Prudence’s Heart

Regency romances are a subgenre of romance novels set during the period of the British Regency (1811–1820) or early 19th century. The distinction rests on the genre definition of Regency Romance: works in the tradition of Georgette Heyer, with an emphasis on the primary romance plot, are considered traditional. I spent many hours doing research and listed links below. I cried at the end of my own story. What I learned with this genre is that there is a lot of research that goes into these fictional stories and have found a new respect for individuals that write in this genre.

My older sister Lucy-Anne and I laid in bed after a long night of dancing and socializing at what was considered the event of the season. Lucy-Anne danced with her fiance and I was introduced to many handsome amiable bachelors. Several calling cards were left for my father, mother, and myself wishing to call upon us for a visit this morning. I was hoping for a card from Ezra. I know that my father didn’t approve of him simply because he didn’t have the same prestige as Lucy-Anne’s soon to be husband. However, I thought being a doctor was quite fascinating. To be able to heal the human body, preventing death, that was the closest relationship with God. What I tried to convey to my father is his hands were tools from God. He had a gift of compassion so he surely must be kind without wanting to impress. Not to mention his choice of employment would always be required. My father disagreed.

Day after day my father received gentlemen who were all of a high social stature and most were handsome. I was endlessly bored listening to how the weather faired or answering about one’s health, and who cared about their kin? I knew what they really hunting, my dowry. It was all a business to them and my family. I was nothing more than chattel. My parents hoped that I marry well, to be best matched with a husband that will further our household. I was handsome, or that’s what my parents would say but the hidden meaning was my female usefulness. I would breed attractive children. I couldn’t play the pianoforte, sing, or sew but I could draw. My family’s only hope for my survival was a proposal of marriage.

My father was approached by the very wealthy and might I add rude Mr. Pembroke. He was the most frequent of my callers and won my father over during their hunting trips. While my father away my mother fussed over my edema. It vexed her so heavily that she called upon my handsome doctor Ezra. The visits started out as once a week. He advised me about my diet, salt intake, and to get as much fresh air and rest as possible. I would confide in him that I had my good days and bad. I expressed that I wished he could see me on my well days. He understood that as seeing me as a patient whereas I wished for him to call upon for other than being my physician. During the course of three months, Ezra would come to see me as a patient whenever my mother called on him or sent a servant to fetch him. I thought we should invite him to stay on our estate so he wouldn’t have to travel so much.

It was close to Christmas when I wasn’t feeling particularly well and I was just betrothed to Mr. Pembroke and our two families were to spend the holidays together. I expressed my ill feeling and wanted to lay down but my father insisted I dress and receive Mr. Pembroke Sr, Mrs. Pembroke, Mr. Pembroke etc…It was as if the entire family line were waiting for the introduction of their soon to be a cash cow or daughter-in-law. We were all sitting in the drawing room when the next thing I remember was waking up on the floor on my back. Such a fuss was being made over me especially by my soon to be mother-in-law. My father gently picked me up and carried me to my room as my mother sent for Ezra.

I laid in bed sweating and feeling ill in my stomach. Ezra arrived when my mother was by my side and a quick introduction was made to the physician and Mr. Pembroke Jr. Ezra walked into the room commanding the room and diligence since my illness has escalated.
‘Am I going to die?’ I managed to whisper as Ezra listened to my heart.
‘Mrs. Worthington, could you please send for a basin was warm water and vinegar. We need to bring Prudence’s fever down. I thought she was suffering from dropsy but I can hear a faint murmur in her heart.’ My mother took off to the kitchen fetching what was needed as this was the hastiest way the ingredients could be attained.

Through the months Ezra and I were able to conversate without a chaperone so I was more intimately comfortable in his confidence than Mr. Pembroke.
‘Ezra, I have a confession.’
‘I know Prudence. My affections for you have always been present. I had asked your father’s permission for your hand in marriage before the ball. He kindly declined, making his intentions of a well-matched marriage known.’
I smiled as I could feel my energy starting to fade.
‘Ezra, say I do start to get well, I don’t want to marry Mr. Pembroke. If we elope my reputation and fortune would be gone. I can be a physician’s wife but could you be happy with someone like me? No fortune, no use other than my drawings.’

My mother came in around that time and began the task of wrapping my feet with vinegar bandages and cooling my body with water. After an hour Ezra sent for Foxglove. My mother went to get fresh water, Mr. Pembroke and my father set out for Foxglove and Ezra and I were alone again.

‘My dear Prudence. I would marry you because of my love for you not for what you can give me.’ He whispered and his warm breath on my ear made it all so real. I place my hand in his. My breaths were shallow now and I knew that I would be alive much longer. I accepted that I was going to die and knowing that he loved me made it both easy and difficult all at the same time. ‘My heart,’ I whispered, ‘I love you with all that I am, til death do we part. Please live a fulfilled life and I will wait for you hereafter.’ With that my life left my body and my hand went limp.
Mrs.Worthington came in to witness Ezra weeping over her daughter and in that moment knew what true love was.



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