A FAMILY REUNITED: A POLDARK FAN-FICTION STORY
By Monica Marinello
Word count: 3843
Summary: An uplifting short story about the Poldark family
Francis Poldark had entered Trenwith like a whirlwind. “Elizabeth! Elizabeth, where are you? I must tell you something!” He ran to the parlor, then back into the great hall, where Elizabeth appeared at the other end.
“Francis, what is the matter? What has happened?” Her eyes were wide, worry distressing her beautiful face.
Francis could not keep the smile from his face. “Nothing’s the matter, my dear. ‘Tis the opposite!” He took her hand and brought it to his lips. “I had business in town, with Ross. We have gone into partnership together, reopening Wheal Grace.” He was near giddiness, informing her that there was much more than business that happened. He must have realized how he seemed, and worked to calm himself. “Afterwards, we were to meet at the Red Lion. Unfortunately, it seemed as though George got there before me. While I am not certain what words were exchanged, exchanged they were, leading to Ross being barred. Dr. Enys found him and patched him up at the harbor, then came to tell me he was there. When I did reach him, another was there.”
When the giddiness returned to her husband, she could not help but share the feeling, for a reason unknown to her. “Who was with Ross?”
Taking a calming breath, Francis replied, “Captain Andrew Blamey.”
This shocked Elizabeth. From the very beginning, when the captain had begun courting her sister-in-law, opposition was fierce from Trenwith. Francis had nearly been killed in a duel over the matter. Then, Verity had run off with him, abandoning her family and cutting herself off from them, save for the Nampara Poldarks. That was a reason why Ross would be seen in the company of the man. But why would Ross endeavour to bring him and Francis together? “You spoke with Captain Blamey?”
“And shook his hand,” Francis said, nodding his own head in disbelief. “At first, I confess, I was opposed to it,” he said, walking into the parlor and sitting down, his head hanging low. “It was unforgivable, what he did, taking away Verity. But Ross gave me a look.” He sighed deeply and turned to face his wife. “Elizabeth, I must tell you something. Something I am greatly ashamed of. It was I who told George the names associated with the Carnmore Copper Company, I who destroyed relations between Ross and me. When he came here a few days ago, proposing our partnership in Wheal Grace, I was prepared to make this confession to him. He did not wish to hear me out, to let the past be the past.”
Elizabeth did not know what to say. She knew the breach between the cousins was deep, but had never known the true nature of it, instead always believing it to have been due to Demelza’s actions in bringing Verity and Captain Blamey together. Thinking now, she saw why the relationship between Francis and George had begun sour. Even before Ross’ trial, Francis had been markedly less friendly to the banker.
Francis then continued his tale. “I have my suspicions that the cause of the quarrel today between Ross and George was Warleggen’s last attempt to come between us, to reveal the truth that I sold him out. It would not surprise me in the least that he revealed my betrayal to my cousin. And that was what Ross was communicating to me. He knew for certain of that betrayal.”
Elizabeth was trying to understand what her husband was getting at. “I am not sure I understand you, Francis. What does this have to do with Captain Blamey?”
Francis stood and began pacing in front of the fireplace. “You know, of course, how close Ross and I were as boys. It came to a point that we needn’t words to convey what we were thinking. For the first time since boyhood, I knew what was going through Ross’s mind. His forgiveness of me lay in my detente with Captain Blamey.” Francis stopped then and faced her. “It is a small price to pay for the shame I brought upon myself in regards to George. And I pay it gladly.”
There was nothing stopping the smile from planting itself firmly on Elizabeth’s face. She did not even try to fight it. With tears pricking the corners of her eyes, she rose from her chair and embraced her husband, he returning it as forcefully as she. She stepped back, looking into her husband’s eyes and saw, for the first time since the dinner held to announce their engagement, the Francis Poldark she had promised to marry. “Oh, my dear, I do not know what to say.”
“Say you will forgive me for my presumption,” he said next, a dash of hesitation in his voice. “Presently, Andrew is at home with his children to meet Verity. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of his son James, who, like his father, is often at sea. There is also a daughter, Esther. They are dining together this evening, but I have asked them to Trenwith tomorrow, to cement the bonds of reconciliation between myself and my sister.”
No alarm appeared on Elizabeth’s face at the prospect of company in less than a day. Instead, she asked with a tease, “Shall I have the fatted calf slain to mark the occasion?” The laugh that Francis let out was quite alien to her, but not unwelcome. Then, an idea seized her. “We must have Ross and Demelza here as well, for they are the reason for so much of this.”
“An excellent idea,” Francis agreed. “Ross left Andrew and me to our own devices once he was sure we were not coming to fisticuffs. He wanted to get back to Demelza, as her time approaches.” He took out his pocket watch, checking the hour. “After the action he has seen today against George, I am sure he is in need of rest. First thing tomorrow, I will have a note of invitation sent over.”
“That is agreeable, husband,” Elizabeth replied. “And I have much to do in the way of preparation for tomorrow. I should speak with Mrs. Taub about the meal, quickly, lest we are unprepared for our company.”
She was about to turn towards the kitchen when a ruckus emerged in the form of her son. He must have heard his father at home and had come looking for him. “Papa, Papa, you’re home! Is it time to work in the fields?”
Ever since the harvest, Geoffrey Charles had barely left Francis’ side, eager to help his father. It was time Francis relished. After what he had nearly done that dreadful night in Bodmin, he had vowed to be a father to his son, in all its positive connotations. Francis’ relationship had been, to put it nicely, uneasy with his own father, the overpowering Charles Poldark, and it was not something Francis wished with his own son. He knelt to the boy’s level, clutching him. Then he leaned back. “I fear, not tonight. We have a party to plan.”
“Really, a party? Why?” Geoffrey Charles became excited.
Francis looked to Elizabeth, a sly smile on his face. Then he turned his attention back to his son. “Your Aunt Verity is coming to visit with your Uncle Andrew. And, guess what? She is bringing you two new cousins!”
“Two new cousins! I have two new cousins? Will they play with me?”
“I am sure they will, my dear,” Elizabeth said, kissing to top of her son’s head. She looked to Francis, sharing the joy of their family, larger than it had been even earlier today.
The next morning, Trenwith bustled with activity. Francis and Elizabeth both awoke early to tend to matters before their guests arrived. It took longer than Francis had planned and it was near ten o’clock before he was able to get to his desk and write to Ross. As he was heading in that direction, there was a knocking at the door, which he answered. Standing outside was Doctor Dwight Enys.
“Dwight, it is a surprise to see you at such an hour. What brings you this way?”
The doctor’s face was unreadable as he said, “I have been at Nampara all evening.”
“Nampara?” Fear gripped at Francis. With all the happiness that had occurred in the past day, he was afraid something had come swooping down to rob the Poldarks of any more.
Elizabeth reached them and must have caught sight of her husband’s expression. “What has happened?”
Dwight looked from Elizabeth back to Francis. “I was asked by Ross to deliver a message.” Something must have happened overnight. Could Ross be reneging on their partnership, realizing he could not forgive his cousin of his sins? Dwight had become a closer friend to both Ross and Demelza in the past few years, even a confidante. Had Ross tasked him to deliver bad news? “Demelza delivered a son late last evening. He is hale and hearty, as his mother.”
Francis let out a breath and a shout in one action. “An auspicious day it was for the Poldarks! A son?”
“Yes, named Jeremy. Ross will be indisposed for the next day or so, tending to his wife and child, so as you are his partner, he wanted you to know he is not shirking his duties at Wheal Grace.”
“It is time off well-deserved,” Francis said with a laugh.
“But a pity for our family, for they will not be available to pay a call today when Verity arrives,” Elizabeth said, though no note of disappointment rang in her voice. “Verity and her family.”
Then a thought came to Francis. “Dwight, might I ask a favor of you? Can you relay a message to Ross from us?”
Dwight bowed his head, but the grin on his face indicated acceptance of his task. “Only, allow me to return home. I have been the second busiest person laboring this night and morning. I must wash and change my clothes.”
Francis told Dwight the message he wished to send his cousin and asked him to return at a time later in the day. He wished to have Verity here for the response.
It was noon when the carriage rattled in the driveway at Trenwith. Francis heard it, and collecting Elizabeth, Aunt Agatha, and Geoffrey Charles, waited near the door of his home for his sister. When the door opened and Andrew stepped out, he bowed to his brother-in-law. Next out was a younger man, smiling to a point that looked painful to Francis. Then, a young woman with loose blonde hair was aided out of the carriage by her brother. There was hesitation from the last occupant of the carriage. Francis smiled and bowed to Andrew, who poked his head into it, most likely to offer words of encouragement to Verity. She emerged on her husband’s hand, stepping down to look at the ground. Francis was saddened that he had let his relationship with his sister deteriorate to the point of her feeling unwelcome in the home they had been raised in. He stepped forward, trying to capture her eyes with his. He took her hand, bent over, and kissed it. With that, she at last raised her head and met his gaze.
With just his smile as reassurance, she launched herself at her younger brother, the years of separation melting away. “Oh, Francis, I thought this day would never come!” Tears welled up and she had no control over her emotions. “I am so sorry for so much that has happened.”
“‘Tis the past, sister. All to be forgotten.” Then he moved away to greet the Blameys, vigorously shaking hands with Andrew and his son James. The daughter was more reticent, but with a look from her brother, her manners seemed to return.
Verity was reveling in the company of Elizabeth and Geoffrey Charles, while Aunt Agatha took the sight in. When her niece finally approached her, there was tension in the air, until the old woman said, “Been too long, little Verity. Too much Poldark pride getting in the way. But I shall consult my cards, to assure our continued luck in matters of family.”
The party entered the home, and were about to be settled in the parlor when a knock caught their attention. A servant opened the door and admitted Dwight. “Captain Blamey, Mrs. Blamey, it is agreeable to see you again, and so soon.”
“Dwight, how wonderful to see you!” Verity was surprised to see the doctor at Trenwith and became concerned at his presence. “Nothing is amiss, I hope?”
“No, nothing at all. I was wondering, how long will you be staying for your visit?” Dwight asked.
“Oh, we only just arrived. But I think we will have a few days before we must return to Truro.”
“That is wonderful news,” he said before turning his attention to Francis. “I have an answer for you that I think will be quite conducive to your guests’ timeframe. Ross said you can visit tomorrow, but allow him this day.” It was a cryptic answer that was left hanging with his exit.
Verity turned to Elizabeth, then Francis. “What has happened? Has someone taken ill at Nampara?”
“Please, all will be revealed over refreshments in the parlor.” Francis was part of this as well, which worried Verity a bit, but not in a bad way. It felt as if they were children again, and he and Ross were playing a game.
Once drinks were passed out, Francis raised his glass. “We have been a family separated by time, oceans, and pride. I beg your forgiveness, Andrew, James and Esther, for we are an ancient family who at times fails to see the blessings life has bestowed upon us. They have come, in the past decade, from the most unexpected places. And we do not easily accept those blessings, in part, because of where they have come from. From the sea, bringing with it a most deserving joy to my dear sister, and more of the younger generation to our family.” He raised his glass in the direction of Andrew’s children. The son returned the smile and the daughter’s cloudy disposition seemed to lift a bit. “And from the mines, to tame even the wildest of us.” He swiveled around the room, toasting to them all. “To the Poldarks.”
The crowd replied, “The Poldarks!”
Francis took a sip, then with a shared grin on his face, his eyes darting knowingly to Elizabeth, he continued, “Which has added to the next generation of the family.”
He looked at his sister as her mouth formed an ‘O’, and a gasp escaped from it. “Demelza gave birth?”
He nodded. “Last evening, after we had all returned to our homes. Dr. Enys attended her and delivered a son. He has been named Jeremy.”
Verity stood again, and being met at the halfway point with her brother, embraced him. “Oh, happy news! Is this what Dr. Enys spoke of? I detected an underlying message when he talked to you, but could not determine any meaning.”
“Yes, this was what Dwight meant. Tomorrow, we shall go to Nampara and meet our newest babe. But tonight, dear sister, we shall endeavour to reacquaint ourselves with each other. We have been apart far too long, damn our Poldark pride,” Francis spoke, loud enough for all to hear.
They separated and retrieved their glasses. Verity went and took Andrew’s arm and Francis mirrored his sister, taking Elizabeth’s arm on his right side and raising his glass once more. “To Jeremy Poldark!”
“To Jeremy Poldark!” they all toasted.
Once a last sip was taken, Aunt Agatha, sitting in her chair with Esther Blamey beside her, whispered loud enough for all to hear, “A queer family we are, but one that shall last to the end of time. You should be honored to be part of such an exalted house!”
Esther may have looked shocked, but Francis and Verity were used to their great-aunt’s bluntness and boasting. In fact, the happy mood of the gathering allowed them all a little giggle at the comment.
The Blameys and the Poldarks only went to sleep when the clock had struck two in the morning. Despite this, they were on their way to Nampara by ten the next morning, ladies on horseback, with the men leading the animals.
They had asked Aunt Agatha if she wished to make the journey with them, but the old lady gave an air of offense at the idea of someone her age taking such a trip, four miles though it was.
Over the ridge, Joshua Poldark’s homestead looked quiet and peaceable, so unlike its owner. The family approached the house and was met at the door by Prudie, still amazingly in the employ of Ross, even after all these years.
“Mr. Ross t’aint here, and neither be Master Jeremy, gone off to the mine together,” the servant informed them.
“Golly, Ross is getting him started young,” Francis chuckled at the idea of Ross bringing his one-day-old son to Wheal Leisure.
“Is Demelza still abed?” Verity asked.
“Dr. Enys informed us that we could come to call today,” Elizabeth added.
“Ah, ‘tis that why the doctor returned so soon after leavin’ yesterday?” She let out a sigh. “‘Twill see if the maid be up for company, but ol’ Prudie not promisin’ anything.”
Francis and Verity led the others into the parlor, awaiting the return of Prudie. She was back down shortly, Demelza leaning on her arm as they made their way down the stairs.
Demelza’s face, though still pale from the birth, did light up at the scene that welcomed her. To see Verity and Francis together after such a division, and one she still felt responsible for, did gladden her heart. She walked to the bench beside the fireplace and was fascinated to see the party follow her. She turned to Prudie. “Refreshments for our guests, please, Prudie.”
The older woman disappeared into the kitchen, and Demelza turned her attention back to everyone else. There was an uncomfortable stillness present, and she sought to alleviate it. “I do apologize for being unable to offer you much in the way of hospitality.”
“Oh, my dear, do not trouble yourself too much. In truth, we are still quite full from the feast we had last night,” Verity huffed out, her face flushed, but her smile warm.
Demelza nodded, still unsure of how to approach the gathering. “Ross did tell me about your meeting, Francis, with Captain Blamey. And I…” Old pain came back afresh, sorrow for her actions, though noble in thought, having caused so much pain for so many here. “I am sorry, Francis, not for bringing Verity and Andrew together.” She looked sharply to her dearest friend, her mouth a thin line. “But I do ask your forgiveness for the methods I used.”
She wanted to continue, but Francis held his hand up to stop her. “Do not speak of it again. I was foolish in not thinking a man could change.” He looked to Andrew, who nodded his agreement. “I do apologize for things said in anger. These past months, I have come to see how wise Ross was, in the end, bringing you into our family.” With that, he took her hand and kissed it.
The moment held, then was broken by the sound of the door opening. Entering was Ross, a tiny baby on his shoulder. “I see your surprise has arrived.”
“And at such an hour!” Verity exclaimed, the pitch of her voice rising. “But, in truth, we wanted to come as soon as it was acceptable.”
“We have much to celebrate and a limited amount of time to do so,” Francis added. “Besides, Geoffrey Charles was excited to add to his collection of new cousins.”
Ross smiled, coming and sitting next to Demelza. She took Jeremy, and the family huddled around them. Introductions were made where needed and the family enjoyed each other’s company.
“Did Dwight tell you of the…circumstances surrounding his arrival?” Ross asked, a dash of mischief playing across his face.
“Oh, Ross!” Demelza began to chide him, but he was not to be dissuaded, telling them about returning home and learning she was in the cove, stubbornly fishing for pilchards even as her labor pains had begun.
“Well, it is heartening to know you are as mule-headed as any Poldark,” Elizabeth commented, a sly grin aimed at the new mother.
They spent the day together, Verity aiding in preparing a meal for the family. The Trenwith Poldarks told of the feast they had enjoyed evening before, and the anxiousness they felt when they received the news that Demelza had given birth. Later in the evening, with Elizabeth holding Jeremy, who was also being cooed over by Esther, James, and Geoffrey Charles, Demelza pulled her husband into the kitchen.
“I suspect you are quite proud of yourself, without me to know they were coming.” Her voice was half annoyance, half teasing.
“I felt it was fitting, having the entire family together,” he admitted.
“And where is Aunt Agatha? She’s not here, so the family is incomplete.”
Ross nodded in agreement. “Yes, more’s the pity. But I do hope to see her at christening.” He rested his hands on the top of her arms, rubbing them lightly. “Speaking of, I think now would be an excellent time to make the offer we discussed.”
Demelza nodded in agreement. “‘Twould be a good time, yes.” So they returned to the parlor, where Demelza retrieved her son from Verity, who was now holding him. “Ross and I are pleased you can be here. And, we have a request to make.” She turned her attention to her husband.
He had come to stand next to his cousin. “Francis, Demelza and I were hoping you would stand as godfather to Jeremy.”
“And Verity, we ask you to be godmother,” she told her husband’s cousin.
The brother and sister turned to each other and shared a bright smile. They knew that only one year ago, such a request would have been firmly rejected, at least on Francis’ part. But too much had happened in that year that neither would turn down the offer.
One week later, less the Blamey children who had to return to their regular lives, but with old Agatha Poldark in the church, Jeremy Claude Poldark was christened by Reverend Odgers in Sawle Church, followed by a small fete at Nampara. Afterwards, they left the youngest and oldest members of the family in the homestead and made their way to Wheal Grace to reunite their family for good.