Deanna Langston’s Backstory
At the bright summer sun announced the new day in late August of 1830, Baroness Agatha Langston rested with her newborn daughter in her arms. Smiling, she stroked the tiny cheek. The babe responded with a sigh while her tiny lips imitated sucking for a moment.
Baron John Langston stood, one foot on the heart, across the room, puffing on a cigar, watching the mid-wife clean up after the long and difficult birth.
“Oh John, isn’t she the most adorable baby?”
“Indeed,” her husband responded.
Lady Langston knew her husband’s thoughts were on the hunt he was missing, but she was thankful he was here with her. She waited for him to reveal his choice of name but he was, apparently, waiting for the mid-wife to leave the room. She was tired and sore, but she’d resist her need to sleep until her babe had a name. She closed her eyes and silently prayed he wouldn’t name his daughter the way he’d named his other children.
“Shall I send the wet nurse in, m’lady,” the mid-wife asked.
“No, Miss Tibbits, not yet.”
“Well, then I’ll leave you to get acquainted with your wee one.” She smiled and stroked the dark hair on the baby’s head. “I’ll be back in a while.” Turning, she left the room.
The time had come. “What will you name this child, m’lord?”
Baron Langston didn’t respond, but threw the cigar stub into the fire, crossed the room, and eased his frame into a chair near the bed. “As you know, m’lady, the Langston family has a long, proud history, so I have thought to provide my children with a name from our distant past, and a name from more recent times.”
Lady Agatha’s heart sank. Her child was to have as her name something other children would tease her relentlessly about, as had happened with her older children. “And, as I have, I will find a name derived from your choice that is more fitting.”
“As you will.” What anyone called his children mattered little to him, but the name in the church records would reflect his wishes. “This child shall be Deysi Anna Langston.”
Lady Agatha breathed a sigh of relief. This name was not as bad as those he’d named his sons. She looked down at the sleeping baby and whispered, “I shall call you Deanna. It’s a beautiful and meaningful name in its own right. In Old English, it means ‘girl from the valley’ which is appropriate as you were born at Southall, in the Brent Valley. Yes, Deanna it is.” She kissed her daughter.
And so, the baby was known as Deanna Langston.
Throughout her childhood, she was quite typical of English girls of her time. Because she was of the aristocracy; her’s was a genteel upbringing. She learned to play the pianoforte, an instrument her great grandfather had purchased nearly a hundred years ago. She also learned embroidery, and showed some talent as an artist with some of her best pieces on display in family members’ homes. Her mother made sure all her daughters learned to read, against her husband’s wishes.
Inquisitive, intelligent, and eager to learn, Deanna took to reading with gusto and taught herself much from the books she found in the family library.
Baron Langston provided a dance master to teach his children to dance, as their social success depended on being able to dance. Young Deanna loved dancing, and spent hours in her room, with her pillow as her partner, practicing. She dreamed of the day when she would attend balls, meet a handsome young man, and dance the night away.
Deanna, pragmatic and logical, had known from an early age that she would need to find her own way in life. She fretted over what she could do – women of her time were denied education and employment opportunities. She realized she’d likely spend her life, or at least until she married, as a governess or companion.
So, she heard of a companion position available not far from the family’s London home, she presented herself for an interview. When the dust settled, she’d obtained the position. Her employer, a young American, Adelle Grayson, was living in London at the townhome of the Duke and Duchess of Devonwood, who were her uncle and aunt.
The first few months of Deanna’s employment were difficult as Adelle had a ‘plan’ she wanted to put in place that would net her a duke to marry. Deanna, a few years older, more mature, and much more familiar with the ways of the aristocracy, saw the inherent dangers in this plan. There was no physical danger, but there was much more at stake than that. After a couple of close calls, Adelle realized her ‘plan’ wasn’t going to work, so she abandoned it, and enlisted her aunt and uncle’s assistance.
The years passed.
Adelle married, had children, and had something as close to a career as a Victorian woman could have, while Deanna was always at her side. She had a few offers of marriage from complete strangers who knew someone in her family but she turned them down. She was waiting for someone like Grady, her first love. She was content with her life with Adelle and her family.