Friday, July 3, 2020

A Few of Our Residents' Stories, part 1

The story of Amberleigh these past six months has been an interesting one with a colourfully woven tapestry of its residents’ lives. From a distance it would seem no different from any other village and yet upon closer examination there have been moments of delight, a look into the past, heartbreak, expectation as well as loss and yet life goes on. To live in a village is to know everyone and their business and yet it would seem that is not always the case. Over the next few weeks we shall take a peek into the lives of some of Amberleigh’s residents’ beginning with Lady Elizabeth Marlowe and Jenny Wrey.

Shortly after Old Mary returned from London she suspected Lady Elizabeth Marlowe was with child. A happy occasion to be sure, but the birth of Elizabeth’s daughter Sophia nearly cost her her own life and so this was also a time to be greatly concerned. Old Mary did not know if she could safely deliver Sophia and also keep Elizabeth from dying eight years ago. It was a very intense evening, one she did not think she would be repeating. Old Mary is as worried as Elizabeth for the birth of the babe. Elizabeth puts on a brave face for all to see but privately she and her husband Charles are very concerned. To date, illness of a morning has been the only complaint but in time when Elizabeth’s confinement arrives, that will be a very anxious time indeed.

Having Mary Thomas pregnant at the same time has been a comfort to Elizabeth and they have become close friends sharing this experience. Their babes are due within weeks of one another and both mothers-to-be hope their children will grow up as dear friends.

Jenny Wrey, who is affectionately called Jenny Wren by nearly everyone in the village is worried for Elizabeth. They have been friends since they were children, Jenny’s mother being the housekeeper at Elizabeth’s childhood home in Bexford. The two were ever together. Elizabeth even taught Jenny to read and write so they may send letters to one another when Elizabeth was visiting with friends and family. It was also Elizabeth who begged her father to send Jenny to the Burlington School so that Jenny may stay with her when she eventually married and ran her own household. Elizabeth is the one who bestowed the name Jenny Wren upon her friend as everyone in the village knows, however they do not know it was because Jenny was wont to call Elizabeth “Magpie” for she liked to collect things wherever she would go. Pretty shells, shiny pebbles, interesting leaves; there was always something that took her fancy.

Our dear Jenny Wren has had her own share of upset these last months. Her sweetheart Calvin Spafford is in His Majesty’s Army. Calvin, not able to read or write had someone write his letters to Jenny for him. Then one day a letter came apologizing for having to give Jenny the unpleasant news that Calvin had met and married someone else recently. Jenny was devastated feeling her future was now lost to her and she would be a spinster forever. Captain Venning came to see her when the regiment set up camp outside Cheltenham to tell her how sorry he was to have to be the bearer of such news, apologising it must come by letter. He felt he must tell her before the regiment reached Cheltenham in case she might see Calvin and his bride together. Captain Venning was concerned for her welfare but Jenny did not want his pity; she felt angry when others thought Captain Venning would make a nice replacement for Calvin. Old Mary was kind to Jenny and knew how to comfort her for which she was ever so grateful. Captain Venning, however, seems to believe it is his duty since he wrote Calvin’s letters, to look after Jenny until she has recovered from this great shock.

Where will the stories twist and turn from here? We pray Elizabeth shall deliver safely of a sister or brother for Sophia and William in the new year. Will Jenny Wren meet Calvin again after his ill use of her? Now that his regiment is nearby, it is certainly a possibility.

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