top of page

The Major

      He heard the Major’s voice way out to the left towards the orangery and he purposefully headed that way. Why? He asked himself, because she might be being compromised and she hadn’t the wit to know it? That wasn’t the reason. She was too clever for that. Some people dismissed her as a bluestocking, which in some ways she was. She’d mastered Latin and Greek from the tutor he’d hired for Bernard, closely followed by mathematics and some aspects of this modern science they all went on about now. So it wasn’t that. No, he was following them in order to protect her from her mother, for he’d seen Leonora vulgarly climbing on a chair for a better view and knew without doubt that she’d be following, possibly very closely behind him. Sir Tristan had to hope he arrived there more quickly than she.
     Ah! There they were. The two of them were standing close together, Charlotte’s hands were clasped in the Major’s and he was holding them to his chest. Sir Tristan paused for a moment to observe. 
     The Major had a strong speaking voice, and he was speaking now. ‘Do you suppose, Charlotte, it would be presumptuous of me a humble Major promoted from the ranks whose schooling amounted to nothing except that which I have learned from the school of life, to ask. . . . . .to ask a daughter of a baronet to consider marrying me? Do you think she might condescend?’
     Charlotte had a deeper voice than that expected of a young lady in the year 1817 but it was mellow not manly, attractive rather than irritating, and Sir Tristan listened for her reply. It wouldn’t be the usual reply expected of a young lady, he knew that for certain, there’d be no simpering nor coyness, rather a straight forward reply. He wasn’t disappointed.
     ‘Maxim, there is nothing in this world I should like better than to be your wife.’
     Sir Tristan wondered if he should make himself known, but she continued speaking and he had to know what this surprising daughter of his would say next.
     ‘I’ve loved you since the very first moment I saw you at that recital. I had a back view of you but even your back spoke volumes to me and when you turned round, because I expect you sensed someone was watching you, I almost fainted, except I don’t do female things like fainting. I have loved every moment we’ve spent together since. I love you very much and if you are sincere about marrying me then my answer is a definite yes.’
     ‘My dearest Charlotte! I am honoured.’ Major’s voice had changed, no longer the authoritive voice of a soldier, because it was almost tremulous with joy. ‘My dearest, dearest Charlotte.’ He bent his head and at the same time his arms encircled her and he kissed her full on the mouth.
     Sir Tristan decided now was the moment to make his presence known before any further declarations of love. He stepped out from behind the bush and they broke apart.
     ‘Your shawl, my dear Charlotte, it’s far too cold to be out here without it.’ He slipped it around her shoulders and tenderly arranged it so her bare arms were covered.
     The Major cleared his throat. ‘Sir Tristan! Sir, I am guilty of a serious breach of etiquette. I have proposed to your daughter this very minute without first asking your permission. I do beg your pardon. Am I forgiven?’
     ‘I heard her reply, Major Gurney, as I approached. Is this what you want, my dear?’
     Charlotte studied this question for a long moment. ‘It most certainly is, and if I have to marry Major Gurney without your permission then I’m afraid I shall, but I’d rather you’d agree.’




bottom of page