Consequences - Chapter 4
CHAPTER 4 – Mary’s Journal
Charles is starting to look for accommodation for us when we are married. I hope it will be fairly near his relatives, as he works long hours and I will be lonely when we first move there. He says he needs to find somewhere near his office, yet with a bit of garden. At present he is living with Mrs. Griffin, the same landlady he has boarded with for these past eight years. Having room and board from her suited him up till now, and having his Aunt Elizabeth Wilson do his laundry, but soon those will be my jobs. When his cousin CG lived and worked in Worcester, he also lived in that house, but it wouldn’t be suitable for us to be there once we are married. I want a home of my own. I know we won’t be able to afford servants at present, but when we have children, I am sure Charles will insist that I have help. I want to choose my own wall coverings and curtains and furniture. I want to plant my own flowers and vegetables in my garden. I know Charles feels the same. He loves gardening and has rented a plot on the bottom of Rainbow Hill these past seven years to grow vegetables and flowers. He says he will look for a house in the northeast section of the town – where it is hilly and we will have a wonderful view of the countryside. I hope he finds a house on Rainbow Hill or Primrose Hill. They are such lovely names. And although they are almost out of town, they are near enough for him to walk to his office.
It is two months now since I should have seen my friend and it worries me. It’s funny how some people call it Eve’s curse and some call it their visitor; I have always called it having my friend. Now I can understand why it is called that; how I long for the sight of my friend. Charles said it would be all right and I trusted him completely. I don’t always see it every month. Perhaps it is the excitement and worries about the wedding that have made me tense. Please God let that be all.
My brother William came home from work last night with good news. He is to be taken on as a glazier and plumber. Father had hoped he would be interested in taking over the management of the Inn when he retires soon. Father is 63 and feels the strain of the work. He has saved enough for a comfortable life, and he sees no need to work himself to death. Mother will also be pleased when he stops work, but I wonder what Elizabeth will do. She is too shy to get to know a man well enough to interest him in marrying her; perhaps she will meet someone special at our wedding.
Father is asking his friends to see if there is anyone who would be interested in buying the Inn. He will still run it for this year, so I can have my wedding reception here. We will be able to put up the guests from amongst Charles’ family who come up from Worcester. George Ward who owns the White Horse Hotel three doors down, has very kindly said we can put up any extra guests we have with him. We have 10 double rooms for guests and a very large reception room and dining room which will easily take care of those we invite. I have started making a list. Charles has so many friends and relatives and he wants to invite them all. I can easily see us having 70 for the wedding, and the breakfast afterwards, but of course many of those will be local people who won’t need accommodation over night.
Mother and I found a pattern for my wedding dress, and we went into Driffields to pick out the fabric today. It seemed a great deal of money for the dress fabric, but I did want to have it be special. Silk is practical too, with being cool in the summer and warm in the winter. I am to have a taste of white lace too, as I had dreamed I might. The dress will have an almost floor length sheer white lace mantelet with a sweeping scalloped edged attached to a medium blue silk with off the shoulder yoke, and long narrow sleeves. The gown has a very full flowing skirt. The matching straw bonnet which we have already bought cradles the crown of my head and is accessorized with blue silk ribbon ties, white roses, white lace and green foliage. I will make the dress with large seams so that if I grow bigger, as I am bound to in time, it can grow with me. It will do as my very best dress for many years to come. When we took my measurements I noticed that I do seem to be a bit bigger in some areas than I was before and parts of me seem rather sensitive. I feel fine in myself, although perhaps a bit more tired than usual. I am working very hard, which could account for that.
Charles sent me the most wonderful Valentine. He wrote this poem to go with it.
There is a love it halts awhile
A one day flower, no more.
It opens in the sunshine of a smile
And shuts when storms come o’er.
There is a love it even hath
A shrub that’s always green.
It blossoms in the stormy blast
And decks the winter scene.
A shape, an eye and well trimmed foot
May give the first its birth.
This flower has but little root
And asks but little earth.
Tho’ sandy soil true love must find
It’s joyous to control.
It roots itself upon the mind
And sinks into the soul.
It shows how much he loves me and can’t wait for us to be together all the time.
I felt rather ill this morning, and think I might be coming down with a cold. I must make sure I take some lemon and honey drink, which is the best way to ward off winter illnesses.
I have sent Charles some Valentine gingerbread life cakes shaped in the form of hearts to demonstrate my love. It is an easy recipe which I found in The English Woman’s Journal. Since we leave the magazines out for our customers, I will copy it down here. He is very fond of ginger cakes.
Beat 3 eggs in half pint of cream; stir in a saucepan till warm; add butter, 1 lb; loaf sugar, ½ lb; ginger, 2 ½ oz. Stir these ingredients over the fire to melt and mix; make into a good paste with 2 lbs of flour; roll out, cut into hearts half an inch thick. Lay on papers, and bake in a hot oven.
Charles was very pleased to receive my love biscuits and reported them very delicious. He also sent me some very sad news. Mrs. Eliza Acton died on February 13, aged just 60. I so love her poetry and have tried some of her receipts. Her receipt book is like a bible in our kitchen.
I was very ill this morning and felt very poorly. Once my stomach was emptied, I felt better, but rather weak and tired. I have missed my friend again this month and I almost dare not think of what that means. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to tell Mother as she would be angry and call me all sorts of names. But I feel the need of talking to someone about this. I had the idea that perhaps Charles’ Aunt Ann Mayfield might be someone I could confide in. She knows how important it would be to keep my revelations quiet, and she might be able to give me some advice about how to make it all go away. I so do not want it to be true. Not saying the word doesn’t make it go away. Please God, I do not want to be in a delicate condition; I do not want to be in the family way; I do not want to be pregnant. Lots of women have early miscarriages – and if that happened to me, I would be so grateful. I only wish I knew how to bring it on. I don’t want to tell Charles yet, because if it goes away, he doesn’t need to know. I have heard that there are things you can do to get rid of it, and yet I know that it is both illegal and considered immoral. But so is lying with someone before you are married, so I am just exchanging one sin for another.
Yesterday after church I made the excuse that I wanted to consult with Mrs. Mayfield about Emily’s flower girl’s dress and Mother was busy with other things so was pleased when I said I was happy to go on my own. Once there, I asked Mrs. Mayfield if I could see her privately. She could sense my distress, and arranged for the children to go next door to play with friends. I told her my suspicions and she said that it was most likely that I am in truth pregnant. Having sensitive swollen breasts, having missed my menses for two months, having been sick most mornings for the last two weeks, she said these were the usual and almost inevitable signs of pregnancy. She says that if my menses are obstructed, a good test is to take a penny royal infusion each night before bed, and that should stimulate bleeding, unless in fact it is a pregnancy. She said she would help me in any way she could, but that it was important that I tell Charles as soon as possible. I dread doing that; what will he think of me? He will blame me for not having douched properly. He will hate the stigma and having everyone know our private business. I asked Mrs. Mayfield if there was any way I could get rid of it, and she looked shocked. “You must not even think like that,” she said. “Those who get rid of unwanted babies as often as not get rid of the mothers at the same time.”
She said that she remembered how worried she felt when she first discovered she was pregnant – but that Uncle Henry had been very supportive of her, and they had had a wedding ceremony (which wasn’t really a true one of course) and that he did all he could to save her reputation. She was sure Charles would do the same. I said that I had heard about horse riding and having gin and then a very hot bath could bring on a baby early. She said she thought the likelihood was that this baby would leave me only with a very severe accident whilst riding; she didn’t want me to risk that. Gin I could get quite easily, as we have a bar in the Inn and I could take a bottle without anyone noticing, but as far as hot baths go, how could one do that in a house like ours without it being noticed. Hot water has to be heated on the range, and even when we get the tin bath out, by the time it comes to me, the water is scarcely warm.
Mrs. Mayfield did make several suggestions. She said I should try to make myself look bigger than I am now, straight away, rather than waiting for the baby to do it for me. If I let out the seams of my gowns, and put in gussets, which I can then cover with braid or lace, people will become accustomed to seeing me looking big, and not notice the change when it comes for real. She also suggested something that I would never have thought of. She said I should actually eat less which isn’t hard now that I feel sick; she says the sickness will soon go away. If I lose weight from my own body, while the baby is putting on weight on its body, one will balance the other. She says the baby will not suffer as long as I have good food, but less of it. I was so pleased I had gone to see her; I will now take her advice and tell Charles.