The Sterley's of Oakland Park
Author: SAREJESS

Chapter 7
A letter from Benjamin Bathurst

September 1st 1814

Sir Benjamin Bathurst,

Foreign office

London

To Sir Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Surry

My dear Sir Thomas,

Please be advised that there now exists a position of clerkship to Sir Charles Somerset at the Cape of Good Hope.

The financial returns on this commission is five hundred pounds annually

Of significance I am aware that such a post although not exactly suited is the best I can provide at this time. I am lead to understand that such a post can inevitably lead to rapid advancement to more suited posts as time and season progress.

Should you wish for this post to be reserved for your son Thomas, please reply in the affirmative by return of post

Your obedient servant

B Bathurst Esquire

September 5th 1814

Sir Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Surry

To Sir Benjamin Bathurst

Foreign Office

London

Dear Sir Benjamin,

In reply to yours of the first instant, I would be exceeding glad should it be in your power to hold the position of Clerkship at the Cape of Good Hope for my son.

We are very glad for the opportunity provided and I am sure that Tom will do his utmost to present the best possible outcome in the post.

If I might prevail upon you for one more favor I would be exceeding glad if you could find the chance to forward to me any details you might have at your disposal that might be of revenant’s to life in the colony in preparation of Tom going to the same.

Your humble servant

Thomas Sterley.

September 13th 1814

Sir Benjamin Bathurst,

Foreign office

London

To Sir Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Surry

Sir,

I would beg to inform you that as a matter of urgency that your son make himself available for an interview at the foreign office at his earlier convince. It is the custom of his Lordship to have one of his officers newly returned from the colony interview all prospective candidates for positions in the government at the Cape before leaving. If I might prevail upon you to have you, r son Thomas call on me Tuesday next at ten o’clock in the morning. I will make every attempt to present young Tom to the officer in question.

The object of the interview I believe is to rule out any unworthy candidates thus I have no fear that young Tom will. In a very short time, find a place in his Lordships household at Cape Town.

I remain

Your obedient servant

B Bathurst Esquire

September 17th 1814

Sir Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Surry

To Sir Benjamin Bathurst

Foreign Office

London

Dear Sir Benjamin,

Yours of the thirteenth instant, I am delighted to inform you that Tom and I will be in London on the date specified. If I might prevail upon you to afford me the opportunity of calling on you on the Monday morning prior to the day of the interview. I have some thing of importance that I wish to impart to you. Upon that occasion, I furthermore give you my thanks for all your endeavors upon the behalf of my son in the procurement of the post at Cape Town

Your humble servant

Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Surry

It was a fine summer morning when Sir Thomas bethought himself of finally informing young Tom of the results of his efforts on his part to secure him a commission in the service of the crown the conversation did not go well with tom doing most of the listening while the young man listened with growing worry upon his countenance

“Tom I would have you ready to depart with me for London the day after tomorrow,” said Sir Thomas “I fear that the girls will have to fend for themselves while we are away,” said Tom in an effort to find some way of averting the inevitable

“Your Mamma will be back in a few days so there is no occasion to be alarmed,” said Sir Thomas

“Pray papa what is of such importance that we have to leave Oakland’s in such haste? Asked Tom “”A matter of great importance and advancement my boy for I have secured an interview for you with a certain officer of the colonial service. I believe it will be a great step forward in the right direction for you my lad. As it is past time that you should be thinking of a career of sorts,” said Sir Thomas. “Furthermore it is of the utmost importance that you begin to take an active interest in the advancement of the family’s fortune. I see no better way of doing this then serving old England in any capacity which might present itself, this I believe is a marvelous occasion to do so,” said Sir Thomas.

“This news was greeted with stunned silence for Tom had not even begun to consider a career for he had always assumed that as the elder son he would follow in his father’s footsteps and become master of Oakland Park. Now to be cruelly disillusioned of this hope was not to be considered lightly for it made him weak at the knees to consider a career where he might actually have to labor at some task.

Moreover, what of the relationship that he had begun with his dear cousin Arabella for had this not been the prime objective in getting his Mamma to invite her to Oakland? Tom found himself in a most distressed condition for it seemed to him that his father had unbeknown to him unhorsed him of his intention to marry Arabella and to live upon the continent.

For this indeed was the case Tom felt that he had an urgent need to speak with his Mamma for it dawned on him that his father had gone about this piece of industry with malicious intent.

He resolved to ride out this very afternoon to Morton to speak with Lady Ann for he felt sure that she would find a way to derail the efforts of his father. He made haste to saddle a horse leaving Oakland shortly after the mid day meal in the hope of reaching Morton before night fall.

The countryside through which he road on that fine summer afternoon he paid scares attention to for his thoughts dwelt upon the travesty that had befallen him. Gone were the thoughts of Italy and romantic poetry for now he began to realize that certain forces were at play, which he had previously been unaware of. He knew not how it had come to pass that his father had embarked upon these adventures which he believed would be to his disadvantage, indeed he had always had a close relationship with his father and could not understand what had occasioned such a rash action.

To him Africa was a wild place with few inhabitants furthermore; he had heard that the Dutch who inhabited the colony were of a most dour nature not given to friendship with England. If memory served him correctly, slavery was still practiced at the Cape, some thing, which he abhorrent immensely what made the latest revelations more insufferable to him was his father, had been a friend of Wilberforce the great politician whose actions had brought to an end slavery in England. In the course of his travels through the county, he though of many things in this regard for what would become of his hopes of marriage to Arabella Fitz-Gibbon. True he had liked her not very much in the beginning but since the passing of her mother, he had grown to like her a great deal. For after the demise of Lady Sarah she had come out of her shell she laughed at his jests she was a companion of which could be said that her mind was sharp seldom had he met some one of her character who quite understood him. Now all of this was at great peril because of the actions of his father.

Arriving in the late afternoon at Morton he was greeted by George who happened to be outdoors “I give you good day Tom how is every one at Oakland?” asked George. “Every one is in the best of health,” replied Tom with little civility for he was not in the mood to be of good society to his brother-in-law “Pray George where might I find Mamma?”  “I believe that she might be in the upstairs library with Lydia,” said George. Tom found his way to the library and indeed there he found his mother with her hand upon his sisters enlarged belly “Tom welcome come feel for it seems that the child with in has begun to kick” said Lady Ann. “I assume that means the nature of the child is well?” asked Tom. “Indeed it is a fortunate sign for it means that the child is strong” said Lady Ann “Pray what brings you to Morton for I see by your countenance that some thing is amiss?” she said

“Indeed Mamma father has imparted to me some very ill-conceived news concerning my future life,” replied Tom as he flung himself in to a chair.” Really Tom if you are to behave this badly every time you recived bad news it is no wonder your papa grows upset with you. How pray is dear Arabella? Asked Lady Ann. “She is well I had occasion to share some verse with her but this morning before papa affronted me with the news that I am to go to Africa,” he replied “Oh Mamma what am I to do he sobbed I am to loose Arabella for a career in Africa,” he continued.

“There now Tom I will have a word with your papa when I return next week I am sure we will be able to find some way in which all of us can be content” said Lady Ann “dry your tears lad it is not seemly for a man to cry in company” she continued.

Come sir a gentleman does not behave in this fashion” said Sir Thomas. “I wonder at you husband do you not see that young tom is distressed at the thought of leaving hearth and home for parts foreign” said Lady Ann “Madam I am acutely aware of what ales my son” replied Sir Thomas flushed at been addressed in this fashion by his wife.

“It might be of concern to you sir to know that our son is distressed at the possibility of leaving one who is dear to him for the wilds of Africa, never more to see the woman of whom he is deeply affectionate” replied Lady Ann.

“Indeed madam I was unaware of this encumbrance” replied Sir Thomas “I beg that you inform me this instant of the circumstances of this development” he replied. “Dear husband it might please you to know that since the untimely demises of dear Sarah Tom has become has given his heart to Arabella and had hopes of a nuptial with the sweet girl. That is of course until you decided otherwise,” replied Lady Ann.

“Well we shall have to see what we can do in that direction” said Sir Thomas “madam how is it come about that you knew of these actions while you did not inform me at your earliest convenience?” he asked of his wife.

“Truth be told dear husband this was the object of the visit of the visit of our dear Sarah and Arabella so that they might better become acquainted” she replied

“Tom would you be so kind as to bring Arabella hither as I would know what she thinks of this” said Sir Thomas. Once Tom had left the chamber his shoulders sunken low a sad countenance upon his brow for he was of the opinion that his father would tolerate no oppression to his will feared greatly the forthcoming conversation between the woman he loved and his father.

“Ann had you but informed me of this development sooner I might have endeavored to put in Lord Fits-Gibbon’s mind the idea of such a union been most fortuitous to both our families. For I can see the good of it yet you have left me nay indeed deserted me entirely with out a mast on this occasion” Sir Thomas said. Using as was his usage of old a navel term describing the direst of situations.

“Thomas I must beg you to compose yourself for you are quite in a rage and this will reflect badly on the mind of young Arabella” said Lady Ann  “I will not believe this is not a conception of the boys mind to escape from doing his duty” said Sir Thomas. “I will have it from the girl before long and the truth will out,” he continued.

“Sir you mistake yourself Tom is a good lad and will do his duty both to his family and to the girl,” said Lady Ann “Indeed madam it is a ill construed plan that you and the boy have hatched for you knew of my labors on his part to secure an occasion for him for advancement. Yet you have fought against me in every direction in this matter,” said Sir Thomas

“Husband age has made you obstinate for if you will cast your mind back and reflect a certain young navel officer with poor prospects once approached my father for my hand and who was it that convinced him?” she asked. “True Ann your father was sour and would not accept a navel man for his daughter but for other reasons then the ones you now put forward for Tom,” said Sir Thomas

“I believe the reasons to be the same for was it not for love that you married? How so then young Tom who would not be parted with the girl for no other cause then love” replied Lady Ann growing angry at what she perceived as her husbands stubbornness.

“there came to the door of the chamber a light knock” flinging open the door Sir Thomas was confronted by Arabella “ah Arabella pray enter for Lady Ann and I would have at the truth of certain remarks that have passed this day” said Sir Thomas.

“Arabella made her obedience’s upon entering and sat upon a chair waiting her fine golden hair reflecting the sunlight which spilled into the chamber from the open window.

“”Arabella I would beg to inform you that you have done nothing that could ever change our feelings of love and devotion to your person and that of your dear father” said Sir Thomas. “I am right glad to hear this Uncle Thomas for I feared that I had done some thing to anger you and that would have caused me great distress,” said the young woman

“Now Arabella tell me plainly if this is true Tom has informed me that you are fond of him and would have him ask your dear papa for your hand?” said Sir Thomas

“Tom has been a good friend o me in the late sadness that has filled my heart indeed he has been of great comfort since dear Mamma left us,” replied Arabella. “Quite so and such is the duty of a loyal cousin to stand by and support ones family in such sad times,” said Sir Thomas.

“However I must ask you do you have any deep affection in your heart for Tom?” asked Sir Thomas  “Uncle I must confess that there are feelings mutual that have passé between us Tom informed me of his deepest love for me and I have reciprocated by telling him that I love him too’” said Arabella. “There you have it the truth is out as you would not believe our son you have heard in now from the girl,” said Lady Ann. “I am aware now of the circumstance of this affair,” said Sir Thomas now convinced of the depth of the love of the couple. Throwing himself into a chair, he contemplated for a moment a bird sang in the garden the voice of the small creature filling the room bringing him once more to his reason. For he could not remain in a state of agitation when a bird brought forth such a song of merriment.

Rising he rung the bell which brought one of the servants’ into the chamber “Pray ask young master Tom to join us directly, said Sir Thomas. Departing the chamber the servant hurried on his way to find Tom.

“Now my dear it might be wise to write to your father and inform him of your feelings for Tom for I shall certainly have occasion once I have finished my task in London to proceed Northward with Tom to speak with your father on this matter. Pray take a moment to consider what you would write to your papa and when you have done so hand me your letter for I shall deliver it directly we meet him” Said Sir Thomas.

“Entering the chamber now Tom came with fear and trepidation for he knew not what way the weather yard had turned for or against him. Thus, he was anxious to know if Arabella would consent to be his wife or nay if he was to wander in African a stranger in a forbidding land.

“‘I have bethought” me self said Sir Thomas “and see an occasion where with all our hopes and desires might at one stroke be met” he continued, “Pray tell all” said Lady Ann now anxious to have an end to the argument. “It is simple my dear wife for if these to young people would marry before going  to Africa it would be a pleasurable thing for Tom to serve away with a wife in Africa thus he will gain valuable experience and one hopes preferment more hastily then a young unmarried officer with little prospects. Yes indeed I will see Lord Fits-Gibbon directly we leave London and see what arrangement can be made in regard dowry and the like,” said Sir Thomas

“Why husband I have always wondered what I saw in you and yet you make it plan you are most fortunate in your foresight for you have of an instant made all things fit rightly and properly together” said Lady Ann.

 

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