Mrs. Fanny Bertram was, at the age of three and twenty, a retired heroine. In the sense that, if you met you would not think her any different to any other. She was known to be timid at times but her husband was as loving and doting on her as he could be on a strict clergyman's allowance would allow. Fanny had a sweet temper and a pleasant face that was known to flush in times of embarrassment. Fanny's love for her husband Edmund was the chief subject of her heroism and had battled for him since her tenth year.
Fanny, it had been seen by all to benefit from routine exercise and was to be spotted riding or walking on Sundays, weather permitting. If she became tired or fatigued, as she was prone to do, she would rest on a seat positioned midway through her route.
On this particular Sunday she made her way through the orchard and, feeling fagged, sat down a while. The weather was sunny and Fanny felt no inclination to get up.
Fanny sat for near half of an hour when she did hear voices talking. The first was a woman laughing at something her companion had said. From her shady arbour Fanny could listen to all the conversation even if it did puzzle her. It went something like this
"Doctor, that is so impossible! Come on you're like so lying!"
"You know me Rose, five impossible things before lunch and twenty after lunch!"
"I'll see you later you, liar. Get me something to eat will you"
"Can do, Meet you back at the TARDIS at about ten, yeah?
Fanny heard the man disappear down the path, she sat still unsure of the ladies movement, for to be sure she would come a walking here. Not that she was fearful of the woman but there was something strange about the things she had been saying.
A rustle directed Fanny to the appearance of the young lady. What Fanny did observe near made her faint with shock.
She was dressed in a simple black dress and her hair was pinned back neatly. She was perceived to be presented neatly enough by Fanny. But here was a mischievous twinkle in her brown eyes, as if she knew things that Fanny would not believe or dream of. She had the look of someone older than her years, for she appeared to equal Fanny's own three and twenty years when she could not be over twenty. All the above was not what stunned Fanny; it was that the lady in front of her was almost exactly the one she saw in the glass every morning. This new being disquieted her to the furthest degree as it did her mirror image.
"Oh my G--!" gasped the lady in the black dress "Who are you?"
"Mrs Bertram," Fanny replied with as much calmness as she could muster at the slight of this apperisiaon.
"Oh," said she as she sat down heavily, collapsing next to Fanny.
"Um, I'm Rose, Rose Tyler," explained this woman. Even though Fanny thought Miss Tyler somewhat forward on this there first acquaintance but could not stop harbouring some affection for her.
"And what brings you to Hampshire Miss Tyler?" Fanny enquired.
"I'm here with a friend, the Doc…, sorry, John Smith. We just, came here for lunch then we're off again."
"Is he your husband?"
A blush worthy of Fanny herself came to Rose's cheeks and she laughed as if it was the greatest jest of all.
"No! Of course not."
"But…" Fanny was taken aback by this development. "Do you not have a chaperone, or your mother surly she must be here?"
Rose gave Fanny an exasperated look, "I'm not a baby, I can look after myself thank you very much!" so saying she sat in silence, ignoring Fanny to Fanny's distress for she did not understand what she had done wrong. Fanny's confused apology was accepted and they returned to their companionable silence.
"Do you live near here then?" Rose broke the quiet presently to which Fanny answered in the affirmative.
"I live in the Vicarage on the Mansfield estate. Perhaps you know of it.
"Na, I'm a stranger here." Rose grinned. Fanny's first impression of this startling creature was one of shock and unexplainable delight. There was something startlingly unreal about her, very akin to a fairy tale princes released wild and untameable from her tower.
This eccentric forwardness seemed to beg Fanny's intimacy. So then, before she could consider it Fanny began to impart to Rose, an acquaintance of but five or more minutes a full account of her life. Miss Tyler listened intently and kindly to this narrative, she seemed to have to have the air of someone to whom this happened frequently. She did permit herself to make more than one occasional intelligent comment not unwelcome to the narrator. Fanny finished with a strange felling of release as Rose was the first to hear a sufficient tale of Fanny's existence.
"You feel better now?" commented Rose smiling as one would do at a favourite sister as she rested a hand on Fanny's shoulder.
"You loved him so much," she laughed "and you got him in the end! You know what, you're well amazing!"
"I thank you." Fanny blushed; time not having healed her of her weakness of blushes. "But I cannot accept your complement. I did what I could..."
"Yeah," Rose interrupted with an imperious wave of her hand "But you followed your heart, you stuck to your guns."
"Stuck to my what?" Said she incredulous.
"You know," Rose laughed freely. "You stuck with your first impressions, didn't waver from it. And you got your man in the end. I wish I had your patience"
Fanny did not understand her but she was observant to the fact she loved her husband.
"But what I don't see," said Fanny "is that you come, a perfect stranger, and in but ten minutes can have acquired my life story. Why?"
Before Rose could answer a voice called her name, the same that she had conversed with previously.
"I've got to go," cried she "but thanks." She gave an astonished Fanny the briefest of embraces, throwing all propriety aside, before running towards her companion as fast as her skirts would let her.
As she disappeared Fanny did hear a snatch of their departing conversation.
"Did you do it, what was she like?"
"Wonderful, just like she was in the book"
"You're surprised with that?"
"Of course, not every day you meet your favourite book heroine is it?" said Rose laughing.
On that event Fanny removed to Mansfield, and the parsonage there, more than a little perplexed at what had taken place.