Further Down the Line

"Good morning my lady. How are you this morning," Anna said as she entered the room with Lady Mary's breakfast tray.

"I am very good this morning Anna. Very, very good indeed," Mary replied with a smile, remembering a particularly nice morning with Matthew before he had to leave. "And you Anna?"

"I will be better when I hear from Mr. Bates."

"He will write soon. I am certain of it," Mary responded.

"I hope you are right my lady," Anna said as she lifted the lid from Mary's breakfast tray. The lid had only been up for a moment before Mary covered her mouth and was clearly fighting nausea.

"Anna, those eggs must have gone bad," Mary said as the vile smell assaulted her. Anna's raised her eyebrows but quickly replaced the lid back on the plate. Mary instantly felt better when the smell was gone, but she was shaken by Anna's lack of response to a truly terrible smell. "You smell it too, don't you?"

"No my lady. They smell the same as they always do."

"No I am certain they smell as if they have gone bad. Please just bring me some tea and toast - that smell has made me loose my appetite."

"Right away my lady," Anna replied, leaving Mary alone with her thoughts. Those eggs reeked - she was absolutely sure of it. With a smell that bad, how could Anna not have noticed? She was still pondering it when Anna returned with her new tray.

"Is this the first morning you have felt sick my lady?"

"I am not sick. I was only reacting to the smell of food that had clearly gone bad."

"Yes of course," Anna said but there was something in her voice that made Mary curious.

"Why do you ask?"

"No reason."

"You must have had a reason for asking. I insist that you tell me."

"Well my lady, I have not had to replenish the supplies for your monthly cycle since you returned from your honeymoon and that has been three months ago."

"You know I have never been regular before. I have missed consecutive months before. More than three even."

"Yes, but you have never had a possible alternative reason for missing it before."

"I am not pregnant. Those eggs were bad," Mary insisted. She couldn't be pregnant yet, could she? Did she even want to be? Certainly she wanted children at some point - they needed an heir after all - but it had taken nearly a decade for her and Matthew to finally marry and she was not at all sure she was keen on adding a baby to the mix so soon. "I am not pregnant," she insisted again as if repeating it would make it true.

"Of course Lady Mary."

"I am not, but just to be sure, I shall go see Doctor Clarkson."

She dressed quickly with Anna's assistance and then headed downstairs to request that the car be brought around. She left word with Carson to tell her mother that she was going to town to see the doctor but not to worry as it was nothing serious.

"If you will come this way, Doctor Clarkson will see you now," the nurse told her shortly after she arrived at the hospital.

"Lady Mary, what can I do for you?" the doctor asked with a smile.

"I was hoping you could tell me whether or not I am pregnant."

"I see. When was your last monthly?"

"Nearly three months ago, but I have never been regular. I have gone three months without one several times before."

"Normally if a woman has gone three months without a cycle, I would say she was almost certainly with child, but if this is a common occurrence for you, perhaps you are not. Have you been excessively tired?"

"I may be slightly more tired than usual," she replied but she was certain that was only because she wasn't getting as much sleep as she had before Matthew started sharing her bed.

"Any nausea in the mornings?"

"Only this morning and only because the wretched eggs had gone bad and smelled so terrible."

"Many pregnant women develop aversions to certain smells," he informed her.

"I have had eggs twice this week already. It was only this morning that I felt nauseous, and I am certain they had a rotten smell about them," she insisted even though Anna couldn't smell it. "Isn't there some test you can do?"

"I am afraid not. Missed cycles are the main indicator. Symptoms like fatigue and nausea usually confirm it, but you can only be certain when your stomach begins to expand and you feel the child move. That could take several months if indeed you are in the very early stages of pregnancy."

"So I must simply go home and wait to see if I get fat and am kicked from the inside?" Mary said irritably, finding herself wondering if Clarkson knew what he was talking about. It was 1920 after all. You would think there would be better ways to diagnose a pregnancy rather than simply wait and see.

"If your sickness in the morning continues, I would say you are likely with child."

"I see. Well please do not mention that we have spoken about this. If anyone asks, I was here for my hay fever. I wouldn't want to raise any false hopes," Mary said. She certainly didn't want to have her granny and papa focused on the idea of an heir already.

"Of course. If you have any questions, please call on me at any time."

When Mary returned home, she was still thinking about her visit with the doctor. She wasn't at all sure how she felt about the possibility of being pregnant. She knew she should be pleased and a part of her knew she would be if she could produce an heir so quickly, but she was not sure what kind of a mother she would be. Cold and calculated Richard had called her - not the qualities one looked for in a mother. She also wondered if she might be too selfish to be a mother for even now she was not sure she would like to share Matthew with a child right away. It might be wrong but she wanted him to herself for a little while.

"My lady, the fabric samples you ordered arrived while you were out. I had them placed in the nursery for you," Anna told her when she met her in the hall way.

"Thank you Anna. I will go have a look."

Her mind was still considering the possibility of pregnancy and was making it hard to focus. Twice she dropped bolts of fabrics and once she stubbed her toe causing her to yell out in pain.

"I thought I heard something in here," her mother said from the doorway.

"I stubbed my toe," she explained as she continued to look through the fabrics.

"What are you doing in the old nursery?"

"I was thinking of redecorating," she replied absent-mindedly.

"I heard you went to the doctor this morning. I presume all is well?"

"Of course. I am perfectly well," she said with a smile hoping her mother wouldn't ask any further questions.

"All right then, I am leaving for tea at Dower House."

"If you happen to see Matthew, will you send him up? I need to speak with him about something," Mary said without looking up at her mother.

"Of course," Cora said, barely concealing her grin. Cora was sure that the fact that Mary had visited the doctor, was smiling and perfectly well, was talking about redecorating the nursery and wanted Matthew to come to that very room could mean only one thing - she was pregnant. She tried to contain her excitement and she hurried to locate her son-in-law.

"Oh Carson, have you seen Matthew?" she asked in a rush when she saw Carson in the hall.

"He is in the library reviewing the accounts."

"Thank you," Cora replied and hurried to the library.

"Matthew, Mary would like to see you upstairs," she blurted out as soon as she entered the room.

"Is it urgent? I am in the middle of reviewing some complex accounting," he replied.

"I think what she has to tell you is something you will very much want to hear."

"Are you sure it can't wait even an hour?" Matthew said. He had been hard at work at these books for hours and was just beginning to see where some of the problems were coming from.

"Matthew, she has just come from the doctor, and she would like to see you in the nursery which she is considering redecorating," Cora said smile she could not conceal.

"You mean to say she is…"

"I didn't say anything. Only that she has just come from the doctor and would now like to see you in the nursery. You may draw what conclusions you will, but I do not think you will want to keep her waiting," she said with a smile that told him his guess must be true.

Account books forgotten, he stood and hurried up the stairs to find his wife. Only when he reached the landing did he realize he did not even know where the nursery was. Luckily Anna was walking down the hall and was able to point him in the correct direction. He purposefully slowed his steps as he approached the room and took a deep, calming breath. He needed to be calm for Mary.

"Cora said you wanted to see me," he said, trying to look as calm as possible but still sounding a bit out of breath.

"Yes, I've stolen the nursery as a sitting room for us, and this is the paper - unless you hate it."

He couldn't help the puzzled look that came over his face. Converting the nursery to a sitting room? That was not at all how he expected this conversation to go.

"Oh," he said, trying to hide the disappointment from his voice. "Is that all?"

"Why? What did you think it was?" she asked, looking at the fabrics rather than him and hoping he hadn't noticed anything that might lead him to guess what she had been thinking about all morning since those horrid eggs were presented to her.

"Cora said you'd been to the doctor earlier. I wondered why," he replied cautiously, but still hopefully. It quickly dawned on her that her mother had probably given Matthew the impression that she was pregnant and that he very much hope it were true.

"To find something for my hay fever," she said nonchalantly, hoping he would leave the issue alone.

"What will we use for a day nursery, should the need arises" he asked, moving in much closer to her.

"I think we can worry about that a little further down the line." Whether further down the line was only a few months away was yet to be seen, but she had seen the hopeful look on his face and did not want raise his hopes even further when she very likely was not even pregnant. But it might not be so bad to have a baby she decided when she saw the longing glances he had given her. Yes, a baby with his wonderful blue eyes wouldn't be so bad at all, and with a secret smile and lightest touch of her stomach, she finally admitted to herself that it might not be all that much further down the line after all.