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The Marriage - Written 21 Nov. 2019



Barsetshire, ENG – 1831

The marriage of Francis Newbold Gresham and Miss Arabella de Courcy was looked upon with both joy and scrutiny.  Young Frank was the son and heir of the squire John Newbold Gresham of Greshamsbury, a fine Member of Parliament and an even better Tory.


Arabella de Courcy was the sister of the Earl de Courcy, a Whig and a good one.  Her brother gave her away to the hand of the younger Gresham, much to the quiet objection of those of East Barsetshire.


Courcy Castle to the west had held a long line of respectable Whigs; so respectable and proud the stench of it all filled the nostrils of those of East Barsetshire.  Frank Gresham smelled naught and took the hand of his Lady.


Years passed and the mantle of Tory that was draped on the shoulders of young Gresham was shifted inch by inch until, soon after the passing of Gresham Sr., the name of Gresham bore little resemblance to either the position of Tory or Whig.  It became, eventually, a name that held the ghost of a political stance, and a strong scent of financial distress that was spoken of in whispers by those of East and West.


Politics can be a rather irritating element to stories of romance, and so I shall elaborate little further on the politics of those at Greshamsbury.


Instead, we shall look on at a simpler, sweeter event within its walls....

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Francis - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 30 June, 1833

The Lady Arabella Gresham huffed and sat heavily down on the settee.  She thought herself round and plump, and she was correct in her thinking.  But even women such as the Lady Arabella can be beautiful, and at this time in her life, as she awaited the birth of her first, she had on that metaphorical veil that thinly masked the expected and pretty glow of motherhood.

She thought nothing of this as she fanned herself and seriously pondered the thought of the child she carried.  Whether it were a son or a daughter she knew Frank would be pleased; he thought nothing of what was important it seemed.  Arabella, on the other hand, knew what was of import.

She held back a moan as another light wave of pain washed through her.  Fillgrave had told her the child would be born within a fortnight; she was inclined to disbelieve him.  This may have been her first confinement but hers was a woman’s body, whereas Fillgrave’s was not, and the Lady knew the time was drawing close. 

The pain quieted and ceased for the moment.  Arabella allowed herself a deep inhalation, a ghost of a sigh, as the feeling passed. 

A son was needed, and she would birth a son.  The matter was so simple to her that the oldest of mothers would have been surprised at her lack of nervousness and her presumptiveness in regards to her current confinement and all that it entailed. 

The Lady Arabella was no ordinary woman, and she would let no one be forgetful of that fact.

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Augusta - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG - 1834

Frank Newbold Gresham Sr. held up his second-born in his arms.  His eyes held tears that he didn’t let fall.

“And her name, my love?”

Arabella looked up from her place against the pillow.  Her skin glistened with the effort of labor but her face was proud.  She moved to welcome her year-old son into her embrace.  She dismissed Scatcherd, Frank’s wet-nurse, from the room and held her firstborn close. 

Dr. Thorne allowed himself a small smile at the sight and left the room also. 

Arabella sighed and leaned back against the pillow.

“Augusta, dear. Augusta.” 

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     Beatrice - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1835

 

“Another girl, my dear!”  The excitement and exuberance in her husband’s voice caused Arabella’s eyes to open suddenly and widely.  She had just fallen into a long-awaited doze after welcoming the newest Gresham child.

“Yes, my dear.  Another girl.”  Dr. Thorne looked with concern at the young mother.  Her tone was soft and weak, her eyes not quite alert.

“Your wife is tired, Francis.” He put a hand on his friend’s arm and they quietly left the room with the small newborn nestled near her dozing mother.

Arabella forced her eyes to open.  She would not be negligent. 

“Welcome to Greshamsbury…Beatrice…”  And then the Lady allowed herself some rest.

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Selina - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1837

“A pretty name for an even prettier girl.”  Frank Sr. held the newest addition to the Gresham family close.  He cared not that she was not a son.

He would have welcomed and adored a son as gladly and as willingly as he did this little one in his arms.  But God had seen fit to allow another female into the family, and Frank Sr., unlike his dear wife, was not one to often question God’s will. 

Selina’s dark hair held three perfect curls at the top that Frank Sr. brushed lightly with his thumb.  He whispered so as not to wake his unconscious wife.  “Let’s go now and meet your brother and sisters.”

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Helena - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1838

“It is a girl, my lady.”  Thorne accepted the squalling babe from the midwife and proceeded to wrap the child in a clean warm blanket.  He shushed the newborn and rocked her in his arms to quiet her wails.

Arabella accepted a peaceful child into her arms.  “Another, Doctor Thorne?”

“Another.”  Arabella’s eyes closed and she made to lift the child and hand her back to the Doctor.  “Bring her to Scatcherd.”

Thorne’s brow wrinkled in concern but he quickly took the newborn from her mother’s weakened arms.  “Mrs. Scatcherd is no longer here, my lady.”

Arabella made no response, for she had already fallen into an exhausted sleep.

Thorne handed the child to the midwife and leaned down to feel for the unconscious mother’s pulse.  It was weak, but no more than usual.  Thorne noticed her breathing but found it normal.

After deeming her merely exhausted from childbirth, the still-concerned physician carried the baby out to meet the rest of her family.

 

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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.

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Matilda - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1841

Another girl with dark curls was welcomed into Arabella’s trembling arms.  As the pale fingers of the newborn clutched at her mother’s forefinger, the mother knew…Dr. Fillgrave’s eyes confirmed it…the child wasn’t set for a long life on this earth.

Her skin was too pale, her eyes too bright, her expressions too dull… Arabella sighed and, branching from proper tradition, asked that her six other children and their father be brought in to meet the waning life held in her arms.

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Cynthia and Sophia - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1842

Frank Sr. didn’t cry when he held the twins for the first time.  No, he hadn’t lost the wonder of holding a child in his arms.  By now he’d merely lost the trepidation of a new parent.  He trusted at least his children’s futures in the hands of God.

Arabella had yet to awaken.  This had been her longest labor yet, three days, and she’d been unconscious before Fillgrave could tell her clearly that she’d borne not one but two. 

They were an early two, at that.  And they were knobby little things, dark-haired and long-faced.  Frank Sr. tried not to fear the worst.  He allowed the midwife to take one of the girls from his arms.

Arabella had spoken with him on the names she’d preferred for their next children.  She hadn’t figured they would come more than one at a time, but her planning ahead was useful.  The two female names she had chosen would be used at once. 

“Cynthia.”  Frank Sr. gestured to the babe in the midwife’s arms.  And the child in his own?  “And this is Sophia.”

And would God not soon bring these two to Him.

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Nina - Written 21 Nov. 2019


Greshamsbury, Barsetshire, ENG – 1845

“This one shall be Nina.”  Arabella’s weak voice drew her husband’s wandering mind back to the present moment.  His wife lay white and still in the bed.  He sat next to it.  Arabella’s labor had started the afternoon before but thankfully it hadn’t yet grown too painful for stillness.

“What if it is a boy, my dear?”

The room was curtained and dim even though it was midday, so he didn’t see her roll her eyes, but her tone indicated she might’ve.  “It won’t be.”

Her husband didn’t argue with her.  He took her hand and she allowed it.

Helena and Eleanor had both died two weeks before.  Arabella had been too weak from her current pregnancy to be with them, but Frank Sr. had been.  Dear Eleanor had been asleep when she’d drifted off.  But Helena, sweet, sweet Helena had been awake. 

Her father had held her hand as it had seemed that she simply fell asleep.  She hadn’t struggled against her passing, simply taken it and embraced it as a long-awaited nightfall. 

And now it seemed as if Selina and Matilda would soon be joining their sisters in Heaven.

Even as she was preparing to give birth to a child, Arabella was grieving for four others.

“I need to apologize to him.”

Frank Sr. squeezed her hand, knowing full well who it was his wife spoke of.  “Thorne will not accept your apology, for he won’t feel one is needed.”

Arabella nodded, a tear trailing down her face as an ache began full force in her abdomen, growing in strength with each second.

“I still need to speak with him.”  Her husband nodded.  “I shall send for him once this is over.”

His wife replied with a moan as her pain seemingly doubled in an instant.  Frank Sr., overcome with grief and worry, rose from his seat and hoarsely called out the bedroom door for the waiting Fillgrave.

 

The tenth Gresham child was welcomed into a heartbroken household.