Coy and Corpulence
(Inspired by my love of the Jane Austen genre of English novels.)
Cassandra Chiswell was the younger daughter of a most affectionate, too oft indulgent father. She had, in consequence of her much elder sister's marriage, been mistress of his house from a young age. Her mother had died too long ago for her to have more than an indistinct remembrance; and her place had been supplied by an excellent woman as governess, who had fallen little short of a mother in affection.
Miss Chiswell was a handsome and clever girl; a desirable match for many young men given her status and generous endowment. Yet up to her age of twenty had rebuffed all hinted proposals of marriage. She was of independent mind and none had captivated it. Due to her privileged position, she was afforded more preference than most young women. Cassandra had the unspoken luxury of marrying for love and not comfort, with deference to her social standing, of course.
Nonetheless, she was not immune from the sentimental feelings of the fairer sex, as there was one young man who piqued her interest. Daniel Tubville, son of a Leicester clergyman was one and twenty. While erudite and ambitious to learn, he had not yet fixed upon his profession. Still, Cassandra was drawn to his person more so than other men of his age.
One evening in her year of twenty, sharing dinner with her father at Stedmeath, her father displayed an uncharacteristic weariness. So she spared no exertions to hearten her father's happier flow of ideas, and hoped, by the help of backgammon, to get her father tolerably through the evening. The backgammon table was placed; but two visitors immediately afterwards walked in and made it unnecessary.
Mr. Tubville, a sensible man of nearly fifty, was a very old friend of the family having been connected with the Chiswells as a well-respected man of the clergy and village gentry. He lived a short walk from Leicester, and was always welcome at Steadmeath. He also shared with Mr. Chiswell the status of long time widower. This night, he was accompanied by his son Daniel, the main focus of Cassandra's fondness.
Daniel had been a keen sportsman in his formative years and was particularly interested in field sports. But given that his education had occupied much time of late, his waistband was most clearly strained, as were the buttons tying up his waistcoat. Cassandra noted this with feverish delight. She had judged her prior suitors to be to thin of face and slight of body. But the younger Tubville being so handsome and robust a young man he could not escape her notice.
As to temper, the even sweetness of it made him seem born for contentment: tender, naturally polite, and gentle-mannered. He had all those humble qualities that compose the softer social merit with every grace of modesty and good nature. But, as nothing but the beauty of his person had at first attracted her regard and fixed her passion, she had this night full occasion to discover his lovely character in conversation.
The Elder Mr. Tubville spoke of his son's learning and his possible succession into his own calling. The younger Tubville oft glancing at Cassandra, while having known her from infancy still felt unease in her presence. She had the reputation of being a forthright young lady, challenging his glimpses with gazes of her own. And yet he did not know that she thought of nothing beyond the exquisite pleasure of possessing him. For Cassandra, the evening ended too soon.
Less than a fortnight had passed from the delightful evening of the Tubvilles' visit when Cassandra acquired a ghastly cough that kept her confined to bed for days. Feeling improved and longing for an excursion, she ventured about the Steadmeath acreage, beyond the entrance of the valley, where the country was wild, swelling and spacious.
Cassandra was certain that the fresh air would convalesce her spirits, yet this sense of vigor and quest obscured the looming dark skies. T'was not long before she found herself atop a great hillock; a considerable journey from her dry domicile, water drenching her every fiber. She attempted to dash down this mighty rise that she may find dry shelter more hastily but her foot caught a hidden furrow and she fell with all the force of the storm onto the soft earth. Her sobs blended with the rain until she saw a sizeable young man on a great horse in the distance.
Barely conscious when he came to her, her eyes fixed on the sweet round face that had touched her dreams for many nights. She attempted to rise for him, but she was out of herself and on the threshold of collapse. Daniel Tubville caught Cassandra in his arms, lifting her from the ground.
He brushed her sodden tresses from her pleasing yet ashen visage and easily lifted her small frame to his steed, her lithe body supported by his round middle. They galloped with full force to Steadmeath. Despite her weakened condition, that his quaking bulk pressed against her body went far to comfort her. He swiftly delivered Cassandra to her governess, Mrs. Langholm. With much alarm, she was whisked away from Daniel and accordingly could be attended to further by the family doctor.
Another fortnight passed before Cassandra was suitably strong to receive visitors. The one most inquiring as to her condition was Daniel Tubville. His entrance into her sitting room did much to brighten her previously sullen mood. His clothing adorned his body in a far less restricting fashion than in prior months, yet he seemed of slightly greater proportions. She surmised rightly that he had undoubtedly been to the Haberdashery of late.
The two young people conversed quietly for a turn. She humbly thanked him for having rescued her from the unfortunate fall that weakened her. And upon her claim that she had become too slight in her recent illness, Daniel stated in reddened bashfulness that he must have compensated for her loss with his expansion, patting his own growing rotundity. Cassandra clasped her hands to her own middle and declared much to Daniel's surprise that his compensations were met by her sincere satisfaction.
Upon overhearing this flattery, Cassandra's governess decided it was grounds for rest and suggested the younger Tubville take leave of Miss Chiswell for the moment. She suggested he call again and he agreed with a smile and the tip of his hat.
As Mrs. Langholm helped her to her quarters, she whispered to the girl that she sensed the younger Mr. Tubville as having great affection for Miss Chiswell. Cassandra became giddy at the notion and labored her governess to speak more on the topic. But the governess charged her to her bed and bid her bye.
Within days Cassandra was back amongst her community at their house of worship. She sat with her father close to the lectern so as to have sight of this young man she felt such affection for. And she studied him habitually. From his plump hands to his substantial legs, his dark eyes to his tight trousers, she could not wrench her eyes away from his soft beauty.
After the service her father invited the Tubvilles to dinner for a continuation of intelligent theological discussion. Back at Stedmeath, Cassandra fussed about the pending dinner, requesting an especially rich and nourishing dinner for the gentlemen whom would be in attendance; but the kitchen staff graciously bid her to the garden to choose appropriate flowers for the occasion.
Mrs. Langholm knew why she needed added assistance preparing her curls and petticoat for their afternoon visitors. Cassandra gushed in private, bidding not to speak of her hopes to receive a word of promise someday from the younger Mr. Tubville. Yet Mrs. Langholm was not surprised by her interest in such a stout boy, as the late Mr. Langholm captured her own heart with much the same proportions of body.
Daniel stood in the vestibule looking magnificent, Cassandra thought. He had consumed much at dinner and placed his hand on his frontage to bear his breadth. The young people walked about the Chiswell portrait room, as the two elder men, content with brandywine and engrossed in debate, remained in the parlor.
Among these portraits, she wished to paint his figure. A whole length of a manly beauty in full view: a round face without a fault, glowing with all the bloom and vernal freshness of an age in which beauty is of either sex. The parting of his full lips when he spoke seemed to exhale an air sweeter and purer than what it drew in. Such force did it cost her to refrain from the ever tempted kiss!
His soft hair and thick neck connected his head to a body of the most perfect form, in which all the strength of manhood was concealed and softened to appearances by the plumpness of his flesh. Nor did his shirt hinder her from observing that exactness of shape, in the rounding swell and fall of his middle towards the loins. She imagined his thighs, finely fashioned with a florid fatness, gradually tapering away to his knees, pillars worthy to support that beauteous frame.
Alas, the evening ended without event, save the hastened heartbeats of these two young creatures. Cassandra was left to wish for another moment with her Prince Daniel. Yet the girl was unaware that this Prince of hers also felt a strong admiration for her wit as well as her beauty.
In the following weeks, her father began to query the girl about her intentions of a match, given her age and societal position. She perhaps had the option to never marry if she wished, but her father wanted to see her contented and protected from idle talk, given his advancing age. However, Cassandra was silent on the topic, feeling her father should be spared of the matters of a woman's heart.
At the same time, having great fondness for the Tubvilles, Mr. Chiswell granted a parsonage to the younger Tubville as the elder Tubville was also advancing in age, and could not continue alone with the spiritual demands of the increasing village. Cassandra was delighted for Daniel to find a settled place for his talents and understood that he was in a better position to take a wife for himself.
With this turn of events, Cassandra began to travel on longer walks to the rectory where Daniel was preparing himself to assume his new capacity. She would visit him to discuss matters of spiritual and seasonal importance. And he always received her with bewildered joy and delight.
Mr. Tubville took notice of the budding intimacy between Daniel and Cassandra. The elder Tubville was a man of experience in matters of the heart and his suspicion of Cassandra's intentions grew. He went to see Mr. Chiswell to discuss the delicate situation. He wanted to test Mr. Chiswell's feelings before advising his son on offering any proposals.
Mr. Chiswell was a bit surprised by Mr. Tubville's observations. He had seen no evidence that his daughter's heart had been captured by any gent. While he didn't speak it, his skepticism was furthered by his belief that his daughter, being a spirited and independent young woman would not be inclined to do more than platonically befriend a quiet, portly young man of the clergy.
Nonetheless, his intentions for Cassandra were that she ought marry as her heart wished, not adhering to an archaic belief that she must marry higher than herself. Her property was secure and would more likely continue to be if she were to marry a man with a solid profession than a scoundrel with precarious credentials and few upright pursuits. A man like Daniel Tubville would keep her protected from scandal while allowing her high spirits to develop as they wished.
With the matter settled between the two gentlemen, Mr. Tubville was able to discuss the situation with his son. However, his son, while elated with the notion that her father would not object to the match, was certain Cassandra would not be inclined to accept a proposal of marriage from him. He knew many of the townspeople had gossiped that she would be matched with the recent heir Mr. James Flatley or the dashingly handsome Mr. George Edward. Additionally, she was known to be much sought after by more suitors than Mr. Flatley and Mr. Edward.
Yet Cassandra spent her spare moments making baskets of Daniel's favorite pleasures, from breads and honey to confections and creams. The staff of Stedmeath dutifully helped prepare these treats under her direction. Her visits to Daniel armed with mounds of provisions became a near daily event. She had often heard that a man could be won through the culinary charms of a young woman. Daniel's plump appearance and gluttonous tendencies gave her reason to believe they were destined for each other.
And Daniel felt a passion and longing for Cassandra as well. He always thought her the most handsome woman of Leicester, but he was growing to love the way her eyes sparkled and her laugh chimed. She was both agreeable and mysterious in one breath. He wanted more than anything to have her as his chosen. Yet he feared losing her friendship in a refusal.
And then one day that spring, she grew frustrated with his hesitation and asked him if he ever planned to marry. He responded that yes, he would one day, if he found a girl who would appreciate and love him despite his growing fatness.
Met with such occasion of this topic so special to her, Cassandra responded, "but wouldn't you rather she appreciated and loved your form and not in spite of it?"
Daniel reddened. "Tis not a girl in the realm whom would feast her eyes on a squab fat gentleman like myself. She may be agreeable to marriage, but not to my size."
Surprised by his candor, Cassandra gasped, "but sir, you are so very wrong!"
And with that exclamation, she realised how unladylike and impolite her words and tone had been and hurried home in shame. And she feared revealing more, as such immodest suggestions already revealed did not befit a young lady of society like herself.
Daniel was vexed by her rash statement and hurried departure. And after three days passed with no visit from his darling Cassandra, he became more confused. He understood that she enjoyed his company, but was still unclear about her true feelings for him. Finally, his want of her visits became too great and he called on her at Stedmeath to resolve any misunderstanding.
They took a turn through the Stedmeath gardens, chatting lightly about the fortunate stretch of weather the village had been experiencing that month. In an enclosed patch of gladiolas, Cassandra knelt down to examine the newly yawning flora. Daniel stopped and looked down at her, then she up at him. At that moment he had never felt such love for another. And she felt the seconds pass like minutes as her heart pounded.
Daniel softly asked Cassandra if she were inclined to be a settled woman someday. She replied that she was, provided the right man were inclined to request her hand. She was flushed and excited by Daniel's words. He took her hand and looked her in the eyes with his own.
She looked upon his round countenance with such admiration that he finally felt the visual approval she had long been showing him.
"Cassandra Chiswell, I deeply and ardently admire and love you."
She felt weak in the knees, hearing what she had so longed to hear. They embraced for a first kiss that exhaled his soul from his lips. She became weaker with his full middle pressed into her bosom as if she were melting like dew in the sun's heat. Realizing their momentary indiscretion, Daniel held his arm out for her to escort her back to Steadmeath in a more decorous manner. He immediately requested a private meeting with Mr. Chiswell.
They sat in his study for a few minutes silently, when finally Daniel spoke. "Sir, it is with great respect for you and your family that I humbly request your permission to take your daughter's hand in marriage, that is if she will have a practical man of modest means such as myself."
Knowing the younger Mr. Tubville to be of sound morality and disposition, Mr. Chiswell graciously consented to the match, provided his daughter was amenable. Her happiness was of the utmost importance, he reminded Daniel. To that Daniel agreed that he felt absolutely the same.
The elder Tubville was thrilled with the match and gave his son the ring of his long-deceased wife, knowing it would fit Ms. Chiswell well, given Daniel's mother was a diminutive girl akin to Cassandra.
The couple married in a delightful ceremony and a short celebration followed. Daniel and Cassandra were hasty to embark upon the knowledge of each other in passion and love. That evening, with his lips to hers, he bore her. With soft fears and tender wishes, to the bed; where in his passionate impatience he would undress her, first unpinning her handkerchief and gown, and unlacing her stays; her petticoats and shift were soon taken up, and the very touch of his hand opened a way for love.
And to end the evening most radiantly, Cassandra had an immense feast prepared for her generously proportioned new husband, as she had most joyfully given up to Daniel the whole charge of her future happiness.