Consequences - Chapter 5
CHAPTER 5 – Mary’s Journal
The penny royal drink had no effect so I could delay no longer, and with great trepidation, I wrote to Charles last night, stating my fears and asking what we should do. He wrote straight back and said he will come up on Saturday after work, and we must tell Mother and Father about it together. He said he would think what action we should take and we will talk about it more on the weekend. He sounded cold and business like. He didn’t seem to care about the agony I am going through. Perhaps when I see him he will understand and be more sympathetic.
Mother came to talk privately with me today. “Mary, I know that something is wrong.”
I’m afraid I broke down and told her of my dilemma. She was very angry with me. She said “I cannot believe you would be so foolish and disregard everything that you were taught.”
She was so angry with Charles for doing this to me. I let him take the blame. I couldn’t get my courage up enough to admit that I wanted to be with him. He is too much of a gentleman not to marry me when he has lain with me. I expect he has had casual liaisons with loose women in the past. He didn’t tell me, but Mrs. Mayfield says it is very likely he would have done. Mother still thinks Charles, being older and wiser, should have known better. I don’t think she will be very friendly to him now. She says she will tell Father, but agrees that no one else need know.
Mother has softened a bit towards me now. She told Father about it, and he was all for going straight to Worcester and horse-whipping Charles. She calmed him down, and I told them that Charles would be coming up this weekend and we could discuss the situation then.
Charles arrived as planned on Saturday evening, and I was so looking forward to seeing him. As soon as I saw his face, I knew there was a problem. He looked angry. How could he be angry with me, when what we are facing was his doing, as much if not more than mine? He was polite when he greeted my parents, but they treated him with cool disdain; and my Father had to be held back by Mother, so that he and I could have our talk first. We decided to go for a walk to the Palace Gardens to have some privacy for our discussion. I’ve put down our conversation as it actually was, as it keeps swirling around in my head.
“Why didn’t you tell me straight away?” he asked. “Did you douche with vinegar as I told you to? (I nodded.) Well, you must not have done it correctly or soon enough.”
I told him that I hadn’t told him before because I wasn’t sure that I really was pregnant for the first month, and then I needed to talk to another woman, so had gone to see Mrs. Mayfield.
“You told her about our private life? How could you?”
“Well, I thought she would understand, having been pregnant when she wasn’t married, and I knew she would keep our secret.”
“But there is no comparison. She was already living with my uncle for some time before the children arrived and everyone thought they were married – so there was no scandal. But with you, there is no way you can pretend this is anything other than a baby conceived out of wedlock. Do you know how women are judged for doing that? Do you know how your friends and family will look at you from now on? They will judge you as loose and lacking both in character and moral fibre. You will be castigated. I can remember Harriet Mayfield, a distant cousin who came back to Worcester when she was pregnant without a husband. People ignored her. Nobody would sit next to her in church. People crossed the pavement so as not to have to speak to her in the street. She was shunned from all polite society.”
“You talk as if you had nothing to do with it Charles.” I was sobbing by now.
“It is the woman who always takes the brunt. Men are expected to have relations before marriage; it is just the way things are. Good women, moral women are expected to say no. And being pregnant is visible proof to the world of your complicity.”
“Charles, I love you. I did it because I wanted to show you how much I love you. Now you are blaming me, as if you had no part in it at all. How can you do that?”
“Well, first of all, we have to be rational here. Hysteria is not going to help anything. Now, you are definite that you are with child?”
“I’m almost positive now. I haven’t seen or told anyone but Mrs. Mayfield and Mother and Father.”
“I think the best solution is for us to bring the wedding forward. We could get married by a registrar if we get a special license by the end of the month. Then it won’t seem so important if the baby comes a bit early. If we go with our present plan of being married in May, you will already be so big that it will be obvious to one and all what you have been doing.”
“Charles, the way you are talking at the moment, I feel that I don’t even know you. Where is your responsibility for this? Where is your human kindness, or your love, which you say you have for me? I don’t know if I want to marry someone who blames me for his own actions, and treats me with scorn when a problem occurs which relates to both of us. I was expecting you to be upset and worried, but not angry. I thought we could talk together about how we can deal with these problems, which arise from something we did together. You have to see that you are equally culpable in this matter.”
“Well, the first thing we have to do is to talk to your parents. I suggest we do it together after lunch tomorrow, and then we can see how they feel about having the wedding in a few weeks time.”
“How they feel about it? Charles, I think it is our decision – which we should tell them, not let them make for us.”
“Mary, you are just a child, really. You will need your mother at this time. We will need to have your parents on our side. If they agree with our plan, it will make matters so much easier all around.”
So that is where we left it for the time being. Charles went back to his father’s house for the night.