I was so elated by the King’s granting my request that time seemed to pass in a blur of excitement. I could remember arriving home, the door shutting loudly behind me, and my father coming down the stairs, most likely to warn me that my mother was once again sleeping. And yet the look on my face seemed to pause his words in his throat, for all he could ask me was what had happened.
“Oh father, I have the most exciting news. The King has declared that James Newberry and I are to be married,” I said, a wide smile on my face.
My father frowned at me, and for a brief instant I wondered why he did not share his excitement. Was it not every father’s greatest desire to see their daughters happily situated, with a man they adored? While my father had broken convention to allow me into the business of espionage, surely he still desired a beneficial marriage for me.
“That is what you requested of the King as your reward? A marriage? Oh Rebecca, have I not taught you anything?” my father replied, disdain echoing in his words.
“But I thought you would be happy for me,” I said, the smile melting from my face. “You know how I feel about him.”
A sigh escaped my father’s lips before he spoke again. “I am all too aware of your feelings for that man, yes. And if that is the reward you have chosen, then far be it from me to dissuade you. But don’t expect me to excuse you from your other responsibilities, wedding or no wedding. I have not spent the past few years training you, against my better judgement at that, to allow you to throw all that away for some man.” Having said this, my father turned, storming up the stairs, while I was left to stare after him and wonder why he could not be happy for me. Had I not just achieved my greatest desire? Why was he not happy for me?
Carefully I climbed the stairs, quickly stepping through the door to my room, and sitting in front of my mirror, wondering about my father’s disapproval. Surely, knowing of my feelings, he could not have had another match for me in mind. Perhaps then, it was the method of the engagement that caused his ire. Even I had to admit, that it was not the most conventional of engagements. And yet, it was James I had expected to be upset by my methods. After all, I had denied him of the opportunity to propose to me, and to ask for my father’s permission for my hand. But after that initial upset I knew he would not be able to help being overjoyed at the news, and to assist in the planning of the ceremony. He would understand that there is only so long a girl can be expected to wait before taking matters into her own hands.
I slept well that night, safe in the knowledge that sometime in the near future James and I would finally be joined as man and wife, and dreaming of the wedding we would have.
The next day I began planning, drafting letters I would send to those few women of court I could trust to assist me in this matter, and making lists of everything I would need to accomplish. I did not, at that stage, know how long I would have to plan, and so it was essential that I begin immediately. And yet, while devoting much of my attention to these letters and lists, still my ears were strained for any sound from the door. The announcement of my engagement was due to be delivered that day, and surely it wouldn’t be long before James rushed to be with me, to celebrate this happy news. I was surprised he had not already arrived.
I was even more surprised when, sometime in the early afternoon, a letter arrived, from none other than James himself. It was a short letter, barely a few lines long, requesting that we have a summer wedding. My heart fell a little. I had been hoping that we would be married sooner, and was disturbed that a letter was the only response James had to our engagement. Perhaps he was still mad that he would not have the chance to propose to me himself. Or perhaps his duties were keeping him away from me. Surely these were the reasons he had not rushed immediately to be with me.
Suddenly I recalled a story a woman of court had told me, how despite devoting much of his attention to courting her, her husband had spent little time on the wedding, claiming it was a woman’s job to sort out all the details. James’ absence made more sense now. Surely he too felt a similar way. He would not want to disturb me from my planning, instead he was putting his trust into my abilities.
Briefly I wondered if he would have had time to pen a letter to his mother, telling her of the happy news. If I was to be left to plan the wedding, I would need much guidance on the matter. My mother would be of little assistance, she spent most of the day in her room, sleeping away yet another headache, not to be disturbed. The task of planning a wedding would prove too stressful to her, and I could not put this burden on her already fragile shoulders. I would have to reach out for help from other sources, from my future mother in law.
Pulling another piece of paper towards me, I began penning a letter.