassie opens her bed chamber door and walks in. “Beatrice is in here.” Then she adds with a hoarse whisper. “This is the master bed chamber, my room.”
Robert: Startled by her last statement, Robert visibly flinches. “Oh?” He has never been in a lady’s bed chamber before.
Cassie and Robert walk into a large and airy bed chamber decorated in pale hues of sky blue and cream. It is an elegantly understated room that befits the quiet dignity and warmth of Robert’s betrothed Cassie. The bed is directly before them with a large window and seating area to the left and a child’s large crib bed to the right of the bed where they see a standing Mrs. Black.
Mrs. Black, Cassie’s housekeeper tending to Beatrice, turns to see Fr. Robert and Mrs. Cassandra enter Cassie’s bedroom.
Mrs. Black: “Mrs. Cassandra, Fr. Hatch. Good evening.” She nods politely. “Little Beatrice is not asleep yet, I fear.” Mrs. Black turns to look at Beatrice sitting up in her children’s crib bed with high sides to keep her in it.
Cassie: “It is no matter, since she will wake up when we move her to her own bedchamber tonight for the first time.”
Robert: “Beatrice normally sleeps in here with you, Mrs. Hatch?” He asks formally in front of the housekeeper.
Cassie: “She does, Fr. Hatch.” Cassie replies formally. “But that will change when we marry. It is time anyway, I suppose.”
Cassie states stoically, because she knows that it is expected of her to bend to her husband’s wishes and needs. However, it will be a wrench for Cassie not to have her daughter nearby, with Cassie in her bed chamber. Cassie and Beatrice share a close bond that Cassie fears will diminish with Cassie having less contact with her daughter as a yet to be hired nanny assumes more responsibility for Beatrice.
Mrs. Black: “I will sleep in Beatrice’s bedchamber at night to tend to her until we can hire a part-time nanny to fulfill that role.” Mrs. Black smiles agreeably.
Robert: “I do not wish to impose a burden upon you with changing too many of your previous arrangements.” He offers agreeably while looking at Cassie.
Cassie: “Beatrice would begin sleeping in her own bed chamber at night eventually. Our upcoming marriage only slightly alters when that occurs.”
Robert notices that though he and Cassie are just one week away from their wedding, that their interactions have become more stilted and formal. And Robert worries that Cassie might be regretting her accepting his marriage proposal. Her life will change so drastically when they are wed–as will his life.
For her part, though Cassie has been a wife before–however brief and dispassionate that marriage might have been–she is beginning to feel that her present level of autonomy that she currently enjoys will be eased away from her. For all the loneliness Cassie felt this past year as a young widow with a baby to raise on her own, she has also come into her own as chatelaine [(9)] of her own home and Agent for the Wingate’s Seagrove Estate. But none of that compares to Cassie’s growing fear of being found wanting as the wife of a vicar. She feels that she will have much to prove in terms of her suitability for that role. Though anyone would tell her gladly that she is a most worthy candidate.
Mrs. Black: Breeching the lull in the conversation, Mrs. Black suggests. “Fr. Hatch, Mrs. Cassandra bid me earlier to show you her father’s, the late Mr. Lowens’, dressing room and small bed chamber for your consideration. Please follow me and I will show it to you.”
Robert looks longingly at Cassie. He does not really want to be separated from her–tonight or when they are wed. He understands that there are certain modes of conduct that society requires. But he hopes that in the privacy of their own home, they can dispense with formality.
Cassie: Noticing Robert’s hesitation, she says encouragingly. “Fr. Hatch, please follow Mrs. Black.” Cassie lifts Beatrice out of her crib. “I will put Beatrice to bed in her bed chamber. Then after you are done reviewing the room, if Mrs. Black would direct you to us, we may both tuck Beatrice in for the night.” Cassie smiles sweetly at Robert.
Robert: “Of course.” He nods his head politely.
Mrs. Black: Gesturing to the door, she smiles graciously. “This way, if you please, Fr. Hatch.”
Robert follows behind Mrs. Black. And as they exit Cassie’s bed chamber, Robert looks over his shoulder and catches a glimpse of Cassie clinging to her daughter and rocking her in her arms. And in that moment, he understands what he must do.
As Mrs. Black opens the adjoining bed chamber from its hallway door, she explains to Fr. Hatch why they entered the dressing room bed chamber intended for him in this manner.
Mrs. Black: “Fr. Hatch, there is a connecting door between the two bed chambers. But I fear that through disuse, that it has been covered up on both sides by large armoires. This week, I will have the staff reposition the furniture to allow for the connecting door to serve its intended purpose.” She smiles agreeably.
Robert: He nods his head. “Thank you.” Looking around the room, he finds a large four poster bed and a chair and table–as well as, several doors that he supposes are closets.
Mrs. Black: Then she informs him delicately. “You will forgive me for speaking so familiarly, Fr. Hatch. But since you are a rather tall man, you will be glad to know that the late Mr. Lowens was also tall–such that the bed should be comfortable for you.” She says helpfully as she blushes in slight embarrassment. But she was asked to convey this pertinent detail to him by Mrs. Cassandra.
Robert: “Oh!” He smiles sheepishly. “Thank you. I had not even thought about that. I appreciate your kind assurances about my comfort.” Robert nods graciously to her. Then he thinks to ask and he blushes even as his voice wobbles. “And is the master bed chamber’s bed … of similar size … to accommodate my tall frame?”
Mrs. Black: Mrs. Black’s eyebrows flash with his direct question relating to him joining Mrs. Cassandra in her bed. But she maintains her poise regarding so intimate a matter. “I believe so.”
Mrs. Black: “Do you have any special requests of the staff? We can arrange and decorate this room as you wish. It has not been used since Mr. Lowens died. So you will probably want to have it painted at some point in the future.”
Robert: Then Robert asks delicately, because it has been on his mind–if he would be inhabiting rooms used by others. “So my late uncle, Mr. Gerald Hatch, did not use this room when he came to stay?” Again Robert’s voice wavers reflecting his discomfittedness at asking who might have preceded him.
Mrs. Black: “No Mr. Gerald Hatch never slept in the Lowens’ home. Mr. Gerald always insisted that he and Mrs. Cassandra stay in rooms at the Maylandsee Inn when they visited the Lowens.”
Robert: “I see.” Though his countenance remains impassive, Robert smiles inwardly at having no ghosts in the home that he will share with Cassie.
Mrs. Black: “May I show you to baby Beatrice’s bed chamber?” She asks graciously.
Robert: “Of course.”
Mrs. Black guides Fr. Robert to the second bed chamber door down the hall and she waits outside while Robert enters the room. Robert spies Cassie singing a lullaby to Beatrice to calm and soothe her so she will go to sleep.
Cassie: “Lullay thou little tiny child, bye bye lully lullay. Lullay thou little tiny child, bye bye lully lullay.” [(10) The Coventry Carol]
Robert: “You sing charmingly, my dear.” Robert whispers in his velvety deep baritone as he walks up behind Cassie.
Cassie: Cassie blushes and also replies in a whisper. “Oh! I did not realize that anyone was there.”
Robert: “Is Beatrice asleep yet?” Robert whispers in Cassie’s hear from behind her.
Cassie: “I think so.”
Robert can smell Cassie’s faint fragrance of flowers. And she can feel his breath on her neck. They both tremble at these small intimacies.
Beatrice: “La la la.” Beatrice vocalizes more slowly as she becomes sleepy.
Cassie: Rolling her eyes mirthfully–reflecting a lightness of spirit that has been lacking in Cassie this evening–she smiles with bemused exasperation at her daughter’s unwillingness to go to sleep. “Well, obviously not–despite my best attempts to sing her to sleep. Ha!”
Robert: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He chuckles softly so as not to startle nine month old Beatrice into full wakefulness.
Then Robert places his hands around Cassie and sets them on Beatrice’s crib bed frame–enclosing Cassie, but with his body not touching her, as he risks a gentle kiss upon her fabric covered shoulder.
Cassie: Cassie’s breathing deepens. “Mrs. Black?” She worries that Robert’s familiar kiss might have been seen.
Robert: “Mrs. Black is waiting discreetly in the hallway to allow us some privacy.” His voice smoulders deeply. “I love you so, Cassie.” He leans in and kisses her cheek–still from him standing behind her.
Cassie: “And I love you, Robert.” Cassie says breathily as she closes her eyes, as she caresses her daughter’s cheek.
Beatrice: Nine month old Beatrice quietly watches her Mama and the man with a sweet expression as she becomes sleepier. “Hhhh!” She yawns.
Cassie: Recognizing Beatrice’s yawn, Cassie opens her eyes. “Ohhh! Maybe Beatrice will go to sleep now.” Cassie gently guides Beatrice to lie down and covers her with a blanket.
Robert: “Beatrice will need some time to adjust to her new sleeping routine.” Robert says sanguinely–and thinking that he and Cassie will need to adjust to their new sleeping routine as well when they are married.
Cassie: Cassie also thinks that there will be and adjustment period after she marries Robert. “Yes. Do you find my late Papa’s bed chamber dressing room to your liking?” She asks hesitantly.
Robert: “I do. It will make a satisfactory dressing room for me.”
And with that one statement, Robert pronounces his intention to sleep with his new wife, every night of their marriage.
Cassie: Cassie cannot refrain from a small intake of breath as she gasps. “Hhhh!”
Robert: Noticing her seeming surprise, Robert explains his decision. “Cassie my love, I can think of no greater comfort than sleeping in each others’ arms. Will you mind if we share a bed with each other every night?”
Cassie: Her breathing quickens, for she does not know if he means to exercise his husbandly rights every night. “No.” Cassie croaks out hoarsely, due to her ingrained acquiescence to others’ wishes. And she thinks that her marriage to Robert will be so very different than her marriage was to his uncle Gerald Hatch–chiefly because Robert is a young man of twenty three, whereas Gerald was a much older man of over forty five years old. She hesitates, but suggests tentatively. “But, there may be times, days, when I am feeling unwell and need my rest.” She states obliquely about her monthly courses.
Robert: “Hmmm.” He growls into her ear. “That may be true for each of us at one point or another.” Robert does not understand her intimation. “But except for a contagious fever, I would think we two cuddling together as we drift off to sleep to be a very pleasant prospect. Do you not?”
Cassie: “I would not know.” She states honestly as she closes her eyes in mortification.
Cassie’s late husband Gerald did not spend the night sleeping with her after the handful of times that he exercised his husbandly rights. He would thank her for her forebearance with his lust and then leave her bed to return to his own bed chamber at the Hatch family estate–where he slept every night. At the time, Cassie was too young as a wife–at only 18 years old–to know that this was not how all husbands treated their wives regarding their marital relations. However, she always wondered at the time why she felt strangely bereft and sad after.
Robert: Startled at Cassie’s response, Robert asks almost in a daze. “You do not know?”
Cassie: “No.” She whispers as she lowers her head demurely at revealing something so personal.
Robert: “Well, I hope that you will consider cuddling with me as we sleep.” Then he adds blushingly. “That is, after we are married, of course.”
Cassie: “As you wish.” Again Cassie plays a passive role, because she thinks that is expected of her.
Robert: Having heard Cassie agree with him seemingly more than he thinks logical, Robert makes a request of her. “I do have one wish that I hope that you will grant me, Cassie.” Robert gently guides Cassie to turn around, then he holds his finger under her chin and lifts it up so that she looks at him.
Cassie: “I will, if it is within my power to do so.” She says calmly, but with trepidation at what he might request of her.
Robert: Robert leans his forehead onto Cassie’s forehead. “I wish to know how I may make you happy, Cassie. And that will not happen if you merely agree with me all of the time–because you think that you are required to agree with me as your husband. I fully expect us to have differing opinions on a variety of topics now and again. And I welcome hearing your point of view.” Robert is, perhaps, a little ahead of his time in his thinking about a woman’s place in a marriage–let alone, her place in society.
Cassie: “You do?” She looks up at him incredulously.
Robert: “I do. Now will you tell me one wish you have that I have not yet fulfilled? And I will try to fulfill it as my wedding present to you.”
Cassie: “I have few wishes.” She still demures. A lifetime of carefully cultivated self denial is not set aside so easily.
Robert: “Ah ha!” He smiles teasingly. “But you do have some wishes.” Cassie sweetly smiles and averts her eyes from his gaze and he has his answer. “Hmmm. So if you will not tell me directly, shall I reflect upon the matter to see if I can discern your wishes?” Cassie smiles shyly. “Or, should I seek God’s assistance–though as far as we know, God has never been married himself.” Robert smiles impishly.
Cassie: Cassie gently taps his arm. “Robert! That is blasphemous! Ha ha ha!”
Robert: He laughs softly. “Ha ha ha! Well then I hope that you will keep my irreverence between the two of us.” He smiles cheekily.
Beatrice: “Hhhh!” Beatrice sighs in her sleep and Cassie turns back to her and tucks in her blanket. Then Cassie lovingly touches her fingers to her lips and then places her fingers on her daughter’s cheek.
Robert watches this tender scene and he has his answer.
Robert: He smiles at her. “My guess for one of your wishes, is that it concerns Beatrice.” He raises his eye brow questioningly.
Cassie: “Perhaps.” She nods her head as she turns back to him. But Cassie does not want to reveal her hopes, lest they be dashed.
Robert: “Cassie my love, though you wish Beatrice to become accustomed to her own bed chamber for night time sleeping as she becomes older, I do not think that it would harm anything if Beatrice slept in a crib bed in our bed chamber from time to time while she is still so very young. And doing so would also allow a more gradual transition for both you and Beatrice now that she is getting older.” Robert smiles warmly at Cassie.
Cassie: Cassie looks up at Robert with love and admiration. “You would do that for me? For Beatrice?”
Robert: “Of course, Cassie.” Robert gently brushes a curl from Cassie’s teary eyes. “For you, I will do anything, my Love.”
Cassie: Grateful beyond words not to be separated from her daughter, Cassie embraces Robert around his waist and lets her tears fall. “Thank you, Robert! Beatrice has been my whole world and I hers since she was born.”
Robert lets his arms fall gently over Cassie’s shoulders, but he still keeps a restraint in his embrace. Robert is keenly aware that he and Cassie are not married yet. And some proprieties must be maintained–especially since he is a vicar.
Mrs. Black walks closer to baby Beatrice’s bed chamber door in the hallway and coughs before entering it.
Mrs. Black: “Kkhhh! I beg your pardon Mrs. Cassandra, but it is nearly 10 o’clock now and the coachman has arrived to take Fr. Hatch home to his cottage at Seagrove Estate.”
Cassie: Drying her tears from her eyes, she addresses her servant. “Thank you Mrs. Black.” Then Cassie looks up at Robert. “Thank you again, Fr. Hatch.”
Robert: “You are welcome, Mrs. Hatch.” Robert lifts Cassie’s hand to his lips and kisses it. “Until tomorrow evening for dinner, my Dear.”
Cassie: “Until tomorrow.” She smiles.
The next few days are a flurry of Cassie making final wedding preparations and Robert repacking his possessions strewn around the Seagrove Estate caretaker’s cottage in preparation for moving them to Cassie’s home in Maylandsea over the next few days before their wedding day on Sunday. He will retain only the essentials of some clothing with him and then transport them on his wedding day. Robert feels a little bit like an interloper as he drops off several boxes of books to be placed in the study that he will share with Cassie–and he will have to sort out where the books will be placed in the room later–and the bulk of his clothing and personal effects that will go into his dressing room bed chamber. And it seems that Robert and Cassie still have some shy awkwardness around each other at their nightly dinners as their wedding day approaches.
Then toward the end of the week, Lady Katharine and Lord Rafe Wingate arrive early at their Seagrove Estate from London on the Thursday before Robert and Cassie are to be wed–but without Anna because there was no time to send for her at Dearing Manor. They had not planned to have Anna miss her studies with her governess for Robert’s installation as vicar. However it would have been nice if Anna could have joined them for Robert’s and Cassie’s wedding once this was known. But Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine barely had time to adjust their own travel plans to arrive earlier than they anticipated to accommodate Cassie’s and Robert’s wedding plans. And Lord Rafe is particularly solicitous of his wife, Lady Katharine, just now because in addition to them anxiously awaiting the birth of her parents’ third child in London, an eagerly waiting to become plump Lady Katharine is four months pregnant with their first child. It seems that their niece little Lottie’s pregnancy prediction record is unbroken.
Then after dinner this Thursday night, Lady Katharine [(11) right] chats with Cassie about her wedding arrangements. But Cassie is aflutter with nerves–and doubts that have crept back into her thoughts as her wedding day approaches. With no motherly influence to guide and to soothe her, Cassie needs her good friend Lady Katharine by her side. So Cassie relays her fears to Lady Katharine when they are sitting alone in the parlor–while the gentlemen are enjoying their port and cigars in the dining room.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Cassie, you will look beautiful on your wedding day in your pink gown that you showed me earlier. It suits you.” She tries to say encouragingly.
Cassie: “Thank you, Kathy. Robert proposed to me the first and only time that I wore the gown, so I decided to wear it again for my wedding.” Then Cassie bursts into tears. “But I do not think I can marry him, Kathy.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine instantly pulls her friend into her soothing embrace. “There, there Cassie, this is just pre-wedding nervousness.”
Cassie: “No, I fear not. As the days grow closer to our wedding today, my doubts have increased.”
Lady Katharine: “But you love Robert and he loves you. Anyone can see that.”
Cassie: “Yes, I love him. And I believe that he loves me.”
Lady Katharine: “Then why do you have doubts?”
Cassie: “Kathy, my first husband was an old man of forty five. And though we were not a love match–it was an arranged marriage by my Papa–we grew fond of each other, especially after we knew that we were expecting a baby.” She blushes. “And now, I am set to marry a young man who is a vicar.”
Lady Katharine: “Cassie, I am unclear as to what you feel the problem is.”
Cassie: Cassie winces as she reveals her worries. “Kathy, I am not a maiden. And Robert as a vicar and as a young man should have a maiden for his wife.” She cringes, stating her most abject fear. “Will Robert regret marrying me when he could have a maiden?”
Lady Katharine: “You mean that Byrd girl you mentioned?” Lady Katharine smiles facetiously.
Cassie: She nods. “Yes, Miss Fern Byrd.”
Lady Katharine: “Do you really think Robert wants Mrs. Byrd as his mother-in-law as she was described to me?” Lady Katharine asks impishly.
Cassie: “Well, ha.” She rolls her teary eyes.
Lady Katharine: “Cassie, has Robert given you any indication that he feels anything but joy at the prospect of your becoming his wife?”
Cassie: “Robert has not admitted to me as such. But the last few days, Robert has been more nervous around me. And I fear it is because he regrets having proposed to me. But he does not feel that he can back out of his promise to marry me.” She cries.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Cassie, I am certain that is not the case.” Cassie pouts. “Is there something else?” She hugs her friend.
Cassie: “Our wedding night.” Cassie croaks out in a whisper. “Kathy, I was Robert’s uncle’s wife. And though my late husband Gerald and I did not share a bed often–and not after we knew that we were expecting a baby–I fulfilled my wifely duty the few times that Gerald asked me to before then.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine is beginning to have a dawning realization. “How few?” Cassie looks at her, but does not speak–she is too mortified. “More than once?” Cassie nods with her eyes closed. “More than five times?” Cassie nods. “More than ten times?”
Cassie: Cassie shakes her head no and looks down at her clasped hands, studying them intently. “It was six times in the first three months of our marriage.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine feels emboldened by her relationship with her own loving husband to seek further clarification of Cassie in order to help her friend. “Well, was your husband at least tender with you? Did you enjoy making love with your husband?” She asks wincingly.
Cassie: Appalled–because that is the response society expects of her–Cassie quickly replies. “Certainly not! No lady of breeding does. But it is what husbands require, and it is what is needed for the getting of children.” Cassie sits ramrod straight on the sette, primly looking askance at her friend.
Lady Katharine: Seeking to calm her friend, and to allay her fears, Lady Katharine reveals her personal views on the matter. “Cassie, I had thought that myself–but no more. Some husbands can be tender and loving–taking care for their wife’s pleasure as well as their own. Maybe you will like making love with your young husband when you marry Robert. I like making love with Rafe.” Lady Katharine blushes.
Cassie: Cassie’s jaw drops open as she stares thunderstruck at her friend Lady Katharine. “You … like … it?”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine nods her head sheepishly and bites her lower lip. “I do.” She smiles primly.
Cassie: “You do?” She asks in astonishment.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine decides to relate her own wedding jitters tale to her friend. “I was afraid, like you Cassie–because my Mama had falsely told me that the marriage bed aspect of marriage was a trial. So, I actually bolted from our wedding night and then cried pleadingly with Rafe not to bed me when he found me and brought me back.”
Cassie: “What happened?” Cassie asks wide eyed and riveted to her friend Lady Katharine’s tale.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe and I slept together chastely on our wedding night. He promised to not touch me to claim his husbandly rights and he kept his promise.” Lady Katharine smiles remembering her cuddling up to her warm husband during the night. “But then Rafe was so kind and so tender with me through the next day, that I fell in love with him–and we made love our second night together. And we make love every day, sometimes more.” Lady Katharine blushes for being so forthright about so personal and intimate a matter as what passes between a husband and his wife.
Cassie: “But you are four months pregnant? Does he not leave you in peace even now?”
Lady Katharine: “No. Nor would I wish him to.” She smiles.
Cassie: Cassie ponders what her friend has said. “But Kathy, even if Robert is tender with me, there is still the issue of my having been another man’s wife first–his uncle’s wife. I am not pure.” Cassie shamefully looks away from her friend, Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Cassie, if that assessment were true, everyone who was widowed who then remarried would be considered unclean. Give Robert the benefit of the doubt that he knows his own mind and loves you for you–not worrying about your having had a first husband, let alone that it was his own uncle.”
Cassie ponders all that her good friend has told her. Cassie just has to decide if she is showing up for her own wedding or not.
As the men–Fr. Robert Hatch and Lord Rafe Wingate [(12) right]–enjoy their port and cigars in the dining room alone after dinner Thursday evening, there is a similarly nervously frought conversation taking place there as well.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe slaps Robert on his back. “Well Robert, Kate and I were married in two weeks–and now you and Cassie. I think that short engagements seem to be catching on. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Lord Rafe rocks his head back in laughter.
Robert: “Yes. Ha ha ha!” Robert laughs nervously as his voice cracks and he breathes deeply.
Lord Rafe: “Are you alright, Robert? You look positively ashen faced.”
Robert: “Hhhh!” He sighs. Then he whispers wincingly, though no one else is around. “Lord Rafe, I just hope everything goes alright.”
Lord Rafe: “I am certain that it will be fine a fine wedding. It will be small and intimate–full of sentiment.”
Robert: “Kkhhh!” He coughs. “That is the problem.” Robert looks forlornly at Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “What problem?” Lord Rafe looks questioningly at Fr. Robert.
Robert: “Hhhh! Cassie’s and my wedding night intimacies. I have no experience in that regard.” Robert shakes his head sheepishly with a worried look upon his face.
Lord Rafe: “None?” Lord Rafe looks askance at the bridegroom. Robert shakes his head no. “None at all?” Lord Rafe asks incredulously.
Robert: “No.”Robert’s voice wavers embarrassedly. “I have been studying for the clergy for the past ten years–since I was thirteen years old. I have remained chaste for my ordination vows.”
Lord Rafe: “Ah!” Lord Rafe nods his head. By the time Lord Rafe was twenty three years old–six years ago–he was well acquainted with love as an already established rake at that point. “But do you … understand … what generally occurs in bed between a man and a woman–I mean, between a husband and wife, in their marriage bed, of course?”
Robert: “Not really.” Robert winces. “My father died two years ago before he could relate his wisdom to me on the subject.” Robert looks at Lord Rafe pleadingly.
Lord Rafe: “I see.” Lord Rafe looks gravely at the young man. “And would you welcome my comments on the matter?” Lord Rafe looks upon the pious young man with uncertainty.
Robert: “I would, yes.” Robert sighs gratefully. “That is, if relating such information would not unduly embarrass you.” Robert winces.
Lord Rafe: “No, it would not embarrass me–unduly.” This is a conversation that Lord Rafe did not think that he would need to undertake for at least fourteen years or more–when his own expected sons would be of an age to be counseled closely in such matters. “Very well! I will give you some instructions. But I will disavow any knowledge of your asking me were I to be questioned.” Lord Rafe’s eyes twinkle in jest to hopefully lighten Fr. Robert’s mood. “And these suggestions will be only a starting point. You and your bride will explore and expand upon your lovemaking as time goes on.”
Robert: “Kkkhhh!” Robert coughs initially at Lord Rafe’s phrasing referring to lovemaking. But Robert is an eager and willing pupil. “Thank you!” Robert sighs gratefully. “I so want Cassie to feel loved on our wedding night. But I am afraid that I will muddle it. Afterall, she was married once before. So I do not know what her expectations are of me in our marriage bed on our wedding night.”
Lord Rafe: “Well as you probably know, I was a rake before I married my Kate.” Robert nods. “But I must confess that I truly did not understand the meaning of love before I married my dear wife–nor how making love with my beloved Katharine transcends every joyous experience I had had previously. There is just no comparison. So I will give you three pieces of advice.”
Robert: “I welcome them.” Robert nods hopefully.
Lord Rafe: “First, the prelude to lovemaking occurs outside of the bedroom–in your caring consideration, tenderness, love, and respect for your wife and her feelings and wishes.” Robert nods. “Second, it seems that some well brought up ladies are given the misinformation that they cannot be a lady and enjoy lovemaking with their husbands. They are often told that their acquiescing to their husband’s husbandly rights is their duty and necessary if they are to have child–that view would make anyone reticent to make love with their husband. So you must set your wife at her ease by being patient and understanding with her–not pressuring her to do what she does not feel comfortable with. And as I can personally attest, it is far better in the long term to delay making love with your wife by a day or two to give her time to adjust to being married, rather than force her to submit to your husbandly rights. And finally, third, lovemaking is about mutual pleasure and mutual love. Savor your loving time together as you adore your wife completely–such that she knows that she is beautiful to you and that her needs and wishes are just as important to you as your own. Women are awe inspiring creatures. And a wife is a blessing that should never be taken for granted. Cherish her, treasure her, respect her, and love her.”
Lord Rafe looks very pleased with himself. However, Lord Rafe has not counted on Robert’s need for concrete specifics.
Robert: Robert nods. “Excellent advice, thank you.” He hesitates. “But what do I actually do when making love with my wife?” He pleads.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe’s eye brows raise in realization that Robert is a true innocent. “Hmmm. Right!” Now Lord Rafe becomes more specific. “Well generally, lovemaking is achieving a oneness with your love partner as you join your bodies together. Your seduction of each other as you make love each time begins with slowly increasing intimacies. And it is important for her comfort in lovemaking that you awaken her desire. First gaze upon your wife and her loveliness–in her nightgown initially, if she is not comfortable with being naked with you in the beginning.”
Robert: “Oh!” Robert flinches at such a statement, for he had not even considered sleeping with Cassie–let alone making love with her–without them each wearing their night clothes.
Lord Rafe: “Lying naked within your lover’s arms is something that you might have to work up to–as your comfort level with each other increases overtime.”
As Lord Rafe continues, Robert’s countenance has a deepening blush with each lovemaking description Lord Rafe shares. And Robert also feels an agitation down below that he cannot quite understand.
Lord Rafe: “Secondly, use your hands to gently caress her wherever she will permit it–her face, her shoulders and back, her breasts, her hips, her abdomen, and so on–until over time she has no objections about your loving touch. And even though she might wear a nightgown the first several times that you make love with each other, it will not be a hindrance to you–you may still caress her through her nightgown, exciting you both. Let her sighs of pleasure be your guide and your encouragement–to keep doing, whatever you are doing at that moment. Because she might be too shy to explicitly tell you what she wants you to do.”
Robert: Robert’s blush that had turned crimson is now going in the other direction–and he looks very pale, but he nods his head in agreement. “Alright.”
Lord Rafe: “And finally, after you gaze upon and then caress your lovely wife, your lips should kiss her in those places as well.” Lord Rafe stares pointedly at Robert, who then nods. “So to recap, gaze, caress, kiss.” Lord Rafe smiles, very pleased with himself.
Robert: Robert struggles to maintain his composure with the knowledge that Lord Rafe has just shared with him. “Thank you, Lord Rafe. I think I can remember that.” Robert nods. “Is there anything else I should know about the act of making love with my wife? You mentioned that we join our bodies together?”
Now Lord Rafe does the startled blinking.
Lord Rafe: “Yes. Right.”
Then Lord Rafe proceeds to share his expert wisdom regarding more of the finer points of lovemaking–and some practical logistics with regard to coital coupling–with Fr. Robert Hatch, whose deepening ashen looking face is matched by his mute astonishment.
A chastened Robert–and a now quite randy looking Lord Rafe, eager to be away and back at Seagrove Estate with his wife Lady Katharine–finish their after dinner drinks in the dining room, then join the ladies in the front parlor sitting room. The ladies are embracing, with Lady Katharine stroking Cassie’s back. Lady Katharine looks up at the men over Cassie’s shoulder and winces at them. Cassie’s tears are now dried, but it is obvious that she has been crying and that she is in some distress.
Robert instantly goes to Cassie and kneels next to her sitting on the sette. He envelops her in his loving arms.
Robert: “Tears again, my Love?” He murmurs to her in a whisper. Robert feels Cassie’s head nod imperceptibly against his shoulder.
Lady Katharine: “Cassie, you should tell Robert your concerns and talk with him about it. While you do that, Rafe and I will go up and say goodnight to baby Beatrice before we and Robert take the carriage back to Seagrove.”
Lady Katharine and Rafe exit the parlor, leaving the fretful lovers alone for some private time–with the door shut. After the Wingates leave the room, Robert decides to try to puncture Cassie’s mood with his irreverent sense of humor–that unintentionally brings Cassie’s concerns to the surface.
Robert: “Uh oh. Cassie! We are alone together–without a chaperone. Would not the town busy bodies have a gab fest about this? Ha ha ha!”
Cassie stiffens. Unknowingly, Robert has touched upon her concern–Cassie’s reputation as a lady.
Cassie: “Oh Robert, please do not joke about it. I dread the loose talk that our previous family connection might engender–possibly already engenders–amongst our neighbors.”
Robert: “Loose talk? Cassie, we made clear to them when we announced our engagement that we only first met last October–long after Uncle Gerald had died and Beatrice was already four months old.” He says a bit stridently–which Cassie takes to be annoyance with her.
And Robert’s mention of her first husband–his uncle–causes Cassie to begin to weep.
Cassie: Sitting back from Robert–in fact, she holds him at arms length–Cassie admits sorrowfully. “Robert, it is no use. Though you try to hide it, your seeming nervousness around me this week makes me think that you are regretting your promise to marry me. So, I release you from your promise. We will part as friends, and not mention it again.”
Robert: “Cassie! No! You have misinterpreted me! I love you! I will love no other but you!”
Cassie: “Then why???” She looks at him questioningly.
Robert: “Hhhhh!” He sighs heavily. “Cassie, I want to make you a good husband and to be a good father for Beatrice. But I am untutored in both regards and I humbly ask for your patience with me.”
Cassie: She nods her head. “Oh Robert! I am so sorry that I am not a maiden for you.” Her weeping becomes sobbing.
Robert: Robert embraces Cassie again and kisses her temple with her face nestled into his neck. “That does not matter to me. At least one of us will know what we are doing on our wedding night.” He admits sheepishly.
Cassie: “Not really.” She whispers and shakes her head as she nestles into his arms.
Robert: “But you and Uncle Gerald were man and wife, you have your daughter Cassie.” He averts his gaze from her silky blond hair near his chin.
Cassie: “I do not wish to discuss the details of my first marriage, other than to say that it was arranged by my father without my input. I have only experienced love and happiness with you, Robert.”
Robert smiles, though she cannot see as she has her face nestled into his neck.
Robert: “And you are my only love, Cassie.
Cassie: “And Kathy, I mean Lady Katharine, said that at first she was also afraid of marital intimacies. But that she likes making love with her husband now.”
Robert pulls back from embracing Cassie and gazes into her eyes searchingly.
Robert: “So you and I are both unknown to passion as lovers?”
Cassie: Cassie shyly gazes at her fiancé, and she says in a tiny voice. “Yes.”
Robert: Caressing Cassie’s face and gazing upon her with love and adoration, he soothes her. “Then we will find our way together, my Love.” Cassie slightly nods her head.
Then Robert leans in and he kisses Cassie as he has never kissed her before. Robert crushes Cassie to him and runs his tongue along her lips until she parts them for him. Then Robert kisses Cassie deeply, longingly, lustfully. Running her fingers through his hair, Cassie makes little sighing sounds within Robert’s arms that only serve to drive him on further. Robert overwhelms Cassie with his unabashed love for her–and she finds that she quite likes the way he makes her feel–loved. Robert has not let his desire for Cassie become so explicit–until now. Then Robert’s kisses begin to move down Cassie’s neck as he caresses her fabric covered womanly hips.
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe knocks upon the sitting room door softly and enters. “KKKHHH!” Lord Rafe coughs loudly upon seeing the lovebirds in such a passionate embrace.
Cassie and Robert quickly, but reluctantly, break apart. Cassie and Robert had been so engrossed in their kissing of each other that they had not heard Lord Rafe’s knock on the door–nor his entrance into the room.
Cassie: “Oh!” She pinkens in embarrassment to be found in such an indecorus embrace–even if it is with her fiance.
Robert: “My apologies, Cassie. I should temper my love for you until we are wed. But it is so very hard to do so.”
LordRafe: “Now, now, you two. Only two more days of restraint–and then there will be nothing preventing your union as a loving husband and wife.” He gleams remembering his own wedding nights fondly.
Robert and Cassie are both blushing–but now in answering accord with each of them looking forward to their wedding night–or at least, with lessened anxiety.
Two weeks to the day from when Robert and Cassie announced their engagement to the Parish, it is a Sunday in Mid April 1827. Robert was installed as vicar this morning at worship services and the Bishop also married Robert and Cassie after the third banns were read. Cassie was a lovely bride in her pink satin gown. And Robert looked very tall and regal. The church’s parishioners sponsored a lovely luncheon for Robert as their new vicar and for Robert’s and Cassie’s wedding reception. But with having the Bishop there also–a great rarity–the reception was a long affair that went into mid afternoon. And Robert’s Mama–Mrs. Edna Hatch who only arrived the day before–was so tired that she left the reception for her rooms at the Maylandsea Inn, to have a lie down. So it was perhaps fortunate that the seldom seen owners of Seagrove Estate, Lady Katharine and her new husband Lord Rafe Wingate, commanded a goodly portion of the attention at the church wedding reception–because it allowed Robert and Cassie to eventually slip away to her, now their, home in Maylandsea with baby Beatrice. Where they shyly spent a good hour playing with Beatrice, giving her their love and attention–especially since she had been so good not to fuss at the wedding, luncheon, and reception.
Then after a light supper with much hand holding, Cassie and Robert put Beatrice to bed in her bed chamber and then they walk toward their own bed chamber. At their bed chamber door. Robert hesitates–wondering if he might be allowed a moment’s frivolity. So Robert takes a chance, whisking Cassie up into his arms–to her tempered squeals so as not to alarm the household–as he carries her across the threshold of their bed chamber.
Robert: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He laughs joyously.
Cassie: “Robert! Please put me down. Ha ha ha!” She giggles.
Robert: “Very well.” He sets her down. “But only so that I may go to my dressing room to change–and allow you your privacy to change as well.” Robert smoulders as he gazes upon Cassie in her pink satin wedding gown. “You are the most beautiful bride that I have ever seen, my Dear.” Robert lifts her hand to his lips and he kisses it. Cassie smiles.
As Robert leaves Cassie’s bed chamber for his dressing room bed chamber via the connecting door between the two rooms, Mrs. Black knocks and enters Cassie’s bed chamber via the hallway door–to assist Mrs. Cassandra in removing her wedding clothes.
Cassie removes her wedding clothes with Mrs. Black’s help and then thanks her before dismissing her for the evening. Then Cassie completes her evening toilette and she changes into her nightgown.
In his dressing room bed chamber, it does not take long for Robert to remove his wedding clothes and refresh himself. Then he is in a slight quandary. Does he remain naked under his dressing gown as Lord Rafe suggested? He tries that option. But he finds it rather … drafty–with all of him uncovered. So Robert elects to put his night pants on, but leave his night shirt off. He looks at himself in the mirror as he ties his robe sash and thinks that he has a thick thatch of chest hair–wondering if Cassie will like it or not. So, he changes out of his night pants to wear his night shirt–to cover up his chest hair more. Robert will ask Cassie later what her preferences are and then accede to her wishes–regarding his chest hair showing or not. Robert takes out his pocket watch and sees that twenty minutes have passed. He knows that he is delaying the inevitable. So he steels himself and walks toward the connecting door to their bed chamber.
Cassie sits at her vanity dresser and mirror getting ready to take the pins out of her hair and brush it out when Robert knocks on the connecting door.
Cassie: “Yes?” Her hands still in their task.
Robert: “May I join you, Cassie?” His voice wavers and cracks with his nervous anticipation.
Cassie: “Please come in, Robert.” Cassie takes a deep breath as she looks at herself the mirror, then she stands and turns toward the connecting door–and she hopes that Robert is pleased with her in her white silk and lace nightgown [(13) right]. Cassie feels that her beautiful nightgown’s low neckline and form fitting bodice are perhaps a bit daring–but it was a gift from her dear friend Kathy. So she could not refuse it.
Robert enters the room and looks to see where Cassie is and he spies her standing at her dresser vanity on the other side of the bed. He stays his forward movement as his eyes widen and his mouth drops open.
Robert: “Ohhh!” Robert sighs deeply in appreciation. He gazes at Cassie adoringly as he pushes shut the connecting door behind him and walks into the room.
Cassie: “Hello.” Cassie gazes wonderingly at her new young husband as she begins to walk toward him.
Cassie blushes and averts her eyes upon seeing Robert’s thatch of chest hair peeking out of his night shirt–and his bare legs below his dressing gown and his unshod feet. Cassie’s bare toes peek out from behind the lacey hem of her nightgown.
They meet at the foot of the bed by the sette. Cassie is nineteen years old, in the full flower of her youthful feminine beauty in her lovely white lace and silk nightgown. Robert [(14) right] is temporarily speechless in gazing longingly upon Cassie’s her upturned face. But then his heart propels his thoughts forth from his lips–even as his hands gently hold her head. Unbidden, Robert’s hands gently tug at her hairpins to free her loose coils until her long blond hair cascades about her shoulders.
Robert: “You are so exquisitely beautiful, Cassie.” He lifts her hands to his lips and kisses them.
Cassie shivers with his tenderness toward her.
Cassie: “And you are so handsome, Robert.” She moves her hand from his lips and caresses his face.
They look at each other shyly for a moment. Then Robert gently pulls Cassie into his embrace and they kiss each other tenderly at first, and then with a deepening passion as their lips delight in each other again, and again, and again, and again. Cassie runs her fingers through the Robert’s hair at the back of his neck, exciting him further.
With their bodies pressed against each other as they embrace, they begin to feel the contours of each others bodies, separated by silk and lace for her and cotton and satin for him. And for the first time, Robert’s body begins to have his husbandly response to his sweet and lovely wife as they continue to embrace so closely that not even a whisper could pass between them.
Robert: “Oh! Hhh, hhh, hhhh!” He pants deeply with his sensual arousal–a feeling that is new for him, exhilarating and terrifying. Robert looks pleadingly at Cassie with a hope for her understanding of his need. “I … I wish to …” He cannot finish his thought he is so distracted, so unutterably desirous of becoming one with his wife for the first time.
Cassie: “It is alright.” Cassie smiles up at Robert adoringly.
Then seeing the love for her in her husband’s eyes, she takes his hand and guides him back to their bed. Robert stands at the side of the bed, wondering which of them gets into bed first.
Robert: Robert fingers the tie on his robe. “Should I…?” Cassie nods. But Robert hesitates. He has never disrobed in front of anyone before. Instinctively, Cassie closes her eyes. Robert unties his robe, slides it off his shoulders and down his arms, then places it on a nearby chair. Robert now stands before Cassie in his night shirt that ends just below his knees. “You may open your eyes.” He says shyly, but with a smoulderingly deep voice betraying his desire.
Cassie opens her eyes and gazes upon her tall and muscular husband–his broad shoulders are evident in his form skimming garment as it tapers to his waist and hips–and she finds him very pleasing. Robert reaches for Cassie and fingers her ribboned bow at the front of her nightgown. The the backs of his fingers unintentionally brush the underside of her fabric covered breasts and sends a tingle through each of them. Then remembering something of Lord Rafe’s advice–gaze, caress, kiss–Robert leans down and he kisses her nightgown’s silky bow, then he kisses the underside of each of her lace and silk covered breasts.
Cassie: “Hhhhh!” Cassie moans with this new experience of delight, even as she runs her fingers through Robert’s hair.
So on the earlier guidance of Lord Rafe about how Cassie’s sighs might convey approval, Robert kneels down before her–because he is tall and she is petite–and he proceeds to kiss her breasts again through their fabric coverings as his arms embrace her around her middle. Then, Robert strokes Cassie from her bare shoulders, down her back, and thence to her backsides as he stands and kisses her adoringly on her lips again.
Cassie is both startled by these new intimacies of Robert’s kisses and caresses and thrilled by them. She can feel his arm and shoulder muscles through his night shirt as he kisses and caresses her–and she brazenly wants to feel his skin. So she reaches up to wrap her arms around his neck, under his night shirt.
Robert feels Cassie touching his neck and then his shoulders underneath his night shirt and he wants nothing more than to be rid of his coverings and remove her coverings. Robert gently tugs down Cassie’s nightgown’ s wide neckline and finds that it is loose and allows him to reveal more of her shoulders to him–as he gazes, he caresses, then he kisses her creamy expanse of skin.
Robert: “Oh Cassie!”
Robert can wait no more to be one with his wife. He picks her up and lays her in the middle of the bed. Robert begins to slide into bed next to her, then stops. Robert looks very flushed at Cassie lying in his bed. He makes a snap decision and quickly turns around with his back to her, and he lifts his night shirt over his head–removing it from his body.
Cassie: Seeing her husband’s bare muscular form from his shoulders down to his legs, Cassie sighs in wonder. “Oh Robert!”
Robert sits down on the bed and brings the sheet and blanket to cover his nakedness before he rolls on his side to face Cassie. They immediately embrace and their legs intertwine, Robert wants to feel her bare legs against his and he begins to lift the hem of Cassie’s night gown. But Cassie shyly stills his hand with her own.
Robert: “Please.” Robert pleads, his need to join with Cassie is now consuming him as his arousal gives evidence to.
As Robert continues to kiss Cassie adoringly, he moves one hand down her abdomen to find her womanliness. Then to Robert’s surprise and delight, he feels Cassie pulling the hem of her gown up her legs. Unbeknownst to Robert, Cassie’s own awakening need guides her to do so. Robert hesitates for but a moment, then he snakes his hands inside Cassie’s nightgown and around her bare waist, pulling her toward him. The silky softness of her bare skin is a wonder to him as their legs and bodies intertwine and he kisses her lips.
Cassie has never felt so loved and cherished as she does now with Robert. Her body tingles every time he touches and kisses her.
Cassie melts under her husbands tender kisses. She has never been adored like this before. She finds herself squeezing his muscular shoulders as he kisses her–urging him to continue.
Cassie: “Hh! Hhhh!” She whimpers in previously unknown pleasures with his every touch.
When Robert has Cassie’s nightgown hem above her hips, he pauses as he caresses her hips–his thumb stroking her abdomen. Robert wants to make sure Cassie is ready for him–as Lord Rafe told him was necessary for her comfort in lovemaking. But Robert cannot bring himself to venture such an intimacy.
Robert: “Cassie, Hhh hhhh!” He pants. “Will you permit … I mean, are you ready? May we join together now?” He asks with urgently needful tenderness and consideration.
Cassie: “Yes.” She sighs and nods her head.
Robert lifts himself up and he gently guides Cassie to part her legs for him, then he moves his body to rest there, but not yet joined together. Robert kisses Cassie passionately and tugs her bodice down to uncover her loveliness and he lingeringly kisses her there with aching tenderness.
Robert: With tears in his eyes, Robert gazes into his bride’s own teary eyes. “Cassie my Love, you are more lovely than I ever could have imagined.”
Cassie: Cassie can feel Robert pressing against her and she is no longer fearful of their union. “My Love.” She sighs in pleasure with the loving way he makes her feel.
Robert: Robert hesitates. “Oh Cassie, I love you so. But I do not really know how to make love with you.” He shakes his head, uncertain how to achieve their final joining coupling since this is his first time making love.
Cassie: “Oh Robert, you already are making love with me.” She whispers encouragingly. “I love you so.”
Then Cassie removes her arms from their nightgown sleeves and she wraps her now bare arms around her husband’s bare torso–beckoning Robert to her, even as she receives him. And Robert and Cassie join their bodies together with a dawning wonder of these pleasures meant only for each other. It is as if Robert and Cassie were always meant to be lovers as they rhythmically rock their bodies together in perfect shared accord. Robert becomes bolder, stronger, more urgent and then Cassie experiences a joy of such previously unknown bliss that she clings to Robert as her body trembles its sensual release. And with Cassie’s tremblings exciting him further, Robert also shudders with pleasure beyond his imaginings.
With tears of joy in their eyes, Cassie and Robert lie tenderly together in each others’ loving arms–in silent awe of what they just shared together as husband and wife, as lovers. Theirs is a deep and abiding love that will sustain Cassie and Robert in good times and in bad times–heart, and mind, and body, and soul. For today begins their new life that Robert and Cassie will build together–a promise of love unwavering and everlasting, forever.
“Ronan Keating – This I Promise You w/lyrics” [(15)]
To be continued with Chapter 31
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 (my cap).
2) The gardens at the Cassie Lowens Hatch home are simple and not grand like a true English Landscape Garden, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_landscape_garden
3) Cassie Hatch’s home’s small garden image is represented by http://www.nrgardendesign.co.uk/images/lrg_small_garden5_02.jpg
4) Information about the Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Travels, may be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulliver%27s_Travels
5) BeatriceToddler-image-is-child-from-MarieAntoinetteJul1013petitefillecom and was found at http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lovgumKw481r0ts0oo1_500.gif
6) Cassie lying in her garden image is Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette 2005 http://www.hotflick.net/flicks/2005_Marie_Antoinette/005MRA_Kirsten_Dunst_122.jpg
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) Image of Fr. Robert Hatch is of Matthew MacFadyen as Mr. Darcy in the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice was found at http://www.moviestarsindex.com/actors/Matthew_Macfadyen/MM_Darcy_5.jpg
9) A “chateleine” is a woman who runs and is mistressof a large home with more information found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatelaine
11) Lady Katharine in a blue gown is a composite Image of:
a) Carla Gugino as Nan (head only) in The Buccaneers 1995epi2 28mpix218 Mar2313GratianaLovelaceCapMaskHi-ResHairRev; and
b) the purple gown I changed to blue found at http://www.freewebs.com/behindthetapestry/1820eveningdress.htm
12) Lord Rafe image is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 1, pix 105, Mar2513 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode1/ns1-105.jpg
13) Image of Mrs. Cassandra Hatch in her wedding nightgown is a manip of :
a)is that of Kirsten Dunst as Marie Antoinette in the 2006 film of the same name and was found at http://www.marieantoinette.info/kirsten%20dunst%20marie%20antoinette%202.jpg and
b) Cassie’s wedding nightgown was found at http://blog.vintage-bliss.com/images/10.2008.Vintage-Nightgown-6.jpg
14) Fr. Robert Hatch image is Matthew MacFadyen as Darcy in the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice Jul2113movieclipcom, Cap by Gratiana Lovelace
15) “Ronan Keating – This I Promise You w/lyrics” in a music video by KrisKross75 that was found at
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 29 is: