Blooming into a Duchess – Extended Epilogue


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July 1840

“I love driving down this lane, don’t you?” 

“I do,” Graham said, looking over at his wife. “It reminds me of the day we pledged our lives to each other.” 

Madeline nodded. Her hair was no longer quite as dark, and she had many wrinkles now from the long years they had been together. He supposed that their four children had given her many wrinkles and grey hairs. But he knew she would not trade any of them. And after twenty-six years of marriage, her face was even more dear to him than ever. 

“Mama, when will Elise and her husband be arriving? I cannot wait to see her and ask about the baby—” 

Graham shot his youngest daughter a warning look. “Anna, we do not know for sure if she is with child. Besides, that is not something to talk about in mixed company.” 

His son, Henry, rolled his eyes. “Elise hinted to it in her last letter to Mama. There is no question in any of our minds.” 

“Even so, we will let her give the news in her own time.” Graham glanced at his wife, who squeezed his hand. “And what of Josiah? He and Elizabeth are coming for our regular visit, are they not?”

Madeline nodded. “They are arriving tomorrow afternoon sometime. And then we shall all be together again. I do so miss my childcare when they are away.” Madeline turned her attention back to the window, watching as the lane passed lazily by. The bright green leaves and brilliant flowers were stretching their faces to the sunlight. 

When they arrived at the front of the house, the children were the first ones out of the carriage. They bounded up the steps, leaving him and Madeline alone. He called up to them as they came to the front door. “Your mother and I are going to take a stroll in the garden before we come in. We will be along in a moment.” 

Graham offered his wife his arm, and she took it, leaning on his for support. “I do love a stroll in the garden,” she said as they walked around to the side of the house. 

“I know you do. It reminds me of the summer we met. He leaned down and pointed to the weeping willow tree a few hundred yards off. “Do you remember when we sat down there together and talked? I wanted to kiss you so badly, I could hardly contain myself.” 

She looked up at him with a shocked glance, smiling mischievously. “You did not. We barely knew each other at all then.” 

“It did not matter. I knew I was in love with you then and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you.” Graham smiled as they continued down the path. Life had passed so quickly. He could hardly believe he was in his fifties. He did not feel like an old man. Madeline helped to keep him young, he supposed. 

“Do you ever wonder what would have happened if your brother would not have given us his blessing? I know in those days he did not like me,” Madeline replied, looking out over the green. 

“It was not that he did not like you. I think he was still trying to do what our father had wished. I was supposed to marry lady Julianna, and he did not want to go against our father’s last wishes. He was very much dealing with the pressures of being the Duke. He felt he needed to live up to certain expectations.” Graham followed her gaze, looking out over the green fields beyond the estate gardens. Butterflies flitted in the breeze, the sunshine glowing warm and golden of the pond to the right of them. 

“I am grateful he changed his mind about me. Our lives would have looked very different if he had not allowed us to marry.” 

Graham motioned to a little marble bench, still situated under their weeping willow tree. She sat down with him, beaming up at him. He sat down beside her, heaving a sigh. “I would have married you anyway. I would have gone back into the Army—you know that I told him so when he was still holding out for me to marry Lady Julianna. It is true that our life would have been very different, but we would have made it work.” 

“Oh, I have no doubt. I am glad it worked out the way it did, though. Seeing my family home restored has been one of the greatest joys of my life. And seeing our children grow up there has been a dream come true that I did not even know I had back then. God has blessed us in every way.” 

“Indeed, he has.” 

They sat there looking out over the landscape for a few more minutes before they decided to go back to the house and be with the family. When they came up the patio steps, he saw David looking at him through the windows, waving as they approached the doors. Evelyn was there to meet them in a second. “Well, I hope you two had a lovely stroll. We have been waiting tea on you.” 

Graham waved his hand. “You should have started without us. You know we like to visit our tree when we come here.” 

“Of course. But come along. Elizabeth and David will be here with their respective families in a little while. And then there will not be a moment of quiet with all the children running around.” Evelyn motioned for them all to sit down, and soon they all had steaming cups of tea and biscuits. 

“So, Anna, your mother tells me that you are to be presented this summer. Are you nervous?” Evelyn asked, turning to their fifteen-year-old daughter. Graham felt a pinprick of sadness through his heart. He knew that his children all had to grow up someday, but he was especially fond of Anna. They had a close bond, and he would be sad to see her go whenever she came for her to get married. But whoever the gentleman was, he would have to be cut from a very special cloth. Graham would not part with his beloved daughter for just anyone. 

“I am,” Anna said, turning to her aunt. “Mother has had me in fittings and lessons from dawn until dusk, it would seem. But it will all be worth it, will it not, Mama?” 

“It will indeed if you remember one thing. Do not follow the money, follow your heart. A man who will love and cherish you, as your father has done for me all these years, is the one you want.” Madeline and he shared a knowing glance and then turned the conversation to lighter subjects. 

“What is your David up to these days?” Graham asked. It had been some time since he had seen his favourite nephew. 

He was now in his thirties, which seemed an impossibility in itself. 

David sat back, lounging in one of the plush armchairs. His hair was almost entirely white, so different compared to when he had last seen him. Of course, he was well into his sixties now. However, he had aged very well. 

“David and his young wife have been travelling around the English countryside, visiting friends and relations. They are eager to see you all, though. As well as the children. We will have to organise a game of cricket on the green one of these sunny afternoons.” 

It was somewhat of a tradition for the boys to play cricket while the girls sat on the sidelines cheering for them. Graham was glad that they were such a tight-knit family, grateful once more for all the blessings God had given them. 

He had little time to think of the next question, for the butler could be heard knocking at the door and then the sound of many voices coming through from the foyer. “Your children are here, Your Grace,” the butler said. An instant later, David and his wife, Caroline, came in, followed by their three sons. Next appeared Elizabeth and her husband, George. Their two daughters and a son all came in as well. Pleasantries were exchanged, and the house was filled with laughter and gaiety. 

“Oh, Uncle Graham!” Elizabeth gushed. “It is so good to see you. Harold talks of nothing else but the piggyback rides you gave him last year. I really do think you will have to pass on the tradition to someone else soon. He is getting much too big for such things.” Elizabeth was just as spirited as ever. Age had not dwindled her adventurous nature, nor her bright auburn hair. 

“I will give up the tradition when he can best me in a wrestling match. But this is not the place,” he said, winking at his great-nephew, who was preparing to wrestle him right there in the middle of the parlour. He liked his youthful passion but knew they should probably not make a mess of the parlour. 

“I do not think it is fair that the boys get to wrestle and run about, fencing, and riding horses, and all manner of fun things while the girls must stay inside and embroider,” Margaret, Elizabeth’s oldest daughter, chimed in. At ten, she was more interested in being outside than becoming a lady. Graham was not surprised, given who her mother was. 

“Well, I say we all go for a stroll in the garden before dinner. We will let the children get out some energy and the adults and chance to talk.” The grandchildren, ranging from ages thirteen to six, bounded out of the room and onto the patio. Anna and Henry watched over their younger second cousins. 

“Well, tell us what is new, Graham. Have you been able to get that tenant farmer set to rights?” David asked as they came outside onto the patio. 

“We have reached an understanding. And I am glad of it. It was taking up so much time that I was sure Madeline would be upset. What about you? How is everything here at the estate?” 

“Very well. David has been learning the ropes. He is a brilliant young man.” A tinge of sadness entered his brother’s voice as he went on. “I will be leaving this place in good hands.”

Graham raised a brow. “Whatever do you mean? You have a lot more life to live, David.” Graham was suddenly afraid for his brother. Did he have something to tell them?

“I know. And I also know that having someone who can take over for me at a moment’s notice is wonderful. I do worry about our children and grandchildren sometimes. I want to leave this world better off than when I entered it.” 

“Beautiful sentiments, to be sure,” Madeline chimed in. “Speaking of grandchildren, I cannot wait to see Josiah. I would like to have some grandchildren before I die.” 

Graham rolled his eyes, laughing at her. “You are always so dramatic when it comes to the babies. They will have some as soon as they are ready.” 

Madeline nodded and turned to Evelyn. They began speaking of other things while Grant and David spoke of hounds and the hunt. It had become a favourite pastime for them during late winter and spring. 

As the sun began to set, they all decided to go back inside. Dinner would be served soon, but none of them wanted to change. “It is just like the first night being at sea,” Henry said. 

And it was just as well, for as they were heading into the dining room, the front door opened and in walked Elise with her family and Josiah with his. Madeline rushed over to them and brought them all into the drawing-room. 

Soon, the house was alive with even more chattering and laughter. Graham stood back as the rest of the family filed through to the dining room. It was not until it was his turn to go in that he realised Madeline was nowhere to be seen. He screwed up his face at this and then went in search of her. He found her in a lonely corner, looking contented. “What are you doing all the way over here by yourself? Everyone else has gone in to dinner.” 

Madeline’s eyes filled with tears, and she patted the seat next to her on the chaise lounge. “I am just so grateful. I see our children growing up, leaving the house, starting families of their own, and I cannot contain my happiness. But there is a sadness that goes along with it. Sometimes I wish I could freeze these moments in time and keep them in my treasure box back home. I never want to forget these precious memories.” 

Graham sighed, taking her hand. “It is not as sad as all that. You know—once the children are all gone and married, we could do some travelling again. I have never been to South America. I want to go to South America.” 

“Yes, I am looking forward to being able to travel with you for business. Like the old times before we had children.” Graham had been meaning to broach the subject with her lately. He longed to travel, but they had done little of it since their children were coming of age. It seemed that everyone was going in their own directions. They needed to cherish the moments when they were all together. “Speaking of children, we should go and join them now for dinner.” 

“Yes, of course.” He could tell that Madeline did not want to talk about her children leaving that night, so he let it go. 

Plates had already been served when they came into the dining room, and the children were chattering away at one end of the table. At the same time, the adults and older children took the other. 

“Well, we suppose now is as good a time as any to tell you our news,” David said when he and Madeline had been seated. The children were all too busy paying attention to the grandparents, so they had a bit of privacy for a moment. 

Graham’s curiosity was piqued. “What news?” 

David reached over and grabbed Evelyn’s hand, smiling. “We have decided to go on a European tour. One last time. I have decided to turn control of the estate over to my son David for the time we are away. He is more than capable of handling everything while we are gone.” He looked lovingly over at his wife before he continued. “I think we deserve one last hurrah before, well, before the good Lord comes for us.” 

Graham exchanged a glance with Madeline. They had only been to Europe a handful of times. Once before Josiah had been born and a sprinkling of other times since. “I hate to hear you talk as if we’ll all be dying soon. We still have lots of life left in us.” 

“Oh, I do not mean it like that, and you know it. But life is unpredictable. You have to seize the moments when they come along, and Evelyn and I fancy a trip together without the children.” 

“Madeline and I could use a trip as well. I think it has been five years since we were in Europe.” Graham took a sip of wine, trying to gauge from Madeline’s face what she was thinking. “Perhaps it would be good experience for Josiah to take the reins of the estate for a while, too. I always say that hands-on experience is the best teacher.” 

Madeline nodded. “It would be a wonderful opportunity for him, to be sure. But what would his wife think, with the new baby and all? What if she does not want to leave their little cottage?” 

“She will not mind. Besides, she will have Anna there to help her.” Anna loved children. She was eager to marry and start having children of her own. And she would make a wonderful mother someday, too. But he was not ready to let her go. Not yet. 

“Well, then. Let us make the trip together and leave the next generation to learn how to steer the ship? It would be fun to all go away together. Come to think of it, we have never been able to travel with the two of you, outside of England.” 

Madeline shifted in her chair. Usually the more adventurous type, she seemed to hesitate. “Are you sure we should all just leave?” 

“We have trained them well, Madeline. They are all wonderfully accomplished, courteous, and courageous young people. We can rest in the knowledge that we have raised them well.” Graham could see what a benefit this would be for the eldest sons. He looked around the table at the brood of children and grandchildren, pride swelling in his chest. Never in his wildest dreams had he ever thought he would be sitting there like that, watching as his children laughed with their cousins. Madeline had never seen what it was like to have a close-knit family. Yet, they now enjoyed a close relationship with his brother and their family. It was more than he could have asked for. 

“Well, then. I suppose we are all going to Europe!” Madeline said. “I shall miss them all terribly, though. Is that bad of me to say?” 

“Not at all. I think it shows how very much you love them all.” Graham took her hand. He was still unsure how she seemed to grow lovelier every day. How was it possible that he loved her more today than he had the day before? He sent up a silent prayer to God, thanking him for his wonderful family. He could not have asked for more.

THE END


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25 thoughts on “Blooming into a Duchess – Extended Epilogue”

    1. I enjoyed the book, although there were so many typos they became distracting. Please fire, or hire, a proofreader!! Sorry, but HAD to comment!

      1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear WH. I truly appreciate it!

        So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

        1. This is the best book I have read in years it takes into there lives for the future does just stop and wonder so what happened next what did this one say or what happened to this one or that one I will be reading all her books I hope there all like this one.love the way she writes Mary L! MARY

          1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Mary. I truly appreciate it!

            So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

    2. A very good read, but needed better proofreading. Some misspelled words, using made instead of maid, and use of him for a lady.

    3. Amanda I so loved the story line. However the extended epilogue just gives it that special ending and leaves one feeling furfulled, and happier.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Gwen. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  1. This was a really wonderful well written book. I loved the characters. The only thing I didn’t like was the huge number of misspelled words. Its probably my fault but that type of thing interferes with my enjoyment. Otherwise I highly recommend the book.

  2. Who proof reads these books? So many typos, English errors and misspelled words ( actually more often spell check tossed in a completely inappropriate word).

    Excellent story. Enjoyed very much hated playing – what was the word she was going for? 🥴

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Delores. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  3. The mistakes in spelling and grammar ruined the story for me. Far too many for easy reading. I would suggest you hire a proofreader before you publish. Otherwise, it was delightful. I enjoyed the storyline ☺

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Brinda. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  4. Enveloping story that keeps your interest. Couple of spelling errors but characters are consistent. Good read and enjoyable.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Cheryl. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

      Thank you again and have a lovely day!

  5. Love shines throughout your story. I really enjoyed the way you put everything together. Having some idea of the pain that can be caused by others unknowing comments I can now forgive them. Love is all important. I am now content. You truly have a gift that empowers other. Having been blessed with Love in my life I can only wish the same for others. Mary Jean

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