Her Duty

Anne signed her name with a flourish, and neatly replaced her pen in its container. She rang for a servant to dispatch the letter, and, that accomplished, she rose and stretched, then left the room. She paused at the door for a moment, undecided as to where to go. Then, with a dainty pivot on her toes, she turned and descended the steps.

Now days, Anne could do but precious few of the things she really enjoyed. Fortunately for her sanity, music was one thing that was still open to her. Since she was but seven years old and her governess had found her gaily banging away at her sister's pianoforte, music had been her passion. Every spare moment for the past dozen years had been devoted to her instrument.

Of all her possessions, of her fine silk gowns and sumptuous coats, of her burning rubies and translucent pearls, of all the wonderful luxuries which she so appreciated, Anne's piano was the most treasured of all. It truly was magnificent, an elaborate artwork of mahogany and ivory, with a delicate gold inlay. It had been given to Anne by her mother for her twelfth birthday. Lady Sara Inglewood had cherished her daughter's dreams, but did not live to see the precious instrument have half-a-year's use. After that, Anne could not possibly have crossed her father. Lord Inglewood had only his daughters' best interests at heart, and Anne just could not disappoint him.

Lord and Lady Inglewood were so similar, so perfectly matched, that they had seldom differed on any point. Lady Sara knew what her Anne was capable of, but her husband did not see and disagreed, and the Lady did not argue. But still, a mother knows her daughter's capabilities and spirit.

These two characteristics of Anne's could have made her great. Her musical ability surpassed her music master's; so much raw talent was she blessed with. At the age of nine she had mastered Beethoven and Mozart, and by the time she had received her piano, she was already composing her own work. And as to her spirit, Lady Sara had seldom seen so much in but one person. Everything Anne did, she did with a certain zeal and flair. Most especially with her music. The dullest piece became an enchanted harmony at Anne's touch; simple tunes transformed to haunting melodies in her care. Anne knew her mother's sentiments with regard to her music, and so, admittedly willingly and joyfully, she invested herself in her music. It was her duty to her mother's memory.

Lord Inglewood, on the other hand, loved his daughters dearly and wanted them to marry well. He had no sons, and his estate was entailed to his favourite nephew, an arrangement that suited him perfectly. His daughters were by no means poor, each with a considerable inheritance from their mother, as well as from him. Still, the only position sufficiently secure financially and in status for the daughter of a lord, was that of wife. Lord and Lady Inglewood had an extremely happy, arranged marriage, and so the Lord set out to do for his daughters, Jane, Anne and Elizabeth, what had been done by his parents for him.

When their mother died, Jane was fourteen, Anne was twelve and Elizabeth was only eight. Jane was a younger version of her mother, and felt her loss very deeply, being the emotional creature that she was. It had taken two years for Jane to fully grieve for her mother. The cloud of mourning had barely lifted from above her luscious chestnut curls when she found herself out in society, at the mercy of the social climbers and fortune hunters. Her father would only even consider men of fortune and consequence, and then the poor thing had to go through a rigorous examination to see if he was the ideal match for Miss Jane Inglewood. Lord Inglewood did find the perfect man for his dear Jane, a young man equal in rank to their own family, but moreover, someone who would love and respect her. Before her twentieth birthday, she became Lady Jane Bolstin of Bolsterwood Park.

Not even a year a year after Jane was married, Anne met Lord Jonathan Bolstin's close friend, Earl Simon Virose. Lord Inglewood loved his son-in-law dearly and was excited by the idea of another marriage, judging by the success of the first. Before she knew what had happened, Anne too found herself married. Her father was delighted to have two daughters married so easily, but Anne did not think his second ‘success' even comparable to his first. Simon was a very good man, and had only been too pleased to open his home and his heart to her. She took on the position of Mistress of the Manor with her usual grace and style, but when she asked her heart if she loved him, she did not receive and answer. She did respect and admire Simon, she knew that. And her father had been overjoyed at the prospect of her being Countess Anne Virose of Delaford Manor. So, after having had only a handful of meetings with the Earl, she had agreed to marry him. It was her duty to her father.

The earlier part of the morning had been spent writing to Lady Jane and the last Miss Inglewood, as was her duty as a sister. Now she was free to sit and play to her heart's delight. As she gingerly lowered herself onto the stool, she felt the familiar thrill of excitement. Her fingertips tingled in anticipation as she reached for her music books. She flipped through many pages before settling on a piece. Yes, she was in an appropriate mood. The magical notes of Beethoven's ‘Lettre de Elise' filled the conservatory.

Over an hour later, the closing notes of her newest composition hung in the air. Anne sighed and folded her elegant hands into her lap. The newest of her own music was a mournful but sweet tune, very much suited to her mood today. She knew would never be heard by anyone aside from her husband and sisters, yet she still kept composing. Anne heard and rustling of clothing and looked up to see her husband smiling at her from the doorway. She returned the smile.

"Anne, my darling, should you not stop tinkering for today? You should rest. After all, you wouldn't want to cause harm to my little heir.'

"Of course, dear, I'll stop very soon.' He left.

She would stop soon, because it was her duty to obey her husband, and of course to produce an heir. But still, she would play her piece once more. Maybe the daughter, she just felt it was a daughter, squirming around inside her would hear it and have more success than her mother. Maybe she would even be a little more dutiful. To herself.




© 2003 Copyright held by the author.


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