“John! Whatever are you doing home so early?”
The governor of Van Diemen’s Land handed his gloves, top hat and riding crop to the butler before heading towards the dining room where he heard Jane’s voice. The butler followed close behind as Sir John next handed him his coat “Today’s meeting had been canceled. Our French visitor had some other more urgent business to attend to. Something to do with Platypus sightings I believe he said. Mysterious little creatures they are.”
Jane smiled warmly in greeting, but soon her lips thinned in contempt towards the Frenchman to stand up her husband so rudely. “Well. That’s insufferably unfortunate.” She sighed, tapping her index finger to her cheek “That meeting would have been greatly beneficial for next week’s —”
“Janie, were you baking?” Sir John interrupted, staring at the white muslin apron tied around his wife’s waist.
Lady Franklin’s face suddenly flushed, standing frozen at the remark as though she were caught red-handed in some outrageous heist. She looked herself down at the accessory with the same amount of concern as though she had been alerted that there was spilled ink on the front of her dress.
“I—” Ladies of her caliber never wore aprons and were not found in the kitchens when there was household staff present - especially not the Governor’s wife. And yet there she was taking cake-making lessons from their servant Margaret. Hastily her flour-covered fingers reached behind her back as she tried to unknot the apron and remove it, wishing to brush it off as though it were a desert mirage. “It’s nothing, dear. Nothing at all.”
“No, no, dearest. No need to hide it from me.” Sir John let out a hearty laugh as he approached closer, smiling endearingly as he brushed flour off her cheek with his thumb. “The cake flour on your face says it all. What confectionary delights are you making this time?”
“This time?” Jane repeated as she looked up curiously at her husband donning a cool curiosity in her tone in contrast to the heat that remained in her face.
“You may have eyes sharper than a Peregrine falcon, but I can taste when your hands have influenced supper’s exceptional preparation.” A twinkle of cleverness appeared in his pacific brown eyes.
Jane broke way to a soft chuckle. Bemused at the pleasant absurdity of it all “I have been at it for nearly three hours today in the ‘confectionary room’ as Margaret calls it… preparing some tartlets, and puffs, and sponge cakes. Many of which shall be present for tonight’s dinner party.”
“Utterly splendid! I look forward to it so much I shall be counting the hours that pass.” Sir John dipped his head, his affectionate gaze not leaving Jane’s sweet face, “Then not wishing to delay you another second to your culinary success, I shall be off to find Eleanor. Until later~”
… and to think that was almost 6 years ago now.
Sir John let out a long exhale as he put his quill pen back in its hold. Lifting his head from the logbook of the H.M.S. Erebus, he turned to gaze to the portrait of his wife that hung over the headrest of his cot. Like an angel watching over him. The corners of his eyes creased as a quiet yet longing grin came to his face. How he missed her. What he would do for her to be here with him now. Closing the logbook and setting it aside, he took out another notebook filled with unsent letters, to write,
My dearest Love,
The ships have made much excellent progress in our voyage through the burgy waters of Baffin Bay, and shall be entering Lancaster Sound shortly. I shall be dining aboard Terror tonight, and have requested the cook to prepare for dessert some Christmas pudding using your recipe - which has become quite popular among the lads. Even so, amidst the buoyant motivation in what eager discovery for the Northwest Passage awaits us, there is not a day that passes that I do not long to see you again.
I beg of you not to fatigue or weary yourself for my sake.
Ever yours affectionately,