A New Addition to the Village
In the past two weeks we have had the pleasure of welcoming our two newest residents of Amberleigh. The untimely death of Mary Thomas has overshadowed the birth of her daughter, Mary Guilford Thomas. Young Mary does well, doted on by her father as well as her Aunt Susan and her cousins. Reverend Thomas’ sister, Mrs. Susan Medlyn, recently widowed herself, has come to reside with her brother, to look after his daughter and keep his house. Mr. Penn was kind enough to dispatch his carriage for Mrs. Medlyn and her three children who are newly arrived at the rectory. Once again, there are happy sounds of life at the rectory but it shall be a long time indeed before Mr. Thomas recovers from the loss of his beloved wife, Mary.
On hearing of the death of Mary Thomas, Sir Charles Marlowe endeavoured to keep the news from his wife, Elizabeth, now big with child. He insisted she begin her confinement early to shield her from this sad news. Having had a very difficult birth with her daughter, Sophia, Elizabeth agreed this would be a good idea even though she was not due to deliver until the end of the month.
After two weeks of keeping to her rooms, Elizabeth grew restless and decided to walk around the house for a change of scene only to overhear talk in the kitchen of Mary Thomas’ death. This was indeed a shock, for she and Mary Thomas were dear friends. Returning to her room, she took to her bed, two ours later the pains commenced and she knew the babe was on its way.
Old Mary was sent for, but it was found she was not at her cottage. Sir Charles immediately sent for Dr. Woodforde who had lately become a good friend. The snow softly falling did not deter Jenny from hurrying down to Thisteldown to find Old Mary, only to be told by Good Tom Meyrick she was visiting friends in Pelham and would not return until tomorrow. This worried Jenny greatly.
When he arrived, Dr. Woodforde had things in hand, telling Elizabeth everything was progressing as it should. Two hours later, however, he knew it was not going to be an easy birth. When he went to seek out Sir Charles to speak with him about this, Jenny grew fearful Elizabeth would die in childbirth. She knew she would probably be turned out without references for what she was about to do but she also knew without Old Mary present, Elizabeth may die.
In the stable she spoke to Jenkins in such a way, he did not argue and got the carriage ready. The drive to Pelham was slow due to the shocking condition of the roads and was compounded by the snow falling more steadily and already accumulating. Jenny willed herself warm as they inched along the road. When they finally reached Pelham, Jenny got out of the carriage and began knocking at each door asking for Old Mary. By the time she found the right house she was crying, and near hysterical. When Old Mary was found, she lost no time in getting her coat and bag and off they went creeping along back to Carlyle House.
When the coach pulled up to the house, Jenny and Old Mary dashed to Elizabeth’s room. Sarah, the parlour maid, who sat with Elizabeth, told them Dr. Woodforde could not bring the baby forth and had gone to speak with the master. Elizabeth, exhausted from fruitless pushing, looked relieved to see Old Mary who set to work making ready, taking things from her bag and ordering Sarah to get warm water and cloths to clean the babe, then telling Jenny to get into the bed behind Elizabeth to help support her as she pushed. Old Mary spoke softly to Elizabeth and with Jenny to help her, Old Mary gave the command to push. It was a very intense moment, but with a little help from Old Mary, Elizabeth’s daughter came into the world.
Word of the birth spread through the house quickly, all happy and much relieved the danger had passed and there was a new child to cherish. Young Mary Thomas now had a new friend, Isabella Jane Penrhose Marlowe.