Lady Olivia Chapman
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The Settlement

2014-09-18
By: Lady Olivia Chapman
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After receiving a letter from my parents in early summer bidding me to come home for an important discussion, I found myself in the midst of a flurry of activity. My father, it seemed, was interested in purchasing land for industries in the growth, and eventual trade of cotton, tobacco, sugar and indigo in the West Indies. He envisioned doubling his merchant ships in the sale of the finished product. I was resigned to a visit requiring nothing more than looks of admiration at my father's future successes, but he and Mama had more in mind.

A good portion of the lands in England were being sold, he advised me, to pay for these investments.... including the estate which he, himself, had given me to oversee! Faced with the possibility of having to move back into residency with overbearing parents, I began to protest when my father raised his hand to silence me.

"Olivia," he chided me"hold your tongue and allow me to finish before jumping to any conclusions. I have thought this through and feel sure this is the most prudent course of action. I am going to invest in your future, as well. As you are aware, your match to anyone socially preferable requires that your hand comes with a large settlement. I found myself in a quandary about how I should protect your dowry, whilst assuring that your fortune might... "he paused, looking for a diplomatic phrase, and then shrugged and laid his cards bluntly upon the table"...make the match more attractive."

I was dumbfounded. It all came back to marriage again. Oh, how exhausted I was with the prospect of another potential "Baron". My countenance must have belied my thoughts, because my dear Papa came closer, stroking my cheek affectionately and bringing my lips to curl into a smile.

"The short of it is this, my dearest daughter. Rather than risk a fortune which might well be spent by a scoundrel, I am instead taking some of the profits from my endeavors and we are going to find a suitable estate which will encourage the right suitors to come calling."

I was elated. I allowed them the luxury of their belief that I was again dreaming of a marriage, when instead the bells of independence rang in my head, happily drowning out further conversation.

The entire summer was spent in the process of finding just the right location and upon seeing the estate in Somerset, I knew that was the one. Each day of my father departing in a carriage to speak with a solicitor or a land agent brought me closer to my heart's desire until finally he revealed that the deed was, in fact, and in law, in my name alone and with a legal entailment preventing it from changing hands from any other than either my heir, or, in the event I should die childless, be absorbed back into the family, to be bestowed upon the next of kin.

I did my very best to retain my modesty and economy throughout, and finally... FINALLY... the day came that I had longed for. I was back at the helm, where I belonged, the unlikely, but indisputable, captain of my own destiny, with just the winds of fortune to guide me.

Months have been spent in the acquisition of a proper household, groundskeeper, stable hands, and the like, and at last only a few small details remain. A list of friends long since met, sits before me on my writing table, and I cannot help but smile knowing that very soon, I might write them to bid them 'Come to Somerset...'

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Lady Leena Fandango
19 Sep 2014 07:07:19AM @lady-leena-fandango:

Welcome back Olivia, a wonderful story! :)