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Consequences: Chapter Eighteen

"Last evening Charles decided it was time for me to have a lesson in whist which is a great favourite of his. He invited his friends the two Miss Mayburys to play against us, and help him teach me. I have never played a game of cards before...''

Mary is making new friends and enjoying married life, but an occasional cloud crosses her domestic horizon.

"Charles was very much involved with gardening, but he let it slip that Adelaide was there helping (?) him. He does seem very fond of her.''

Jean Day's novel of domestic life in Dickensian times is history made real. To read earlier chapters of this engrossing tale told in diary-form click on Consequences in the menu on this page.

Mary’s Journal

July 1st
In just over a week, we will be going to the Mayor’s party. I am so nervous. Charles says that it is proper to address him as Mr. Mayor or Your Worship. I must practice my curtsy. I will wear my wedding dress, and have with that in mind bought some dark blue lace which will fill in the space when I let out the seams to make it that little bit bigger. I enjoy using the needle and have always felt that I had a good eye for fashion. I have seen plates of dresses very similar with lace insets, so instead of feeling awkward I shall be proud to be in the first of fashion.

Mother writes that Father has had interest shown by someone who might want to buy the Inn; a man called John Dove. He heard that the business might be up for sale and will come and view it and then if he is pleased, he will make an offer. I don’t know where our family will remove to, as they have lived in the Inn for all of my life. I wonder if they will go back to Escrick where Father came from and we still have relatives, or to Pocklington, although that seems too far away from all their acquaintances.

July 2nd
Charles was interested in reading a day or two ago about Charles Blondin, who apparently walked across a tightrope which was stretched across Niagara Falls. I do not know of this place, but reckon it was a very foolhardy thing to do.

July 3rd
Last evening Charles decided it was time for me to have a lesson in whist which is a great favourite of his. He invited his friends the two Miss Mayburys to play against us, and help him teach me. I have never played a game of cards before, and admit that I was loathe to show my ignorance in what I assume is quite an intellectual game. I had watched the men in the Inn playing cards, and they were so determined to win, and so intent on doing the right thing that it made it seem more like a competition more than a game. However, to please Charles I agreed.

I had not met these ladies before but I know how fond they are of Charles and know that he has occasionally played cards with them. They are unmarried ladies who live together and are in their early forties I would speculate. They are both as thin as can be, and quite resemble each other, as sisters often do, with rather flat noses, rather high cheekbones and tolerably good complexions. They were quite shy but very pleasant company.

I must say that I did enjoy playing the cards, and can understand why one might be fascinated by whist. It is a real pleasure when you accomplish what you have set out to do and an even greater pleasure when you can keep one’s opponents from doing as they have intended. Charles said I have promise as a whist player and he will buy me a book of card games, so I can learn more of the strategies before we have another game.

July 8th
We went last evening to see the Wilson’s, who have been very kind to me. It is quite a long walk to their house, but Charles is used to it, and complains at my slower pace, partly due to my extra girth. We walk from here down past Scrub Hill Road to Midland Road and then turn left into Wylds Lane and past the Lea and Perrin factory. The Wilsons’ house is on the corner with London Road and Larkhill Road. Charles often talks of the times he spent on Perry Wood which is a heavily wooded hill just above that area. Mrs. Wilson is Charles’ mother’s sister, and he is very fond of her. Their eldest daughter, Mary Ann now lives in York as housekeeper for Charles’ father. But there are many other Wilson’s still at home. Richard is now 19 and is working in the Glove trade with his father. Emily is 15, still being educated. Eliza is soon to be married to Mr. Jones, who I have not yet met. George is only five, and so much younger than the others, he must have been a surprise to them. But he is fussed over by one and all.

July 9th
Charles is busy reading a book called Self Help by Samuel Smiles. He says this on how people do not want to take responsibility. I enjoyed it so much I asked if I could copy it out into my journal.

“When typhus or cholera breaks out, they tell us that Nobody is to blame. That terrible Nobody! How much he has to answer for. More mischief is done by Nobody than by all the world besides. Nobody adulterates our food. Nobody poisons us with bad drink. Nobody leaves towns undrained. Nobody fills jails, penitentiaries, and convict stations. Nobody makes poachers, thieves, and drunkards. Nobody has a theory too – a dreadful theory. It is embodied in two words: laissez-faire - let alone. When people are poisoned with plaster of Paris mixed with flour, 'let alone” is the remedy . . . Let those who can, find out when they are cheated: caveat emptor. When people live in foul dwellings, let them alone, let wretchedness do its work; do not interfere with death.”

He is so powerful in his writing. I see similarities with the way Charles Dickens writes.

July 10th
Charles reports from his newspapers that there is a new King of both Norway and Sweden. He is called Charles XV in Sweden and Charles IV in Norway. His father was Oscar I, presumably of both places who died yesterday at the age of 58. My father is much older than that, and feeling his age. That is why he feels he must retire from the Inn as soon as he can, in order to enjoy the last years of his life more. Charles loves history. I must admit that I occasionally have to pretend an interest that I don’t feel.

July 11th
The party was a huge success and I met ever so many people. My new friends were there, and I was able to meet their husbands as well. I also met others of our neighbours with whom I had not yet made acquaintance. One woman in particular I felt I should like. She is called Mary Ann Boyce and her husband Fredrick is a solicitor. She is about my age and she said they were married in January and their baby is due in September (as is mine of course). She looks very large. I wonder if she might be having twins. She shocked me by asking when I was expecting the happy event. That is the first time anyone has alluded to my pregnancy which I felt I had done so well to conceal. She saw my embarrassment, and I sort of fumbled out, “I am not sure exactly.”

She apologised and said she knew how difficult it was at the very beginning to know what to say or do regarding it. She assumed that my baby would be due in the new year and that I was only a few months or so into the pregnancy. I didn’t tell her the truth. My stays under my dress were so tight and I couldn’t wait for the two hours to be up so I could come home again and put on my comfortable clothing. I wonder what gave my condition away to her. She has invited me to her house for tea one day next week. I greatly look forward to that.

Mary Ann wore a wonderful dress of black silk with purple stripes which she had a seamstress enlarge by removing the darts in the bodice front and adding an extra strip of fabric under each arm at the side seam. The bodice had large, wide bishop sleeves with turned–up half–cuffs and a deep cap at the shoulder. Both cap and cuffs were trimmed with black silk–covered buttons; the bodice closed in front with hooks and eyes, and it had a very full skirt.

The Mayor’s wife had the most wonderful rose coloured gown. Its features included a double tiered skirt cartridge pleated onto the waistband, and a simply designed bodice coming to a point at center front and closing with hooks and eyes. Decorations included satin piping at neck, arms and bottom, satin lining in the modified pagoda sleeves, bouillon fringe and a Venice lace collar. She is tall and slim and carried it off very well.

July 13th
Charles was very excited about the recent news. He says that Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph met with Napoleon III and both are tired and made poor by the long lasting war. So they signed a preliminary treaty, and hostilities have ceased. Lombardy is ceded to the French and the Austrians keep Venetia and the French promise to restore the Central Italian rulers expelled in the course of the way. So the Austro-Sardinian Was is effectively closed.

July 15th
Charles was very much involved with gardening, but he let it slip that Adelaide was there helping (?) him. He does seem very fond of her.

July 17th
Charles and I took the train to Bromsgrove over the weekend. I had met the Russell’s before as they had come for our wedding, but it was pleasant to have more time to get to know them better. Bromsgrove is a lovely little town.

July 21st
We have had Charles’ great friend Mr. Barnsley from Manchester coming to see us this past week. He is visiting his ailing mother. It was he who arranged our meeting with the Gaskells when we were in Manchester on our honeymoon.

I went into town to do some shopping and then took a cab to Mary Ann’s house which is on Gregory’s Bank, alongside the canal, on the outskirts of town. She is 20 as I nearly am, and so we have such a lot in common. She too just moved here, and she told me all about how Fredrick proposed to her almost before she had properly met him. He had seen her at a friend’s house, and he fell in love with her at first sight which would not be difficult as she is very beautiful with golden hair and sparkling green eyes and very pleasing in her ways. He is somewhat older than she is, and of course very successful. A very shy man, possibly he felt unable to make a start with a normal sort of courtship. She says they are very happy. She showed me around her house, which is large and elegant, and includes a nursery. She told me how they have booked a nurse to take care of the babies and also a wet nurse (she confirmed that the doctor said to expect two due to her size). She told me that she knew that I was expecting not because of my size (although I wore a looser gown today and look much bigger, but somehow since she knows, it doesn’t matter and is so nice to not have to keep up the pretence). She says I carry myself in a certain way and have a warm glow to my skin. She says pregnancy is a very healthy time for women, and she enjoys trying to pick out which women are expecting from a group, and then confronts them, as she did me. She says she is nearly always right. How bold she is.

She says that by mid August, she will be too large to go out walking in the streets. Her husband says it wouldn’t be seemly. And of course, with twins there is always a risk that she might deliver early. So she made me promise that I would come to see her at least once each week so that she won’t be too bored with life. She wants me to be her eyes and her ears for what is going on in Worcester. She does make me laugh.
We had anticipated that I might be going back to York by now, as part of the pretence with Aunt Ann. However, I feel well, and now that I have admitted to being with child, although in a very new stage rather than an advanced one, it seems to me perfectly acceptable to stay in Worcester for the month of August.

July 28th
I had my first visit to the theatre in Worcester tonight. We saw Othello by Act of Parliament which was very humourous. I greatly enjoyed it.

July 30th
I have written another poem. I must admit to feeling homesick as I wrote this.

The Bride

She looked on the vine at her Father’ door,
Like one that is leaving his native shore.
She hung o’re the myrtle once called her own,
As it greenly waves by the threshold stone.

She turned and her mother’s gaze brought back,
Each hue of her childhood’s faded track.
Oh hush the song and let her tears,
Flow to the dreams of her early years.

Holy and pure are the drops that fall,
When the young bride goes from her Father’s hall.
She goes unto love yet untried and new
She parts from love that hath ever been true.

Sweet be the song and the choral strain,
Till her heart’s deep well-spring is clear again.
She’s wept on her mother’s faithful breast,
Like a babe that sobs itself to rest.

She wept yet laid her hand awhile
In his who awaited her dawning smile.
Her soul’s affianced nor cherished less
For the gush of breathless tenderness.

She lifted her graceful head at last,
Then choking spoke of her heart steadfast,
And her lovely thoughts from their cell found way,
In the sudden glow of a jubilant day.

The last line is wrong, but I just can’t think of the right words to make it make sense. My problem is that I don’t want to keep going over old work, but to go on each time and write something new.


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