The White Queen is a British television drama series in ten parts, based on Philippa Gregory‘s historical novel series The Cousins’ War (The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter). The first episode was premiered on BBC One on 16 June 2013 in the United Kingdom. It was first broadcast in the United States on Starz on 9 August 2013.
Set against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, the series is the story of the women caught up in the protracted conflict for the throne of England. It starts in 1464—the nation has been at war for nine years fighting over who is the rightful King of England, as two sides of the same family, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, are in violent conflict over the throne. The story focuses on three women in their quest for power, as they manipulate behind the scenes of history.
I have just watched this for the second time and can’t get enough of it.
Kevin Wicks Posted on November 9th, 2014
Actor Eddie Redmayne is gearing up for a strong awards season for his portrayal of a young Stephen Hawking in the film The Theory of Everything, directed by James Marsh. One of Redmayne’s first stops was the red carpet with broadcaster Edith Bowman at the BAFTA Los Angeles Jaguar Britannia Awards on Thursday, October 30, and he spoke a bit about how and co-star Felicity Jones prepared to play the ALS-afflicted British physicist and Hawking’s young love, Jane Wilde, whom he met at Cambridge and would later marry.
Redmayne admits that he was terrified upon taking the part, but that the real-life figures made themselves available to assuage any anxieties. “[Stephen and Jane] kind of let us into their world for four months, and that felt like the most formidable privilege. But with that came a great weight of expectation. So we weren’t thinking about how [the film] would be, we just wanted to survive it and try to be true to them.”
Margaret with the Red Book
A John Thornton / Margaret Hale Fantasy Novel
Arriving home, all the girls wanted to know what happened. Katie asked Margaret what she wanted to do. Margaret said she would be glad to share if they would promise to keep it confidential. “I am going to invite Tawl as well. He’s in this more than the girls since he drove me there and saw the crested coach, so I am going to rely on his discretion, as well.”
Within a few minutes of returning, all were gathered around the table and the kitchen maids where checked to see if they were busy. Tawl stood guard by the dining room door in case one of the maids headed out of the kitchen. Margaret began briefly about the original circumstances for Tawl’s benefit. Katie picked up from the newspaper headline and her role in speaking with his Lordship. Margaret concluded the story explaining about the coach talk, apology, forgiveness and she even added the financial obligation that his Lordship felt he owed to return her to the station in life she should have had. When Margaret told the girls she refused it twice, there was quite a stir around the table. They could not believe she had refused that.
“Why?” asked Kat. “Why would you refuse Lord Howsham from seeing you right for what he had done?
Katie intervened before Margaret could begin to say anything. “I shall tell you why girls, because she is a Lady. Without realizing it, she has retained those qualities and life’s lessons; she felt it was wrong to gain or profit from such an act.” Katie said, looking directly at Margaret, as if to point out to her, some things never change.
“Do not let anyone ever make me a lady,” said Adrienne. “I shall always take the money.”
Margaret cast a glance up at Tawl and he looked ashamed. Margaret slowly got up, walked over to him and slid her arm through his, walking him outside.
“Miss, I feel humiliated for my sex. What a terrible thing to happen to you, and a noble at that. I am so sorry for you.”
“Tawl, you cannot let the actions of one man make you feel that way. Please do not chastise yourself for being a man and maybe feeling capable of doing the same thing. Capable, yes, because of your strength but your mind controls you and therefore you would never act in such a manner. I did not tell the whole story. You should know that six coach drivers came to my rescue upon hearing my screams. His Lordship has a fairly large scar on his pretty cheek from your lot,” Margaret laughed to lighten his mood. “They offered to assist me home when they saw I was walking alone in the dark and I declined because I was very close to my apartment. Surely, you can see the difference in two people.”
“Yes, thank you, Miss. I would tend to think you would be afraid of all men after something like that.”
“For awhile, I was. I think I shall be overly cautious in the future, but his Lordship’s sincere apology has gone a long way in repairing that thinking. Had he not been inebriated, and I knew his actions were intentional I would be living in my room. I never told this to anyone here, but finding that I was coming into this type of establishment, I feared seeing any man walk through the door, knowing what he was here for. I quickly felt at ease knowing that Miss Leeds had everything controlled.”
“Never fear, Miss. I shall look after you, too. Us, drivers have to stick together,” he smiled. I guess I’d better get back to un-harnessing the horses. Let me know if I can escort you any place, soon.”
“Thank you, Tawl. I am looking at schedules for reading classes starting next week, too.”
“Very nice, Miss. Good day to you.”
The girls were starting to scatter. They were getting their clothes or costumes ready for tonight and dinner would be table set very soon.
By the time the china dishes were on the table, the girls returned with more questions.
“I do not think I have any new answers since earlier. What may you have forgotten to ask?” Margaret said, composing herself inside. She had not digested all that was said today, or even begun on the possible impact of her life beyond what she had told Katie.
Several of the girls started to speak at once, so Margaret held up her hand such as a school teacher would do to settle the class. “Isabelle, you go first.”
“IF the noble follows through on his settlement since he changed your life, what do you think your plans shall be?” She asked.
Samantha said, “Yes, that’s what I was going to ask, too.”
Margaret set her fork down to look around the table. “First, he may heed me and send nothing which I voiced rather strongly. Should he follow through with his plans, I have given no thoughts to it at all. I have spoken with Miss Leeds and told her that I enjoy helping her, but I am getting more interested in this book idea. I would certainly stay until that is nearly completed. Beyond that I do not know. It would be nice if the sales from the book made me independent but one cannot count on that. I want to do a good job on it. I do not want people purchasing it solely for the subject matter. I want to go past the sex; I want to get into your lives and its impact on you and your future. You ladies are fortunate to have a . . . madam that cares for your future and sets money aside for you.” Margaret quickly glanced at Katie and saw her smiling as she cut her meat.
Joy was next waving her hand, “Was he good looking?”
“I shall let Katie tell you what she thought.”
“Girls, he was very handsome with his long blonde hair pulled back in a bow. He’s young, smartly dressed; how can he not be handsome. He does, however, have this scar across his cheek, apparently caused by Margaret’s rescuers. Funny thing about it is, it looks handsome, too, as if he’s a warrior returning from the fields of battle. Makes him look distinguished. He doesn’t appear to know that about himself, though.” Katie signaled she was finished speaking as she placed the meat in her mouth.
Kat said, “I wish we got the young ones or the handsome ones.”
“Hey, how about Lucia? She has Mr. Thornton. He is as handsome as they come,” Isabelle remarked.
Adrienne turned to Lucia, “So when are you going to tell us what he likes? All of us would like our turns, you know.”
“We are not supposed to tell tales out of school. It is confidential, remember?” Lucia said, sticking her tongue out at Adrienne. “The only reason we know what you do, Adrienne, is because we can hear it through the walls.”
Margaret was listening intently to what they may say about Mr. Thornton. Nothing further was added to the conversation about him.
Margaret had finished her plate and cleared her throat causing eyes to look at her as if she was going to make a statement, so she decided she would. “Next week, I shall be making a schedule of two days a week for reading lessons, if that’s agreeable with Katie. I shall also be thinking of my interview process of each one of you over the coming weeks. I think I shall be very detailed in my questions, ones that shall embarrass both of us. I want to get at the truth in this book. Aside from your past and your future, I shall want to know a lot about your clients, so be sure to make up a good name for them if you feel you need to use a name. Katie shall be the final judge to ensure no one can readily be identified by what you tell me. Adrienne, I think I shall do yours last.” Margaret giggled along with everyone else.
To paraphrase Aunt Pol, you don’t mess with the Peaky Blinders. Good news then, that they’re returning for a third series…
“We can confirm that Peaky Blinders will return for a third series”. So said the show’s official Twitter account as the credits rolled on the Birmingham gangster drama’s superlative series two finale. We’re informed by the site’s Midlands contingent that there’s only one possible response to that news, and it’s “that’s bostin”. Did we get that right?
Series two of Steven Knight’s bloody period drama welcomed exciting new cast members Tom Hardy and Noah Taylor to an already exemplary group of actors including Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and the terrific Helen McCrory. That, combined with the work of new director Colm McCarthy, elevated series two even higher than the first.
We can expect to see the Shelbys return to BBC Two next autumn. More news as it arrives.
My poor Douglas sounded so bitter that my heart ached in sympathy. He was right. Sir Matthew, who begot at least one illegitimate child, surely had no right to cast off his only son over one misstep. While being held prisoner at the Bernards’ house, I discovered the result of Sir Matthew’s own misstep, Amata, the daughter he had with Mrs Bernard before her marriage. We had taken in Douglas’ half-sister at Watcombe Manor after the fire destroyed Nicholas Bernard’s house. The poor creature was in no state to be left on her own after thirty-six years of imprisonment. Indeed, for that was the length of time in which Amata Bernard had been locked up in a dismal, almost cell-like room, she with no education at all with only in the company of a nurse, who was more of a jailer to her than a companion.
“What are you going to do about Amata?” was my next and obvious question.
Douglas turned to me with sad eyes. “What is there to do for me but to care for her as best as I can, Meg? She is – to say the least – emotionally disabled and with little wonder, after the way she has been treated, locked up like an animal. I must confess I have no idea as to how we are to deal with her. She refused the help of the nurse she had for all those years. As you well know, she threw a chair at her when the woman tried to come into her room. And she definitively abhors me, does she not? She cannot abide looking at me or being in the same room with me, even though she never set eyes on me before the day of the fire.” Douglas, I knew, hoped for an answer to the problem Amata caused. His compassionate nature could not bear the distress she was in.
“Yes, I do know. I reckon it has something to do with the Spencer name. Amata has been persuaded of thinking that name to be the personification of evil. It is a good thing, though, that Elinor took matters in hand and managed to sit with her for a few hours, yesterday.”
“Oh, if anyone can help poor Amata, it is your sensible eldest sister. Of that, I have no doubts at all.” He paused and gave me an odd little look before he shrugged his shoulders.“Meg, I have been such a fool. I thought my father was an honest and righteous man with firm principles. I have been cursing myself for hurting him so badly by what transpired with Christina and I considered myself no less than his murderer when he died before I could beg for his forgiveness. Now it seems that he was just a fake and a liar and no better than me.”
I had no comment to that, knowing full well that Douglas was still in shock over what he learned these past few days. Not for the first time did I become aware of the awe in which he had held Sir Matthew until recently. I recognized the feeling for it was one I myself had experienced at my own father’s demise. How I had loved and respected Father, only to learn that he had left us to my half-brother’s mercy for our survival!
“Douglas, what about Bernard and his mother? Does anyone know about their whereabouts?” My betrothed shook his head. “No, they seem to have fled after the fire. I do not care where they are, Meggie. People like that should be severely punished but I am afraid the authorities would have no charge to lay upon them, should they be found.” I could see anger in my love’s eyes.
“What do you mean, they cannot be charged?” I enquired. “They abducted me and they held poor Amata a prisoner for years!”
“Meg, use your head!” he said, looking quickly at me. “You are very well aware that a female relative, living in the house of her half-brother, has no rights to speak of. Amata cannot sue Bernard and his mother for treating her like a recluse and you cannot prove that you were taken by force. It is Bernard’s word against yours, my love, and he was, up until now, a respected member of Torquay society for generations past.”
“Bah!” I exclaimed. “How unfair!”
Douglas laughed and lay his arm around my shoulder. “Rest assured, my darling, when I get my hands on that rascal, I will give him a good piece of my mind! I ache to give him a good, old-fashioned thrashing, to say the least!”
Then, all of a sudden, he pushed me down onto the soft, mossy bank. In the blink of an eye, his long, lean body covered mine completely and the blue fire of his gorgeous eyes burned into mine.
“My dearest, loveliest Meg … have you not noticed that we are completely alone in this quiet and remote spot of the woods? I have a mind to do some wicked things to you, my love.” His mouth captured mine in a kiss that spoke of his ardent love for me and I answered him, fire being kindled in my belly, when I felt the proof of his arousal pressing against my most womanly place.
I tugged at his cravat and shirt, aching to touch his naked skin, the warmth of him already burning through both our clothes. My hands revelled and quivered when they found the heat of his torso beneath his clothes and I let them roam all over the smooth, satin muscles of his back. Douglas groaned when I unfastened his breeches, never releasing my mouth and inserting his hand into my bodice to cup one of my breasts. Oh, God! Pleasure began curling upwards from low in my stomach upward in a slow, hot spiral of desire. My fingers found his sleek, silken hardness and caressed it in rapt exuberance until Douglas moaned in pleasure!
“Meggie, please, stop! If you continue in that way, I swear I will not be able to hold back!” Douglas growled through clenched teeth. Clasping me to his chest with one arm, he fumbled with the front of his breeches. “Douglas, no! I want you, Douglas, I want you so much!” I was weeping with frustration and need but Douglas sat up and restored my clothing with trembling fingers.
“Meggie, I want you too but not like this, my sweetling. I want our first lovemaking to be sheltered in the closeness of our room, our bed, but not here, where anyone could happen upon us.”
With gentle gestures, he put back my stockings and boots before donning his own. “Tell me you understand, my love? Tell me you know I do this out of love?” His pleading was clear in his eyes.
I lay my hand against his cheek. “I do know, my darling, and you are right, of course. This would not do at all.” But it was the hardest thing I had ever done in my whole life. I vowed myself I would put an end to this nonsense, once and for all!
Women and the Law in Victorian England
‘By marriage’, according to Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (Oxford, 1765-69, ‘the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during her marriage, or at least is incorporated or consolidated into that of her husband, under whose wing, protection and cover, she performs everything.’
This system of coverture underpinned the laws of Victorian England so far as they related to married women. In effect, a woman surrendered her legal existence on marriage. The various amendments to this position during the nineteenth century were piecemeal rather than systematic.
On marriage, the control of and income from a woman’s real property, that is, property held in the form of freehold land, passed under the common law to her husband, though he could not dispose of it without her consent. Her personal property, that is, money from earnings or investments, and personal belongings such as jewellery, passed absolutely into his control, and she could part with them only with his consent; he could, for example, overrule any bequests she made of her personal property. To evade these provisions under the common law, it was necessary to agree a marriage settlement under equity law.
The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 (see below) denied the husband his right to the earnings of a wife he had deserted, and returned to a woman divorced or legally separated the property rights of a single woman. The Married Woman’s Property Act of 1870 allowed women to keep earnings or property acquired after marriage; a further Married Woman’s Property Act in 1882 allowed women to retain what they owned at the time of marriage.
The property laws before 1882 had further significant consequences, related to the fiction of the legal identity of husband and wife; a married woman could not sue or be sued — if, for example, she felt herself to be libelled, her husband could sue and claim for damages, because he was the only injured party, but she could not. Correspondingly, he became liable for her debts and contracts, and for any breaches of the law committed by her before or during their marriage since it was held that she acted only under her husband’s direction (it was this provision that made Dickens’ Mr Bumble declare that the law is as an ass). Married women held the same legal status as criminals, minors and the insane.
Post-1882 the possibility of success in the campaign for women’s suffrage was greatly improved, since one powerful argument against it — that a married woman was simply an extension of her husband, so that married men would in effect have two votes — was now made less plausible.
These ‘little ambassadors of the familiar and the expected’, as one feminist called them late in the century, were also the property of the husband. An Act of 1839 allowed an innocent wife custody of her children under the age of seven years (raised to sixteen years in 1873). The Infants Custody Act of 1886 made the welfare of the children the determining factor in deciding questions of custody, but even then the father remained during his lifetime the sole legal guardian.
Consistently with these provisions, a woman’s body was also held to belong to her husband. It was not until 1891 that a High Court ruling denied the husband the right to imprison his wife in pursuit of his conjugal rights (it was not until 1991 that a similar ruling denied him the right to rape her).
Before the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 divorces could only be obtained in England through a cumbersome process involving a suit by the husband against another man for ‘criminal conversation’ (i.e., for compromising his wife, and therefore diminishing her value, so that he could claim damages), then an ecclesiastical divorce which did not allow the right of re-marriage, and finally a private Act of Parliament which separated the parties ex vinculis matrimonii (from the chains of marriage) and did allow re-marriage. The 1857 Act was designed (in effect) to allow moderately wealthy men to divorce their wives. A woman could be divorced on the simple grounds of her adultery (her adultery threatened his ability to pass his property to his male heirs), whereas a woman had to prove adultery aggravated by desertion (for two years), or by cruelty, rape, sodomy, incest or bigamy. The husband could claim damages against the adulterous third party, the wife could not. There was no provision for consensual divorce, so (for example) the divorce granted Jude and Sue in Jude the Obscure would have been invalid since they were not in fact adulterous; and they would have been in breach of the law in allowing it to be supposed that they were.
This was the law until 1923, when the grounds of divorce were made the same for both sexes. Until Legal Aid was available after 1949 divorce remained expensive, and the less well-to-do had to make use of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1878 which allowed a less costly judicial separation but without the right of re- marriage.
The Contagious Diseases Acts (1864, 1866, 1869) were introduced in order to protect members of the home forces from sexually transmitted diseases. In their final form, they provided that where a woman was believed to be acting as a ‘common prostitute’ (a term not defined in the Act) within ten miles of one of eighteen specified naval and garrison towns, she could be reported to a magistrate and obliged to attend for inspection at hospitals (‘Lock ups’) created for the purpose, If found to be diseased, she could be detained for up to nine months for treatment; refusal to attend could be met with forcible examination (labelled ‘instrumental rape’ by opponents of the Acts) or by imprisonment. The Acts were repealed in 1886, following a campaign led by Josephine Butler.
Incident to this campaign was another, to raise the age of consent from 12 to 13 in 1875, and then to 16 in 1885. The Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 followed the exposure by the journalist W. T. Stead of a trade in child prostitution (to prove the trade took place, Stead bought a child of 13 and took her abroad — in fact to a safe hostel — but was himself sent to prison). The facts about male sexuality disclosed by the campaigns of Josephine Butler and Stead, among others, helped to radicalise a number of women, though it should be remembered that most of those working in both causes were less concerned with liberation than with moral rearmament. The new law offered coercion as well as protection; it was under this legislation that Oscar Wilde was sentenced a decade later, and there was pressure for the age of consent to be raised to twenty-one.
Campaigns to improve women’s education continued throughout the century, strengthened by the imbalance of numbers between men and women (there were roughly half a million more women than men). Queen’s and Bedford Colleges at London University offered women education at the end of the 1840s, colleges for women at Oxford and Cambridge began in the 1860s and 1870s, while the Girls’ Public Day School Trust, Cheltenham’s Ladies College and other new institutions sought to improve the intellectual training offered to girls in their teens. Resistance to these developments came especially from the medical profession, who argued that the physical demands of menstruation and the intellectual demands of study were incompatible, and that educated women would become necessarily the mothers of a ‘puny, enfeebled, and sickly race’. Key texts in this debate are to be found in the Fortnightly Review for 1874, by Henry Maudsley and Elizabeth Garret Anderson (the first woman doctor), under the title ‘Sex in Mind and Education’.
The broadcaster has renewed the hit period drama for a fifth season, TVWise has learned.
From indie Neal Street Productions, Call The Midwife is based on the memoirs of midwife Jennifer Worth and features a cast which includes Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris, Miranda Hart, Judy Parfitt, Helen George, Bryony Hannah, Laura Main and Cliff Paris.
The renewal, which is for 8 episodes and a Christmas Special in 2015, comes ahead of the launch of this year’s Christmas special, with the show’s eight episode fourth season set to debut in early 2015.
Call The Midwife has been a hit series for BBC One since its first season in 2012, when it debuted as the channel’s highest rated launch in more than a decade. Since then, every single season has averaged more than 10 million viewers. The shows has also proved to be a global hit, with BBC Worldwide having sold Call The Midwife to broadcasters in nearly 200 territories – including the US, where it airs on PBS.
“Call the Midwife is one of UK’s most popular dramas and in series four Heidi Thomas’ writing meets new heights, said the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson, who ordered the fifth season alongside BBC One Controller Charlotte Moore. “I’m delighted to be commissioning a new series from Pippa Harris and Neal St Productions.”
Margaret with the Red Book
A John Thornton / Margaret Hale Fantasy Novel
Lord Robert did not make any move to be courteous for fear of frightening Miss Hale by reaching for her hand to be lightly kissed on the back.
“Miss Hale, I am so very grateful and cannot thank you enough for letting me apologize for my utterly despicable act that I perpetrated on you that night. For a year I have gone over the ‘why’ of it and still have no answer. Even if I had an answer that would never excuse what I did. I continue to loathe myself and it would be just if I never recover from that action. Besides being a wealthy, pompous cocky youth, I have always been a gentleman with the ladies. It is beyond belief, my horrendous mistake at Hanover House.”
Margaret finally looked up to eyes. His words sounded real, now she wanted to see it in his face.
“I know what it has done to your life or I think I do. If I fell in love with a woman and then learned that about her, I know I would be a mature man and understand that she had no fault in her circumstances, because I know what happened to you. But other gentlemen who you may meet might have trouble seeing it that way and I know that is my fault. I have no right to ask for forgiveness, I cannot even forgive myself, but I would like to see that you have a secure and financial future. I hope it doesn’t sound like I am trying to buy forgiveness, but I know what I have caused and I want to right the wrong in any way I can. I am sure your life has changed because of me and I shall find it hard to live with that for the rest of my life.” He paused.
Margaret looked into his face and said, “You have a scar on your cheek.”
Not expecting those to be her first words, Lord Robert responded, “Yes, and I should have been marked more than that. That was courtesy of the drivers that rescued you from me that night. I have spent a year looking for you. I was finally steered towards your governess in Milton, that was why the ad in the paper. After speaking with Miss Leeds last night, I was informed as to who she was in this community and I ache with the thought that I have brought you so low that you can only survive in that capacity in life. I shall make that right for you. The guilt is very heavy on me for my part in your fall from grace.”
Margaret interrupted, not being able to accept his feeling accountable for that part of her life and she still felt that he truly was sorry and would forgive him.
“Your Lordship, I do believe in the sincerity of your apology. Yes, it has impacted my life tremendously, but I feel, to move forward, I must allow you the forgiveness you seek. As for my fall from grace, I am not a working girl for Miss Leeds. As my former governess, she took me in after some ill treatment by relatives. Just after the episode with you, I returned home to find both my father and brother, my only relatives, to have passed away under different circumstances. My brother had just died of malaria in the Navy, and the news of that caused my father to have a heart attack. All my possessions, family jewels and dowry were left to my brother to dispense to me and he died with no will. My father’s possessions which included my inheritance were turned over to his sister. She was his closest relative of age. She did not feel she needed to bestow any of my father’s wishes on me, so she sold my home and kept all which was to be mine. She took me into her home and within the year I was herded in with servants. Her husband began being too friendly causing me to run away to the only person I could trust and that was Miss Leeds. You have no part in that. It is difficult for me to accept your apology and give you forgiveness but I think we both need it to get passed this horrific event in both of our lives. I am quite sure you were inebriated at the time and do feel you would never have acted with such behavior had you been collected. Therefore, I accept your apology and offer you forgiveness. I do not want you to make anything right.”
“Miss Hale, you offer far more than I have any right to expect or accept. Whether you were going to accept my apology or not, I still owe something for the difference in your life that my actions caused. I am quite astounded at your forgiveness, and have no right to it but I do believe you when you say it is a starting place for both of us to return to a life. However, forgiven or not, you shall not deny me the chance to enable you to have a better life. I cannot and shall not accept no for an answer. I do not do this out of guilt but out of sorrow for what I have caused. You are a beautiful young woman and deserve the life that was intended for you for which I have changed.”
“I really do not want your money, Lord Robert.” Margaret argued.
“You shall have no choice in the matter. I want to restore you to the financial independence you could have had before I did what I did. Do not think that I want your silence on the matter, because that would not be so. I need to do this. I need to do this for you and for me. You are an extraordinary woman. I wish the circumstances were not as they are, as I would like to see you in my life. I do not know of any woman brave enough to go through this and want nothing in return. You are a true gem and the man that shall realize that someday shall be forever happy. I lost Trevor as my friend that night, along with William and all my class mates, but I have heard that Trevor has wondered where you are. Would you wish him to know how to contact you?”
“I do not think so. Under the circumstances, I feel he may take pity on me and I am trying to build a new life — away from former acquaintances.”
“I wish I did not but I do understand your wishes. Is there anymore that I can say to prove to you how sorry I am? I shall tell you that I have had nary a drop of spirits since that night and shall never return to such habits. I know I changed you as the woman you were, but I have also changed. I am not the same person I was a year ago.”
“Thank you, Lord Robert, for finding me and attempting to make amends. It seems to be lifting a burden from my shoulders as we speak. Had I once thought that your violent actions were intentional, I would never have agreed to countenance your company under any circumstances. But I do not feel that way and never did. I am surprised at the impact it made on your life, too. Nobles rarely seem to take responsibility for debauched behavior.”
“You are right there, Miss Hale. But that shall never happen to me. I have learned a terribly hard lesson and have come away a better man which I do not deserve. Because I am titled, I was only lightly chastised by the authorities. It should have been more difficult. I can see the unfairness and detest it now. I shall take up no more of your time unless you have something further to say to me. I can always be reached at the Howsham House in London. That is not my permanent estate but I am found there mostly. Once again, thank you for all that you have said today. You have treated me better than I deserve.”
“I wish you well Lord Robert in the rest of your life. Thank you for helping to mend my spirit. Good day.”
“Good day, Miss Hale. Thank you very much.”
Lord Robert opened his own door and let himself out. Tawl Peters headed toward the coach door as fast as he could but only made it there in time to bow as Lord Robert passed him returning to his own carriage. Lord Robert climbed into his own coach and must have begun a conversation with Miss Leeds, for she did not immediately leave his presence. Tawl walked to the coach window.
“Are you all right, Miss?”
“Yes, thank you, Tawl. I did not want to see him, but I think it shall be better that I had. I guess you are wondering why all the secrecy or do you know?”
“I know nothing other than the fact that a Lord was looking for you. Apparently, he wanted to see you quite urgently to have placed an ad in the paper. Would I be out of line if I asked the reason?”
“I can certainly understand being inquisitive over what must seem mysterious. And yes, I shall tell you about it sometime when we are alone. It is not a happy story and he has come seeking to apologize.”
“Thank you, Miss, for your confidence in my discretion. I know you are a real lady but you seem to be stuck in that house all the time. Would it be unheard of for a driver to accompany you to a park or on a walk or be any kind of escort anywhere, just to get you out?”
“Tawl, I would be delighted to have you escort me on a walk or to the park. I often take a book to the park. Do you like to read . . . do you read at all?”
“I read extremely little and they’re only words I have needed for my trade. I could never sit and read a book or a newspaper.”
“Then I shall teach you, as I shall some of the girls.”
“Oh, Miss. I would surely love to learn to read. I see Miss Leeds is heading back.”
Tawl opened the door and handed her in.
“Tawl, take us home but again make sure we are not being followed. Thank you.”
“Right you are, Miss.” Tawl said, springing up the wheel step and into his box.
Margaret donned her netted veil bonnet for the ride home. She was bursting to ask Katie what their small conversation was about. Margaret could feel an exuberance beginning to settle on her. She had done the right thing; she felt it in her bones. By forgiving Lord Robert she forgave herself for some mysterious blame she could never shake even though she knew it to be preposterous. Because of the conversation that Katie had with her before leaving, about a mature man should not discourage his love for her under the circumstances, Margaret was beginning to feel like half a woman again.
“Margaret, put your head in my lap until we are underway. I think I see a slight smile on your face. Do I mistake it that you forgave him?”
“Did you not discuss it with him?”
“No, not what your reaction has been. He seems to be a very proper gentleman in most regards. He only said that he felt it was a good talk for both of you and thanked me for my part in setting up this meeting. He told me where he could be contacted should you or I ever feel the need to do so. He said if you were ever in any difficulty to call upon him. I think we are all right now. You can sit up until we get back into town. So, can I ask how it went?”
“It was difficult at first,” Margaret said while rising to a sitting position. “Difficult for me, that is, probably him as well. As you said with your meeting with him and his words to me in the note, he sounded sincere. I finally raised my eyes to then watch his face and I believe him. He has a handsome face but the nasty scar on his cheek was caused by the coach drivers that rescued me. He said he should have been marked more than that. I think you are right, Katie, he is a pitiful man looking for redemption. Twice he said he wanted to make my life right, meaning financially, and twice I refused.”
“Why? It would make me a whore.” Margaret said, with a slight bit of effrontery.
“Margaret, that is ridiculous thinking. You did not offer a service which he bought; he stole a big part of your life.”
“Yes, that is as may be, but to others it may seem whorish . . . taking money for sex.”
“Margaret, you cannot look at it that way. If his Lordship walked into another Lord’s home, and was admiring a priceless artifact, then dropped it, smashing it into pieces he would surely want to pay some type of restitution. That’s the only way it can be seen. He’s removed something priceless from you that has changed your life. He probably needs to do this more than he feels you need to have it done. He broke something and he wants to pay for his action.”
“You do know how to put things in a different light. No wonder, I love you like a mother and friend. He never insisted after my second refusal but he did say he was not taking no for an answer, so that’s the way it was left.”
“You may not be with me very long, after all.”
“Oh no, I am interested enough now in the book. I want to stay and tell the tale of these women and even yourself. I do enjoy being useful to you as well and I still have several people, now including Tawl, who want to learn to read. I shall not leave until all that is done, should his Lordship bestow his gift to me. I shall still feel odd about accepting any monies, though.”