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Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

December 25, 2020 11:38PM
Chapter 17

The sun shone on the magnificent flower displays that had been arranged and installed all over the south garden. The boughs and arbors sparkled in shades of soft yellow and white. The fragrance of gardenias wafted everywhere. Nature itself was blessing the occasion.

The ceremony was traditional, short and sweet. Edward made an excellent ring bearer, insisting on walking down the isle twice in order to carry each ring separately. He loved the attention, enjoying a responsibility in which his older Bingley cousins could not share.

The London and Pemberley cooks outdid themselves, creating a most delicious and beautifully displayed wedding breakfast. Everyone enjoyed themselves, especially the newly-weds, perhaps because the guest list was rather small. The Matlocks invited a few very close friends and some relations from Lady Matlock's side of the family. The Colonel chose only four of his best military mates. Simon Fennimore invited Dr. Morrison and his wife, along with two young men who had been his friends since childhood.

Although most of Elizabeth's family only knew of Anne through letters, they were very eager to meet her and share in her big day. The Colonel had been at the Darcy wedding, of course, and had reconnected with Elizabeth's family at Christmas. But of course, the Bennets, the Gardiners and Bingleys had an even greater reason to come to Pemberley; they had not yet met little Susan! It would not have been possible for everyone to gather at Grosvenor Square, so the double wedding was a perfect opportunity to have everyone together! They would all stay on a few days more once the newlyweds had departed.

Aunt Helen was not the only close relation the Fennimore siblings enjoyed having at their wedding. Lady Fennimore had finally stood up to her husband and insisted on enjoying this day with her children … even if she attended on her own. She came to realize that if she set a precedent of rejecting their invitations, they might stop inviting her! That would make for a very lonely life indeed. Why, she might never get to enjoy her grandchildren! Simon was thrilled to have her there, but Juliana had mixed emotions. Her mother had found the strength to defy her father only when she would be the one to suffer. She had not been so brave when it came to Simon or herself.

The Colonel and Juliana were the first to discreetly make their exit and head for the beautiful suite prepared for them. Their rooms were at the very far end of the west wing, while the Fennimores had similar accommodations in the east wing. They would now have more than six hours of privacy before having to dress for the ball.

The Fennimores soon followed.

*****

It was well known that Mr. Darcy did not like to dance, but on this occasion, he had a different lady on his arm for each one. He danced three dances with Anne, two with Elizabeth, and at least one each with Juliana, Georgiana and Jane. Naturally, he knew his duty as both a host and a dutiful relation, so he offered his hand to Aunt Matlock, Lady Fennimore, Aunt Helen, Aunt Gardiner, Mrs. Bennet, and Elizabeth's sister Catherine. Mary did not wish to dance.

After another sumptuous breakfast the next morning, the newly-weds departed in the same coach for the trip back to London. As the Darcys did not foresee leaving Pemberley for at least four months, both couples had been offered the use of Grosvenor Square until they found homes of their own. The townhouse was certainly large enough to afford them as much privacy as they needed, with the added pleasure of being together when they so wished.

Anne and Simon concentrated their search on the outskirts of London where the air was cleaner. The dwelling had to be no more than a twenty minute ride from Morrison's surgery. Along with the main house, there had to be an out building that Simon could convert into his laboratory once he left Crestwood Lane. Darcy had set them up with an agent who was scouting out prospective properties for them. What the Fennimores did not know, was that the prices he was quoting them were fictitious. Darcy would be paying for half of any home they chose. It was his wedding gift to Anne.

*****

Simon and Anne made a visit to Rosings once they had finalized the purchase of their new home. They would not be moving in for weeks, so it seemed a perfect time to go. Unfortunately, it was a rather awkward and unpleasant visit. But realistically, what could they have expected? Lady Catherine was very cold towards Simon, criticized Anne incessantly and gave her unsolicited advice on every imaginable subject. They simply had to sit and listen. Nothing of substance was ever discussed, though the newly-weds did try. Her Ladyship would avoid any subject that was unpleasant to her and would shift to other topics when pressed.

Anne thought her mother might be proud to hear her accomplishments at the piano, but that was not the case. Naturally, she advised Anne to practice a great deal more and compared her playing to that of Georgiana's.

“But Mama, I have been playing for only a year and Georgiana has been playing most of her life.”

“Precisely! You should not be displaying your mediocrity.

This remark was too much for Simon Fennimore to bear. He announced that he was very tired and held out his hand for Anne to accompany him. Once in their bedchamber, he suggested they pack their bags so they could leave once the sun was up. He did not wish to breakfast with his mother-in-law the next morning, or ever again.

Lady Catherine therefore had to make due with the twice yearly visits of her brother and his wife. The Earl had pressed Richard and Juliana to come along … which they did only once. They could bear to stay just one night. In time, her Ladyship resumed her invitations to the Parsonage and some of her acquaintances so that some semblance of normality could be displayed. What mattered most was the perception of the world outside her door.

*****

TWO YEARS LATER, ON THE OCCASION OF EDWARD DARCY'S FIFTH BIRTHDAY


Anne Fennimore sat at her dressing table admiring the coiffure her maid had created. “Edna, you have arranged my hair beautifully. I thank you. I do so want to look my best at this party.”

Edna smiled and nodded her appreciation of her mistress's compliment, then helped her into her new gown. “There, you look a picture, Mistress! Dr. Fennimore will surely be overwhelmed by your beauty.”

“Let us hope that he has seen his last patient and is ready to depart when I get there. I don't want us to be the last people to arrive, again! Have his change of clothes been packed?”

“Oh yes, Mistress. They are already in the carriage. The driver is only waiting on you.”

“Well then, if you would get my wrap and reticule, I shall be off.”

*****

Anne was about to pick up the knocker when she noticed that the “Surgery Closed” sign was not on the door. It meant that there was still a patient within. “Oh, Simon,” whispered Anne to herself. “Just this once … can't we be on time…. just this once?”

She let herself in, and on hearing voices in Dr. Morrison's office, took off her wrap and sat down to wait. No sooner had she settled, when her husband came out, all smiles, begging her to come in and meet someone special.

“Simon please. It will only delay us all the more if we start chatting. Please, do what needs to be done and see your patient out. You still need to change.”

“But you are already acquainted with her and she is most eager to see you again. You would not wish to be rude, my love,” he said with his charming grin.

Anne sighed and followed her husband inside. It would only waste time to stand and argue. She was so irritated that she would not allow herself to be curious about this 'so called' acquaintance. But on entering the office her face brightened and she rushed forward to eagerly embrace Mrs. Perkins, the director of the London Infant Home – the orphanage where she had once volunteered her time.

“How wonderful to see you again,” began Anne. “Oh, but I hope you are not seriously ill! You look very well,” said Anne questioningly.

“Dear Anne, I learned only recently that you and Dr. Fennimore had become man and wife, and I am so happy for you both. You have a treasure here, Dr. Fennimore. I hope you appreciate that!”

“I do indeed. And Anne, Mrs. Perkins is not our patient today. She has brought in this sweet little creature to be examined. Sadly, she was found on the orphanage steps but two hours ago. She should not be admitted without being thoroughly examined.”

“Anne's eyes now shifted to Dr. Morrison and the precious little bundle he held against his chest. “Oh my, how darling she is! May I hold her, Dr. Morrison?” said Anne, reaching out for her. “There is an indescribable feeling a woman gets when a baby is in her arms. But wait, have you a nappy to cover my frock? We are headed to a family party.”

Simon was right there with three large cloths, which he placed over her shoulder and the bodice of her gown. He then transferred the infant to his wife's arms and paused for a moment to admire the picture before him. “Anne, come sit down with her. The three of us have a few more details to sort out before Mrs. Perkins can leave. It is a good thing that you are here.”

Anne was confused by her husband's remark, but would not linger on it. She was quickly becoming completely besotted with the precious babe nestled against her bosom.

“Aren't you the sweetest thing! How very lovely you are!” whispered Anne. “They had better get back quickly ... before I refuse to give you back.” She nuzzled the infant's soft, downy hair.

“So,” said Dr. Morrison, “our girl is in perfect health, as far as I can see. She has been well taken care of, both physically and emotionally. She is very calm and even tempered, not at all nervous about being handled. I don't believe she was traumatized in any way during her first few days of life. Now unfortunately, I am well aware of all the illness at the orphanage just now, but that cannot be helped. Her mother's natural immunities should protect her for now, but keep her isolated if possible.”

Simon cleared his throat and turned to Mrs. Perkins. “Mrs. Perkins, I know there must be a long waiting list of prospective parents for such a perfect and young infant ... but if Anne and I were to register right now, would we have any chance at all in adopting her?”

“Well, we always try to find the very best situation for our little ones,” she replied, smiling. “We consider the suitability of both parents, their living accommodations, the number of children already in the home, and the husband's income, of course. You and Mrs. Fennimore would earn the highest marks in all those categories. Many of our couples are disqualified because the husband does not seem as keen to adopt as his wife. Do you believe Mrs. Fennimore is eager to adopt a baby? May I ask, is it not possible for you to have children of your own?”

“No, it is not safe for Anne to bear a child. We have not discussed adoption of late. When we did, just after our marriage, we agreed to give ourselves a year or two alone together. But I believe we are both ready. This little girl would be a blessing for us both, and I believe she would receive the very best upbringing, a fine education and an enormous amount of love and attention.”

“Dr. Fennimore, I know your wife quite well, and I don't think our little one could find a better mother. As you were speaking, I thought about how we might get around some of the obstacles involved. You know, I was coming back from an errand when I first came upon her on the steps. Noting the hour, I wished to get her here before you closed the surgery, so I did not take her inside. The truth is that no one knows of her existence. Had she entered the orphanage, I'd be required to register her and start the adoption process. But as she did not, we could arrange a private adoption, right here and now.”

“But would she then be legally ours? What if her mother changes her mind and comes back for her? I will not see Anne's heart broken!”

“Dr. Fennimore, I saw the young woman myself. She was hiding behind a tower of crates, watching. She was very young, in rags, and very thin and pale. I believe she realizes she cannot support this child and is grateful to have someone take care of her. She will not be back … you can put your mind at ease. Tomorrow morning, I shall fill out the necessary paperwork for a private adoption and have you sign. Bring two witnesses of your own and come without the baby. Everyone will think you have simply arrived for an interview. I shall then give you the papers for safe keeping. You shall have all the proof of the adoption you need in your possession. How does that sound?”

Simon Fennimore fought hard to keep his emotions in check. Could this really be happening? “Give me a few moments alone with Anne.” He reached out to press Mrs. Preston's hand. “Thank you, Mrs. Preston. Bless you.”

*****

“So... how is our little sweetheart doing?” asked Simon as he came to sit beside Anne. “Has she been behaving herself?”

“Oh, she is darling, Simon. She was awake for a bit, and I could swear she was responding to my voice as I was talking to her. The people who get her will be so ….” She paused and swallowed hard. She did not wish to give way to tears.

“Simon, we have not talked about adopting a child in quite some time, but holding this little one for just these few moments has made me ache for a baby of our own. What would you say to our putting ourselves on a list of prospective parents?”

“I would not suggest it, my love, for we will be far too busy taking care of this little one. She is ours for the asking, Anne” he said with great emotion. “Your Mrs. Perkins says she can arrange it, but we must take her tonight.” Grinning, he kissed the baby's little fist as she waved it about.

“You cannot mean it! It cannot be true! We could take her immediately?”

“We must take her immediately. No one at the orphanage knows of her existence, and so long as she is not officially registered there, we can have a private adoption. What do you say, Anne? Do you wish to make this little girl our daughter?”

“Oh, Simon!” Anne could do nothing but weep and divide her kisses between her husband and her child.

*****

Dr. Morrison summoned his errand boy to take a message to his most trustworthy wet-nurse. She would be eager for a new post now that her other charge was quickly weaning himself. The good doctor also handed the new parents some soft toweling and a blanket to keep the baby warm on the trip home.

“As soon as Betty gets here we can close up shop and be off. I doubt the two of you will get much sleep tonight,” said Morrison, chuckling to himself.

“Oh, Simon!” cried Anne, “I just realized we are not at all prepared to take her home. We have nothing … nothing at home! No cradle, no blankets, no nappies, no clothes!”

“But two, very loving parents. We are all she needs,” said Simon, encircling his little family in his arms. However, he knew full well that he was not reassuring his wife with that remark. “Wait!” he continued. “She does, however, have a rather spirited little relation who has outgrown all her baby things, because, as she will tell you, she is now a very big girl! And we will be seeing her shortly.”

“Simon, you cannot be serious! Bring her to the Darcys? How in the world can we take her there? Everyone we know will be there. And Edward would not be happy to share the spotlight with an strange baby!”

“No one but Elizabeth, Fitzwilliam and Nanny Henderson need know. We shall enter through the servants' quarters, ask for Elizabeth to be sent down and then head straight for the nursery. Nanny Henderson will know what to do. She will take care of her while we enjoy the party and then give us some of Susan's things to tide us over. It could not have worked out better.”

“You expect me to abandon my daughter to the care of a stranger not an hour after we have adopted her? Simon, really!”

Fennimore laughed. “Since when is Nanny Henderson a stranger? Sweetheart, I assure you that she will be asleep for most of the evening. The wet-nurse will be there to feed her and if she is fussy, Nanny will call for us. Anne, my darling, she is not being abandoned. She is being cared for.”

At that moment, a very presentable young woman arrived and bowed to the Fennimores after greeting Dr. Morrison. “I understand you have need of a wet-nurse. Dr. Morrison will vouch for my cleanliness and patience. Please believe that you can trust me with your child. I am well experienced and can give you many references.”

“Yes, that is wonderful, but can you come with us now, and stay the night?”

“I shall be happy to Mrs. …?”

“Fennimore. And this is my husband, Dr. Fennimore.”

Betty bowed to both of them. “I am very happy to make your acquaintance. And the baby's name?”

Anne and Simon looked at one another. They both blushed. Their precious daughter needed a name and she would have one by the time they arrived at Edward's party.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

Gaby A.December 25, 2020 11:38PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

SaraleeDecember 27, 2020 12:32PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

EvelynJeanDecember 27, 2020 04:13AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

MichaDecember 26, 2020 02:03PM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

AlidaDecember 26, 2020 06:22AM

Re: Dearest Anne Book 2 Chapter 17

AntonellaMTCDecember 26, 2020 03:41AM



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