Dr. Grace triple-clicked on her pen. “You are a doctor. What led you to become a medical doctor?”
“I had always had a special talent for healing, which led me to serve as a nurse in three wars. By 1825, I retired to Europe. I had always had a good mind for numbers and figures and had amassed a sizable fortune. I was set to live quite comfortably as a member of the European aristocracy for several years.
I had established myself in a fashionable neighborhood in London as Abigail St. James-Forsyth, the American-born granddaughter of the famed war hero, Colonel Preston Forsyth. No one but myself and his twice-widowed sister knew that the great colonel died childless. Lavinia Forsyth Madison was a good sport and helped me with my charade. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had it all. I had money, connections, and influence. I never wanted companionship. There was even talk that the prince himself had wanted to make my acquaintance.
After the first year of my glamorous life, I began to get… bored. It was not socially acceptable for high-society women to hold jobs at this time. Our “careers”, as it were, were to be wives and mothers. It was the man’s duty to gain an education and find meaningful employment. As Abigail, I could do nothing but wait for a new husband to take care of me. Eventually, my boredom reached a breaking point and Abigail was struck with a terrible and dramatic ailment and went into confinement. That fall her brother, Benjamin Charles St. James-Forsyth arrived in London.
I found new vigor as Benjamin. Men enjoyed substantially more freedom than we girls did at the time. I was able to enroll in medical school. Within a few months of graduation, I was able to establish a well-respected medical practice for myself.
With my earnings adding to my already substantial coffers, I began to enjoy all of the perks of wealth. Benjamin was invited to the most exclusive supper clubs and shooting clubs. It was at one of these clubs where I met the man who would change the course of Benjamin and Abigail’s lives – Lord Albert Hollingsworth the Second.
Benjamin and Albert became fast friends and I found myself quickly falling in love with him. Albert was tall, handsome, and incredibly charming. It was easy to fall for him.
“What’s the problem, old man?” said Albert, as he smoked his pipe. “You look like you have seen a ghost.”
“I’m sorry, my dear friend,” I reply, not wanting to admit that I was bewitched by his beauty. “I have a lot on my mind.”
“I have heard that Millicent Reeves has been trying to catch your eye,” Albert comments, dryly. I shook my head. Between my growing medical practice and my research, I had little time for romance. The more social introductions Benjamin declined, the more his appeal grew.
“I am afraid that Millicent would find me a tedious of husbands.”
“You are far too hard on yourself,” Albert protested. “You would make a fine husband for any lady. Myself on the other hand,” he scratched his stomach with an air of nonchalance. “I doubt I will ever marry. Every day I see such beautiful ladies, but I have yet to meet a woman who possesses the powers to capture me, both in body and in spirit.”
I was so desperately in love with Albert that I offered to introduce him to Abigail. Thus began our tumultuous affair. I did not care about propriety. I was foolishly in love. Our courtship lasted two months when I began pregnant.
Nervous and afraid, I did not know what to do. There were few resources available for unwed mothers. An unwed pregnancy was a major scandal. Without Albert’s influence, my life would be ruined. I mustered my courage and went to Albert’s home. There was still time for Albert to marry Abigail to prevent scandal.
I knocked on the door. I remember my heart was in my throat.
Albert was shocked upon my arrival and even more shocked when I announced my pregnancy. He called me the most vulgar of names. An illegitimate baby was going to ruin him and his chances of inheriting his father’s seat in Parliament.
A woman appeared in the doorway, coming to my rescue. The woman I later learned was Albert’s wife, Lady Caroline Von Kamp, the daughter of a lesser German nobleman. Albert had no intention of marrying Abigail but instead had reduced her to one of his many mistresses. “Albert, please,” she pleaded. “You must relax. This lady might be the answer to our problem.”
“What do you mean?”
“You need an heir.”
Lady Caroline invited me into their home, under the guise of a distant, widowed cousin of Lord Albert. I was to have everything and anything I desired during the space of my confinement. No one was to know that I was carrying their lord’s illegitimate child. I was still young enough or rather, naïve, enough to believe that Albert and Lady Caroline had my best interests at heart. But I later learned how wrong I was.
By December of that year, I gave birth to a baby boy. He had dark hair and his father’s vibrant blue eyes. I named him George Christopher after a brother of mine and my first husband. He was little and perfect. I was determined to give him the best life possible.
Albert and Caroline smiled evilly at each other when they came to call on me after my delivery. I was far too enamored by my son to realize what they were planning. I was foolish enough to believe that Albert was going to care for me and our son.
A few days after the birth, I learned the true intentions of my benefactors. While I was fast asleep, Lady Caroline sneaked into my room. She picked up one of the spare pillows and pressed it over my nose and mouth. I died within minutes.