Dearest, loveliest Meg – Part Eight

Margaret_001

Chapter Eight

Douglas’ small house seemed deserted as I came nearer to it, yet I heard the sound of someone chopping wood in the back. As I turned the corner, a most unforeseen picture presented itself to my slightly dazed eyes – the wood chopper was not Jack Twinkler as I wrongly presumed but his master. The day was hot and the sun blazed down on his shirtless torso, emphasizing his muscular strength to an utmost advantage. He was working with gusto and concentration, displaying the joy he must be experiencing from good, honest manual work. The shoulder wound appeared to have healed nicely, only showing a dark red scab where the hole had been. His muscles stretched in a normal way each time he rose his left arm. The view was a most satisfying image. It sent my heart racing. I ventured to take a slow step towards Douglas but ended up startling him.  He hastily threw on his shirt. His eyes burned into mine, his brow furrowed.

“Miss Dashwood! Confound it but have you no brains at all? What is the meaning of this, sneaking up on a fellow when he is in no fit state to receive visitors? Go round to the front at once and knock for Twinkler to let you into the study!”

Stifling my delighted giggling, I hastened to obey. The ten minutes it took for Douglas to make himself presentable provided me ample time to prepare my speech and be ready when he entered the study. He was  dressed exquisitely in a blue superfine coat and light grey breeches.

“Well, Miss Dashwood? I thought I made it sufficiently clear that I did not wish to compromise you any further but it seems I have been mistaken. What do you want from me?”

His blue eyes blazed fire at me in a most outraged scowl, but I was not afraid.

“Your injury seems to have healed very nicely, Mr Spencer. So is it wise to work yourself into exhaustion?”

I could hear him grind his teeth in exasperation. I had to stifle a smile quickly.

“Thank you for your concern, Miss Dashwood, but do not exert my patience any longer or I will throw you out of here. What are you doing here?”

Oh my! He was indeed furious!

“I have come to make you a business proposition, Mr Spencer, one of which I am convinced will serve us both to perfection.”

This time my eyes were burning into his.

 

 

Douglas’ eyebrows rose in mock scepticism, yet I detected a hint of admiration in his tone of voice as well.

“For sure, you never cease to amaze me, my dainty damsel. A business proposition, no less. Pray, enlighten me, I am most curious to know.”

A vivid ripple of pleasure soared through my heart when I heard Douglas address me with the endearment he used after we first met. He seemed mesmerized by what I had to say but I, on the other hand, had to swallow before I found the courage to continue.

“It is very simple, Mr Spencer,” I replied, my voice only slightly wavering. “You are in need of a wife and I of a husband. Let us join in matrimony and both our problems will vanish.”

A sharp intake of breath was Douglas’ sole reaction to my words. In his eyes I could not read any emotion; shock overbore them. Was the prospect of making me his wife so upsetting, then? Quickly blinking back sudden tears, I challenged, “Well? You are no coward, I hope, nor a man who acts in an uncivil way. You do see the advantages to such a scheme, do you not? At least give me some reply, one way or other!”

“My dear Miss Dashwood, either you are very naive or you have gone insane, all of a sudden. You must have learned what the gossip mongers are telling you about me by now, in that I brought shame to my family and to that of a young girl I courted ten years ago.”

“Very well, I will speak bluntly as this seems necessary to convince you, Mr Spencer. Yes, lately, your dealings with Miss Christina Finney have been laid out to me in detail when I attended a soirée at Barton Hall. Everybody in Devonshire’s society is fully informed about you.”

I deliberately stopped speaking, better to fathom the effect of my words on Douglas. He paled but that was all. “As a consequence, you have no prospects at all of marrying a girl from a respectable family,” I went on.  “No father will allow you to court his daughter, Mr Spencer. Yet, you are sorely in need to be lawfully wedded before your thirtieth birthday in order to claim your title and estate. I believe that is on August the 22th next, is it not?”

“Yes, I can very well see that you are indeed fully informed, my dainty damsel. I gather you are then offering your hand in marriage to help me recover my possessions?”

“Precisely!” I exclaimed eagerly. “Can you not understand what a good match it would be? You become Lord Watcombe and I will be saved from a husband like your cousin and all his caddish manners and rude behaviour.”

“Ah! And what makes you think my manners will not prove to be equally caddish, my beauty? I do have exactly that reputation, have I not?”

His eyes were gleaming with mischief and mockery. I had to brace myself from recoiling when he suddenly took a step towards me.

“No,” I said softly, “no, I cannot ever be intimidated by you, Mr Spencer, since you had ample occasion of ravishing me, yet you did not even touch me. Instead, you were very gentle and rather comforting when I needed it the most.”

In a spur of brazenness I laid a hand on his arm, ignoring Douglas’ involuntary shudder of surprise.

“Is the prospect of having me for a wife so repellent to you, then?”

Tearing himself free, Douglas shouted, “Lord in Heaven, Margaret, you cannot do this! You will condemn yourself to a life of misery and contempt! Can you not even comprehend that?”

He spun away from me and covered his face with trembling hands.

“You have not answered my question, Douglas. Do I repel you so that you would not have me for a wife? I know I am no diamond of the first water but …”

“No!” His voice rang out with anger and his eyes were sheer blue fire. “Do not play that game with me, Margaret Dashwood!”

He gripped me by the shoulders and dragged me in front of a mirror, that was placed above the fireplace. He spun me around so that I was forced to look at my own reflection.

“Do not pretend that you are not the most charming, most beautiful girl that has ever walked this earth, nor the sweetest, loveliest one! No, I am in no way repelled by you, my darling Margaret! Quite the contrary, in fact …”

He bent his head and brushed my neck with one, very light kiss. To me it had the effect of a burning! I closed my eyes, eager to shut out every other impression but that kiss. I could feel Douglas’ hands fall from my shoulders when he stepped back. It left a cold spot on my flesh and an ache in my heart. Once again I had to brace myself.

“That settles it, then!” My eyes blazed into his. “We will make a well-matched couple, Douglas Spencer. Of that I am convinced to the extreme. I shall leave now, my groom is waiting for me. Will you come to Delaford tomorrow and ask my mother for my hand?”

He did not answer nor did he give me a single sign of acquiescence. Yet, he did not say otherwise either.

 

Johnny was waiting for me as agreed and we headed for Delaford. We had just rounded the first bend when I saw a man on horseback standing beside the road, as if waiting for us. It was Colonel Brandon. He pulled up beside me and, addressing the groom, said softly, “Go ahead, Johnny.”

The boy obeyed and rode away while the colonel adjusted his steed’s pace to that of my placidly plodding mare. For a few moments we just walked our horses in silence but then he spoke in an even voice.

“Some ten years ago, I fell in love with a girl deemed unsuitable a match for me. I am sure you know that story, Margaret, so I will not repeat it.”

Searching my memory, I recalled that the colonel lost track of the girl when she gave herself to a scoundrel. She died in childbirth in the workhouse after her lover abandoned her. Col. Brandon placed her baby daughter in the care of a farmer and his wife. Many people in the shire thought him the father of the child, which was not true. The colonel, for whom the girl was the only person left of his beloved, had never been bothered by those rumours. His protégé had also been seduced at the age of fifteen by a ruffian with the name of Willoughby. It was the same man that nearly managed to seduce my sister Marianne. Colonel Brandon was hurt twice by the same man, which made a very moving and such a sad story.

“At that time, a good friend of mine also had his first romance go awry,” the colonel continued in a casual tone. “The young lady became pregnant and my friend was whisked away to Jamaica by his father. The girl accused my friend of raping her. She later died in childbirth as did the child.”

“Douglas Spencer was your friend? But … you must know far better than anyone what really happened? You must tell me!”

Christopher Brandon’s tone was unusually full of reproaches as he retorted swiftly.

“Why did you not tell us you met him, Margaret? Why do you visit him secretly?”

“My personal life is no one’s business but my own!”

I heard the harshness of my own voice but could not hide it. A quick glance at the colonel’s face showed me I had made a mistake.

“I am sorry, Margaret, and you are right, of course. But please try to understand it is merely a great concern for you that prompted my questions.”

“No, I too am sorry, sir. I am afraid temper is one of my many flaws and Mother is always scolding me for it. Temper is all I have to make a stand in life, is it not?”

To my utmost surprise, the colonel burst out in laughter, which left me with vexation again.

The colonel saw it and hastily said. “Margaret, I do not mean to vex you in any way, please believe me, but you remind me so of Marianne with her sparkling impulsiveness and her refreshing spirit!”

“Oh …” I blurted out, unable to say something more intelligent, “I see …”

After a while Colonel Brandon again surprised me.“So … what is your opinion on Spencer?”

I was speechless, more so that apart from confessing my love for Douglas, there was nothing I was able to say  about him. All of a sudden it dawned on me that I did not really know anything about Douglas’ former life – his interests, his character or other matters generally known.

“Touché, sir, Douglas is a stranger to me. Is that what you wanted me to acknowledge?”

He did not reply but smiled very sweetly at me, which, in a strange way, was very comforting.

“How well did you know our Marianne when you proposed to her, Col. Brandon?”

“I loved her,” was the quiet answer.

“I love Douglas Spencer,” I said equally quiet, “and we are going to be married.”

Nothing more was said before we reached Delaford.

 

At dinner time, Colonel Brandon was absent from table as he was away on an errand or so Marianne said. I felt disappointed because I had wanted him to be present when I made my announcement. I waited until after the meal when we were all together for coffee. Marianne reclined on the settee with her feet on a hassock. Elinor and Edward sat beside her and Mother, dainty and discreet, lifted her little finger as she drank her coffee. Seeing us all gathered like that made me feel a pang of regret for having to disturb their peace. It could not wait, however. My family had to have a chance to prepare for the changes that were inevitably coming.

“I have met someone who has become very dear to me, lately,” I said briskly, as was my nature.

An absolute silence accompanied the stares of … what? Horror? Fear? Distaste?

“Well, it was bound to happen sometime!” I exclaimed, trying to sound apologetic.

My most sensible elder sister, Elinor, was the first to gather her wits.

“Who is it, Margaret? Someone we know?”

“His name is Douglas Spencer,” I replied, never one to prevaricate.

This time it was indeed horror I saw in the eyes of those I loved, a split second before my mother gave a shrill, very piercing cry. She threw her hands to her mouth and sat trembling like a leaf in a brisk wind. Her face was white as a sheet.

“Allow me to explain,” I demanded. “I met Douglas a few weeks ago while I was taking one of my daily walks on the moor. He had been shot and was in need of assistance. I treated him as best as I could. After I  had escorted him to his house, his servant took over and I returned home. Nothing inappropriate, dear Mama, has transpired between us.”

Instead of reassuring her, this seemed only to add to Mother’s distress. She burst out in tears as she always did when something occurred that she had no control over. As always, it left me angered because it robbed me of any power to console her.

Oddly enough, it was Marianne that came to my assistance.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Mama! Let her continue. Why do you have to always cry and carry on so?”

Mother instantly stopped and stared at her with hurt pride.

“I am to marry him,” I declared boldly whereupon I could have slapped myself for saying it when it only added to the general distress. However, it was the only thing I could or wanted to say.

All were struggling to speak when Colonel Brandon suddenly entered, looking very tired and cold despite the mild summer evening. Marianne gave a small gasp.

“Christopher, you seem exhausted. I will ring for your supper this instant.”

But the colonel looked at me with sympathy.

“Margaret, can I have a word with you in my study, please?”

“If you are attempting to spare us her news, darling,” Marianne said dryly, “you are too late. We already know about Mr Spencer.”

The colonel, however, was not amused.

“I fear you are in for a shock, Margaret,” he announced. “Douglas Spencer has left his house and not even his servant knows of his present whereabouts.”

Wolf Hall *2015

Wolf Hall TV cast to include Damian Lewis and Mark Rylance

Henry VIII and his courtiers to be played by some of Britain’s starriest actors in adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s novel

Joanne Whalley, cast asCatherine of Aragon, Jonathan Pryce, who wikk play Cardinal Wolsey and Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall's Henry VIII

Joanne Whalley, cast asCatherine of Aragon, Jonathan Pryce, who wikk play Cardinal Wolsey and Damian Lewis, Wolf Hall’s Henry VIII

 

Mark Gatiss, Mark Rylance and Jonathan Pryce are among the starry cast who will don period costume for the TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s historical novels.

Filming has already begun on the six-part drama based on Mantel’s award winning Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, about the relationships at the heart of Henry VIII’s court.

According to the Daily Mail, Homeland star Damian Lewis will play the King, with Rylance taking the role of his chief minister, Thomas Cromwell. Saskia Reeves has been cast as Cromwell’s sister-in-law Johane.

Charity Wakefield, who has appeared in the BBC’s Sense and Sensibility, has been cast as Mary Boleyn, the royal mistress and sister to Henry VIII’s second wife Anne, who will be played by Claire Foy. Joanne Whalley will play Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The final female cast member to be named is Florence Bell, who will play courtmember Helen Barre.

The powerful, but ill-fated, Cardinal Wolsey will be played by Jonathan Pryce. Sherlock writer Mark Gatiss will be appearing infront of the camera as another civil servant, Stephen Gardiner and Anton Lesser, most recently seen in Game of Thrones, will play Thomas More. Lesser’s co-star, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, will play Cromwell’s ward Rafe.

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Wolf Hall is a British television series that will first broadcast on BBC Two in 2015. It is a six-part adaptation of two of Hilary Mantel’s novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Cast

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell[1]
Damian Lewis as Henry VIII of England[2]
Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn
David Bradley as Norfolk
Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner
Charity Wakefield as Mary Boleyn
Joanne Whalley as Catherine of Aragon
Jonathan Pryce as Thomas Wolsey
Anton Lesser as Thomas More
Joss Porter as Richard Cromwell
Thomas Sangster as Rafe
Ed Speleers as Edward Seymour
Florence Bell as Helen Barre
Saskia Reeves as Johane[3]

Production

On 23 August 2012, BBC Two announced several new commissions, one of which was Wolf Hall.[4] According to The Guardian seven million pounds will be spent on the adaptation.[5] BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said it was “very fortunate to have the rights” to the two novels and called Wolf Hall “a great contemporary novel”.[6][7]

Peter Kosminsky, the director of the series, said:

This is a first for me. But it is an intensely political piece. It is about the politics of despotism, and how you function around an absolute ruler. I have a sense that Hilary Mantel wanted that immediacy. … When I saw Peter Straughan’s script, only a first draft, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. It was the best draft I had ever seen. He had managed to distil 1,000 pages of the novels into six hours, using prose so sensitively. He’s a theatre writer by trade.[5]

The drama series will feature 102 characters and it was revealed that Kosminsky began casting the other parts in October 2013. Most of the filming took place in the United Kingdom, in April 2014.[5] It was originally set to film in Bruges. The series will consist of six episodes and is expected to be broadcast in 2015.[5] PBS will also broadcast the series, made in association with Masterpiece Entertainment and Playground Entertainment.[8]

Straughan and Kosminsky working on the same series suggests a harder take on British history is what the BBC wants, rather than series like The Tudors or The White Queen.[5] Mantel called the scripts written by Straughan a “miracle of elegant compression and I believe with such a strong team the original material can only be enhanced.”[5]

 

Washington Square

Washington Square

Based on the novel by Henry James

 

In 1840’s New York Catherine lives with her father, Dr. Sloper. Her mother died some years before, and Dr. Sloper still idolizers her, and never misses an opportunity to compare her daughter to her — a comparison the daughter can never win. When Morris Townsend, a handsome but pennyless young man, comes along, and woos and wins his daughter’s heart, Dr. Sloper is sure that he is after her considerable inheritance, and opposes their marriage. Dr. Sloper takes his daughter to Europe in hopes she will forget Morris, but she does not. After Catherine returns to New York, the young lovers plan to elope. Dr. Sloper threatens to disinherit his daughter. Will this dissuade Morris?

This 1997 film starred:

* Jennifer Jason Leigh ….. Catherine Sloper
* Albert Finney ….. Dr. Austin Sloper
* Ben Chaplin ….. Morris Townsend
* Maggie Smith ….. Aunt Lavinia
* Judith Ivey ….. Aunt Elizabeth Almond
* Jennifer Garner ….. Marian Almond

Credit to Enchanted Serenity

Cinemax sets premiere date for The Knick

 

The Knick is set in downtown New York in 1900 and centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff, who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. The cast includes Clive Owen, Andre Holland, Eve Hewson, Jeremy Bobb, Juliet Rylance, Michael Angarano, Chris Sullivan, Cara Seymour, Eric Johnson, David Fierro, Maya Kazan, Grainger Hines and Leon Addison Brown.

clive-owen-the-knick

The period drama initially received a green-light at Cinemax back in July 2013 and had been expected to launch this Fall, but was moved up when the network’s original series that normally airs in the summer – the co-production Strike Back – was delayed due to a injury co-lead Sullivan Stapleton suffered in Thailand. The Knick was created by Jack Amiel and Michael Begler & directed by Steven Soderbergh. The trio also executive produce alongside Clive Owen, Michael Sugar and Gregory Jacobs.

Dearest, loveliest Meg – Part Seven

 

Margaret_001

Chapter Seven

 

I plunged through the rose garden of Watcombe Manor and I did not have the slightest notion where I was running to nor had I time to reflect upon it. I just ran as fast as I could. The most urgent thing was to create a great distance between me and that horrible man. It was not before I twisted my ankle and rolled headlong down a slope that I wondered where I was.

I was in a wood and my body ached all over. I saw that my bodice was ripped open and that one of my breasts had escaped my chemise. Flushed with shame I hastily restored my appearance. A violent wave of nausea churned my stomach as I recalled the touch of that beast’s fat hand on my breast. Thank God no one witnessed my shame and humiliation!

Wiping away the foolish tears on my face, I strove to restore my shattered wits.

Where was I? I forced myself onto my feet and winced as a sharp pain shot through my right ankle. I would have to endure the pain because I had to try and return to Barton Cottage without delay; I would inform my hellish half-brother I would not, under any circumstances, marry his disgusting friend! I started hobbling down the slope and deeper into the woods.

 

I do not know how many minutes I doggedly ploughed on but I just persevered with stubborn determination, although I had become hungry and tired. Eventually the trees thinned and I came out of the woods and onto a gently sloping pasture. To my immense joy there was a house at the bottom of it, a house I knew! I ignored my fatigued state and quickly ran towards it. My injured ankle gave way again and once more I found myself rolling down the slope, unable to stop myself.

It was a weird experience for, as I was sliding and rolling into the direction of the house, I could see the French terrace windows had been thrown open. A man stepped out onto the terrace and shouted something, but I was screaming with fright and could not hear him. Had he not hastened up the slope towards me, I would have crashed into the garden wall and more than likely badly hurt myself. The man caught me and slowed my downhill descent by flinging his arms around my body and holding me tightly. My rush was stopped. I was dizzy with pain. I rested my head against a warm, solid chest, inhaling an all too familiar scent of leather and woody soap. I looked up at my rescuer and found I was in the arms of my beloved rake …

“Well, Miss Dashwood, it seems that we are again destined to meet each other under unusual  circumstances, does it not? What in the devil’s name are you doing here, all alone and at nightfall?”

I hastily sat upright, my cheeks burning with embarrassment. Douglas’ eyes, blue fire in the sun’s dying light, widened suddenly and his mouth curved into his wicked grin. I followed his gaze down my body and gasped! My breast … !

As I raised my head, unable to move in my height of shame, Spencer’s hand slowly came up. With only the slightest of touches, he gingerly took my chemise and gently drew it up to cover me. I held my breath and gave a small, shuddering sob. With the back of his fingers he brushed my cheek and smiled at me so sweetly I felt my heart melt.

“What has happened to you, my dainty damsel ?”, he asked softly. “That was no ordinary walk in the woods, was it?”

I fiercely shook my head, lacking the courage, as well as the breath, to speak. By now, I was weeping and I was furious at myself for doing it! Yet, I could not stop …

Douglas did not move at all nor did he touch me. I was in a half lying, half sitting position and felt like a ragdoll. I looked like one too. After a while I stopped crying, finally recapturing my composure again. Douglas then rose, offered me his hand and drew me to my feet.

“Come, Miss Dashwood,” he said, “let me offer you some refreshment. You are looking very much  like you could use it.”

I was very grateful Douglas did not try to comfort me but, instead, led me into his study and indicated that I should sit down on the worn leather couch. My shame continued to burn and I did not wish to indulge myself further or melt far too readily into his arms, but that was precisely what I wished to do – most fervently.

When Twinkler was summoned, Douglas told him to show me to an upstairs room and give me some fresh clothing so that I could tidy myself a bit.  Twinkler brought me to a bedroom and opened the large cupboard it contained.

“ ‘Ere, miss, this should do very well,” he said with a friendly grin on his face as he handed me a long, dark red woollen coat. I thanked him and he left.

A little while later I entered the study again, feeling much better now that I regained some fragment of decency. Douglas was standing in front of the French windows and turned when he heard me. He waited until I was sitting on the edge of a sofa before he sank into a chair on the opposite side of a low table. He then crossed his fingers under his chin and rested his elbows on his knees. I opened my mouth to speak but he silenced me with a slight shake of the head.

“No, my dainty damsel, do not say a thing. You need to compose yourself. You are distressed. We will wait for Twinkler to bring us some tea and then you will tell me what has happened.”

As I looked at him from across the table, I saw him as the image of strength, composure and compassion. I loved him for that. No, I just loved him, without the merest hint of a doubt. He was a rake, dangerous and seductive, but I loved him because he showed me no unnecessary pity. He just made me feel strong again.

Half an hour later, I was done telling Douglas about my unpleasantness with Wilkinson. I felt drained and giddy with exhaustion but also very relieved. The fragrant Indian tea was most welcome.  My rake listened to me without interruption; he was  outwardly calm but his eyes burned with mounting fury as my tale unwound. When I was done talking, he took a deep breath and leaned back in his seat.

His voice was a level monotone when he spoke.

“It seems very clear to me, my dear Miss Dashwood, that there is only one vitally important thing I can do for you. I must get you back at Barton Cottage as soon as possible without anyone knowing you were here.”

I stared at him in consternation for a few moments, hurt by the remote expression on his face and the coolness of his tone. It suddenly dawned on me that I must not let him notice my distress. All at once something was very clear to me; Douglas Spencer would not tolerate a new stain on his already ruined reputation.  Should people hear of my short stay at Douglas’ house without a chaperon, he would have to fully take the blame and marry me. On the other hand, I would be brand as damaged goods and we would be banned from society, even after our marriage.

I rose and was relieved to find my voice steady.

“Very well, Mr Spencer, I would be very obliged if you would instruct Mr Twinkler to bring me home. I thank you for your help and I must ask for your forgiveness for inconveniencing you with my troubles. Goodnight, sir.”

He did not stop me when I walked out of the room, still limping slightly on my injured ankle.

 

Barton Cottage was in a downright uproar when I limped in, dirty and dishevelled, but not wearing Douglas’ coat anymore; I did not want anyone to know about my acquaintance with him.

Mother gave a shrill cry when she saw me.

“Margaret, for the love of God, what has happened to you, child? Where have you been ? What …”

Elinor, who was supporting Mother’s limp form on the settee, gently interrupted her.

“Now, Mama, give Margaret a bit of time to recover herself.”

Several things seemed to happen all at once. Marianne hastened towards me and put her arm around me while Edward pushed a chair forward for me. Once I was duly seated, Colonel Brandon knelt beside me and pressed a glass of sherry into my hand.

“Here, Miss Margaret, take a sip of this, a small one, mind! We would not want you to choke on it.”

After I had done what he asked, I looked around.

“Where is John? Is he still here?”

Colonel Brandon was the one who answered.

“He seems to have left in a hurry, Miss Margaret, after he received a message from a livered footman. Your maid did not asked from whence he came but can I presume it has a connection with what happened to you?”

“Yes, Colonel, I think this footman was from Watcombe Manor and the message must have concerned me. I was obliged to leave it rather precipitously, I am afraid.”

Mother startled everyone by yet another wailing cry while throwing up her arms.

“But Margaret, why? For once, could you not behave like the well-bred young lady that you are? This is not to be endured and Mr Wilkinson will be most vexed! Colonel Brandon, we must go without delay and apologize to him!”

“No, Mother!” I had forced my voice into a normal but very firm speech and it had the desired result; everybody was staring at me in shock. I was on my feet, faced everyone and straightened my back in an attempt to show a resolution I heartily felt.

“I will not accept an offer from Mr Wilkinson. I left his house on my own accord and free will, refusing to be driven in his curricle. My walk home just took me longer than foreseen and I am very tired so I will take myself off to bed at once.”

Offering no further explanation I took my leave and no one acted against it.

The next day Colonel Brandon took us all in at his estate of Delaford and stated that Marianne was concerned about Mother.  Poor Mama was indeed in uproar and could not stop complaining. I was thankful for that since I was not feeling at all well myself. My ankle still hurt, though I attempted not to show discomfort for fear Mother would want me to explain how I had gotten it hurt. A few days of pampering and rest should see me right, I reckoned.

 

By the time July was half, I was completely recovered and ready to make new plans.

Indeed, a new and daring scheme had formed in my mind, which would, I hoped, solve the most of my problems. They were clear, those troubles of mine. I must contract a marriage with a gentleman of fortune. I knew of such a candidate, though he seemed reluctant to commit himself.

Therefore it was of the utmost importance that I contrived to win Douglas over.

One morning at breakfast, I asked Colonel Brandon if I might borrow a horse from his stables and go for a ride. Mother was not with us for she was not well enough to leave her room. The rest of my family looked at me with guarded glances.

“Dearest,” Elinor began, “is it wise to make such an outing on your own? I wish you to take a groom, lest you come into trouble.”

I readily acquiesced and she said no more. Of course, I had no intention of doing exactly what they were proposing. The presence of a groom did not suit me at all on the journey I bore in my mind. However, at least, I took the precaution of asking Johnny, the youngest groom, to accompany me on a part of my journey. I left the boy in the woods near Douglas’ house with the two horses, but not so close that he could actually see the house. Pressing a few coins into his hand, I explained I had an errand to do and would be back in half an hour.