His Lucky Charm II
Chapter 17: Return to England
Caution: This Historical Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Fa/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, BiSexual, Heterosexual, Historical,
Desc: Historical Sex Story: Chapter 17: Return to England - Jim returns to England with his wife Rose, his children, and a fortune in gold. For Jim it is a coming home, but for Rose it is a strange new world, exciting and frightening. And then there is Priscilla, once Jim’s object of adoration. How can Rose, a former saloon girl, fit in with all the lords and ladies? Just watch her!
New York, London, Berkshire, Autumn 1865
Lady Carter kept her promise and took Rose and Raven Feather on a shopping tour through all the fine stores along 5th Avenue. From Lady Carter's reaction to the offerings, Rose and Raven could gauge whether a garment was appropriate or not according to English standards. Much to her dismay, the experience taught Rose how much there was to learn for her to fit in. If Lady Carter noticed she never let on but was friendly and helpful without showing even a hint of superiority. Rose thought and hoped that she had found another true friend.
She also came away from the afternoon with enough dresses and accessories to last her through the ship passage and the first weeks in England. A few noses were held high by shop attendants and customers over Raven, but as Lady Carter had predicted, they became positively subservient when Raven produced a purse filled with Gold Eagles to pay for her first purchase. Lady Carter winked and smiled at them and Rose realised that everybody – not just whores – had their price.
The new friends even visited a few art galleries. At one gallery, Rose and her friends made the acquaintance of a rather young painter who specialised in landscapes. Not only landscapes, but mountain landscapes from the American West. He had returned from an expedition to the Yosemite territory in the last year, and his paintings showed spectacular views.
Rose fell in love with a canvas that showed a place called Yosemite Valley. The painter had captured a morning scene with mist hanging over a creek and the sun rising behind a rocky bend. It was so eerily reminiscent of the South Park region that Rose for once did not consult Jim before making a major purchase. $27 was a princely price, but it was a large painting and it would forever remind Rose of the happy times near Tarryall. The painter, a Mr. Albert Bierstadt, rolled the canvas up in person between large sheets of paper, and in his German accented English he gave instructions how to transport, store, and later mount the painting.
Over the remaining week, Rose and Lady Carter met a few more times and they developed a tentative friendship. Jim and Sir Anthony on the other hand rediscovered the comradeship of their school days. That was an advantage, for Sir Anthony was able to help with the transfer of funds from America to England being a director and shareholder in his father's bank house. Together they set up the connection between the First Philadelphia Bank and Lambert & Norton Bankers, to channel Jim's earnings to London where he would have the use of them.
Jim and Rose spent two evenings watching theatre plays, and they dined in the best restaurants New York had to offer. The time passed almost too fast, but when they had to transfer their belongings to the Scotia, Rose's wish to see all that New York had to offer was almost fulfilled.
Their two cabins were side by side with the Carters' and they shared a table during lunch and dinner. The latter arrangement was beneficial for there was a strong resentment against the presence of Raven Feather among many of the American passengers. Among the British travellers curiosity ruled over disdain, and Raven was often approached by passengers who would not pass on the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a 'Red Indian', even if she was thoroughly 'civilised'.
One passenger in particular began to follow Raven around as the Scotia ploughed through the Atlantic waves. His name was Colonel Oliver Wendell Burton, an English officer who had served in British North America and was returning home via New York. From 1858 to 1859, he had led an expedition into the Western Territories, and he had, as he proudly told Raven, even spent a whole winter with a northern Lakota band when he was thrown from his horse and had broken his leg. To Raven's delight, Col. Burton even spoke some Lakota, and he was eager to reacquaint himself with the culture of 'those noble braves' who had accommodated him during his recovery. Very soon Col. Burton was constantly seen around Raven causing tongues to wag in the dinner room.
It was towards the end of their passage when Raven asked Jim and Rose for a meeting in privacy. They retired to their cabin and Raven calmly told them that Col. Burton was courting her. She admitted to having feelings for the weather-beaten frontier officer and she asked Jim and Rose for their understanding if she would not share their bed anymore.
Jim and Rose felt both saddened and relieved. Their unique relationship with Raven had been at once fulfilling and confusing. Raven hastened to assure them that she loved them both. She pointed out, however, that they would be under scrutiny once they arrived in England and that sharing a bedroom then would be out of the question. In the end the three friends hugged for quite some time. Raven kissed both Rose and Jim with deep feeling before they rejoined their friends in the dinner cabin. For the remainder of the journey, Col. Burton joined them at tables.
After eighteen days, the Scotia put into Liverpoool, and England greeted the Tremaynes with gale force winds and a drizzling rain. They spend another night in their cabins while Jim and Sir Anthony organised their travel onwards to London. They were able to secure a first class compartment on a train that left on the next morning. The train was a fast one, travelling at over twenty miles per hour, but they did not reach London before late evening.
Col. Burton bid his farewell promising to call upon Raven at Hamden Gardens, and the Tremaynes found hospitality for the night in the Carters' city house on Bond Street. Exhausted from the long journey and the dreary weather they slept late into the next morning. After breakfast, Jim busied himself finding transport to western Berkshire. He also endeavoured to convert the two thousand American Gold Eagles he had carried along into almost £2,800. Afterwards, Jim met Sir Anthony's father, Lord Lambert. It had seemed like a lifetime ago that Jim had seen the man, over ten years to be more exact. At High Matcham, Lord Lambert's country seat, Jim had met Priscilla Bywater during the annual New Year's soiree he and his father held for their neighbours.
Lord Lambert shook his hands and expressed his delight over Jim's good fortune in the gold fields. After all, Jim was a neighbour's son who had gone missing overseas, and people had been worried. His Lordship offered the services of his bank house should Jim want to invest his gains for profit, an offer that Jim accepted immediately. Lord Lambert had not become a millionaire by being imprudent with funds and Lambert & Norton enjoyed the reputation of a reliable institution.
Meanwhile, Rose was whisked off by Sarah Carter to an impressive mansion on Cavendish Square. Here, at Lambert House, Rose met a woman in her late fifties whose face showed a mature beauty that let Rose guess at the breathtaking allure she must have possessed as a young woman. Lady Lambert received her daughter in law with obvious pleasure and a motherly hug and when introduced to Rose gave her a friendly welcome.
"Oh dear! You just arrived from America? You must be exhausted after such a long journey. Whence did you come again?"
"From Denver, in the Colorado Territory. We had a few stays en route, though, and we met your son in New York."
"Imagine, Mother: Rose's husband went to Eton with Tony, and they met by chance in a hotel in New York!"
"It just goes to show that the world is not as big as people make it seem," Lady Lambert stated with a smile. "Now, I do know New York from a stay in '48, and I visited Boston in '31, but I have never heard of a city called Denver or of a Colorado Territory. Can you perhaps show me their location on our globe?"
To Rose's surprise there was a huge globe in a study next to the tea room. Rose took a few moments to get her bearings, but then she was able to point at what was annotated on the globe as Western Kansas. "This area is now the Colorado Territory, and Denver should be here, on the South Platte River."
"Truly amazing!" Lady Lambert opined. "It must have taken you months to travel to the East Coast alone."
Rose smiled wryly and nodded, explaining how they had traveled on horseback, by mule wagon, and by train. Lady Lambert made sympathetic noises, and then she recounted how she herself had once traveled on horseback from Suez through the Egyptian desert to Cairo. She showed Rose the route they had taken from East India and Rose was surprised at how adventurous this Lady was or had been.
Lady Lambert rummaged through a cabinet and produced a book. "Here, my dear. I even wrote a book about my experience, if with the help of a dear friend. Come to think of it I really must acquaint you with Colleen MacAllister."
Rose knew that Colleen MacAllister was an author of travel books and adventure stories, and she had read one of her books during the ship passage, a loan from Lady Carter. She thanked her hostess for the welcome gift and promised to read it at her earliest convenience.
They stayed for another hour, and Rose related some of their adventures. She was careful not to reveal anything about the years before she met Jim. Their story was that she had come to Fort Laramie accompanying her friend Amanda who was to be married and that she met Jim Tremayne who was the best friend and partner of Amanda's groom. That was no outright lie and she delivered it without even so much as a blush.
When questioned further, she revealed that she was an orphan and that she had come to the West with her fiancé to meet his family, but that the man abandoned her forcing her to earn her keep using her singing voice.
Lady Lambert almost shocked Rose when she frankly admitted to herding sheep for a livelihood before she met Lord Lambert. She laughed when she said she knew a few things about being miserably cold. When Lady Carter excused herself for a moment, the older woman leant forward and lowered her voice.
"We shall have to sit together some time and work a bit on your story, my dear. It is not bad but liable to incite more questions than you may care to answer. I like you, my dear, and I can help you."
Rose felt dejected. On her first day out she had already let down her cover. "Is it that obvious?" she asked.
"No, not at all, my dear. Most of the little signs I saw will be attributed to you being an American. That is as far as most people will think. Don't worry too much. I know your husband's mother and his brother's wife. They will help you fit in. Once you have settled down, I would like you to visit with me. By all means, you must also bring your Indian friend. I have met only one Red Indian in my life. It was in Boston, and I fear he rather looked like a bookkeeper and decidedly not like a savage."
Rose had to smile. "Raven does not look a savage either, Milady. She is an avid reader, and she looks like a school teacher only with darker skin."
"You have to bring her! She will also draw attention away from you," Lady Lambert added with a wink.
On the next morning, a large Clarence Brougham carriage owned by Lord Lambert took the Tremaynes and their baggage to Reading and then onwards to the Tremaynes' lands. Jim was apprehensive as Rose could tell. When she asked him he admitted to being nervous. After all, he joked, he was bringing his intended home for the first time. Rose herself was not at ease either feeling self-conscious.
Rose found that the house to which they drove up was smaller than their Denver City home. It was older, too, by a century or more. It consisted of three wings which enclosed a cobbled court yard. The wing to the left, the east wing, seemed older. It looked well kept and smoke came from the chimneys, but it looked empty. The central wing and the west wing showed the signs of habitation. The carriage came to a lurching halt in front of the steps.
"We're here," Jim said with a nervous smirk. He kissed Rose. "I love you."
He alighted from the carriage before he helped Rose, Raven, and Samantha. The latter were holding the children, and they quickly wrapped them into blankets. They had not finished when the two-winged door flew open and a man came running down the steps.
"Jimbo! By Jove, it's you!" A heartbeat later, Jim found himself in the violent hug of his brother. "Jim, old boy, you're back at last!"
"Ed, you old rascal!"
They stayed like that for a minute at least before Edward Tremayne let go of his brother. He had tears in his eyes and used his coat sleeve to dry them off. His eyes then focused on the women with Jim.
"My brother Edward; Ed, this is my wife Rose," Jim introduced.
Rose was glad that she did not carry Bobby, for Edward almost crushed her with his hug.
"Welcome to Hamden Gardens!" He held Rose at arm's length. "Oh dear, my brother is a lucky man!"
"Not as lucky as I am to have found him," Rose answered firmly, but then she gave her brother in law a beaming smile.
"Please meet our daughter Samantha," Jim continued the introduction. "Adopted daughter," he added with a laugh, since Edward looked incredulously at the young woman.
Edward recovered his wit immediately. "I should have known, Samantha. You are far too pretty to be my brother's daughter."
"Thank you, Uncle Ed," Samantha answered with a mischievous smile, causing laughter all around. "Please meet your nephew, Robert."
Edward briefly inspected the wrapped boy before Jim made the last introductions. "Ed, this is Mrs. Linkletter, our very good friend and companion, and her daughter Julie."
"Enchanted, Madam," Ed said, bowing politely.
"I am pleased to meet Jim's brother," Raven answered.
"Raven was widowed last year. She has been our friend for years and in rough times, and we offered her to come with us."
"Well, let me show you in. I'll have somebody look after your bags, but I bet mother is waiting already."
He led the way in and Jim followed with an eery feeling. This was his childhood home, but he had been gone for so long that he felt strange. Rose was apprehensive again. She would meet Jim's parents now.
They followed Ed into a large and well-lit room where a large fire was burning. Robert Tremayne was standing, holding and supporting his wife, Jim's mother. On his mother's other side stood Penelope Tremayne, still pretty, still with a friendly smile on her lips.
Jim rushed forward, wrapping his arms around his parents. Rose could see that the woman was racked by sobs as she, too, closed her frail arms around her son. After a minute or two, Jim let go, but he still kept his mother's hands in his.
"Mother, Father, Penelope, this is my wife Annabelle Rose."
Rose stepped forward, smiling shyly. The older woman shuffled forward and held out her hands. A heartbeat later Rose held the frail woman in her arms.
"My dear girl, you have given Jim back his happiness, and for that we love you already. We thought we'd never see him again, and now look at you all!"
Rose felt her left hand in a firm grip and looked up to see Robert Tremayne.
"It is a true pleasure to finally meet you. We had despaired of ever hearing from Jim again, and you have given him back to us."
Rose blushed at the praise. "Mr. and Mrs. Tremayne, it is I who have to thank you for raising Jim to be such a wonderful man."
Meanwhile, Jim had given his sister-in-law a hug. "I knew it when I first saw you that you are the woman Ed had been looking for."
"And I knew that one day you would find the woman you deserve," Penelope answered hugging him with feeling. "I didn't know it had to be that far away, though."
She turned to Rose. "Welcome. I have so many things to ask you, so much to tell you, but let us postpone that. You must be hungry and tired, and you need to look after the children."
"So true," Jim said. "However, I would like you to meet our adopted daughter Samantha, and our dear friend and companion Raven."
More hugs were exchanged while the elder Tremayne helped his wife into a chair. Then he turned to his younger son. "When you wrote of your plans to return we had the east wing made habitable again. I know it's old, but it should serve you until you find something more appropriate."
Jim had to smile. When he was a boy there had been one rule: stay out of the east wing. His grandmother had enforced that with terrible stories of ghosts and skeletons, only to make him more curious. He could still feel the beating he had received when his father had caught him climbing through a window into the mouldy basement.
"Does that mean that there are no ghosts in the east wing?" he asked jokingly.
"Given the shape some of the floor boards were in you would have been a ghost yourself before long had we allowed you in there," his father answered. "Everything is new now: beams, floorboards, doors, and windows. We also put in cast iron ovens and closed the fireplaces."
"When we were done I wanted to move in, but Father wouldn't let me," Ed joked. "It's ready to move in. Once the ovens heat up the rooms, they should be warm and dry. Did you bring anything, bedding, drapes or carpets?"
Jim shook his head. "No, we sold our house complete with all furnishings. Money is easier to transport. The only things that we took with us are two bear skins and our weapons."
"I brought almost £3,000 in gold. The rest will go to Lambert & Norton by Letter of Exchange, but I should hate to be robbed anyway."
"Of how big of a rest are we speaking?" Ed asked a little shakily.
"At last count, a tad over £84,000," Jim answered modestly.
Ed whistled in appreciation. "That'll buy you a county, a small one at least."
"More may be coming in," Jim added. "We will certainly look for a property of our own come the spring. Right now we'll be happy to stay here."
"Let us show you the east wing then," his father said with a laugh.
It was all he could do to keep his hands from rubbing. His older son had enlarged the family property by prudent management and sensible investments, but now his younger son had come back from the American wilderness with a veritable fortune. The Tremaynes would be counted among Berkshire's leading families.
Jim sensed his father's line of thought.
"Father, I would ask you to keep our arrival a secret for now. If people know of my return and of the fortune I made the prices for property will go up. Let us enjoy a week or two here. I will then return to London to set things in motion. Lord Lambert has offered his help and advice, and his bank will act for us when we move to buy property. I would also ask you to point out any property that might help you to round out your possessions."
"Only if we split the earnings," Ed insisted immediately but eagerly. There were indeed a few pockets of tillable land and a sizeable wooded area that he would like to include into the Tremayne lands.
Robert Tremayne had thought about his son's request. "It will not be easy, but I can try. If it helps, I didn't brag about the fortune you made. After all, I had no idea how much you won in those gold fields. Even if people learn of your return it should not create any attention."
"Thanks, Father. That will help. Still, I would like for us to settle in before every neighbour deems it his duty to have us for tea and story telling."
"That is sensible, Robert," Mrs. Tremayne entered the discussion. "Poor Rose must learn her way around first, and the same goes for Samantha and Mrs. Linkletter. Have them read every newspaper and take them to the theatre and the symphonies. After the Christmas holidays we shall have a few close friends over, for you and your family to meet. That will be early enough."
"Of course, Mildred my dear," Robert Tremayne hastened to agree.
Whilst Jim's mother stayed back with Penelope, the rest of the family went to see their accommodations. The rooms smelt faintly of paint and the furnishing was sparse, but the walls and ceilings had a fresh coat of plaster and paint, the windows were new, and the doors fit the frames well. They would live well here, Jim decided.
Suddenly, a new face showed.
"Mrs. Twining!" Jim exclaimed, recognising the family's housekeeper. She was ten years older to be sure, but she had hardly changed Jim decided.
"Master Jim, it is good to have you back," the woman beamed.
Jim saw a young woman at her side and he did a double take. "Lydia?"
"Yes, Master Jim," the woman smiled. "I came to help my aunt. She was having a hard time with all the extra cleaning and laundry."
"Oh, of course!" Jim exclaimed. "These added rooms must cause a lot of additional work. Now, with us here, it will be even more. We should hire our own servants, even our own housekeeper. We should look up an agency. Or perhaps Mrs. Twining would know of suitable candidates?"
The venerable Mrs. Twining just rolled her eyes at Jim and then jerked her head at her niece who was standing at her side wringing her hands nervously. Finally Jim understood.
"Perhaps Lydia would be open to an offer?" he asked.
"I should like that, Mr. Tremayne," Lydia gushed. "I'm a good cook, and I learned how to direct the servants. That is, if Mrs. Tremayne will not object... ?"
Rose gave the woman a friendly smile. "Why don't we give it a try for a month? If we agree with each other I can see no problems."
Privately, Rose made a mental note to ask her husband about his past relationship with their housekeeper's niece. The young woman had that sort of wholesome prettiness that Rose had seen in women before and that attracted men like honey drew bees. But then Rose reconsidered. Lydia was in her early twenties, and Jim must have left his family home eleven years ago, when he was shipped to the Crimea. There was no way her Jim would have molested a twelve- or thirteen-year-old girl!
Given the scarcity of furniture they decided on a preliminary allocation of rooms. Raven would have a guest room on the second floor of the centre wing. Jim and Rose, with Bobby, would have the large, second-floor bedroom in the west wing, while Samantha would have a small bedroom on the same floor. Lydia –or "Bennett" as she was to be addressed – sprang into activity at once. With the help of two other maidservants the beds were made and the clothes from the bags were taken out to be aired and ironed.
All the Tremaynes assembled then for their noon meal, and Rose had her first glimpse at the pride of Hamden Gardens, the garden room. Along the entire garden front, glass paned doors let in the weak wintry light. Rose could see that the garden was well maintained. There were rose bushes, now naked and bare, but also evergreens. A yew-lined path covered with gravel led towards a pond, perhaps thirty yards away. Jim's mother followed Rose's gaze.
"My joy and pride, my garden," she smiled. "Nothing gives me more peace than sitting in the shade of a tree and smelling the fragrance of flowers, or the fresh smell after a spring rain!"
"It looks so pretty, even in winter," Rose answered.
"Can we perhaps sit together after the meal? I would like to know more of the mother of my grandson, and I imagine you want to hear about us."
"That would be very nice. We have made no plans other than being with you."
The food was a cottage pie, a dish Rose new well from Mrs. McGuinn's cooking. The taste was slightly variant, but it was delicious all the same. Thin ale was served with the meal, and Rose found it to be of excellent quality, far better than any of the ales that reached Denver City. Little Bobby ate potatoes off her plate which she mashed with her fork, and he seemed to like it as he demanded more and more. The elder Tremaynes looked at Bobby and Rose with adoration. Penelope fed little Gwendolyn on her lap who was of Bobby's age.
After the meal the men retired to the study for a brandy and for a thorough briefing of the past ten years' events. The women assembled in another room with Bobby and Gwendolyn. While the small children played with Gwendolyn's toys, the women had tea and entered into a mutual interrogation. Of course, Rose was the main focus. Penelope's friendly curiosity and her mother-in-law's interest soon brought Rose to the limits of what she was willing to reveal. It was Jim's mother who noticed her daughter-in-law's discomfort and who put a restraining hand on Penelope's knee.
"We should not intrude too much on poor Rose. She hardly knows us, and we ask her such intimate details already. It is not really important. Rose, you have made my son happy. I can see that. Anything else is immaterial. I can imagine how your youth must have been difficult with you being orphaned so early. Let us just keep quiet about those years until we have earned your trust."
Rose gave her a grateful smile. "I can see now how Jim grew up to be the gentleman he is," she answered.
"Yes, he always was a fine young man, even when that girl tore his heart out. Well, that's old news, and it wasn't entirely her fault. I wonder how she will react to his return."
"Oh, she'll be jealous and envious of Rose, that is a certainty," Penelope answered. "Look at the facts: she had to marry that abominable man who has squandered his fortune, and here comes Jim, wealthy, good looking, and with a beautiful wife. It will kill her."
"Are you speaking of Jim's former fiancé?" Rose asked, to make sure she understood.
"The very same," Penelope answered. "We better have you prepared before you meet her. She will not be your friend."
Rose sighed and shrugged. "I shall watch out. I pity her though. Judging from what we read in your letter, she was forced into the marriage. I cannot but commiserate with her."
"Never tell her that!" Penelope exclaimed, laughing. "She is likely to bite your head off if you do. No, if you are to speak to her, her life is perfect, her husband is perfect, and everything is as she dreamt her future to be."
"Well, perhaps it is?" Rose asked feeling bewilderment.
"Hardly," Penelope snorted. "Her husband's a cripple and living on laudanum. Do not misunderstand me: I shall never speak ill of those so unfortunate as to lose their health or their limbs, but that man is beyond my compassion. He owes his injury to his vices, and he is a shameless liar and all around scoundrel. He has managed to ruin his father's property in just a few years and from what we hear he curses her all day. Their housekeeper told our Mrs. Twining that he wets his bed almost every night out of spite, even though he has the facility to control his bladder. Nobody's visiting them either because of his disagreeable character and his ruined repute."
"Leave the poor woman her pride," Mildred Tremayne chided her daughter in law. "It is all she has left. Think how hard it is for her. She was the most sought-after girl in the county, and now her life is in ruins through little fault of her own. She must pretend to be happy, if only to retain her sanity."
Rose sighed again. This new life would not be easy.
Edited by SpikeCO