Hanging on to a memory.
Anna said nothing about that dream to Hetty the next morning; (what could she possible have told her that would not have shocked her?) but Hetty could see that she was more up-beat and happy about something, and she could make her own guesses about that. Anna had remembered something more.
Anna was singing to herself as she helped prepare lunch, and was seeing to things, much as she had, before she’d gone missing.
Clearly Miss Anna had remembered something important, but wasn’t yet prepared to say anything about it; which was not surprising, considering her delicate condition that no one would speak openly about until things became obvious, as they would in a few months.
Hetty ached to know what Anna would have to tell her when she was unable to hide it any longer, but she was patient. She’d wait. Miss Anna would tell her eventually. They were very close that way, with few secrets.
Anna, had made a great step forward in being able to remember most of what had happened in that particular dream, but it had been far too personal for her to be able to share it with anyone; not even with Hetty, although her morning sickness already told others what must have happened to her. Of course, they knew none of the more important, intimately-shocking details; of what she had openly encouraged, gone after even, and which astounded even her to recall.
She had ‘known’ a man, and he had ‘known’ her in that way that no one openly spoke about in society, though it was gossiped about in low voices behind fluttering fans, and in private little whispered gatherings, and was snickered at, often enough, as they wondered ‘who’d got caught out, now?’ sniff, chuckle, chuckle; and then the gossiping picked up again. It was wiser to be part of those little covens, than to be absent from them, and to invite rumors about one's own family. Everyone had skeletons rattling around somewhere if one dug deep enough, and was patient.
Anna chuckled out loud at that difficult admission of having been ‘known’ in that special way that a man had, and that she now knew about; clenching her legs together at memory of what they had done to each other and shared. She could feel everything as though he were still doing it to her and was handling her breasts as he had; as though it were still happening to her; almost crying out at the sensation that that memory evoked in her tenderly receptive body, and that had, in turn, created this beginning life, making a start deep within her. It must be there, but she had no sense of it other than her sickness and some peculiar yearnings for things that they did not have, and then eating an entire jar of mustard pickles without giving it a moment's thought, setting others chuckling.
If it wasn’t morning sickness, creeping up on her, it was knowledge of that other life, that would keep everything alive in her mind! Never, for one moment would she regret what had happened.
‘Too late for that, you stupid girl! The damage has been done.’
Anna remembered those words, as her aunt had chastised little cousin Stefanie, years earlier, for her shameful display; daring to appear in adult company downstairs without a stitch of clothing on her, as an act of rebellion against her difficult mother. She had never admitted to it being a rebellious act, but had suggested that she must have been sleepwalking, as it was suggested that the Prince Regent had done, that time he had been caught in that woman's bedroom and in her bed with her. Stefanie had overheard her parents' conversation on that, and their scandalized laughter.
Stefanie remained just as shameless as she got older, or was even more shameless, if the rumors were true; (thought the evidence did not lie) and her mother was just as difficult and impossible.
That same comment could just as easily be made about Anna too, now, but she was not seven years old, as Stefanie had been, but was now twenty-four (as was Stefanie, with her many children, having done what she had done, and was still doing), and Anna was mature enough to know better; while obviously not having known better.
Anna had been saved from the river; had been completely undressed (out of necessity), and had been naked over many hours and even days, with an equally naked man (also out of necessity, at first, to get warm, and then after that, it hadn't mattered what they had done), and they had spent many nights together like that (out of choice, and because of a different kind of necessity by then), even though she’d remembered only the first two or three, of those nights so far; confirming that the damage had been done in the first few hours of knowing each other. But that was always the way of such relationships, with there being little patience in society any more, and the Regent and his ways, was to blame for most of that.
Somewhere in those first hours, or days, they had married according to older custom—which was a polite way of saying that she was not married at all—unless she really believed that marriage did not need the recognition and blessing of the church. But they’d not had time for that luxury; so even leaping over a broomstick together (as some wag had described; probably Swift) would have sufficed, but she'd already been tumbled and thoroughly plumbed by then, so it was all 'after the fact'.
The urgency of the situation had overridden the more delicate considerations, meaning that what they had done in the small chapel at the back of the house in making their vows, signing their names, and then doing that other… again... to seal the deal, would have to hold them until something better, more socially acceptable and recognized could be achieved. If they ever got around to it. Many, didn’t.
Even in that brief time, Anna had known that she was loved; had been loved; and was, herself, in love. At least she had that to hang onto.
She knew that the rest of that time would eventually come back to her now, and she would have to be patient enough, to let it trickle back, gradually as she dreamed.
Her views on many things had changed overnight, and all because a man; a special man had intruded into her life and turned everything upside down, sending everything her mother had taught her about morality, and being cautious of men, out of the door; as it did with most women when they were faced with the stark and sobering alternative of either letting a man, get closer to them and into their lives—and with little time to decide—as mama’s teachings crumbled; or to be happy with the horrifying choice of remaining a virgin and a spinster, all of their life, and dying, embittered, childless, and alone.
Anna had made a start on welcoming a man into her life, and into her body within hours of meeting him, and she was already pregnant! It was obvious what must have happened between them over the rest of those two weeks after that, so that earlier dream of them riding naked together (that, had also come back to her) may not have been so unreal after all.
But then something had changed again.
She was not sure what had changed, other than she had been out riding alone—she must have been alone—and had ridden away from that memory.
Why? What had happened? How could she have done that?
She’d slid effortlessly back into this older life, with no recollection of that idyllic interlude until she had ridden back into the farmyard and learned the awful truth. That she had been missing for two weeks, and then learning soon after that, that she had been ‘shorn’ between her legs, as though that territory had been claimed by another, which she now knew that it had, and that she was pregnant, which she definitely was!