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The Major

     Sir Tristan said, ‘Well, Leonora, what have you to say? An apology perhaps, my dear. Please!’
     For once in her life she was at a loss for words. Best not appear overwhelmed by him.
     ‘Well, what I’d like to know first of all is, how he’s going to support her. She’s accustomed to money, and a household of her own, and that means real money. Have you money, Major? Private family money, perhaps?’
     ‘Mama! Really!’
     Sir Tristan more angry then he had been in years said, ‘Leonora! That is a matter for the Major and me. It’s for men to discuss.’
     ‘Of course, I beg your pardon for doubting you, Major. Come, Charlotte, we’ll leave the men to it, now we need to make plans you and I. . . . .’ She slipped her arm around Charlotte’s waist and drew her away.
     Sir Tristan waited until Leonora’s voice had faded and then he said, ‘Despite her outspokeness my wife does have a point. All I hear of is long hours at the gaming tables now you’re not gallivanting round Europe defeating Napoleon.’
     ‘Indeed. The point is. . . . . .I always win.’
     ‘Ah!’
     ‘You have no need to feel anxious about me supporting her, I make good use of my winnings, I have invested in properties in some prestigious areas in London. I have valuables in storage at my bank that I’ve won from idiots who think they know better than I how to play cards and challenge me to a game,’ he smiled wryly, ‘and I never can resist a challenge.’
     Sir Tristan couldn’t resist saying with a beaming smile, ‘Watch out for Charlotte, then, if she challenges you to a game, she’s a demon at the card table. ‘She’s never said. My word! However, to go back to my finances, I am no longer required by the Army, so I. . . .’
     ‘I heard that you get called on by Wellington occasionally.’
     ‘Ah! I thought no one knew about that. Yes, for small skirmishes abroad needing brains rather than brawn, but not very often. Not life threatening, however, but I am lavishly rewarded. Sir, Charlotte and I do not want a massive wedding celebration. Something quiet and restrained would be what we prefer, in a small church in Islington where I attend occasionally. Is there a chance. . . . .’
     ‘Leave it to me. Now I’m going to rescue Charlotte from her mother and return her to you. She’ll prove a wonderful wife, believe me, she’s the joy of my heart.’
     ‘And of mine too.’
     It was Sir Tristan’s turn to smile. She’s highly intelligent and very independent, which I expect you’ve realised.’
     ‘Yes, I recognised that the very first time I spoke to her. So very straightforward.’
     Sir Tristan raised a hand to silence him. ‘Say no more.’
     ‘Thank you.’
     ‘Taking into account your army record I shall be proud to have you as my son-in- law.’ They shook hands and Sir Tristan walked away, thinking that maybe Major Gurney might turn out to be more of a son than his own ever did.
     Major Gurney and Charlotte danced the night away and the news of their betrothal had sped to every corner of Turnham House within the hour. The servants were delighted for her sake for every one of them loved her. Some guests, however, found it hard to accept, as there were several mamas who had the Major in their sights for their own daughters and they felt cheated.
     Charlotte and Maxim were too much in love to notice.

     This event took place at Christmas 1817. Charlotte Templeton and Maxim Gurney married a few weeks later and had a family of five children each of whom loved to stay at Turnham House whenever they could, and all of them developed a love of the countryside that was with them all their days. Some of Charlotte’s possessions were amongst the memorabilia of the Templeton family stored in the attics at Turnham House until the estate was sold to Craddock Fitch in the 1990’s when Sir Ralph Templeton removed them to his house in the village where he lived until his death in 2013.

 

 

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