David’s return to his London home was anything but warm. Millicent, still very pregnant, was in a foul mood. When he tried to talk to her, she simply stormed off. Finally, in desperation, he cornered Henry to see if he had a clue as to Millicent’s behavior.
“Well Sir, I suspect it has to do with a letter she received a week ago. A friend of hers was taking the waters at Bath and there was a flurry of letters between them. Ever since, she’s been horrid to live with. Were you not family, I would have turned in my notice,” said Henry.
“Dear lord,” said David. “I guess I’d best confront the Gorgon.”
Henry nodded, and headed to the kitchen. David headed upstairs to Millicent’s sun room. When he knocked, he was told to go away.
“Millicent, we are going to talk,” David said as he entered the room. He found her sitting at her writing desk, pen in hand.
“We certainly are not,” she said. “This moment, I am penning a letter to my solicitor. As far as I am concerned, we may communicate through him,”
David took the pen from her hand and pulled Millicent up out of her chair. He walked her over to the couch and sat down with her. “No, we are not. We are going to talk like husband and wife. Now. What on earth has you acting like this?” he asked.
“I received a letter from a dear friend, who was in Bath just over a month ago. She’d been walking between spas when she chanced upon someone she thought she knew and was astonished. Upon returning to her rooms, she wrote me immediately,” said Millicent.
“And what did this letter say?” David asked. He had his suspicions, but wanted to hear it from Millicent.
“The letter told of how she’d seen a gentleman with a very pregnant woman in public and that gentleman was you! You’ve had some sort of torrid affair and your mistress is or was pregnant! Did you think going clear to Bath would hide it? What kind of whore goes out in public with their lover at that late stage of pregnancy?” Millicent was nearly screeching by this point.
David began to laugh. This made Millicent begin to flail about and try to hit him across the face and shoulders, all the while calling him a bastard and other names.
“Millicent, shut up!” he said at last. “I was in Bath. I was in public with a very pregnant woman,” he said. Before he could draw a breath, Millicent started to yell again.
“See! You admit it! You Bastard! You ass! You pompous arrogant man!” she yelled.
“No, I’m not. That woman was Elsa! My sister-in-law. She and Paul went to Taunton and I was there on business, just as I said I was. The so called friend, obviously didn’t recognize Elsa. I took her to Bath for a day to get away from the children!” said David. “Just because you have chosen to not leave the house in the last six months doesn’t mean that all women choose to confine themselves in such a manner.”
Millicent sat there stunned. She was certain that David was having an affair and her friend’s letter had been such certain proof. She started to say something and David stopped her.
“On top of that, it would have been nice if you had remembered that Elsa was pregnant. She has a lovely new daughter. She and Paul have decided to move out of London for their children’s sake,” said David.
“Oh,” was all that Millicent could manage. She sat quiet for a moment, looking at her hands.
David in the mean time walked over to her desk and picked up the letter that she had been working on. He read it and then turned back to Millicent.
“It says here that you have already asked your solicitor to start the divorce papers. You weren’t ‘just writing’, you already have. This is a follow up letter to advise him that I was now home and papers could be served. Millicent, I have always treated you fairly. However, this is too much,” David said. He took a moment to think himself and after a deep breath, sat down next to Millicent.
“I realize that you in your own way are unhappy. People do not think up ways to end their marriages if they are happy. I for one have not always been pleased with our marriage,” he said.
Millicent started to protest and he put a finger across her lips.
“I want you to listen. I was coming home to tell you that the business is moving partially out of London and I am go oversee the office in Taunton. That is part of the reason I’ve been gone. I originally thought of moving the household out of London as Elsa and Paul have done. However, this situation throws a new light on things,” he said.
“Alright,” Millicent said. She realized that she had made a major mistake on acting upon the letter, but it fit so perfectly. The only time he’d paid any attention to her lately had been when she asked for another child. However, not even that had helped. She didn’t understand what had gone wrong.
“I had considered ending our marriage. We’ve grown apart and I do not love you as I once did,” he said.
Millicent just sat there looking at him.
“In fact, I will consider allowing this divorce to go through with a few considerations,” he said.
“But, you just said you were with Elsa, so if there was no affair, why are you doing this?” she asked.
“Very simply. If you suspect me once, you will always suspect me. Therefore, I consider that suspicion to taint our relationship to the point of no return,” he said.
Millicent sat there and blinked. This was not how she expected things to go and didn’t know what to do. “David,… I’d be willing to let things go and just get back to where we were,” she said.
“No. I want a divorce. It makes things much cleaner. Oh, and I want James,” he said.
“NO! You can’t have him!” Millicent cried.
“I will. You may have this child, and the house and even £400 a year,” said David. I want James.
“But… but why James? How could you tear him from me?” she asked.
“Easily. He is about to go off to boarding school. You won’t miss him. Plus, you’ll have plenty to do with the new baby. I want to raise my son. I want him to go to a dayschool closer to my job,” said David.
“But what about this child?” cried Millicent putting her hand on her belly.
“What about it?” said David coldly.
“Won’t you want to raise your child? What if it’s a daughter?” Millicent asked.
“It’s not my child,” David said softly.
“What are you talking about?” said Millicent. “Of course it’s your child!”
“No, as a matter of fact, it isn’t. You see Millicent, you will give me the divorce and James or else I will tell the world, and especially your friends exactly what happened,” said David.
“What do you mean? This is your child!” she cried again. “Explain yourself!”
“No, it isn’t my child. In all honesty, your coolness of attitude and lack of companionship left me unable to do my duty as a husband. Your cold manner shriveled my manhood to the point of no return,” said David.
“I disagree! You were in my bed and we made this child!” she cried.
“No, we did not. I attempted to do my duty, and when I could not, I left the room. Remember?” he asked.
“Yes, and then you came back and we had.. had… you know!” she said.
“No, I don’t know. Didn’t you notice anything different?” he asked.
“No, except you tried to touch me against the agreement we had,” she said crossing her arms indignantly.
“Ah, that explains much. I hate to inform you, but you are pregnant with my cousin’s child. Henry is very similar to me in almost all the right ways and he agreed to ‘take over’ when I could not,” said David. “Henry, our butler, my cousin, is the father of your child.”
Millicent came to on her daybed in her sun room. David and anther man were standing in front of the window. “David,” she said softly.
A man walked over. At first, she thought it was David. Then she realized it was Henry, as David walked up behind him. She gasped at the similarity of the two men.
“You… you could almost be… twins,” she gasped.
“Yes, and that is why we were able to switch places,” said Henry. “And if you are uncertain, you have a small mole on the inside of your left thigh.”
Millicent went red. She started to talk and then shut her mouth. It was true. There was only one time that her body was available to be seen, and that was… She was horrified.
“So my dear, you have a choice. Either divorce me and let me have James, or I will tell your entire social circle that you had an affair with your butler,” said David.
“But… what about…” she started.
“As I said, I will give you the house. You can always sell it and move to somewhere less expensive. I’ll give you £400 a year as well. That should be more than enough for you and your daughter. I’m sure your mother would be proud to help out as well,” said David. He knew that Millicent’s mother had been the ‘friend’ in Bath. He went through the letters while Millicent had been recovering from her faint. “Oh, and you’ll need a new butler.”
Millicent started to protest when Henry looked at her and winked. Then the two of them walked out of the room.
“So Sir, now what?” asked Henry.
“First off, call me David. We’re cousins for God’s sake. Next, start packing James’ things. I’ve got a letter to write and post off to Paul,” he said. “And one to Lillian,” he thought.
“Gladly. Do you think she’ll do it?” Henry asked.
“Oh yes. The choice between a quiet divorce and a slanderous pregnancy? She’ll go for the quiet divorce. Her Mum will help no doubt, as it was her that started this mess in the first place,” said David.
“You’re probably correct Si..David. However, what about me?” asked Henry.
“You sir have just been hired by the family firm. We need a trustworthy man in our office here. It pays about the same as you earn now, and you actually move up in society,” said David. “If you want that is.”
“Yes, David, that would be fine,” said Henry.
“And you can visit your child if you wish,” said David, not knowing how Henry felt about the child.
“That would be nice, especially if it is a son. I won’t hold my breath though,” said Henry.
David nodded and then headed off to write his letter.