Once Upon A Dream

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Book: Read Once Upon A Dream for Free Online
Authors: Grace Burrowes Mary Balogh
will be devastated if Georgette goes away for weeks at a
    time, and she will be devastated to leave him. But…is it the best thing anyway? Why does no one warn prospective parents of the momentous and
    torment-provoking decisions that lie ahead of them? But this is most definitely not your problem, and I do apologize again. Tell me about your family. You
    are going to see them tomorrow?"
    "Yes," she said. "I lived in a village in Gloucestershire with my mother until a few years ago. Both my sisters married, one of them to the local vicar.
    She is still there. They have three children, two boys and a girl. My other sister returned home after she was widowed. That was when she taught part time
    at the village school. She was very good at it. The children adored her. Then she remarried and her new husband invited both my mother and me to live with
    them. My mother was keen to go. I was less so. Being a spinster of very moderate means suited me fine, but only provided it came with independence. Luxury
    and dependence in my brother-in-law's very lavish home did not appeal to me at all even though they were offered with graciousness and love. I might have
    remained alone at the cottage and eked out an even more frugal existence, but it would have upset my mother and my sisters and I do believe I might have
    been lonely. So I chose to teach—but older girls, whom I dearly love."
    She was a woman of courage, then. How many ladies in her position would have chosen to teach when they might have lived in luxury with relatives who loved
    them?
    "And you?" she asked. "Tell me about your family."
    "My home is in Devonshire," he said, "not far from the northern coast. My father died suddenly when I was twenty-three, an event that put an abrupt end to
    my post-Oxford years of sowing wild oats. My mother remarried three years later and now lives in the north of England. I have no brothers or sisters, alas,
    but I do have aunts and uncles and cousins, almost all of whom live not very far from me. I married Annette when I was twenty-seven, and Georgette was born
    two years later, Robert almost five years after that. He looks like his mother, though she was not quite as blond or as curly-haired. There were
    complications after his birth. She never recovered her health and died six months later. I was fond of her. No, that is by far too bland. I was deeply
    attached to her and did not believe I would ever wish to replace her. It is only recently that I have come to two conclusions. One is that of course she
    cannot be replaced. It would be out of the question. However, that fact does not preclude my marrying again and having a quite different relationship with
    an entirely different woman."
    "And the other conclusion?" she asked, setting her knife and fork side by side across her empty plate and picking up her wine glass.
    "That perhaps it has been selfish of me to carry my mourning to the extreme of not providing my children with a new mother sooner," he said. "Georgette
    does not remember Annette very clearly, more is the pity, and Robert, of course, has no memory at all of her. I tell them stories about her and I hope I
    always will, but I do believe they have the need of a live woman to love and nurture them. I can give them a father's love, but I cannot be a mother too. I
    have tried and have felt my inadequacy."
    "It must be difficult," she said, kindness  softening her smile, "to choose someone who will suit both you and your children."
    "Yes." He felt suddenly mortified to realize he was discussing his marital aspirations with a single lady whom he had invited to dine with him. An
attractive
single lady. "I do apologize yet again, Miss Thompson, for burdening you with my family concerns. You are altogether too good a
    listener."
    "But I love listening to people," she said. "Really listening, I mean, to the words that people say and to what they do not say aloud. It is something I
    have learned at my school. Teachers tend to talk too

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