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Posted at May 18, 2020
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Victorian Era Fiction to Get You Through COVID-19 (Chapter 7)

Chapter Seven

Mary felt that she had to confess to her mother that a connection between her and Anthony Chamberlain would be impossible. She loved another and wanted to marry only him. After the ball, Robert Farnsworth had written her a letter, conveying his wish to meet with her again. They had danced many times at many parties and rumors had begun to spread about an impending engagement. These rumors had already reached Maude and she dismissed them. Clearly the impressive Anthony Chamberlain was a much better target than the insignificant fourth son, Robert Farnsworth. Since she knew her mother’s feelings on the subject, Mary was frightened to bring it up. But one day, she resolved to tell her mother once and for all that her mind was made up.
Maude was relaxing with a book in her sitting room that afternoon and Mary knocked on the door of her bedroom.
“Mamma?” she asked through the wooden door, opening it slightly.
“Mary, dear! Do come in.”
Mary was aware that her mother’s smiles would not last long after hearing what she had to say. She apologized for interrupting her and Maude insisted it was no trouble at all and that they should sit a while together. Mary did sit but as always she fidgeted due to her nerves.
“Is something the matter?” Maude asked, putting down her book.
“Yes, Mamma.”
“What is it? Are you ill?”
“No, Mamma.” Mary searched her brain for a way to begin her speech but remained unable to produce the right words.
“Mary?” her mother asked, now with a look of deep concern.
Mary stood up again and began to pace back and forth in front of the window.
“Mamma, there is something I’d like to tell you.” Maude sat back, expecting the worst of news.
“I am not interested in Mr. Chamberlain,” she began. “In fact, my heart belongs to someone else entirely.”
“Oh?” cried Maude in surprise. She had gathered that Mary and Mr. Chamberlain were not well suited, but Mary’s constant reserve showed no signs of admiration for anyone else. Maude only realized who she meant just as the name left her daughter’s lips.
“It’s Robert Farnsworth,” she admitted. “He’s written to me. He’d like to speak with me. Oh, Mamma I think he’s going to propose!”
She could hardly contain both her excitement and her fears of her mother’s reaction. She gripped her skirts in her fists in anticipation. Maude leaned back in her seat, deep in thought. Her blue eyes searched the room as she silently imagined this young man proposing to her daughter. What did he have to offer? How long had he admired her and how long had he been writing? Without another word she rang the bell and Somers presented himself.
“Somers, could you fetch Mr. Kingston, please?”
Mary’s face grew pale when she heard her mother’s request. Once Somers had gone to fetch his master, a grim silence hung in the room between mother and daughter. Mr. Kingston was soon brought to them and was confused as to why his work should have been disturbed.
“Go on, dear,” said his wife to their daughter. “Tell Papa what you’ve just told me.”
Mary swallowed nervously before repeating her confession about Mr. Farnsworth.
“Ah! That business,” said William indifferently. “Now it makes sense! You see, I’d just had a telegram from him this morning asking if he might speak with me. He plans to ask my consent, I dare say.”
“And you never thought to mention this to me?” Maude exclaimed.
“It didn’t make sense at the time,” said William, whose understanding of love and marriage between young people was much poorer than his understanding of business.
“My dear!” scolded Maude. “Do you intend to meet with him?”
“I don’t see why not. If Mary is fond of him, and he is fond of her, why shouldn’t they marry?”
“You are the one with the financial prowess, my dear,” Maude pressed. “Does his situation not concern you?”
“Not particularly. Mary will have plenty to live on once I’m gone. Robert will have to be clever about his own piece of the Farnsworth fortune of course, but the Farnsworths are no worse off than we are, to be sure.”
Maude said goodbye to her hopes of her eligible daughter marrying someone of significance. Yet was soon glad to have at least one of her children married and out of the house. That it was her favorite child, however, was a shame indeed.
It was only a day later that Robert Farnsworth asked permission of Mr. Kingston and then proposed to Mary. She gleefully accepted him and the two of them decided they were to be the happiest couple in the world. Robert greeted all members of the Kingston family and offered his many thanks for their kindness to him. William was pleasantly indifferent as was his son. Ruth was sad to see her sister go, but glad to know that her mother had accomplished her goal of seeing a daughter settled. That this should backfire on her, however, did not occur to Ruth at the time while her family celebrated. Maude was glad to look after all the details of the wedding -the clothes, the flowers, the guest list, the date, the church – but once it was over, she would certianly turn her attention to Ruth.

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