Clarissa: Chapter Twenty-Three

After Clarissa and Roland finished their dinner, there was still time in the day, and a fair amount to do. First, the two of them took a short walk to the barrister’s firm, where the attorneys there were almost expecting them. Upon being let inside the office, it was time for them to discuss some of the financial arrangements that Clarissa was living under.

“Now that you are engaged, it is our job to make sure that your interests are protected, Miss Bennett, in this marriage you are about to set about in.”

“I understand that.”

“Currently, the thirty thousand pounds that has been placed in your name is under your disposal to do what you wish.”

“Indeed it is.”

“Do you wish to maintain it that way?”

“I see no reason why not. I do not live expensively nor is there any intention to liquidate any part of the dowry. We will use the interest to live on as part of our household income, and then make arrangements to pass on the dowry to any daughter or daughters that we have as part of their own inheritance.”

“Is there anything else that might need to be dealt with?”

“It might be possible for Roland to have a life interest in the interest proceeds if he should outlive me.”

“I do not think that to be likely, but that is fair enough.”

It was not a difficult at this point for the two of them to work their way through the paperwork established by the barristers, and to leave a copy of the documentation to be signed by Lord Lipton, and indeed sent to him. Clarissa figured that this would be notice to Lord Lipton that she was engaged, although she figured that he must have been tolerably convinced that this would happen anyway when she left to go to Gibraltar in the first place.

After dealing with business at the barristers, Clarissa and Roland went over to the barracks where Roland currently lived but would not be living after he married, as was the custom of married officers to live nearby to the barracks with their spouses and then report each day to the barracks. General Powell was happy to let Roland and Clarissa in.

“It is nice to see that the two of you have decided to marry.”

“I think so too,” replied Roland.

“And what did you need me to do for you?”

“I wondered if there was anything that needed to be done to ensure that Clarissa would qualify for any pension should I be disabled or killed during war.”

“Generally speaking, the reality of there being an official marriage would be sufficient for Clarissa to receive a widow’s pension from the army, and so there are no forms that you would need to sign. We simply want to make sure that what is going on would be an official marriage recognized by the British government.”

“I do not think there is any doubt of that.”

“Who will be officiating at the wedding?”

“I asked our regimental chaplain to do the honors.”

Clarissa looked at Roland but did not say anything.

“Do you have any date planned for the wedding?”

“We have not planned the date yet, but we want to make sure some people are able to come, and it might be difficult for them to sail during the winter months.”

“There can be a lot more storms during the winter, that is true, and especially if you want anyone to visit from the continent, it would be difficult to manage this task without waiting until the spring at least.”

“I think we can manage that.” Roland and Clarissa were affectionately holding hands.

“Some people are in such a rush to marry that they do not want to wait for people to be gathered, but I do not think we will be in any campaign at least until next year, so it would make sense for you all to wait and have as many people as possible willing and able to wish you both well.”

“I think it is more important that we do things the right way than that we do them quickly.”

“Very well then.”

And with that, Roland was dismissed, and returned to his place in the barracks after giving Clarissa a goodbye hug and kiss.

Clarissa, for her part, had more to do herself. She called in at the home of one of the other officers’ wives and told her about her engaged with Roland and what would be necessary for a wedding. Where should the wedding be held at, and how many people should come. There were so many details that needed to be discussed, and if Lord Lipton was going to come and help out in the wedding, there was also a great deal that he needed to be involved in as well. Clarissa did not happen to know the best locations in town for a spring wedding, or any kind of reception or any details of the kind. Fortunately, her fellow women had more experience in this matter than she did and they were able to help her through the details that she needed to get done.

Let us not forget, after all, that weddings are great tests of the logistical skills of people. Typically, weddings were held in churches, with not necessarily a large number of people watching the ceremony itself, but considerably more people often wanted to wish the new couple well. There was usually some sort of wedding clothes that were purchased for the bride by someone in her family, and planning about where the couple was to go. Here, at least, there was no difficulty as far as housing because the place that Clarissa currently rented was rented with the intention of becoming the home of both Roland and Clarissa, and he already approved of what she was doing with the place.

General Powell took a walk himself during this same afternoon to the marina, and found the admiral of the Mediterranean fleet in his flagship. He was let into the admiral’s office onboard with considerable promptitude and the admiral was very interested in knowing what it was that General Powell wanted.

“I have a favor to ask of you, my good man.”

“What favor is that?”

“I have an officer, recently promoted, who is to be married in the spring, and I wanted to know of it was possible to take him and his wife-to-be on one of the ships of the fleet on a honeymoon cruise that would acquaint him with some of the notable ports on call in the region.”

“I do not think such a thing would be difficult to do. Do you wish this to be simply for enjoyment or in the interests of the service as well?”

“I think a bit of both. The travel and sights would be enjoyable, and he could be made acquainted with the military situation as far as the army and navy was concerned of for its basing or the friendliness of the area as well, so it would be worthwhile for his professional education as well.”

“I do not think that would be hard at all to manage. Two people onboard a ship can live quite comfortably in quarters so long as neither of them is particularly fussy about how much space they have.”

“I do not think either of them are likely to be very fussy about matters. The lady herself came to Gibraltar to live near him, and he has lived pretty simply in barracks with the regiment without any sort of difficulty.”

“Do you want to inform the officer of his posting with us?”

“I will do so when I have information about what places you are going to, when it is closer to the wedding.”

“Can I trust that I and some of my officers will be able to come to the ceremony and to the reception ourselves?”

“I am sure that such a thing may done without any trouble as well, especially once it is known the gift you are providing to him.”

“I wish all such visits from you may be as enjoyable.”

“I wish the same. We still must speak sometime on what we plan on doing with all of those refugees from Toulon.”

“I have no idea where they are all to fit, as they are already crowding full wherever there is open housing here.”

“I suspect we will have to take a fair amount of them to England.”

“I suspect the same, but we will need somewhere for them to go once they arrive there as well. I could not leave them there to be killed in reprisal for their aid and assistance to us, though.”

“No, you did right by them. We could not have left them behind. But having taken them away from certain death, we must now find places where they may live as best as possible, free from the slow death of starvation and privation that threaten them if they remain destitute.”

“These people are burghers. They have useful trades, useful to themselves and useful to Britain. We will find some place for them, somewhere they can thrive and live free from revolutionary terror. We just need someone to be able to speak on their behalf and give them the space to live in peace. I am sure they would be loyal to us and to our interests, seeing as we saved their lives.”

“But how long would such loyalty last? Would their children feel as loyal to us, once they have grown up in exile?”

“Do we expect this war to last long enough for children to grow up in a world where Britain and France are at war and have been at war all of their days?”

“There once was a world where Britain and France were at war for one hundred years.”

“That is fairly said, I suppose. We must be prepared for such an eventuality.”

“Indeed we shall, but that is a problem for another day, and not today. When I have more word on that I will let you know and we can spring into action.”

“That is true, my good sir. We cannot solve the problems of the world in a day. All we can do is make the best of them every day.”

“Do you think it will take long for London to approve of some longer term solution for the people of Toulon than to let them stay here in overcrowding?”

“I do not think it will take too long, but it might take a few weeks.”

“Are we to move these people in winter?”

“I do not think so. If only we had not lost Minorca in the last war, then we would have had more places to put them, more options at least.”

“Ay, but we did. Right now I am making sure that we are repairing the transports and readying them when we have the word. Once we get the permission to send them I will make sure we send as many as possible to allow the ones who remain here to live as well as possible.”

“And that is all we can do, my good sir.” With that the two of them parted, pleased once again at each other’s company and to make such preparations as they could for their common interests.

General Powell walked back out of the ship, glad to have conducted some worthwhile business and also to have had another discussion with the admiral. Sometimes people complained about interservice rivalries and the problems that people had in getting along with each other but he had never had any difficulty in getting along with the admiral. Even when both of them had different perspectives and argued for different actions, there was the ability to cooperate and communicate, and that made it possible for them to work together as they had for some time now, and likely for some time in the future.

By the time that General Powell arrived at his home, the sun was setting in the west. It would soon be time for a glass of Port and an enjoyable conversation with his wife about what the day had involved for the two of them. No matter how screwed up the world was, there were at least places where life could be lived in relative peace and considerable comfort, and as long as that was the case, one did not need to despair entirely.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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