September 1, 1815
Dear Miss Tibbets,
The captain has received another missive from the duke which seems to have exercised a powerful effect on his mind and sensibility. He seems to have redoubled his efforts to strengthen his arm and has been working dutifully with the tenants on the estate to bring things into good order.
Do you know of what the duke wrote?
September 10, 1815
While I cannot admit to being in the duke’s confidence, I wonder if he did not inform the captain that Miss Abbingdon had refused the offer of marriage she received. It is encouraging, do you not think, that he has used such news as a motivation to improve the state of not only Witcombe, but also his own physical capabilities? Perhaps he is working to make himself a worthy prospect?
If only we could let him know that Miss Anastasia has never doubted his worth, never questioned it for a moment.
However, such efforts toward self-improvement should not be halted. It has a salutary effect I believe on us all.
With great hope,
September 26, 1815
My dearest, dearest Tasha,
Dr. Reynolds, Justin, asked permission from my father to ask for my hand in marriage and father granted it! He then asked if I might take a stroll with him in the garden. He was no longer the shy and diffident man he usually shows himself to be. Rather, he took my hand firmly and turned me to face him, putting his finger under my chin he asked me to share the rest of his life with him. I am the happiest of women.
Father told me it is because of Mr. Rensalaer that he realized it is more important to be happy than to be concerned about the ideas of society. Do you know what that can have meant? I would have guessed your Mr. Rensalaer, making decisions based upon quite the opposite point of view, would have been more likely to have counseled father to not allow me to marry beneath my station. Not that Justin is inferior in any way. He is everything that is kind and upstanding, and how my heart beats when he is near!
Expect an invitation to a betrothal ball. Mother says we should plan it for sometime this autumn so there is still fine weather to be expected and travel for the guests won’t be too much of a hardship. Surely the duchess will allow you to come to celebrate with me and to meet my lovely doctor?
Your friend, who feels as if she has wings,
October 3, 1815
Your happiness must have leant wings to your letter, it reached me so quickly. I cannot tell you how thrilled and excited I am for you to get your wish. You had told me you would be engaged before the end of September and indeed you were exactly right. I will look forward with great anticipation to the invitation to your betrothal ball.
I know the duchess will be thrilled to get me off her hands for a short time. I fear I have become a sad trial to her, refusing each new offer that some gentleman or other makes for me. She and the duke are making preparations to travel to their country seat. Tibby and I can plan to stay with you for however long you can stand us, and then from there we will travel to be with them.
I have written letter after letter to Sinjin these past weeks. Of course I’ve not sent a single one, consigning them instead to the fire. He needs to be brought to his senses and while his visit to your family, from all reports, did him some good, I am not sure if it has shaken his resolve to never contact me again. I must admit to being at somewhat of a standstill. I thought for sure that preserving my silence would give him a taste of what it would be like to have me out of his life, but perhaps that was naïve and I have placed more importance on my communications with him these many years than they have actually held.
Well, I have much to consider during these upcoming months away from town and I do look forward to being in the country once more. But most especially and with excitement I can feel daily, do I anticipate being with you in person and coming to know you through more than the written word.
Waiting with impatience for your invitation,
October 5, 1815
Dear Miss Tibbets,
The captain continues to work as a man possessed to bring all the environment here at Witcombe up to snuff. I cannot believe the single minded determination he is displaying as he works the land with his tenants, gaining strength as he wields a scythe of all things during harvest. He has become positively brown from time spent in the sun and his smile is ready, even more so than when I first met him as such a young man just having bought his commission.
I feel there is only one interpretation I can put on these events.
October 16, 1815
My Lady, the Duchess of Wentworth,
I am writing to cordially invite your ward, Miss Anastasia Abbingdon to Burton Park to help my daughter, Delia, celebrate her betrothal to Dr. Justin Reynolds. We will be holding a ball on October 24th, and Miss Abbingdon is welcome to stay for as long as she might prefer both prior to and after the happy event. There will be only a few other family relations and friends who will be staying with us, so we have plenty of room to keep Miss Abbingdon at the park.
We wait with happy anticipation the permission from you and the duke to have Miss Abbingdon join us and stay for some weeks.
Lady Margaret Ware
October 16, 1815
I am writing to inform you that our dearest Delia has accepted the proposal of Dr. Justin Reynolds and will be married before the year is out. We are hosting a betrothal ball for the happy couple on October 24th and so are inviting you to come and stay with us as soon as you may and for as long as you wish.
We will be hosting only a few family and friends at the park for the event, so there will be plenty of room for yourself and your man. Please do say you will come. I know you are not in the habit of being in society much, but only a small event is planned with no more than thirty couples to stand up to dance.
Delia would consider it a great favor to her for you to attend, almost as if Richard were in attendance to help her celebrate her happiness.
Just a quick note letting us know when to expect you will suffice as an answer, dear boy,
With greatest affection,
October 19, 1815
My Lord Duke,
I know it is presumptuous of me to invite myself to come to Cambridgeshire and the Priory. However as you read on you will hopefully excuse such pretention.
It is with humble supplication I write you to ask for the hand of Miss Anastasia Abbingdon’s hand in marriage. I know I am not even close to the most noble of the aspirants to her hand, however I am the most in love. I have worked for the past months tirelessly to prove myself worthy of her, and while I know I do not come close to such woth, do know that I will never cease my efforts for as many years as God sees fit to grant me.
I have been a fool and allowed my pride to be my guide when instead I should have listened to my heart. I have wasted months in self-imposed misery. Please expect me only days after you receive this missive for I am not awaiting your answer, but beginning the journey as soon as may be.