Posted on 2011-04-09
It really is a wonderfully beautiful day. The bright warm sun is much in contrast with my mood. Firmly making a decision, the tall regal lady wheeled around and in a flare of purple silk and almost ran to ring for the butler. "Parson, please move the tea to outside by the lake. I believe my guest will be more comfortable near water." Unable to conceal her excitement, Lady Russell allowed her voice to drip with sarcasm. It would not been beneficial for people to believe I actually appreciate the man. Really I don't. He is taking my Ann away and I can not like him because of it.
With this thought, Lady Russell remembered why she invited Captain Wentworth the tea in the first place. It is either: ignore Captain Wentworth and lose Ann, or give Captain Wentworth more than his due and still be able to be in Ann's life. Starting to feel a little miffed by the whole circumstance, Lady Russell frowned, remembering the conversation with Ann earlier in the month.
"Lady Russell," Ann stopped in the middle of the improvements to the garden maze the Lady Russell was showing her, "I wish very much for you to be able to get along with Fredrick. It would mean so much to me for you two to be friends."
Friends?! Ha! That will be the day! "Ann, have you seen anything of Mr. Elliot since Bath?"
Ann was always quiet: she never spoke unless she had something to contribute to a conversation. This, however, was quieter than her norm. "Ann? Did you hear me? I was asking if you had seen Mr. Elliot since you left Bath? I understand he is in the area. Indeed, I hear he had called on you a few times." Standing the in the middle of the garden with bushes all around, Lady Russell looked up and met Ann's eyes.
"Lady Russell, did you not tell me to make a choice stick to it. Did you not counsel me that once I made a decision, I should follow it, no matter than consequences? Here, I have made the happiest and best decision in my life but I feel as if you think that I have made a mistake. I assure you, Lady Russell, there is no women in all of England who is happier than I. The only dark spot in my world is that you refuse to acknowledge Fredrick."
Getting a little testy at the obvious inquisition from Ann, Lady Russell responded off handedly, "Yes. Yes. I did counsel you to make a decision and to follow through with it. I simply did not think that you would choose Captain Wentworth over Mr. Elliot, the heir to you family home and fortune."
"Lady Russell, what fortune? Father had to retrench and is spending money that is not longer in our coffers. Lady Russell, I do not marry for money or position. I marry for love." Desperation was now evident in Ann's voice.
With a flash of pure anger, which is not normal for Ann Elliot, she stated in a low and controlled voice, "I do not understand this animosity you have toward Fredrick. The only concerns you have ever related to me about him, where in regards to his station in life. Now, years after the conversation concerning his suitability, Fredrick is back and by some miracle still loves me and I him. His position is very much elevated and we are both the better and stronger in our relationship. What possible opposition could you have to him that makes you so dead set again our union?"
She is not the same Ann! What has that man done! My Ann would never have stood up to me this way! "Ann, it is nothing against the man. Truly, I don't even really know him. My hesitations--"
"That is right! You do not know Fredrick! You have never tried to know Fredrick. All you have done and ever have done has been to counsel me on how unsuitable a man of the Navy is for a daughter of a baronet. A baronet that, might I remind you, has done little more than squander the family name and funds in his own selfish endeavors." To say that Lady Russell was shocked at Ann's outburst and interruption would be an understatement.
It was would be pure falsehood to assume that even though Lady Russell was caught off guard, would she allow anyone, even Ann, to speak to her with some and attitude. After all: it is not as if I have done anything wrong! "It is not necessary for me to know him specifically as his position in life vouches for whom and what he is." A very cold iron grip encased Lady Russell's heart now. How dare she speak with me this way! I was trying to help! She can not know what she is getting into.
"His position in life vouches for whom and what he is? How can you speak so? Were you not a mere country squires' daughter before you married Lord Russell? Are you trying to tell me that because Fredrick has chosen an honorable profession other than being a landed gentry, which by the way is not a profession, and has made his fortune through that other profession, he is less of a man?" Narrowing her eyes, Ann let lose the rest of her anger, "How dare you make such a supposition!"
Turning to leave, Ann said one last thing, "Lady Russell, I have always valued our friendship. Indeed, the help and comfort you gave to me and my family when my mother died has lasted me and seen me through these past rough years. However," turning back to Lady Russell, Ann said with new found steel in her voice and confidence in her abilities, "let me make myself quite clear, as much as I respect your opinion and value and want your blessing on my marriage, I must and will respect my husband and his opinions more. If you can not come to some sort of tolerance in your relationship with my fiancé, then I will not tolerate your abuse. I love Fredrick Wentworth and he loves me. You will simply have to try to understand that."
"Love! Love has nothing to do with it. You believe that you made a mistake eight years ago and have an opportunity to fix it. Ann you never liked being wrong. Trust me when I say, you are wrong in this choice. Captain Wentworth may have made his fortune but he is still a sailor. That is it: a sailor. No more and no less. And you stand before me and state that is enough!"
"Lady Russell, I am sorry you feel that way." With that, Ann turned and walked away without taking her leave.
Since the argument, Lady Russell had not spoken with Ann because Ann was not responding to any of her invitations. Very concerned and not wanting to lose the relationship she had with Ann, Lady Russell knew she must do something. Ann is like my own daughter! I have practically raised her. Why can she not see that what I have done and will do for her is for her best interest? Why must she be so stubborn? She couldn't know. I've never been brave enough to tell her. I know all to well that Fredrick Wentworth, no matter what rank he has, could never been the husband or man that she needs. No sailor can.
But how can I tell her? I can not see her heart crushed again. I have done everything in my power to protect her from that fate. He will help. He will understand. Captain Wentworth will be able to explain all to her. Ann claims that he is reasonable and clever man. Well, we will just see if he is or is not…
"Lady Russell, Captain Wentworth has arrived."
"Thank you Parson. Please show him to the lake, I will be out in a few moments." Yes, indeed. He will be able to help me get Ann to see the light. Walking toward the tall distinguished gentleman in blue, Lady Russell paused. He looks so much like James. Watching Captain Wentworth for a moment, Lady Russell felt a pang of loss she hadn't felt in years. He stands there gazing out over the water just as James did. In a moment of anguish, Lady Russell almost wavered. Then she remembered her purpose. No. Ann will never have to feel that loss. Never.
"Captain Wentworth. Thank you for agreeing to come and see me today. I know that we did not get off on the right foot, so to speak, but I do wish to speak with you. Ann very much wishes that we become acquainted." Acquainted, indeed. After this story, we will part ways, you will explain to Ann, and all will be as it was before.
Posted on 2011-04-13
"Please have a seat. How would you like your tea? Or do you prefer coffee?" As Lady Russell conducted herself with perfect manners, she took in the sailor before her. What she saw was not at all surprising. I must admit, thought Lady Russell, he is very well put together. Ann does have excellent taste. Neatly trimmed dark brown hair framed blue eyes that were brought to a vibrant hue by the navy blue uniform coat.
But it was not the color of the Captain's eyes or face that arrested Lady Russell: with an attempt to stare down the naval captain, she found that she could not break the eye contact. It is as if he is challenging me to like him. Just like James. Has he already decided to forgive me for separately him and Ann eight years ago? I truly did not want to do it, but Ann – Ann is so sheltered. I could not put her through what I went through. I would not put her through it for the entire world. Why, she is like my daughter. I must make him see. He must help me make her understand the hurt that a sailor brings, no matter his position.
Without taking his eyes from her face, Captain Fredrick Wentworth smiled and said to the women who could either make or break his only love's heart, "I do prefer coffee, thank you. I understand from Ann we have something in common: neither of us like sugar or cream in our tea or coffee. Why do you prefer straight tea, Lady Russell?"
Not expecting to start a conversation on tea or coffee condiments, Lady Russell was taken a little back and then remembered a similar conversation she had already had more than 45 years before.
"Oh! Maggie my Maggie…not drinking cream or putting sugar in your coffee actually does mean something!"
Any outside observer could see that the 10 year old Margaret Brentwood was enamored with the dashing young Lieutenant Jameson White. It was also evident that the 16 year old boy was about to be sent back out to see. Maggie, after growing up with James next door to her, was not surprised that he would come to her tea party with all of her friends (mostly stuffed animals) wearing another weird costume. After all, I did invite him! It would be rude to kick him out now and momma says I have to be a lady and ladies are NEVER rude. "Now, James. It is not polite to make up things. What would Miss Piggle (the oversized stuffed pink pig in the chair next to James) think about you?" Leaning over dramatically, Maggie loudly whispered so as to spare any feelings of embarrassment, "She already thinks you are a little odd wearing that blue coat with all the shiny braids!"
The tall young man could not help himself; he threw back his dark brown hair and laughed good, loud, and long. "Oh Maggie! Only my Maggie!" Wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, he looked up with even more mischief and continued, "Only you, my Maggie would think that a member of his Majesty's Royal Navy would look odd in his uniform! Well, I am supposed to wear this when I am going on duty or at any function that would promote his Majesty's business. Of course I would wear it to Lady Maggie Brentwood's Tea Party! What would his Majesty think!"
Giggling a little with her hand over her mouth, Maggie exclaimed, "It's only an imaginary one! And you didn't have to come." Suddenly distraught over taking so much of her good friend's time she continued, "Momma said I shouldn't have invited you. You have every so many things you have to do before you leave again and you have to spend what little time you have with your family." At this point the young girl's eyes started misting, "If you wish to leave, we won't stop you." I hope you don't! Say you won't!
With a small smile, the young man leaned over and said, "I would never miss any of your tea parties, imaginary or real. You give the best parties. You do my heart very much good when you smile at me. In fact, that smile gets me through some tough times. You can think that I look silly anytime you want. You may even tell me." Seeing that the little girl was smiling again, he just stopped and stared at her.
After a few moments, the little girl said, "I still don't believe that putting nasty cream in your coffee or tea means something!"
Allowing for the subject change, James replied, "It does! The Admiral told me! He said," it was apparent that James was quite excited as he fairly jumped in and out of his seat, "that taking nothing in your drink is a sign of internal strength. It is a sign that you as a person can take any wave the tries to throw you over board."
"But I'm not on water! I can't even swim!"
James paused then started laughing, "Oh my Maggie! That is not what I meant!"
Looking up from her reverie, Lady Russell was faintly surprised she had yet to answer the Captain's question. Oh, James! With a sigh she shook off the melancholy, that was approaching and focusing on the Captain and the task at hand, Lady Russell said, "Captain Wentworth, someone, I greatly admired once, told me that drinking your coffee straight black is the sign of a strong person." Without waiting for a response, she continued, "Indeed. The people and relationships I respect the most started because I noticed that he or she did not put anything in his or her tea."
"Are you telling me that there is possibility that we could be friends?"
"No." It was apparent he thought the answer would be in the positive. "Because you are going to break Ann's heart and I can not be friends with a person who will knowingly do that." There. I have said it. There is not turning back now. Oh, Fredrick! How I wish you were not who you are! Ann is so in love with you. I can see that you are in love with her! Oh, James! Why?
Even with all of his military training, and the additional training he received dodging pointed questions from his sister and sister-in-law, Fredrick was not prepared for such and upfront attack from Lady Russell. However, he was in quite a state: he greatly respected Lady Russell for her forthright opinion and direct approach, he was quite mad at the presumption she supported, and was equally curios about why she felt the way she did. His military training did give him one advantage: he could tell that it was more than just himself she took opposition to.
Confident in Ann's love and his love for Ann, Fredrick mused allowed, "I wonder Lady Russell, at your being able to pronounce such a terrible fate upon myself. How do you know that I will break Ann's heart when you do not know me. In truth, how do you know that it will not be Ann that breaks my heart?"
"ANN! Would never stoop so low, as too--"
"Calm yourself! I was merely wondering allowed. Ann could not and would not hurt a fly if it were in her means not to." Sitting back in the lawn chair, Fredrick sipped on his coffee. After Lady Russell had calmed herself, he continued, "I do wonder though: eight years ago you convinced Ann that marrying myself would not be fitting to her station as the youngest daughter of a baronet. In truth, did you not state that I had no title, no money, and no home to send her to while I went back to sea? If I recall correctly, that was due to my sister being in India at the time and my brother not being married.
"Now, here we are together again, eight years later. I have made my fortune and am paid off. Yes, it is true that I could go to war again, but in my position I could take her with me. If she would choose to stay on dry land, my sister and her husband are comfortably settled in her old home. Her old home, by the way, that I would be willing to purchase to keep in her family and make it hers in truth and legality.
"As to my position is society: it is much elevated without Ann. In fact, society is much nicer to me, coming home successfully from war, whereas society treats Ann's family as outcasts due to debt her family has now."
As Fredrick said all of this, he was looking out toward the lake and was unable to see the plethora of emotions race across Lady Russell's face. Indeed, when he looked back at Lady Russell, her face was blank and emotionless. It disturbed him to think that her reservation was much more than all he had just stated, for it was clear the reasons she had given Ann then and now where not her true feelings toward him.
In an instant, Fredrick new this to be a battle to the death: one or the other's wills would win this day and there would be no compromise.
Looking at the Captain, without betraying what she was feeling inside, Lady Russell said, "It is this very attitude that I had my first reservations about you: it was the manner then that you conducted yourself with that made me see that you would bring nothing but heart ache to Ann. It is the same manner than I see today, and it has not changed."
Standing up and walking to the lake's edge, Lady Russell attempted to still her beating heart. How do I begin? Where do I start? Continuing to look out over the water, Lady Russell said, "Fredrick. The first time I met you I say that you had a sanguine temper, were fearless of mind, operated very differently, you were brilliant, but headstrong, and had a taste for wit."
Not understanding where Lady Russell was headed, and also a little more than surprise by her admission, Fredrick came close to Lady Russell. After looking out over the water for a few moments, he addressed her, "I was taught that those are good solid qualities to be found in a man."
Lady Russell by this time was more than a little exasperated by the man. "Oh Fredrick – May I call you Fredrick?" After receiving his permission, she continued, "Fredrick, it is not that you are not a good man. I more than those around, maybe not so much as Ann, can see that. In truth, I would be blind not to see that. I would also be blind not to notice the consistency and strength of your love for Ann. You came back after eight years. I am not that blind nor that ignorant of love."
Without pause, Lady Russell turned to Captain Wentworth and looking him straight in the eye (as they are both the same height), "I also do not doubt that you are absolutely in love with Ann. I know that you can provide for her. I feel terrible for having lied to Ann about that. I know that you two love each other very much. I saw it eight years ago and I see it today. I also know you will probably do more for Ann in the next year than anyone in her family ever has and more than I can ever do.
"But you must understand something: I can never be your friend nor will I ever feel at ease or comfortable with your taking Ann away. And before you shake your head at me, I know you will. Remember, young man, I am not a naïve little miss: I just might have a little bit of experience in this world that neither you nor Ann know about. You are nothing less than a sailor and are nothing more than one either!"
Now thoroughly confused Fredrick simply asked, "So then, we are never to be friends for God's knows why as you won't tell me? Do you really want to do that to Ann? Do you really want to hurt her that way? You are like a second mother to her." Now, getting more than a little angry, "Would you take her second mother away? Would you cause her to grieve over you simply because you refuse to be the friend of a good man who is nothing more than a sailor and nothing less that one too? Good God women! How selfish can you be?"
"No more than you who would tear her heart out in slow pieces, leaving them on the banks of the Thames like rotting pieces of fish and kelp!"
"You accuse more of something that will not happen! What have I done that makes you believe with such vehemence that I would destroy Ann in such a why?" Now dripping with sarcasm, "What can a man who is no more nor no less than a sailor do to make this come about?"
"No less than a sailor and no more than one either" came the small quite voice.
"The saying is, 'No less than a sailor and no more than one either'. You keep saying it backwards".
Incredulous now, Fredrick asks, "Is there a bloody difference?"
Looking back out on the lake, Lady Russell calmed herself once again, and then turned to Captain Wentworth, "Fredrick, there is a great difference. If you would allow me, I would tell you a story. Ann has never heard this story and I don't believe I really have fully told it to anyone. It will explain why I can not be friends with you and hopefully it will help you to understand what you will do to Ann."
Pausing and looking out over the lake Lady Russell whispered, almost to herself, "I hope to God, that you understand what will happen. I do not wish my fate on anyone else, much less my precious Ann."
Regaining control over her emotions, Lady Russell motioned back to the chairs next to the cold tea set, "Please have a seat, this is not small tale."
After adjusting both chairs comfortable, Lady Russell continued to look out over the water and said in a small but calm voice, "In the year 1777, I became engaged to Jameson White, a Captain in his Majesty's Royal Navy."
For all of his years controlling his emotions, Fredrick Wentworth's jaw dropped, "You were engaged to a Captain in the Navy?"
Smiling small into her tea, Lady Russell said, "He was no less than a sailor and no more than one either. He held my heart in his grasp for 6 years until he finally decided to proclaim to the world that it was his." Remembering fondly the moment he did, Lady Russell laughed as she said, "And proclaim it he did."
Posted on 2011-05-17
If Captain Fredrick Wentworth lived to be a hundred he knew nothing else in the world would ever surprise him again. Lady Russell engaged to a Captain in the Navy? Surely NOT! As the Captain regained his thought process he started to calm down, "Most men of the Navy are often very jubilant in their proclamations. I can only imagine what yours said and did. I promise to be quite if you would please tell me your story."
Smiling the first real smile that the Captain had ever seen from Lady Russell, she stated quite calmly, "I believe that you will listen as to the keeping quite part: I have yet to meet any officer of the Royal Navy to be able to keep silent when he thinks that a grievous error has been stated."
Now, I know where Ann got her underlying wit from, the Captain thought. "Of course. If I promise to try?"
Becoming very silent, Lady Russell spoke just above a whisper as she looked back out over the lake. Never once meeting his eyes, she said, "Captain, I thank you for listening. I hope that at the end of my tale, which was the sole purpose of inviting you, my reservations will be explained." After pausing, not for effect but to catch her thoughts and heart up, Lady Russell spoke again, "I have never told a soul this entire story. My father only knows the parts that he was involved in. The only other person who could have even an inkling of this has been dead these 8 years. His name: Captain Jameson White."
"Captain Jameson White?" asked the quite Captain.
"Yes." With a sly smile, Lady Russell stated, "Really the story started when I was born. Being only a few days old, I have had to rely on family members for the truth. I certainly could never trust James for the truth of that event." So focused was she on her memories, Lady Russell failed to see the flicker of recognition pass over Captain Wentworth. In truth, it did not even occur to her that he would know her former friend.
"Maggie! I am telling you the truth! I did not drop you that first day! YOU jumped out of my arms. It is not my fault if you are always trying to get away from me."
"Jameson White! Don't you blame your not being able to hold onto things on me! I was only days old. How could I possibly have been that advanced to walk much less jump?"
The young man smiled at the obviously frustrated little girl of 8. When other boys of 14 were out running around and pretending to go to war with each other, Jameson White seemd content enough to play with the little girl from next door. "Maggie--"
"Maggie! Time to come in dear! Your dear mother is fretting something awful! Oh! Lord White! I had no idea you were here." The governess calmly took in the scene. Being trained not to laugh and also being used to the antics these particular two always got into, the women went on calmly, "Your mother must be scared out of her wits. Did she know you came with her or did you hide in the carriage again?"
"Neither! Father let me ride my horse here!" Turning to Maggie, he continued, "This little imp refuses to let me take her for a ride! She claims that I will drop her. Tell her Mrs. Maddley: when she was born in all of my infinite 6 year old wisdom, I did NOT drop her. "She jumped out of my hands onto that couch."
"From where I stood, you dropped her."
"SEE!" Maggie yelled at the same time that James yelled, "Mrs. Maddley!"
The two children had been best of friends since she was born. Jameson always said that he felt a responsibility to keep Maggie from trouble even though both knew that he was the one always getting into trouble and Maggie was simply there.
Jameson had a particular reason to visit his best friend on this day. He wanted to be the one to tell her. Having already been on her family estate playing with her for half the day, Jameson still did not know how to tell the eight year old that he was leaving for a short, yet long enough, period of time. In fact, he did not know if he would be back at all.
Mrs. Maddley could see that he needed to tell her charge something and exclaimed, "I did not know you had a friend here dear, so I rang for your tea to be delivered out here." Turning to the young man, "Son, if you want, you may take tea out here, and I will go have tea with your mother and Lady Brentwood." Without even waiting for an answer, the woman turned around and left.
Jameson was obviously relieved but the young girl didn't notice. "Oh! We could have a tea party!"
"If you will, I will have a tea party later with you, but Maggie" the young man started, "I have something that I must tell you today." He stopped speaking and paused for a little before he said, "I am leaving--"
"But you just got here!"
Not being deterred, Jameson finished, "I am for the sea."
The sound of silence is quite daunting and not being able to read his young friends face, James was nervous, "what do you say about that Maggie Mine? I am going to go onto a ship and go to sea. I will not be back for about a year or two. We could always write. I am sure you would learn your letters faster and be smarter than anyone around. I could write you stories about life on a ship, the men–"
"You are going away?" she stated calmly, although her eyes were still huge. "Why? What have I done? I promise I won't do it again." What have I done? Why does he want to leave me? Will he ever be back? Two years? I'll be big in 2 years!
Heart broken, Jameson looked down at his hands, "Maggie. It is nothing that you have done. It is good for me to go. I will be back. I promise! I would really like it if you could be happy for me."
"But I am not happy! You are going to sea! You'll get terribly sick! Who is going to have tea parties with me? Who is going to take me for rides? Who is going to--a" becoming quite hysterical now, the little girl was positively trembling.
"Maggie!" attempting to take her hands, James found the entire small person pressed up against his fourteen year old frame. He had seen a lot of temper tantrums from her and he knew that you just needed to let her go through them. She always came out better on other side. "It's all right. I am here now." His attempt at soothing her started to work, or so it seemed.
The little girl stepped back and said in a very controlled voice, it was the same controlled voice that later in her life would put Lords and Ladies alike in their places, "Jameson Robert White, you had better come back because if you don't, I will never like the sea again."
Caught off guard, all the young man could do was laugh and shake his head, "Oh! Maggie Mine! Maggie, Maggie, Maggie! When you say things like that…you make me…I don't know…"
What will happen to him? I will miss him. Does this mean everything is going to change? Why does he want to go? I just don't understand! Slyly smiling and sitting back down, Maggie resolved to start asking questions. She may only be a small child, but this small child always wanted to know why. "So, why are you going? What are you going to be doing? When are you leaving?" It was apparent that now she was quite excited: her friend was going on an adventure!
"Hold on! I will answer all of your questions! You know that! I just can't answer them all at once or as quickly as you can come up with them. Hold still for this old man!"
"You are not old! You are only a few years older than me!"
"What?! Six years difference doesn't mean I am ancient?"
Slipping in a serious mood, he replied, "But it does make a difference."
Not understanding the quick change of attitude, Maggie went on, "Well, yes of course, in eight years you will have a mustache and a beard, and look worse than Uncle Robert!" Uncle Robert was portly man. He also did nothing but smoke cigars and complains that Maggie didn't know how to be a young lady. Needless to say: he was not well like by the little girl. "You will be fat! You will be slow, and I will dance circle around you!"
Smiling but not changing his tone, he said, "Maggie. Oh! Maggie Mine, you will see: six years will make a difference. I might come back in two years and you not want to see me ever again. I may come back in six years and you will have more important things to do. I may come back in six years and find you gone."
Serious now, Maggie stated slowly and quietly, "Then don't go." Please say something! I can not stand this silence!
Jameson White speared Maggie with his eyes and with finality he said, "I am going. I will be gone one to two years. In that time, you will write to me. You will answer every single one of my letters. You will not forget, you will return every line for line." With a half smile, James continued, "I don't think that I will survive the sea without your constant presence."
Still very quiet, and now on the verge of tears again, Maggie asked, "Why go? If you will miss me so much, why go? You will leave your horse, your dogs, your parakeet. You will leave your father, mother, brothers, sister, me, my family, your friends, that awful Robert Russell! There is so much more for you here! Don't go to sea!"
"I have to."
"Because I must have some sort of training if I am to be anything in this world. If I don't like it I won't stay! I will be back!"
"But you don't have to go! I heard momma say to papa once that you could do whatever you wanted! What with you being the first son and all! You have all of Bridly Manor! It's such a pretty place! Why would you want to go to sea and leave Bridly Manor?"
"I simply must. Maybe I will explain it to you someday...but for now you just have to trust me."
By this time, Maggie couldn't look Jameson in the eyes. He will see the hurt. I can't let him see the hurt! "Fine. Then I will see you in two years." With a toss of her head, she walked towards the manner house and shouted over her shoulder, "but you are insane if you think that I will write you line for line! In fact, if I do write: I will bore you with tails of Uncle Robert!" and she took off in a run.
For the next two years, letters flew as fast as the carriers could get them. Some months passed and there was hardly a letter being sent. Many times, Maggie would get letters from Jameson that showed he had not read the previous ones. To Maggie, it looked like he wrote every single day and sent them in huge bundles. True to her word, she filled her letters with messages of Uncle Robert.
Sometimes she would put in the letters other people.
As the years passed, anyone who got the chance to see and read the letters saw the transformation of the young girl a transformation that she herself couldn't see.
Chapter 4 – Friendship Correspondence
Posted on 2011-05-30
On a Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Maddley walked into the nursery where she was to plan for her charges' lessons for the upcoming week. Walking to the window, she saw Maggie down below reading on a bench. I must remember to have Lord and Lady White order more books for Miss Margaret; she has about finished all of the current ones. I must keep her occupied. Her mind has been much more active as she becomes less active. Shaking her head as she sat on the window bench and took in her charge, she could not help but consider the rapid change in her young mistress.
Five months prior, Master Jameson White came and told his young friend he was to go to sea. Four months prior, Margaret Brentwood stood in the doorway of her friends' home as she wove farewell to him. It seemed too good to be true that Maggie Brentwood would be excited to say good bye to her friend. Everyday for a month, she could be seen bouncing up and down the hallway waiting for the post to come. Every day, Mrs. Maddley saw a little more of her spark go out of her eyes. She knew not what to do.
Fortunately, Lord White had witnessed it as well.
To some, the friendship between Miss Margaret Brentwood and Lord Jameson White was a puzzling thing: how could a young male who is at the brink of manhood enjoy being the constant companion to a child of eight? What could they possibly have in common? It was most definitely a unique relationship. Most of the country society felt that there was a secret match made between the two. There were some who were so convinced of this that at one point they started betting on when the match would be announced. Lord White, Jameson's father, called it "simply ridiculous", Lady White called it adorable, and Lady Brentwood called it a simple childhood friendship.
Lord Brentwood did not see it that way. All he could see, or cared to see, was how attached to his neighbor's son the light of his life was. Whereas many people disagreed about the relationship between the two children, none dared disagree with Lord Brentwood. To most he was a stubborn man who took a prodigious amount of care of his family. It was universally accepted the here was a man who was so enamored with a person of the opposite sex that it was lucky she is his daughter.
And each day the Maggie withdrew from those that she loved, he lost a little more of his heart. Lord Brentwood could not stand to see his only child suffering and approached her as Mrs. Maddley watched from above.
"Father has the post come?"
"Yes, my dear it has" came the kind remark. Sitting next to his daughter, Lord Brentwood looking around at the spot Maggie had chosen for herself and said almost to what seemed like no one in particular, "You must realize it may take time for you to get any kind of letter."
After a moment's hesitation, Maggie looked up at her father, "I know. I just have this feeling that he will not write. He will not remember me. He will have too many more important things to do and see." Shrugging her shoulders, Maggie finished by stating, "I am after all, boring."
Startled, Lord Brentwood looked down at his daughter as exclaimed, "You boring? I wish! In fact, you will find, you are exactly the opposite which is why Jameson is such a good friend of yours: he simply loves being around when you get into trouble! In fact, I would wager that he is waiting for a letter on what your latest tragedy is! Remember, he told you to write to him."
Looking at her feet now, she replied, "I just do not know. I mean what would I write? I have nothing be read and he has already read all of these books. I do not read nearly so well as he does."
After thinking for a moment, Lord Brentwood mused allowed, "My dear, Jameson White loves his family. Would he also not love to hear stories of what they are doing in his absence?" Slying looking out the corner of his eye at his daughter, he set the hook, "Why do you not spend time doing things you know he likes then write them down. I will help you and you can then send them to him. I can not promise they will get to him but we could try." Seeing that Maggie was not only warming to the idea, she was getting excited, Brentwood continued, 'You could take his horse out and go for a ride with his brothers. You could have a tea party with his sister and your mother and his mother. You could go fly a kite with Robert Russell. Oh! There are so many things Master White would love to hear about."
Deciding to add one more little joke, Brentwood added, "You know that he will be very cross with you if you have nothing to write to him!" He did not, however, expect her reaction.
The little girl stood to her full height, and with a straight back, she faced her father. With the angriest eyes that Lord Brentwood had ever seen in Maggie, she said, "And why should I care if he is cross with me? What have I done, Father? I did not go away. I did not leave my friends and family simply because "I had to". And why, Father, did he have to go as he said? What made him? His mother misses him, he father misses him, his sister cries herself to sleep because she misses him. His brothers! They come and bother me because he is gone! Tell me, Father, why should I care if he becomes cross?"
Lord Brentwood, took in the figure of the small girl. From her curls and pink dress, to her dainty shoes on her feet, she screamed frailty and innocence. But the questions she asked were not innocent. She could see what was happening in the lives of those around her because her friend left and was not happy. Knowing that he was treading on ice: he understood that how he answered this question would either cause her to become more bitter and angry or it would help her to understand what exactly Master White had done. Standing to his full height of six feet, Brentwood towered over his young child and in a tone that left no room for questions stated simply, "Maggie one day you will understand that everyone has their own choice for what their future will be. Before you make your decision Maggie, I hope that you will make the same decision that Jameson White did."
Shocked and appalled, Maggie exclaimed, "You want me to go to sea?!" Completely, taken off guard, all Lord Brentwood could do was laugh.
"No! I want you to be the friend to Jameson that I know you are." Wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, he continued as he sunk down to his daughter's level, "I want you to ride with his brothers and spend time with his sister. I want you to do so much of what Jameson would have like to do here, that you could fill a hundred sheets of paper to send to him." Seeing that the sparkle was back in Maggie's eyes, he said, "I think your mother is headed over this afternoon to spend time with Lady White, why do you not go and ask if you could go?"
With such encouragement, there was naught that Maggie could do but run bubbling back into the house and search for her mother. In the following months, Margaret Brentwood would spend hours of every day doing things that Jameson White would have enjoyed. She wrote all of them down hoping and praying that her father would be able to get them to him. He must be very lonely. I can not wait until he comes back. Actually, I can not wait for his first letter!
September 7, 1767
Father said that I should do things you like so you would not be so home sick. Father said I should spend time with your brothers and sister. I even attempted to spend an afternoon with Robert Russell (although you know I can not stand him) because you like him.
I have a sad piece of information to give to you: your sister, being only five, can not understand that you have to imagine tea in the tea cup or else you will spill it. In fact, to be a good hostess (for that is what mama said I should be), I had to put water in her cup. Can you imagine! Water in a tea cup! You never asked me for something so foolish. You should come home, and have a proper tea party with me!
Your brother Brandon is learning how to be a man (as he puts it but a man would not be afraid of bees!) and he took me (with your father) on a ride over your estate. I rode Misty Apple your horse. I did want to ask you: I understand why you call her "the puppy" but I do not understand why you chose "Misty Apple" for her name. I mean, it was quite apparent that she will follow whomever riders her all over the countryside without so much as looking at the strap but really? Misty Apple? She is a black horse! Why not Burnt Apple or Charred Apple? But Misty Apple?
You brother Malcolm is insufferable. Between him and Robert Russell, I do not know whom I care for less! I tried to spend time with them, knowing that you like their friendship. I do not appreciate being thrown into the pond or being chased by them with a garden snake. I also do not care that it was not dangerous. I do not like snakes. Would you please come home and punish them for me? Why do you not make them walk the plank on your ship?
I think what I enjoyed the most was the time spent with your sister. She may only be five but then, even I was five and "learned to grow out of it" (that is how your mother put it not me).
I miss you. What is the sea like? As you know, I have never been. What do you do all day? Why have you not written? How much of the deck do you have to swab? I read in my books all the time that men have to swab the deck.
I think that I will call you James from now on. Jameson is much too much for a young girl such as me. I can not think as to why, I did not call you it before. You must simply get used to it, for I will call you nothing else now!
I am writing this letter on my father's desk as he is helping me with some of the words and how to spell them. He tells me that I should call you Mister White, Master White, or even Lord White, but that I should not be too friendly in public.
You are not going to read my letters out loud are you? Because if you did, that would be considered public and I would then have to call you one of those dreadful names!
Oh! I forgot to mention: Mama, had a party last night that I was not able to attend. I felt lonely and wished that you would be back: you always know exactly what I need to hear.
But when I think about it, you being here for the party still would not have worked because you would have been at the party!
Around December, 8 months after James had left; Maggie heard shouting from Mrs. Maddley. She never shouts! She tells me shouting is not lady like and then goes and shouts herself? What is going on? "Maggie! Maggie! The mail has come! You have quite a few letters and one very large one! I wonder who could have written you!" Mrs. Maddley was so excited and she burst into the nursery where Maggie had been studying and doing her homework. "Don't you want to read it now?"
For all of her grown up wisdom, Maggie didn't know what to do or say. He wrote. He really did write. He did not forget me! Taking the stack of letters in hand, Maggie sat down and started to cry.
"Maggie! Maggie! What is wrong?"
"He wrote. I thought I was never going to hear from him again!" Now beyond being able to reason with her charge, Mrs. Maddley, simply held the girl until her tears had dried up. With only a sniffle left, the young girl handed the letters to her governess and friend and asked, "Would you please read them to me?"
Mrs. Maddley opened the first letter, and started to read, after giving the young girl her last handkerchief:
June 10, 1767
I have been on this ship for 3 weeks and just now am I able to put pen to paper for you. Please do not accuse me of forgetting my best friend so quickly, it is just that there is so much to do here that I have sat down multiple times to write you but fell asleep reaching for the pen.
First thing is first, I must describe my Captain to you. I have two words for you: Uncle Robert! At first, I didn't think much of his physical appearance: a lot of people have over indulged in their lives, but Captain Mackhum has the same physical features as your Uncle Robert. His head is a perfect circle just like the rest of him is. It is no wonder as he hardly ever leave outside of what seems to be a fifteen foot around by his cabin. He never checks quarters, he never goes down any stairs at all! The furthest I have seen him walk was to check Melody at the wheel!
Last night, I was invited for a meal with the other officers in his personal quarters. I swear the man must have smoked at least 3 cigars! He got so very drunk by the end of the night he I probably should not go any further as you are only 8 years old.
However, even with Captain Mackhum as our "fearless" leader, I truly believe that First Lieutenant Matthew Brown, (he's the Captain second in command), is the "fearless" leader on board. All the men look to him and all the men would die for him.
Enough about me. How are you? How is my horse? I really had no intention of letting YOU take care of him but if the puppy shows you how to ride and love to ride than I will be content. Who are you having take my place at your tea parties? How are my brothers? I told them to go and visit you often so my presence would not be missed. How is my sister? Have you persuaded her to do something rash and childish yet?
I must go for I am falling asleep as I right.
Your Absent Friend,
"Oh! He did not forget me! I must answer his letter!" Now without any tears but much more excitement than the older lady had seen in months, she continued, "I must remember to tell him more stories about the puppy and when my next tea party is! Oh! My birthday is coming up! I should have a party and save a seat for the absent friend!"
"Maggie, would you like to hear the rest of his letters?"
Sitting down, but not still, she exclaimed, "Yes! Please! Yes!"
June 12, 1767
You will never believe what just happened! I had to sit down and write to you! Here we are in the middle of the ocean and guess what! Brown thru Melody overboard! I do not know what he said or did. It happened so fast! I was talking with Melody about how he came to be a seaman and I saw Brown coming up. He had this look of anger that was worse than your fathers' when he found out we had painted the walls in his office. (By the way, I don't remember why we did that; if you could enlighten me I would be very appreciative.)
The next thing I know, Brown picked Melody up by the back of his shirt, and walked to the side of the ship and thru him over. We were not going anywhere as there has been no wind in four days. Also, Melody swims like a fish, so there was no harm done.
I rushed to the side of the ship and saw Melody. He didn't look mad at all but in fact happy. The next thing I know, I am feeling this WHOOSH right by me and all the other able seaman are jumping overboard! I was astonished! They were all swimming.
But the funniest and most shocking point of all was this huge flash of bright white doing a cannon ball right in the middle of the pack! IT WAS CAPTAIN MACKHUM!
Lt. Brown came and stood beside me. I glanced at him and saw the biggest smile I had ever seen. This was more than astonishing! I mean, he was so angry before! But he turned to me and said, "Jameson White, why are you not swimming?" I stammered out a response of some sort, although what I said, I have no idea. The next thing he said was even more confusing, "You really must swim you know. I have a theory that if every able man swam today, then there would be wind tomorrow."
I couldn't help but ask, "Why sir?"
His response had me laughing my heart out; it was like I was talking with you again! "Jameson, the sea is worse than the most spirited woman you know. If you do not give her the attention she feels that she needs, she throws a temper tantrum. This is just one of those tantrums: no wind. She must be still for a reason, and what better reason than to swim? Normally, swimming is prohibited as the danger of being left behind and drowning is great, but not on the calmest of days like today!"
He let me laugh for a couple of minutes and then said, "Jameson, do not hate me for this: I am just appeasing the lady." He then picked me up by my collar and threw me overboard!
Maggie Mine, I just have to tell you: on a blistering hot day in the middle of the ocean, there is nothing better than a good swim!
Your very wet friend,
Sitting the letter aside, the older woman suggested, "Maybe you should learn to swim then you could tell him about that!"
"Oh! That would be fun! Maybe one of his brothers will teach me?"
"No. I think you father would like that job."
June 15, 1767
I am very tired right now, but wanted to let you know I saw a pod of dolphins. Maybe Mrs. Maddley will show you a book of them so you can see what I saw. They were just amazing. It was like watching a perfectly choreographed dance: each dolphin dancing with the other dolphins.
Do you remember when we were both really little and my father let us come downstairs to the balcony over looking the great dance hall at Bridly Manor? We saw all of those men and women dancing with each other. Well, this was like that. Every time one of the dolphins came up for air and did not jump high, it was like watching one of those women twirl around. I just wanted to jump in and swim with them.
The sea really is a great place. I guess I must come back. For to have you hate such a beautiful and majestic thing would be sad indeed.
PS. You now owe me 3 letters!
Now quite indignant, the little girl stood with her hands on her hips, "I do NOT owe him three letters! I just barely got these! I will write one long one for him and that is it! Who does he think he is? He goes away and because of that, he can still tell me what to do!? I think not!"
All the old woman did in response was to read another letter.
June 25, 1767
I am sorry; it has been so long since my last letter. I know I should not be concerned, since I have not even sent that letter yet, but I hope to get all of these out today. We have docked today in a small cove with a lot of natives. At the moment they are conversing with Lt. Brown. He speaks 12 different languages!
But I am off topic and have limited time.
I want to know the following, and I expect answers: How are you? How is your family? How is my family? What have my brothers been up to recently? What new things have you learned? Who are you now taking tea with? Who have you been spending time with? How have you been spending your time? What grand adventures do you have planned?
I am running out of time; Lt. Brown is waiting for my letter.
Your rushed friend,
"Oh! There is a very thick envelope!" taking multiple pages from the envelope the older woman exclaimed, "Why! Maggie, I think he just wrote a single long letter made up of many shorter letters."
Dear Maggie Mine,
June 26, 1767 - I think I am going to start a sort of diary for you. I am just going to write and keep writing and then put them all in one envelope and have it ready for another port. That way I am not so rushed. I do however; think that with this being my plan, you should do the same.
I can not wait to hear from you. Lt. Brown is a poor second for my best friend…even though you are a girl and not a very big one at that.
I have to say, the sea is nothing like I thought it would be. Yes, it gets very active around here, but how can I describe the calm before the storm? Or the storm itself? You are normally up at sunrise, I know this, but the sun rising over the ocean is a sight that you can not compare to the sight from out country estates.
I am right now, sitting in the crow's nest with Able Seaman March. He goes by Bobby to everyone who is not an officer. Bobby can see for miles around and keep a vigilant watch for dangers on the sea. I know not how he keeps his focus. I am trying but I can't concentrate: the sea is too beautiful.
I think that I could spend the rest of my life in this nest and be happy. I could be perfectly content. It is like I am home and have found my heart finally.
I know you do not understand why I had to leave. I also do not know if I can explain it yet. One day I will.
But enough seriousness for now.
Your serious friend
June 30, 1767 - He did it. He finally did it! Captain Mackhum has managed to walk downstairs to the men's quarters. I don't know what was said, or who it was said to, but I saw him coming up the stairs with Lt. Brown. Both looking very worried. I was working with Melody and he came walking right up those stairs and went straight into his quarters and slammed the door. The next thing I know, men are barreling out of their quarters and cleaning the ship to perfection. I looked at Melody and asked what was happening, his response: "Don't know. Don't care. The Captain said to teach you to steer, and I aim to do that!"
I just realized you have no idea who Melody is. Ships are large things, they don't just move through the water as much as they glide. There is always a person at the helm (or that big wheel you always see). Melody is the enlisted man who steers the boat when the Captain or other officers are working on their other duties. Every officer must learn how to steer because someday they might captain the ship and need to do it themselves.
Melody claims that he was born at sea and therefore will die at sea. His actual name is Bernard Watkins. Everyone on this ship (as he has never worked on a different one) calls him Melody because he is always singing or humming. His voice could rival some angels.
And certainly rivals yours! But that is really easily done!
He is teaching me how to, as he calls it, calm the sea. There are a few sweet songs that are as beautiful as the calm before the storms out here. I am excited. Maybe one day I will sing you one of those songs just to see if it would calm you!
I must get back to my duties, but know this, dear friend: I miss you. You would enjoy this ship very much.
Your silent (but not for long) friend
July 5, 1767 - Maggie, I don't have much time. But I had to tell you before I forgot: I saw a pirate ship. I was in the crow's nest and we are now bearing down on it. Maybe you could find some books on pirates!
July 13, 1767 - We caught the pirate ship. I thought you might like to know. It was a long run. It took us nearly 5 days to chase it down as the wind was not in our favor. The only consolation was that it was not in their favor either.
I have discovered one thing: I will never tell you what happened that day. Margaret, do not ask me, for I will not answer. It does not matter how old we get, I will not relate that tale.
I also have decided that I will not relate other tales of the same sort. You may not understand why I forbid you to ask, but trust me in this: you should not have to bear that.
We captured the pirate ship three days ago. If anything of note comes to pass: I will share it with you.
You remember my description of my Captain? Well, today he is to leave us. He is retiring. Lt. Brown has just been given orders to captain our ship. I am so very excited and so is the rest of the ship. Everyone has been promoted, including me! I am still a Midshipman, but now I am higher ranked as a midshipman then those that are new. I am now looked up to not as the "senior" midshipman but rather just a simple midshipman. I am going to be able to spend more time with Captain Brown (my! I must get used to that) and First Lt. York.
Oh! I don't believe I ever mentioned York! Brian York is a stable man. He is not so very outgoing and keeps much to himself. Most of his free time is spent in books or down in the Doctor's area. I believe that he would rather be a doctor than a sea captain. He is about as tall as my brother Malcolm and with pitch black hair like Misty Apple.
I truly think you would frighten him. You and all of your bubbly ways focused on making him laugh would certainly be an interesting sight.
So much has happen in the past two months that I am excited for what will happen in the coming months!
PS. I get to send this out! I hope to hear from you soon!
August 23, 1767 – With a greater position comes greater responsibility. I have to take my turn at watch. I am learning how to navigate without a compass or map. It is all very exciting. Captain Brown (it is now so easy to say Captain) states that if I want to Captain my own ship one day, I must learn everything about that ship. How a ship runs, why it runs the way it does, etc. He said that I must be even more diligent than he has seen me before.
We have been sailing in and out, port after port after port, and I have learned quite a bit. The most important lesson I have learned is simple: to be a sea captain I will never stop learning. The ship changes from day to day. The men change from port to port. Men change period. I have found that even though I am only fourteen (fifteen in five days) that even I have changed.
I just noticed, I have not written in more than a month: I am sorry! We have been making our way down the coast of Africa. We are trying to get to some port I can not pronounce in the bottom tip of Africa. I promised, even if it is only a few lines, I will make a better effort of writing to you.
I certainly won't take offense to not receiving any mail from you. Like I stated earlier, we have been port hopping for many weeks now.
I did want to tell you about a parakeet I saw in one of the port. He was big and yellow, with lots of feathers. The man said that he was so spirited that it would take a certain kind of man to make the bird want to stay. You see I asked why he had her tied to her stand and he responded that she didn't like him and kept flying away.
I bought the bird. She reminded me of you. Just as the man said, every time (when we were at sea) that I untied her she would fly away and it would be a few days before I would see her again. She does remind me of you, you are so full of life that I just love being your friend, but with a mind of your own, you go and make adventure for yourself.
The bird does not like the sea and tells me quite often in the form of white stuff on my bed. Once again, she really does remind me of you.
August 25, 1767 – Melody taught me a new song that I can not wait to sing to you! It is about the beauty of the sea and how you can love it.
August 26, 1767 – Have I told you what our ship's orders are? We are to take high ranking English official anywhere in that they want to go. Just now we picked up some stuffed shirt (really, the shirt is so frilly it should be a girls!) from South Africa and are to take him to America. Williamsburg to be exact. (Have Mrs. Maddley show you were that is on one of your father's maps.) We are outfitting for the long trek across the ocean. You will not hear from me for a long time. I am going to send this journal at that port when we get there.
Do not feel bad if you do not hear of me until the spring.
I will end this epistle by stating that I will miss you and hope this actually finds you.
Your Long Distance Friend
PS. Oh! Say hello to my family…I am not great about writing to them…
"Yes! Yes! I must write to him! Where is the pen and paper? Can I get special paper to send to him? I do not think he has received any of my letters!"
"I will try, but for right now, why do you not respond to his letters?" the older woman smiled and she sailed out of the young girl's presence. She is back to who she was. It is terrible for those two to be separated; I only hope the two years goes by quickly. And quickly they did.
In the next two years, it was not uncommon in the Brentwood house to hear something like, "Mrs. Maddley, is that the post? Is there a letter for me? I do hope he got my letters. Papa says that he probably won't but I still hope. Mama said that it is not everyday that a girl gets to write to a sailor and hear his wonderful stories! Oh! Did I show you the letter where he saw the dolphins? Or the one where Melody taught him to sing?" the little girls was just about bubbling over with enthusiasm. "I really didn't think that he would write me three or four times a week! I can't wait for the next letter!"
Indeed, every letter that the girl received she would send a longer one is its place. As the letters flew faster and faster between the two friends, Mrs. Maddley could see a change in both. In all her letters, she was getting more and more insistent about him being back to stay after the two years were over but each letter showed a man who loved the sea very much. Maggie's reaction worried her: how would Maggie react when she found out that after two years her James would only be back for a visit?
But time went on and while Mrs. Maddley fretted, Maggie started to enjoy being a child again. At the same time however, she would invite Brandon and Malcom White for tea parties (both never refused for fear of what their elder brother would say). Lord Brentwood even invited his brother Robert Brentwood (Uncle Robert) over more often in order to entertain his young child. Maggie would even go riding with Robert Russell and have "girls' days" with James' sister. She truly enjoyed being with her and Jameson's families, but nothing gave her greater joy than to write some new adventure to Jameson.
December 5, 1767: I have a particularly devious idea and want to know what you think. By the way, do you like me new word: devious? Mrs. Maddley taught it to me today. Anyway, the target of my plot is Robert Russell and Malcolm White. Yes, I know Malcolm is your brother, but really, you should ask your mother if he is adopted! He is nothing like you.
I need to get them back for not only the baking soda in my toothpaste but the frog in my wash bin, the crickets in my bed, and the cake that they told Father I ate all of. (Okay! I did eat most of it but they each had a piece!) They even took Mrs. Piggle (Father bought me a doll to be Miss Piggle's mother) and put her in the top of that oak tree between our houses! I had to climb all the way up and tore my third favorite blue frock!
But I know just how to get even! This morning, when I was walking down by the pond that is on the edge of my Father's lands, I heard your brother and Robert Russell talking about what they were going to do next to me. Can you believe it! They were planning on dyeing all of my hair ribbons black! Tomorrow when they sneak up to my room and try to find my ribbons (for I plan to hide them VERY well), I will replace all the sugar on Mama's table with salt!
This plan can not fail! Neither of those boys will drink tea without sugar!
December 6, 1767: It did not work. I forgot Father likes sugar in his tea. Now I get no sugar for an entire month.
December 15, 1767: I took Misty Apply out today and am learning to jump! Okay, I am learning to stay on Misty when she jumps. Please do not ask about my bruises.
December 26, 1767: I have been very busy recently. I tried not to miss you terribly but yesterday was Christmas and I failed miserably as I missed you the entire day and well into the night. If I could remember my dreams, I probably could say that I missed you after I went to sleep.
But in an effort to equate you with Christmas here at home, I am going to tell you about my Christmas. My mother's family started coming to the house about five days ago. Uncle Robert had already been here.
Oh! Did I tell you what he recently said to me! It was almost two weeks ago. I was not doing anything out of the ordinary; in fact, I was being good (for a change) and was practicing my scales on the piano and with my voice. He came bursting into the music room and said, "Lord! I thought a cat was dying in here! But it is only you child. God, you are awful! You need to practice more!" and turned around and walked out of the room! I could not believe it! Then I went and told Father and what did he do?
He laughed at me and said that maybe I should practice more! What did they think I was doing?!
I probably should not have done it but I could not resist. Every afternoon, Uncle Robert made a habit of sleeping in a particular sofa in one of the drawing rooms…in fact, the one next to the music room. I simply changed my practice times to when he was sleeping and started banging my scales out and crowing my notes. The first few times it happened, he came into the music room, I assume to search for the dead cat's body, and would walk out shortly after.
Anyway, Mama's sister is here and she brought with her Celeste. Do you remember Celeste? She is about 4 years older than I am. I remember why I am thankful she lives in Bath. I have spent the entire time being looked down upon by her. I am not graceful. I can not dance (yet, I remember I have to dance circles around you). I walk like a boy. I talk like a boy. I am rude and uncultured.
And I really do not like Celeste.
On the topic of a girl I do like, namely your sister, she has asked me to command you to write her a very long a lengthy letter; an idea which your mother approves of. Apparently, you have not been good at writing to them.
I suggest you amend this or I will be forced to take drastic measures.
Silently, the brunette curls bounced up and down on the head of the ten year old girl's fuming head. To anyone who did not know her, Maggie would simply look irritated. However, to those that did know her, a silent Maggie is not a good Maggie. As often as people wish she would speak less, they secretly hope that she doesn't.
"Oh Little Miss!" cried a maid as she saw Maggie come up the walkway. "I was sent to get you! Your mother and father want you in the large salon!"
Sighing, "Very well Megs. I shall be there directly."
"Miss," hesitantly, the maid suggested, "you might want to clean up a little? There is a guest in the salon with your parents."
More than a little irritated, Maggie let out a sigh of frustration as she spoke. "Either they want me now or want me later. Which is it?" she demanded.
"Miss they said 'find her immediately', but I don't--"
"Then I will go in now." With that Maggie stalked off. With every step she simply got more and more angry. She walked past servants who just stared in open horror; she pushed past the head housekeeper, Mrs. Smith. She straightened her back as she walked past her father's steward, Mr. Smith, as he gave her a disapproving frown. With one hand, the ten year old child opened the massive ornate door to the saloon and with her head held high, took a deep breath and walked into the room.
"Oh! Miss Maggie! What have you done to your beautiful dress?"
"Margaret Ann Brentwood! What have you done to yourself?!"
Looking at the room's occupants Maggie thought for a moment (only a moment as Maggie never thought about anything for very long) what she should say to explain her attire. She saw that both her mother and governess's mouths were open in pure shock. Lord Brentwood was obviously trying very hard not to laugh, or so Maggie thought as he had immediately turned his back to the room once he had seen his only child. It did, briefly, occur to Maggie that she did not know who the fourth person in the room was. However, Maggie was unconcerned; he looks old enough to be one of father's friends. Undaunted, she lifted her chin and said in her sternest voice, "Robert Russell is no longer welcomed in this house."
She snuck a look at her father and saw his eyebrow rise. Maggie was not worried about her mother's reaction to her news; she never listened to her anyway. Nor was she worried about Mrs. Maddley, she was always sympathetic, although annoyingly enough, she never followed through with any of her sympathies with regards to Robert. Her father, however, would want to know what had happened and in the end, he would make the decision whether or not Robert could come back. Well, a raised eyebrow is better than completely ignoring my comment.
"And just what, might I ask, has Robert done that not only made you so mad, but irreversibly lost his privileges in this household?"
"He pushed me in the pond."
"Is that why you have a lily pad on your head?"
By this time, both Mrs. Maddley and Lady Brentwood had gotten over their shock. Both were trying very hard to keep their countenance as they watched Maggie try to convince Lord Brentwood that the son of one of their nearest neighbors should never be admitted into their home again. Mrs. Maddley almost lost all of her composure when she looked at the fifth party in the room. He has no idea what he volunteered for.
His mouth was open, he eyes were squinted in concern, and yet it was very evident that he sincerely wanted to laugh at this little rascal who had been called but was not sure if his laughter would be deemed acceptable.
"Let me understand you correctly, daughter. Robert pushed you in the pond (which he does often), you now have a lily pad on your head, and because of this he is not allowed to be here anymore?"
"Might I ask what you did to him that would necessitate a reaction of pushing you into the pond?"
"I had a bee on my person."
"I see. You had a bee on you so he pushed you into the pond?"
"No!" came a shout from the entrance of the saloon. Another, very wet, person came in the room. "I have, at your polite request and after nasty letter from White, not purposefully thrown you in the pond for two full years! Do NOT dare blame this one on me!" The blond teenager charged in and came to stand toe to toe with the ten year old
It was quite a sight! A small ten year old brunette with flashing green eyes peering up with her full head tilted back in order to stare down the dark brown eyes of the very tall sixteen year old boy. With a disgusted look towering over the little girl, Robert said to Lord Brentwood, "We were picking flowers like she," pointing a finger at Maggie, "wanted to when this little…" realizing he was speaking to her father finished his description with, "….girl said she wanted to pick some down by the pond."
"After tramping around to the other side of the pond, because," in a high pitched voice, Robert attempted to imitate Maggie, "the flowers are just so much sweeter and nicer over there; I sat while she started to pick flowers. The next thing I know, I have flowers being thrown at me while I ducked the basket being chucked in my direction, while this little monster screamed and ran in circles, 'BEE! BEE! GET IT OFF! She wouldn't let me near her to chase the bee away so I had to calm her down. Which we ALL know is NEAR TO IMPOSSIBLE!"
Exasperated now and realizing that he should probably lower his voice, Robert drew a breath and continued with a lot of emotion in his words, "When I finally got her to stand still, how I did that I still don't know, I told her to move toward the pond and the bee would find nicer flowers to buzz around. We both know bees don't like noisy things! So, she slowly walked over to the edge of the pond.
"Th next thing I know, she's grabbed my hand and we are both slipping into the muddy water! After I got over my shock, I looked at your daughter and started laughing. I mean who wouldn't? Here she was, no bee around, shocked speechless, with a lily pad on her head and a dazed frog sitting in her lap! I saw her get up and started to offer to help her back when she took one look at me and stomped off. I stopped her at the edge of the water because I was afraid she was going to slip again in the green moss and your daughter pushed me back in the water!"
"Oh! Don't you dare blame this on me! You told me to go over to the water, you told me to stand still for that dumb bee! You as good as pushed me and you know it!"
"Children!" Lord Brentwood now stood continued with a voice that no one in the room would combat, "Robert, please go find something to change into and go home. Thank you for taking such diligent care of Maggie even when Maggie does not appreciate it. Rest assured, I will not forbid you entrance into my houses. You and your family are always welcome here." Turning to Maggie he said, "You, young lady, go upstairs and clean up so that our guest may actually see that you are a young lady and not a tadpole!"
Maggie, now looked at the man standing in the room. Having completely mastered his emotions, Maggie was unaware that he was silently laughing his heart out. "Yes, father."
When the large door shut behind the two adolescents, Lord Brentwood turned to the gentleman and with sincere apologies said, "I am sorry for that. She is actually a young lady, just one that most of the time does not realize it."
Holding his hand up the young man said, "I understand." Almost laughing to himself he continued, "You must remember: I was warned. It is my fault completely if I was unprepared. From what I have heard, this is actually a tamer moment for her."
"Your informant must have been very thorough."
"The first story I was told, and my favorite by the way, included a dog, a cat, a sheep, some doll clothes that wouldn't fit, a few "borrowed" dress of her mother's," pausing to think, "and I think an article of yours. If I remember correctly, wasn't it your favorite hat?"
Laughing loudly, "Sir, your informant did keep you well endowed with information!" For the next thirty minutes the proud father regaled their guest with other escapades that Maggie had done and been through. In fact, he was still telling one when Maggie came back in. Before they noticed her presence, she heard, "You would have thought the sky was falling with how loud she yelled! He really should not have jumped out from behind the casket, but we learned early on: you simply don't put both in the same room without chaperones if you want peace!"
"Ah! Maggie darling! You're back!" Lady Brentwood seemed to jump out of her seat when she saw her daughter. "Come over here. We would like to introduce you to someone."
Maggie eyed the blond man. If papa likes him he must not be so bad. She took in his tall frame, weather tanned skin, he almost windswept look of his hair, and smiled. She walked forward and curtsied as her father said, "Mr. Perry, this is my daughter Margaret Brentwood. Maggie, this is Mr. Jonathon Perry." Maggie looked at her father and saw a twinkle in his eye as he continued, "Maggie, Mr. Perry has just come back from the Americ--"
Maggie wouldn't even let him finish before she addressed Mr. Perry and just about attacked him while she did it, "Have you seen James? I mean James White. He is on board the Cleopatra. He was supposed to be in Williamsburg but has been going up and down the coast with English officials over there! He is about 16 with sandy brown hair. He's got blue eyes and he is a midshipman. A midshipman is someone who is learning to be an officer but who is not enlisted. Whatever that means. He's been over there for almost 14 months. Have you seen him?"
Smiling at Maggie while she took a breath, Mr. Perry said, "Yes, I have seen him. Yes, he is in Williamsburg or was when I left, his hair is stark blond now, and he asked for me to deliver this to you" and held out a well beaten letter. "I'm sorry, it doesn't look nice. I had to keep it on my person in some pretty rough spots on the voyage back."
Maggie tentatively took the letter and almost tore it open before she raised her eyes so that Mr. Perry could see the tears in them, "Thank you Mr. Perry. It must seem silly to you that a 16 year old boy would write to a 10 year old girl who was not his sister, but I assure you, his sister even says that I am more of a sister to him than she is." Slightly laughing, Maggie added, "His mother actually says that she thinks that we were separated at birth, even though our ages are so much different." Quietly, she sat down and said in a small voice, "Thank you Mr. Perry, you just gave me one of the best gifts I have ever received."
Turning to her mother she asked quietly, "Mama, may I be excused to go read my letter?"
Lord Brentwood answered, "If you don't mind Maggie, I will send for refreshments, you may read your letter in a corner, then hopefully update us on what Master White," putting emphasis on the "Master White" portion, "wrote after we finish our tea?"
She nodded, clearly getting the message of propriety and sought out a corner by a window. She opened the letter and started to read.
March 3, 1771
Dear Maggie Mine,
You may be wondering why you are getting a single letter instead of the normal book I send to you. Well Maggie Mine, I am on my way home. I will pause while you calm yourself down.
She stopped reading for a minute as tears started to course down her face. As soon as she felt she was calm enough she continued.
Have you calmed yourself yet? No? That's fine I will wait a few more minutes.
She just smiled at that.
You should be sitting like a young lady by this point; with no evidence of tears, or of unruly behavior like jumping up and down. I must admit, I have no idea which way you would react: either making a spectacle of yourself by jumping up and down like a jellybean, or by being inconsolable by crying your eyes out. You will simply have to inform me. Actually, I think that you should just save all your letters and I will read them all when I get back.
There are a few things you must know before I go any further. First, I do not know how long it will take our ship to get to England and furthermore, I do not know how much longer it will take me to get inland. It is possible that it will be months, before I am able to get there. I am sending this letter through a friend whom I have met from another English ship here is the America's. His ship was to head out before ours and Jonathon Perry (you may meet him and if you do, please do not scare him off) has offered to take this letter to you as his family is only one county over.
As I said, I do not know when we will be sailing for England but it is our next destination. We are currently picking up a group of militia who we will be taking back to England and then bring another group of soldiers back to these shores. I have to admit sometimes I feel like a bellboy, hopping from place to place just because someone did not have the foresight to be a sailor to begin with.
Before I go, I have to tell you something that I forgot to in my last missive. I have to tell you about Captain Brown's new pet: it is the prettiest parrot I have ever seen. Captain Brown named her Maggie Mine! I just about died of laughter when he told me. He said he named her Maggie Mine because the bird heard me describing you to another gent on the boat and heard me say "Maggie Mine" and has not stopped saying it. Captain Brown can not get the bird to say anything else!
I have to say between my bird that reminds me of you and Captain Brown's bird, who can not get you off of its mind, I really want to make a joke using the pun, "birds of a feather flock together"!
"Of all the nerve!"
Somehow I did not think you would appreciate that.
"You are absolutely right, I wouldn't like that!"
"Maggie! Are you done?"
I simply can not wait to see you my friend. There are times that without your laughter and smiles it could become too much. I cling to every word you send and hope that my descriptions of this vast ocean, in all of its wonders, have done justice to the sights I have seen.
I will see you sooner than you believe and warn you to treat my brother's fairly. If their letters are to be believed you have surely been keeping them on their toes.
You may treat Robert Russell however you wish, I received a letter from him stating that he had at last found a way to tolerate you. I must admit, I want to believe him…but simply can not. Something tells me he is not on your good side very often.
Your Not Long Lost Friend,
Ps. When I get back, I had better find a young lady! You had two years to improve your posture, learning, letters, comportment, sewing, riding, speaking, and whatever else our mother's deem a young lady should know. If I do not, I will simply have your father send you to live with Celeste! You are warned.
Smiling as she folded up her letter, Maggie made her way back to the group and asked for some milk. While her mother poured her something to drink, Maggie handed the letter to her father who always read what James had to say. "My dear! Master White is to come home very soon!" Pleasure emanated from Lord and Lady Brentwood as well as Mrs. Maddley. "I must call on Lord White tomorrow and find out if he is aware! He is missing his son something awful!"
While Lord and Lady Brentwood spoke between themselves discussing a visit to their best friends, Maggie turned to Mr. Perry. "Mr. Perry, Mr. White said that he met you briefly in America. What do you do?"
"Miss Brentwood, I work for a man who delivers tea to the colonies in America."
"How then did you meet James? I mean Mr. White? He doesn't deliver tea!"
Smiling at the young girl, and very aware of the fact that he was speaking to a 10 year old, he said, "I work for a man who sells tea in the new land, I didn't say I met James delivering tea." Continuing, he said, "I actually met your young friend through his captain and my captain. Captain Drake, my captain, was invited for dinner by Captain Brown, whom you are familiar with, and some of Captain Brown's favorite men were invited to the same dinner. Your friend was among them."
Turning to his hosts, Mr. Perry commented, "It was no wonder he was a favorite as well! Every time there was a lull in the conversation, he brought forth a story of a young "scamp" as he called her. Your daughter was the high point of the evening!"
Curious, Lord Brentwood asked, "And what exactly did the young Lord White say about my child?"
"Well, the first time he brought her up was after a particularly heated debate between the captains about what manner of man would make the best sailor. Captain White firmly believed that it was the men who did not have to go to sea that made the best sailors and Captain Drake believed that it was the men who did have to go to sea. Both made their cases quite loudly and had paused to take a breath and drink if you ask me.
"After a few moments of silence with glares going between the two captains, Captain Brown got a suspiciously sly grin on his face and he turned to your young friend and asked, 'and what would Maggie Mine say about this? Which side would she take?' James lost his breath and looked like he swallowed a whole lemon and had to take a drink of water before he was able to breathe again. My captain turned to Brown and asked who was 'Maggie Mine' and all Brown responded with was, 'She is somewhat of a charm for our ship. Every time we follow her sage advice, this ship runs more smoothly.'
"My captain, more than curious now, asked young James, 'and what would the wise one tell us?' James just swallowed and thought for a minute and said, 'Maggie wouldn't give to this foolish argument. She would state that the sea had already claimed me and that for it claim anyone else's best friend would be selfish and nature can not be selfish can it? Only people can be that. So let the sea take who wants to be there and let it bring her friend back home.' "
Smiling at the memory, the middle aged man continued, "Captain Drake just sat there and looked at the young man and then looked at Brown and started laughing! 'That's the soundest advice I have ever heard! I want to meet your young woman!' At that Captain Brown chortled with laughter as said, 'You might have to wait old friend! Maggie Mine is only 10 and is the neighbor of our young midshipman here!' The rest of the evening Captain Drake demanded story after story of Maggie here and her friendship with the young Jameson. He told us of her tea parties, dressing animals up, the impromptu bird bath she made out of your favorite saddle Lord Brentwood. He told us about paintings she had drawn, about things that she had said, but mostly he used stories that had meanings behind them." Leaning back into the plush chair, he finished by saying, "It was almost like we were all at home with the ladies in the next room. Not one man in that small cabin felt cramped. By the time we all left, each one of use was yearning for home and only half of the men were heading in the direction.
Turning to Maggie, he could see that she was starting to get upset, "Miss Brentwood, please do not get angry with your friend because he told stories of you. He was missing home just like the rest of us. Not one of the men thought that you were any less than a lady and more than one of the men hoped that you would meet their sisters to be their friends."
Lady Brentwood saw that her daughter was started to get very emotional and said, "Mr. Perry, thank you for your kind words of assurance. However, I think it is time for Maggie studies to continue." Turning to her daughter, "If Jameson White is head home; he would be very disappointed to find out that his list had not been attended to." By this time, Lady Brentwood had read the end of the letter. "And we all know that you need to work on," pausing to read the list outloud, "posture, learning, letters, comportment, sewing, riding, speaking, and whatever else our mother's deem a young lady should know."
Taking up the letter, the young lady curtsied to the men in the room and followed her governess to the nursery for her lessons. Maggie's final thought before she turned to focus on the books before her was wrought with determination, just see if I do not show you Jameson White. I will be the grandest lady in the land by the time you come back. You will not recognize me! You definitely will not have any more stories to tell people! Just you wait!
Maggie woke up three days later with a feeling of anticipation. It had taken a few days for the news to set in and for her to believe it. Jameson is on his way home. In fact, his letter was dated 3 months ago! He could be in the middle of the ocean or even in dock somewhere in England! I wish I knew when he had left!
"Good morning child! I think this morning we are going to work on your music. Jameson always stated that he could not wait to hear you play!"
The young girl rolled her eyes at her governess and said, "What he could not wait for was to see and hear me banging on the keys!" Fully expecting a lecture on ladylike behavior not including such eye movement, Maggie sat up in expectation. She waited for a few moments and realized, Mrs. Maddley did not look like she even realized what Maggie had said! She decided to test her governess to see if you she was right, "Mrs. Maddley, would you teach me Chinese this afternoon? In one of his past letters, James stated that he was going to attempt to learn it."
"Of course! My dear, I forgot to do a couple of things this morning, I will meet you in the music room after breakfast." Without further word, she walked out of the room. Confused, Maggie got out of bed.
Walking over to her closet, Maggie reveled in the ability to choose what to wear. Normally, Mrs. Maddley had to approve of her choice before she got to wear it. Not today! She chose a green one dress cream trim. It was one of her favorites because he mother always said it made her look more grown up every time she wore it.
Making her way down to breakfast, Maggie realized she was running late. Oh dear! Papa will be so angry! He hates waiting to each! I am nearly fifteen minutes late. Picking up her pace, the young brunette started running down the hallway and almost collided with her father turning into the breakfast parlor.
"Ah! You are here! I thought I was going to go have to pull you from bed!" Smiling he offered his arm to lead her in to the breakfast room. "Eat up! I have a feeling you are going to need it today!"
Maggie's eyes just about popped from her head. Her father was fine with her being late? Turning and seeing her mother, she noticed she was happier than normal. Was that even possible? Something just had to be wrong.
As she made quick work of her breakfast, she looked at her father as he read his newspaper and heard him say, "I believe Mrs. Maddley said that she was going to have you practice your piano this morning for your music lesson. Once you are done, you may leave to go start studying."
Nodding and noticing that she was indeed, finished with her breakfast, Maggie made her way done to the music room. She noticed that more servants were around that normal, but continued on her way. She just thought that they were probably doing spring cleaning in this hall today. She turned and looked over her shoulder at the servants as she paused infront of the music room. It seemed like everyone was waiting for her to open the door. Turning suspiciously back to the door, she threw open it opened and stopped cold as she looked inside.
Resplendent in his blue navy coat and white pants, Midshipman Jameson White stood in the middle of her music room. For the first time in her ten years, Margaret Brentwood was completely speechless.To Be Continued . . .