Hello everyone, it's time to once again catch up with my Victorian sims as they go about their day to day lives

. I suggest any new readers go back and read at least my recap chapter (chapter 16), but just so everyone remembers last chapter saw my generation four heir Edward marry the beautiful Marielle Hutchins, but it soon became apparent to some members of the family that she was lazy and uncooperative. In fact it seemed as if she had only been interested in his position in the community rather than the man himself. The chapter ended on a high note however when the family welcomed the fifth generation heir Albert into their midst. Before we catch up with the new parents however, let's go and see what is happening in another house in Regalton.

In the Harrison household General Thomas Harrison was dancing, without musical accompaniment, with his wife, second generation spare Violet. His request for a dance had taken her by surprise at first, but now she had a fairly good idea why he had asked her, and she was not happy about it. "You do realise you saved me my love, do you not?" He asked as they danced to music only they could hear. "Do not be so ridiculous." She started. "But it is true. Following the death of Jayani I was a broken man, barely functioning in order to get through the day, and then you waltzed through my door. You made me realise that life was worth living, and I have not looked back.“ "Oh Thomas." She sighed.

"I love you Violet." He said dipping her into a kiss. "I love you too." She whispered back, tears forming in her eyes. "I will...go and get the rest of the family.“ "Please do." He said, reluctantly letting her go.

Thomas had managed to compose himself by the time the rest of his family came into the drawing room. He turned to his grandson. "Theodore, I feel that I have to apologise for tricking you several years ago into staying in that house..." He started.

*** Thomas is talking about A Very Victorian Bachelor Challenge. If you haven't read it, go on. You know you want to.

Theo waved his grandfather's words away. "Do not apologise Grandpapa. If you had not arranged for me to stay there then I may never have met my beautiful wife, and she would not be expecting our first child..." His voice faltered as he realised that his grandfather would never see his great grandchild. "There is nothing to apologise for." He repeated. "Good, I am glad." Said Thomas, "Now where is your father?“

*** The winner of the BC and Theo's wife is DrSupremeNerd, writer of the awesome Vetinari Dualegacy.

Thomas managed to say a few words to both of his sons and daughters, as well as Louisa, the only other grandchild old enough to be present that day. After one last embrace with his wife, he was ready when Death came for him with a Twikii drink and Betty and Doreen the hula zombies. "It is time then." He said as he stared into the hooded face of Death. "I had thought I would meet you on one of my military campaigns, and not live to be an old man.“ I ONLY ESCORT THOSE WHOSE TIME HAS COME. "And now mine has.“ YES, BUT YOU WILL NOT BE TOO LONELY FOR TOO LONG. "I am not sure I find that all that comforting." He replied, glancing at his wife as he faded from view.

Thomas's death left a gaping hole in the family, but none felt it more keenly than Violet. For the first time in many years she found herself alone in her bed, and it felt far, far colder than she remembered it.

Life, however, goes on and pays no heed to death, so it was that Doc found herself alone in the sun room the next day when she felt the first twinges of her labour. "Argh, why did I let that man touch me?" She screamed as the pains came more frequently. An image came unbidden into her mind. "Mmm Nummy Theo and his Nummy tats...ARRRGHHHH curse the man for being so freaking gorgeous!"

Her anger at him faded, along with her resolve to never let her husband near her again once she had delivered their first born Peter Frederick...

...and his twin Andrew Thomas. Peter has Doc's skintone and Theo's eyes and hair colour, whilst Andrew has his father's skintone and eyes, and blonde hair courtesy of his mother and paternal grandmother Enid (a generation three spare).

At 1 King's Square another new parent was starting to find his feet as he held the struggling, crying infant close. "Shush, there, there Bertie." Eddie murmured, trying to soothe his son. "Can you please take him out of the room?" Came a voice from the bed. "I am exhausted and am trying to rest.“ Eddie glanced at his wife in the bed. "Come on Bertie, let's get you fed and settled in your cot." He muttered, walking out the room.

After a slight struggle Eddie managed to get Bertie settled and sleeping soundly. He decided he could not face his wife so went downstairs to the games room instead. It was there that his father found him quarter of an hour later. "Eddie my boy, there you are. Congratulations, I have just looked in on my grandson and he is perfect."

Eddie smiled at William. "He is, is he not? I cannot believe that I had a hand in creating such a perfect being." He paused. "Father I have been thinking about something for a while, and Bertie's birth has brought it to the forefront of my mind again. What say you of my buying a dog? Well a puppy to be precise."

"You do not have to run decisions by me Eddie. You are the head of the family now." Said William, looking at his son. "I realise that Father, but your opinion is important to me.“ William's face broke into a grin. "Thank you Eddie." He murmured. "I must say," he continued in a louder voice, "that I think the idea is an excellent one. I am certain that Bertie will enjoy having a dog as his companion. In fact my cousin Harold's dog has just has puppies. I can go and visit him later if you so wish?“ "That would be most agreeable father." Replied Eddie, feeling far, far happier than he thought any man had the right to.

Later that morning William did travel to see Harold Skinner, eldest son of his late Aunt Elizabeth. There he picked out a pure white bitch called Sally from the litter of pups Lulu had had not long before. "I am sure everyone is going to love you." He said to her as he carried her up the path leading to the back of the house. "Of course in this weather we need to make sure that you do not get outside. We would not be able to see you in the snow.“ Sally yipped in reply, and William scratched behind her ears. "You know I would have liked a dog myself when I was a child." He muttered, his head full of images of his grandson playing with Sally in the back garden.

In the nursery Beth was checking on her newest grandson. She missed being so far away from her daughter Alexandra, and her two eldest grandchildren, Christopher and Bethany. "Sleep well, little one." She said softly. "You have a good papa and will be well loved." She straightened up. She had better go and see her daughter-in-law and speak to her about increasing her duties now she was no longer with child.

She found Marielle up and dressed and preparing to read a book in the morning room. "I trust you are feeling well?" She asked. "Surprisingly yes." Came the reply. "Considering I have just given birth that is.“ Beth gave a small smile. "Good. I had hoped to be able to discuss with you some of the duties as spouse you have not yet taken on board, starting with supervising and helping our maid of all work."

Marielle smiled. "I do not think that that will be necessary Mother. You and she do an admirable job keeping the house clean, I would only get in the way. Besides, I am quite content to take care of the social duties I am expected to carry out. They take a fair amount of time you know.“ Beth glared at her. She did know thank you very much. What did this woman think she had been doing for the previous thirty-odd years? "In fact I am looking forward to the period of grace I will have following my son's birth, before I am expected to take up those duties again. It will be nice to have some time to think only of myself.“ Beth bit back a retort. As far as she could see her daughter-in-law had never thought of anyone but herself. She turned to leave the room. "Just so you are aware, Victoria, Alexandra and Anthony will be joining us for dinner tonight.“ "That is very kind of you to let me know, thank you Mother, but for your information I should really be the one offering invitations to dinner now.“ Beth closed the door very carefully behind her as she left the room.

By the time her daughters and son-in-law joined them that evening, Beth was in a better frame of mind. She had spent some time with her baby grandson, as well as fawning over Sally, whom she had to admit was very sweet. She drew her eldest child into a hug. "Alexandra, you are looking well, in fact you are positively glowing."

"It is funny you should say that Mother," she replied pulling away from her, "because I have some very good news to share. I am with child."

Beth let out a squeal of delight, and hugged Alexandra tight. Congratulations.“

"That is such good news darling.

"Thank you. I have not yet started to show, but I am feeling very happy about it."

William meanwhile was embracing Anthony. "Congratulations son." He said before adding in a quieter voice. "Finally consummated the marriage then?"

Anthony let out an embarrassed laugh. "Yes." He managed before wondering what else he could say. After all one could hardly discuss woohoing his daughter with your father-in-law could one?

William let go of Anthony and turned to Alexandra. "Congratulations my dear. I am so happy for you.“ "Thank you Father." She relied. "Well I must go and see how dinner is getting on." Said Beth. "I will help you Mother.“ "There is no need Alexandra, sit down and rest.“ "I insist.“ "Whilst you ladies see to the food, I will go and get that bottle of champagne I have been saving for an occasion such as this." Said William following them out of the morning room.

Anthony and Victoria were left alone in the room and he sat down beside her. "Congratulations Anthony." She said. "Thank you. It is...very good news. The best in fact.“ Vicky paused, as if weighing up what she was about to say. "She really does love you, you know.“ Anthony was silent. "It is true. You have no need to worry“ "I really have no idea what you mean..." He blustered.

"I see how you look at her. As if you cannot believe that she is really your wife, and that...worry in your eyes that it is all going to come crashing down because you are not sure of her feelings." Anthony looked down at the ground. Was he that transparent? Alexandra's confession of love should have driven all doubts from his mind, but he still remembered how enamoured she had been with Joe Grundstrom. Did she really know her own feelings? "But," Vicky continued, "I also see how she looks at you. How she has always looked at you. She barely takes her eyes off you when you are in the same room, and when she looks at you, her entire face lights up. Believe her when she tells you she loves you.“ "You are a very perceptive young woman Vicky." Said Anthony, smiling at his sister-in-law. "Yes, but not many people take notice of me." She said thinking of her brother. "Be one of the few who do. Now if you will excuse me, I think I will go and help Mother in the kitchen."

Not long after Vicky had left the room, Alexandra entered it. "Can you believe the nerve of my little sister?" She asked as Anthony got his feet. "Why is that my dear?“ "She only marched into the kitchen and told me to go and sit down because otherwise I will get swollen ankles and look a right state! Her words not mine." Anthony chuckled. Good old Vicky.

He put his arms around her. "Well I for one will never complain about getting to spend time alone with my beautiful wife.“ "There are advantages to being shooed away I suppose." Alexandra conceded. "Are you happy my dear?" He asked. "Extremely. What is there not to be happy about? I have two wonderful children, and another on the way by the man whom I adore and will spend the rest of my life with.“ "I love you Alexandra.“ "I love you too Anthony." As she said the words Anthony saw that she meant them, and all doubts fled his mind.

The meal was, as always, lovely, and afterwards nearly everyone retired to the drawing room where Marielle insisted on taking a turn at the piano in order to entertain them all. It was as Vicky sat down that she noticed her mother wasn't joining them, so she smilingly made her excuses and went to look for her. She found her in the scullery, leaning over a sink full of dirty dishes. "Mother, what are you doing? Come and sit down. You have already cooked us a delicious meal, you can surely leave the washing up for Marielle."

Beth whirled round and looked at her daughter. "I cannot, because she will. Not. Do. It. She is a lazy, slovenly cow who will not lift a finger to do anything she deems unworthy of her, including cleaning the house, cooking the meals, looking after her son and tending to the garden!" Her voice had risen to a shriek, and it was lucky that the lady in question was playing the piano as loudly as she could. "Everything, and I mean everything, is being left to me, and I feel I cannot do it anymore! I am nearing 70 and I am tired."

Vicky was shocked to hear her mother react so. She had personally never liked Marielle, but to hear her mother speak like this... "Have you tried talking to her, explaining the importance of all her duties?"

"Yes I have tried on numerous occasions, and she just brushed my words under the carpet." Replied Beth wearily. "She does not care about our family and our history. All she cares about is what we can do for her."

This agreed with Vicky's assessment of her sister-in-law, so she nodded curtly. "You have shared your thoughts with Father?“ "Yes, but you know your father...“ Vicky did, and she felt there was not the time to wait for William to decide to do something about the situation. "Then perhaps it is time for you to speak to Eddie."

"And say what?" Asked Beth, a sad smile on her face. "Exactly what you have told me. Well, maybe not exactly, but you get the idea. He is the head of the family and her husband. She should at least listen to him." Vicky didn't completely believe her words, but Eddie would at least be made aware of the situation. Beth looked at her youngest daughter. "It is worth a try I suppose.“ "It is. Come, I will help you with this, and then we can join the rest of the family."

Once the family had left and Beth had made sure the kitchen was in order for the next day, Marielle and Eddie were relaxing on their bed prior to retiring for the night. "I have been thinking Eddie.“ "What about?" He replied. "Your sister, Alexandra's situation. I was thinking that it might be nice if Albert had a little brother or sister."

He shifted closer to her and put his arm around her, not noticing that she seemed to flinch slightly at his touch. "You really mean that?“ "I do. An heir and a spare for you my love.“ "I must admit it would be nice to have another child." He mused. "It will be, yes."

On the other side of the village were two siblings, who didn't necessarily see eye to eye, and had on more than one occasion made their mother think that she should have perhaps stopped at two children. Henry's youngest were now teenagers, and it was apparent who John took after. "Get off, I will tell Father.“ "You do that. You know Father does not like tell-tales.“

*** Their mother is Aphrodita one of the brains behind the Reclaim Your Game Website.

Also like his father John is very studious and he was sitting studying in the drawing room when his father found him. "There you are John. I want a word with you.“ "Father if this is about Alfie...“ "No, nothing to do with your brother. Well, not really." Replied Henry, making a mental note to speak to his youngest and find out what had happened. "In that case, let me put this book away."

John sat back on the settee and turned to his father. "What did you wish to speak to me about Father?" He asked curiously.

Henry smiled at him. "As I am sure you realise I need to name one of you boys my heir. Someone to continue the Legacy name and make our family strong.“ John nodded. "I have decided that you will be my heir John."

"Me?" John looked at his father in amazement. "But I had always assumed that the eldest would inherit, and become head of our family."

"That is the way that these things are normally done, yes." Agreed Henry. "However, I feel that my heir should not be the eldest, but rather the best qualified of my sons. That boy is you John."

John thought about this for a moment. "Does Timothy know?" He asked referring to his elder brother. "Yes." Replied Henry. "How did he take the news?"

Henry thought back to the day before when he had met with his eldest son in a new pub in Simdon. "Well Father, what did you want to see me for?“ "What makes you think I have an agenda here Timothy?" Asked his father, his tone amused. "Come now Father, you have never been one for purely social visits. It is months and months since I last saw you, and yet I get a letter from you yesterday morning insisting we meet here in the capital this afternoon. Why are we here?"

"Very well." Said Henry. "I do have a reason for asking you here today." Timothy sat back and crossed his arms, a satisfied look on his face. "With Alfie now a teenager, it is time for me to choose my heir. I have decided on John." Henry said succinctly, anxious to get the news out there as quickly as he could.

Timothy nodded. "I can see why. In many ways he is like you Father." He thought about it some more. "Yes, given the qualities you think an heir should have I think you have made the right choice."

"You are not upset by this?" Asked Henry concerned. "No, why would I be?" Came Timothy's reply. Henry looked at him, unsure how to answer. For him being the head of a family had been the over-riding want of his entire life. Even being the head of his branch of the family wasn't quite enough for Henry, even though he tried to convince himself it was. He wanted to be the most important member of the most important family, and he could not understand that anyone would not feel the same way.

"I am not you Father." Said Timothy as if he could read Henry's thoughts. "It does not matter to me whether I carry on our branch, or set up my own." He smiled. "If John is happy to inherit your wealth and the house, then he can."

"He took it well." Said Henry replying to his middle son. John nodded and was silent, thinking about what he was going to say next. "I am honoured you have chosen me Father." He replied at last. "I will do my utmost to lead the family in the way you would want it led, and to make you proud."

A satisfied smile flickered on Henry's face, before being suppressed. "I am sure you will my son. I am sure you will."

Time passed, as it was wont to do, and Alexandra was by now nearing the end of her second pregnancy. Despite all the pressures of having to run such a big house, and look after two young children, Alexandra had found this pregnancy much more relaxing than her first. As such she had found time to do a lot of thinking. "How are you feeling today dearest?" Asked Anthony as he rubbed her belly one afternoon. "I am feeling well, thank you for asking darling."

She decided that it was time to share her thoughts. "Anthony, my situation has led to think about the past, and I have something I wish to discuss with you.“ "What is that?" He asked smiling. "I want to give the chance to..." she paused as she struggled to say the name, "Mr Grundstrom for him to get to know Christopher and Bethany."

Anthony looked at her. "You want to give him the chance to meet the twins?" His tone was carefully devoid of emotion. "I think I do, yes. The baby being imminent, and the twins becoming children today has got me thinking. I think it is time he was told about them and allowed to meet them if he wants to.“ "You are sure of this?“ "No. But I have to give him the chance."

Anthony nodded. "Very well. I will contact him, but only after I have taken legal advice in the matter. "Thank you. You are a good man Anthony Smith and words cannot describe how much I love you.“ "I love you too Alexandra Smith." He kissed her tenderly.

That night it was indeed time for the twins to become children. Alexandra took charge of helping Bethany.

Whilst Anthony took Christopher to his cake.

If the twins had been lively as toddlers, they were even more so as children. By the time they went to bed Alexandra had already had to tell Bethany off for jumping on the spare room's bed three times.

Whilst Anthony had walked in on Christopher playing pirates in one of the bath-tubs when he went to have a bath.

The day became even more eventful though when Alexandra went into labour that night. "Owwwww.“ "Can I do anything, or fetch anyone?" Asked Anthony anxiously as he got out of bed. "Noooooo." Screamed his wife in reply.

Her labour was soon over though, and it wasn't long until Alexandra held Anthony's son in her arms. They decided to call him David Steven Smith, and although he hadn't inherited his father's striking green eyes, he did have his great grandmother Allyn's blue eyes.

Beth had received the news of her latest grandchild's birth with much happiness, but she found she couldn't really savour it because she had too much to do. Marielle was again with child, and once again had taken to her bed, leaving everything to Beth. By the first part of the afternoon she was in the greenhouse weeding. This was the task that irked her most of all. She had enjoyed looking after the garden, not because she loved gardening, (although that had come later) but because of what the garden represented. It had been planted by her husband's grandmother when the family couldn't afford to buy enough food to feed every mouth, and had been cared for by the heir's spouse ever since. True for the most part of her husband's time as heir they had been able to afford anything they liked, so in that original way the garden was defunct, but it showed how the family had started, how far they had come, and how they would continue to grow strong. The fact that Marielle refused to take over it proved to Beth that she had no respect for the family and left a bitter taste in her mouth.

Beth put her coat on and went to go into the house to get ready for Bertie's birthday party. As she left the greenhouse she caught sight of the orchard. This had been her contribution to the garden, and as she looked at the unkempt and in some cases disease ridden trees she felt a wave of sorrow.

She had hoped that they would be part of a thriving garden, cared for by generations of her son's descendents, but now look at them. The garden had never been so neglected.

She was still in the garden when William found her. "There you are dear, the guests are arriving." He said, breaking her reverie. "Already? What is the time? They must be early.“ "It is a little past four o'clock and they are on time. I fear you have got so caught up in the gardening you have lost track of time."

Beth opened her mouth to speak and tell him all her worries, but shut it again. Today was her grandson's birthday and she was going to focus on that.“ "Come now, Beth let's go in." William kept his forced smile on his face as he escorted her inside. He had not been into the garden for a while and was shocked at how untidy it was. He would have to have a word with the gardener and see if he could be persuaded to increase his hours to help out with it. Not take over tending it, Beth would never allow the gardener to do that: it was a family duty, but if he could do a bit of innocuous trimming and weeding here and there, it would help.

In the drawing room Eddie was waiting for the guests to file in whilst his wife was wondering how long she would have to stay downstairs. Her back was killing her and she just wanted to go and lie back down on her bed. She looked at her son cradled in his father's arms and wondered why she had decided it would be a good idea to have another child. One was surely enough.

With the guests gathered in the drawing room Eddie lit the candles on the cake and rocked his son as various friends and relatives (and friends who were relatives) cheered the birthday boy on.

Smiling broadly Eddie held Bertie closer to the cake and blew the candles out for him before tossing him into the air.

Bertie came down as one of the cutest toddlers the family had ever seen. There was no doubt he took after his dad with those big green eyes, cute little nose and full mouth.

Marielle stayed to see this happen, but as soon as she could she made her excuses and went to leave the room. "You are not even going to have some cake?" Asked Eddie as his wife passed him. "No, I do not think so. I will go and put my feet up for a bit.“ Eddie bit his tongue, desperately wanting to say more.

The rest of the party made their way onto the dinning room where they ate cake and Eddie proceeded to be utterly adorable with his son. In fact he was so entranced by his first born he didn't notice his mother slip out of the room and not return.

Stanley however did, and managed to track her down in the study. "Aunt Beth are you well? You have been very quiet today." Asked Stanley as he entered. Beth started slightly at her nephew's voice, before looking up at him.

"Yes Stanley, I am just...tired." She replied. "I was up early, and then I had lots to do to get ready for the party.“ "If you are sure...?“ "Yes Stanley, I am, but thank you for your concern. Now what is the time? I feel I should get my grandson bathed and ready for bed.“ She levered herself up off the settee and left the room, leaving a concerned looking Stanley wondering what to do.

Beth managed to prise Bertie away from his father only when she pointed out that as well as bath Bertie also needed his nappy changed since he appeared to have wet himself. Nappy duty was Eddie's least favourite part of being a father and so he gladly handed him over. As she took him out of the bath to dry him, Beth smiled sadly at Bertie. "You really do look like you papa little man." She murmured. "It does not seem like five minutes ago I was bathing him at your age.“ Bertie just smiled at blew spit bubbles at her.

Beth had fully intended to put Bertie straight to bed, but in the end she couldn’t resist playing with him for a bit. "Where is Bertie? Where has Bertie gone?" She asked covering her eyes.

"There he is!" She exclaimed taking hr hands away. Her grandson giggled and clapped as he had been doing for the past ten minutes before yawning.

"I think someone is getting tired." Said Beth smiling at Bertie. In reply he smiled up at her and yawned again. "Yes they definitely are getting tired. Come on then, let us get you to bed." She scooped him up and took him into the nursery.

She changed him into his pyjamas and kissed him gently goodnight as she put him in his cot. "Goodnight little one. Pleasant dreams." She stifled a yawn. "I am getting tired myself. I think I will go to bed too.“ Bertie smiled up at her and tried to grab her dress. He liked this white haired lady, who spoke so softly to him and smelled of flowers.

Whilst Beth climbed into bed William, who had been saying goodbye to their guests, was cornered by a concerned daughter. "Father, Mother is looking very tired. Is she well?“ "She is...doing too much Alexandra, that is all.“ "But surely Marielle has taken over the running of the household."

William paused. Despite what some people might think, he was not an unobservant or stupid man. He merely believed in the goodness of human nature, and thus came across as naïve and trusting. It had been his downfall on more than one occasion and not only did he know it, he also tried to use it to make him stronger. He had been pondering what to do about his daughter-in-law for some time, and perhaps Alexandra would have some suggestions. "She has not taken over the more menial or demanding jobs, and somehow I do not think that she intends to either.“ "But she must!" Exclaimed Alexandra. William just shook his head in response .

"Father you must do something about this. You cannot let Mother carry on like this.“ "I know." He said tersely. "You have to speak to Eddie, or employ more staff, or something." Alexandra continued. "I know Alexandra, and I will. I just need to decide what.“ "Make the decision soon Papa." Replied his eldest daughter. "I will." He responded quietly. "I will."

With all the guests gone, and having checked in on his son, Eddie entered is bedroom. He was slightly surprised to find his wife awake, but given that there was something he wanted to say to her, he was also glad of it. "Marielle, I must say that I was a bit disappointed at how early you left the party downstairs. It may have come across as being rude and ungrateful to our guests." He said smiling at her to soften his words.

The smile failed. "Really?" She asked. "Perhaps it has escaped your notice that I am with child again, and in fact I think that it was very rude and inconsiderate of you to invite round a houseful of people."

"Now really Marielle, you speak as if they are strangers." Said Eddie starting to lose his temper. "They are our friends and relatives and gathered here to help us celebrate a milestone in our son's life! You could have at least made an effort"

Marielle made a dismissive gesture. "Your friends and relatives maybe, but not mine!"

"They may not be your friends, but they became your relatives the day you married me." He responded. "That is something I sometimes wonder if I have cause to regret!" Retorted Marielle, her temper getting the better of her. This argument wasn't going to end anytime soon.

As the angry voices continued in the neighbouring bedroom, William held his sleeping wife as he had done every night of their long marriage. At first it had been because he hadn't been able to believe that someone so wonderful was his, then it became because he couldn't imagine not holding her at night. Now, he sighed and held her tighter, now it was to try to stop the tears of exhaustion she did not even know she cried. He swallowed. Tomorrow he would talk to Eddie about the situation. Perhaps they could find a solution together.

The morning after Bertie's party Beth once again woke up early. As she went downstairs she saw that there were dirty plates on every available surface. She sighed. Did no one think to clear them up? No matter, she would do the dishes this morning and get breakfast cooked. She hoped that William would not want to go into one of the businesses today, because those fruit trees really did need tending. After breakfast she intended to at least have a good look at them, hopefully before Lucy arrived back from the grocers and they would have to start cleaning.

She did manage to make it out to the orchard and it was there that William found her as mid-day approached. "There you are dear, I have been looking for you since you have not been helping Lucy."

As he approached her he thought at first she was talking to the trees, but as he got closer he saw she was actually crying.

"Beth, oh my darling, what is wrong?" He put his arm around her. "I...just...can...not...do...this...any...more." Sobbed Beth. "Look...at...the...garden...it...is...a...mess.“ William held her tight. "Sweetheart, it is not your responsibility anymore.“ "But...it...falls...to...me.“ "I think we need to talk to our son." Said William grimly.

Beth composed herself and they went inside. As soon as they entered the hall they could hear the faint strains of a violin, so they headed towards the music room. Outside the door, Beth reached out and grabbed William's jacket. "Listen." She said softly.

Edward was playing a melody of his own devising, and it was a powerful one. It was as if he had taken his soul and turned it into song.

William turned to look at his wife. "Our baby boy is so sad." Beth said quietly. "He really is hurting," agreed William, "but so are you. Come on, we need to speak to him."

William had to speak twice to his son before Edward realised that they were there. "I am sorry father." He said as he put down his bow. "Bertie is asleep, and I have an hour or so until I have to go to work. I felt like playing for a bit.“ "It is a very beautiful piece you were playing. Sad, but beautiful.“ Eddie didn't say anything to this, he just turned and walked over to a settee where he sat down.

William and Beth sat down and turned to their son. "Eddie we need to speak to you, about your wife and the lack of work she is doing around the house." Started William. "Your mother is still trying to run the house and it is wearing her out. Marielle must start doing more."

Eddie frowned. "I was aware that there were some duties she did not like to perform." he said truthfully, "but I was hoping that the situation would improve."

"It has not." Said Beth. "She does nothing now she is expecting, and when she is not, she does as little as possible. The only duty she seems to want to know anything about is her social obligation, and even then I have had some of our social acquaintances approach me to say that she had not returned their visit in a timely fashion. Eddie, I cannot carry on running the household like this."

Eddie looked at his mother and for the first time really took notice of the dark circles under her eyes and the pallor of her skin. Beth has always looked younger then her years, but no longer. She now looked like an old woman. He nodded. "I will speak to her and stress the importance of her duties. I doubt it will be until tomorrow: I am meeting Theo and Stanley down the Bull after I finish work, but I promise you I will talk to her and make sure that you do not have to continue like this.“ William nodded, satisfied with this. At least his son was going to try to do something about it. If this didn't work then they would discuss hiring more staff.

In the drawing room of their townhouse in Simdon, Anthony Smith sat down next to his wife. He had surprised her by finishing early from work, but before they could enjoy each other's company, there was something he needed to discuss with her. "Darling, I have taken legal advice, and, do you still want to give Mr Grundstrom the chance to know about Christopher and Bethany?"

Alexandra took a deep breath. "Yes. I have given it much thought since I first broached the subject with you, and I think that it is important that he is made aware of their existence and given the chance to see them if he so wishes." Anthony nodded slowly, and she realised just how hard her heart was beating. She had to do this, but she was not looking forward to the possible outcomes. "I will go and place a telephone call then." Replied her husband, getting up.

Anthony was surprised to find that he was shaking slightly as he picked up the receiver and asked for the Grundstrom house in Simmingtonbury. He would really rather not be placing this call, but if his wife wanted him to do this, then he would.

In Simmingtonbury Joe Grundstrom groaned and went to pick up the telephone receiver. He hoped that it would not be bad news. He had recently taken over the running of his father's export business, and things were not going well. He would set up business deals, but always at the last minute they would fall through. It was as if someone was stepping in and causing them to fail. Now, after a particularly horrible day at work where he had lost three contracts, he was looking forward to getting ready to dine with his young lady-friend. He did not want to have to deal with another business crisis. "The Grundstrom residence, Joseph speaking." He said as he picked up the receiver.

"Joe, it is Anthony Smith here." Said Anthony on the other end. "Anthony? But I have not heard from you in years. In fact I remember you saying you did not want me going anywhere near you. I assumed that meant all means of contacting you.“ "Yes, that is true, and if my wife had not asked me to get in touch, then I can assure you we would not be having this conversation now." Said Anthony. "Your wife?“ "Yes. Alexandra.“ "Alexandra Legacy?" Asked Joe. "Yes." Replied Anthony shortly.

On the other end of the line, pieces of the puzzle started to fit together for Joe. "So that is why you tried to intervene. Because you wanted her for yourself. Of all the low down, good for nothing. You really were not a good friend were you?"

Anthony listened to Joe rant, a bored expression on his face. "Listen," he said, interrupting Joe. "I admit I fell in love with Alexandra not long after meeting her, but all I wanted was for her to be happy. If I had thought you would have brought her that happiness, then I would have given you my blessing, but I knew you would not. That is why I urged you to stop seeing her. Speaking of Alexandra's happiness, she has asked me to contact you on an urgent matter."

As he explained the reason for the call Joe could barely believe it. Surely there was some mistake. He said as much to Anthony.

Anthony thought about Bethany's ebony skin, and Christopher's full lips. "No Joe, there is no mistake. Alexandra was pregnant by you when you left her at the altar.“ There was silence on the other end. "Joe, are you still there?"

"Yes, yes I am here." Came the reply. Joe was thinking hard about what he would say next. He needed to get the answer right. "Do you need an answer right now?“ "I...no, I do not suppose I do." Said Anthony. "Good, I...need to think about this."

This seemed an alien concept to Anthony. Surely the answer was simple, did this man want to meet his children or not? "Give me your number and I will get back to you once I have made my decision." Said Joe. Anthony told him it and hung up, feeling very strange.

As Joe went to go upstairs so he could get ready for his meal that night and think over what he had just heard, his mother's voice came from the drawing room. "Who was on the telephone Joseph?" He cursed quietly. He would have to tell her what Anthony had just told him. There was never anyway to hide any information for Maria Grundstrom.

He sat on the neighbouring settee and tried to think how to begin. "I am waiting Joseph." She said, fixing him with a look. "You remember Alexandra Legacy, to whom I was engaged to be married." He started.

"But of course I remember her. How could I forget that debacle my son? You very nearly ruined our family's good reputation. In fact you are very lucky that that young lady you are currently wooing has not heard about it. If she had I am certain that she would want nothing more to do with you."

He swallowed, his mother was not making this easy for him. "Yes, quite. Well you see, I...that is she...we..." He sighed, best to just say it and get this over with. "She spent the night with me, and it turns out that it resulted in her giving birth to twins." He finished his sentence in a rush and waited for the explosion.

It didn't come. Instead his mother very calmly seemed to contemplate what she had just heard before responding. "Well you cannot ever see them."

"Mother, they are my children, your grandchildren." Protested Joe. True he wasn't sure himself whether or not he wanted to see them, or acknowledge them as his, but having the option taken away did not appeal to him.

Maria shook her head. "They are the bastard children of an immoral whore. They are as immoral as she is and this family will have nothing to do with them."

"Is that all you can think of? The reputation of the family?" He asked bitterly.

"Somebody has to Joseph." Replied Maria. "You certainly did not when you took that trollope into your bed. Besides, do you think that your nice young lady will want anything to do with you if she finds out you fathered two bastard children by a common harlot?"

"I..." Joe went to answer back, but...he thought his mother was right. His sweetheart would run a mile when she heard. Any well brought up lady would. "You are right Mother." He said sullenly.

"I always am dear, I always am."

Joe decided that it was best to get it over with and so rather than going to get ready, he picked up the telephone receiver and asked for the number he had written down. "Simdon 579, The Smith residence." Came an unfamiliar male voice when the call was answered. "Please may I speak to Anthony Smith?" Asked Joe. "Whom may I say is calling?“ "Joseph Grundstrom.“ "One moment sir." Said the butler as he went to get his master. "Anthony Smith speaking." Said Anthony when he picked up the receiver. "It is Joe Grundstrom here. I have given what we spoke about earlier some thought, and I do not want to see the children." He said the words with a sinking heart, but what else could he do?

Anthony listened, as Joe went on to explain that there was no proof positive that they were even his children, for all either of them knew, Alexandra could have been with another man. Keeping his temper very firmly in check Anthony responded. "They are your children, there is no doubt about that, but if you do not want to acknowledge that, then that is your prerogative. I thank you to never make contact with this family again.“ With shaking hands he set down the receiver and went to find his wife.

He found her in the morning room at the sewing machine. Sewing was not something Alexandra had ever excelled at, but she was determined not to let that stop her. Right now she was swearing very genteelly at the machine, since the threads had managed to get tangled around the foot again. "Darling," said Anthony, "I have heard back from Mr Grundstrom.“ "Already?" She asked. "Yes, it did not take long for him to make his decision.“ Alexandra nodded. "Very well. Let us sit and you can tell me his answer." She got up from the machine, her heart hammering.

"Well?" She asked once they were seated. Anthony took a deep breath. "Darling, he does not want anything to do with them."

"But they are his children!" Exclaimed Alexandra shocked that someone would think like that.

"That as may be, but he refuses to acknowledge them as such." Said Anthony, his face and voice purposefully void of all emotion.

Alexandra sat in silence for a minute or two, trying to assimilate this information. Finally she smiled. "I confess myself to be somewhat relieved." She said. "You are more their father than that man ever will be."

Anthony smiled at his wife. "I am ever so happy to hear you say that.“ "Are you...angry that I suggested he be allowed to get to know them?" Alexandra asked, worried that her husband had thought that she did not think that he was enough of a father to the twins.

He moved closer to her and put am arm around her shoulders. "Not angry, no. I realise that you had to offer him the chance to be a father to Christopher and Bethany, but I have always considered myself to be their father."

Alexandra turned to face her husband and kissed him tenderly. "You are my darling, you are."

In a night club in Simdon, the raven haired stranger was wondering if she had time to order another drink. She was meant to be dining with someone that evening, but he was late, and she did not like being kept waiting. Not only that but she was getting looks. Normally she liked being looked at, but here people had...strange ideas. Ideas such as a woman not being allowed to drink in a bar on her own.

She tapped her fingers on the bar, thinking about how she had ended up here. There'd been a conversation back home where she had decided that it would be nice to travel for a bit, get out of Dodge as it were. So she had bought the first available train ticket from the station, and fetched up here, in a place and time that was completely alien to her.

She started to fiddle absentmindedly with the lace on her dress. She had been pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face waiting for her when she got off the train. With her help she managed to find lodgings, and clothing that blended in more with the locals. Then there had been tea with more people whom she felt were familiar even if she couldn't place their faces or names, and that was when the story had been told. By the end of the afternoon, she had come up with her plan, and shared it with her host and fellow guests. And yet...there was the feeling at the back of her mind that she had been manipulated into it. She did not like being manipulated or told what to do.

What did it matter really though? Her plan was a fun one. Her exquisitely painted lips flickered into a smile before resuming their perfect pout. Oh yes it was certainly going to be a lot of fun.

At that moment she saw her dining companion enter the bar. He saw her and smiled as he walked towards her. She slipped of off her bar stool in order to greet him.

"I apologise for keeping you waiting." Said Joe to his lady-friend. "I had a...situation I had to take care of. Unfortunately it came up far too late for me to let you know, but thank you for waiting for me Miss Bohemian."

Aria smiled at him. "Apology accepted Mr Grundstrom. businessman, and things do come up.“

I understand that you are a very busy

*** Aria Bohemian is from Jamie's (DocGirlP) truly excellent Bohemian Legacy where she is the resident villain.

Joe blushed slightly at her smile. There was something about it that hinted of promises made and about to be kept, even though he knew not what the promises were. "I think we can still make our dinner reservations if we hurry, but if not...perhaps we could...eat elsewhere."

Aria gave him a calculating look, and smiled her feline smile. She had him right where she wanted him. Oh this really was going to be so much fun.

In the lounge bar of the Bull in Regalton, there was a very different conversation taking place. "It really is good to get together with you chaps again. It is far too long since we last came down the pub together. In fact it is far too long since we spoke properly at all." Said Eddie, smiling at his best friends.

Theo smiled. "It is, I concur. Even at Bertie's party we did not really get to talk.“ "No we did not. So tell us how your family is Theo." Said Stanley.

"Everyone is well thank you. Grandmama is now only in half-mourning for Grandpapa and finds the twins a delightful distraction. You must come and see them one day, and Eddie you must bring Bertie to play with them. They are toddlers now, and according to Mother, Andrew is the spitting image of me as a babe, only with blonde hair. I do not know about that, but Peter certainly looks a lot like his mother."

"Speaking of their mother, Doc is a wonderful parent. She has taken to motherhood like a duck to water."

"Mind you, I think that she is just wonderful anyway." Continued Theo, a soppy grin on his face. "We know Theo." Said Stanley laughing at his cousin.

"How are you finding fatherhood?" He continued, taking a sip of his pint. "I love it. I was worried at first, but it all seems so natural to me. Do not tell Doc, but I wouldn't mind having at least one more child.“ "She is reticent about the idea?" Asked Eddie. "Mmm in a way. She loves the twins dearly, and is a wonderful mother, but she is not too keen on the idea of having to give birth again."

Eddie nodded and turned to Stanley. "And what about you Stan, what have you been up to dare I ask? I cannot remember the last time you were available to come down the pub with Theo and I."

Stanley looked at his cousin. "I am a very sociable person Eddie, and much as I love getting together with you two chaps, I do enjoy going up to town too.“ "And doing what?" Asked Eddie amused. Hearing what Stanley was up to was always good for a laugh.

"I do not know what you expect me to say." Responded Stanley. "It is no secret that I enjoy meeting new people...“

*** Marina (SmoothieQueen87) writes the brilliant Villainous Apocalypse and is used to dealing with redheaded romance sims.

"...getting to know them better...“

*** Katy (HurriKaty8) is the author of the fantastic Munster Legacy.

"...wining them...“

*** Orikes writes the phenomenal Pseudo Legacy.

"...dining them...“

*** Cee (charris) is the author of the fantastic Regacy. Stanley has just found a home there and I am assured that Cee was just making sure that he would fit in and treat his future wife well. That's her story anyway and she's sticking to it.

"...wooing them....“

*** This is Jamie, writer of the Bohemian Legacy. Aria's home legacy.

"'hooing them?" Asked Theo amused. "Do not be so vulgar Theodore." Responded Stanley. "Just because you and that wife of yours would not get out of bed given half the chance.“ Theo chuckled at Stanley's manner.

Eddie meanwhile snorted into his drink. "Come now Stanley, this is Theo and I you are talking to. We are the two people who know you best in the world."

Stanley smiled. "Very well. I concede that there mayhave been a small amount of woohoo involved somewhere along the line."

"Now that you have finished grilling us on what is going on in our lives Eddie, perhaps you would share what it is that is troubling you." Said Theo once he had finished chuckling at Stanley and his exploits.

"Troubling me?" Said Eddie forcing himself to laugh. "Nothing is troubling me. Why should anything be troubling me? What makes you think I am troubled by something?" He sounded nearly hysterical.

"Eddie," said Stanley gently, "to quote you, 'this is Theo and I you are talking to. We are the two people who know you best in the world.' There is something wrong, so please share it with us."

"Oh very well." Said Eddie as his whole demeanour changed. "Things are...not good at home. I think I made a mistake marrying Marielle. All we do is fight and argue, and nothing I do is ever good enough. I did think it was due to her condition during her first pregnancy, but...things have come to my attention that make me believe that it is just how she is." He sighed and wiped his hand across his face. "I am miserable and I do not know what to do."

Theo was the first to speak. "It is true that expecting a child can make some women...difficult...“ "I think it is more Theo." Said Eddie sadly. "I think she is not the person I thought she was.“ "Why do you say that? What things have come to your attention?"

To start with she is mean and condescending in her remarks, unlike the sweet person she was throughout our courtship, but there is more. She does nothing around the house. Absolutely nothing. She does not supervise Lucy, she refuses to tend great-grandma Elise's garden, she does not even plan the meals any more, everything is being left to Mother for her to do. But that is not all...you were saying how good a mother Doc is Theo, well Marielle has not even been near our son since he was born. All of his care is left to Mother, Father and myself. I doubt she has ever stepped foot over the threshold of the nursery, and I cannot forgive her for it." Eddie stopped abruptly, as if shocked by what he had just articulated.

Stanley looked at Eddie, concern etched on his features. Marriage had never appealed to him, but he still thought it was a fine institution for those who wanted it. He had always held his cousins up as proof of that, and now to hear that Eddie was miserable... it hurt to think of someone he loved as a brother being in so much pain.

Theo was more pragmatic. "Have you tried speaking to her about this? I doubt you can change her character, but if she is aware that her remarks are cutting to you, then perhaps she will curtail them. The same with her duties. If she realises the importance of running the household properly, maybe she will take them on, thus relieving Aunt Beth of her burden."

"I have already promised Mother and Father that I would speak to her about her duties. Not that I am convinced that it will do much good. I think she will refuse and I will have to employ staff to perform duties traditionally carried out by the legacy spouse. Besides every conversation we have turns into an argument. I feel I am stuck in a marriage with a...with a woman I am growing to hate." There was bitterness to his tone neither of his friends had heard before.

Stanley finally spoke. "Eddie, have you thought about looking in to seeing if there is some...recourse in law available to you. Some way of...ending the marriage."

Eddie looked steadily at Stanley. "You are talking about divorce.“ Stanley nodded. "I have not thought about it, because you know as well as I, that they are nigh on impossible to come by. I hardly think my wife being difficult will be sufficient grounds.“

*** This is very true. Until late in the century divorce could only be granted by Act of Parliament, and then there was only one grounds for it. Eddie's marriage does not meet those grounds.

"It is worth considering though." Said Theo. He would never have suggested it, but now that it was on the table, he could see its merits. "Perhaps make some discreet enquiries..."

"No." Said Eddie. "I do not think it will do me any good. Now can we please talk about something more cheerful? I have enough misery at home, and I am relying on you chaps to make me feel better."

As the three of them prepared to go their separate ways at closing time, Stanley pulled Eddie into a hug. "I know I am often thought of as the fool." He started. "You are not!“ "I am, but I do not mind. What was I saying? Oh yes. If you ever need to talk to me, or if you Bertie ever need a place to stay, away from her, you know where I am.“ Eddie was touched beyond words. "Thank you Stan. You are a true friend.“ Stanley let go of him, and smiled awkwardly before staggering off into the night.

Eddie let himself in and tried to make it quietly across the hall to the stairs. He was not expecting anyone to still be up and jumped when a voice called out from the morning room. "Edward, is that you?“ "Yes Marielle." He said wearily. "I would like to speak to you.“ Sighing he made his way to the morning room. His wife was the last person he wanted to see tonight.

When he entered the room he was surprised to see her dressed, but not too surprised by the ugly expression on her face. "Where have you been?" She demanded. "Down the Bull with Stanley and Theo.“ "So you would rather spend time with your cousins than your family then?" Asked Marielle confrontationally.

"Oh for goodness..." The juice bubbling through his veins along with the fact that he had unburdened himself that evening loosened his tongue. "I have not seen Stanley or Theo properly for goodness knows how long. I told you that I was going down the pub with them yesterday. I do not have to feel guilty about this!"

"I think you do and that you should! A good husband would..."

Eddie's temper flared and he interrupted her. "Good husband? GOOD HUSBAND! You lecture me about being a good husband when you are a terrible wife and mother! You barely lift a finger around the house, leaving it all to Mother, and as for our son, do you even know what he looks like?"

"How dare you. In case it has escaped your notice, I am with child. I cannot be expected to carry out heavy tasks." Snarled Marielle.

"Argh!" Eddie let out a scream of frustration. "That is your excuse for everything, but you are just the same when you are not expecting. The garden for example. Do not think that I have not noticed that it is Mother who is still tending to it. Have you even stepped foot in it?"

"I do not want to GARDEN!" Bellowed Marielle. "It is not a question of wanting to, it is a question of having to." Pointed out Eddie. "It is one of the duties of the legacy spouse and you cannot pick and choose them as you seem to think you can.“ "Enough, I am not listening to this any longer." Said Marielle. "I am going t bed. Good night." She swept passed him and out of the room. "You have only walked AWAY BECAUSE YOU ARE LOSING!" Eddie shouted up the stairs after her. His only answer was the slamming of a door.

In his nursery Bertie was hugging Sally. He could not hear the words his parents were saying properly, nor would he understand them fully if he did, but he knew his mama was angry at his papa and that his papa was shouting back.

A few minutes after Marielle stomped up the stairs Eddie followed. He was not pleased to find his bedroom door locked. "Open the door Marielle." He shouted through it. "No." Came her reply. "I said open the door Marielle." "And I said no. Find somewhere else to sleep."

"FINE." He shouted in reply. "It is not as if I enjoy sleeping next to an evil witch anyway." He retorted as he made his way across the hall to his childhood bedroom.

In the nursery Bertie hugged Sally tighter, hot, fat tears rolling down his chubby cheeks and into her fur.

As Eddie got into his boyhood bed, he thought that he should be feeling guilty about some of the things he had said to his wife, but the truth was he didn't. 'She brings out the worst in me.' He thought sadly.

The night was not over for Marielle though as she awoke a little after three with pains in her abdomen. "Argh Eddie, get your useless self in here." She screamed in between contractions, but of course with the door locked no one could come in and help her.

Marielle was forced to give birth to her second son on her own. Eddie had wanted to call another son after his father, but Marielle liked the name Stuart, so that was the name she gave him. It was only when Eddie went to register the birth that he added William as Stuart's middle name.

*** With Stuart's birth, this is where I am going to leave you. Thanks for reading, and I hope you've enjoyed it even though things aren't happy in the house at the moment. As always thanks goes out to the creators of my fabulous CC. I couldn't do this without their creations. Thanks also to the authors whose simselves and legacy sims I've got running around the neighbourhood. Lastly thanks to all my readers for your continued support. See you next time. =>

Awww see, he is happy, really. =>

Mwhahaha and she isn't.

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