The Extended Epilogue
Baroness Lucy Jones awoke at the break of dawn, ready to start another day of hard work
for the children. Her children. Not her own from her womb, but the hundreds of orphans she had embraced nonetheless.
She had been disappointed by how little so many nobles did once they were married, even with complete liberty to travel and work hard. After a few months, they had agreed that Andrew’s desire to travel with the Mission would be no trouble, so long as Lucy also was able to help others and stay busy at home. And so the orphanage was founded.
Rather than buy an ordinary home or a mansion, they invested in an old castle which was revitalized and refurbished to transform it into a home for up to five hundred children. Rather than spending her allowance on beautiful gowns and extravagant parties, Lucy dedicated it to charity balls to raise the funds for hiring teachers and ensuring the children were all fed. Nothing brought her a greater sense of satisfaction than seeing the smiling faces of children she had saved from terrible fates on the streets.
Unfortunately, they had not been blessed yet with children of their own. She held onto some hope, but also found much comfort in the company of the three hundred orphans they already cared for. She did her very best to get to know them all as individuals and to ensure all their needs were met.
Inspired by Lord Jones, she had wanted to do something big, to make a difference. And if she could not change the world, perhaps she could change a few small children’s worlds. There would probably always be suffering. There would always be another orphaned child on the street. But just because she could not create that fantasy land where no suffering existed did not mean she could not alleviate some suffering. Perhaps it would even serve as an inspiration to others to do the same.
Today was a slightly different day than usual. She was wearing her best dress, and had carefully combed her short hair and adorned it with a brightly decorated crown of artificial flowers, to look her very sweetest.
Lord Jones would be returning that afternoon, and as she walked down the hallway, listening to the teachers holding classes, she felt the same excitement as always building up inside her. So many years had passed, and she still felt that same raw passion for him. He still came home from the Mission tanned and lean, full of marvellous stories to tell and with a bag of trinkets and toys for the playrooms and classrooms.
The whole time he was away her heart ached for him. He was all she ever desired in a man, and yet she knew she could not tame him. Their marriage was not conventional, nor would it ever be, and she could not ask him to put an end to his old life for her sake. He could only do so on his own terms.
Lucy looked out the window, spying a little carriage in the distance, watching it climbing the hillside. It was surely him. She felt her heart flutter and made her way swiftly downstairs, stopping in front of a mirror by the doorway to ensure she looked perfect.
A few minutes later the door opened and he marched in. She spied on him, just out of view around a corner. His travelling suit was dusty from the road, and his boots were scuffed up from walking great distances in the wilderness. He had a few days of stubble from the carriage journey, and his hair was only barely arranged. But he still looked amazing.
He sighed wearily and handed his hat and coat to a maid who was to clean them. As soon as the maid had left, Lucy emerged from around the corner and flung herself into his arms.
Lord Jones embraced her and kissed her tenderly. “How have you been?”
“Bored, desolate, completely and utterly heartbroken,” she said with a slight laugh, pressing her head to his chest and listening to his heartbeat.
He laughed. “That bad? You’re always the same, no matter how long I am away for.” He stroked her short hair, brushing her fringe up away from her face, and tucked a slightly longer strand behind her ear.
She shrugged a little. “I suppose that is what I ought to say, but I’ve been rather busy. I have missed you, though.” She ran her hand gently down his chest.
He took her hand and kissed the back of it tenderly. “I have been very busy as well, but you were also sorely missed.”
“I trust you have plenty of amazing tales for the children and I,” she asked, following him as he headed upstairs. She could hear the bath was already being filled with hot water, so that he could emerge as impeccably groomed as he always looked in England.
“I do, I do… You really ought to come with me someday,” he said.
She nodded. “Maybe one of these days, but for now the children need me here,” she replied.
They walked into the bedroom, where he began searching for the right clothes. “The children are doing very well,” she said, “Georgina Thomas keeps getting in a spot of trouble, but I am sure she will grow out of it. As for Mark Smith, he has improved a lot since we moved him into additional classes.” She collapsed onto the bed and sighed.
“What is the matter?” he asked, laying a shirt and waistcoat out ready for dressing after his bath.
“It is only that… I would have liked to have a child of my own by now,” she said.
“There is still time,” Lord Jones replied. “We have not exactly had the opportunity to make an earnest effort of it, have we?”
“Do you really think we can? That we will?” Lucy asked.
“Some day, Lucy, I do not doubt it,” he replied, clasping her hand and stroking it reassuringly.
She nodded and smiled. “Perhaps I am getting a little ahead of myself. We have both been so busy.”
“Exactly. It can take some couples years together before they conceive. We have barely had an opportunity since I returned to the Mission and you bought this place,” he replied.
“But the orphanage is done. It all but runs itself now,” Lucy replied. “I am a friend to the children, and the balls are needed to raise funds, but besides that I do not do as much anymore.”
“If you are not happy right now you know we can change anything you want,” he said with a loving smile.
Lucy shook her head and smiled back. “No, I am very happy with the life we have now. But I find I am always looking forward.”
“Always looking for the next step in the road, never satisfied,” Lord Jones replied, sitting down on the bed beside her and gently pressing his lips to hers. “But I love that about you. You are motivated, you are creative.
Together we shall do so many great things.”
Lucy hugged him closely. “Oh, lest I forget, everyone has been asking when you would be back so they can visit.”
“I know. You may tell them I have returned,” Lord Jones replied. “Whilst I was away I received a letter from
Thomas and Julia Byrd, and from Duke and Duchess Perry, saying they were planning a family reunion and, considering us as family, would like for us to attend,” Lord Jones said.
“I wonder if the Duke and Duchess of York will be there,” Lucy mused. “Mary is Antoinette’s cousin, and if they’re extending the invitation to us, she will probably be invited also.”
Lord Jones shook his head. “You can never tell with them. They have a lot on their plates too.”
Lucy paused, then nodded. That they did. Not only did they have the usual duties of figures of authority, but they were also blessed with a fairly large family of their own. “That is true. It would be nice to see them.”
“The mansion wouldn’t look much different to the orphanage if they brought their brood round, though,” Lord Jones said and chuckled.
“How many children does Mary have now?” Lucy asked with a slight giggle. “Four or five? They are keeping very busy. Perhaps one day we shall have that many.” “Or more,” Lord Jones replied.
“If we have time, “ Lucy said. “I am worried that by the time we get around to it, it may be too late.”
“We could always make it our priority, now that your work is largely done,” Lord Jones suggested, kissing her cheek. A maid knocked at the door. “Is the bath prepared?” he asked.
“It is, Sir,” the maid replied.
He stood up and Lucy followed him, carrying his clothes. “But your work is nowhere near done,” she said. “How can we make it a priority?”
“I was actually thinking… of perhaps stopping my travels,” Lord Jones replied. “I have seen much, and come to realize that just as the people of India need to learn of our ways, we have much to learn from them. It would be nice to stay home and show others the beauty of the empire.”
Lucy sat down on a comfortable seat in the corner of their elaborate master bathroom. As Lord Jones undressed for his bath, she mused on what he had said.
“Are you sure that you do not wish to continue travelling?” she finally asked, as he leaned back in the hot water and sighed.
“I do want to continue travelling. But not right now. I grow tired of being away from you. And I have much to teach the people of England now. I would like to spend some time here, with the hope that when I renew my travels you shall be by my side,” he explained. He looked amazing as he lay back in the hot water, his strong, muscular chest shining, the tan lines barely visible where he had apparently spent much time shirtless, the rough stubble still on his chin. He truly looked like a man who had just returned from the wild.
“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Lucy replied.
He nodded. “And, what is more, perhaps we could use that time to try for a child of our own a little more in earnest. Give it a year or two, and we will have our own tiny feet pattering about the place.”
Lucy hesitated. “But… what if it never happens? What if we do not have any children, even after devoting our full attention to it for years and years?”
“Then it never happens. Like your friend Sister Elisabeth says, everything works out a certain way for a reason,” Lord Jones replied. “I truly believe we shall have a child of our own in no time at all. But if we do not and it was not meant to be, then we need not suffer over it. It will all come together in the end, just like it did for us.”
Lucy felt at ease with that answer. It was not what she wanted to hear, but it was what she needed to. She nodded and smiled. “You are right. If it is meant to be, it will happen. And whether or not it happens, we must continue to do what is right. I would still rather have our own children.”
He pressed his lips to her cheek. “I understand your fear. And I think you are a very brave, very strong woman for all you have done.”
She turned her head and locked lips with him, sighing contentedly as he kissed her back. These things did have a habit of working out on their own…