Posted on 2014-12-31
Anne started helping in an entirely new way shortly after they returned to South Park. One of the footmen became ill with a hacking cough and Anne was to assist in his care. She needed more experience in caring for the ill than her visits to tenants had provided.
Mrs. Craig called Anne to her sitting room for a discussion. "You may have very little ability to contact an apothecary or physician when you are at sea or in foreign lands, so you need to have some basic understanding of how to help in common illnesses. Now, Henry has a dry, hacking cough. We will start with the easiest treatment, which is to give him a spoonful of honey three times per day. That will help ease the coughing. You have probably had that at one time or other. Now, if his throat were also hurting, we would have him regularly gargle warm salted water in addition to swallowing the honey."
Anne said, "Yes, I remember doing these things. Luckily, I am not often ill with a cough."
"It is quite common in winter, so we want to treat it quickly before something worse develops. We will also have him drink thyme tea at his meals. That will also help him breathe more easily. Since we use thyme in our cooking, we always have it on hand."
From that point on, Anne assisted in providing healing teas, learning to make mustard plasters, hot and cold compresses. Mrs. Craig and Mrs. Carlisle both spent time teaching Anne which herbs could provide some relief from a variety of ailments. However, for cases where an apothecary was necessary, Anne merely observed from a distance. They did not want her to take ill along with the patient. She eventually became proficient in caring for minor wounds and illnesses.
Throughout January and February, part of the time Anne and Agatha spent with Mrs. Carlisle was spent discussing the needs of the kitchen garden and how one planned for it. They learned just how much food was consumed in the dower house over the course of a year and how much of it came from its own gardens. From the menu planning, they had seen how meat might begin as a dinner for the family, then be refashioned into a stew which would constitute a tea, then be a soup that was served at dinner, and finally end up as soup that was served to staff. Almost nothing went to waste. There was always a way to repurpose it so that all was consumed. All of the fats were rendered for future use. Peels and scrapings from vegetables were not wasted either as these made their way into the compost bins unless they went directly to the pigs, chickens or goats first.
There was always an abundance of soup which would be shared with those who were ailing about the estate or in the nearby village, much as Anne had done with Kellynch's surplus. These cooks all considered it a sin to waste food. Nourishing soups were always kept on hand to relieve someone's illness or suffering.
By the beginning of February, Anne, Agatha, and Mrs. Carlisle were laying out the plans for the kitchen garden. Seed had been saved from the previous year which was a concept that fascinated the girls.
"You can purchase seed, but why waste the money when you can just save it from your own garden with just a little bit of effort. Of course, the first year, you must purchase. And if you are trying something new, you must also. Now, you see how small these seeds are? We must guess about how much produce we will get from these seeds as we plan. Do we have enough to cover the area we need to get the outcome we want? Generally, we use all you see here in order to fill our garden. As we lay it out, we look at the plan from last year. We never want to plant a particular crop in the same location two years running. That way, we keep diseases from claiming the crops."
Agatha asked, "There are diseases that claim crops?"
Mrs. Carlisle answered, "Oh, yes. There are various different blights. They seem to hide in the soil and come back to get them the second year. So, if we do turnips in this area this year, we move them over here next. Also, there are some crops that do better when planted with companions. They seem to support each other just as friends do. Some we leave in for two years. These carrots here, "she pointed to a location on the map, "are still in the ground. These will provide seeds for next year. Carrots are a two year crop. You harvest half one year, leave the rest for seed for the next. So, we always have carrots in two different locations in the garden."
She added, "We also have the hothouse to consider as well. This is what gives us fresh greens and some other things during the colder months. We decide what we want growing there in the winter and allow most of it to go fallow during the summer. We often keep the chickens in there for part of the summer in order to better fertilize it for the next winter. Chickens and rabbits are very important for your garden and your kitchen."
Anne asked, "Rabbits? How so?"
Mrs. Carlisle said, "In many ways. For some of the left over bits, we don't compost directly. Instead, we feed them to the chickens and rabbits. We then transfer that manure into the compost which makes it decompose faster. Of course, we have eggs from the chickens as well. And both end up on the table. Lady Rachel doesn't care for a roast rabbit, which some do, but we do have it in stews, casseroles, and soups. These are part of the kitchen garden. The other livestock are also important, but we don't manage them from the kitchen. Some households add geese. They may be part of the kitchen or just part of the farm, depending on the size of the home and staff. These also often include the sheep and goats as part of the kitchen tasks."
Agatha asked, "How would they be part of the kitchen?"
"Well. They are able to help with the trimming about the house. If you keep a close eye on them, the goats can eat down the shrubbery in the woods and keep it well cleaned up and easier to manage. They all do a cutting job on the grass. If you manage it correctly, you rarely have to scythe the lawn around a home. Just stake out the sheep or goats where you want it cut or let the geese wander. Just keep them away from the flowers and you're all set. However, you do have to watch where you walk as they leave droppings around. These are regularly scooped up and added to the compost bins."
"Homes like that also include the pigs in the kitchen as they eat slop that would just end up in the compost. Between the pigs and the goats, you can have a lot of the trimmings from bushes and shrubs eaten instead of burned as rubbish. It is a cycle of co-dependence that has been used for eons. If you manage it correctly, it costs very little to supply almost all of the food at the table, only time. On the estate, we even raise much of the grain that creates our breads. We keep bees, so we sweeten with honey more than any other sweet. Those that cannot do all this must pay hard cash for it. You won't have to worry about this at sea, but you might in a foreign port."
Anne said, "So that is why it may be part of the kitchen. It all has to do with how you are managing the food supply and how large an estate."
"Yes. In town, almost all is purchased although you might have a small garden to supplement. In country, almost all is home grown. It is one of the reasons many choose not to spend a great deal of time in London if they have a decent estate. London has the parties. Country has the more comfortable food supply. If you do a good job with managing the estate, you can use it to supply your London residence as well. That way you know the quality of all the food on the table. Of course, at sea, you will just have to make do with what is supplied."
Within a few days, the ladies had planned the kitchen gardens for the dower house for 1807. Agatha had asked about this up at the main house and been shown a similar plan for it, only on a larger scale. This was a different level of planning that neither had seen before and both found it fun and fascinating. Some of the crops would be planted as seed in the hothouse in February. If they waited to plant the seeds out in the garden after the frost, there would not be time enough for them to grow for harvest before frost caught them again in the fall. This was a way to extend the growing season.
As Anne and Agatha were discussing this one afternoon, Agatha said, "Do you think you will ever need to do these things you are learning?"
Anne considered for a moment. "I think it likely the laundry, mending, sewing, and other needlework will be used. I don't like doing laundry, but I suspect that Nell and I will be doing it together on ship. On land, it will likely be her with other maids. If I am to cook, it won't be at sea. If Captain Wentworth continues to be successful, I probably won't do any cooking, only overseeing it. I expect knowing how to nurse someone and repair minor injuries will be used. Of course, I won't garden at sea. However, even if I never use these skills, it has been fun to learn and I have much greater understanding and appreciation. That is never wasted."
Agatha added, "I think you are probably correct. I hope you can learn about life on ship from your correspondence with his sister. She has a better idea of what you will need than we have."
"We have only just begun, but I think you are correct. She should be of great help in determining what else I should try to learn."
Soon spring was coming and it was time to think about heading to town for the Season. Lady Rachel and Anne decided that they had no interest in spending part of the Season in London this year. They would prefer to remain at South Park, so they did not accompany the others when they went to town. Anne, in particular, had no desire to see her father and sister when they went for their annual trip in April. From Lady Russell's letters, she understood that once again, no offer of marriage had been forthcoming during the autumn shooting parties, and Elizabeth was becoming quite peevish. Agatha wanted the opportunity to visit with Joshua and Millicent and have one more fun season before they married.
After Agatha left for town, Anne had another fun learning opportunity. Mrs. Craig found that they were getting short on candles and it was time to make more. Anne and Nell would learn to make tallow candles.
"We use beeswax candles in the family rooms. They burn brighter and have a sweeter scent. However, in the servant rooms and in the kitchen, we use tallow candles. We are running low, so it is time to make more. They are very easy and this could be very handy for you to know."
Anne smiled and said, "I cannot believe how many new things there are to learn. Is this one I can do myself or must someone stronger help me like with the laundry?"
"Oh, this is quite easy. Maybe a little tedious, but easy. I steal Susie away from Mrs. Carlisle for the morning when I make candles. This time, it will be just the three of us." As she said this, Mrs. Craig led Anne and Nell to the kitchen. They found a large pot of tallow melting on the stove.
Mrs. Craig said, "Thank you Mrs. Carlisle. I think Miss Anne will have an interesting morning."
Mrs. Carlisle laughed and said, "That she will." She then left to enjoy a late breakfast of her own in the housekeeper's sitting room.
There was a rack standing on the table. Next to the rack was a large kettle of water. On the rack was a rod with a number of strings draped over it spaced evenly across. At the end of each string a small weight was tied. Mrs. Craig said, "Watch. Then you can try."
She picked up the rod. Anne could see that the strings were not just draped. They had been wrapped once so they would not slide across the rod. There also seemed to be small grooves in the rod to keep the strings steady. Mrs. Craig took the rod across to the pot of liquid tallow and dipped it in coating the strings. She then stepped back to the pot on the table, and dipped again. This colder water solidified the tallow. She repeated the process and said, "There are really two choices here. When you dip the strings in the tallow, it coats them. You solidify the fat on the strings either by letting them sit and harden, or by dipping them in cold water. You want multiple layers of fat to create the candles. If you let them sit, it will take longer, but not be quite as messy. When you are completely done dipping, you let them harden on the rack. Then we will cut the strings in half. We will cut the string and trim some from the top, leaving string showing for the wick, and trim the candle bottom flat to sit in the candlestick. Candles like this are why we have spikes in so many of the candlesticks. With the spike, we do not need to trim them too carefully nor make them a specific width to fit in the stick. Now, you try."
Anne carefully picked up the rod and dipped the candles. Nell tried too. They continued in this way until there were enough layers built up to form sturdy candles. Anne asked, "So, if I don't want the popping when I return the wet candles to the fat, I can just dip, wait, and dip again?"
"Yes. It just takes longer but isn't so messy."
Anne said thoughtfully, "I can see how that might be better if I don't want to clean up the dripping water afterwards."
By the end of the morning, the candles were hardening on the rack. Before they got too hard, they removed the weight from the bottom. The next morning, they trimmed and stored them away. As they were storing them, Mrs. Craig said, "You can also make these with a candle mold. However, I think the dipping method will probably be easier for you in your travels. The mold method requires a number of molds. You place the wick in the mold and pour in the tallow. It is easier and cleaner, but if you are traveling with your captain, you are not likely to take a bunch of candle molds with you.
Anne smiled and said, "That is good to know. I can see how I might use that method too, but you are probably right that this is more likely."
Mrs. Craig said, "We use both here. Dipped are usually for the servants' quarters, molded for the kitchen and other service rooms as we can get a fatter candle that way."
"I continue to be amazed at how much there is to learn for even the simple everyday things I have always taken for granted."
Mrs. Craig replied, "You grandmother is a wise woman to help you learn all this that those of the lower classes take for granted. Although you might not need it, you might also be entering a completely different world. At least this way, you can cope with the new world."
During the winter, Anne had received another letter from Sophie Croft, a letter from Frederick, occasional letters from Mary, and regular correspondence from Mrs. Musgrove, Lady Russell, and Edward Wentworth. She thus had a pretty clear picture of what was going on around Kellynch, of the changes in Mary's attitude, and of life at sea in the Indies. The Asp was not a very large ship, but Captain Wentworth was enjoying his command. He shared abbreviated descriptions of his various adventures. She had a very full and satisfying season in spite of the cold and weather.
Mary was growing into adolescence with the uncertainty that brings, and Anne was able to provide reassurance in her letters. The letters from South Park were far more comforting and frequent than those from Kellynch, enabling Mary to learn more about how to discern people's feelings and needs, which she realized Elizabeth had never bothered to learn. Mary also realized that she greatly preferred Anne to Elizabeth, which she thought was surprising given how beautiful Elizabeth was.
During this school term, she came to realize that who people were inside was more important than how they looked. Given what her father had always said, this was a shocking realization, but it was confirmation of what she had discerned about friends at Christmas. She also understood that her mother had always known this, as had Anne, and it was what they had tried to teach her. She had finally matured enough to comprehend the teaching. The result of these realizations, and the ones from Christmas, was that Mary finally started developing some true friends. Her relationships with the Musgrove girls deepened and were far more satisfying than in the past. Even though they were a few years younger than Mary, she knew they would remain life-long friends. In addition, two or three other girls also became good friends. These friendships also helped Mary become more sure of herself and much happier.
Lady Russell was still somewhat concerned about the choice Anne was making to marry Captain Wentworth. She did not have a great respect for sailors, not really considering them gentlemen, and she shared more of Sir Walter's opinions than Anne had realized. It was apparent that Lady Rachel had not really convinced her Anne was making a prudent choice as her letters often suggested that Anne reconsider her choice and return to her family at Kellynch. Anne was sad to recognize that she was drawing further and further away from her godmother as she became more confident in herself. Anne regretted what she was losing in the relationship but relished her new-found strength. She hoped that when Lady Russell visited later in the spring they could draw closer again.
While the Stevensons were in town for their two months of the season, Joshua Ackerman suggested a wedding date to Agatha. He had come into his inheritance and was now in a position to support a wife. Agatha was pleased to accept. They planned for a late April wedding. Anne and Lady Rachel would join them in town in mid-April.
While the family was away in March, spring thaw arrived at South Park. Anne now learned all that went into actually creating the kitchen garden that she and Mrs. Carlisle had planned. John was the main gardener at the dower house, and she now spent her mornings with him watching him turn the plan into actuality. Like Mrs. Carlisle had when Anne was merely observing, John explained what he was doing as he did it.
"As you can see, there are green plants all over the garden. That is a winter cover crop. It helps keep the soil in place and adds good things to it over the winter. Now that the thaw is here and the ground not too wet, we must plow it all under to get the good things into the soil. We must bury it deep beneath the crops we will plant." He and two boys spent the entire week getting all of the cover crop dug up, the ground turned, and the cover crop well buried. As they did this, they also incorporated compost from the bins maturing next to the garden.
The next week, it had warmed enough that they removed the mulch from many of the crops such as the strawberries and the asparagus. The mulch was thriftily divided between the chickens, the goats, the pigs, and the rabbits. A bit of compost was worked into the ground above the asparagus and around the strawberries. "We covered both with compost last fall. Some of it worked itself in. Now, we do what we can without hurting the plants. It helps feed them."
Then, it was time to plant those that could withstand any freeze that might take place. This meant some things such as cabbage, lettuce, chard, spinach, broccoli, and peas. These could take a freeze or late snow and keep on growing. Root crops would go in within a few weeks, and those requiring summer's heat would wait until danger of frost was past.
Anne asked, "How do you know how long you must wait for those that are sensitive to frost and cold?"
John answered, "We keep track of it from year to year. Some years we guess wrong, or like the year when there was no summer, something changes the weather and there is nothing we can do. But, with our history of it, most times, we know about when in May we can safely plant."
"What happens if a frost comes then?"
"Have you noticed the plants that turn dark and wither up? That is frost damage. It usually kills those sensitive to it. That's why we wait. If frost threatens after we've planted, we are up early and cover all the plants with cloth. That will protect them if we don't get a really deep freeze. It means we constantly watch what is going on with the weather. If we get a real cold snap and it freezes hard, we lose all the warm weather plants. The cool weather ones can even stand to have it snow on them. They're quite different from one another."
By the time Anne and Lady Rachel were ready to travel to London for Agatha's wedding, all of the cool weather crops were in. Anne would observe the rest of the planting in May when the warm weather ones went in, including those that were already growing from seed in the hothouse such as cucumbers.
Anne and Lady Rachel enjoyed their travel to town. They found they were always able to entertain one another through the long, tedious days of the journey. This was a complete contrast to travel with Sir Walter and Elizabeth. Nell and Sally traveled with them but the carriage was not overly full. It was still with relief that they saw the grey stone buildings indicating London in the distance. So, once again they found themselves at the home of Hugh and Margaret for a family wedding. At least this time, Sir Walter and Elizabeth were already in town in their own establishment. They had been invited to attend and would be there because it would look odd not to do so.
Shortly after Lady Rachel and Anne arrived, the Ackermans hosted a dinner for the extended family. The Stanleys were in town for the Season, so everyone was there to welcome Joshua to the family. The extended Ackerman family was there too, so there were a great many people at the dinner, so many that both Sir Walter and Elizabeth were essentially ignored. They were of far less importance than many of lower rank who were closer friends and family. Sir Walter was amazed that a barrister could be of more importance than himself. He thought, "What is the world coming to that these people do not realize the importance of rank? Only Lord Derby and Lord Stanley outrank me. I should be given much more deference."
Elizabeth spent the dinner trying to determine if any of the friends of the Ackermans or her cousins were of sufficient rank to interest her. When she thought she might have found one, she found herself unable to capture his attention. It was really quite frustrating. To make matters worse, Anne was constantly attended to by one cousin or another, while few even bothered to speak to her. Neither she nor her father enjoyed the meal in spite of the fine food that was served.
As long as they were in town, Lady Rachel insisted that she and Anne obtain at least one new gown in the latest fashion. They could wear it to the wedding and add it to their wardrobe for events in the spring and summer this year. Their first day in town found them at the modiste, with a return trip to pick up the finished items two days later.
When the long awaited day arrived, Agatha was both nervous and excited. Her mother did her best to calm her and offered all the usual advice a bride receives before her wedding. Agatha heard nothing of it. However, she trusted and she and Joshua would be able to make everything work out all right. Her nerves miraculously left her as she placed her hand on her father's arm and began to pace down the aisle toward Joshua.
Once the ceremony was complete, all retired to the Ackerman home for a lovely wedding breakfast. After a couple of hours, Joshua and Agatha entered his carriage and headed off to his townhouse to start their life together. Everyone joined together to wish them well and send them on their way. The Stevensons and Stanleys returned to the Stanley's home to spend the rest of the day together. Lady Matilda felt a little empty that all of her children were now gone. Her only worry was from Percy serving on the continent.
After the wedding, none of them felt like lingering in a town that was beginning to give hints of the heat of summer to come although it was still only late April. They returned to South Park as swiftly as they were able.
Posted on 2015-01-07
Lady Russell was invited to visit South Park for the beginning of May. She would stay in the dower house with Anne, rather than in the main house, since it was Anne she was there to see. The Stevensons had returned from London the previous week and would host a couple of dinners while Lady Russell visited. Anne hoped she could enable Lady Russell to agree with the new direction Anne's life was heading. She eagerly anticipated their time together. She had greatly missed her godmother.
The day Lady Russell arrived, Anne had spent part of the morning overseeing the final planting of some cool weather crops in the kitchen garden. The timing should be excellent as the weather looked to be threatening. Rain after planting was always to be desired. That day, they had planted spinach and chard for seed for the next year. They would be maturing just as the heat arrived, which would cause them to go to flower immediately. The seed would then be collected from the flowers. Anne found the whole process just fascinating. She had just cleaned up and changed to a regular morning dress when Lady Russell's carriage pulled up in front of the dower house.
Anne was pleased to greet Lady Russell in the entry way. "I am so pleased you were able to accept our invitation. I have missed you greatly this past winter."
Lady Russell replied, "As I have missed you. You are looking well."
"Thank you. I am doing quite well. I am sure you remember my grandmother, Lady Rachel Stevenson."
"Or course. Thank you so much for inviting me to visit Anne."
"I am pleased to see you too. You have been such a great friend, first to Elizabeth, then to Anne after Elizabeth passed, that I am grateful for your friendship with the family. I hope you enjoy your stay with us."
Mrs. Craig then showed her up to her room to refresh before she joined Anne and Lady Rachel in the parlor. Over biscuits and tea, they discussed Lady Russell's stay in Bath, her trip to Gloucester, and the weather. They then discussed the recent Abolition of Slave Trade Act and what that might mean for various industries. Since Lady Russell had various investments around the Empire, she was concerned how this might cause problems in the Caribbean.
"Will the sugar plantations continue to prosper if there are no slaves to work them? I rely on income from a plantation and would not like to have to sell my interest in it."
Lady Rachel replied, "I imagine a way will be found to continue to produce sugar. Do you not think workers would work better for wages rather than as slaves? They would then have a vested interest in the success of the venture where a slave does not."
Lady Russell considered for a moment. "You may be correct. I have always felt uncomfortable with the idea of slavery but it is the accustomed practice."
Anne added, "Even though many accept it, it is not right. I am glad the act was passed. I think the fines will be a deterrent to future slave transportation."
Lady Rachel said, "It is more likely that the British Navy will be the deterrent since they will enforce the Act on the seas."
Lady Russell said, "That's true. Our navy is the best in the world. Speaking of our navy, how is Captain Wentworth?"
Anne replied, "He has been very busy and is doing well. We write each other regularly although I receive his letters only after he is able to post them which is quite irregularly. Still, he had a fine autumn and what I have heard of the winter was good."
Finally, Lady Russell asked Anne about her domestic skills. Anne said, "It has been simply exhilarating to learn all these things. I am now an adequate cook. I could never replace someone like Mrs. Carlisle, but I can manage to put meals on the table if I must. What has been even more interesting than learning how exacting and challenging that is, is learning how the food reaches the table. I've been helping plan the kitchen garden and learning all about the interdependencies in the food chain. I had no idea."
"What do you mean, interdependencies?"
"How you use up all the waste bits of food feeding other food such as goats, pigs, rabbits, or geese. How the animals help maintain the garden and contribute to the compost that nourishes the soil. It is like an intricate dance. If all move together, it creates a harmonious whole. Our staff do this without any input from us-it is just what is expected on an estate. If you live in town, there is less of this sort of management of the food supply. I will also be learning about preserving the food, about slaughtering the livestock, although I won't be doing any of that, using herbs, and gathering seeds. They all fit together like a puzzle."
Lady Russell asked, "If our staff generally manage all this, why do you need to learn?"
Lady Rachel answered, "If you think about it, it makes sense that the Lady of the house know at least the rudiments so that if she hires a cook who has only been a city cook, she can instruct her in the ways of the country estate. And in Anne's case, she may have to manage this directly, depending on where she and the Captain end up. It is always good to acquire knowledge, and that is what Anne is doing."
"You are still set on this marriage, I take it?"
"I am. I know that you and Father don't really approve, but I know that he is the kind of man I want for a spouse. I do not like that he will be away at sea a lot, but he is all I have wanted. I know you thought me too fastidious in my requirements, but I have found someone who meets them in Captain Wentworth. Since he will be at sea so often, I hope travel with him. That sounds rather intriguing."
Lady Russell looked pensive when she said, "I only want you to be happy. I just wish it could be of someone of our class instead of a sailor."
Lady Rachel said, "He is so ambitious that I expect he will be of our class when all is said and done. I liked him quite well when he was here."
After this discussion, Anne showed Lady Russell some of the items she had learned to make, her own alterations of an old dress, and they continued the discussion about the worth of these skills. Slowly, Lady Russell was coming to see that Anne was indeed happy with this choice. She treasured her god-daughter, so determined that she must find a way to accept and support this direction Anne was taking.
They day after Lady Russell's arrival, Anne received a batch of letters from Frederick and a couple from Sophie Croft. As they sat in the parlor reading together, Anne opened his letters, then placed them in chronological order for reading. They had been posted in a couple of different ports and had managed to arrive at the same time.
Just as Anne wrote regularly and posted every couple of weeks, Frederick also wrote almost daily. When he knew he would be in port, he would finish the letter and post it to her, then start on the next. He had had a very busy winter. There had been a great deal of fighting. He was safe as was his ship. He spoke of his first mate, Lieutenant Harville, and what close friends they were. He also mentioned some of the midshipmen and what they were doing to help them advance in rank and what a trial young men could be.
As Lady Russell watched Anne read and react to these letters, she finally acknowledged the depth of feeling Anne had for Wentworth and realized that she must indeed accept him if she was to continue to have a positive relationship with Anne. Since she had no intention of giving up Anne, she would accept Captain Wentworth, if still reluctantly.
Lady Russell's visit was a chance for Anne to catch up on activities around Somerset. As they strolled the grounds, they would talk of life at Kellynch. She learned of the success Mr. Thomas and Mr. Wentworth were having in their classes for the returned soldiers. She heard about the year that Charles Musgrove had at university and that he was expected home again soon. She heard about how little was actually going on at home with her father and sister. She learned that Penelope Clay had produced a son, Walter Junior, whom they called Wally. Lady Russell thought her foolhardy as Walter Clay had not advanced from clerk to solicitor yet and their income was so limited. At least Anne was not making a precipitous move as Penelope had.
That afternoon, they dined at South Park with a number of local families. Lady Russell was somewhat relieved to realize that all Anne was learning in no way decreased Anne's genteelness. She had been concerned that it would coarsen her but such was not the case. Once dinner was over, Anne had entertained the company on the piano which had also soothed Lady Russell.
The next day, they spent some time visiting neighbors with Lady Rachel. Lady Russell discovered that she was actually enjoying herself. She had never spent much time Lady Rachel and had not realized how much she would enjoy her company. As she reflected on this, she realized that much of what she had loved with Lady Elliot had originated with Lady Rachel. This also helped her accept that Anne's grandmother was just the person to help Anne prepare for her new life.
Lady Russell only stayed for two short weeks, but they completely changed her attitude to Anne's future as Mrs. Wentworth. Her future letters would no longer importune Anne to return to Kellynch. She realized that Anne had no future with her father and sister, but that her mother's family was offering her everything she would ever need.
Lady Russell returned to Kellynch and her normal activities with a heart at ease with the choice Anne was making. She hoped to be able to visit again for a longer period of time before Anne and the Captain married. In any case, she would be interested and pleased with the news from the Captain and would try to follow naval news in the papers.
Lady Russell's visit had placed a hold on most of Anne's new studies. Once she left, Anne again began to try something new. Immediately after Lady Russell left, Anne had learned about the preservation of the split peas. They had eaten fresh peas daily for the entire time that Lady Russell had visited. Then John and Mrs. Carlisle called her in for a discussion in the pea bed.
John said, "As you can see, there are far more pea pods than we can possibly eat. We will gather all of the rest, and Mrs. Carlisle will oversee drying them."
Mrs. Carlisle said, "We stretch muslin on wooden frames. The pea pods are arranged not touching each other on the muslin. They are then covered by another piece of muslin allowing air to circulate but keeping away bugs. We keep them in a sunny location, with rocks at the corners holding the cover cloth in place. Each evening, we bring the frames into the kitchen so that no dew collects on them. In about a week, they will be completely dried out. We then remove the skins and bag up the peas. As we remove the skins, the peas usually split into two pieces."
Anne said, "So this is how we get split peas for soups?"
Mrs. Carlisle replied, "Yes. It is a good, hearty meal for winter. We eat it more in the staff side than the gentry side of the house. We have it for tea almost daily in the winter."
Anne said, "So, I may eat it more often in my new life than I had in my old."
Mrs. Carlisle agreed, "Probably. It is usually quite economical, even if you do not grow your own peas as we do. Split peas will likely be available wherever you go. You can put different vegetables into the soup with it to vary the taste, so that even if you eat it frequently, it is not boring. You can also add different cuts of meat to change the flavor. People do not enjoy eating the same thing all the time. Variety increases enjoyment and appreciation. I believe it is also something that appears on the shipboard menu although you will not be the cook in that case."
After that discussion, Anne helped harvest and dry the peas. She could see how she might do this in her own home and was glad of the knowledge. This was the first of many crops that they would dry over the course of the growing season.Chapter 24
As June arrived, the Stevensons prepared to host Mary for the summer. This time, Mary would stay in the main house rather than with her grandmother and Anne in the dower house. They all thought it would give Mary more interactions with family members from Susan's family who would be visiting. Mary had finally started to really realize that rank was unimportant in daily family interactions at Christmas, and this would help reinforce that learning. Since an Earl was significantly higher ranking than a Baronet, Mary would have this example before her daily once the Stanleys arrived.
Sir Michael and Lady Matilda journeyed together to collect Mary. As the three entered the carriage to begin the return journey, Mary said, "I cannot thank you enough for being willing to have me stay with you. I have learned so much from visiting South Park. I really appreciate spending the summer with you and being able to be with Anne. How have you adjusted to having Agatha gone now?"
Lady Matilda replied, "As you might guess, the house feels quite empty with all of my children gone. We will love having you here this summer. I am glad you will stay with us instead of Grandmother so that we can spend more time together."
"I still want to spend time with Anne. I want to learn some of the things she is learning too. She has written me about what she is doing now and it sounds like fun."
"Of course you will want to be with her as much as you can. We all enjoy her company," said Sir Michael. The journey from school was generally quiet although the three would occasionally spend time in conversation. Whenever Mary had traveled with her father, there had been almost no conversation. This was much nicer.
Mary settled into a comfortable room in the family section of South Park. She could look from her windows and see the dower house in the distance. She knew she would think of Anne every time she looked out. She loved the room. It was much nicer than her room at Kellynch.
When she joined Anne and Lady Rachel that afternoon, she commented, "Grandmother, why do you think that South Park appears so much nicer than Kellynch?"
"In what way?"
"I am not sure I can describe it. Things here just seem, I don't know, more finished or something."
Lady Rachel said, "From what I saw when I rescued Anne last fall, no one has bothered with any of the non-public rooms since your mother passed. In a large estate, there are always maintenance activities that keep the rooms looking beautiful. At Kellynch, they seem to have started neglecting those in the rooms guests do not usually see. For example, in Anne's room, there is always a draft. The window does not fit correctly. If they do not fix it, there will be other problems as a result of moisture getting in. Little things like that accumulate over time. They are only updating the parlor, dining room, ball room and other rooms that guests use, instead of all the rooms in need. The problems will just continue to grow."
Anne added, "Mother always attended to those things. Father wasn't very interested. It seems neither is Elizabeth, so the little things don't get fixed. They just ignored me when I suggested fixing something."
Mary asked, "And the little things cause bigger issues over time?"
Lady Rachel answered, "Yes, they usually do. Your cousin, who is heir to the Baronetcy, will find he has a great deal to do to undo the neglect your father seems to be paying. Unless, of course, your father marries again and chooses someone like your mother who will manage all those things for him. Do either of you think that likely?"
Mary was aghast to think her father would remarry. Anne was thoughtful and replied, "I do not know. He may find someone interested in him as he is still quite good looking. But it would have to be a particular kind of woman. He might even want someone young enough to try to have an heir again. I had never considered that."
Mary said, "Do you think he really might? I did not think he ever even looked at a woman since Mother passed."
Lady Rachel laughed and replied, "Oh, my dear. I believe he approached a couple of different women about a month or two after mourning was complete and found he wasn't as much of a catch as when he was young. I have heard him say he is interested only in promoting his daughters' interests for now. I wonder what luck he might have if he decides to go looking again. Kellynch isn't the catch it was twenty years ago but it does have its attractions."
Mary looked thoughtful as the conversation turned to other matters. She had never really regarded her father as an outsider might, and this was the first time she had ever tried to do so. As she did this, she considered what Anne and Lady Rachel had been teaching her about marriage prospects and realized that there probably would be many women interested in becoming Lady Elliot, but not so many that her father could choose just anyone. She turned her attention back to the conversation in the parlor where they were discussing estate matters. She had learned that listening to these could produce some very interesting news. There was nothing of import today, but it was no longer as boring as it had been when she was younger.
In spite of living in the main house, Mary would join Anne in the kitchen or the kitchen garden for a portion of each morning before other activities of the day. Between learning domestic arts and spending time with the higher ranking relatives, Mary would start a different kind of education that year. She found learning about fabrics and their care very instructive. The kitchen was a lot more fun than the sewing. The sisters also found time for Anne to continue to assist Mary at piano. Mary had greatly improved in the past year and found that she enjoyed it now much as Anne did. She felt a great deal of satisfaction in attaining some degree of success after so much work. They discussed whether either might like to try to master the harp but decided not to pursue it. Piano would suffice.
When the Stanelys arrived, both William and Charles came with their brides, Ethel and Cora. Mary was pleased to be included in most of the planned activities even though she was not yet out. She was occasionally left at home, but most were family activities and she was eagerly welcomed to these.
There were no girls at school from the peerage, and thus Mary was, for only the second time, of lower rank than everyone around her. None were impressed by the baronetcy of Kellynch. This was eye opening for Mary who had always assumed the importance of Kellynch. She had never realized that it was of only minor importance, and of none to those outside Somerset. With this realization, Mary finally stopped being so conscious about rank, supposed status, and precedence. Instead, she focused more on being open, friendly, and respectful. As a result, she found herself enjoying the company much more and being far more pleasant than in the past. This resulted in her having far more fun than ever before and firmly solidified the understanding she had started developing at Christmas. She and Anne discussed this realization, and what it also meant for their marriage prospects.
"You had this conversation with Grandmother?"
"Yes, before my season in London. I had never realized how little importance Kellynch has in the larger world. Our dowries are relatively small, so this impacts how we are viewed as marriage prospects."
"Does Elizabeth understand all of this?"
"I do not think she does."
"And this also impacts the ability of Father to marry again?"
Anne thought for a moment and replied, "Probably. If Kellynch were wealthier or more important with better connections, there would probably be many more women pursuing him. As I look back on my little time in town, I can understand why only younger men were particularly interested. We have relatively little to contribute. If we weren't related to the Stanleys and Stevensons, we would have even less. Since Father doesn't really associate with them, they are not part of his attraction. As you noticed, Kellynch isn't as attractive as it once was, so even those who attend the shooting parties are assessing the Kellynch connection and finding it adequate but not much more."
"Do you think he will try to marry again?"
"Not until after Elizabeth does. She is his priority right now. If you looked more like her, you might also become a priority. However, you are dark like Mother, so, I am sorry to say, that is not very likely."
Mary nodded her head and replied, "I had realized that he values Elizabeth because of her resemblance to him. At least we have the Stevensons and their family connections to improve our chances. And Captain Wentworth didn't care about any of that, in the end, did he?"
"No. He did not. Perhaps you too will find someone who values you for Mary and not for what you might bring outside of that."
Mary smiled at that thought.
June and July were pleasant, relaxing months at South Park. There were frequent picnics, which Anne and Mary now helped create. Mary was fascinated with how the food on the table was produced, never having been aware of it at all. She also enjoyed the little time she spent with Anne in the kitchen garden. They never did any of the heavy work, but they oversaw it all, and learned about the vagaries and requirements of vegetable gardening. They also spent a great deal of time learning about making jam and preparing the bounty of summer to last through the winter with jams, pickles, salting and drying. They read about the tests being done in France with canning foods and wondered if that would ever become a popular method of preserving.
Mrs. Carlisle said, "This new-fangled canning that Napoleon is encouraging is quite a change. Imagine being able to keep meat so it is like fresh without a lot of salt or drying it out. You can have vegetables all year without fermenting them. It seems too good to be true now, but maybe in the future we'll all be preserving food this way. It would certainly improve the variety in the winter."
Anne replied, "I wonder if the navy would ever carry canned goods? I understand now it is either dried or fresh."
Mrs. Carlisle answered, "Well, perhaps at some point. At least old Boney had one or two good ideas. If we could just defeat him and those Frenchies, we'd all be much better off."
Mary laughed and added, "I think Captain Wentworth might appreciate that but only after he has a few more prize ships." That caused them all to laugh.
With the Stanley visitors, everyone spent a great deal of time on horseback with almost daily rides. They found the company congenial and pleasant. All were well-read so much of the leisurely discussion was about books and what was and was not enjoyed. Mary had read few of the books, so she spent the discussions listening. Anne had read most, so she was often involved in the discussion. Both Ethel and Cora were also participants in these, with little fear of appearing to be blue stockings.
After one discussion, when she was alone with her grandmother, Mary asked Lady Rachel, "Grandmother, I do not recall hearing anyone talk of books like we have here this summer. Father and Elizabeth never read. I know Anne and Lady Russell talked of books occasionally, I was never involved. Do most families talk about ideas like we are here?"
"It depends. In our family, we enjoy the sharing of ideas. We appreciate intelligent discourse. Sharing appreciation of different books allows us to share in the expansion of our thinking. Many families do not want to be challenged by new thinking. Reading often challenges us to think about new things and they are not willing to take the chance of changing their minds. Many families also force their daughters to hide their intelligence as many men are intimidated by smart women. We do not do that, but you may find that your friends start hiding their wit as they approach coming out."
"I think some have already started to do that. They are afraid to chase off someone eligible."
"For yourself, you will have to decide what you want in a partner. Do you want someone who wants Mary, someone who wants an Elliott, someone who wants someone decorative or what? Anne wanted someone who wanted Anne, who could like and respect her for who she is, not for who she comes from. With only a small dowry, it is more likely that your suitors are choosing you rather than your connections. However, there will be those willing to court you because of the name. By the time you come out, you should decide what kind of suitor you want. Discussions of ideas can help you make that informed choice. Looking at the relationships around you should help you understand these different choices."
Mary began to study the interactions between her aunt and uncle, between her cousins and their wives, and those she saw on visits with neighbors and tenants. She came to see where mutual respect eased the friction in relationships and where lack of respect increased tension. As she watched, she started thinking about what she wanted for her life once she left school next year.
As both Ethel and Cora were as accomplished on the piano as Anne and Agatha, Mary recommitted to her practicing so as to be considered accomplished as they were. She realized that the different "accomplishments" could be helping in the rest of her life. Reading could both improve ones mind and increase possible topics for conversation. Music could soothe and feel good as well as entertain. Embroidery could also be practical as could the other needlework Anne was learning. Riding was always good for a country life. She continued to study her cousins and refine what her own goals should be.
The men spent a great deal of time fishing, so more fish than usual was served at the table. The cooks were challenged to find inventive ways to prepare and present them so that variety continued at the table.The Stanleys left by the end of July leaving behind many happy memories.
Anne, Lady Rachel, Lady Matilda and Mary spent a great deal of time together after the Stanleys left. They visited tenants; they practiced; they learned domestic skills; they sewed; they relaxed. They had something to fill most of their waking hours. It was quite a contrast for Mary to the way she had spent her time at Kellynch. As she thought back, she realized that her mother had been busy like this, not always lying around as Elizabeth was. She decided it was more fun and interesting to stay busy with something worthwhile.
As various items were harvested, many were preserved for use the rest of the year. Neither Mary nor Anne had ever participated in this preserving process and found it enlightening. Most of the vegetables were fermented or pickled after they were harvested. Mrs. Carlisle was very particular in her fermenting process. Sometimes a crock would contain a single type of vegetable; other times, it would contain a mix. In either case, everything was cut to a common size and placed in the crock, along with a few grape leaves which served to keep the vegetables crispy. Then a brine solution covered the vegetables with a grape leaf tucked on top to keep the vegetables under the brine. The lid was placed on the crock which was then labeled. It was then placed in the pantry. Each day, the lid was opened to let gasses escape and to ensure the vegetables were still submerged in the brine. Finally, when she had determined that they were ready, they would be placed in the cellar for storage.
The first morning of fermenting, Mrs. Carlisle explained the fermentation process. Then she added, "People are healthier when they eat plants year round. Since they don't grow year round, we must find a way to keep them. Now, some of the root vegetables will keep much of the winter in the root cellar. However, if we ferment them, they can be stored in the other cellar or pantry and are already ready for use."
Anne said, "I had never considered where the fermented sides in our meals came from."
Mrs. Carlisle said, "A good cook preserves everything that cannot be used within a day or two of harvest. We'll keep you busy all summer with different methods of preserving. We've already done the split peas. And we've gathered the seeds from the cool weather crops. Pickles and jams are for the height of summer."
Anne and Mary watched as cabbages, turnips, beets, carrots, cucumbers, beans, cauliflower, baby onions, radishes, and garlic were all fermented that summer. This explained all the side dishes that had contained fermented vegetables that had appeared on the table over the course of the year.
Also that summer, both participated in preserving fruits. When they were young, they had enjoyed picking berries with their mother. That had ceased with her passing. Now they had the opportunity to pick again and, although they might get scratched by a bramble, found that they really enjoyed it. Many of the berries went straight into pies or other desserts for summer. However, at least once each week, Mrs. Carlisle would make up a batch of preserves. These would supply jam or the filling for tarts for the winter. The leavings from these preserves, and other efforts, would be used to create flavored vinegars for year round use.
Also, at least weekly, a batch of fruit would be set to dry. The fruit would be cleaned and picked over as only prime fruit was dried. Those with bruises went into the vinegar. The rest were dried just as the peas had been. After a few days, the moisture was extracted from the fruit and the fruit would be placed in muslin bags and stored in the cellar. The dried fruit was used in a variety of meals throughout the rest of the year. It would create a different texture than the fruit jams did.
Herbs and flowers were an important part of the summer harvest. Both were gathered and dried for use in cooking, tisanes, and in the toilette. Flowers were dried like the fruits. Herbs were dried by hanging in bunches from the kitchen porch. Interestingly, as onion tops turned brown, they were dug up, cured for a few days, and then hung to dry tied together with string. All ended up stored in the cellar, with the onions in loose mesh bags, the others in muslin bags. They also gathered seeds from various plants. Not all plants were harvested-a portion was always left to go to seed. Many of the seeds were quite tiny. They were carefully labeled and packed away for the next year.
At the beginning of August just after the Stanleys left, Anne turned twenty. She took stock of her situation and was glad at the progress made in the previous year. She was developing skills which might be helpful for her new life, closer than ever to most of her family, and still very much in love with Captain Wentworth. Every four to six weeks, she received his letters. They were a constant reminder of the reality of the change coming in her life in the next year as were the domestic skills. According to a recent letter, he was being returning to England and might be there by the end of August. They should have a couple of weeks together before he returned to sea.
The family celebrated with a birthday dinner, inviting neighbors to help in the celebration. Since her birthday wasn't even recognized at Kellynch, Anne really appreciated this. They had a fun gathering, with most of her favorites served at the table. Now that she really knew how difficult some of the dishes were, Anne truly savored these. Anne received a number of tokens of appreciation from friends and family. There was something very satisfying in being appreciated.
The women turned to helping Mary prepare for her final year at school. With their new skills, they helped her select an appropriate wardrobe. They spent time embellishing and updating items from her old wardrobe that could be reused and refreshed. Mrs. Crouch prepared a few new items. They were all quite satisfied with their accomplishments, and Mary appreciated the new clothing. She never even missed Kellynch that summer, although she continued to write home regularly, as did Anne. While Anne did not receive letters in response, Mary received one letter from home that summer. According to that, all was well.
Posted on 2015-01-14
The middle of August saw an addition to the family circle at South Park, Sophie and Admiral Croft. They had arrived back in England in June and had spent time with his family, then with Edward Wentworth in Monkford. Sophie and Anne had been regular correspondents for the past year, so after visiting Edward, they came to meet Anne. Sir Michael and Lady Matilda invited them to stay in the main house for their visit. They arrived before Mary left for school, so she had an opportunity to meet them as well.
Mrs. Croft, though neither tall nor fat, had a squareness, uprightness, and vigor of form, which gave importance to her person. She had bright dark eyes, good teeth, and altogether an agreeable face. Her reddened and weather-beaten complexion, the consequence of her having been almost as much at sea as her husband, made her seem to have lived some years longer in the world than her real thirty.
The Admiral was a few years her senior. He too was weather-beaten, as he had spent most of his life at sea. However, he was a vigorous, good looking, hearty man usually found smiling. James Croft had met and wooed Sophie Wentworth while on leave and had swept her off her feet, at least from off dry land. Sophie had decided that, in almost every case, she would travel with her husband. She could assist on the ship and they could be together. This had been true for all the years since their marriage. However, his next assignment, in the war zone, she would not join him. She was planning to stay with Edward and keep house for him until her James returned.
Anne found that Sophie Croft was even more engaging in person than in her letters. Their correspondence had been lively and Anne had enjoyed it greatly. In person, Sophie was often witty, but never cruel. She had a discerning eye, and was not shy in voicing her opinions and observations. Lively discussions of the conduct of the war ensued at almost every dinner. James would make an outrageous description of an event they had seen, and she would correct his interpretation. Dinners were filled with laughter; they were both fun-loving people.
Anne had had a suspicion that she would find them lively. Mary had never experienced anyone like the Crofts. They didn't even care what Kellynch was. What was a Baronetcy to an Admiral? Nothing. Such an attitude was another eye-opener for Mary. She found she enjoyed their company and their humor. The conversation at dinner the first night was illustrative of many.
James complimented South Park, "Sir Michael, you have a very nice place. Nice scenery. Much more room for walking than we are accustomed to."
Sir Michael replied, "I would imagine that a ship greatly constricts the amount of walking you do."
James said, "Well, I walk a lot. It is merely in a very confined location. As I say, I do like the variability of walking here."
Anne added, "And here, you have the option of varying the walk each day. On board ship, I imagine that is not true."
Sophie answered, "True enough. We walk the quarterdeck and not much more. Of course, in port, we may have a moment to view some of the city. The view in the harbor is often not the best, but with a short carriage ride, we have been to see some very interesting sites."
James added, "Of course, we do not often get to see such a place as South Park from so personal angle as we are here. We thank you for your kind invitation. Please, tell us something of the history. The stories of the aristocratic families are not something we hear much of at sea. What exactly is the baronetage here anyway? I understand Miss Anne's father is also a Baronet or something. Can you clarify that for us?"
While Mary was amazed that someone would not actually understand this, Sir Michael graciously explained. At the end of his explanation, James responded, "Well, isn't that something? Family lines are all important. Not the way of the Navy at all. While who you know can help, if you are not up to it, you can only rise so far. You're likely to get yourself killed if you cannot care for yourself. Heard too many stories of families needing to find someone to rescue them because they cannot care for themselves. Perhaps the aristocracy needs something like a good war to clear out the bad blood."
Lady Matilda answered that comment. "I think the current war is doing some of that. Unfortunately, many of the younger sons are more capable than the older. However, the rise of many others, such as yourself, will bring in some of that new blood we so desperately need."
At the end of August, Sir Michael and Lady Matilda returned Mary to her school. As they were leaving her, Lady Matilda said, "This is your last year. Next summer, you move into the ranks of adults. If you would like, the following winter we will spend March and April in town and give you a season as we did Agatha and Anne. Would you like that?"
Mary replied with a hug, "Oh that would be wonderful. I do not think Father planned to take me to town, so I would truly appreciate it."
Sir Michael said, "Then, when you get out in June, ask your father to take you to Kellynch. Perhaps your father will have changed and really want you there. If things have not really changed, write and let us know. We will collect you the first of July to live with us instead of with him. You know both of us and your grandmother would love to have you. And you will be on hand when Anne and her Captain finally wed."
"Thank you. That is what we'll do then. I can still come for Christmas?"
"Yes, we'll be back to get you for Christmas."
With a smile, Mary kissed each one goodbye and went in for her final school year. Mary thought it likely that she would return to South Park rather than remain at Kellynch. There was more to do and it was more interesting than Kellynch. Besides, Anne was still in South Park and she was Mary's favorite sister.
Shortly after the Stevensons returned home from delivering Mary to school, Frederick was able to join them at South Park. He had a short time back in England and wanted to see Anne before returning to sea. After they were all settled in the parlor with tea, he had quite a tale to tell them.
"We were lucky in capturing a French frigate right before we reached England. My lieutenant, Harville, commanded it back to Plymouth while I was at the helm of the Asp. We were just entering Plymouth harbor when a huge storm that had been threatening for two days finally broke over us. We were barely able to get the Asp secured. The storm was so fierce that the poor Asp was not able to survive. She actually started breaking up at the pier. However, I have been transferred to command of the sloop Laconia and am to report back in two weeks."
Admiral Croft exclaimed, "Well at least you made it back to port. And your first command too."
Wentworth replied, "She was a good one. I enjoyed this last year. I am not returning to the Indies, though. I'm off to Gibraltar and the Mediterranean this time. And I was lucky to capture that frigate at the last possible moment. It gives Miss Anne and me an additional prize for investment. I do not expect it to be as large as the previous payout. With any luck, by the time we are ready to wed, we will have a nice cushion of investments. James, do you know where you are going next?"
Croft replied, "I expect to be going to the Baltic. I think the war is heating up in that area. Sophie is going to stay behind this tour. I expect her to join me when I return for my next tour of duty though. I find it hard to be apart from her now. We pull well together."
Admiral Croft, Wentworth, Lady Rachel, and Sir Michael had an ongoing discussion about the battle of Copenhagen over the course of dinner every night. The Royal Navy had attempted to prevent the Danish and Norwegian navy from surrendering to Napoleon. The attempt failed resulting in an appalling number of non-combatants killed in the engagement and the destruction of the city. Much of the discussion concerned battle strategy and what the ramifications of the loss would be.
Anne and Frederick enjoyed a quiet visit together. They talked of all she had learned to do. She showed him the bounty in the cellar from their summer efforts and told of what was left to come in the autumn with pears and apples. He told her of more of his adventures in the Indies. They were grateful to have these few days before he returned to sea.
Anne said, "Of course, much of what I am learning I will not use when we are at sea. I think it has truly stretched my understanding of the household, though, and am very grateful for that. It will be harder to see things go to waste. Now, the healing skills should be useful. And the needlework skills too. Sophie says that they will help keep me occupied when there is little else to focus on at sea."
Frederick answered, "And of course, they keep you occupied until we can wed. I am very grateful for your family's support and encouragement. I admit that there may be some merit in Lady Russell's initial fear that our relationship could be a distraction in my work. I will admit that there were times when I wanted to take less risk because I wanted to be sure to return to you. However, I think I have found a way to balance my priorities and concerns. When you write her next, will you tell her I am grateful for her original concern? I may not have thought about all the ramification without her arguments to you."
"It is kind of you to say that. Only the thought that I could have hurt you would have brought me to give you up."
"I can see that now. Then, all I saw was that she wanted to keep us apart."
"She understands now and is quite supportive. It seems you have each learned to appreciate the other's perspective."
His leave was much shorter than Admiral Croft's, so he soon left to return to Plymouth and his new command. Since they had not expected to see one another, both treasured these few days together.
The Crofts prepared to journey to Portsmouth, where he was scheduled to depart. Sophie planned to then join Edward in Monkford, since she would not join the Admiral on this tour. Before they left, Anne had a long discussion with Lady Rachel, with the result that Sophie was invited to return to South Park after the Admiral shipped out. Anne would enjoy deepening the friendship with her new sister, and Sophie would not be required to keep house for her brother.
At breakfast, about two days before the Crofts were to leave, Lady Rachel began, "Anne and I have had a long discussion and have a proposition for you. Sophie, we would love it if you would remain with us instead of going to keep house for your brother."
Anne chimed in, "It would allow us to get to know one another even more. It has been so much fun having you here these past few days. And there is plenty of room. If you stay with us, you will not have quite the work to do as you would with Mr. Wentworth. We do keep quite busy though and would truly appreciate your company."
The group continued the discussion through the remainder of breakfast. After some consultation together, the Crofts agreed to this change of plans. Sophie left with James and returned about two weeks later when he finally went to sea.
The Admiral began his tour in the seas around France, but over the course of the autumn as hostilities with Russia broke out, he shifted his operation to the Baltic as he had predicted. The hostilities were slow to escalate, but tensions were high.
Frederick took command of the Laconia and went south to Spain and into the Mediterranean. Anne mentioned this in one of her letters with Mrs. Musgrove and found that their second son, Dick, who was a midshipman in the navy, was also aboard the Laconia. He had joined it after being left in Gibraltar suffering from an illness. How providential that he was serving with Anne's betrothed. Since Anne was aware that Dick had been sent to sea as a problem child, she hoped Frederick would not suffer from having him under his command. To Mrs. Musgrove, she agreed that it was providential.
Anne and Sophie wrote weekly to their sailors, and in return, received irregular replies. They regularly read the papers to see news of the battles and to watch for mention of their ships. As they were both in war zones, the papers might know of activity far in advance of the correspondence from the sailors. Dick Musgrove lasted about six months on the Laconia before being deposited again in Gibraltar and joining another vessel. Mrs. Musgrove noted that he had never written more letters home than he had in his six-month tour with Captain Wentworth.
Anne continued her domestic lessons concentrating on the autumn harvest-time needs. Sophie decided to join her efforts. She could cook, after a fashion, but not well. She had never had much need at sea. She enjoyed learning how to improve her efforts. She was already a much better seamstress than Anne and agreed that this was a skill Anne would want, whether at home or at sea. So were the efforts at caring for the ill and infirm.
The ladies particularly enjoyed drying the apple harvest. They sampled a great many apples during those weeks. They dried apples and pears and made a great deal of apple cider and apple cider vinegar.
As they gathered and dried a wide variety of herbs, they also made flavored vinegars with some. They learned how these could add more variety to foods, even when the same basic foods were used over and over. Seasonings and flavorings could change a monotonous diet to something with a lot more variety and were fairly easy to create. This was something that could be used to vary the menu at sea, so Sophie was particularly interested in these.
By the time the harvest was complete, both Anne and Sophie could see how well-stocked the cellar and pantry were, with ample fruit and vegetable for the winter and early spring. The final harvest activity was slaughter of surplus animals. While some had been used when young, for veal or lamb, many of the young animals had grown through the course of the summer and were ready for harvest, just as the produce was. While some were used fresh, the remainder were smoked, salted, dried, or cured into sausage and stored in the cellar. The rest would continue to grow in the pastures and barns. Some would be used fresh during the winter. Others would become part of the breeding stock. The girls did not have to participate in the slaughter but found the rest an interesting process. Both agreed it was easier getting a joint from the butcher, but if you raised it yourself, you knew it was sound and fresh. However, they agreed it was an awful lot of work.
The final harvest activity was the planting of the cover crop in the garden. They spent a few days with John as he prepared the gardens for winter. Everything was tilled well. Compost was spread and tilled in. Then the cover crop was planted. This would help enrich the soil over the winter and be plowed under again in the spring. Green shoots were apparent within just a few days. They would spend most of the winter under a covering of snow. Other plants were covered in mulch to protect them over the winter.
As harvest was over, Mrs. Carlisle decided that Anne had a good foundation in the domestic basics required in the kitchen. There would always be new recipes to learn, or new inventions, such as the canning that Napoleon now had for his army, to consider adopting. However, Anne now had the ability to feed her family if she had no cook. They celebrated with her preparing an entire feast for dinner, rather than the simpler meals she usually managed.
First, they planned the menu together. There would be a soup course, a fish course, a roasted chicken, and a sweet. After the planning, they ensured that they had all the supplies needed. The fish came from the efforts of Sir Michael the previous day. Anne decided that she did not care for cleaning the fresh-caught fish but knew they would taste wonderful. Sophie remarked that they could frequently be found on the table at sea.
That day began with the preparation of an apple pie, since apples had been picked the previous day. Once it was cooling, Anne chopped the vegetables and got the soup going. Then the chicken began roasting on the spit. Finally, the fish was ready for frying. At that point, she left to change for dinner. There was no way to fry the fish and participate in eating the multi-course feast, so Mrs. Carlisle would take care of that item.
Lady Matilda and Sir Michael joined the dinner in the dower house to celebrate Anne's achievement. As the footman served the soup, Sir Michael said, "I propose a toast to our Anne, who has put this feast together for us. Congratulations on becoming quite the cook."
They all raised a glass and saluted Anne, who blushed furiously. She then replied, "I thank you for all your kind appreciation. I hope this meal lives up to the accolades."
As each course was served, they discussed its preparation, and all that led up to that preparation. By the time the pie arrived, everyone was truly impressed with how much Anne had learned in the previous year. Sophie Croft said, "While Anne does not feel she is ready to be a real cook, I have no fear that Frederick will ever starve. If he can get her the ingredients, she will see that the family has food on the table. That is always a blessing. Thank you for helping her, and for letting me participate a little as well. I am sure my husband will also appreciate it."
They all laughed at that, since they had seen how little attention the admiral paid to what he was eating. He seemed to appreciate company more than the food at any meal.
With her basic cooking course complete, they determined to focus more on the various needlework projects. The new task for this autumn was to learn to crochet lace. Sophie admitted that she did sometimes regret how very plain most of her gowns were. She was excited to learn the art of lace crochet, even if all she embellished was a bonnet, cap, or nightgown. They first had to obtain small crochet hooks which were required for more delicate lace. They also needed finer thread than that they used for knitting their stockings.
It took a few weeks of effort before their lace was deemed adequate. Their first efforts would progress for a few inches before it became apparent that they were not successful. They would then laugh at the results, undo the project, and begin again. Finally, the finished product looked something like had been planned.
As they became proficient at making lace, Sophie said, "This is something I could have used to keep busy during quiet times at sea. Sea voyages are often quite monotonous and this would have been a good way to spend the time. Now I will be able to do this on future journeys." They made many yards of lace of varying patterns which they then used to embellish their dresses and caps.
They found that crochet was something that fit nicely in a basket and could travel with them when they went visiting. One could crochet while riding in the carriage, while trying to knit was far more difficult. Knitting often involved knocking elbows with a seatmate while crochet was far more compact. Thus, their crochet began to accompany them everywhere they rode. Both found it a relaxing activity. Tatting was worse than knitting with its little frame and never accompanied them. However, they could both appreciate its results, so they would tat while visiting in the parlor at home. Those projects were much slower than the crochet laces.
Sophie, Lady Rachel, and Anne discussed what life was like on sea voyages. Sophie agreed that the lessons in care for the sick or injured would be helpful as would the various needlework projects. Since she had never been stationed on land, she had never needed the cooking, but she could see that there would be future value in it. She suggested more learning about healing herbs would be useful. Lady Rachel determined to have the girls spend time with the local herbalist in order to provide that information. Otherwise, they were all well satisfied in the training that Anne had received.
Posted on 2015-01-21
In late September, Sophie had a private conference with Lady Rachel. The result of this was a visit from the local midwife who confirmed that Sophie was about four months along with child. Sophie had thought this was the case but wanted confirmation. After the midwife left, Sophie said to Lady Rachel, "I have lost a couple of other babies just about at this point in their growth. The Admiral has no idea. Until this one is safely delivered, I will not tell him about it. It was actually why I was willing to stay behind this tour. The ship's doctor has never been able to help when I have difficulty and I hope the midwife can."
Lady Rachel responded, "We will all do all we can to ensure a healthy young one come spring. She works closely with our herbalist, so between the two of them, we can hope to keep your child healthy this time."
When the two joined Anne in the parlor, Sophie smiled at her and said, "Well, it appears I am increasing. I thought I might be. We should be having an addition to the family around the end of February or beginning of March."
Anne replied, "Oh, that is wonderful news. Congratulations. How exciting!"
Now, in addition to lace crochet projects, they determined to make baby clothes. The women of both households engaged in the design and sewing. Some items worn long ago were removed from trunks in the attic and served as patterns for the new items. New patterns for knitted and crochet baby items were also discovered. While excited about the news, Sophie refused to write to the Admiral or her brothers about the news, explaining that this had happened before and she had lost the child. She did not want to get anyone's hopes up. Time enough to tell them after the child's arrival.
More and more, Anne and Sophie spent their time indoors with Lady Rachel at the dower house. Autumn days alternated brisk and clear with windy and rainy. On rainy, windy days no one left the house. The clear days, they might visit the main house or with a neighbor. On rare occasions, Anne and Sophie would go on a short walk through the autumn leaves. Due to her previous difficulties in delivering a healthy baby, the midwife had recommended that Sophie curtail her activities to sedate, easy walks. The herbalist visited weekly and shared information about the healing properties of various herbs. This resulted in a couple of different herbal tonics that Sophie now drank regularly. When sweetened with honey, they were not bad tasting. On particularly nice days, they might walk with her as she harvested wild herbs. She also talked about which ones to raise in the garden. They found it very interesting.
Beginning in October, the Stevensons hosted the first of their shooting parties for this autumn. The ladies from the dower house joined the dinners and visited with the other women while the men were in the field. Occasionally, all the ladies would mount up and ride the estate, but always far from the hunting fields. Sophie and Anne would remain at the house when riding was planned. They would quietly sew or read until the others returned. All enjoyed the bounty of the hunt with the variety of fowl that appeared at the table. The hunting was particularly plentiful that autumn and the Stevensons hosted two long parties. Each lasted approximately ten days.
Lady Russell wrote about the shooting parties at Kellynch that fall as did Mrs. Musgrove. This year, Charles had been home to attend. Charles had started thinking about finding himself a wife within the next year or two and thought a place to begin the search might be at the Kellynch party. The hunting had been better than the previous year, but Elizabeth still had no apparent suitor nor had Charles found anyone congenial. Lady Russell lamented Elizabeth's lack of success, while Mrs. Musgrove was sure Charles would be able to find someone suitable fairly easily once he truly started looking. So far, no one had suited his taste.
Finally, everyone headed back to their own estates by mid-November, and life at South Park returned to a quiet rhythm. As the ferocity and frequency of autumn storms increased, all thoughts turned to the upcoming holidays. This year, the family was to again attend Susan's family in Derby. Although she was invited to join them, Sophie determined to join her brother in Monkford while everyone else journeyed to Derby. The midwife agreed that this journey could be attempted as, so far, all was well. Sophie would continue her herbal teas to forestall any difficulties.
Once again, Anne made gifts for those closest to her and found something appropriate for her father and Elizabeth. Now that they were able to make laces, the variety of gifts Anne was able to make increased significantly. She was quite pleased with her efforts. As they journeyed to Derby, Sir Michael collected Mary from school. As before, she chose South Park over Kellynch and was happy that she had done so.
Derby was full of the extended family. Ethel and William were expecting their first child in the spring, and Susan, Lady Derby was quite excited to become a grandmother. She said, "This is the reward for putting up with all your shenanigans when you were a child."
Lady Rachel added, "Indeed, it is a wonderful reward for the trials children can be. Ethel, we are all so excited for you. Have you been well?"
Ethel replied, "So far. There was a little nausea at first, but that has cleared up. I do not think I have ever felt more energetic."
Susan said, "Remember this, as you will be quite exhausted for some few weeks after the birth."
Mary was thrilled that she had not been chased from the room when they discussed Ethel's condition. It was quite usual for the unmarried ladies to be excluded from such conversations as being too indelicate for them to hear. This helped her to feel quite grown up.
Cora said to Susan, "We too are expecting an addition, although not until summer."
Arabella added, "Well, since we are all doing some announcing, I, too, am increasing and expect an addition in the summer as well."
Lady Rachel said, "With all the marriages we've had in the last year, this is quite nice. Your little ones will have many cousins to grow up with."
Agatha said, "We found out too, just before we journeyed here. We should be late summer as well."
So both Susan and Lady Matilda would become grandmothers in the coming year. Everyone was excited about this. Lady Matilda lamented, "This will mean that most of you cannot come to Anne's wedding if it is around the time of her birthday. Perhaps we should hope that the Captain does not return to England until autumn."
Agatha responded, "Oh no, we do not want to do that. We want Anne to have every happiness as soon as possible. While it is sad that we will be in confinement for her birthday, if they manage to have the wedding then, we will all be sending our best wishes. There will be future opportunities to get together."
Charles added, "I told William to be sure to have a boy so I never have to worry about taking over when they told us of the little one. I'm sure Percy will be happy if Arabella has a boy too."
They all laughed at this and agreed. Harold added, "I guess since Father hasn't an estate to pass on, neither Anthony nor I need worry. However, he seems not to be doing his duty. With him on the continent fighting old Bony, he may never get around to marrying. I may have to when I finish up at university in the spring."
Margaret replied, "There is no rush. But you are right that he doesn't have the same pressure to create an heir that your cousins have. Before you hurry into marriage, make sure you are settled first."
Hugh added, "Do not think that we'll continue to provide financial support once you finish in spring. At that point, you are on your own and will succeed for fail for yourself. Of course, we expect you'll succeed, but it will all be up to you."
Mary listened to this family banter a little amazed at its content. They discussed babies, finances, and the kinds of planning that she had never heard mentioned at Kellynch. She thought back to the discussions the previous Christmas and realized that these family members and her father could not have more different perspectives on life if they tried to. She determined to discuss this with Anne and her grandmother when they could talk privately. The opportunity presented itself at the breakfast table the following morning.
"Grandmother, as I was listening to the teasing with Harold last night, it occurred to me that these financial considerations are not something I've ever heard my father and Elizabeth discuss. They only ever talk about rank and status, never about finances. Yet the Stevensons all seem to consider the financial implications of their choices. Why is that?"
Lady Rachel considered for a moment. "There are many different ways to look at the world; many different lenses which can skew our view of what we see. Here in our family, we tend to look at things from a very practical perspective. Your grandfather believed that it is a mistake to base judgment solely on rank, rather than on integrity and actions, and we raised our children to try to judge that way. Your father was raised to see the importance of status and rank as of more value than anything else. My guess is that if your mother had known him longer during their courting, she would not have agreed to marry him because their values were so different. However, he swept her off her feet and there you are. If you listen to the sermons preached in church, you can hear that there are many different ways to approach life. We feel a life filled with work, with acts of charity, with duty, responsibility and prudence, is the right thing. That does not mean that your father's approach is any less valid. He thinks himself happy in his life and that is what is ultimately important. I could not be happy with a life like his. Neither could Anne, I believe."
She looked over at Anne, who looked down at her lap, then up at Mary and said, "Grandmother is right. I hated having nothing constructive to do with my time. That is why I spent so much time on charity work. It was all there was that felt fulfilling. However, Elizabeth hates it. She is happy with how she spends her time. Ultimately, it is a choice all of us make. We must do what we feel is most likely to bring us a happy life. That is actually why I accepted Captain Wentworth even though Father was opposed to the match. I think it most likely that he will help me achieve the kind of life I want. I do not want one like Father's. Really, it is as simple as that."
Mary nodded and said, "So, most of the your friends share the same kinds of ideals?"
Lady Rachel said, "Most, but not all. Our closest friends share similar perspectives. But we also socialize with others whose ideas are closer to your father's. That was how your father and mother managed to meet. And of course, when we are in town, we have an even wider range of associates with varied lifestyles. It is tyranny to suppose that we could impose our ideals on everyone else. It is also why we allow our children the luxury to choose as well. We may not approve of the choice, but it is their life to live, not ours. However, I think your new cousins share a similar view which is why they are now part of the family. Married life is much easier if there is a shared foundation upon which to build."
Mary said, "I think I like your perspective more than Father's. Since he imagines Kellynch to be far more important than the outside world seems to view it, how has he managed to maintain that belief?"
Anne said, "That's something I've always wondered too."
"It is very easy to fool ourselves if we want to. We can almost always find something that validates a belief we hold so dearly. I do not think your father realizes that to outsiders, Kellynch is merely a minor title and property. Even South Park, while a newer title, is a much larger estate which brings in far more income and is truly more important. I doubt anything could ever convince Sir Walter that Kellynch is not of more worth than it is. Elizabeth shares that perspective which probably makes it hard for any real admirer to get close enough to her to truly woo her. I actually pity them both."
Anne said, "Well, it is as they have chosen. When you pick up a stick, you pick up both ends, not just one. Her attitude determines the kind of people she meets. She would never even meet someone like Frederick, so she will likely never find someone as nice. I hope she can find someone satisfactory, but so far, it does not seem likely."
Lady Rachel said, "Sadly, I agree with you."
Mary continued to ponder on this discussion throughout her holiday. She frequently found herself watching her relatives and listening closely to their opinions, weighing how these would determine what they might do in the future. As with the previous Christmas, the insights she gained from the relationships were of far more importance than the tangible gifts she received.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day resembled those of the previous year with Yule log, dancing, and religious services. Since she was nearly out, Mary was allowed to attend all this year, although she only danced with her cousins. Still, being allowed to participate made her feel very adult. She truly enjoyed it. She had so much fun. Anne too had danced primarily with cousins. She was wistful about the time when she might spend the holiday with Frederick and dance only with him, no matter how shocking that might be.
After everyone was back at home or school, winter 1808 brought numerous severe snowstorms, forcing everyone to remain indoors most of the time. Sophie had enjoyed a wonderful holiday with Edward and returned just before a round of storms began.
"Monkford is doing well. Edward said to let you know that the charity cases miss you but are getting along as well as can be expected. His literacy program has had some success. These men can now read, after a fashion, and one has found a job as a clerk. Edward is also thinking of accepting a new assignment and moving on. He will know more in a month or two about that. And the Musgroves said to send you their greetings."
Anne replied, "Did you realize that their son Dick was serving under Frederick? Isn't that amazing?"
"Yes, Mrs. Musgrove mentioned that. She called it providential."
"I know of him. He was very much a problem child. I hope he wasn't too much of a trial to Frederick. It was hard to tell from his letters."
"I am sure Frederick is used to much worse," replied Sophie with a smile.
Anne asked, "How did Mr. Wentworth respond to the news of your increasing?"
"I didn't tell him and he didn't notice, even though I've gained so much weight."
"How could he not notice?"
Lady Rachel answered that one, "A well-bred man never notices such a thing." With a smile, she added, "They do not want to know. If it is announced, well, then it can be acknowledged. Suppose he said something and one was merely gaining weight? That would be highly embarrassing. Much better not to notice if nothing is said."
Anne and Sophie both laughed and Sophie said, "That is right. He may have a suspicion, but since I said nothing, neither did he. At least, if all goes well, he will not be too surprised. Should a problem arise, he will never acknowledge it occurred. I much prefer it this way."
The women spent much more time reading and playing piano than they did in the warmer weather. However, sewing baby clothes continued, usually while one read aloud to the others. They were well satisfied that they had a nice store of clothing for the new Croft.
In the middle of January, Sophie experienced sharp pains and took to her bed. The midwife was again called in. Sophie had started labor early, far too early for the child to survive. Since unmarried women generally did not attend births, Anne was sent up to the main house until all was complete. However, Nell and Sally assisted Sara, Sophie's maid, to tend to her.
Lady Rachel said, "This is not something that women of our class participate in until after marriage. And with this so early, it is likely to be difficult for Sophie. I do not want you to experience this."
Anne said, "Very well. Please let me know if there is anything I can do, though." She wrapped up warmly and entered the carriage very concerned about Sophie and the little one.
"All you can do is pray for them."
The midwife spent the day with Sophie, dosing her with a variety of herbs to try to stave off the labor. The babe was quite early and would likely not survive if they could not stop things. By the end of the day, the pangs had ceased. However, Sophie was confined to bed until delivery finally occurred. The longer they could keep the child growing inside her, the better its chances of survival. All three ladies' maids would continue to tend to Sophie until the delivery. Sophie would increase the variety of teas to prevent the miscarriage. Anne was allowed to return to the dower house that evening and sat with Sophie for a visit.
"Oh Sophie. That was so frightening."
Sophie replied, "Yes, it was. I have had this happen before while at sea. The other never made it even this far. There seems to be something wrong that makes it difficult for me to bear a child. Since I could never be confined to bed rest at sea, and did not have access to these herbal treatments, there was no chance to stop the labor once it began. The ship's doctor does not have the expertise the midwife does and never even tried to stop early labor. Perhaps this time the child will live."
From then on, Lady Rachel, Lady Matilda, and Anne spent much of their time with Sophie in her room. She was confined to bed and enjoyed their company. The maids alternated spending the night with her. The midwife came by to check on her every couple of days. She continued the course of herbs to stop the labor. After the pangs had not returned for a week, she pronounced herself well pleased with her patient and the prospects for a healthy baby. However, Sophie would continue taking the increased dosages of herbs for at least the next five weeks. After that, the child should be developed enough that it could be safely delivered.
While they were visiting one day, Sophie said to Anne, "I cannot express how grateful I am that we spent the fall learning to make lace. One can read only so much. Embroidery is so boring. I can sit here making lace without having to think about it and find it quite relaxing. It is better than worrying about the child. If I had been at sea, I am sure I would have lost this one as I have the others. It is thanks to you and your family that I have a chance of having this baby. I owe you everything."
Anne replied, "I am so sorry you are having this difficulty. Perhaps it was Divine Providence that had you stay with us instead of heading to sea with the Admiral this time or staying with your brother. I am not sure he would have the resources to tend you in bed for two months. I am glad the midwife here has been able to help you. It would be so sad to lose this child when it is so close to being ready for birth. And I can see how much better it is to have something productive to keep one busy, such as the lace making, than just lying around fretting. Knitting, crochet, tatting, they're all better than embroidery as they don't require the same degree of concentration."
Lady Rachel added, "I agree that Someone was looking after you and your babe to keep you here with us since you have always journeyed with the Admiral in the past. We must be sure to give thanks once the child is safely delivered."
As Sophie was confined to bed with fears for the child, another type of worry became a part of their lives as well. By February, both Anne and Sophie were somewhat anxious as they had not received any mail from either James or Frederick since late October. This was longer than usual without news as usually one or the other had mail at least every four or five weeks. Their only consolation was that the ships were not mentioned in the papers in connection with any battles. There was a lot of fighting going on and it was hard to keep up on all the developments. However, Sir Michael took a variety of papers so that all could follow the progress, or lack thereof, of the war on the continent. So far, both Anthony and Percy were still safe. Their letters were more regular than the sailors'.
Finally, at the end of February, Sophie's labor started in earnest. Anne again returned to the main house to wait as Lady Rachel and the midwife and maids attended Sophie. Anne entertained Sir Michael by playing piano as they awaited the child's arrival. That evening, they were relieved to celebrate the arrival of Cordelia Croft and gave thanks that, so far, mother and daughter were doing well. Anne returned to congratulate Sophie shortly after supper.
"I was so happy when the footman brought word that Cordelia was here," began Anne as she entered Sophie's bedroom. Sophie was lying in bed holding the small bundle that was Cordelia in her arms. Anne leaned over to peek and added, "She is quite beautiful."
Sophie laughed and said, "She is all wrinkled and red as is any newborn. However, she seems to be quite healthy. After the scare we had, I am so grateful she is safely here. I have named her after my mother. I think Mother would appreciate that. According to the midwife, my delivery was quite quick. It was not as hard as I had feared."
They visited for a few moments, but then Sophie said, "I hope you will excuse me, but I find that I am very tired and would like to rest."
Lady Rachel said, "Of course." Both she and Anne retired to the parlor. Lady Rachel continued, "Well, Anne, we have done good work today. It is always so satisfying to see a new life join ours. Your sister-to-be did well. She might have difficulties, but she is strong and determined. That little one is also a fighter. Now, we must keep them well."
Anne asked, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"She will tire easily. We must all help her where we can. And she has decided she wishes to nurse Cordelia herself. Most of those of our rank use a wet nurse, so you may see things you are not accustomed to. However, I think it will be better for the child in the long run."
They spent their next few days helping Sophie as much as they could as Sophie adjusted to the demands of a newborn. It was surprising how demanding a new baby could be. And since Anne had never seen someone nurse her own child before, she did see things she was unaccustomed to. However, it was not shocking at all. At least they did not have to wake with her as Sophie did when Cordelia was hungry at night. Sir Michael and Lady Matilda came down to coo over the new arrival and congratulate the mother. After he had done his duty, Sir Michael did not return, but Lady Matilda joined them most afternoons for a visit.
Within two weeks, Cordelia was christened at the chapel on the estate. Edward Wentworth made the trip from Monkford to attend. They had sent him an express once Cordelia had safely arrived. It was still worrisome that no news had come from either Frederick or the Admiral. One uncle could stand as godfather, while Anne was the godmother. Cordelia wore the dress that Agatha had worn for her christening.
Sophie said, "Lady Matilda, I am so grateful for the loan of this beautiful little dress."
"We are family now, and that is what family does. If you had had one from your family to use, of course you would have used that. I am just glad that we could assist."
Mr. Wentworth was only able to visit for a few days, needing to return to his work in Monkford. Edward, Sophie, and Anne had a nice time visiting before he had to leave. He offered his thanks for the care his sister and niece had received at South Park. He realized that he would never have been able to help them as they had needed. "I did have some suspicion at Christmas, but when Sophie said nothing, I put away the idea and assumed that you had just been feeding her extremely well. I know you did that, but I am glad to have this new niece to love. I have just accepted a new posting in Yorkshire. I will be reporting for Michaelmas although I expect to leave Monkford by the end of July."
Lady Rachel replied, "You must come to see us when you are between postings. If the Lord approves, you may be here for the wedding. We hope it will be after the first week in August."
Edward said, "It would be my pleasure. I look forward to seeing you then." Although brief, he had appreciated seeing Sophie and spending time catching up with Anne. All were in high spirits when he returned to Monkford.
As March arrived, the discussion turned to the season in town. With no one to launch or find spouses for, both Lady Matilda and Sir Michael decided it was too much trouble to go spend two months on social rounds they did not particularly enjoy. While they could see both James and Agatha in town, neither would be participating much in the social activities while both women were in the midst of their pregnancies. Instead, the Stevensons invited those friends they most enjoyed to South Park. These were mostly other couples who no longer had children at home along with a few widows and widowers to vary the company. They decided a spring together would be a nice break from balls and routs and too much drinking. A little dancing, riding, fishing, and socializing sounded like more fun.
Both Sir Walter and Elizabeth did head to town as usual at the beginning of March. The Stevensons did not invite them to South Park to join the house party. However, they did invite Lady Russell. Lady Russell had gradually come to appreciate the Stevensons and all that they were doing for Anne. She was pleased to be invited to their March house party. She was one of a number of widows included in the guest list. They were there to partner the single men in the party at dinner. While the men spent the day together out in the fields riding or fishing, the women would sew or embroider in the parlor. It was a quiet, congenial group and far less pressured than visiting in town would have been.
The day after everyone arrived, they were greeted by a beautiful, sunny day. Since it was spring, no hunting would take place. However, the Stevensons hosted a long ride followed by a picnic for both their guests and neighbors. The servants had taken the food by wagon and set up a nice pavilion in a field at the end of the ride. This pavilion was designed as a dining hall. They had transported tables, chairs, and all the amenities required for an outdoor dinner. Most of the courses were cold, instead of hot, but that did not decrease everyone's satisfaction with the meal. Once the repast was complete, they continued the ride, arriving home for a late tea.
Sophie was not yet up for such a strenuous day, so she remained at the dower house. A few of the older women were not interested in so much riding, including Lady Rachel, so they joined her in the dower house parlor for the day. They enjoyed a far more civilized dinner with Lady Rachel. All spent some time admiring Cordelia before she was handed over to a nurse so that the adults could visit in peace. While one lady read to them, the rest sat at embroidery or other needlework. Sophie still detested embroidery, so she crocheted for the baby instead. Anne had remained in the parlor as well. As teatime approached, they all entered carriages for the ride up to the main house for a hearty tea.
After the meal, the men went off to talk over brandy and cigars while Anne and a number of the other ladies entertained on the piano. When the men joined them, the music ceased and conversation became the order of the day.
The men spent much of their time fishing. Much of the catch was thrown back, but enough fish were large enough that quite a lot of fish was consumed. The ladies spent the fishing time in quieter pursuits indoors, with some choosing to spend the time at the piano. Lady Russell spent as much time with Anne as she could. Anne casually shared information about how much their prize money investments had grown just in a little under two years and her expectation that she would be very comfortable. Lady Russell was relieved that Anne would be even better off than she was at Kellynch when she was with the Captain. Anne did share her worry that neither she nor Sophie had received any correspondence since October. Both were more than a little concerned. Lady Russell reassured her that she would hear soon and all would be well.
The second week of the party, the Stevenons again hosted the neighborhood, this time by holding a ball. Just because they had not wanted to go to town did not mean they did not enjoy the dancing. There were plenty of couples to make up a number of sets for dancing. Sir Michael brought the musicians out from Gloucester as they would provide better dance music than the local band used at common assemblies. All danced well into the night.
The rest of the month's planned festivities were primarily card parties and horseback riding. During the card parties, Anne provided background music. She still had not learned to enjoy cards. Some of the ladies would take sedate walks through the gardens and enjoy the beautiful flowers. Anne enjoyed that this year, she was not so involved in the garden activities and could simply enjoy watching them rather than helping plan them. There were no more classes for Anne. She was now just enjoying her time with Sophie and her relatives, waiting until her birthday and the return of the Captain. However, she continued to practice the new skills, although Nell was more involved in some, such as laundry, than she was.
Posted on 2015-01-28
By late April, planning for the wedding between Anne and the Captain began in earnest even though they still had not heard from either of the sailors since late autumn. Both Sophie and Anne were worried, but tried to act confident that all was well. As they were all seated in the main house parlor doing embroidery or crochet one afternoon, Lady Rachel said, "I think we should discuss wedding plans for Anne."
Anne started as she heard this. Lady Matilda said, "Anne, have you thought of what you would like your wedding to be like?"
"I think I would like something intimate and personal. I do not want something very fancy such as others might require. I loved Agatha's wedding. Something like that would be nice."
Lady Rachel asked, "Agatha wore my gown, as did your mother and Susan. Would that suit?"
"My mother wore it too?"
Lady Matilda answered, "Yes, she did. It looked very well on her and will on you."
Anne considered for a moment. "I think that would be wonderful."
Lady Rachel said, "Then we will begin the alterations. We will hope that the Captain can get a leave after the beginning of August. I think we should get everything planned now, and do all that we can to ensure that we have no delays. We do not want to have to wait for the gown once we have a date."
Anne smiled. "That would be perfect."
Sophie added, "I think that is wonderful. What a special family tradition to use the same dress."
Lady Rachel then asked, "Do you want to return to Kellynch? Or would you prefer to marry here or in town?"
"I have come to think of South Park as home. I would prefer to marry here, if that would be acceptable."
"Of course it would," answered Lady Matilda firmly.
Lady Rachel's dress was fitted to Anne by Mrs. Crouch, the same woman who had assisted in the learning about fabrics. Anne was pleased that the dressmaker was making the alterations to the beautiful lace gown. She would not trust her new skills to such a delicate operation. After about two weeks, all were pleased with the result.
As Anne modeled the dress, Lady Rachel said, "It is like seeing Elizabeth again, you are so very like her. We are lucky that all of you are built on a small scale like me and can wear the dress."
Lady Matilda added, "And that lets out Elizabeth as she is quite a bit larger. Mary too."
Anne said, "Mary passed me in height when she was about thirteen. However, she really appreciates new things, so I do not think she will mind having to find a new dress rather than remake this one, even with its sentimental value."
All knowing Mary as they did smiled at this characterization. While the dress was not new, all of the accessories would be. Therefore, a trip into the village was required to find the perfect pairings for veil and shoes.
Lady Rachel insisted that Sophie Croft select a new gown for the wedding at her expense. Sophie had thought to just wear her best dress. "My dear, it is not every day you acquire a new sister. Please let me get you a dress for the occasion."
Sophie replied, "Well, if you put it that way. But it needs to be something I can wear on formal occasions in the future."
Anne added, "Get something that looks nice but does not have the newest fashion in sleeves or color. That way, you can wear it for many years."
Sophie smiled and said, "That is good advice Anne. You are already thinking as a navy wife. Very well then, I will. Lady Rachel, thank you for the suggestion and the offer. I accept."
They continued to plan without knowing the final date or even if the Admiral would be able to be present. They knew that neither Percy nor Anthony were likely to be in England although that too could change. At present, the fighting on the continent had quieted down but the boys were still stationed away from England.
Based on their discussion about the kind of wedding, Anne and Lady Rachel decided that only family and close friends would be invited. Once Frederick returned, they would set a date as soon as possible, but no earlier than August 9, the day after Anne would achieve her majority. After much discussion, they determined that when the date was known, they would inform Sir Walter and Elizabeth so that they could attend if they wished. The rest of the family was notified of the current plans through regular correspondence. Most planned to attend, although those expecting babies would not be there if the wedding took place in early August.
During this time of uncertainty, Cordelia provided a welcome distraction. As Sophie had predicted, she changed from a wrinkled little bundle to a sweet little girl almost overnight. From week to week, it was apparent that she was thriving as she continued to grow. Sophie and Anne enjoyed spending time with her in the nursery, although Anne truly appreciated that she did not have to get up with her during the night. Daytime squalls could be loud enough before the little one was soothed. All were grateful for distance from her at night.
During one fussy morning, Anne asked, "Will you and Cordelia join the Admiral at sea as you have done in the past?"
Sophie smiled. "I hope we can. I find I miss him a great deal. We have spent almost all of our time together over the years and are accustomed to one another. It will be a challenge, but I hope the three of us can continue as we have done in the past. However, after this next tour when she is a baby, it will be more challenging. I guess we will just have to see as we go along and decide each time. While she is so small, I think we can manage it."
"Do most navy wives join their husbands?"
"Only captain's or admiral's wives can, but most choose not to. The others must wait on shore. I find I worry much more when I am not with him."
"I can see why that is. The lack of letters has become worrying."
"I do not know if I have ever waited so long for a letter. However, I am sure all is well," answered Sophie firmly.
Finally, at the beginning of May, both Sophie and Anne received a batch of letters from the Admiral and Frederick. The Admiral had been very successful in the capture of a prize ship after a number of close calls. He had successfully led a blockade and the ensuing fighting in the Baltic. Winter in the Baltic was challenging and very cold. Weather had been as much of a trial as the enemy. The harsh weather had created a need for constant repairs on all the ships in the fleet. Action with the enemy had caused severe damage to the flag ship, causing him to move to another for the balance of the winter.
The Mediterranean tour had been fairly quiet with only limited action. Mostly, it had consisted of patrols with few sightings of enemy ships. However, there had been one action in which Frederick had assisted in the capture of a prize ship. His share from that would be a nice addition to their investments. It was not as large as his big capture, but every addition would help their futures.
Both expected to return to England in late June or early July. The Admiral's fleet needed a great deal of refurbishment due to the harshness of the winter. The Laconia was still in good repair, so after a brief homecoming, Frederick would likely be out again in the early autumn. It appeared that they could plan on an August 9 wedding date.
After the receipt of these letters, Sophie and Anne gave heartfelt thanks at church the following Sunday. Both had been tense for the many months that no correspondence had been received. Anne wrote Lady Russell about Frederick's success. Knowing that Anne would be secure, no matter what the future brought, helped Lady Russell to move from acceptance to enthusiastic support for Anne's new life.
The knowledge that the sailors would be home allowed them to finalize the wedding plans. Invitations were sent to the extended family, with acceptances arriving from those who would not be in confinement. The Musgroves and Lady Russell were invited from Somerset. A couple of Anne's friends from school, who were already married, were invited. Frederick's friend Lieutenant Harville and his wife were invited. All were truly excited for Anne and Frederick. The invitation also went to Kellynch. A formal note arrived from Sir Walter stating that they would be in attendance.?
In June, Elizabeth had another birthday. She was very displeased that she was still unmarried and that her season in London had again not resulted in an offer of marriage or even a serious suitor. Anne sent congratulation, as was her custom, in her regular correspondence to Kellynch. Elizabeth did not bother to respond. However, from Lady Russell's letter, Anne gathered that Elizabeth was not pleased that Anne would marry before she did. Elizabeth still did not understand why she had never received an offer of marriage in spite of her acknowledged beauty. There was no one to teach her what roadblocks she was placing to prevent such an offer. Needless to say, Kellynch did not host any kind of celebration this year. Elizabeth was too frustrated to want to celebrate the passage of time. When she was finally successful in her matrimonial quest, then she would celebrate again.
Now that Mary would be sixteen in November, she left school for the final time that June. She went first to Kellynch for a short visit, as it had been a year since she had been home. Although her father had made the effort to fetch her from school, it was the only effort he made. She found it as lonely as ever. Since she was not as close to Lady Russell as Anne was, there seemed no one to talk to on her visit unless she went to Uppercross. Elizabeth could not be bothered. Therefore, she spent most of her time with Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove at Uppercross. She would practice piano in the morning, visit with Lady Russell for a short time, then mount up her horse and ride over to Uppercross almost every day.
Although they had a number of years left in school and she was now 'out,' she still enjoyed their company. Mrs. Musgrove was also fun to visit and always provided a lovely tea. She also enjoyed becoming better acquainted with Charles although they did not spend too much time together. She generally saw him when she enjoyed tea with the family. He would tease his sisters and share funny stories of things that had happened on the estate that day. Mary thought he was an interesting young man. However, she was still more interested in his sisters. She would keep a regular correspondence with the Musgrove girls and perhaps could invite them to visit her in South Park at some point in the future.
While these visits were enjoyable, the time spent at Kellynch was not. Although they hosted one card party, which Mary enjoyed, nothing else social took place. She saw her father and sister only at supper unless she came home from Uppercross early to sit in the parlor with them. All they seemed to do was sit around, occasionally reading a fashion magazine. They did not talk, even with each other, as neither ever had anything interesting to say. The parlor was even more boring than supper, because at table, at least they could talk about the food. After two weeks, Mary wrote her uncle asking him to find time to collect her. She had had enough.
After three weeks, Mary left Kellynch with Sir Michael and Lady Matilda. They had a lovely ride together to South Park as Mary talked about school and her visit to Kellynch. Upon arrival, Mary moved into permanent quarters at South Park. From here on out, she would be treated as a daughter of Lady Matilda and remain with them, visiting her father when he and Elizabeth made their journey to town in the late winter. She might return to Kellynch with them for a short visit, but then she would come home to South Park. She knew she would make many new friends and find someone suitable from among them to marry. She no longer had the attitude that made people want to spend little time in her company.
"Aunt, I cannot thank you and Uncle Michael enough for inviting me to live with you. Although I am only a niece, I feel of more importance here than I do at home. Father tends to forget I am even around. I had more meals at Uppercross than Kellynch on my visit. I can understand why Anne is happier here. You are always so kind to us."
Lady Matilda smiled at her niece. "In many homes, children are not acknowledged by the parents until they become adults. They are left to the governesses and nannies. Your father probably does not have the skills to understand how to be interested in others. I am sure he loves you, and while I do not want to be critical, I do not think he knows how to relate to people. He only relates to himself. I think he and your sister are similar in that respect and do not even realize their deficits. You probably have only learned to think of others and recognize that those two ignore you because of your exposure to those of us who act differently."
"Do you think Elizabeth will ever marry?"
"I think it will be difficult for her. She alienates most men upon first acquaintance, which is what your father also does. It is hard to recover in a relationship when you begin by creating ill will. In actuality, she is so condescending upon introduction that many eligible men just back away immediately. They can find someone much more congenial very easily. Being pleasant and interested in people goes a long way to creating comfortable interactions. You will likely succeed if you think of others, rather than yourself, and try to put them at ease and make them comfortable."
"Why, that is what Anne always does!"
Lady Matilda smiled again. "Yes, she is quite talented at listening."
"Listening is a talent?"
"Oh yes. It is a very important talent. If you want a good relationship with someone, you must be able to truly listen. You must hear what is behind the words, not just the words someone says."
Mary pondered for a moment. "That is why the family knows when to tease and when not to, isn't it? Most of them can hear the message behind the words."
"Yes. I am proud that you have matured enough to recognize that. If you want a marriage based on respect and esteem, listening is a very important skill for you to master."
"Aunt Matilda, thank you for this chat. I do not think anyone has ever explained this to me. It really does make sense. I will try."
"Our visits to tenants are a very good time to try to develop this talent."
Mary nodded her understanding at her aunt and continued to think about the need to listen to others. She realized that Lady Russell did so, but not with the patience that Anne had. Some of the younger cousins were not as gifted as the older generation, but most did seem to possess this skill. As she thought more, she realized that Mrs. Musgrove had it, but none of the rest of the Musgroves did.
Both Lady Matilda and Lady Rachel determined to teach Mary about household management, both of a manor house, and also of a simpler home as Anne had learned to manage. Mary was amazed at how many different things there were that needed to be done. As she learned about manor management from the housekeeper at South Park, she realized that Elizabeth only did a portion of the job. She never stirred herself to do any of the things necessary for the assistance and oversight of the lives of the tenants upon which Kellynch depended. She also never tended to the minor difficulties that would eventually lead to larger problems in the house as they had discussed before. She began to wonder if that would lead to difficulties in the future.
At the start of each day, Lady Matilda and Mary met with the housekeeper to review menus and discuss any issues within the house. Mary listened closely to these discussions. She realized that Lady Matilda seemed to be a partner with the housekeeper. She never talked condescendingly. She considered every suggestion and issue very carefully and always solicited the housekeeper's advice. When they were finished one day, Mary asked, "You rely very heavily on Mrs. Carpenter, don't you?"
Lady Matilda replied, "Yes. We do. She keeps everything running smoothly so none of the family or visitors are ever in need of anything. You have heard of all that Anne has learned to do. Well, Mrs. Carpenter ensures that I never need to do any of those things. She oversees everyone and makes our life so comfortable."
"You treat her as your equal." While delivered as a statement, Lady Matilda could see the question in the comment.
"She is not my social equal, and she would be horrified to be expected to attend us in the parlor or drawing room as if she were. However, she is highly competent and intelligent. In many ways, she is my partner. Do you think we could work well together if I were to be condescending? Would she feel free to disagree with me or question me where she saw I was making a mistake?"
Mary thought for a moment. "No, I guess she would not. I think I need to watch how to speak to those of lesser rank without trying to sound superior."
Lady Matilda replied, "If you watch your grandmother, sister, and I with the servants and tenants, I think you can learn that. Now, let us go visit that tenant Mrs. Carpenter mentioned so that we can see what we can do to provide some assistance."
The following week, they started the discussions with Mary about fabrics and care. After the trip to the village to learn about material, all the women assisted Mary in ordering and sewing portions of a new, adult wardrobe. A couple of her schoolgirl dresses could be refashioned for working clothes which would be adequate for what she would learn to do. For the rest, she was now 'out' and needed to dress appropriate to her new station. They spent an afternoon going through the fashion book selecting items that would flatter her. After selecting the dresses, they also selected the material for each. Mary reveled in the attention as she preened in her new clothes.
The Stevensons held a family celebration for her once the wardrobe was complete. Neighbors were invited for dinner and a card party to which Mary was invited. For the first time, she attended as an adult and not an on-looker. She loved it. It was much nicer than the party at Kellynch had been. She enjoyed cards much more than Anne did. Anne chose to provide background music, much as she had at most card parties. After this party, Mary was always invited with the rest of the family to the neighboring events. Being 'out' was very rewarding for her.
At the end of this card-party, as Anne was preparing to return to the dower house, she spent a quiet moment with Mary. "I want you to know how proud of you I am. You behaved so graciously, especially listening to those hunting stories from Mr. Price. I know they get boring, but you never showed it once. Well done."
Mary blushed at the praise and replied, "I have been learning about listening from Aunt Matilda. I had never understood how important it is. I will admit I did not care for the stories, but, he seems a very nice man. I did not want to make him uncomfortable by ignoring him."
"If you continue on this path, I think you will find many more friends in future and a great deal of enjoyment."
"Thank you, Anne. I plan to."
Mary now regularly assisted Lady Matilda in her visits to tenants. She learned from her aunt the reasons for the things that Anne had done in Kellynch and how much difference this care made in the lives of the tenants. She began to gain real satisfaction from these visits. She spent much of the time listening, finally starting to learn how to address those of lesser rank in a positive manner.
Posted on 2015-02-04
At the beginning of July, Edward Wentworth arrived as previously planned. Sophie was pleased to see her brother again. He was amazed at how much Cordelia had grown.
"Of course, I see it in my parish, but it always amazes me how fast babies grow. She was so tiny when we christened her and now she is quite an armful."
Sophie smiled in reply. "She won't remain peacefully in your arms for long. She is quite active. If we put her down, she has become mobile and will scoot away very quickly considering that she scoots along on her stomach."
Edward laughed and said, "I should like to see that."
He handed her back to her mother who replied, "Then come spend some time with us in the nursery."
He followed the two of them up to the nursery and spent a happy hour watching his little niece. As he and Sophie returned to the parlor in the dower house to continue their visit, he said thoughtfully, "Perhaps once I am settled in Yorkshire, it is time that I begin looking for a partner for my life. You and James are certainly happy, and it seems Frederick has found his companion."
Sophie answered, "I find it hard to think that I may no longer accompany James on his assignments within the next couple of years. I think we might manage this next time, but in the future, I suspect Cordelia and I will be landbound when he must be at sea. I certainly missed his company this time. I do not know how you can be comfortable on your own all the time. I hope you do start looking around for someone."
"Since I have always been curate, there hasn't really been sufficient income. This time, I have the living, so will have slightly more resources. As I say, perhaps it is time."
The first weeks of July were pleasant, not overly hot, so everyone spent much time out of doors. Riding and walking were common activities, and Edward and Sir Michael found they very much enjoyed fishing together, particularly when the ladies were talking wedding details.
Finally, in mid-July, both Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft arrived at South Park. They had both returned to Portsmouth and journeyed to South Park together. Everyone was overjoyed to greet them. Their carriage arrived at the main house, and a footman was dispatched to find Sophie and Anne. By the time both men had refreshed and returned to the parlor, the women from the dower house awaited them.
As they entered the room, both stopped in amazement to see the little girl in Sophie's arms. With a smile, Sophie said, "I would like to present Cordelia Croft. After a little excitement, she joined us at the end of February."
James marveled over her. "So wondrous tiny. She will grow, won't she?"
Sophie laughed, "Of course she will. She already has. She was much smaller when she was born. She has grown enough that she has started moving around under her own power. This might make my accompanying you on your next assignment a little complicated."
Croft laughed in return and said, "Well, if that is so, we must find a comfortable place for the two of you then when I return to sea. But surely the two of you can join my next tour if it isn't in a war zone. If we go back to the Indies, I will want you both with me."
"We shall see."
Frederick also admired his new niece. "Sophie, you've done well. She is quite the beauty."
Edward added, "She has. Cordelia is quite the charmer"
Frederick replied, "It is wonderful to see you here. I admit, I am happily surprised to have you greet me, Edward. I did not suspect you would be here already."
"I am in the process of moving to Yorkshire. When I was here for the christening, the Stevensons graciously invited me to visit before reporting to my new parish. I left Monkford at the beginning of the month and report to Yorkshire in August. I have enjoyed spending time with everyone here. You are joining a wonderful family."
Admiral Croft agreed, "It is wonderful to have the entire family here to greet us."
All settled into the parlor to catch up on greetings. Shortly, dinner was announced. Lady Rachel refused an escort, so Sir Michael escorted Lady Matilda. Frederick took Anne's arm, the Admiral took Sophie's, leaving Edward to escort Mary. As he had usually escorted his sister, leaving Anne and Mary together, Mary enjoyed this. It reinforced that she was now an adult.
At dinner, both sailors shared stories of the past year at sea. They made the tales as exciting as possible, and then reminded everyone that things may not have been quite so exciting when they were living through the events.
In the parlor after the meal, Anne shared the current wedding plans with Frederick. He agreed to the proposed schedule, so August 9 would be the wedding date. The banns would be read July 24, 31, and August 7. Sir Michael and Lady Matilda would invite all the guests to come at their earliest convenience and stay with them at South Park until after the festivities. Everyone was pleased that within a month, Anne would become Mrs. Wentworth.
The next morning, the ladies sent notices to all the invitees that the date was set. All were invited to come to South Park at their earliest convenience to spend time with Anne and Frederick before the wedding.
While the ladies were busy, the Admiral and Captain joined the others at the pond for a quiet morning of fishing and casual conversation. Since Frederick had never really liked having women on board, and he would now have Anne and Nell, he and James discussed the logistics of managing the crew in the presence of the women. By the time the fishing expedition was complete, Frederick felt much more comfortable with having Anne join him. Both men were curious to see how it would work out with Cordelia on board as well.
That first afternoon, Anne and Frederick spent most of the time strolling in the gardens. Anne discussed all the new skills she had learned and her satisfaction with them. With the prize ships he had captured, they would be even more comfortable now and less likely to need many of them. But still, these new skills would enable them to be comfortable wherever they found themselves in the future. And the illness and wound care would likely be called upon while on board ship. He was grateful that Anne had been willing to make so many changes in case they were necessary. He was also proud that most of that new learning would not be necessary as he would be able to support her in a comfortable fashion.
Since Anne's majority was approaching, Sir Michael and Uncle Hugh undertook to see that Anne's dowry would be transferred on the scheduled wedding date. Correspondence with Sir Walter had been frustrating until they began communicating only with his solicitor, Mr. Shepherd. They finally obtained agreement and got all the paperwork signed so that Anne would have what she was promised. Sir Michael notified Anne that all was well with the settlement. Since Captain Wentworth had had such success, the money was not needed, but would provide a nice supplement. The Captain designated the dowry for Anne in the settlement papers he had drawn up along with an additional sum in the prize money investment account. It took only a week to have all the paperwork for transfer and settlement complete.
Anne, Sir Michael, Hugh, and the Captain spent quite a lot of time going through the settlement, helping Anne to understand the ramifications of the terms. The Captain was quite generous, far more than her father had been, to Anne's immense gratitude.
Within a week of sending out the invitations, friends and family began to arrive. Anne was introduced to the Harvilles, who were particularly close friends of Frederick's. Lieutenant Harville was a tall, dark man, with a sensible, benevolent countenance. He was the perfect gentleman, unaffected, warm, and obliging. Mrs. Harville was a degree less polished than her husband, but was always open and friendly. Mrs. Harville did not travel with her husband as he was not a captain and, with two young children, it would have been too complicated. She generally lived in lodgings with the two children and Lieutenant Harville's sister, Fanny. Fanny was currently tending the two children so her brother and his wife could attend the wedding without worrying about the children.
Anne found she enjoyed Mrs. Harville's company, as did Sophie. She particularly enjoyed hearing stories about their experiences as navy wives. The three spent a lot of time alone together in the few days before more of the guests arrived.
Ethel and William brought little Will, their new addition, who had arrived as expected in late spring. The other expectant cousins did not attend as they were too close to their due dates. They sent best wishes instead. Now there were two babies to coo over before they were returned to the safety of the nursery each day.
Anne's few friends arrived along with their husbands. More and more, the group of men spent most of their time fishing or riding. Once again, fish made regular appearances at the table. The women would visit the children in residence in the nursery, then spend time together reading, playing cards, or doing needlework, often in the garden. With so many visitors, South Park was very lively.
The Musgroves arrived at the beginning of August. Mary was happy to have Henrietta and Louisa to visit with. She had felt a little shy at all the older adults attending the wedding. It was nice that there were some people closer to her age, even if they were a bit younger. Charles had also come, but the younger children had been left at home. Charles and Mr. Musgrove spent the time getting to know Frederick and James as well as the Stevenson family members and other guests. They found they had much in common with all but James who was entirely nautical. Mrs. Musgrove was happy to share her gratitude for his command of Dick Musgrove with Frederick. Although he had not enjoyed having Dick aboard ship, Frederick was very diplomatic in his comments with Mrs. Musgrove.
Mrs. Musgrove exclaimed, "I am sure, it was a luck day for us when you were put captain to that ship. We will never forget what you did for Richard."
Frederick smiled and replied, "I hope I always help my men progress."
"He was such an excellent correspondent while he was under your care. We are very sorry he ever left you."
"Just so." Anne could see by a certain glance of his eye and curl of his mouth that he had probably been at some pains to get rid of him. However, he sat with Mrs. Musgrove and talked with her about her son with sympathy that showed the kindest consideration for all her motherly feelings.
While Mary, Henrietta, and Louisa spent some time alone together, they spent much more of it with the rest of the women. While the younger two were not out, they were generally treated as if they were. This highly gratified them. However, all three tended to listen more than they talked as they marveled in the variety of things the rest of the women were discussed. Given the variety of backgrounds, the topics were wide-ranging, many never even mentioned at Uppercross. Some of it was boring, but for the most part, they truly enjoyed themselves.
On August 6, Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Lady Russell arrived at South Park. They had traveled together although only Lady Russell was happy to attend. Sir Walter only appeared because not to do so would cause him to lose face within the family. He still felt that alliance with Wentworth was degrading for the Elliot name. However, he had been overruled and had no say in the matter. For Elizabeth, it provided an excuse for a new gown and an opportunity to appraise a new set of possible suitors. She was still unhappy that her younger sister would marry before she did. Lady Russell was happy to celebrate with Anne.
The three were shown into the entry at South Park where Lady Matilda awaited them. With a smile, she greeted, "Thank you for coming. The maid will show you to your rooms to refresh. We await you in the parlor with tea and biscuits."
Lady Russell asked, "Is Anne there too?"
"No, but she should be arriving shortly. She and her grandmother are visiting a tenant who gave birth yesterday. They will be here as soon as they are finished."
Lady Russell smiled and nodded as they all turned to follow the maid up the steps. Elizabeth had frowned upon hearing what Anne was up to. She never understood all this interest in the tenants.
Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Lady Russell returned to the parlor in due course. There, Lady Matilda introduced them to the Harvilles. She also introduced Lady Russell to the extended Stevenson family, whom she had not previously met, as well as some of the other visitors.
Lady Russell settled in next to Mrs. Harville while Sir Walter and Elizabeth made small talk with the cousins. "Have you known Captain Wentworth long, Mrs. Harville?"
"Oh yes, we have. My husband has served with him for a number of years. You could not find a better man. He will take excellent care of Miss Anne." They continued in quiet conversation until Anne arrived.
When Anne finally arrived, Lady Russell said, "Anne dear, I am so grateful I could be here to celebrate this happy occasion with you. I have learned so much from Mrs. Harville. I can now see that the Captain will provide all that is truly important to you. Please forgive my earlier opposition."
With a large smile, Anne responded, "Gladly. You will see that Captain Wentworth is truly all that I need to be happy."
She then turned to welcome her father and sister who made welcoming noises in response. Mary followed her into the room and also gave her regards to all three. She sat next to Mrs. Harville and Lady Russell and became involved in conversation with them. Lady Russell marveled at how poised Mary had become and what an excellent young lady she seemed to be. She said to her, "Mary, I know your mother would be proud of the young lady you have become. It warms my heart so to see it."
Mary smiled, "Thank you. I am glad you think Mother would approve."
After a short time, the Musgroves entered the parlor; Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove visited with the Elliots while the daughters and Charles went to sit with Mary. Elizabeth eyed the group warily. He was only a minor landowner but not unattractive. Unfortunately, he had never paid her the slightest bit of attention. She wondered if he might be looking at Mary in a new light now that she was no longer a schoolgirl. It would be insupportable if both of her sisters married before she did. She spent more of her time watching them than in attending to her own conversation.
When they had first arrived, Charles had just watched as Mary, Louisa and Henrietta had caught up on the news from the past month since Mary had left Kellynch. He was aware that she was looking very different and interested to hear why that was. Now that he was paying attention to the girls' conversation, he heard, "It has been so interesting. Grandmother and Aunt are helping me learn to manage an estate. I now help with the tenants, am learning what the housekeeper is managing, and am having so much fun helping. I never understood how satisfying it is doing ones duty, but now it is becoming much more evident. I also get to play with baby Cordelia and she is so fun now."
Louisa asked, "We always have babies at home and they are never fun. How can Cordelia be fun? She is only little still."
Mary smiled and said, "You can see that she is learning so much every day. She can now scoot around, and it is so funny to see her try to get across the room to acquire something that has caught her eye. I am able to play with her every few days, so I can see how much she has grown each time."
Henrietta shook her head. "I never see that in our little brothers and sisters. Probably because we see them every day when we are home. They do change while we are away at school though. Maybe I should spend more time getting to know them."
At this point Charles asked, "What else do you do, Miss Mary?"
She said, "Well, I still practice piano almost every day. I quite enjoy it now. I am learning to make lace, which is a nice change from embroidery, although I'm not very good at it yet. I visit with the gardeners to understand what they are planting, and I visit tenants who need some assistance. Oh, and I will be learning about how herbs can help ailments just as Anne has. Aunt and Uncle have card parties which I find I enjoy. Next winter, they will give me a short Season in town. I am looking forward to that."
Louisa squealed at that and said, "How wonderful. Perhaps someone will come and sweep you off your feet."
Mary smiled and replied, "Perhaps."
As talk turned to other things, Charles realized that he might have to reconsider Miss Mary. There was more to her than simply a friend of his sisters. There was some depth he had never noticed nor considered before.
The extended family had a relatively lively dinner, then settled to hear Anne and Mary play for them. Elizabeth felt a little uncomfortable that, after those three, Ethel also played as did Anne's friends. It had been so long since she had touched a piano that she could no longer participate. It was a little embarrassing that she was the only young woman who did not play. Conversation was about current events, of which neither Elizabeth nor Sir Walter were conversant. They were frequently silent, having little to contribute. Lady Russell greatly enjoyed the stimulating evening. It was as if some of her thoughts were coming awake from the stimulation. She realized that stimulating conversations were now entirely absent from Kellynch.
The next day was filled with final preparations for the birthday celebration and wedding. Anne spent much of her morning in the garden talking with Frederick, the Crofts and the Harvilles. They spoke of the life of a navy family and what she might expect. Mrs. Harville and Sophie Croft had different perspectives since the one stayed behind and the other generally accompanied. Anne felt warmly embraced by the sisterhood of the navy wives.
Anne spent the afternoon with Lady Russell sharing reminiscences. They spoke first of Lady Elliot's marriage; they spoke of Lady Russell's marriage and the loss of her husband; then followed the long friendship between Lady Elliot and Lady Russell; and finally they spoke of the loss of Lady Elliot. Now that she was so happy, Anne found that she could discuss all of this with some detachment. She now had such access to happiness, between Frederick and his family, and the Stevensons, that the unhappiness attendant upon life at Kellynch was more like a dream than reality. She actually had pity for her father and sister because there was no depth to their lives.
On August 8, Anne turned twenty one. She awoke with a smile on her face knowing that now she and Frederick could be united. She dressed quickly and headed to the breakfast sitting on the sideboard at the main house. With the entire family in residence, all meals were now served there with no cooking taking place in the dower house for the duration.
As she nibbled at her muffin, Frederick entered the room. His entire face lit up when he saw her, and she responded in kind. Lady Russell, who was also sitting at table with Anne, smiled ruefully when she saw this and said, "Captain, I hope you will forgive my earlier opposition to your marriage. I was not opposed to you personally, although it may have seemed so. I just wanted what I thought was best for Anne. I feared that you would condemn her to a life of hard work and unhappiness. She always had faith that such would not be the case. She was even willing to acquire skills to make life happy if finances required it. She had far more faith in you than I did. I am happy to be proven wrong. I want her to be happy and can see that you will be the one to see to it."
Frederick smiled and replied, "Thank you. That cannot have been easy for you to say. I will do all in my power to watch over her and make her happy. She means everything to me. As I was at sea most of the past two years, we have not lost too much time together by having to wait. She could not have joined me on the Asp; it was too small. My promotion to the Laconia changes things though, so that she can accompany me in the future. And she has learned so much that will make our lives easier through the years that the wait has been worth it. However, I am glad we wait no longer."
Later in the morning, the family gathered to formally wish Anne many happy returns. This was the most festive birthday she could remember since the death of Lady Elliot. Since her father and sister rarely remembered the day, this was, in fact, the first celebration since then with them included. Anne received tokens of love and appreciation from all of the assembled family and friends. Her father and Uncle Hugh approached her together. Her father said, "My gift is the formal turning over of your dowry. Hugh has the signed paperwork. You are now in charge of your own destiny." With that, he nodded his head to her and turned away. He was very uncomfortable in this company where he was outranked by his brother-in-law the earl. Since he did not like the man, he never knew what to say to him. He also disliked Sir Michael, but as his own baronetcy was older, he felt comfortable ignoring him. He was also intimidated by Lady Rachel. The sooner they returned to Kellynch, the better.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent ensuring that all was ready for the wedding. All of the ladies were shown the lovely gown and were enthusiastic in their praise of wearing a family heirloom. Flowers were arranged multiple times until all were satisfied at the result, both in the chapel, and in the house. After some discussion, Lady Rachel and Sophie Croft took Anne aside to give her a glimpse into the physical side of marriage that was never discussed before the day. With much blushing on her side, and more practicality on theirs, they reassured and educated her at the same time. All were grateful when that task was complete.
Posted on 2015-02-11
The chapel at South Park was filled with flowers the morning of August 9. The sun shone, but the day was not overly warm. Anne chose to have her Uncle Michael escort her down the aisle, rather than her father. For her, this was a strong statement about the hurt his lack of support had caused her. Mary and Sophie Croft were her attendants. Sir Walter sat in the chapel with a scowl on his face at being relegated to onlooker.
Frederick had Admiral Croft as a best man, and Lieutenant Harville as his groomsman. The local minister and Mr. Wentworth officiated together. Lady Rachel quietly wiped tears from her eyes as she watched this favorite granddaughter take a step into her future, a future her father would have denied her. She was grateful to have had Anne live with her these past two years, grateful for Mary's growing maturity and future company, and happy at the occasion.
As all stood with the bridal fanfare, Sir Walter turned to see this unremarkable daughter walk down the aisle on the arm of her uncle. Upon seeing her, he was shocked to see, not Anne, but his Elizabeth as she had looked when she became Lady Elliot. It was she first time he had ever realized that Anne so resembled her mother. It brought back the memory of their nuptials and the happiness she had brought into his life. After a moment of reflection, the scowl returned. He was still unhappy that Anne would ally herself to someone so far beneath them. With Mary living at South Park, Elizabeth was all that was left to him. She would ensure the type of marriage required of an Elliot. Elizabeth tried to enjoy the ceremony, but she was also unhappy. She should be the one marrying, not Anne. Anne was nothing. Why was she the one marrying and not Elizabeth? Or course, Elizabeth would never accept someone like Frederick Wentworth, but still...
Mr. Wentworth read Paul's letter to the Corinthians defining charity or love and its place within the marriage. Mr. Wilson, the local parson, read the wedding ceremony and gave the couple a sermon on the duties of married couples to love and support one another. It was a simple ceremony. However, Anne and Frederick had eyes only for one another and heard not a word of the sermon. Many of the married couples in attendance were seen to nod their heads in agreement with many of his points. Finally, they recited their vows to one another. Anne in a steady voice, and Frederick in a louder voice, affirmed their love for one another. Finally, they were pronounced man and wife and introduced as such to the assembled congregation.
The couple and Mr. Wilson quickly repaired to the registry to sign and complete the official paperwork. Then Anne and Frederick must receive the congratulations of all present. The women all kissed Anne on the cheek as they offered their best wishes and told her of how lovely she looked. The men shook hands with Frederick and told him he was a lucky devil. Elizabeth was the sole exception in the women. She merely offered Anne her hand and said, "I hope you are happy." She then turned away to look down her nose at the group.
Sir Walter was one of the last to come up to Anne. After clearing his throat, he said, "You look very much like your mother today. It was like seeing her as a young woman again. You must have done something new, you are in such good looks today." No word of congratulation was offered.
"Thank you, Father. Perhaps happiness has improved my complexion this day." He nodded and moved to join Elizabeth at one side.
To Elizabeth, he said, "I am surprised by how much like your mother Anne looks today. I would never have credited it."
"Yes, she is looking well today. However, I cannot say much for most of her friends."
"Yes, they are a rather ruddy and frightful looking group. At least we will not have to be seen with them after today."
Once everyone had offered their best wishes, all gathered into the waiting carriages and returned to South Park for the lovely breakfast Lady Matilda and Lady Rachel had planned.
The wedding breakfast was sumptuous. The guests enjoyed the food and one another's company. Elizabeth continued to keep an eye out for any likely companion but failed to find one that suited her. With her estimation of their looks, she never even tried to strike up an conversation with anyone at all. She and Sir Walter sat by Lady Russell and confined conversation to her. Once they had finished eating, they were more than ready to depart. She and her father actually left even before the bridal couple. Lady Russell stayed for a while longer before she left for Bath. Her carriage had followed had arrived the previous day so she would not need to return to Kellynch with the Elliots.
After the breakfast, the Crofts and Edward Wentworth headed to Yorkshire to help him settle in his new home. At the request of the Stevensons, the Crofts would return to South Park before returning to sea. They all felt as if Sophie were now one of the family, and they could not do without her unless she and Cordelia were to go to sea with him this time. The Musgroves stayed an additional day as did Anne's friends and the Harvilles. Then, all returned home.
After the breakfast and some visiting with all of their friends, Anne and Frederick said farewells and entered their carriage. They had decided not to go far. They were headed to a quiet cottage at Frampton on Severn so as to spend a couple of quiet weeks together near the water.
The extended Stevensons stayed at South Park for a couple of days enjoying the family time together. Delivery dates were drawing near for the cousins who had not attended the wedding. Lady Susan wanted to get back for Cora's delivery, and Margaret wanted to get to town for Arabella's and Agatha's. Finally, South Park was quiet again.
Anne and Frederick enjoyed an idyllic time becoming more intimately acquainted with one another. They spent a great deal of time alone together although each noon they would exit the cottage for a stroll along the river and the beach. After some initial shyness, they found a shared passion together and enjoyed their intimacies greatly. By the end of their honeymoon, they were more in love than ever.
Each day, they would take delight in one another. Late in the morning, they would take a long walk along the river or the beach and enjoy the beautiful scenery and weather. Dinners were quiet with simple food. The servants were unobtrusive and careful of the newlywed's privacy. Each evening, Nell would help Anne to change into a simple nightdress. She was privately pleased to see how, after the nervousness of the first night, she could see that Anne now anticipated her time with the Captain and was not quite so shy.
After everyone left South Park, Lady Matilda went to town to attend the births of her new grandson James, Junior, and granddaughter Rachel. She knew Lady Rachel would be touched by this tribute of Agatha's for her beloved grandmother. Both families were doing well after the confinements. The babies were beautiful and healthy, which was what mattered most. However, she cut her visit short as word reached her that Lady Rachel had fallen seriously ill.
Lady Rachel took to her bed with a severe cough shortly after Lady Matilda left for town. She had great trouble catching her breath. Nothing they could do offered any relief. As Lady Rachel weakened and her illness lingered, Lady Matilda moved her up to the main house so she and Mary could better assist in her care. Mary had superintended that care in Lady Matilda's absence and feared that she was not doing enough to help her. She was reassured when Lady Matilda finally returned and saw what she had managed.
"You have done quite well, Mary. You did everything that was proper, from having the apothecary in, to moving down to the dower house to be there to assist. You have given her nourishing soups, when she could eat, and eased her as much as possible."
"But it isn't enough. She isn't getting any better. I feel so helpless."
"That is what we all feel when we see someone we love suffer."
As Lady Matilda assessed the condition of her mother-in-law, she was appalled at how frail Lady Rachel had become. She wanted to immediately notify the entire family. Lady Rachel refused to allow Lady Matilda to inform Anne of the illness, not wanting Anne and Frederick to return early from their trip. "I am sorry Michael felt he needed to bring you back. You should be enjoying your new grandchildren."
"They are both going to be following me here. I will see them again shortly."
Between fits of coughing, she rasped, "Do not send for Anne and Frederick. Let the children enjoy their first days together in peace. Should I be taken, they can return to pay their respects. If I am still here when they return, time enough then to be together until the end."
Lady Matilda replied, "Mother, I wish you wouldn't talk like that. We would like for you to recover, not pass on. Could you not stay for a while longer?"
Lady Rachel smiled and said, "I would like to, but I have a feeling my time is near. It has been a good life. But I miss James and do look forward to seeing him again."
Mary sniffed, "I am just getting to know you better. I wish you would reconsider."
Lady Rachel patted her hand and said, "Child, it isn't really up to me. However, you will still have everyone else here, including Anne. I might have feared how you would turn out a few years ago, but the young lady I see before me know is very pleasing. I know you will be able to create a happy life for yourself now. And Matilda and Michael will help you with your reason next winter. You shall see. All will be well."
Lady Matilda then shooed them all out of the room and helped Lady Rachel prepare for bed. She joined the rest in the parlor and said, "I do hope Frederick and Anne return soon. Michael, we should notify the rest of the family so that any who want to say good-bye can do so."
Sir Michael agreed and said, "If you think it has come to that, I will attend to it right now." He headed to his study and wrote messages to the rest of the family members and sent them off express. Because of the unpleasantness with the Elliot's, he did not bother to send to them. He would notify them after the fact so they could attend the service if they desired.
Within days, the extended family arrived. None had expected to be at South Park under such circumstances. Those who had just delivered babies had all made the journey although they showed the newborns only once to Lady Rachel and kept them far enough away to keep away from the bad air. Otherwise, Lady Rachel had companions with her attending to her needs as each family member shared their love and concern.
After their two week wedding trip, Anne and Frederick finally returned from Frampton on Severn. They found Lady Rachel failing fast. She had really been hanging on until their return. After changing from traveling clothes and cleaning up, they went to Lady Rachel's room. Although talking was a struggle, there was something she needed to say to Anne.
Taking Anne's hand, she said, "My dear. You cannot know what joy I have felt these past two years with you. I know I leave you in good hands. Matilda will care for Mary. Besides the training, I have one last gift to give you. While Michael will always welcome you here, I have a small home just outside of Portsmouth that was part of my wedding portion. I have left that to you in my will. I would like you to have a place to come home to, one that is near where the Captain is stationed when he is not at sea but is under orders. Since he often sails from Portsmouth, I thought it would be ideal for the two of you. It should be large enough for you to be comfortable for many years." She then had a severe fit of coughing.
Anne replied, "Oh grandmother, do not talk like that. You are not going anywhere. But we do appreciate the legacy you are leaving us and not just the house. I would ask how your family came to have a house in Portsmouth, but do not want to tire you, so I will ask Uncle for the information."
"He cannot tell you. I had an uncle who left me that house. He had been in the navy. He thought I might have a use for it one day. I love you Anne." Then another spasm of coughing racked her body.
Lady Matilda came in and shooed them from the room. She had a bowl of broth that would soothe the coughing with her. "Here, let me help her a bit. You two go get settled back in. We will talk at supper."
When everyone was seated around the table, Lady Matilda began, "Mother is not doing very well today. We had the doctor visit her this morning. He thinks the end is near. She has said she does not want us to regret her passing. She has lived a full life and is getting tired and ready to go. However, she has also said how very happy she has been to have Anne, Sophie, and Mary so much a part of her life these past years as she has had the rest of us for so much longer. It has meant everything to her." After a short pause, she continued, "Michael, Mother told Anne of her bequest in Portsmouth. Since you helped Hugh take care of the dowry, you will both be required to help again. I think Mother was just waiting for Anne to return before letting herself go."
Sir Michael replied, "I know I speak for Hugh when I say that we will see to everything. Have no fear about that. And Mary, Mother's passing will change nothing for you except the loss of her company. Matilda will continue your training and next winter, we will take you to town as we did the others. You will have a home with us for as long as you choose." Hugh and Matilda both nodded their heads in agreement.
There was a suspicious amount of sniffing around the table. Then the conversation moved on to more cheerful matters as Frederick and Anne shared the beautiful sights they had seen near their cottage in Frampton on Severn. The combination of river and sea had been quite picturesque.
After supper, Mary entertained everyone on the piano playing pieces that were rather contemplative. After a pleasant time, they headed for Lady Rachel's room to wish her a good night. Each of the women had spent at least part of the afternoon or evening at her bedside. For the night, Lady Rachel refused all companions. She guessed it would be her last and she did not want a witness to remember her as gasping at the end. While not happy with her decision, they all understood. Since she had so much trouble breathing, they all knew it would not be long now.
In their room, Anne and Frederick discussed the legacy they were to receive. The faith that Lady Rachel had always shown in their future was so reassuring. "If Sophie and Cordelia don't joint the Admiral at sea, perhaps they can stay in the house. Since I plan to join you, at least until we have children, we will not need it for ourselves just yet."
Frederick smiled. "That would be nice, wouldn't it? Until this last year, she has always joined him at sea. Some of that is that she cannot do without him. I suspect some is also because she would have only Edward to stay with, and she was not keen on assisting in parish work. I am not sure how a baby will change her expectations."
"Then I shall make her the offer. How long before you must report to Portsmouth?"
"I am officially on leave until the beginning of October. So we can spend the rest of this month here, and then head to Portsmouth. We must find out details like if the house is occupied; where it is located; its size. Then we can make some decisions. It will be nice to have a base here we can always return to. Alternatively, we can continue to rent it out until we return permanently."
In the morning, they found that the inevitable had happened. Amid the sadness was the realization that she had lived a full and happy life. Frederick sent off an express to notify Sophie so the Crofts could return for the funeral. Messages were also sent off to the Elliots.
A few days later, they held a quiet funeral. Mourners were plentiful as Lady Rachel was much loved. The Crofts arrived for the funeral, and Anne issued her invitation to Sophie for future habitation if it fit with the Crofts' plans. Sophie agreed that, if she could not travel with the Admiral for his next posting, she and Cordelia would love the house in Portsmouth. Cordelia was small enough that this might be the last tour Sophie could join for many years.
Hugh and Sir Michael made all the arrangements and read the will to the assembled family. There were numerous bequests, including one held in trust for Mary until her marriage. A small amount was settled on Elizabeth so that she should not be ignored. Once the reading was complete, Sir Walter and Elizabeth returned to Kellynch. The Stanleys returned to Derby. The others remained a few days longer before returning to their various homes. Sir Michael, Lady Matilda, Mary, Anne and Frederick remained at South Park for a few days longer.
The Wentworths went to see the house in Portsmouth. It had been leased for many years, but had been vacated by the last tenants back in June. They decided to lease it out again, at least until either Sophie or Anne should need to remain behind. Both would be going on the next tour of duty with their men. Sir Michael would oversee the house for them while they traveled the seas.
As they prepared for Frederick's next assignment, both Anne and Frederick were grateful for the support of her extended family. They could not imagine how different life would have been if Anne had allowed herself to be persuaded to break it off with Frederick. Thankfully, they had not had to face such a dreadful decision. They now looked forward to his new assignment with happiness and anticipation. Anne was excited to become a true navy wife.?The End