A Baby Changes Everything

Lenona 30, 1014

“… and last of all, to you, Dad,” said Joshua, lifting his goblet. “For founding the feast, arranging it all, and last but not least, holding this whole screwy family together!”

The last part made Mark bark out a laugh. “Really?” he asked Joshua. “It’s not like the four of you and all your wives and — well, husband — would be coming apart at the seams if it weren’t for me.”

Joshua watched as Cressida and Dannie shared a glance around Aglovale’s head. They were probably dying to say something — like, say, pointing out the obvious — but probably didn’t want to come out and say it. At the end of the day … they were daughters-in-law, and there were some things that you had to be blood to spit out loud.

Joshua wished Heloise was here — she would have pointed out that she and Babette still fought like a pair of ill-tempered alley cats, and that it was only a matter of time before Joshua and Dannie were again at loggerheads over the Guild, which inevitably would drag Rob into it. But Heloise was, of course, at Camford, probably reading some dense book of philosophy with only a candle and a goblet of wine for company. Joshua tried not to sigh. He still missed his little sister, wondered if she was lonely, even if he knew rationally that she was having the time of her life.

Luckily Rob stepped in before Joshua’s mood could get too maudlin. “To Dad!” he echoed, lifting his goblet.

Everybody else followed suit, and a chorus of, “To Dad!” and “To Mark!” filled the room.

Joshua drank, as did everyone else. This was good wine. Joshua idly wondered why Mark had sprung for it — if, that is, it was expensive wine. Joshua knew enough about expensive things to know that quality and cost didn’t always tally, even if he would never be brave enough to point that out in front of Richard Ferreira.

“So,” Dannie asked as soon as the toast was over, “what’s for dessert?”

“Ooh, Dannie!” Babette clucked her tongue. “You’re not pregnant anymore! You can’t be eating whatever you like, now — not if you want to keep your girlish figure!” She batted her eyelashes and tittered.

“First of all, any woman who has had three children and can still describe her figure as ‘girlish’ is either lying or hopelessly deluded,” Dannie replied. Joshua tried not to snicker. Rob didn’t have as much success. “Secondly, I’m nursing — and, by the way, if the midwives say that wanting sweet things means you’ll get a sweet-tempered baby, well, shouldn’t that also count for nursing mothers?” She folded her hands under her chin and batted her eyelashes at Babette.

Joshua tried to look anywhere that wasn’t at Dannie — or Rob — or, hell, Cressida! He’d burst out laughing if he did. So he looked at his father.

He forgot what it was that had been so funny when he looked at Mark’s face. Mark stared at Dannie in what could only be called terrified wonder — but why? — then he cleared his throat and turned to Joshua. “You know … Josh … before we have dessert, I should probably … make the announcement that I wanted to make.”

“Announcement?” Joshua asked. He looked around the table — but to judge by the confused and curious expressions he found there, nobody else had any better idea than he did about what Mark was talking about. Odd.

Mark cleared his throat again. “You see — well — I wanted Heloise to be here too, but her order wouldn’t let her leave, and, well … I’ve already got the news going to her in a letter. So. That’s all right.” Mark tried to chuckle. He managed a wheeze.

Joshua felt his heart start to hammer in his chest. What the hell could Mark had gathered them all here for? And why was he so nervous about it? It couldn’t be — it couldn’t be his health — Joshua would swear that Mark was healthy as a horse —

But wouldn’t he have said the same thing about Helena the day before she told him and Rob that she was sick?

“I’m sure — well — I know everyone around this table is aware of the arrangement I have with … with Wei Li,” Mark continued.

Joshua wasn’t sure whether that was his cue to relax or to panic more.

“And — without going into too many details — after all, we’re all adults here — well — as it happens — Wei Li and I will be expecting a baby in Darid.”

The first thing Joshua thought was, Oh. A baby? That’s all? That’s not so bad.

The next was: Oh, shit.

And then he kicked himself. He’d been expecting another bombshell like Helena’s diagnosis, hadn’t he? A baby wasn’t that bad in comparison. And … well …

Lord, it was awkward to realize that in about thirty seconds, you’d have to congratulate your father for siring a child on his mistress. Somehow nobody ever mentioned that these types of conversations would be part of having grown up …

Luckily, he was saved from having to say that by Aglovale’s polite cough. It was the first sound since Mark had made his announcement. “Er … sir … with all due respect, are you sure …”

Joshua could see where this was going — Cressida was staring at him in horror, knowing where this was going and begging him to stop it — Joshua tried to think on the fly —

Dannie shoved her chair back from the table. “You know what? Cressida, don’t you think this would be an excellent time to show Aglovale that new chess set you got?”

New chess set? Joshua wondered.

“Oh–oh, yes!” Cressida jumped up. “Come with us, Aglovale. You’ll love it!”

What new — oh. That was a little slow on his part, Joshua thought ruefully. At least Cressida was quicker on the uptake than he was. And whatever Dannie suggested next for the Guild, Joshua decided, he would be supporting. He just hoped it wasn’t too mad.

“Ladies, I don’t think –” Aglovale tried to protest.

Cressida forestalled that with a hand laid on his shoulder and a pair of sea-green eyes blinking at him. “But, Aglovale … we so wanted your opinion …”

“Oh … well, I suppose … if you really wanted that …” Aglovale stood and followed Dannie to the study. Cressida only paused long enough to wink at Joshua before bringing up the rear.

Dannie held the door open for Aglovale and Cressida to pass. When she went through, it shut with a firm click behind her. If Joshua didn’t know that sound didn’t carry in and out of the study easily, he would have been expecting to hear Aglovale get the tongue-lashing of his life.

Instead, what he heard was Babette take a deep breath. “Papa –”

Then there was the soft shuffle of wood on the new carpet Cressida had put in last week. Rob stood up. “You know,” he murmured as he moved around the table to sit on Mark’s other side, “there’s really no reason for all of us to be shouting down the table at each other.”

“You’re optimistic, son,” Mark sighed.

“No,” Rob replied, “just realistic.” He plopped down and scooted the chair in. “There’s no reason for shouting.” Joshua wasn’t sure who Rob glared harder at that when he spoke: himself or Babette. “As Dad said, we’re all adults here. If we didn’t realize that this was inevitable sooner or later, we were fooling ourselves.”

“Well–not inevitable,” Mark hedged. “We … certainly weren’t trying for a baby.”

Mark might not have been — but was Wei Li? Joshua wondered. Surely it wouldn’t be beyond a woman like that to get pregnant on purpose to tie the man more closely to her. If Wei Li had any reason to wonder if Mark would throw her off … well, she had to know he’d never stop supporting a child. The baby could be her insurance policy.

Or not. She was careful and savvy with money — she was invested in Joshua’s bank! She might have judged that a baby would keep Mark with her while he lived, but he couldn’t live forever …

Joshua sighed and rubbed his temple. He was going to get a headache if he kept trying to parse the motives of someone whom he barely knew. And that wasn’t even taking into account that Mark might be right, and the baby might be a simple accident.

“And by the way, Dad,” Rob added, “as strange and awkward as it is for me to say this — congratulations.”

Mark beamed, and that was when Joshua knew he’d have to stop caring about what Wei Li’s motives for getting pregnant, if she’d had any motives at all, were. Mark was happy about the baby. It was a wonderful thing, to be just happy that a baby was coming. Joshua hadn’t felt that since before Baby Belle was born, though he’d always felt plenty happy after the baby was born.

“Thanks — thanks, Rob,” Mark replied.

“And — and congratulations from me, too,” Joshua added. Mark turned to him in some surprise. Joshua smiled weakly.

“Too late,” Rob murmured.

“Too late? What’s that supposed to mean?” Joshua asked.

“It means I beat you, you moron — and that I win,” Rob replied with a wink.

“You little –”

Mark stared between the two of them. “Is this a joke?” he asked. “Acting childish so I remember how to deal with children?”

“Don’t be silly, Dad,” Joshua answered. “The baby won’t be able to bicker as well as we do for years yet.”

“Though he’ll probably inherit the Wesleyan knack for it,” Rob added.

“Good Lord …” Mark shook his head. “Though …” He glanced between his sons. “Might I hope that perhaps, someday, this baby might get to bicker with his brothers and sisters?”

Joshua felt his throat start to dry. Good Lord, couldn’t Mark be waiting on this question? Let the news sink in a bit? Joshua still hadn’t formally talked to Wei Li since Mark set her up and got her out of the whorehouse, even though he knew it was inevitable that they’d have to talk about her finances sooner or later. Was he a horrible person for not wanting to be involved?

Then again … now there was the baby to consider …

“Well,” Joshua tried to hedge a bit, if only to give himself more time to consider it, “it’s — it’s a little bit difficult to bicker with a sibling over thirty years your junior …”

“Especially since it’s so embarrassing when you lose,” Rob smirked.

“You shut up!” Joshua replied, trying not to laugh and failing miserably. “Good Lord! Dannie was smart enough to get herself out of the room, and now you’ve got to go saying all the things she would have said!”

Rob shrugged. “It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.”

“Oh, for …” Joshua shook his head. He wasn’t going to go down that road, much as it might make them all feel better. After all, if Aglovale was going to be getting raked over the coals — was still getting raked over the coals, if Joshua was any judge of the combined powers of Dannie and Cressida — for getting involved in things that weren’t his concern, they might as well discuss things that were of no concern to Aglovale. “Can we — can we get down to brass tacks, Dad? What’s this going to mean?”

Mark swallowed. “For …?”

“Everything,” Joshua replied. He added before Rob could protest, “We do do the finances for the family together.”

“Aye. Aye.” Mark took a deep breath and pushed his hair back from his forehead. “Well — for starters, I’ll need to increase Wei Li’s allowance. We’ll need to buy a nursery — and I want to make sure she has everything she needs. Clothes and good food and a good midwife and all the rest of it.”

Joshua nodded. He’d be the last Sim on earth to deny an expectant woman any of that.

“Dad,” Rob asked, “would you like me or Dannie to talk to Lady Clarice about seeing to Wei Li?”

Joshua wanted to protest — but he bit his tongue. Literally.

Mark’s eyes lit up at the suggestion — then, after a moment’s thought, he shook his head. “I–I don’t think that’s the best idea. Lady Clarice is still — well –”

“Far too good to be meddling with the likes of her!” Babette exploded.

Joshua winced and slowly turned to face his sister. Babette’s expression was just as mulish and furious as he had feared.

“Babette –” Joshua started.

“I can’t believe you went and did this, Papa! And with her! How do you even know the baby’s yours? A woman like that –”

“Babette!” Joshua interrupted as the blood drained out of Mark’s face. “For the love of Wright, I think we can trust Dad’s judgement! He knows th–Wei Li better than any of us do.”

“It’s still not right!” Babette insisted. “It’s no different than what Sir Mordred is doing with his mistress!”

“It’s a hell of a lot different, Babette,” Rob replied, rolling his eyes. “Dad isn’t dishonoring or humiliating anybody.”

“And what about Mother’s memory?” Babette challenged. Her lower lip was starting to quiver. Joshua patted her back, or tried to, but she shook him off.

“I don’t think your mother would have begrudged me this, Babette,” Mark said with surprising gentleness. Or was it really that surprising, coming from Mark?

“Why not?” Babette asked. “You’re humiliating all of us, going around like some besotted — fool!”

“We’re humiliated?” Rob asked, glancing at Joshua.

“Oh, Rob, don’t be an idiot –” Babette started.

“And don’t you be a snob,” Rob retorted. Joshua’s eyes almost bugged out of his head. He hadn’t seen Rob put Babette in her place like this since … since … when had he seen Rob take Babette head-on? It had never been necessary through their childhood, since Heloise was always the first one charging into that fight. “If anybody even cares about what Dad and Wei Li are up to, they’re probably jealous that Dad has the resources to care for her and have his fun and at the same time isn’t hurting anyone else in order to do it.”

“Are you kidding me?” Babette repeated. “They’re laughing at us all behind our backs!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake –” started Joshua.

“And how could you be so irresponsible, Papa?” Babette asked. “Surely –”

“Babette.” Rob interrupted. “Really? You’re going to lecture anybody about being responsible when it comes to having babies?”

Joshua almost applauded. He couldn’t have put it better himself. Hell, Heloise probably couldn’t have put it better, and not just because she would have had to run to the privies lest she wet her drawers laughing the minute Babette opened her mouth about responsibility.

Babette paled. “That–that was different!”

“No. It. Was. Not,” Rob snapped. “If anything, what you did was worse. Dad is — how old are you, Dad?”

“Fifty-three.”

“Fifty-three years old,” Rob continued. “He’s got more than enough financial resources to care for himself, Joshua and his family, Wei Li, and any more children that might come along. He also knew exactly what he was doing when he set Wei Li up. You just blundered your way into trouble, and you’re damn lucky that it turned out as well for you — for all of us — as it did.”

Babette’s lips parted — then she hung her head like a wilting flower. “It’s still not fair,” she muttered.

“Little in life is,” Joshua replied, patting her hand since she wouldn’t let him pat her back. He turned back to Mark. “So … er … where were we, Dad?”

***

Later that night — after the discussion had been had, after Cressida, Aglovale and Dannie had been let out of the study, after a very stilted dessert followed by what could only be described as a relieved leave-taking, after Joshua was ready for bed and he knew that Cressida was ready too, he went into the nursery to find her shushing Paul, who had just had his last feeding of the night.

He hadn’t had a chance to talk to Cressida about … any of it. It was a discussion that ought to wait until morning. But Joshua didn’t know how he’d sleep without saying anything.

Cressida smiled at him over Paul’s head. “How did it go with your father?”

At least she wouldn’t make him feel guilty for bringing it up. “Eh … we’ll cope,” Joshua replied. “He’s already decided that he’ll be changing his will.”

“Well, you can hardly blame him. Not with a baby on the way.”

“Hmm.” Joshua had his own thoughts about that. “I told him he ought to wait until the baby is born.”

“Joshua, you’re not going to deny him peace of mind, are you?”

Joshua shrugged. “I just think we’d probably be in a better place if the baby was born, and Dad could decide exactly how much he wants to go to the baby, and how much he wants to go to Wei Li … I don’t know if you can leave things to a baby who isn’t even born yet.”

“I’m sure there’s a way,” Cressida shrugged. “Noble families do it all the time, probably.”

“All right, Cressida, then let me put it like this: he’s probably going to want to change it again after the baby is born, to get everything finalized — and who wants to pay for a lawyer twice?”

Cressida snorted. “Now you’re just being a skinflint. Here,” she said, turning Paul around, “say goodnight to your son before I put him to bed.”

Joshua stuck his tongue out at Cressida. Paul saw it, laughed, and stuck his tongue out too.

“Oh boy!” Joshua laughed. “It looks like we’ve got a character on our hands, Cressida. Did you see that?”

All the Wesleyans are characters, and so are plenty of the Parkinsons,” Cressida retorted. “We should have known Paul would follow in the family tradition when he was just a bump in the front of my dress.”

That, Joshua reflected, was true. And … it reminded him of something his father had mentioned. “Dad wants Rob and me to go meet Wei Li — formally.”

“You should go,” replied Cressida without a second’s hesitation.

Joshua remembered how Mark had been when Paul was just a bump in the front of Cressida’s dress: a silent strength, firm in his insistence that everything was going to be fine, even if Joshua didn’t know how he could be so sure. And while Mark was still wearing that optimistic face … how could he know?

“Aye,” he agreed with Cressida. “Aye. I will.”

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19 thoughts on “A Baby Changes Everything

  1. Thank you, Dannie and Cressida, for getting Aglovale out of there! Shame that Babette sort of had to be there on principle, though. You know, it’s a pity that Sims can’t jump from game to game to visit while the computers of the world are sleeping, because she’d probably have one hell of a time with Winter’s Lady Catherine and Lothere’s Lady “It’s simply not the thing!” Anna.

    But good on Josh and Rob. Rob especially. Dannie’s certainly been wearing off on him, with her wit and her accepting nature and her all-around awesomeness. Meanwhile, I guess Josh gets points for noticing that what matters is that his father is happy, though I hope he realizes that Wei Li has no intentions of “trapping” Mark when they do meet properly.

    I’m guessing Heloise will be… shocked, but more or less okay with it? I could see her having a minute of anger on her mother’s behalf, but I’m sure it wouldn’t take her long to realize that Helena would have wanted Mark to move on. I hope she gets to meet Wei Li too, because I could see them really enjoying each other’s company once they get past the “soo… you’re banging my dad” awkwardness. As for Babette, I’m glad she’s apparently been exempted (or, more likely, banned) from the visit. If she’s willing to say that crap to her own father, who knows what she might say to Wei Li? And Wei Li probably won’t lose any sleep over her, because she’s a practical woman who has better things to do than to go about constantly trying to please people who won’t give you an inch and won’t pull their heads out of their asses.

    • … Are you sure we’d want to put Babette, Lady Catherine, and Lady Anna in a room together? I mean, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, because Lady Catherine would be looking down her exceedingly long nose at both of them for the way they made their marriages, or the fact that they married up at all. (“[A]re the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?”) But Babette and Lady Anna might get along far, far, far too well … *shudders*

      πŸ˜€ It’s a good thing that Dannie’s rubbing off on Rob — she needs to rub off on somebody, and not just the kids. πŸ˜‰ Hopefully Rob will start to rub off on Josh, too, and Josh can learn to be happy that Mark is happy, and not just tolerate the whole situation.

      Hmm … Heloise’s reaction … if Babette knows about Wei Li, then Heloise certainly does, and I think she’s already had her shock about that. She’s probably gotten over being angry on Helena’s behalf, too, because you’re right, she would have realized that Helena herself wouldn’t begrudge Mark this. However, if Heloise got to meet Wei Li, and they got to talking … especially if the conversation turned to philosophy … Heloise might have a new best friend. πŸ˜‰

      Babette was exempted from the meeting. Mostly it’s because she’s a Lady now, sister-in-law to the Earl of Gwynedd, and she can’t be meeting with women like Wei Li, even if they are banging her father. She wouldn’t want to go for precisely those reasons, and probably a few more thrown in. Plus, if and when Mark dies, Josh and Rob would be the ones continuing to support Wei Li from a financial point of view and administering to what Mark left her, so it’s important from a practical perspective that they get to know and get used to working together.

      And frankly, Wei Li got off lucky, not having to meet Babette. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Van!

  2. Oh, I love you, Rob. Seriously I could have kissed him when he put Babette in her place. I also loved Dannie and Cressida taking Aglovale out of the picture when he was about to accuse Wei-Li of cuckolding Mark by having another man’s baby. Which is all the more ironic, considering that his own wife is exactly that.

    I’m glad that Josh agrees with Mark on taking good care of Wei Li while she’s pregnant. That part was really good of him.

    Still, I sorta want to kick him for some of his other thoughts.

    Babette seriously, seriously, seriously does need a good dose of the STFU that Nix was suggesting after the last post. Hell, even Elinor didn’t come at the best time for all that she’s married now. She has, as Rob pointed out, no place to talk about responsibility when it comes to babies or anything else.

    And oh, I could have punched her when she talked about dishonoring Helena’s memory by being with Wei Li.

    But thankfully the level-heads of the Wesleyans won out over Babette’s superficial status hunting fluff.

    • And oh, I could have punched her when she talked about dishonoring Helena’s memory by being with Wei Li.

      Oh my yes! When I read that I very, very badly wanted to tell her that if anything, Mark is honouring the fine tradition Helena started. “Babette dear, have you ever wondered why you’re the only Wesleyan who doesn’t have a brain in her head? This is why.”

    • Ah, yes, the sweet, delicious irony of the husband of Helena’s little cuckoo in the nest trying to accuse Wei Li of trying to pull a fast one on Mark … I love it! πŸ˜‰

      I also loved Rob telling Babette off; man, was that fun to write! I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoyed that. And as for Josh … at least he’s getting better?

      But yeah, Babette needs to do … a lot of things. We can start with “grow a brain,” then move on to “stop being a hypocrite,” spend some time with “take the beam out of her eye,” and maybe end with “think before saying or doing anything.” I think a lot of her problems would be solved in those four easy steps. Alas that the first one seems to be beyond her capabilities. πŸ˜‰

      But that being said, I don’t see anybody telling Babette anytime soon that she’s not Mark’s daughter biologically. It would devastate her, and her brothers and her father wouldn’t do that to her. (And Heloise doesn’t know, since she was too little to understand what was going on when it happened, and she was never told when she got older.) Plus, there’s no way Babette could or would keep quiet about it, and letting that secret out could bite them all in the ass sooner or later.

      Thanks Andavri, thanks Nix!

      • Much as I loathe Babette, I agree, telling her that would be cruel. (Doesn’t mean I don’t want to, though. ;)) Also, even though Mark seems like a laid-back, good-natured guy, admitting that Babette isn’t his biological child would also be admitting he’s been cuckolded, and I’m not sure he’s that laid back. πŸ˜›

  3. Hooray for Rob being awesome! πŸ˜€ And hooray for Josh not freaking out as badly as I thought he would. But sometimes I think Aglovale and Babette deserve each other; I wanted to clock them both, badly. 😑

    • LOL! Well, then there’s one good thing that came out of Babette and Aglovale’s union: Neither of them were still single to be inflicted on anybody else. πŸ˜‰

      Although sometimes I think Elyan and Babette might have been fun … because if anybody would have less patience (and yet more reason to be patient, given his own status in the brains department) with Babette than Aglovale, it would be Elyan. But I don’t know if Elyan would have married her even if he did knock her up, and Bors certainly wouldn’t have made him.

      Thanks, Nix!

      • Good point. πŸ˜‰ If it had been Elyan and Babette, I’m convinced Babette would be a single mother right now; even if Elyan had considered marrying her, Bors would have talked him out of it, possibly/probably by convincing Elyan he couldn’t be sure the child was his and/or that it obviously wasn’t his responsibility that she couldn’t keep her legs closed. πŸ‘Ώ

        Re Hat’s comment below, that Babette wouldn’t be Lady Gwynedd if Pellinore had said no. I know I said it before, but I really wish Lady Nose-in-the-Air could somehow learn that Agovale thought she was “common as mud” and that he wouldn’t have married her if Pellinore hadn’t twisted his arm almost out of joint. Of course, Aglovale is the only one still alive who knows about it, and I’m not sure even he would be stupid enough to tell her that… but maybe, just maybe, if he got angry/exasperated enough with her one day… (Hey, a girl can dream, right? ;)) Because like you said below, I think that could be what finally made Babette grow up. Yes, it would be awful and painful for her, but if there were every somebody who needed to be kicked firmly in the behind by a reality check, it’s Babette. (Oh, how I love to hate this character! :twisted:)

  4. Oh dear. Now this was awkward. And also awesome! Beware the combined powers of Dannie and Cressida! Aglovale will probably need to visit the tailor, because he shrunk to child-size from sheer awe. πŸ˜„
    And Rob! I could kiss him! That was beautiful to behold, how he put Babette in her place! It’s a pity there’s no way to show Heloise. I bet she would enjoy that!
    Josh needs to learn a thing or two from his brother. But he’s done comparatively well here. At least in what he said and did. I still wanted to tell him off for some of his thoughts. But hopefully he’ll learn better when he meets Wei Li. I can’t wait to see!

    • LOL! Yes, it is a pity that we couldn’t have seen Cressida and Dannie give Aglovale the dressing-down of his life. I know Andavri said that Heloise could make Aglovale cry, but I think right now that if Dannie didn’t make him cry, it’s because she had mercy on him and for no other reason. πŸ˜‰

      Indeed! Heloise would have loved to see that! Maybe Rob will describe it to her via letter? It will definitely put a spring in Heloise’s step even if she didn’t get to witness it firsthand.

      As for Josh … well, he’s learning. We won’t be seeing Wei Li, Josh, and Rob’s meeting this round, because I’ve got too much else going on, but maybe next round. Hopefully by the next time we see him, Josh will have come around even more.

      Thanks, Ann! πŸ™‚

  5. See, I didn’t want to punch Babette when she talked about dishonoring Helena’s memory. I wanted to laugh. So, so hard. But my wisdom teeth are bothering me, so I just sort of snorted a little.

    I’m glad Rob’s looking at things sensibly, and I’m glad Josh has calmed down about Mark and Wei Li’s relationship. … Although it might be easier to handle ‘she’s having a baby I’m pretty happy about having and providing for’ and ‘I’d like my legitimate and illegitimate kids to know each other’ than ‘this House needs a Lady, maybe I’ll marry my stubbornly non-Wrightian sex-worker girlfriend.’

    But Babette… oh, you silly little narrow-minded ball of pretty fluff. Yes, yes it is fair. It is EXACTLY fair. And it’s long past time somebody told you how very, very lucky you are to have come out of ‘whoopsie, pregnant’ with a noble husband instead of just being provided with a big-ass gift for your dowry to make up for not being quite as virginal as some non-Aglovale future husband might hope, and a trust for the baby. Has it ever really occurred to her that if Pellinore had said ‘oh HELL no,’ she wouldn’t be a Lady Gwynedd right now?

    (Really, I suspect if there’s much gossip from the townies about Mark and Wei Li, it’s probably more speculation about why he doesn’t just push her into being baptized and shriven and marry her– he’s a wealthy but common widower, after all, and any man who’s ever visited the brothel would know Wei Li might be a pagan, even a heathen, but she’s got enough grace and charm and class to be a maitresse en titre– that’s got to be good enough to be a rich commoner’s trophy second wife.)

    • Hope your wisdom teeth are feeling better, Hat! God I was lucky to get them out before they started giving me pain.

      I think part of the reason why Josh is handling things as well as he is is because he knows things could be worse; he has no desire to bring sex-worker girlfriend around his daughter (and now his wife) and if he keeps playing nice, he might be able to stave that off. And hey, he might even grow to have a bit of respect for Wei Li in spite of himself. This is Albion; stranger things have happened!

      … I think I should make that the tagline of the story …

      Anyway, moving on! No, I don’t think it ever occurred to Babette that Pellinore would have said “HELL no.” Or that if he had, it would have meant the end of her and Aglovale. She did, I believe, have some fantasies about Aglovale’s father blowing up about the two of them and Aglovale defying his father in order to be with her … however, in those fantasies, Babette wasn’t pregnant at the time … plus they were, you know, fantasies. God, I’d feel sorry for her if she ever found out that it was Pellinore who was insistent on the marriage while Aglovale tried to worm his way out of it.

      Of course, that kind of realization might be what it takes for Babette to finally grow up …

      Hmm, that’s a good point about the townies of Albion — maybe they are just wondering why Mark doesn’t marry her already! She’s already paved the way by being a good mistress, so to speak. We’ll see if and when a discussion of marriage ever comes up between these two. πŸ™‚

      Thanks, Hat!

  6. Really, Babette? REALLY? Wei Li has more dignity in her pinkie than you’ll ever have. She doesn’t pretend to be what she’s not. I’m sure you’re much too dainty and delicate to meet her, but you could learn a few things from that lady. If you’ve noticed anyone laughing behind your back, it’s not the fault of Wei Li or your father.

    I’m glad the boys are at some point on the “coming around to the idea” road. If, Wright forbid, something happens to Mark early on, there will still be some Wesleyan influence (and protection) to be had. And if all goes well, maybe they’ll find in the fun in being a way-way-older sibling.

    • Wei Li has dignity oozing out of every last poor; all Babette has is selfishness and spite coming out of her pores.

      Hell yeah Babette could learn from Wei Li — alas that I don’t see it happening. Babette would have to get within ten feet of her for that to happen, and, yeah … Babette’s not to into that idea. But hey, at least Wei Li is getting spared having to deal with Babette! That makes her, on some level, better off than the Crown Princess!

      Yeah, the boys have I think mostly made their peace with Wei Li and Mark’s relationship, albeit Rob more than Josh. I hope they do warm up to the idea of being much-older siblings — if nothing else, they have a lifetime of knowledge about what pushes Mark’s buttons, knowledge they could very easily share. And I think that might be a very Wesleyan thing to do. πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, Winter! πŸ˜€

  7. I figured that that conversation would be somewhat difficult but I thought that maybe Josh would have to say more “negative” things about it. But that it’s Babette who opens her mouth? I mean, it’s probably more common to set up a mistress and have her have some of your children, without really putting “shame” on anyone esp if you’re widowed. But Babette really was just lucky that Aglovale was made to marry her (if my memory is correct – I may be mistaken here, a toddler kinda fries your brain at times, LOL). But either way, Babette could’ve caused some real trouble for the family. That’s why I don’t get why she thinks she’s so much better than everyone else. I wonder now, if maybe she hates Nicole so much because it’s obvious that Milo didn’t have to marry her because she was with child or something. Instead he married her because he wanted to and Babette wished that it would’ve been the same for her and Anglovale? I mean, yeah she’s not the smartest, but maybe she realizes that he never would have married her if it wasn’t for the pregnancy?! Well, I don’t really know if Babette even goes that deep. She’s maybe just too superficial.

    I hope that the meeting with Wei Li will go well.

    • Oh, that’s easy, Babette’s better because she’s a ~*~Laaaady~*~ now, and she was at least a Deserving Merchant’s Daughter before, and Aglovale was always going to marry her sometime, and Nicole was just a cook and barmaid and then Milo turned around and married her without a baby on the way, which must mean she either fibbed about a baby on the way or had some other hold over him to make her marry him, the little gold-digging peasant. Babette is so much better than that.

      Because Babette is vapid and shallow and self-centered, and figures she’s always been the star of the story, and probably has no idea why her Happily Ever After still has fights and struggles in it. Certainly she has no idea how close she came to not getting the marriage she wanted– how figuratively screwed she’d be if she hadn’t gotten euphemistically screwed instead. She’s dense enough that it almost makes for a pitiable sort of innocence. … Almost.

    • Ok, first I have to ask — Hat, have you been in Babette’s head recently? Because that is exactly how she would think that, italics and inflections and all. Sca~ary!

      I think the reason why Josh wasn’t saying more negative things is because, well, he’s gotten a bit better at holding his tongue since we last saw him have to deal with the subject of Wei Li. And I think he’s mellowed a bit after marrying Cressida. After all, Cressida herself is firmly in the Mark/Wei Li camp (or at least in the “Why shouldn’t Mark be happy?” camp), and some of that has rubbed off. As for Babette … yeah, she’s a moron with a brain too shallow to drown a worm in. There’s really no excuse for her: the truth of her life wouldn’t be that hard to make out if she just let herself see it. … And had the brainpower to understand it, of course.

      I think a lot of the reason why Babette does dislike Nicole is because of jealousy, albeit on a subconscious level. Nicole is living the fairy tale that Babette wanted. And worst of all? The parts that Babette wanted so badly — the social connections, the high life, etc. — are things that Nicole couldn’t give a shit about. So in Babette’s mind, Nicole not only gets the fairy tale, she’s not even enjoying it on the right level.

      And of course there’s the fear factor: the fear that Nicole is doing better with her “famous happy ending” than Babette is. Milo and Nicole do have their arguments, but at the end of the day each has a deep respect (to say nothing of love) for the other. Nicole may not have been as easily accepted by the ladies as Babette was (Nicole only had Milo in her corner), but I think it’s a fair assessment to say that they like her better. I think, in comparing herself to Nicole, the only way that Babette can make herself feel better is by making Nicole look worse.

      Sad, but … there you have it.

      Thanks, Saquina, thanks, Hat!

  8. I couldn’t blame the kids if they were more upset. We are talking about a former hooker’s baby.

    At the same time, I wish Mark would just marry her despite all the social problems. Somehow having her as a wife would be less complicated then all this. I know…we’ve been down that road before…

    What an awkard position for Mark to be in. “Well Babette, your mother wouldn’t begrudge me a mistress after her death because she cheated on me plenty. In fact, you’re proof.”

    Now wouldn’t that go over well? But since he won’t put Babette through that, Babette will probably always be upset about this. Mark had always been a very moral father to her. I doubt she ever saw him in a gray area before now. And then with all the pressure of trying to fit in, she probably thinks this is why she doesn’t. I just can’t imagine Babette figuring out that being snobby has driven away the noble ladies.

    Bravo to Mark. He keeps the whole truth from Babette to save her that pain. Even now when telling could make himself look better he keeps it to himself.

    I’m also very glad that Babette was put in her place by someone who loves her. Perhaps she will absorb it better that way.

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