Before he could rise from the edge of his bed, Lady Bertram was standing before him and put her finger on his lips.
“Hush,” she said, “I only came upstairs tell you before you go to sleep—I don’t know what you’ve decided on, but whether or not you choose to stay with us, I will still love you.”
Peter hated to cry, but he could not hold back the tears which rose in his eyes when he saw the moisture in hers and heard her voice wavering gently. He had heard it—oh! too many times before, and too often on his account. A lump rose in his throat, and the next thing he knew, Lady Bertram had put her arms around his shoulders and his head was leaning against her breast.
–The Good Adventurers
I am pleased to introduce one of my darlings today. Lady Bertram, a strong and fearless yet submissive woman, always ready to guide and protect for her family’s sake in times of peril and distress.
What is your background?
I was born Catherine Paget in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to a railroad magnate and his wife. I was their only child, and they loved me, but I was not close to them. I felt little more than mild grief and loneliness after they were killed in an accident. My uncle and aunt took me in, and there with them in London I had the nearest experience in my youth with family life. Though I was not with them for long, I developed a close bond with my dear cousin Ella which has endured to this day.
When did you feel completely loved and accepted?
When I met my husband. I had never been treated with such concern. I had always been provided for, but I had never known and felt that I was loved unequivocally. It took me back at first, for I was a only girl and Roger was in his thirties. Upon his proposal, He gave me my ring and told me that I could wear it when I was ready, and that he would wait as long I needed. I decided that anyone willing to do that shouldn’t have to wait, so I made him put it on my hand before he left.
How did you meet Lord Bertram?
We first met in the lobby of Bertram’s of London. My parents left me with a considerable estate, and that was the bank in England my father had chosen to manage it.
Where is a place you love to be?
Lyttelton. I spent many years turning it from a sprawling bachelor’s estate into a home, and I am pleased with the results.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Respectability. There is an ongoing discussion in society about what it means to be respectable. We Bertram’s have maintained a noteworthy saga in the highest circles of society on account of our marriages, professions, wealth, associations, religion, and family conflicts. Our children do consider themselves half American, and they are all independent thinkers and doers. However, I would much rather my daughter married a poor man of high integrity than a duke or even a prince with no morals, or have my son pursue a common profession than be known for wild parties with drinking and dancing.
Who is someone you admire?
Clara. It has been a great trial for me to stand by my husband’s side when he was at his weakest point, but to retain my dignity and sense of morality and stay with my husband when he was plotting evil against his own relatives would test me to the breaking point. She is a better woman than I.
Petite, and getting a little plump, I’m afraid, after having seven children. I have bright blue eyes and fair curly hair, and am unduly proud of my complexion.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
I believe I have succeeded in raising faithful children. I often wondered if I nurtured them properly, but my fears have been put to rest, one by one. It is so very gratifying to have them come to me to share their troubles or for advice.
What has been your greatest sorrow?
Drama and trauma both seem to plague our family. We [Catherine and Lord Bertram] were nearly assassinated on our wedding trip. That represented the beginning of many years’ conflict between Roger and his brother and father. But then there was Edith, my stillborn baby, and for many years that was the greatest pain I endured. I believed that I could not suffer more than that, until it was young Roger’s appointed time. By then, I had become a Christian, which was a manifold support to me. But oh, how I struggled! It would have been one thing if it had been him alone, to say: ‘The Lord gave and the Lord took away’, and bless the name of the Lord. But then, with my husband taken ill and nearly out of his mind, Peter left, or was taken away; (I still do not know which), it was almost beyond endurance. That has been the worst time of testing in my life so far.
What is your favorite memory?
I have many good memories, but a sweet one to me is when Peter was a wee thing and we would play violin duets together. He often recollects it; it has been too many years since we played together.
‘In her youth, Lady Bertram had not been a Christian woman. It was only several years after her marriage that her eyes were opened to the cold form of religion which she practiced. Heartfelt study of the Bible led her to truth, and afterward salvation, and since that time she had tried to touch her husband with the reality she had found. He always listened to her, and never making excuses, saying that religion was merely for women and children. But no matter how she tried, Lady Bertram’s words did not seem to resonate with her husband. Lord Bertram believed that he did not need forgiveness of sins, and thus he did not care.
It was one of the few sorrows Lady Bertram knew, but it did not discourage her hopeful spirit. She prayed for him, and for her children, and taught them what she could. Her diligent labor was not in vain; the joy was hers to see three of her children accept the gospel; most lately it had been tenderhearted Roger.
Every day she would read them Bible stories and have a little discussion to answer their questions, along with the other pastimes loving mothers share with their broods. It was for that hallowed hour that she had come.’
–The Good Adventurers