Three months after the wedding, Bridget and Geoffrey put some of Lord Philip’s money where their mouths were and opened a school on their property for underprivileged boys. It was desperately needed in the community, for there was already quite an affordable school for girls, but the boys’ school was dilapidated and in desperate need of replacement. The school was constructed very quickly upon the grounds of the estate, and when they were finished, Bridget was jealous for the school now looked almost better than their home!
When the school opened, it had two teachers right from the get-go: Bridget and Miles. Bridget taught the boys English, and it turned out that Miles was a wildly talented mathematician and so he stuck to that subject. Miles ended up giving the second family income to his cousin, Henry, and instead chose to make his living entirely as a teacher. Deborah, funnily enough, ended up becoming the writer of the family, and she now wrote stories that rivalled even the best of Bridget’s adventure tales. Miles and Deborah did, however, move into the fine country home that the family kept not too far from the Nott Estate, and they were happily expecting their first child together in six months.
Henry, on the other hand, did accept the second family living, but insisted that he have a position that he could work at in order to earn the money more fairly. Geoffrey was thrilled with this idea, and when he asked Henry what position he would like to hold on the estate, Henry said he’d like to be the game warden. Geoffrey and Henry both had a good laugh at the change that had come over Henry, but Geoffrey happily made him the game warden of the Nott Estate.
As for Lord Alymer, he was still adjusting to life on his own in that big, lonely house without his two daughters there to keep him company. He didn’t much like it. However, he had recently begun volunteering for various events that were happening in the community, and at one of these events he had been introduced to the lovely Lady Nora Brisbane. Lady Nora was a widowed woman who lived not too far from the Stanhope Estate, and the two got along smashingly. Bridget and Deborah both thought the world of her, for she was exactly the kind of person that their mother would have hoped that Lord Alymer would have found one day.
Bridget was a terrific teacher, naturally, and one afternoon when she was teaching a young group of boys, she decided to read them a story. “Gather around everyone!” she called to her noisy group of eager faces. “Which book would you like to read today? Who would like to choose for us all?”
At once, every single boy’s hand shot up in the air, for they all loved it when their teacher read to them. Bridget scanned through her class and pointed to the smallest, quietest boy who hardly ever spoke up. “Oliver? What book would you like us to read today?” she asked.
Oliver looked positively thrilled to be choosing the book, and he said excitedly, “Oh! Oh! The Adventures of Beau and Jeff! The Adventures of Beau and Jeff!”
Bridget smiled to herself. “Of course, let’s read that one together!” she said happily. She grabbed the book off of the shelf and opened it for all of the boys to see. “Once upon a time, there was a handsome young man named Jeff and his loyal dog Beau. Jeff and Beau loved a great many things in this world, but there was one thing that they loved the most: adventure!”
Bridget went on reading the book, and as she did she would look proudly at the author’s name that was on the front, for it read, ‘Deborah Stanhope.’
When Bridget was finished with classes for the day, she walked back across the estate and went to go and collect Geoffrey from the stables. When she came upon the doors she opened them very quietly and snuck inside, hoping to surprise her husband. When she found him, he was crouched over something and was rummaging through it.
Bridget, being the naturally curious young woman that she was, decided to sneak a peek at whatever it was Geoffrey was working on. She peered over him and saw that a rough wool bag was what he was rooting through.
“What… what are you doing?” Bridget asked her husband suddenly.
Geoffrey jolted and dropped whatever was in the bag, swiftly swinging it behind his back. “Gracious!” he cried when he saw her, “can’t you give a man warning when you’re sneaking up upon him?”
Bridget laughed and gave her husband a hug. Geoffrey did not remove his hands from behind his back, however, and Bridget pulled the bag out of his hands in one quick motion.
“No!” Geoffrey cried, lunging for the bag. “Give that back, darling!”
Bridget held the bag away from her husband mockingly and said mischievously, “Why do you want this back so badly? Are there more stolen goods in it?”
Geoffrey chuckled, and then crouched down and made a hook with his fingers as though he was a pirate. “Arrr, me lady, ye knows me so well! Give me back my stolen treasure!”
Bridget let out a peal of laughter, and then said, “Now, Pirate Nott, I don’t think that stealing things is a good way to set a fine example for your soon-to-be-arriving son or daughter, now, is it?”
Geoffrey continued laughing for a minute, and then froze. “Did you say…” he began asking, and then trailed off. He stared at Bridget in wonderment, and then took a few steps towards her and placed his hands upon her stomach. “Are we… are we expecting?”
Bridget nodded emphatically, and Geoffrey put his arms around her, lifted her up and spun her around. They both laughed with utter delight, and when he was finished spinning her, Geoffrey kissed Bridget passionately.
“I am so happy I just cannot contain myself!” Geoffrey cried.
“I feel the same way, my sweet,” Bridget said lovingly as Geoffrey put her back on the ground.
“Oh no, it appears that we’ve walked in on them having another one of their ‘lovey dovey’ moments, Debbie,” came a voice from behind them.
Miles and Deborah stood in the doorway, holding hands and grinning at their family members. “Well, you’ve walked in on just the right one then, Miles… or should I say… Uncle Miles,” Geoffrey said to him ecstatically.
Miles looked at him queerly, and then said, “Why would you call me that? I’m not an uncle to anyone yet.”
Geoffrey stared at him, stunned. “Miles,” he said, “What would be the only reason why I would suddenly start referring to you as ‘uncle’?
Miles raised an eyebrow at him. “Because… it’s a fun new nickname? Because… you misspoke and meant to say brother? Because…”
Miles tried to continue his sentence, but he was interrupted by a shriek from Deborah who figured out what her brother-in-law had just told them before her husband did. Deborah ran and hugged her sister very tightly, and then hugged Geoffrey too. Miles still stood at the door, looking baffled.
“Why are you so excited? My brother just messed up calling me… oh wait…” Miles said, finally clueing in. “You’re having a baby? YOU’RE HAVING A BABY!”
Miles then proceeded to do the same thing that his wife had just done, except when he hugged Bridget, he did it very gingerly and said, “I’d hug you tighter but I’m afraid of crushing the little one now!”
Bridget laughed hysterically, and it was a very joyous scene in the barn. When everyone had stopped congratulating each other, Deborah said, “Now, shall we retire to the house so that we do not have to discuss our future children while we smell horse stench?”
Geoffrey laughed and nodded, and Miles and Deborah led the group towards the house. But Bridget pulled Geoffrey back for a moment and asked, “Before we go in, what was in the bag?”
Geoffrey looked at her disappointedly, and then walked over to where the bag lay on the ground after Bridget had dropped it when he picked her up. He picked up the bag and brought it back over to her. When he was standing in front of her Geoffrey sighed, held open the bag, reached in and pulled out…
A bundle of wild strawberries. “My surprise was much less exciting than yours,” Geoffrey said disappointedly. “Would you like me to come up with something a little more… exciting next time?” he asked with a glint in his eye.
Bridget smiled, blissfully happy, and wrapped her arms around her husband’s neck, staring adoringly at him. “Don’t you dare,” was all she said, and the couple kissed deeply once more.