I think you’re going to need this. The characters we spend the most time with are in bold, the really important ones in this chapter are highlighted in pink.
Pemberley, Derbyshire, Summer 1791
“Mind where you go, Fitzwilliam!” Anne called to her son where he ran across the grass, chasing his older cousins.
Her elder brother and his family were visiting, as well as her cousin Lady Julia and her children. Her brother Randall was the Viscount Hyde—he would inherit the Matlock earldom when their father died. Hence, he was at the mercy of their father, who often required his presence in Town or at the family estate in Staffordshire. The old earl had little use for his two daughters or his younger son, but he had great use for his eldest son and child, the one he imagined would carry on his legacy long after he had shuffled off this mortal coil.
Randall was a decent fellow. Good-tempered, but weary of arguments and with the look of put-upon badger about him. Their generation of Fitzwilliam children, bar Catherine, were long and lean and fine-boned. They looked rather like a flock of birds, settled down in the drawing room, all long legs and pointed noses. Catherine had somehow inherited the size and dominant personality of their grandfather, but the other three children were pattern cards of each other. Each fair haired, blue eyed, and almost frightfully thin.
Randall and Anne had always been close, due largely to the fact that he had been five when she was born and rather enamored of the real-life doll in his mother’s arms. They shared a love of horses and fruit tarts, which they would still occasionally sneak to each other’s rooms to share after everyone else had gone to bed.
Lady Catherine was the second Fitzwilliam daughter, only a year younger than Anne but thrice her size in personality. If there was a conversation, Catherine must take part in it. If there was a party, Catherine must direct it. If there was a dispute, Catherine would settle it—often to no one’s satisfaction but her own. She was constantly inserting herself where she was not needed or wanted, but she would hear no correction, even when it was kindly meant.
When their father betrothed her to Sir Lewis de Burgh in Kent, a county blessedly far away from their home, they all secretly rejoiced that she would be so far removed.
In contrast, Anne and Randall enjoyed their relative proximity and were frequent visitors to each other’s homes, though Anne preferred to visit when her father was not in residence. She did not hate her father, but neither was she fond of him, and thus they shared only the occasional letter and basic pleasantries when they were in shared company.
Randall had been married off young, at the insistence of their father who was afraid he would die before he could see his son properly wed. Without his guidance, his children would of course all choose poorly and ruin the family name forever, driving it into disgrace and destitution. Thus Randall found himself married before his twenty-second birthday to the daughter of the Marquess of Chatham, Lady Philadelphia Cosgrove. He was a father by twenty-three, and when Anne married Mr. Darcy at nineteen, Randall was bouncing his second son on his knee.
Their younger brother, Richard, was a colonel in the regulars, and had sworn never to marry. Anne suspected it was because he knew his father would never allow him to choose a woman he actually liked, and with Richard’s lesser income, he would be forced to share small quarters with a woman he despised. Anne rather suspected that if her father were to suddenly die, her brother would soon after find himself betrothed, but it was only her suspicion.
Randall and George Darcy were attempting to show the boys how to bat at cricket, while Anne, her sister Lady Philadelphia, and her cousin Lady Julia watched. Julia had delivered her third child, a plump little boy, only two months ago. She had had a wretched time of it and was spending the summer at Pemberley to recuperate. She still had crying jags at the oddest times and felt poorly most days. Anne had made it her personal mission to cheer Julia up.
Julia’s daughter Marianne was only a month younger than Fitzwilliam and the two had got on splendidly since they were old enough to play with one another. Philadelphia and Anne were both in the family way, lounging on soft chaises in the shade, patiently awaiting their confinements.
Lady Philadelphia—Adele to her friends—was due to deliver her fifth child any day, and it was decided she would do so at Pemberley. Her last confinement had been at the Matlock seat and her father-in-law had been an absolute bear. He had nagged her constantly on what she should eat and how she should behave in order to produce a son, ignoring that her fist two children had been boys and only the third had been a girl. She ignored him as best she could, but when the babe was born a girl, he had been unbearable. For her fifth confinement, she wisely decided to be away when the birth would come upon her suddenly, with no time to return home.
Anne had introduced her to the midwife and the chamber was prepared. Now they were only waiting on the young Fitzwilliam to arrive.
Anne had another two months to go until her confinement. She had a strong suspicion this babe would be a girl, and she was ecstatic about it. A little girl to dress and teach and dote on. A girl who would not have to be sent away to school, but who would stay with her mother until she married. Anne was quite looking forward to it. She thought they might call her Regina, or perhaps Charlotte. Anne was named for her mother, and Catherine had named her only daughter Anne, making it a complicated option. Perhaps Matilda? Or Madeline? The vicar had a little girl named Madeline and she was a darling thing.
Anne turned her attention back to the ladies and away from her own thoughts. Adele was giving Julia advice on her daughter Marianne, who was a bright but stubborn little girl. Marianne did not want to play with her dolls. She did not want to have tea parties with her friends. She did not want to wear lacy dresses with pretty satin bows.
She did want to chase her cousins and climb trees and catch toads, to her mother’s great horror. Anne tried not to laugh. Julia was her dearest friend, but she was a touch dramatic. Marianne would be perfectly well. She was merely a little different than the other girls they knew, and very different from how her own mother had behaved. But Anne remembered enough of her childhood with Julia to know her cousin had not always been a perfect lady, and that wild children eventually grow up, at least to some degree.
Adele was smiling serenely at her cousin, her hand absently rubbing her round belly. Five children! Anne could not imagine. Of course, if things had gone differently, this child would be her fourth little one, not her second. Adele seemed born to be a mother. She was serene and gentle and endlessly patient. Her eldest son Alexander was a rascal of the first order, followed closely by her second son, Richard, named for his uncle. Yet she never lost her patience with them or raised her voice or issued harsh punishments.
Somehow, looking at her savage children with her big gray eyes full of disappointment, she made them feel awful over whatever it was they had done until they apologized and punished themselves! “I will make it right, mother. I didn’t mean to hurt Marianne.” Or, “I didn’t mean to cut the horse’s tail. The scissors slipped!” followed closely by, “I will help the grooms for a fortnight! I will take such good care of the horses!” Anne had bitten her lip hard when she heard that one, not wanting to laugh and spoil their guilt-ridden state.
The three women looked up when pounding footsteps rushed past them. Fitzwilliam and Marianne were running hell for leather, Richard in hot pursuit. Alexander was at the other end of the lawn, taunting his cousins.
“What are they playing at now?” Julia complained.
“They’re children. Let them run,” said Anne.
Two days later, the house was in uproar. Lady Philadelphia was in labor, and the babe would not descend. Her children were dreadfully worried, especially the two eldest boys who understood what the maid meant when she said the lady was “like not to pull through.”
Darcy stayed with Randall in the library, plying him with brandy and empty platitudes. The nurses did their best with the children, but eventually they took them to the lake and let them run free in an attempt to spare them from whatever was happening in the birthing room.
Anne and Julia stayed with Adele, changing the cloths on her forehead, offering encouraging words, and silently praying while they shot each other worried looks. The midwife was experienced, but she was a bit in awe of Lady Philadelphia. She had gradually accustomed herself to Lady Anne, but Lady Philadelphia was both the daughter of a marquess and the wife of a viscount, destined to be the next Lady Matlock. She was hesitant to suggest anything the lady might find undignified. Sensing the midwife’s restraint, and her sister’s waning strength, Anne drew the midwife aside.
“Is there nothing that can be done? Surely there is something!”
The midwife twisted her apron but seemed hesitant to speak.
“If there is anything you can do, anything at all, no matter how odd or unconventional, please do it! Her children cannot lose their mother today,” Anne said somberly, her blue eyes pleading.
“Very well. We need to get her up and moving.”
Soon, the midwife had Adele moving about the room, circling her hips in an odd rhythm, and squatting down low while her sister and cousin supported her on either side. Her strength was flagging, but she knew her life hung in the balance, and that of her child, so she followed every instruction, and held every bizarre position while the pains crashed over her relentlessly.
Eventually, she was clutching the bed post, Julia under one shoulder and Anne under the other, while the midwife instructed her to push at her signal. In what seemed like no time at all, she was holding her new baby, a flood of tears covering each woman’s face. Anne gingerly wiped Adele’s brow and brushed her hair back, replaiting it loosely. Julia, who could be surprisingly practical when the situation called for it, collected a fresh nightgown, and slipped it over Adele’s head after the maid cleaned her up. Finally, they got Adele and the baby clean and in a fresh bed, ready to receive visitors.
“I shall go fetch Randall. He will be anxious for you.”
Adele grabbed her hand tightly and pulled Anne close. “Thank you, sister. You have saved me this day.”
“You did the difficult part,” Anne said with a watery smile. She kissed Adele’s forehead, then the baby’s, and left to find her brother.
“It was an eventful day,” said George as they prepared for bed that evening.
“Yes, it was.”
Unsurprisingly, everyone had been too exhausted to bother with a proper dinner. Anne had trays sent to everyone’s rooms, and now that the children were assured Adele would live, they were properly impressed with their new brother and cousin, Andrew.
“It was frightening for a while. I feared she would not survive,” Anne said quietly.
“I am sorry, darling. That must have been awful for you.”
He took her hand and led her to the sofa before the empty fireplace. He encouraged her to sit back and took one of her feet in his hands, gently rubbing along the arch and sole.
“That is lovely. Thank you.”
“Are you well, my dear?” he asked sincerely.
Anne sighed. “I will be. I was afraid, and worried and anxious, but the worst is over now. The babe appears healthy and Adele is resting. Though I do not think she will want to have another child for some time.”
Darcy chuckled lightly, “No, I doubt she will. Poor Randall was beside himself. I had to restrain him from barging in more than once. He was convinced she was going to die.”
“She nearly did.”
They stared blankly ahead for a time, allowing the events of the day to settle over them like a thin shawl. Randall and Adele had not had a passionate love affair. Their union had been arranged by their parents, but they were both so kind and unassuming, so gentle and respectful of each other, that love of a sort could not help but bloom between them. Regardless of how they came together, they were very good friends and a devoted couple, and Anne knew Randall would be lost without Adele.
Anne spent the next few days in a flurry of activity. She could not explain it, but she felt an irresistible urge to clean her house—which she did not know how to do—and to cook something—a skill she refused to learn. She sorted the baby clothes in the nursery. She placed fresh flowers on every table in every public room of the house. She sewed two baby bonnets and a long gown, and began a painting she thought to hang in the baby’s room.
“Do you not think you are doing too much?” asked her husband. “I do not want you to tire yourself out.”
“I feel wonderful!” she cried. “I cannot explain it, but I cannot sit still for long at all.”
George watched her with a wary eye. She had done the same thing before Fitzwilliam was born, and again with their son George. She had not with their stillborn daughter, but then the babe had been breech. Perhaps that had something to do with it? She was still several weeks away from her lying in. He feared that if she were delivered of a child now, it would not survive. Though she was large enough… perhaps they had estimated the dates incorrectly?
Unfortunately, George’s concerns for an early delivery were proved correct. By the end of the week, only eight days after Adele had delivered her babe, Anne was brought to bed. She repeatedly said it was too soon, but the babe wished to be born and born it would be. She labored for a short time before the midwife said she was ready, and Julia held her hand tightly as Anne bore down, the babe coming surprisingly easily.
“I am sorry, my lady.” The midwife held the small babe, tiny and blue, and draped a blanket over its face. “She was too small to survive.”
Anne was in shock. The labor had been so easy, the delivery nearly painless. How could the babe be stillborn? She had felt it kicking only a few hours ago.
The midwife was pressing her belly, Anne staring blankly ahead in shock.
“It is as I suspected. There is another babe, my lady.”
“What?” cried Julia.
“I’ve seen it ‘afore. The smaller one does not survive, and its death causes the pains to begin. The bigger one will be coming shortly.”
Just then, Anne felt a kick in her abdomen, strong and solid, and nearly wept with relief. She was alive! She was still alive! The pains began again and soon Anne was bearing down, this one significantly more difficult than the tiny babe before it. Julia held her hand and wiped her brow and told her to continue on, that her daughter was on the way, that she just needed to push a little more, just one more time.
Somewhere through the haze of pain and fear, a lusty cry was heard and the next thing she knew, Anne was holding her daughter in her arms, pink and squalling.
“A girl! I have a daughter!”
Julia cried with her, both of them insensible and overwhelmed.
“I shall call her Julia, for the dearest friend I have ever had,” Anne said quietly.
Julia opened her mouth to speak, but could only make a breathy sound before dissolving into tears again.
“May I meet my daughter now?” George asked. He entered the room quietly, smiling to see Anne propped up on pillows with the baby in her arms, Julia in a chair beside the bed.
“I shall go give Adele all the news,” she said as she slipped out of the room.
“Look at her, George.” Anne beamed at him.
He touched the downy cheek. “She is perfect.” The babe clutched his finger and he felt tears pricking his eyes. “What shall we call her?”
“I am calling her Julia.”
He raised his brows and she looked back at him sheepishly. “She is my dearest friend, and she was an enormous help during the birth. Besides, she looks like a Julia, does she not?”
He smiled. “She does. How about Julia Anne?”
“That is perfect.” Anne looked at her daughter, then back to her husband, her eyes shadowed. “Did they tell you there was another?”
“Another babe? Yes, the midwife explained. She said the second babe was much smaller and would not have survived, even had she lived to be delivered.”
“Probably not. What should we call her? We have to put something on the stone.”
“How about Mary?” George suggested.
“For your mother?”
“Yes. Or would you rather save it for another daughter?”
“We do not know that there will be another. Let us call her Mary, the poor dear.”
“At least this one survived. That is something to be thankful for.”
“Yes, it is.” She looked far away again. “I worry for her though. She is very small and born too soon. Her lungs are not strong, I think.”
They listened to the strained respirations for a minute without speaking.
“The midwife said some babes born this soon continue to develop outside the womb and become perfectly healthy children,” Anne said quietly.
“And others?” he asked, his voice a near whisper.
“Others do not survive more than a few days.”
“So we should prepare ourselves,” he said somberly.
“It would be wise,” she said, pulling her shoulders back and sitting up a little straighter. “But I do not want to be wise. I want to hold my baby, and kiss her hair, and not worry that she will die any moment. Is that so enormous a wish?”
“No,” he answered, his voice choked, “it is a perfectly rational desire.”
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