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Started by Welsh Wench, March 24, 2009, 08:32:18 PM

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Welsh Wench


©2009 by the respective author. All Rights Reserved.

21 January 1641

I am in shock. I have just come from the solicitor of the estate for Byron. They did not waste any time. I was surprised that Sir Jacob Morley was asked to be present. The reason became all too clear to me. Byron left an estate and all the lands all the way to the meadowlands of Lord Hamilton. Or so I thought. Byron had been distant and silent these past three weeks. I thought it had been due to the pneumonia that finally claimed his life. To my devastation, I had found that Byron, being caught up in a game of chance and cards, had wagered our very home on a turn of the cards. He laid the title of the estate and every bit of property on the gambling table and had lost the family manor that had been in the Fitzhugh property since the Domesday book. To my chagrin, the holder of the winning hand was Sir Jacob Morley, old Vinegar Veins himself. I must say, I have never seen the man smile. I am given the period of six months to find lodging elsewhere. Where shall I go? Back home to Somersetshire?

10 February 1641

Today would have been the fourth anniversary of the day Byron and I were wed. Going through his papers, I have found that the estate was deep in debt. The beautiful dresses that Byron had bought me from Paris....the fine wines from Madrid....the woolens from Northern Scotland....all paid with credit against the estate. Byron had not made good on any of his debts in over a year. My father had warned me about Byron. A dreamer and a charmer, he said. Did I listen? No. I was a young girl in love. Yes, it was flattering to have an older man interested in me. Byron was so wise in the ways of the world. After all, he was thirty. Would I have listened if my brother John had advised me? Who can say? I miss him and Daniel. How I should have loved to talk to them once more.

3 March 1641

Sir Jacob Morley came over today for an inventory of the estate. He went through everything, including my clothing. I must admit, it was disconcerting having him touch my frocks and ballgowns. I grew indignant when he opened my personal drawer. 'Sir Morley, just because you are rendering an account of the estate does not give you the right to paw through my personal items. I shall thank you very much to leave me my dignity.'
He said nothing but his face grew mottled and he closed the drawer. I shall not tolerate this. The items belong to me and I am not part of this estate. A fine day to do this, too. It would have been Byron's thirty-fourth birthday.
I really have no desire to return to my parents' estate in Somersetshire. To have the entire shire know that Cecily Gwinnett has been reduced to a pauper state. I should seriously consider emigrating to the Colonies. Perhaps I shall start anew with my twin brothers John and Daniel. I have not laid eyes on them since I was seven. They left England for the Colonies to seek their fortune fourteen years ago. Mother does get the occasional letter from John. She says Daniel is lax in writing. Father says it is to be expected. Shall I leave England for an adventure?

12 April 1641

Spring is now here. I walked down to the graveyard and planted daffodils over Byron's grave. It is strange--he has been gone these past three months and yet it seems like yesterday. Then some days it seems like an eternity. So much about him I did not know. The extent of the gambling. The non-payment of debts incurred. Extravagant spending. Had I known, could I have changed him? I shall think I WILL go to the Colonies. John was always sensible, Daniel was reckless. I miss them terribly. Mother will be beside herself but I see nothing for me here in England. I shall write the necessary letters to John. Daniel will be overjoyed, we were so close but as far as being practical, John is the one to help me. I shall book passage for July as I am to vacate these premises at that time. Sir Jacob Morley comes to call and acts like he already has taken possession of the manor. Does the man ever smile?

1 May 1641

Today I turn one and twenty. Father always called me his May Day baby and said it was most fitting. The first day of May is known as May Day. It is the time of year when warmer weather begins and flowers and trees start to blossom. It is said to be a time of love and romance. Isn't that wonderful?
In the very early morning, young girls go into the fields and wash their faces with dew. They believe this makes them very beautiful for a year after that. The young men of each village try to win prizes with their bows and arrows. It reminds me of Robin Hood. Could there have ever been a more noble person? Except for Arthur. Or maybe Henry the Second.
I have informed Mother and Father of my plans to emigrate to America. Father took it harder than Mother. They have no idea of my financial situation. If they did, Father would drag me back to Somersetshire. I could not bear for the countryside to know of my destitution. I shall post my letter to John in a few weeks. Adventure and a new life awaits!

23 June 1641

The young maid stole through the cottage door,
And blushed as she sought the Plant of pow'r;--
'Thou silver glow-worm, O lend me thy light,
I must gather the mystic St. John's wort tonight,
The wonderful herb, whose leaf will decide
If the coming year shall make me a bride.

Byron wrote those words to me last summer and left them under my pillow on Midsummer Night's Eve. Tonight is the night the maidens gather the herb and will dream of their true love. Alas, I shall not be here for Midsummer Night's Eve anymore. Do they have it in the Colonies?
I posted my letter to John yesterday. The shipmaster told me he would personally see that John got the letter. He docks in a place where John and Daniel live. It is called Southold. A very nice colony, Captain Porter assured me. I shall leave in a month's time. I hope to be out of here by 21 July as I am to be out of here by 31 July. I am hoping to be out before old Vinegar Veins takes possession. He will probably want to peruse my possessions to see if I taking anything he deems belonging to him. He constantly appears at my door with no warning. To snoop, I think.
I shall soon be out of here. I shall miss Katherine and Isabel. But they have their lives and families and as I am childless, I shall be unencumbered.
I shall miss them all. But I long to see John and Daniel once more. John is married to a woman named Elizabeth Tuppence. Shall Elizabeth and I be friends? I should think so. We both love John. Daniel is not married. From what John says, Daniel has been wenching. He didn't use that word in his letters to Mother because he didn't want to upset her. But I knew what he meant. When I arrive in the Colonies, we shall have so much fun! We shall be a family again!

15 July 1641

I am almost packed. I shall be out of here in one week. There is not much I shall take. Just a few frocks and some books. The jewelry that Byron gave me. I shall be damned if I shall leave that for Jacob Morley, old Vinegar Veins! I shall visit Somersetshire and spend a fortnight with Mother and Father, see Charles and Katherine and Isabel. Charles has a new little babe I am dying to see. His name is James, after Father. I sail August 7th. The journey shall take approximately two months. I shall get provisions from my parents. Father is beside himself as Mother is too. But I shall start anew. Byron was not the person I thought he was to carelessly squander his holdings on the turn of the cards. I shall lodge with John and Elizabeth. I am so excited! To see John and Daniel once more!

21 July 1641

I am prostrate with grief. A letter from Mother just arrived. She had received a letter from Daniel two weeks ago. That alone would make a person die of shock. Mother is devastated and broken-hearted. John is dead. Daniel just now got around to telling Mother that John has been dead for over a year. His wife Elizabeth ran off with the local reverend and John disappeared the same day. It is thought he either killed himself because of his grief due to Elizabeth's unfaithfulness or was murdered by the Indians he befriended.
Daniel said he searched for John for the past nine months but no one could tell him where they last saw John. Father said Daniel no doubt searched for John in the taverns, keg by keg, cask by cask. Father does not hold Daniel in the highest regard. Daniel talked to John's Indian friend Little Feather. The Indian said John had been seen with three people who were most unusual. He befriended them and the Indian said that John was most taken with one with hair the color of the sun. They vanished the same time John did. Perhaps he ran off with the woman. But Daniel said it is speculation that the Indians are covering up the killing of John and that they buried his body deep in the woods.
There is no way I can travel to the Colonies at this time. Much as I love Daniel, he is most unreliable and most likely will have crawled into his spirits now. I have no plans and as of next week, I shall have no place to lay my head.
I may have no choice but to return to Somersetshire in total disgrace.

28 July 1641

In three days' time I shall take a coach for my parents' house in Somersetshire. I shall be humbled before the entire shire. Sir Thomas Bacon had asked for my hand in marriage five years ago. I had informed him that he was not wealthy enough for Cecily Gwinnett. Oh how I have been humbled! Can I ever hold my head up to friends and neighbors I have known all my life? Old Vinegar Veins has requested the honor of a meeting with me in the house tomorrow. He will probably want an accounting and inventory of all that I have taken and all that remains. I shall miss this house. It has been home for me for four years. Byron and I had wonderful times here.

29 July 1641

I am in such a state of shock. I have had more than my share this year. The death of Byron, finding out he gambled away the manor, and the death of my beloved brother John.
I had the meeting with old Vinegar Veins. I had assumed he wanted to check the household possessions. I was waiting for him in the parlor, my personal belongings packed in a wooden trunk. He came dressed in his best, which surprised me as this was to be a business meeting. Or so I thought.
Jacob Morley cleared his throat a few times. I will never forget his gravely voice as he intoned, (and sounding like a preacher about to give a requiem mass for the dead) 'Mistress Ftizhugh, I have observed you these past few months and what I have found is indeed pleasant.' He stumbled around, and said, 'As you know, I have been without a wife for the past five years. My son has moved to the estate on the edge of my property. I am offering you my hand in marriage.'
I was ready to drop dead myself! The proposal came out of nowhere. He told me he would be able to provide for me handsomely but he would like my answer by tomorrow. I do not know what to do! He is unappealing to me, being old. He must be at least fifty-five. I had married for love the first time, shall I strike a bargain and marry for security the second time?
I am in a quandary and do not know which way to turn or what to do.

Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....

Welsh Wench

31 July 1641

I have given this much consideration. I have decided to wed Sir Jacob Morley on one condition. In the event of his death, I shall inherit all rights to Morley Hall. The lands that had originally been Byron's, I will once more possess. Sir Jacob has agreed. His son Thomas shall inherit the lands that Sir Jacob came into possession of when he was married to his first wife, Mathilda.
I am quite sure of what I am doing. I shall regain my husband's wealth. It is true that Sir Jacob is an old man and not attractive to me. He wheezes and coughs and to me---heaven help me for sounding cold and calloused, but Mother always said I was practical---that indicates that he is not in the best of health. If I can make his last days more pleasant, it shall be a mutually beneficial match.
Besides, I am sure the marriage bed will not be a factor. He no doubt will be too old and will be unmanned. For which I shall be relieved.

4 August 1641

I am to be wed to Sir Jacob Morley in six weeks time. I shall have to get to the seamstress and have a trousseau. My cousin Marian is beside herself. She is trying to talk me out of it. But I know what I am doing. I shall marry the Devil himself to regain what should rightfully belong to me. And if marrying Vinegar Veins will be the way, so be it. I shall have to stop calling him that. I shall have to show proper respect due a husband from now on.
We shall take a wedding trip to London. Then to Somersetshire to visit Mother and Father. Mother and I shall take solace in each other about dear John. How I should have loved to go to the new land and see him and Daniel. But alas it was not to be. I shall be busy with wedding preparations so I will not be able to write in my journal for a while.

14 January 1642

I have been married to Jacob for the past three months. The wedding was a small affair and was held in the parlor of Morley Hall. We went to London for our wedding trip. It was lovely on the Thames and I was presented to King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria. We attended one of his masquerade balls. It was wonderful. Except that I was there with Jacob.
To my dismay, Jacob has insisted on conjugal rights. He is not as sickly as I had imagined he would be. I just close my eyes and think of something else. Now that we are back at Morley Hall, I keep my door locked and pretend to be asleep. He is a boring lover.
I suppose I shall never know the fire and passion of someone like Henry the Second and his mistress Rosamond de Clifford. I can imagine the flames those two generated. Henry must have been a virile, exciting lover.
I shall get through this somehow. I can only hope I shall never be with child by Jacob. Although I suppose he would provide handsomely for the child.
It is now winter. Jacob is boring even out of the marital bed. Perhaps it just takes some adjusting like all marriages do. At least I did not go home in disgrace.
I had a pleasant visit with Mother and Father. They were taken back at the age of Jacob. He is almost the age of Father. Mother took me aside and asked me if I was happy. I had to lie and say I was. We had a cry over John. She loved John best of all her children. She said he reminded her of someone she knew as a young woman and had great affection for. Could my mother have been in love with someone other than my father? She is wistful sometimes and would go for walks along the cliff by herself when I was younger. Sometimes she would shield her eyes and look to the horizon.
Anyways, we both agreed that our lives would never be the same without John on this earth.
I have struck a bargain with Jacob and I am going to make the best of it.

23 June 1644

I can't believe I have found the diary again! I lost it. Martha, our upstairs maid, moved the armoire and there it was. It was behind it, lodged halfway down the wall. That is why there is almost two and a half year time gap.I searched high and low for it but it was amiss and now it has reappeared like an old friend.
Well, Jacob was more frisky than I anticipated. As I said, I lock him out when I can get away with it. But I have had to go through the motions. Occasionally.
In the last two years, I have suffered through five miscarriages. I am sure it is because Jacob is so old. It leaves me weak and it takes a while to regain my health. Jacob has become increasingly mean to the point of almost being cruel. He demands to know my whereabouts at all times when I call on neighbors. I must have been out of my mind when I agreed to marry him. Whatever possessed me? A rhetorical question since I know the answer.
Financial comfort and security. It makes for a lonely existence. I feel like I have wasted my youth. After all, I am now four and twenty.
We are to go to London at the end of July. I shall hold on to that thought!

14 August 1644

I have been lax in writing because I have been recuperating from yet another miscarriage. It is not meant to be and the midwife has told me that another child would put my life in peril. Jacob--and I still call him Vinegar Veins to myself--will just have to understand. Or find himself a doxy. I refuse to have him in my bed again. We are now in London, a trip I was promised before I found I was with child. I am now getting into a social whirl once again. I think Jacob felt sorry for me losing another babe as he has ordered me to have a new ballgown. It shall be ready for the ball tomorrow night. The Duke of Buckingham is giving it. The dress is claret red with black fur trim. I shall be the belle of the ball! Even if I am with Vinegar Veins.
His constant throat-clearing and coughing is enough to drive a saint mad. Yet he continues on. How is that possible? I was in perfect health before I married him and now I am the one who is considered 'delicate.'
No worries though. I shall go to the ball and dance with anyone and everyone. Just because he does not like to dance does not mean I shall become a wallflower.
This shall be the social event of the season. And I shall have fun!

22 September 1644

The month in London has flown by. I feel like I could fly myself! I AM IN LOVE! Wonderful, wonderful love!
Sir James Musgrave came to call a few days after the ball last month. Old Vinegar Veins went to consult with his bankers and then out for an evening meal with them. I had sherry and cakes for us.
Sir Musgrave--James, I shall call him--is that not a lovely name?---sat in the garden with me. His father has an interest in botany and had taught James the Latin names of all the flowers. He even knew that a calystegia macrostegia is a morning glory! Any time I tried to talk to Jacob about flowers, he would screw up his face and pretend he didn't hear me.
From that time on, James comes to call every afternoon, whether Jacob is home or not. But then Jacob is out with his geezer friends playing maw at the gambling table or with his bankers. Or he could be in one of the sporting houses. For all I care.

1 November 1644

We have been home a month from London. James is coming to call in three days time. I have not seen him since September when we were in London. Jacob will be on a business trip, checking on his land holdings in Scotland. I shall be free for the week! Does my heart skip a beat? Yes it does!
James has no idea how I feel. Shall I tell him? I dream of leaving this dreary house behind. For James I woud give up everything! Morley Hall...everything! He is so dashing and listens--actually LISTENS--to what I have to say.
I feel so alive when he is here. He has always treated me with the utmost respect. But then, he is a Cavalier and sworn to uphold a gentlewoman's virtue. More's the pity!

5 November 1644

My voice sings, my heart soars! Sir James Musgrave came to call. Jacob was in Scotland as he was supposed to be. We were in the library sitting in front of the fire, James telling me about what is happening at Court and with Parliament. There is increasing rebellion between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads.
James said there was sure to be civil war. I begged him to be careful. He looked at me and said--I shall never forget!--'If I shan't come back, I shall have at least told you how I feel'.
He looked at me and confessed his love for me! I felt so wanton but I could hold back no longer. I flung myself in his arms. I can still remember his soft kisses on my face. I have never known such passion and excitement--not with Byron, certainly not with Vinegar Veins! I shall not write what happened, words cannot describe it. And decorum prohibits writing the course that nature took.
But I could stay in his arms forever.

12 January 1645

The most horrible thing in my life has happened. Jacob came home early from one of his trips to Scotland. This was the end of December. The maids had retired early and James and I were spending an early evening enjoying each other's company.
Suddenly the door to my chambers flung open and Jacob was there, sword in hand. I screamed and James jumped up, wrapped in my coverlets. I screamed and screamed. James never had a chance. Jacob in his fury ran him through with a sword. I must have fainted because I do not remember a thing afterwards. I was in delirium and when I came out of it a week later, Jacob came into my chambers and told me that Sir James Musgrave died and it was my doing.
I swear Jacob is unhinged. He pointed to the flagstones on the floor of my fireplace and told me that Sir James Musgrave would always be with me, that he was buried underneath the stones and it would be a constant reminder to me of my sins.
I must have screamed and screamed endlessly because I remember Dr. Hinckly coming in and giving me an herbal potion. It put me to sleep for a few days. Jacob has been extremely cruel to me, taunting me with the fact that James will always be in my bedchamber.
What shall I do? I am responsible for the death of a fine man whose only mistake was loving me. How shall I go on knowing his mortal remains are ten feet from my bed?

1 March 1645

I have to put this in words to make it a reality. I am with child. I had tried to push the thought from my mind but the babe is quickening. I don't know what to do. I have denied the fact so long but there is no escaping it now.
The child is not the child of Sir Jacob Morley but the child of my murdered lover, Sir James Musgrave. I had not had marital relations with Jacob since my miscarriage in London. I have had no lover but James.
I truly did not think I could conceive a child in view of what Mrs. Hamlet told me in London after my miscarriage. She was the midwife who attended me.
Now I must tell Jacob.
I am afraid.
Pray for me.

17 April 1645

I told Jacob last month that I am with child. He coldly informed me that I may stay here until the child is born but he will institute proceedings for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. He said--and I shan't forget his words--that he will not be a man who is thought to be a cuckold. Not to be pitied.
He said I shall have to go and he did not care where. He did conced that he was willing to give me passage back to Somersetshire. And that was it. I am to leave everything, including my clothes. I am to leave with just the clothes on my back and any baubles I kept from my marriage to Byron.
I have been so sickly with the babe. I have no strength and when I look in the mirror, I see a woman who is pale, thin and dark circles under her eyes.
Perhaps when the child is born, I shall be better off with my parents in Somersetshire. I shall regain my health.
The mental strain of James' body beneath the flagstones is more than I can bear. I avoid stepping or looking there. During the winter months I have foregone heat in my chambers as I wish to not even look at the fireplace.
I have three months of carrying the babe. I do hope it is a boy. I shall name him James--after my father and the babe's.
If I could only feel well again.

1 July 1645

I have been neglectful in writing in my diary. My health has taken a turn for the worst. I am confined to my bed to ward off early delivery of the child. I have had bleeding occasionally and the midwife has confined me to my chambers. I cannot help but have my eyes stray over to the spot where the babe's father is buried. It unhinges my mind.
My time is nigh. The midwife said I am due to deliver in a fortnight.
I pray that I shall live and be the best mother a babe could hope for. For now I leave my fate in God's hands.

The diary ends here. What really did happen to Cecily Gwinnett? We may never know.
Show me your tan lines..and I'll show you mine!

I just want to be Layla.....