Chapter 24.4 A Question of Matrimony

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Post on 06-May-2015



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In which there is a wedding and a proposal.


<ul><li>1.Hello and welcome back (finally) to a Victorian Legacy after what was a longer break than usual.The good news is that Ive finished rebuilding the legacy neighbourhood and the dummyneighbourhood and so, apart from working on the lists of cc I would like to make for the game, Ican get back to playing and writing the story.Its been a little while since we last caught up with the Legacy family, so I suggest you go andread the last chapter again, but if you dont want to, the most important things to note are thatBertie and Sophia are engaged, Bethany, Christopher and Ezra have all left Simbridge for theirhomes in Simdon and Regalton, Sarah Jane attended a dinner party hosted by her parentswhere she met many powerful people, Vicky met her neighbour Owen Tudor, Stuart gave up hisdream of attending Sierra Plains University to stay with his brother in Simland and David wasalso about to start university in Simbridge.And I think those are the important points. Shall we get on?</li></ul><p>2. It was a fine autumn day in Simdon. The parks were a blaze of colour as the leaves changedand started to fall and the air was starting to have a crisp quality to it that promised a cold winter,but for the moment was exceedingly pleasant after the heat of the summer. Ladies andgentlemen made their promenade in the parks, stopping often to admire the look of the foliage orto greet acquaintances. It was a day to be abroad. 3. There was one person though for whom the thought of enjoying the pleasing weather nevercrossed her mind. Bethany Smith was kneeling in front of the settee of the room that had been,right up until her return from Simbridge, her sisters. Beside her on the seat one of her manynotebooks was open at a list of linens, and it was to this that she referred as she sorted throughthe pile of folded material on the floor before her.The linen, along with the contents of the trunks that were already at the foot of her bed, formedthe trousseau she would be taking into her marriage to Ezra Howard, a marriage that would takeplace in just under two months time. 4. She was just refolding a prettily embroidered petticoat when there came a knock at the door.With a soft sigh, she looked towards it. It was probably Sarah Jane. Ever since she hadgrudgingly moved her things into one of the rooms upstairs, she had been using the excuse thatshe had forgotten something to snoop around Bethanys things. At least she was knocking thistime and not just barging in. That was something. Yes? Bethany called as she placed thepetticoat on her lap. 5. She was surprised when, instead of the dark head of her sister, her mothers blond head peekedround the door instead. I hope I am not interrupting you dear.No Mama, of course not. Bethany hastily stood, and placed the semi folded petticoat on theedge of the open trunk before moving the folded pile of linen to one side and picking hernotebook up from the settee. She carefully placed her pen in the centre of the book and closed itbefore putting it on top of a closed trunk. That done, she sat down on the settee and waited forher mother to join her. 6. I see you are checking your trousseau, said Alexandra as she arranged her skirts.Yes.I do hope that you have not found any flaws.Bethany looked over at a small pile in front of a trunk near to the door and grimaced.Unfortunately I have found a few. One of the tablecloths I ordered has a nasty pull in thecambric, and I do not see how it can be used for anything other than rags. 7. Alexandra smiled. I am sure that we could find some other use for it, if it was not for your newhome. I will arrange for it to be taken back to the linen outfitters today, with a note that youexpect a replacement to be provided free of charge and as soon as possible.Mama, that is very kind of you, started Bethany intending to continue that she would write thenote herself, but Alexandra, taking this as assent gave a firm nod. I will speak to Bates and getit arranged once we have finished our chat. 8. Bethany gave a small smile as she decided it was probably best to leave her mother to it.Alexandra looked round the room at the piles of fabric. This reminds me of the preparations formy own wedding. Or rather how rushed it all was.Bethany stilled and watched her mother carefully. She had never heard her mother refer to herown wedding before, not even when they were organising the venue for the wedding breakfast orvisiting the linen warehouse to order her trousseau.Your grandmother, Plumbbob rest her soul, was a fine woman, but she did leave the ordering ofmy trousseau right until the last minute. Of course, I realise now, that it was because she washoping that I would change my mind and not wish to marry Joseph, but that did not happen. 9. Bethany stifled a gasp. It was the first time she had heard her biological fathers name.Alexandra continued without showing she had noticed. Of course, the majority of my trousseauended up coming with me here, when I married Anthony. It was all quality linen and the dressesand undergarments had been made to my measurements and so it would have been a greatshame to give them away. All the clothes came with me, apart from my wedding dress. Thatwas turned into rags. I couldnt bear to look at it again, you see, and then, when I agreed tomarry your father, well, she touched her stomach, it would not have fitted me anyway. I endedup marrying in an evening dress Mama had had altered to accommodate her own pregnancies. 10. Still Bethany didnt say anything; she didnt know what she could say. She had, of course, beencurious about the circumstances surrounding her parents marriage and her mothersindiscretion, but it was also not something she could ask about. Hearing her mother talk soopenly about it, was startling to say the least. 11. Alexandra glanced over at her daughter. You think I am rambling and lost in reminiscing, but Ido have a point, I promise you. She turned and clasped Bethanys hands. I remember verywell what it is like to be in love and looking forward to marriage. I have also seen how you andMr Howard look at each other. It is something I recognise, and I beg you Bethany, do not go tohim before you are wed.Bethany felt her face start to heat up as the meaning of her mothers words sunk in. Her eyesflickered to a pile of linen which was hiding an advice book her future mother-in-law had handedher the day before, with the fervent request that she read it. She had, and had been left with thedistinct feeling that the desire she felt for Ezra was wrong, and now, here was her mother alludingto it and begging her not to act on it. 12. He loves you, this I know, and he would never abandon you as Joseph abandoned me, butdarling you have seen so much censure in your life because of my actions, I would not have yourisk any more by repeating my mistakes. 13. Bethany was saved from answering by the door to the room suddenly flying open and SarahJane barging in. Oh I do apologise, she said feigning surprise. I wanted to get some books Ibelieve I left on my chest of drawers. I did not realise that anyone would be in here.Can it not wait? asked Alexandra. I am speaking with your sister.No, I did want them now, insisted Sarah Jane.Hurry up then. 14. Sarah Jane walked towards the chest of drawers and threw a dirty look at the mounds of fabricon the floor. I see you are busy Bethany, but is it really necessary to leave everything on thefloor?Sarah Jane, warned Alexandra, I interrupted her. Please get your books and leave your sisterand I to our conversation.Sarah Jane rolled her eyes, careful to make sure her mother didnt see her, and picked up asmall pile of books from the top of the chest of drawers. 15. As she left the room, she closed the door with a snap and Alexandra turned her attention back toBethany. You find my candour embarrassing, but I see a lot of myself in you Bethany, and I donot want you repeating my mistakes. Not that I regret having you or your brother of course.Bethany coughed. I, ah, appreciate your candour Mama, and I promise I will endeavour to avoiddisgracing myself, and our family. Now, if you will excuse me, I really must finish checking therest of the linen that was delivered yesterday afternoon. 16. Hmm. Alexandra gave a small smile and stood to leave. As she did so, her eye was dawn tothe slim volume that Bethany had tried to hide. Oh, is this the new catalogue from the linenwarehouse? she asked as she picked it up.Bethany looked up before quickly looking away again. Um no. It is an advice book on the dutiesof a wife that Mrs Howard gave me yesterday. She could feel the heat in her cheeks as shespoke. 17. How interesting. Alexandra sat back down on the settee and started to look through it. Bethanylooked at her in consternation before gesturing at the pile of clothing by her feet. I really doneed to finish inspecting this linen.Go ahead my dear, do not let my presence stop you. 18. Stifling a groan, Bethany knelt on the floor again. While she had been uncomfortable with theemphasis on Boolproprian rhetoric the pamphlet contained, it had been the chapter onmatrimonial duties that had caused her to close it. Given the conversation her mother had justtried to have with her, she was sure that Alexandra would find and read it. It was not a subjectwhich she wished to discuss. 19. There is some good advice in here Bethany, said Alexandra, turning a page. Slightly too muchemphasis on the Lord Plumbbob, for my liking, but then Mrs Howard is the wife of a minister so Iam not too surprised.Yes, there are certainly some items that I will have to take on board, replied Bethany as sheshook out a pair of combinations, hoping that her mother would put the volume down and leaveher.She was to be disappointed when she heard the pages stop turning. She risked a glance atAlexandra and saw that she was looking at the pamphlet, one eyebrow raised as she read thepage in front of her.Oh no. 20. Bethany, have you read this chapter on the wedding night and wifely duties? asked Alexandraquietly.Erm. Bethany couldnt look at her mother.Bethany come and sit beside me.Bethany hesitated. She really, really did not want to discuss that chapter with her mother.Bethany please. If you have read this, then I need to speak to you about it. 21. Cheeks aflame, she put the combinations down and sat down next to her mother, not meetingher eyes.Have you read this section on wifely duties?Bethany nodded and Alexandra sighed. It contains no truth, she said very quietly. Men arenot insatiable animals with little to no self control. Intimate relations with a man you love, are notonerous or something to be feared and dreaded. 22. Bethany glanced quickly up at her mother, before looking back down at her lap to avoid the lookof pity and kindness on her face.Sexual intercourse can be and is pleasurable for both parties. I may have had only fourpregnancies, but that does not mean I have shared my bed with a man only four times.Bethany had thought her blush couldnt get any deeper, but she felt her cheeks burn even more.She really did not want to hear this about her mother.There are ways of preventing pregnancy, not fool proof, but they will limit the number of childrenyou have, continued Alexandra. And you remember how your father and I have always insistedon you knocking loudly on the door to our chambers if you need us and we are in there? 23. Oh goodness, Bethany really did not want to think about that. Why wouldnt her mother stoptalking?You are embarrassed by what I am saying.I am mortified! The words were out before Bethany could stop them. 24. Nevertheless, I would be most remiss in my duties as your mother if I did not reassure you afteryou have read this tosh. She threw the pamphlet onto Bethanys bed where it bounced off andhit the floor. Take no notice of anything contained within it. When it comes to your weddingnight, and indeed any other time you and Ezra are intimate, explore your relationship together.Do what feels natural, and please, please, please forget this nonsense about sex beingsomething a woman must endure under sufferance. There is nothing quite sopleasant asfeeling completely as one with the man you love. And there is nothing wrong with desiring thatcloseness, or indeed your husband. 25. Bethany thought about what Alexandra had just said before finally meeting her eyes. There wasnothing wrong with how she found herself wanting to kiss Ezra, how she wondered what it wouldfeel like to feel the touch of his bare skin on her own whenever she saw him after all. She felt herflush start to subside and gave her mother a small smile. Thank you.Alexandra smiled at her. You are welcome. You can come to be me at any time if you needadvice on your duties as a wife. Just remember, do not go to Mr Howards bed before you aremarried, no matter how much the two of you may desire it. She looked around at the fabric onthe floor. Now, did you want me to help you inspect the rest of your purchases?Bethany followed her mothers gaze. That would be a great help if you can spare the time. 26. Alexandra slipped off the settee. Of course I can. Where shall I start?Bethany picked up a pile of household linens and handed them to her mother. If you can checkthese bed sheets, I will continue with my apparel.Of course. Alexandra took the pile and placed it on the settee before lifting up the first toinspect. Bethany meanwhile picked up the combinations she had put down and continued to lookfor flaws and pulls. They spent the next hour or so going through the rest of the contents ofBethanys trousseau, the embarrassment of their previous conversation, forgotten. 27. Not quite two months later, Joe Grundstrom was sitting at the dinning table, his newspaperspread out before him as he ate his breakfast. It was a habit that had driven his late mother todistraction, and it was now having a similar effect on his wife.Joe, is it really necessary to take up nearly the entire dining table with your broadsheet? askedRachel as she buttered a piece of toast.Joe grunted, but didnt look up.You are setting a bad example to the children. I had to dissuade Marie from bringing her bookto table the other day, Rachel continued. 28. Joe looked up at his children. The nanny had gone at the same time as the rambling mansionhis father had bought, and as such, the children now ate breakfast and lunch with their parents.Marie, you cannot read at the table. It is uncouth.But Papa, Marie started.Do not but Papa me. You cannot read at the table, and that is the end of the matter. Youshould not argue with either myself or your mother. His daughter reprimanded, he returned hisattention to his paper, missing how her bottom lip jutted out until she caught her mothers eye. 29. Thank you Joseph, but do you think you could possibly leave reading the newspaper until afterwe have eaten? I doubt there is anything so important it cannot wait.I have to keep abreast of certain situations, as well you know, bluffed Joe. The exportbusiness has been poor these...</p>