Captain Alexander Venning is the second son of Joseph and Margaret Venning of Quigley, a village north of Cheltenham. His father, Joseph, a fine furniture maker, has made a name for himself creating bespoke furniture for his customers. Alexander’s older brother, Edward, now runs the shop and although Alexander was trained in the fine art of furniture making, he chose to join the army. With the help of his father, a commission was purchased and Alexander joined the army with the rank of Captain.
Army life suits Captain Venning and has given him the opportunity to see more of life and broaden his perception of the world. He is well liked by his men and is a fair but firm leader, leading always by example. He upholds the dignity wearing a uniform affords him and always proceeds with manners and politeness which garner admiration from those he comes in contact with.
Calvin Spafford, one of the men in his troop asked him to help him write to his betrothed, one Miss Jenny Wrey of Amberleigh, for Calvin is illiterate. Captain Venning was happy to do this, and also tried to help Calvin learn to read and write to fulfil his dream of promotion but succeeded only insofar as getting Calving to learn to write his name, so Captain Venning continued to help Calvin write to Jenny, and found he enjoyed writing to her and reading her letters to Calvin.
When Calvin began seeing one of the women who followed the camp he was promptly taken to task and told to honour his promise to Jenny and desist in seeing this woman. For a time, Captain Venning thought Calvin was in earnest, but then discovered Calvin had married this woman. When he confronted Calvin about this and asked how he would break the news to Miss Wrey, Calvin pertly told him to do it since he wrote to Jenny. Livid with Calvin and concerned for Miss Wrey who may see Calvin with his wife when they encamped at Cheltenham, he took on the responsibility of informing Jenny of Calvin’s treachery.
Captain Venning, had asked to call upon Miss Wrey to ensure she was okay after hearing such shocking news. He’d wondered what she would be like, feeling as if he knew her already from her letters. He imagined a plain, courteous girl but found a lovely young woman who was educated and had fine manners. He immediately asked when he may call upon her again for he wanted to know Miss Wrey, Jenny Wren, as she was affectionately called by all, much better.
After several meetings with Miss Wrey, he realizes she is all to him but on the day of the fete, when he planned to ask Jenny to marry him, everything seemed to go wrong. Now that the regiment has moved on and will most assuredly go to war with France, will he ever see Jenny again?