“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 34: Anna’s Coming Out Ball, August 12, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #438)
(An original story by Gratiana Lovelace; All Rights Reserved)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, Lady Violet Henderson as Lady Leonora Wingate, Emilie Francois as the child Anna Wingate and Samantha Mathis as the young lady 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, Dominic Cooper as Algernon Percy Lord Lovaine, Rose Byrne as Lady Marjorie, and others, etc.] [Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to some mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links I cite contain general information merely to indicate that a place, person, or artifact, etc., possibly existed. Though I try to use real locations in England and I make reference to some historically complementary information whenever possible, the fictionalized history that I write about for these towns, towns folks, and areas in my story are mostly figments of my imagination and should not be taken as fact.
Author’s Recap from the previous installment: The now sixteen year old Baroness Anna Wingate attended her first coming out ball of the 1831 London Season last week–for her friend Lady Marjorie’s ball. Nineteen year old Stuart MacGregor had been romantically distracted from Anna for a time his last year at Eton by his secret crush on a comely stage actress–his lack of monthly letters annoying Anna–but he is now a new Cadet in Training and hopes to win her favor in his new uniform. However, David Harriott–Stuart’s senior by four years in in age and a new Lieutenant–is more skilled and polished. And David is also interested in Baroness Anna. And Lady Leonora confided to Queen Adelaide that the responses to Anna’s ball this week have been slow to come. So a few hints that she and King William will attend to a select few is hoped to swell the numbers at Anna’s coming out ball to 100. Time will tell if either of these young men–Stuart or David–or someone else–wins Anna’s hand in marriage.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 34: Anna’s Coming Out Ball
Anna Wingate, Baroness of Warwick, stands dutifully in the receiving line for her coming out ball this Friday evening in mid April 1831. Her gown is of the finest pale pink silk organza over pale pink satin–with delicate gold lace and embroidery trimmings around the bodice and down the front over skirting, finished off by long white kid gloves [(2) right]. Anna looks resplendent in her gown–like a princess–befitting the daughter of a Lord, the granddaughter of a Marquess, and a Baroness in her own right.
As Anna is introduced to each noble family, she smiles politely, curtsies, and makes engaging small talk about the recent flower show, the delightfully calm and rain free weather, and that family’s pets which she has been told about. Her Papa Lord Rafe and Mama Lady Katharine could not be more proud of her–especially so when King William and Queen Adelaide arrive last as their most distinguished guest, and Anna performs a flawless deep curtsy to the King and Queen of England, King William IV and Queen Adelaide [(3)].
Anna takes particular note of the eligible bachelors present–whom her Mama has briefed her on regarding their various interests and pursuits should Anna wish to engage them in conversation while dancing or drinking punch. Aside from Cadet Stuart MacGregor and Lieutenant David Harriott, there are the following noble gentlemen–with the potential suitors categorized by Anna according to their interests:
First we have Lord Henry Brandon, Earl of Lincoln and 2nd son of the Duke of Suffolk [(4)] who is a young man of sixteen, just Anna’s age and still studying at Eton. Anna has heard that he likes to ride his horse Zephyr like the wind–to which the state of his wildly unruly locks seem to attest. But he cuts a fine figure in his dress breeches and tail coat. Yet after greeting Anna, she thinks that he seems more interested in the food than in her–since he gets himself some punch and a plate of sandwiches, but none for her.
Then there is Lord Rodney Howard, Earl of Marshall, and the Duke of Norfolk’s [(5)] second son who has an extensive insect collection–beetles and butterflies mostly–gathered over nearly all of his 30 years. Anna finds that the spectacles he wears due to taxing his eyes too much with his scientific observations, are less off putting than the tweezers that he carries in his pocket to use in case he comes across any interesting specimens to add to his collections. And at fourteen years her senior, Anna considers him too old–and perhaps not husband material.
Finally, there is Algernon George Percy, aged 21 and already a Member of Parliament for Bere Alston [(6)]. Though being the direct heir of his father, the fifth Duke of Northumberland, Algernon, Lord Lovaine has political ambitions. And despite his seemingly serious brow [(7) right], his earnestness appeals to Anna–her having come from modest beginnings and liking that Lord Lovaine is civic minded like her Papa Lord Rafe and his good friend Sir Colin MacGregor, Lord Magistrate of Oxford. And Algernon George Percy, Lord Lovaine, is devilishly handsome, too, thinks Anna. And similar to Lord Byron, Lord Lovaine is “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” [(7b)].
There are various and sundry other guests with cousins and lesser nobles in attendance at Anna’s coming out ball that has swelled to 150 with the knowledge that their majesties were in attendance.
So after all of the greetings have been made, sixteen year old Baroness Anna takes a quick respite to sit down before the dancing starts as she chats with her good friend sixteen year old Lady Marjorie Fotheringay–whose coming out ball Anna attended last week. They sit in a quiet alcove sipping punch and ruminating about their prospects.
Marjie: “No!” Lady Marjorie [(8) right] sighs dejectedly. “Not a one! My coming out ball was last week and I have only five potential suitors. I am ruined!” She pouts melodramatically.
Anna: “Now Marjie. Your coming out ball was the first of the season. Maybe the gentlemen are pacing themselves, not wanting to commit to a lady so early.”
This thought brightens her friend’s countenance.
Marjie: “That would make sense.” She smiles. “I am certainly not committing to anyone until they are thoroughly vetted.”
Anna: “Did you at least receive some cards?”
Marjie: “Oh yes, some perfunctory ones–the various ducal heirs and a few minor viscounts.” She rolls her eyes and wrinkles up her nose. “If I must marry a Duke to raise our fortunes, then I at least want a royal duke, or to be a princess of a faraway land. Though Algernon Percy, Lord Lovaine is quite handsome. Oh! And your cousin by marriage, Lieutenant David Harriott [(9) right] sent me his card–with a note even.” She shrugs her shoulders indicating a slight interest in David.
Anna: Now Anna is the one whose coutenance looks forlorn–thinking that she had captured David’s attention last week at Marjie’s party. “He did?” Her friend nods enthusiastically.Then Anna looks across the room at David chatting with his sister Lady Lucinda Southwick–her Uncle Percival’s Southwick’s wife.
But Anna cannot ponder David’s fickleness for too long since her Mama Lady Katharine [(10) right]standing next to her Papa Lord Rafe beckons to her to come to them. The dancing will begin with Lord Rafe dancing with his daughter, Baroness Anna.
Baroness Anna rises from the sette where her friend Lady Marjorie still sits. Her Papa Lord Rafe holds out his arms to her and she gracefully crosses the room in a hush of admiring whispers. She takes her Papa’s hands and he guides her to the center of the ballroom floor. The other couples–some fathers and daughters as well–wait around the perimeter. This is Anna’s moment in the sun–dancing with her Papa at the beginning of her coming out ball in her first London Season.
Then Lord Rafe bows and Anna curtsies before he gently puts his right hand around her waist and holds her right hand in his left hand. The music begins–a slow Viennese waltz [(11)]. At first, they do not move, waiting for the musical introduction to end. And then slowly, gently, Lord Rafe guides his daughter around the room–turning her so that all may see her sweet and pure maiden beauty. Then, the other couples slowly join them on the dance floor–but still leaving a respectful distance apart from them so that they may enjoy the waltz fully and not be crushed by the overwhelming number of couples.
Lord Rafe: Smiling with a pride that only a father can feel, Lord Rafe [(12) right] shares his heart with his daughter. “Have I told you lately how beautiful you are, Anna Sweetheart?”
Anna: “Am I, Papa? Truly?” She asks shyly looking up at her tall and handsome father, Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe: “You are exquisite, my Dear. And I am so proud of the young lady that you have become–as is your Mama.” He pauses. “And I know that your late Mama, Fanny is proud of you as well.”
Anna: Tearing up, but not wanting to become red faced or blotchy, Anna maintains her composure. “Thank you, Papa. I feel very blessed to have you as my Papa and Kathy as my Mama.” But not all tears can be stopped. “I only wish …”
Lord Rafe: “I know, Sweetheart. I know.” There are tears in his eyes as well. “But remember your Mama Fanny’s words in her note to you before she died, Your happiness is my happiness. She is happy now, Anna, very very happy.”
Anna: “Thank you, Papa–for always letting me remember my first Mama.”
Lord Rafe: “You’re welcome, Anna Sweetheart. And thank you, Anna, for being my daughter.”
Lord Rafe and his daughter Baroness Anna share a bond of love and understanding that grows stronger every passing year. And Anna’s coming out ball tonight is their celebration of the little family they have made together with Anna and her brothers and sister and her Mama and Papa, grandparents, and extended family. Lady Leonora and Lord Charles Wingate as grandparents, and Anna’s Aunts and Uncles also share in their pride in her this night.
Lord Rafe and his daughter Baroness Anna gracefully whirl around the dance floor to the strains of the lovely waltz. And when the waltz ends, they step back from each other–Lord Rafe bows and Baroness Anna curtsies. Then Lord Rafe guides Anna over to his Majesty King William IV. Lord Rafe bows deeply, Anna’s curtsy goes all the way to the floor. Then his Majesty guides Anna onto the dance floor for their charming waltz.
After this second dance, there is a break in the music as everyone begins to partner up for the remaining dances. Anna looks around the room, wondering whom shall be her next partner since her Mama Lady Katharine is carefully overseeing her dance card this evening–making sure that only sincerely interested gentleman of quality with good prospects will dance with her daughter, no fortune hunters.
Anna sees her cousin by marriage Lieutenant David Harriott in his smart red regimentals chatting with her friend Lady Marjorie. David is once again assigned to protect his majesty and wears his sword in a ceremonial capacity. Anna thinks that her friend Marjie and David would be a good match–since David has plenty of money and can choose the wife his heart wants. And though Marjie’s family needs some funds to keep them afloat, Marjie will do as Anna will do and only marry for love. Anna’s considerable dowry will insure that she may have the husband of her own choosing. Anna also sees Algernon Percy, Lord Lovaine staring at her in a particularly deliciously unsettling way–her thinking that he will make someone a wicked husband one day, but not her.
Then Anna sees Stuart MacGregor [(13) right] approaching her and she is stilled by his tender gaze. Stuart is in formal white tie and tails. He is not wearing his red regimentals as a new Cadet tonight–so no sword to accidently knock someone down with, she thinks amusingly and smiles at him. Stuart reaches Anna and bows deeply. She curtsies to him.
Stuart: “Baroness Anna, may I have the pleasure of this dance?” He smiles with hopeful expectation.
Anna looks over at her Mama Lady Katharine to make sure that she is allowed to dance with Stuart this dance–and not slighting someone else already promised to dance with her. Lady Katharine nods and smiles to Anna–indicating that Stuart is her dance partner.
Anna: “I will be pleased to dance with you Stuart.”
Once again, Anna is guided to the center of the ballroom floor and they begin to dance to a waltz. Lady Katharine is breaking with tradition by grouping the dances together according to type, rather than rotating them throughout the evening. It is easier for partners to keep track of who is dancing with whom that way.
As Stuart and Anna dance around the room, Stuart decides to tell Anna of his prospects and feelings.
Stuart: “You look very pretty tonight, Baroness Anna.” He smiles.
Anna: Feeling a bit petulant–and wanting him to work for it–she challenges him. “Only pretty? My Papa told me that I am beautiful tonight.”
Stuart: “Of course you are beautiful, and lovely, and charming, and enchanting.” He gushes.
Anna: “Hmmm. Then why did you not say so at first?” She bats her eyelashes at him coquettishly.
Stuart: “Because, when I saw you as I was walking toward you, I was overcome and could not find the words to adequately express how lovely you look.” He pleads for understanding.
Anna: “Well, I guess that is alright. As long as you do think that I am beautiful.”
Stuart: “I do–so much that I ache to take you into my arms and to kiss you until you say that you will marry me in two years.” He blurts out.
Anna: Anna looks at Stuart in shock. This is a new side to Stuart, a romantic side. Of course she is delighted–to have a marriage proposal with only her third dance. But … will Stuart get her some punch if she wants it? Or will he give her flowers? Hmmm. “Stuart, your declaration of your feelings for me is rather sudden.”
Stuart: “I do not know how that you can think that, Anna. Have I not been writing to you for five years? Do we not spend Summer and Christmas Holidays together? Have we not shared precious moments that only the closest of intimates might share?”
Anna: “Stuart, you speak in too forward a manner. Wehave not shared any intimacies.” She states categorically in case anyone else is eavesdropping on their conversation as they dance.
Stuart: “No of course not. Please let me rephrase my thoughts. I was referring to a time when you first came to be a Wingate–when we each were so young and uncertain about our place in the world that we found solace in each other. And I was referring to consoling you about your late Mama Fanny’s passing as we solemnly laid her to rest at Dearing Manor.”
Anna: “Oh Stuart.” She tears up and they slow down their dancing and step off to the side of the ballroom and out one of the French doors onto the veranda in the moonlight.
Stuart: “ I am sorry, Anna. I did not mean to make you sad. I only meant to plead my case to become your husband in two years.”
Anna: Now Anna picks up on Stuart’s time frame. “Stuart, I am loathe to accept any man’s offer of marriage who has not courted me properly–as is the normal custom. But why wait two years to marry? You say that you are eager, then you seem not so.” And she thinks, I am not going to agree to marry anyone that I have not kissed. Maybe I will not like kissing Stuart. Then again, maybe I will. She is conflicted. Well, Anna is only sixteen.
However the cloak of evening with only the silvery moonlight to illumine their conversation, emboldens Stuart as he lifts Anna’s hand to his lips for a kiss.
Stuart: “Oh Anna, I am eager.” His voice becomes very deep, almost a growl. That is, if a nineteen year old can growl. “I would take you as my wife this instant, but for the limitations of my position in providing for your comfort. I am a Cadet. I will not graduate from the academy for two years. And then, I hope to purchase a commission in a nearby regiment so that we will have money to live on. We will live modestly at first, but I hope to progress through the ranks until such time that I will retire from active service and then take up a life devoted to the law and improving my fellow man’s condition. I might even enter politics.”
Anna: “Stuart! Waiting two years is not necessary. I do have a dowry, Stuart!” She taps her foot. Does he not know that I am an heiress, I think petulantly? I have a 10,000 pound dowry! [(14)]
Stuart: “Anna, I am certain that your Papa has provided for you admirably.” Stuart is thinking along the lines of Anna probably having a 500 pound dowry–because that was his Mama’s dowry, twenty years ago. “But those funds should be kept for your own person as a security in your old age. I will provide for my wife.” He says pridefully.
Anna looks at Stuart thunderstruck. Does he have no idea how high Anna might aim for a husband, given her dowry, title, and connections? She is also a little prideful at the moment–not the least of which is that her family has surrounded her within a cocoon of protectiveness from the spitefulness of others regarding the circumstances of her birth.
And as the good book says, “pride goeth before a fall” [(15)].
Anna: “Thank you, Stuart. That is very kind of you. I will consider what you have said, but do not presume we are pledged. And whomever I will allow to court me must first apply to my Papa–who might turn him down.”
Stuart: “Oh!” He looks upon Anna with uncertainty. “Anna, you are all my hopes and dreams. If I cannot have you, I will have no other for my wife.”
Anna: “Hmmm.” I like Stuart’s new romantic way of talking to me.”
Lady Katharine: “Kkkh! Oh Anna dear.” I call to her from the doorway. “Algernon Percy, Lord Lovaine is your dance partner for the next song–and then Lieutenant David Harriott is after that.”
Anna: “Thank you, Mama. Stuart and I were just enjoying the lovely evening and the fresh air. The ballroom was becoming a bit stuffy. Thank you for the dance, Stuart.” I curtsy to him and he bows. Then I walk toward Mama and she guides me back into the ballroom–leaving Stuart to contemplate his next move.
All I can say about my coming out ball is that it was wonderful! We danced until 4 o’clock in the morning. I had no less than fifteen different dance partners that my Mama kept rotating in. I cannot say that I want to marry any of the gentlemen at the moment. They all seem pleasant enough and they can offer me different advantages. But as Marjie and I have pledged to each other, we will only marry someone for love. So, I have to see who applies to court me and who sends cards then choose someone to court me from them.
I will have to winnow the list of my potential husbands down to a manageable few. Hopefully, I will be able to get to the romantic courting part soon–poetry, posies, and punch, etc. But whom shall it be? Stuart MacGregor who is so passionate for me all of a sudden is a possibility. However, David Harriott has always treated me specially. Or perhaps the rakish Lord Lovaine might be an unexpected choice. Marjie would be green with envy were I to be courted by him. And Papa would have heart failure. Ha! Time will tell–and attending more balls this season. Hmmm.
To be continued with Chapter 35
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) Anna’s coming out ball gown (gold changed to pink) was found at http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-v4ZGlEnAB-E/Tj3NZoGTd-I/AAAAAAAAAko/5HH_LbmX3hY/s640/Ball+Gown.jpg
3) King William IV of England ruled from June 1830 until his death in 1837. His wife was Queen Adelaide. For more information visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_IV_of_the_United_Kingdom
4) Though I have used some “family names” in the Duke of Suffolk lineage, my characters are fictionalized and not real persons . The Duke of Suffolk title was made “extinct” by the deaths of the two sons of Charles Brandon, the 1st Duke of Suffolk who had lived after him, but died in a flu epidemic in 1551 when they were teenagers at school’. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Brandon,_1st_Duke_of_Suffolk ; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Brandon,_3rd_Duke_of_Suffolk
5) Again, I am fictionalizing noble sons for the purpose of story line. For information about the real Duke’s of Norfolk, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_Edward_Howard,_12th_Duke_of_Norfolk
6) Algernon George Percy, 1810 – 1899—known as Lord Lovaine from1830 – 1865)– became the 6th Duke of Northumberland in 1865. He was a real person, though I have used dramatic license regarding his personal history for the purposes of this story. For historical information about this Duke, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algernon_Percy,_6th_Duke_of_Northumberland
7a) The image (cropped, clr, hi-res,shrp) used for Algernon George Percy,Lord Lovaine—who will become the 6th Duke of Northumberland in 1865–is actor Dominc Cooper as Charles Grey in the 2007 film The Duchess and was found at http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5fJOqmcNUic/UTJJp0CfMHI/AAAAAAAAEK8/mo3kXh8JTxw/s320/130948_1224535969520_full.jpg the image was also linked to http://theliferandomthoughtsofindigomontoya.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html
8) Lady Marjorie Fotheringay image (hi-res, clr, shrp) is Rose Byrne as Countess de Polignac in the 2006 film Marie Antoinette Aug1213 from tumblr and was found at http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lkjhjjM0W71qhtvklo1_500.jpg
9) David Harriott image (jacket changed to red) is of Raymond Coulthard as Frank Churchill in Emma 1996 May1913austenitisblogspot was found at
10) Lady Katharine image is Carla Gugino as Duchess Nan- in 1995 The Buccaneers Aug0813 Gratiana Lovelace vlcsnap -2013-03-14-09h51m15s248-Crop-Hi-res-brt
11) For somehistory about the waltz, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waltz
12) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, sharpened, color) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2 pix 106, and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-106.jpg
13) Stuart MacGregor image (cropped, brt, hi-res) is Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence in the 1994 film Little Women capped from a promo video by blackoutbird found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Jd3hbSLh-w
14) According to Wiki, one pound in the 1820’s is worth 85 pounds now. So Baroness Anna’s 10,000 pound dowry would be worth 850,000 pounds in today’s values; for more information visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_much_was_a_pound_worth_in_England_in_the_1800%27s
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch.33 is: http://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/love-is-a-choice-ch-33-pg-13-the-extended-wingate-family-and-friends-four-years-later-in-1831-august-08-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-437/