Monday, August 2, 2010

Pandora Visits James' Mother

James' mother's home as it looks today.
When we last saw Pandora, she was stealing away from her home at dawn. Her parents had forbidden her engagement to James, but Dora had inherited her grandmother's spirit, and she wasn't about to be told what to do!  She had several weeks before her ship was due to leave port, however - where would she go?

We couldn't resist finding out, so we've given you this excerpt from her journal so you can see too...

I truly didn't know where to go when I first walked out of the house that morning.  After a little bit of thought, I said to myself "Why, I'll just go and see James' mother before I have to decide",  and I set off to Mayfair.  Now, if you know London, you know my neighborhood in Covent Garden on Bow Street is just two miles from my future mother-in-law's home...but it is as if I'd entered another world.  50 Berkeley Square is a quiet, genteel estate, standing grandly over a park.  

Berkeley Square today
When the hackney drew up to the door, I began to think better of this idea.  Why, my word - it was nothing like a respectable hour to be calling on anyone, let alone someone whose good opinion I fervently sought.  I sat in the carriage as if frozen until the driver cleared his throat.  No doubt, he wondered if he'd managed to pick up a lunatic at such an early hour... 

I shook myself from my reverie and alighted.  Paying the driver, I realized just how hasty had been my planning - I had precious little money, and I could easily have walked the two miles.  But not with my trunk!  No, I'd had no choice but to leave, and to seek transport for myself and my belongings.  My passage to America is paid, and I'll have little need for money until I reach Boston, where I'll be met by James and then all my troubles will be behind me.

Feeling very much better, I climbed the stairs to the grand home and rang the bell.  The door was opened almost immediately by a parlourmaid who looked very much like she had gotten dressed in a big hurry.  No doubt, she'd heard the carriage, looked out and saw that her services would be needed.  I was thankful that I didn't have to ring the bell many times.  I told her I was here to see James' mama, and she looked so surprised that anyone would come calling at such an hour.  But she was very well trained, and simply stood aside and asked me to come in.  She seated me in the morning room, and lit the fire she'd probably laid yesterday in preparation for this morning.  A footman appeared as if from nowhere and brought my trunk inside, leaving it in the downstairs hall until he could find out where to take it.  The parlourmaid asked if I would mind waiting whilst she informed her mistress of my arrival, and as she was leaving the room, another maid brought in tea and toast, which she set before me.  I was so grateful for the warmth of that cup of tea! 

After about three quarters of an hour, James' mama appeared, looking very sophisticated in her morning dress and acted as if she entertained guests at 7 a.m. every day!  She called for breakfast to be brought to us in the morning room, and so kindly said "Now, my dear, whilst we wait for our breakfast, do tell me what brings you out so early in the morning."  If she had looked at my trunk in askance, I did not know it - she was all charm and welcoming grace.  I hope I will be as great a lady as she some day...

It was difficult for me to talk at first, as I was so ashamed of my parents and how they had reacted to my engagement.  I didn't know how to tell my story without letting it slip that my parents really did not understand... anything!  Very quickly, James' mama sized up the situation and said "Oh, but of course - this is the last I will see of you for some time, so you have so generously come to spend some time with me before you leave on your long journey!  You are so thoughtful my dear, and I am so grateful to your parents for allowing me to have this time, when I'm sure they will be missing you so."  I wasn't sure, but I was very thankful for Mama's (she's asked me to call her Mama, can you imagine?) tact and generosity.  My admiration for her grows minute by minute!

After breakfast, Mama had the parlourmaid who found me on the doorstep take me upstairs to show me my rooms.  It's lovely here - I have a bedroom AND a sitting room to myself if I want some privacy, but everyone has been so kind, and I feel very much like one of the family.  I have so loved getting to know Mama better, and she has told me so much about James as a child.  I am very fortunate.

She even gave me a wonderful keepsake - a miniature portrait she'd had commissioned of James when he was ten years old. 

We found this miniature wrapped carefully and placed in a secret compartment in Pandora's Writing Box
As you can see from it, he already knew he wanted to go to sea!  Of course, he comes from a very long line of Sea Captains.  Many years before, his great, great grandfather had been a second son, and realized that he must make his own way in the world.  He set off to sea as a very young man, seeking only adventure.  He got on very well, and was captain before he was 35 years old!  His fortune was made a few years later as trade had begun to pick up and there was a substantial living to be made by importing exotic goods to England.  He did very well, indeed, and married at the age of 50, having made enough money to retire from the sea and establish a fine home.  His only son followed in his footsteps and went off to sea very early too.  He also did very well for himself, and so it has gone down the line of James' forebears.  His father was a very well-known seaman, who had been lost at sea during a storm when James was very young.  This did nothing to quell his desire to travel the world, and he set out for America just a month ago.  I am to meet him there and we'll be married the very day I arrive!

My time here is almost over - it has slipped away so very quickly!  But I am very much looking forward to my voyage across the sea.  Whilst I do have some trepidation, I am also very impatient for my adventure to begin!

And so we will watch for Pandora's next installment, when we will see just how she fares on the open seas...

1 comment:

  1. Lovely story.
    Invented or just could have happened like that.

    But i still don't know what happened to James. I'll have to wait patiently.


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