Excerpt from “Liberty’s Promise”

Thomas Rockdale took off his wig, and settled back on in his favorite chair at the rectory.  He poured himself a glass of wine, and sipped from it, thinking of Anna Barton.  He wondered for a moment whether he was wasting his time with her.    It wasn’t as if she was the only woman attracted to him.

True, she was startlingly beautiful, and he felt deeply attracted to her.  He did want her as his wife, but he also felt a rebellious streak in her.  Women did need a man to rule over them.  And he felt Anna resented that.

He had long felt that all women needed a man to control them.   Women were naturally rebellious ever since the Garden of Eden, and though they really wanted the rulership of men, they tried to control man.  It took strong men, men like himself, to refuse their games of love, to bring a woman to obey and fear God correctly.

It was just like these unruly colonials.  He had meant his words.  They were like an unruly woman that needed force to bring them under control, and force they would get.  He had heard about their “Congress” that was meeting, though small good that would do.  No, rather, they needed to fall into line and accept the rulership of their King and Parliament and do what they were told.

He came from a very old British family, long before the Elizabethan era, and he didn’t understand this unreasonable behavior among them.    His father, as an Earl, had shouted “God Save the King” at George III’s coronation.  His earliest known ancestor, Richard of Rockdale, had fought alongside Henry VI, the last Lancastrian King of England before the Tudors.  No, he did not understand these rabble at all.

The fireplace flickered, and he let his mind wander back to Anna Barton.  If he were her husband, he would teach her to obey him.  He was a strong man, and smart enough to know the little games women played.  He knew how to overpower them with his personality, how to make them recognize the superiority of men, until they had to give in.  Then she would obey him, and he would teach her what being a godly woman was.

No, if he were her husband, there would be no more speaking against him.  There would be no more games.  Men had to use their superior minds and their force of being to overpower a woman or she would use her feminine wiles on him.  He had seen it in his mother and sisters, how his father gave in to them.  He had seen it in the wives of his friends.  He would not allow a woman to do that to him.

If he were Anna’s husband, she would obey him in the end.  He would make her a compliant, peaceful wife who would fear God and fear him and there would be no feminine games, no emotional outbursts, no shrewish disagreements.   And she would thank him for his attentions to her.

It helped that her own sister was for him.  The insipid Mrs. Tetford.  He knew how to use women to his best advantage and he felt no qualms in doing so.    He realized some women even felt themselves the equal of men, but he knew better.  It was a man’s world, and would remain so, because of strong men like himself.

God had intended the world to be ruled by men.  He had intended a natural order of things, in marriage, in the church, in society.   Men tried to defy the divine right of kings, when they were truly casting off their God.   And women threw off the divine rulership of their husbands for the same reason.

All this talk of “liberty” was against everything he knew in life.  They brought up the Magna Carta, while ignoring that the rights contained in it were barons, and not for the lower classes.    This had begun to be a problem as liberal ideas of the rights of man had taken root in men’s minds, convincing them that they were the equal of kings.   He hoped their government would soon send the Army.  This rebellion needed to be put down before it got out of control.

He sat in his chair and considered what his next strategy should be.  What would bring the beautiful Mrs. Barton to crave more of his attentions?  Perhaps a little jealousy was due.  He could think of one or two women in the congregation he might enjoy having lunch with, and if he let Hope know….He smiled to himself.

He knew Anna was attracted to him.  He felt it whenever he entered the room.  Perhaps if she thought he was considering another woman, she would be more amiable to him.  She was after all, a widow, and not getting younger.  Certainly her number of suitors must be waning—why else would her sister be matchmaking for her?

Yes, he finally settled, he would make her jealous for his attentions.  He would meet with her again soon, and make her think he wanted to marry her, and then he would have lunch with one or two ladies.  She would be anxious about his attentions.

He took out some stationary, and wrote a letter to her.

My dear Mrs. Barton:

I do feel our last meeting was not as amiable as I had hoped.    I was really hoping you would enjoy to hear me speak, and understand my devotion to God as well as to my King.

Anna, I must meet with you at your sister’s home again soon.  I implore you to say yes.   I am sorry if you did not understand my statements on the duties of a wife, but I hope you will give me the opportunity to better explain them to you.   I hope that once you see the truth of my statements, you will agree with them.

After we discuss that, there are other, more important matters I want to discuss with you.

There, he thought.  He felt he was forceful and dynamic, and he also left open the possibility that he might take a closer step toward engagement.  A real man simply had to play the game better than the woman if he was to succeed with her.    And he did feel he would succeed with Anna.


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