Cora Crawley was not a heartless woman. She loved her husband, and although she knew he did not love her when they originally married, she knew that in time he would come to care for her, because he too was not a heartless man. So when she received the news that her youngest daughter had met someone that she cared deeply for, maybe even loved, she had to share the news with her husband.
"Well, who is he?" Robert had asked with a smile on his face.
"She does not say," Cora revealed. "She says that she fears we shall not approve of him."
"Why ever would we not approve of a man who has won dear Sybil's affections?"
Cora paused, before speaking. "She says that he has no status or title."
"Is he a fellow doctor in York?" Robert queried.
"She does not reveal anything other than that she thinks herself to be in love with him, but that he has no status to speak of."
"He must only be an honourable man for Sybil to say such a thing. Perhaps he is an officer that she has treated at the hospital."
Cora smiled. "Whoever he is, I'm sure she will tell us shortly and introduce us. I must write back to her."
Sybil's fingers shook as she held the envelope with her mother's elegant script across the front. She was nervous to find what her mother's opinion was of him. The letter had weighed heavily in her nurse's uniform pocket as she worked her shift. She had fumbled with dressings and almost knocked over a bottle of iodine. The ward sister had snapped at her for her clumsiness and ordered her to get her head back into work. She'd listened, and made sure she made no more mistakes, but her hands still shook.
Sybil broke the seal of the envelope and unfolded the paper. She took a shaky breath and let her eyes roam over her mother's writing.
I am ecstatic to hear such news! Please, we must have a name of this Gentleman. Where did you meet? Your father and I are sure he must be an honourable man to have gained your affections. You must tell us more about him! Does he work? How old is he? Oh Sybil, it is so good to hear of you finding a man who you may marry!
I look forward to hearing from you,
Sybil smiled, glad that her mother did not seem too affected by the news that her beau had no status. She ignored the voice in her head that told her that she knew her parents would not be so supportive when they found that he was their very own chauffer! She quickly penned a reply to both her mother and Branson with a smile on her face.
Branson smiled when Anna dropped the latest letter into his hand. Sybil had been sending his letters through Anna, writing a simple 'T' in the corner of the envelope. Since Sybil had told him of her parents' reaction to her news, he had felt light headed and happy. She would only have told them if she felt she were serious about him, and the fact that her parents had not instantly disapproved gave him hope that, in time, they would not object to him marrying their youngest daughter.
The day that we shall meet again draws ever near, and I find myself shaking with excitement. I long to see your smile, hear your voice, and have our daily debates! I hope you miss me as much as I miss you. I cannot write for long – my last week here is the busiest yet.
Until Friday, my love,
Friday. Oh how Branson longed for that day. He longed to hold her hand, even if only to help her into the back of the motor. He wanted to smile at her, and have her smile back.
Friday couldn't come soon enough.
Cora had exchanged many letters with her daughter since she had left for her nurses training, and each and every one had at least one mention of the man she had given her heart to. She spoke of their shared interest in politics, and women's rights, and how he would challenge her, and allow her to have views and argue with him on them.
At first, Robert and Cora had been worried that the man encouraged Sybil's ideas of politics and arguments and rebellion, but after thought they had agreed that their feisty child was better suited to someone who could stoke the fire in her than someone who would lock her away in a gilded cage. And so they had congratulated her on finding someone who matched her perfectly.
Despite all of Sybil's talking of her love, she was careful not to mention his station or even his name. She had given them a first name – Tom – but had not given a family name. Robert was frustrated, believing that he should be able to look into the man who it seemed his daughter would eventually marry, but Cora assured him that when Sybil was ready, she would tell them.
Tomorrow her youngest would be returning from her training, and Cora had all of the servants preparing the house for her. She knew from their letters that Sybil had grown more independent, and although she didn't fully approve, she understood that Sybil would not want a Lady's maid first thing in the morning, nor would she want a fuss made of her return. It was with this knowledge, that Cora arranged for Mrs. Patmore to prepare a simple meal that Sybil would enjoy, and she told Anna to arrange Sybil's room in such a way that she would not require help in the morning.
Cora sighed with a smile upon her face. Her youngest may be feisty and rebellious, but she was still her daughter, and if she wanted to be an independent woman and marry a man beneath her station, then Cora would heartily approve. Maybe it was the American in her.
Author's Note: Apologies for the late update, and short chapter! I've been really busy with deadlines at college, and then I was ill... excuses, excuses I know, but I can't help it! Sorry!