Eleanor - Written 21 Nov. 2019
Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1839
“If only you’d allow me to send for Thorne, Arabella.”
Frank Sr.’s voice was hushed with concern, but it still held the natural frustration that was present when this husband spoke with his wife.
Arabella stilled her writhing on the bed, her hand clutching at the sheets until her knuckles were whiter than usual. “I will not have that man in my house. Not when he gives such,” she groaned pitifully for a moment, “awful medical advice regarding our daughters.”
The frustrated husband and father sighed, clenching his fists at his sides. “He very well saved Selina and Helena’s lives, and you know it!” But he couldn’t maintain his anger for at that moment Arabella cried out, curling in on herself. The midwife and Fillgrave paused for a moment in their preparations.
“Squire, I’ll ask you to leave now.” For a moment Frank Sr. was going to stay. Fillgrave’s tone made one want to argue and rebel, even if it wasn’t usually in their nature.
The squire’s shoulders went limp. He would be of no use here. It was always his part to leave and listen, for hours on end, to his wife’s wails.
This time though, instead of waiting outside the door and in the hall, he went to the nursery.
Frank Jun., now six years old, was the first to greet him. “Papa!” He rushed up to his paternal parent and grabbed onto his trouser leg. “I’ve been telling Gus and Trichy about the new brother! It is a new brother, isn’t it, Papa?”
Frank Sr. looked into the eyes of his eldest, and then met the fearful and curious eyes of the four that had come after him. He then gave nanny a glare that made her begin to think about her options if she were to leave this house and the occupation she was able to hold here.
“Please, do not allow this sort of talk among the children.” Not when the situation is so dire.
Trichy, four, and Gus, five, drew close. “When will we see Mama, Papa?” Gus’ shrill, sweet voice needled its way into his ears and Frank Sr. shook his head.
“I do not know.” He took Frank’s hand and led him back to the center of the room. Selina, who was one year now and spent most of her time in either the wet-nurse’s or nanny’s lap, automatically reached her arms up towards her parent.
Her father lifted her up and smiled at her to chase away any anxiousness she bore. There were ever-present dark circles beneath her eyes, and she sat limply in her father’s arms. She looked just as Helena did. His youngest lay ill, as she always did, in her and Selina’s room directly next to the nursery, looked after by the wet-nurse.
Frank Sr. pushed aside his constant worry and determined to forget everything but this moment here, where he would play with his children and make them smile. “We will wait here for Dr. Fillgrave, children.”
The noses of the three eldest all wrinkled in unison. Their opinion of the doctor was unfavorable but legitimate. As is mine, children. But ‘Thorne’ is a banished name in this household, even at this moment it seems.