Bonus Chapter

Spring was back again …

“Oh, there, there, my sweet little peapod,” Amelia’s mother cooed as she rocked a crying baby in the nursery.

“It’s good that I now have two mothers,” Amelia laughed as she entered the nursery. Also in the room there was the Dowager Countess who was rocking her other baby, even though he was peacefully asleep.

“Ruby and I have breakfast together every morning, nice and early," her mother informed her. "Then we can be here for when Felicity wakes our grandchildren.”

“Then it is also good that I had twins, one for each of you. Otherwise, you might be squabbling on who has the longest cuddle,” Amelia replied, taking her noisy daughter from her mother’s arms. “I’ll nurse Amy first, Mother, seeing as she’s awake.

“Then you can give her back to me. I want to help Florence bathe her,” her mother said, not wanting to miss out on anything as far as her grandchildren were concerned. “It was a blessing indeed that we had two additions to our family at once, and many more to come, I hope.”

“We shall see, Mother,” Amelia said, not committing herself to any future additions to her young family yet.

“Your mother is quite right, Amelia dear," the Dowager Countess added. "We need to build the two families into one big happy one. The more the merrier we both say.”

Amelia didn’t have the chance to reply as a sleepy Florence walked into the room.

“Gracious me, I was up all night with little Amy,” Florence said, yawning. “I can see a little tooth growing in there, I am sure.”

“Well, she’s nursing fine,” Amelia informed them all as she sat feeding her daughter in a large, rocking chair. “I’m going to need you to wake up Alfie,” she said to her mother-in-law. Dowager Countess looked disappointed that the baby in her arms had to be disturbed.

“Do you hear that little Alfred? they’re going to make me wake you up,” the Dowager Countess mumbled to him as his tiny fingers grasped one of her larger fingers. “Is he pulling a face? Oh, yes he is,” she continued with her cooing until the tiny babe let out an almighty sound.

“It seems to me like that one might need changing,” Florence said, taking Alfie from his grandmother.

“Yes, but we would both like to bathe them,” the Dowager Countess insisted as her grandson was taken from her arms.

“And choose their outfits too,” Amelia’s mother chimed in.

Over the next half hour, Amelia managed to nurse both babies, taking time to stare into their cute little faces. As she was finishing, Florence took Alfie from her for his bath with his sister and two grandmothers in tow.

“I’ve done my part for now,” Amelia said as she headed towards the door. “There are far too many mothers around here, so I will leave you all to it. I’m going to have breakfast with my husband.”

“How lovely, dear, off you go then,” her mother said, brushing her out of the nursery with a wave of her arm.

“Can you bring them down to the lake, once the morning routine is finished Florence?” she asked her nanny.

“So long as you don’t mind all of us coming along, milady,” Florence huffed.

“We will see you down there, fear not,” her mother confirmed.

“Well, I would have preferred a quiet time alone with my husband and children, but you are all most welcome on this beautiful morning.”

With that Amelia left the nursery. She was well aware that the only time she got her children alone was when she nursed them. And the last thing at night when both grandmothers had gone to settle in their beds much earlier than the twins.

She wandered out of the Beconhill Manor house and headed towards the lake. There, she would find her handsome husband who would be awaiting her arrival before he started eating breakfast.

As she arrived at the picnic spot where they chose to have breakfast on warm mornings, she sat in a chair set up by a small garden table.

“I am so happy that spring has arrived at last,” Amelia said as she closed her eyes and listened to the serenading sounds of birds. Feeling the warmth of the sun on her face was so very soothing.

“Yes, breakfast by the lake was a jolly good idea,” Jack agreed, smiling. “We should do this more often now that the weather has turned. Why don’t we bring our painting pallets and easels with us too? You can start to paint the swans again.”

“Hmmm…you know me so well, husband. I do like the sound of that,” Amelia hummed her agreement but did pry open her eyes, for she was enjoying the moment of peace and tranquility.

Her new marriage was everything that she had hoped it would be. Amelia and Jack had spent so much time together that she knew she would pine for him if they were ever to part. To escape the cold British season, they had wintered abroad. Italy had been her favorite destination, and she could not wait for next winter when they planned to return there.

For the summer they intended on living in London for a few months so that Jack could pursue his interest in politics. Jack’s sister was to join them too. That way, Amelia, Alexandra, and Florence could all enjoy everything that high society had to offer them. With the visiting of every art gallery and picture house, right at the top of the agenda.

“I am sorry to bother you, m’lady,” a deep voice rumbled as Peter, the house butler, shaded out the heat of the sun while he leaned over her. “There is a letter addressed to you.”

Amelia opened her eyes to see Peter holding out a small silver tray with a single letter in its center.

“Oh! For me?” she questioned, sitting up and gathering her thoughts. “Well…that makes a pleasant change,” she said, looking over at Jack. “Since I have become a married woman, I have received so little correspondence. Everyone prefers to write to you.”

She smiled to thank Peter, who turned to leave once he had delivered the letter.

“That’s not quite true,” Jack remarked. “You do plenty of letter writing to all your lady friends. I could never think up enough gossip to keep them all content. They would find my letter writing quite boring.”

“Oh, I do not gossip with them,” Amelia retorted at the joke. "Mind you that's quite true, all your correspondence is most likely quite boring business letter writing."

After turning the letter in her hand over and over to try and recognize the seal, she finally decided to break it. She could wait no longer to see where such an important-looking letter had come from. As she began to read the words, she gasped, holding her breath in as she remained quiet to read the letter a second time.

“I don’t believe it!” Amelia called out, not taking her eyes from the letter.

“What, my love? What has got you in such a flurry?” Jack asked, sitting up straight to take note at what had his wife looking so flushed.

“I have been invited to submit artwork for a famous London gallery,” she informed him.

“Does that mean that I am married to a famous artist?” Jack laughed. “Though it is no surprise if you ask me.”

Amelia nodded her head in excitement. "A famous ‘female’ artist, no less," she sang out. “They want to do an article on me for a newspaper. Oh, Jack, this is my step to fame, at long last, I will be officially recognized as a serious artist.”

“And it’s about time too,” Jack said, pleased to see his wife so happy. “And I will stand by your side with the greatest of pride.”

They both stood up to embrace one another, as Amelia wafted her letter around in the air. As her husband released her, she began to dance around the chairs in her exuberance. Unable to calm herself, she waved over to Alexandra who was heading towards them.

“What is it, Amelia? What has you making such a spectacle of yourself?” Alexandra asked as she joined them by the lake.

“My wife is the latest female artist to display her artwork in a respected London gallery,” Jack informed his sister because Emily was far too giddy. He then watched on with amusement as Alexandra joined in with Amelia's joyous celebration dance.

“And an article in the Observer newspaper, no less,” Amelia added.

“Oh…London will be so much more fun this summer,” Alexandra announced. “I will have a famous sister by my side. I must go spread the word,” she called out, kissing Amelia and then her brother’s cheek before skipping off.

“Well done, Amelia,” Jack said, taking his wife in his arms once again. “Don’t forget that you still have a doting husband, in all your newfound fame.”

“Never,” Amelia whispered as they kissed to the trumpeting sound of the swans that landed on the lake with a splash. “Here they come,” she said, turning to watch the most graceful of birds slapping their feet as they landed. “They’ve arrived back at the lake for the spring, readying to mate. Oh, how perfect, Jack. How very perfect my life is with you.”

Jack stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her body. Together, they watched the swans arriving. The cobs were already paired up with their pens, as they mated for life. For better or worse, the happy couples were returning to their summer home. There, they would raise their families in the secure embrace of the Beconhill Estate. The home of Earl and Countess of Montmorland, soon to be a politician and a famous artist.

The End

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