|Stories of Blackwood: Henry and Theresa
Author: R. M. Kent PM
Regency. Theresa Emery wanted nothing more than to marry for love. But with a gambling brother and a dying father, can her greatest wish be granted?Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 19 - Words: 51,154 - Reviews: 28 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 8 - Updated: 01-26-08 - Published: 01-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 2460328
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Here I sit, in my chambers, somewhere in the rambling corridors of Blackwood House, with swathes of gold and cream hanging from the windows and the large four-poster bed. The winter sunlight is fading behind the hills, and a soft sheen of frost is covering the edges of the panes. On one side of the room a large fire is crackling and beside it I sit, layer upon layer of thick clothing draped over me, trying to keep my hands warm and write also. On a small table to my left sits a tray with tea and cakes, brought to me by my long serving maid, Betsy, who is only five years younger than me but, to my eyes, is wearing the years much better. I think of all those at Blackwood, Betsy is my closest confidante and, possibly, friend. I quickly discovered that whether I told her or not, Betsy saw and heard everything, and would do her best for me, to provide me with anything I could possibly want or need. When I cried, Betsy cried, and when I laughed, Betsy laughed with me. Now she is in my dressing room, sorting my gowns and doing her duties with her usual perfection. She is humming something unrecognisable. I am watching the sun disappear and thinking about when I first arrived here.
Perhaps mine was not the most romantic of stories, in fact, there is no perhaps about it. Heroines in stories fall in love and live happily ever after. I was no such heroine, things did not come so easily, and one might say that I played the part of a heroine very poorly indeed. I felt more like a princess in a tower, unable to do very much to enrich the romance of my story. But so it was. I have lived a long and happy life, I have given birth to five beautiful and healthy children, who have in turn blessed me with many grandchildren whose names sometimes escape my elderly brain, but whose faces grow more endearing each time we meet. And then there is Blackwood, this place where so much of my life has happened, where I have spent the happiest and saddest moments of my life.
In all its glory, the large stone walls stand strong and proud, the turrets and thick wooden doors make it look most forbidding, but there is something about it that makes one wonder. There is a mystery about Blackwood which had my interest piqued from the moment I stepped foot inside. It was so like its owner, so like its inhabitancy, and I was a young country girl who made the best of what she had and asked for no more. Blackwood was not a home for a girl like me.
The house in which I grew up was everything I was told my mother had been – beautiful, elegant and humble. There was a large willow tree that hung over the stream my father deemed by very own moat. I was a princess, he said, and Annesfield was my castle. And like any princess I needed to be rescued. I would later look out of Blackwood's windows and see my own children playing happily together among the trees, cheeks flushed and eyes eager – they had no need of a moat. They need no rescuing. I was a simple country girl, by definition. My education was not great and when needed my lessons were taken by my father. I never had the benefit of the masters; it was never discovered whether I had a great musical or artistic talent, though my abilities were sufficient enough for me to be deemed 'accomplished'. I spent my time doing things more practical and worthwhile on our family's small estate – in the kitchens, the farm, my father's accounts – and more often than not running wild and getting far too muddy with my elder brother Richard.
When my father married Mrs Celeste Yardley, one hot summers afternoon the year I turned fifteen, my fascination with this woman led me to relinquish much of my days running wild and carefree. Celeste taught me to be a lady. And when my coming out was arranged I could scarcely believe it – sometimes I still thought of myself as the small girl who was constantly grazing her knees climbing trees in Shipton woods. With pearls in my hair and the prettiest white gown Celeste could find, I was very aware of the many eyes scrutinising me. My father smiled as I took his hand at the end of the evening. I had danced so much my feet hurt, and smiled so much I was sure I could never smile again; the evening had passed in such a blur that I was numb and couldn't tell what emotions were important to me. He kissed my forehead and embraced me tightly. He smelled musty and warm. 'My little princess, Theresa, tonight no candles were needed. You made the room sparkle' he whispered. I choked back tears. He looked at me closely 'As innocent and charming as the little girl who stole books from my library, but this is an angel with gossamer wings and too good a heart standing before me'.
And then Celeste was gone, leaving behind a tiny little boy with her sparkling eyes, which stared up at us questioningly. Charles, my half brother, and the time that followed, were, I suppose, a final test of womanhood. So that by the time my father died I had become the princess that would be rescued. And one day a prince arrived and offered me an opportunity to change my fortunes. And any other princess with a moat would have done the same. The events that followed would tear those gossamer wings, my charm would wither and my good heart would be tested so far I was sure it broke into pieces. But my prince insists I am still like the old house I love so much – beautiful, elegant and humble. These pages are as much about him, my prince, as they are about me. If I am like my dear Annesfield then he bears a striking resemblance to his own abode, and I would have him no other way.
When does a house become a home? When does a girl become a woman? And when does a husband become a lover?