Extract from ‘Diary of Margery Blake’
My mother confided in me after dinner this evening that Captain John Harrison of the 4th Queen’s own Regiment of Light Dragoons would be dining with us tomorrow evening, and it is hoped by both of our parents that he approaches father afterwards.
I confess, my mouth was open. I formed the words of disdain in my head, but they never left my mind. I quickly closed my mouth and turned away to allow Betsy, my maid to help me remove my dress. I barely listened to my mother’s excited chatter about weddings and bridal gowns and whom to invite; it meant nothing to me. This would be their wedding, not mine.
I am merely a pawn, nothing more. I am a daughter to marry off into another prominent family which would in turn relieve my father of the burden of paying for my upkeep. It seemed eighteen years was long enough to live under his roof, and if all went to their plan, I would be away on my honeymoon before my nineteenth birthday. Wed and a woman in the true sense.
The Harrisons have been family friends for years, though I barely knew them. My father and Sir George had gone to war together, fighting in the same regiment and returning in one piece, before I was born. Whatever they had endured, had made them friends for life, though father rarely spoke of his past adventures abroad’ as he called it. John, Sir George’s youngest son has followed his father’s example and fought in the Afghan war which he called ‘The Auckland Folly’ for some dreary reason I don’t care to know. Having survived with only a few scrapes, he made Captain of his regiment.
His brother Richard, three years older, is something to do with finances though in truth, I care very little. He has been married these last five years to Anne, his second wife. His first died in childbirth eight years before. I don’t remember her well. Long dark hair and mournful eyes, but I was a child, running around the gardens, taking little notice of our guests.
Thankfully, we barely see Richard, or his wife, to which I must admit to some relief. Richard makes me feel all the more uncomfortable than Captain John. I’ll catch him staring at me with a strange smile on his face. He has no moustache to hide his full lips, mores’ the pity. Whenever we have the misfortune to meet at parties or dinners, I find him false, as if he is playing some secret part in a play, and we are his characters, though we have no idea of his folly.
Captain John is always courteous to me but he is nothing to me. I feel little, if anything towards him when he calls. I feel nothing when he leaves. I exchange conversation with him, but never on any intimate terms, and never alone. He remains a gentleman throughout and has never expressed his affection to me; of that I am glad. Still, my heart remains beating the same and I experience no fluttering in my stomach or lady parts – (I check that my door is firmly closed after I write such lewd words) but it is true.
My older sister Katherine, married three years and already carrying her second child, confided in me when Sir David Edgeworthy courted her that she’d felt a strange sensation in her unspeakable and wondered what it meant. After her wedding, we’d spoken briefly on the subject whilst giggling into our cups of tea one sunny afternoon.
“I believe it’s my womanhood telling me that I’m in love and David is the right man for me.”
I blushed, a deep red, and hid my face behind my cup but still felt a strong urge to hear more on such a forbidden subject. “Do you still feel this sensation … down there …?” I’d asked meekly.
Katherine, all grown up and married less than a month had merely smiled, nodded and clamped her mouth firmly shut, as David walked in from his shooting party.