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Felicia: her thoughts as she contemplates retrieving her lost daughter

In Chapter 15, Anthony, Lord Kendall, calls upon Felicia to inform her that he believes her long-lost daughter may be at the Foundling Hospital. She and her maid Maris, a loyal friend from their days at the Pleasure House, reflect on the possibility that the much-anticipated reunion may take place that very day!

The Foundling Restored to Its Mother

Felicia [eyes glowing]: Oh Maris, can this really be happening? I’ve dreamed of this moment for ever, but always in the end believing it to be impossible. [Swallowing] If she had found a suitable home, where she would be nurtured and loved, I should, of course, have been glad for her and refrained from interfering. But I had to know!

Maris [tugging a brush through Felicia’s thick, curly locks]: ‘Twas ol’ Beazley that stole ‘er from ya, may she rot in ‘ell. And tol’ ya she was dead, besides. Witch!

Felicia [nostrils flaring]: I can’t tell you how that troubled my thoughts, dear Maris, worrying over in what manner such a woman might dispose of my child, and all of them so very disheartening.

Maris: As bad as that was, ’twas better than thinkin’ ‘er dead. Gave ya somethin’ ta live fer.

Felicia [clasping Maris’s hands in hers]: It did indeed. I shall always be grateful to you for reminding me of that fact at a time when the world was black and I had no hope.

Maris [tearfully]: No need, miss. ‘Twas out of selfishness, not wantin’ ta lose the only friend I had.

Felicia [turning and giving Maris a quick kiss on the cheek]: We have been through a lot together, have we not? I could not have made it through all those months at the whorehouse without you reminding me of my responsibility to my child. I should never have met and loved Charles, God rest his generous soul, and never have obtained the means to support myself respectably.

Maris [with a secret smile]: Or met Mr. Jamison, er, Lord Kendall ‘e is now, who seemed that eager ta find yer daughter fer ya, miss.

Felicia [flushing]: Don’t tease, Maris. There can be nothing between us. He is very kind, that is all.

Maris [snorting]: Kind? Kind, you say? Ye’ve called ‘im a jackass more ‘n once, and so ‘e was too!

Felicia [tugging at her neckline]: Yes, well, perhaps he was rather disagreeable in the beginning, but it had to be a bit of a shock to discover that his uncle left half of his fortune to his mistress. I’m inclined to forgive him for all that, especially now that he has sought to reunite me with my daughter. [Rises from the chair.] Cynthia. Oh Maris, she is three years old already and her name is Cynthia! How will I ever explain how I lost her?

Maris: Jis’ like that. She was lost and ya found ‘er.

Felicia: Or Anthony did. How can I ever thank him? [Maris chuckles.] No, no, not that way. Never again that way! I shall ever after be a respectable lady, for myself first, and also for my daughter. Cynthia. She shall have everything I can give her, that I never had myself.

Maris: A father?

Felicia [turning pale]: No, but a doting mother will surely be enough. We shall be very happy, just the two of us. And you, of course, Maris. We shall find a house in the country, near a village, with children and cows and fresh air.

Maris: And Anthony?

Felicia [folding her arms across her chest]: What about him? Anthony will go on with his life, take his seat in Parliament, marry some noble young lady with whom he will have a passel of children, and become a bastion of London society. He and I will never cross paths again. And that is the way it should be.

Maris: If you say so, miss.

Felicia: I do say so. [Looks toward the window.] Is that a carriage, Maris? Where is my bonnet? Oh Maris, I’m going to be a mother! Do you think she’ll like me? What if…? If she’s been abominably treated, I shall never forgive myself. Has Mrs. Grey finished preparing the nursery, do you think?

Find out what happens when Felicia and Anthony visit the Foundling Hospital in an attempt to retrieve her daughter in the next installment of Susana’s Resilience, on wattpad.

 

Resilience: Moving House and an Unexpected Visitor

After a flurry of activity, Felicia, her daughter, and Maris arrived at Brook Street on the appointed day. As the house was to be sold soon, only a handful of servants remained to wait on them, the others having found positions elsewhere. Having assumed a new identity, Felicia could not offer them positions in her new home and risk someone letting slip a hint of her scandalous past. Maris, however, shared a long history with her mistress, and her loyalty to Felicia was unquestionable.

***

Being required to assist in conveying the luggage, neither John, the coachman, nor Richards, the armed footman,  remarked the presence of the small tattered boy huddled behind the street lamp, his discerning eyes focused with interest on the new arrivals. This development would be worth a coin or two when relayed to the folks at the Pleasure House. He remained in his position until long after the coachman had driven the rig around the back to the stable area, observing that although no other activity appeared to be taking place there, the heavyset footman with a bulge in his pocket that could have been a pistol maintained constant vigilance over the house’s entrance from the parlor window, relaxing his duties only for a few minutes while he accepted a cup of tea from another servant. As darkness came and the house appeared to be settled for the night, the boy left his post, visions of jingling coins occupying his thoughts.

***

The next few days were busy ones indeed, as Felicia and the few remaining servants were engrossed in packing up the contents of the house to be either sold or conveyed to Weldon Park. Felicia had her hands full with Cynthia, as well, since it had been decided to leave the nursemaid behind and there were no servants to spare for minding the child. It was actually a blessing, she thought, as she finished doing up the buttons on the pretty pink frock and took a brush to her daughter’s unruly reddish blonde curls. There was far too much to do to allow for painful thoughts, such as bidding a final farewell to Charles and their life together, and also, she realized in surprise, disappointment that Anthony had failed to call on them since their arrival.

Nor had he been present at her meeting with the solicitor, who had discussed the sale of the house and presented her with several documents to sign, remarking that Lord Kendall had overseen the entire process personally, and that all that was necessary was Felicia’s approval.

Personally? thought Felicia. Not hardly, since she hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him since their arrival. Well, why should he, she argued with herself? He was a Lord of the Realm who—if the Pendergast chits were correct—was much too occupied in courting a wife to be bothered with one such as her. In any case, once wed, his wife would see to it that any friendship between them was severed, so it was well and good to put some distance between them now. Or so she told herself.

“Ouch!” complained Cynthia. “Mama, you’re hurting me!”

Instantly contrite, Felicia hugged her daughter. “I’m sorry, poppet. I’m hopeless with hair. But Maris is occupied with the linens at present, so you’ll have to make do with me instead. I shall try to be a bit more gentle.”

She had noticed before that Cynthia’s hair, although with a tinge of strawberry, was as lush and curly blonde as her own. Felicia had always struggled to keep hers tamed, and it seemed her daughter would be fated to do so as well. She did wonder where the red had come from, as Cynthia’s natural father had been very fair. But she had never seen his parents, or, for that matter, her own natural parents. No doubt some ancestor up the line had been red-headed.

As she turned her daughter loose in the nursery to play with her dolls, Felicia started down the stairs and halted suddenly when she saw a stranger on the landing, a middle-aged lady dressed in finery from head to toe, wearing a dashing pelisse of peacock blue, in the process of removing a stylish bonnet of matching hue, to reveal a head of abundant strawberry blonde locks that appeared to be an exact match to Cynthia’s.

A maid rushed in and took the new arrival’s hat and pelisse, apologizing when she saw Felicia. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Hammond, but we’re so short-handed there weren’t nobody ter send fer ye ter say that Lady Middlemarch has come ter call.”

Lady Middlemarch looked up at Felicia with bright eyes that looked suspiciously like tears. “I’m sorry to have come at an inconvenient time, Mrs. Hammond. Perhaps I should come back at another time?”

“Oh no, of course not,” Felicia insisted. “Please come and sit in the parlor.” Turning to the maid, she asked, “Kate, do you think you could manage to bring us some tea?” At the maid’s curtsy of assent, she turned to her unexpected guest.

“I apologize that I am unable to offer you anything more, Lady Middlemarch, but as you see, we are in the process of packing up the house and we are in a state of upheaval at present.”

“Yes,” said the older woman, “I-I-I understand that you are removing to the country.” Her blatant stare unnerved Felicia.

As they sat facing one another, Felicia was struck by the woman’s resemblance to herself and her daughter: the thick, curly hair, the clear blue eyes, the pert nose, the pale skin. What could she think but that this elegant lady might be… no, of course not.

Breaking the silence, she began. “Lady Middlemarch…”

“Mrs. Hammond,” began the other woman at the same moment, wringing her hands nervously. “Mrs. Hammond, I think you must comprehend by our resemblance that I—” she paused, “—that I am your mother. Your natural mother, that is.” And then she broke down into uncontrollable weeping as an astonished Kate carried in the tea tray.

Resilience is the story of a prostitute and demimondaine who escapes to the peace and respectability of country life with her young daughter.

I wrote this story in 2010 during my “summer of practice retirement” where I wanted to prove to myself I could become a productive writer and not a coach potato. I got so into the story that I had dreams about it and got up at 4 a.m. (once school started) to write them down.

It’s been languishing in my pile of unfinished manuscripts, but I was just thinking the other day that it might be time to resurrect it. So that’s what I’m doing on Wattpad. You can read more here.

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