“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 36 (PG): Pre-Christmas 1831 Brings Clarity to Anna’s Choice for Her Husband, August 28, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #443)
[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, King William IV and Queen Adelaide as themselves, 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: Sixteen year old Anna rather quickly narrowed down her suitor choices to Cadet Sir Stuart MacGregor and Lieutenant David Harriot after the Summer. Lord Lovaine was just too rakish even for the daughter of a former rake.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 36: Pre-Christmas 1831 Brings Clarity to Anna’s Choice for Her Husband
After her coming out ball in Spring 1831, Anna decided to allow both David and Stuart to court her during the Autumn of 1831 in her sixteenth year. She enjoys their company and they enjoy hers. Baroness Anna and Lady Marjorie sometimes even double date–with additional chaperones of course. They take rides in the park, attend musical concerts, and of course, enjoy the many festivities related to the coronation of King William IV and Queen Adelaide in September 1831.
The four of them seem to have ever so much more fun when their pairings are Anna and Stuart and then David and Marjie. However, it is when Baroness Anna and David are paired together for an outing that the four of them undertake that Stuart and Lady Marjorie seem less cheerful. But then why should they be cheerful–when they see their hearts love with another? On the cusp of becoming seventeen in the new year, Anna is mindful of everyone’s feelings. Baroness Anna’s joy at having two suitors is over shadowed by the knowledge that her happiness at choosing one man to marry will be cause the unhappiness for one of them–and perhaps her good friend, Lady Marjorie. Anna just wants to make sure that she is making the right choice of a husband for her. And both Stuart and David are still actively pursuing her–and her substantial 10,000 pound dowry [(2)], she realizes. Whereas David is also pursuing Lady Marjorie, Stuart has eyes only for Anna.
At the annual Christmas gathering of the Wingate’s and MacGregor’s at Dearing Manor in 1831–to which David Harriott, and his parents are also invited this year because of his relationship with Anna–the true love match for Anna will be revealed. And one young man will go away happily disappointed.
After the first day of arrivals and seeing every settled in the week before Christmas 1831, Anna and her good friend Lady Marjorie–who with her parents are also invited to stay with Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine for the holidays at their Dearing Manor Hunting Lodge home in Warwick–sit in a window seat at the Hunting Lodge, looking through frosted glass upon a snowy garden scene.
Lady Marjorie: “Thank you again for inviting us, Anna. This is my first house party in a long time.” Lady Marjorie smiles gratefully. Her parents spent almost all they had on her coming out ball last Spring and they do not have funds for extras. As it is, the Fotheringay’s have let out both their London Townhouse and the country estate for the holidays to recoup some funds. And it is the hardship of missing her family’s holiday traditions and memories that tinges Lady Marjorie’s face with sadness.
Anna: “We are glad that you and your parents could join us, Marjie. Grandmama always has a houseful–what with family and the MacGregors who always come. And this year the Harriotts who came to stay because … well … they’re here, too.”
Anna flusters. She is a bit discomfitted about David Harriott because she knows that her friend Lady Marjorie likes him, a lot–and David likes Lady Marjorie a lot. But there is an impediment–or two. David’s parents though wealthy in their own right, had hoped that whomever David would choose for his bride would still bring a substantial dowry–even if it were only half of Anna’s 10,000 pound dowry. Whereas, Lady Marjorie’s parents while liking that David is a wealthy gentleman–and the Fotheringay’s being an impoverished noble family, their daughter needs to marry into wealth to stabilize their fortunes–David is not titled. And his lack of title is off putting to Lady Marjorie’s parents.
Lady Marjorie: “Do not worry, Anna. I have long since resigned myself to you and David becoming betrothed and I will have to seek a husband elsewhere. Besides, though David is quite wealthy–and even though he is not titled being one of my parents objections–my parents will not accept that he wishes to travel with his military service, and take his wife with him–me, if I am chosen.” Lady Marjorie looks away from her good friend Baroness Anna, with tears in her eyes–for she loves David Harriott and she believes he loves her. But Lady Marjorie is a realist and she knows that her good friend Anna’s rank and dowry make her the sought after prize.
Anna: “Marjie, you need not be so resigned. I lilke David, enormously–and we get on well with each other.” Lady Marjorie nods silently, but she cannot look at her friend, Baroness Anna. “However, I do not feel more for David.”
Lady Marjorie: She turns to face her friend with a small look of hope upon her countenance. “And you feel more with Stuart?”
Anna: “I think I do.” Anna hesitantly admits. “But I do not want to conflate my childhood crush on Stuart with the romantic love that I hope to share with my future husband. I am so confused.” Anna shakes her head. “Sometimes Stuart seems like he is the only one my heart wants. But as of yet, I cannot be certain.”
Lady Marjorie: “Anna, Stuart is attentive to you and clearly loves you if the way he looks at you is any indication of his feelings.”
Anna: “How does he look at me?” She asks a bit astonished
Lady Marjorie: “He follows your every move when you are in the same room–he does not take his eyes off of you.”
Anna: “Oh! Stuart is merely jealous of David’s attentions toward me.” Anna rolls her eyes. “Men!”
Lady Majorie: “No Anna, I see deep love in Stuart’s eyes for you.” She says sincerely. For all her wishing to be in as good a position to seek a husband as her good friend Baroness Anna is, Lady Marjorie does not begrudge her friend Anna’s good fortune.
Anna: “Then why has Stuart not tried to kiss me?” I pout forlornly.
Lady Marjorie: “But I thought you said he had kissed your cheek at your coming out ball? And even that might be considered improperly familiar of him.” She states primly.
Anna: “Are you telling me that you would marry a man whom you had not kissed?” I challenge her.
Lady Marjorie: “No!” I say hoarsely and look away. I cannot face what I know will be her next question.
Anna: “Marjie? Have you been kissed?” Marjie says nothing, but she blushes crimson. “Come now, you must tell me.” Anna insists agog with this juicy romantic notion.
Lady Marjorie: “I would be ruined were it ever to get out that a man–not my betrothed nor my husband–kissed me on my lips.”
Anna: “Oooh! What was it like? Did you swoon? Have you kissed more than once?” Anna peppers her friend with questions. “Of course, it was David.” She smiles at surmising who the culprit was.
Lady Marjorie: Paling considerably such that she might fade into the cream colored walls. “No.” Lady Marjorie says barely above a whisper.
Anna: Anna’s eyes widen. “No? But who could it have been?”
Lady Marjorie: “The brigand stole my first kiss from me. I did not invite his kiss, nor did I enjoy it.” Her voice rises in indignation.
Anna: “Who was it?” Anna cannot think whom among their acquaintance would be so bold and so reckless.
Lady Marjorie: “Can you not guess who would be such a cad as to affront a lady’s honor and steal her first kiss?”
Anna: “Lord Lovaine!” Anna exclaims in hushed realization.
Lady Marjorie: Lady Marjorie nods fearfully. “I have told no one–not even Mama. For she would make Papa call Lord Lovaine out and duel–and my Papa would die. And I would die of the shame of being exposed as a loose woman, and no one would want to marry me, and we will all be ruined for my shame.” She buries her face into her hands and weeps. She is, perhaps, being a bit dramatic. But Lady Marjorie’s family’s financial position is precarious at present–so she is a little more anxious than she might normally be. She knows that her family’s fate rests with her making a good marriage. That is quite a burden to place upon a tender sixteen year old’s shoulders.
Anna: Anna puts her arms around her friend to console her. “Marjie, it was not your fault that he kissed you. And you were right not to say anything to your parents–let alone to David. For David would surely call Lord Lovaine out. Especially since David is so masterful with his swordplay, he would expect to win.” Anna remembers Lady Marjorie’s coming out ball when David demonstrated his graceful precision moves with his sword.
Lady Marjorie: “How can I marry any man now?”
Anna: Anna looks at her friend askance, the rolls her eyes. “Marjie, there is scarcely a woman Lord Lovaine has not kissed–so you are in good company.”
Lady Marjorie: “But what about my honor?” Her bottom lip trembles.
Anna: “Marjie, only three people know that your honor has been … imposed upon–you, me, and Lord Lovaine. And he might be a cad–but he seems to be a discreet cad with regard to not being the one to divulge his amours’ names. The less said the better.”
Lady Marjorie: “But if David and I do become betrothed, he will have to know.” She shakes her head forlornly.
Anna: “Why!” She whines. “Are you going to make David tell you about all of his conquests?”
Lady Marjorie: “David has had conquests?” This news is a revelation to her.
Living such a sheltered life, Lady Marjorie has not been privy to gossip about David Harriott’s romantic escapades before he settled down last year and started to search for a wife.
Anna: “See? You do not want nor need to know about David’s past.” Anna raises a knowing eyebrow. Her Mama Lady Katharine cautioned her about Lord Lovaine. “Nor does he need to know of yours.”
Lady Marjorie: She perks up a bit. “There is logic in that. I would not be lying to him, just not offering information that he does not request.” Lady Marjorie smiles as one for whom her friend’s rational is more than agreeable to her.
Anna: Clapping her hands together in having convinced her friend of the wisdom of her silence on the matter of kissing, Baroness Anna says with glee. “Well then, I suggest you start taking David’s attentions to you more seriously.”
The young ladies then turn their attention to their men and their fathers standing around the fireplace in deep concentration, wondering what is being said.
Lord Rafe at 33 years of age is a man in his prime–tall, virile, agile, and blessed with a loving and harmonious family. Lord Fotheringay is slightly older than Lord Rafe by ten years–a somewhat shorter man than Lord Rafe, and with a decidedly prosperus looking rounded physique–and with graying hair that still looks quite distinguished. The cut of Lord Fotheringay’s clothing is also quite fine, though his well cared for garments are at least ten years old and perhaps a bit out of fashion. But then, Lord Fotheringay prefers to spend what little monies they have for fripperies on his daughter, Lady Marjorie–so that she might make a good match before the the state of their diminished finances is more universally known.
Having been well aware of the financial misfortunes befalling his daughter Anna’s friend Lady Marjorie Fotheringay’s family being due to their honor forestalling them profiteering as some less reputable lords might have, Lord Rafe has discreetly kept abreast of situations that might be advantageous to Lord Fotheringay. So Lord Rafe was delighted when their family friend’s need and the country’s needs coalesced.
Lord Rafe: “Lord Fotheringay, I hope that you will not think it presumptuous of me, but after your inspiring speech in the House of Lords about the importance of innovation and scientific discovery to England maintaining and furthering our prominence in the world–in support of the new British Association for the Advancement of Science established in September [(3)]–I was asked to recommend someone for a cabinet post. And I gave the Prime Minister your name as a man of uncommon vision and devotion to the nation.”
Lord Fotheringay: “My word! Lord Rafe, I am deeply honored!” Both men bow deferentially to each other. Despite their currently diminished fortunes, the Fotheringay’s have always served king and country with distinction.
Lord Rafe: “Then might I tell the Prime Minister that were he to officially tender you an invitation for a cabinet post, that you will accept?” This is always how these things are done–for no Prime Minster wants to be refused.
Lord Fotheringay: “You may. I am ever at my country’s service.” Lord Fotheringay bows again. The two men smile
Deciding that if he does not act now, he might never have the courage, Stuart MacGregor turns to Lord Rafe Wingate, Anna’s father.
Stuart: “Lord Rafe?” He never uses such formality when speaking with his godfather and honorary uncle. But Stuart feels that the occasion calls for it.
Lord Rafe: Looking at his godson wryly quizzically, also noting the formality, Lord Rafe replies. “Yes, Stuart?”
Stuart: “Might I have a private word with you in your study? It is of the utmost importance.” He says earnestly.
Lord Rafe: “Very well. Follow me. Excuse me, gentlemen.” The men bow. Sir Colin MacGregor, Stuart’s father, is particularly anxious to learn of the outcome of this meeting.
Lord Rafe guides Stuart down the hall to his study with his books, desk where he manages the estate for his Papa who gladly cedes the reigns to someone younger–his own son who will inherit the Dearing Manor Estate one day. Lord Rafe sits behind his desk to the side of the fireplace and motions for Stuart to take a seat in front of him. At first, there is silence. Lord Rafe recalls his own such meeting with Lady Katharine’s father five years ago and he smiles at Stuart’s nervousness.
Lord Rafe: “Stuart, You have something you wish to say? Something that you wish to ask me?” He prods.
Stuart: “Yes! I love Anna! And I want to marry her!”
Lord Rafe: Lord Rafe carefully considers his reply. “And have you asked Anna yet?”
Stuart: “No! I thought it right and proper to first seek your permission, Uncle Rafe.” Stuart slips in his formality. Or, is Stuart strategically reminding Lord Rafe of their families’ long standing association.
Lord Rafe: “Very good.” Lord Rafe nods. “And do you have any indication that Anna’s feelings correspond to yours?”
Stuart: “I do not know.” He admits honestly.
Lord Rafe: “You … do not … know?” Lord Rafe looks at his godson askance. Of course when Lord Rafe was smitten with Lady Katharine, he was so confident that his own love would bind them together that he had no doubts. And in the end, Lord Rafe’s tender wooing of his wife after their marriage was evidence of his trust in his own judgements.
Stuart: “Uncle Rafe, it is so difficult when we are always in company to find a private moment with Baroness Anna.”
Lord Rafe: “Yes, propriety must be observed.” He says sagely. “But, my boy, love sometimes needs a little boost.” Loathe to ask Stuart how far his attentions to his daughter Anna have progressed, Lord Rafe still wishes to impart some advice. “Ladies want to be wooed, flattered, adored. And we men find our true calling in granting them their wish.” Lord Rafe smiles. Though one hopes that when he counsels his own sons in the future, that he will be a little less vague.
Stuart: “Yes, Uncle Rafe. There is also another matter that I wish to discuss with you directly.”
Lord Rafe: “Ask away.”
Stuart: “I have a condition upon Anna accepting my hand in marriage.”
Lord Rafe: “Oh?” Lord Rafe wonders if Anna’s illegitimate birth circumstances will now rear its ugly head again.
Stuart: “I know that I am but a cadet now, but I will graduate from the academy at the end of this year and obtain my first posting. Papa said that he will purchase a commission for me in the North if I so choose.”
Lord Rafe: “Very commendable.” Lord Rafe wishes that Stuart would come to the point. “And?”
Stuart: “I hope for Anna and I to marry when she turns 18 in a little over one year’s time. And initially, my salary will be small–425 pounds per annum. But additionally, I have a small 100 pound per annum family stipend upon which to draw for our needs. And though I would find a 100 pound per annum allowance from you for Anna acceptable, I do not wish for us to have her dowry money at our disposal just yet.”
Lord Rafe: Taken aback since suitors generally do not refuse to receive their wife’s dowry, he asks. “Might I inquire as to your purpose in making this request? Though Anna lived humbly the first eleven years of her life, in the past five years she has become accustomed to a certain level of comfort as my daughter–new clothes when she wants them, a ladies maid, and such.”
Stuart: “It is just that–though it might be prideful on my part–I wish to provide for my bride. We will be with other officers in similar financial circumstances. I do not want us singled out for our wealth–nor that it be known that Anna is an heiress, lest people think that I am insincere in my love for her.”
Lord Rafe: “Your wealth, Stuart?”
Stuart: “Yes, Uncle Rafe. I, too, have a dowry of sorts. My family stipend monies come from a bequest from my mother’s late father–who had no sons. It is 20,000 pounds–the interest income of which will serve our needs nicely.” Stuart smiles to have gotten out his secret–that he has a dowry, too.
Lord Rafe: “Well, it will be an interesting experiment to say the least. Stuart, I suggest that you find Anna this instant and make your feelings and your marriage conditions known to her. It will be up to her to decide if she will accept you, or not. You already have my blessing.” Lord Rafe smiles.
Stuart: “Thank you, Uncle Rafe!” Stuart bounds out of his chair and nearly falls forward because he had tangled his leg around one of the chair’s legs. But he catches himself–such a difference five years makes. “I will.”
Stuart leaves Lord Rafe quickly and returns to the parlor. He spots Anna in the corner chatting with Lady Marjorie. Everyone in the room stops talking to each other as Stuart purposefully strides toward her.
Stuart: “Baroness Anna. I beg that you will accompany me to … to ….” Stuart had not thought his plan through. Where will he take her in the Hunting Lodge where they might speak privately with each other?
Lord Rafe: In a booming voice, Lord Rafe says. “To Lady Katharine’s sitting room.” Then he leans down and kisses his wife’s temple. “You twill not mind, my Angel?”
Lady Katharine: Smiling knowingly. “Not at all.”
Stuart: “Thank you, Uncle Rafe.”
So Stuart clasps Anna’s hand his his and gently tugs her to stand up. Then Stuart strides eagerly out of the room–with Anna struggling to keep up with him as her voluminous pink skirts billow out before her. Everyone in the room looks astonished, then knowing smiles replace their questioning glances.
Upon reaching the small sitting room–finding its cozy fire emitting a pleasing warmth to quell the chill of this cold December evening. Stuart lets Anna’s hands go and she walks over to the window, the sun has not yet set. She is nervous. Anna has never seen Stuart act this way. So, so, commandingly. Anna looks at Stuart questioningly [(4) left]. She finds him handsome with his moustache and goatee he let grow out while on holiday from his military duties.
Stuart: Stuart [(5) right] is at first cautious, as his penetrating gaze fixes upon Anna as he removes his cravat and loosens his collar. “Anna, I have a question to ask you. And your answer will either give us both joy, or give us both a lifetime of regret.” His voice smoulders as he walks toward her.
Anna: Looking up at Stuart with widened eyes, she asks him. “Stuart! What has come over you? You are like a different person than the boy I know.”
Stuart: Stuart’s voice deeply smoulders his ardor for her. “Anna, I am no longer a boy. And you are no longer a girl. You are a beautiful young woman. And I am the man who loves you beyond measure! It is time that we stopped our childish dance and truly begin our lives together as husband and wife.”
Anna: “You are very sure of yourself, Stuart.” She looks at him wonderingly.
Stuart: Stopping and standing directly in front of Anna, gazing down upon her startled upturned face. Stuart’s hand caresses her face and Anna closes her eyes. He leans down to her. “My Love.” He says with a longing of years of love and tenderness that he has nurtured for this young lady he would have as his wife.
Then Stuart’s lips brush Anna’s lips ever so gently before pressing more firmly over her mouth. They fit perfectly together. [(6) right]
Anna: “Hmm.” She whimpers.
Stuart’s other arm embraces Anna’s waist and draws her toward him as he continues to kiss her again, and again, and again, and again. She does not resist and soon begins to kiss him back as her arms reach up to cling to him around his neck–her fingers running through the back of his hair. Feeling emboldened, Stuart pulls Anna’s body flush against his body as he now deepens their kiss as his tongue gently outlines her lower lip until she parts her lips in surprise. Stuart’s tongue trespasses and twines with Anna’s tongue as she trembles in his arms.
Stuart: He pulls back from kissing her, his ragged breathing betraying his aroused state. “So Anna, you will consent, and accept my marriage proposal?”
Anna: Opening her eyes and her heart, she sighs. “Yes!”
Now Anna reaches up and draws Stuart’s head down to hers again and she eagerly kisses him. She is aflutter with new sensations of tingles that seem to inhabit every inch of her body. She had not realized how powerful kisses can be–for she nearly swoons with his ardent tenderness.
Their attitude of kissing lovers continues for some time–though Stuart is careful to check himself from losing control with Anna. That will have to wait for their wedding night. If he could wed her this night and have her in his bed, he would gladly suffer any censure to do so. Being almost twenty and unmarried, is very trying for a young man. But he also knows that she will be his in one year’s time.
Meanwhile, David Harriott makes a beeline for Lady Marjorie sitting on the window seat by herself–and he joins her there.
David: “Dear Lady Marjorie. I hear that felicitations are in order for your Papa will be elevated to an advisory position in the government.”
Lady Marjorie: “Thank you! Lord Rafe is so kind to recommend Papa.”
David: “And it would seem that our friends Stuart and Anna are becoming betrothed. It is a night for betrothals, is it not?
Lady Marjorie: “Yes.” I smile shyly at him.
David: “Then I should tell you that I intend to make you my bride and adore you for the rest of your life.”
Lady Marjorie: She smiles impishly for she cannot contain her joy. “Yes please.”
Then they kiss–for the first time. Sometimes a happy disappointment leads to a great joy.
To be continued with Chapter 37
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) 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
3) The British Associaitonforthe Advancment of Science was established on September 27, 1831; for more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Association_for_the_Advancement_of_Science
4) Anna Wingate at 18 image is Samantha Mathis as Amy
(my cap) in the 1994 film Little Women and was found at
5) Stuart MacGregor image (crop, brt, clr, shrp, hi-res)is Christian Bale as Theodore Laurence grown up in 1994’s Little Women was found at
6) Image of Christian Bale as Stuart and Samantha Mathis as Anna-pix8 are them in 1994LittleWomenJun2913nytimescom-GratianaLovelaceCapCrop2Hi-res
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 35 is: https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/love-is-a-choice-ch-35-pg-13-courtship-uncertainties-and-children-collide-august-20-2013-gratiana-lovelace-post-439/