Posted on 2014-08-06
8-20 April 1817
Darcy returned to his townhouse and met with his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam for the delayed trip to Rosings. Given all that had been going on, the cousins did not speak much as Darcy was busy pondering. Just before they arrived, he came out of his thoughts and had some conversation with the Colonel.
"I do not expect Lady Catherine to be very pleased. No matter how many times Anne and I have told her we would never marry, she seemed to ignore it. Now that I am engaged to Miss Bennet, I expect she will be very unhappy. This visit will likely be more strained than usual."
"You are a master of understatement if you think that. However, I expect that her ridiculous comments will be even more spectacular than in the past. Those at least are entertaining."
"Also, I think I have mentioned our aunt's parson. His new wife is a close friend of the Bennets and he is a distant cousin. He is quite ridiculous, both pompous and obsequious at the same time. He is lucky in his wife. She is a very nice woman. I would guess she accepted him because she had no other prospects."
"I cannot wait to meet this character."
"Oh, yes you can. However, you won't have any choice in the matter," concluded Darcy.
The Earl of Matlock had helped with Rosings after the death of Sir Lewis de Bourgh, but had turned that over the Darcy and Fitzwilliam five years earlier when his health had not been good. His health had returned, but he had chosen to leave them with the oversight of the estate. Lady Catherine had day-to-day responsibility, but she held it in trust for Anne, who was the heir, and Lord Matlock was the executor. Anne should have assumed responsibility upon her twenty fifth birthday, but that had not yet happened. She was now twenty six and there were no signs of Lady Catherine turning over the reins.
Darcy and Fitzwilliam divided up their responsibilities. Darcy reviewed the accounts and plans for crops and fields. Fitzwilliam checked on the tenants and livestock. Together, they made sure the estate was taking care of its tenants and providing for Anne and her mother.
When they arrived, both greeted their aunt in her drawing room. Darcy said, "Lady Catherine, it is good to see you. Anne, you are looking well."
Lady Catherine replied, "Yes, she is looking well. But you have shirked your promise to her and engaged yourself to another. I am heartily displeased. You might at least have informed us in person rather than by letter. And then to read it in the papers. What were you thinking of?"
Darcy responded, "You know there was never any promise between Anne and me. We discussed your plans for us to marry long ago and decided that it would not do for us. I have told you so repeatedly but you refused to listen. Elizabeth Bennet is a wonderful woman who will be a good cousin and friend to Anne."
Colonel Fitzwilliam added, "Indeed. She is quite entertaining. I think you will enjoy her when you meet her."
Anne said, "Cousin, I congratulate you on your good fortune. I hope the two of you will be very happy together. Mother, I have also tried to tell you that Fitzwilliam and I will not suit. He needs children and I am not likely to be able to survive providing an heir. Please believe me when I say that I am happy for him. I do not want to marry unless I am much healthier than I am now. I am tired and cold all the time."
Lady Catherine glared at her recalcitrant daughter and nephew, then said "hmm. Neither of you know what is good for you. I am sure she is simply marrying you for your status as Pemberley's master."
Colonel Fitzwilliam replied to that, "Oh, if you see them together, you could hardly think that. She made no effort to attach Darcy. She is witty and pleasant with everyone she meets. I think he found himself attracted without even noticing it. She has sufficient funds and relations that she does not need Pemberley. She could have chosen from any number of suitors if she wished."
After that, the cousins chatted briefly, then Anne retired to her room to rest. The men went to their rooms to clean up from their journey, then returned to the drawing room for light refreshment. After their break, they began their duties. Darcy began an examination of the accounts with the steward while Fitzwilliam began making the rounds of the tenants.
That evening, Charlotte and William Collins joined them for supper and Darcy delivered Lizzy's letter. Charlotte put it away to read at her leisure. He shared with her the news about the losses in the family and the resulting change in rank. Sir William and Maria Lucas were visiting the parsonage and also invited to sup. Darcy had met Mr. Collins in Meryton but Fitzwilliam had not had that pleasure. Darcy had warned him that the parson was quite a foolish character.
Mr. Collins took his seat at the bottom of the table, by her ladyship's desire, and looked as if he felt that life could furnish nothing greater. He carved, and ate, and praised with delighted alacrity; and every dish was commended, first by him, and then by Sir William, who was now enough recovered to echo whatever his son-in-law said, in a manner which Darcy wondered Lady Catherine could bear. But Lady Catherine seemed gratified by their excessive admiration, and gave most gracious smiles, especially when any dish on the table proved a novelty to them. Maria thought speaking out of the question, and the gentlemen did nothing but eat and admire.
When the ladies returned to the drawing room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted. She enquired into Charlotte's domestic concerns familiarly and minutely, and gave her a great deal of advice as to the management of them all; told her how everything ought to be regulated in so small a family as hers, and instructed her as to the care of her cows and her poultry.
Darcy noted that Lady Catherine had become more overbearing than she had been in the past. The attention to the details in the parson's family life was excessive. He noted that Anne, well bundled in her wraps, completely withdrew from the conversation. Fitzwilliam tried with little success to get Maria to speak with him. His normal charm could not cause her to relax in Lady Catherine's overwhelming company.
As the cousins mounted the stairs to their rooms, Fitzwilliam said, "I did say you were a master of understatement. The man is much worse than you described. I cannot fathom how Mrs. Collins can tolerate a moment in his presence. Perhaps over time she will be able to provide some much needed polish."
Darcy smiled and said, "Well, stranger things have happened. They are too new to marriage for it to have changed him much. It might also help when Anne takes over from her mother. She is not so imposing as her mother."
This evening set the tone for the social side of the visit. Each day, Fitzwilliam would ride out and visit with tenants and check livestock in a different portion of the estate. Darcy would go over the plans for crops, building, and expansion with the steward. In the afternoon, they would meet to update each other and make notes of everything for Lord Matlock. In the evening, they played cards. About every other day, the group from the parsonage joined them. Lady Catherine continued her criticism of Darcy's choice of bride at every opportunity.
As Darcy and the Colonel went about their duties on the estate, Darcy considered the life that Anne led. He took advantage of his aunt's absence on a visit with a tenant to have a long discussion with Anne. He and Richard joined her in her sitting room.
Darcy began, "Anne, I want to thank you once again for your warm support of my engagement. We all know your mother had other plans, and it would have been easier for you to agree with her. Yet, you had the strength to be happy for me. Have you considered that you can do the same for your own life? You are of age and have many other family members who would love to see you. They have not found a warm welcome here and so do not visit anymore."
Fitzwilliam added, "Mother would love for you to visit Matlock again. I do not think you have been there in more than fifteen years. You have never even had the opportunity to meet the spouses of my brother and sisters."
Anne replied, "Fitzwilliam, we all know that I haven't the health to be the kind of wife you need. And frankly, with my mind as fogged as it usually is and as tired as I am, I can't keep up my end of a conversation or host a dinner party as you would need. I love you as a cousin but could not see spending my life with you. I am truly glad you found someone special. Richard, I think I will consider visiting Matlock. I will write my aunt to see what might be done. We all know that Mother would not sanction such a visit. She needs me here under her control at all times. As Uncle is executor of the estate, I should talk to him about access to my inheritance and what my choices might be. Mother keeps all of that from me. And I would love to attend the wedding, although as to Mother, you know she will probably not allow that. It is very hard for me to resist her when I already feel so tired. Will you both help me?"
Fitzwilliam replied, "Write to Mother. We will make arrangements to transport you to Matlock without any discussion with Aunt Catherine. As we said, you are of age; she cannot stop you. If necessary, Father will come to get you. Agree with Mother and I will ensure that it happens."
Darcy added, "Perhaps you will be able to visit Pemberley again too."
Anne replied, "I would like to do that, but I think I will wait until after your marriage. I would like to see it under your new wife's leadership. She does sound quite delightful."
"If you would like to write to her, I can include that in my next letter. I am sure she would enjoy meeting you. She was planning to visit Mrs. Collins before the death of her uncle changed everyone's plans."
Anne agreed and penned a note to Elizabeth. It would be nice to be acquainted when they finally met in person.
Darcy wrote Elizabeth almost daily and waited anxiously for all of her letters.
It seems ages since I left, but it was only yesterday. We arrived safely. As you might guess, my aunt was displeased with the engagement. However, Anne sends her best wishes. Mrs. Collins is well and appreciated your letter. She also sends congratulations and condolences on your loss. I enclose a letter from my cousin who is anxious to meet you. She will try to attend the wedding although I do not believe my aunt will make it. My aunt has made it clear I am making a mistake. I know her to be incorrect.
Rosings is beautiful, but nothing like Pemberley. I have written my uncle to let him know that this will be the last time that I can provide this service for him. I will be busy with my own family next spring. After Easter, we can return to Pemberley to recover from the winter Season with Georgie's coming out. I know you will help so that is not as dreadful as I fear.
With all the rain, the flowers are just beginning to bloom. I fear the extra rain means the fields are hard to work. We are leaving instructions for how to try to adjust for the excess moisture. Two fields will have to have drainage works installed if they are to be usable again.
I find it harder to concentrate this year than in the past. It seems I am distracted by a pair of lovely green eyes. I find myself thinking about what you would say while in the midst of conversations with my aunt. I hope when we are together, I find it easier to concentrate on what I need to do than I do now. I begin to think that love is very distracting. I had never considered this before.
Thank you for all you have brought into my life. You have filled holes I did not know existed in my soul.
Similar sentiments passed in each letter. For her part, Lizzy also found the parting difficult. The social engagements were ended due to the mourning. However, there were still visits with the family and close friends like Georgiana and Violet. She also encouraged the new correspondence with Anne de Bourgh. They determined that, for peace at Rosings, they would write via the letters exchanged with Mrs. Collins. In that way, Anne was free to write and not fear what her mother would say.
The new Viscount and Viscountess spent much time planning the new Enfield House and in discussions with Mr. Gardiner who would oversee construction. Jane and Bingley decided it would be best to retire to Robbie's estate, Stoke, in Exeter. They would visit Enfield briefly before joining the Hursts at Mayfield in Surrey after the expected birth. Bingley released the lease on Netherfield since he would now reside in Stoke. Once Robbie was older, he might purchase an estate of his own. For now, he would practice estate management at Stoke.
Lizzy and Jane knew that this set of moves would keep them apart most of the time in the future. They might spend winter together in London, but otherwise, they would be at their own homes, Jane in the south and Lizzy in the north. Mary would be the most central of all if things continued to progress with Jeremiah Ainsley, except when he was at his estate which was only in mid-summer. Then she would be near Elizabeth. At least he lived in London most of the year and in Derbyshire the rest. Jane's last visit prior to their removal to Stoke was emotional.
"Oh Lizzy, Mary. It is so hard to go this time. For some reason, this seems for permanent. I guess that is because of Lizzy's marriage later this year. When I married Robert, I still lived near the family and saw Mama and Papa almost every day. Now, even visiting will only be convenient during the season. We will live so far from one another."
Mary swallowed a lump in her throat, "I know you have always been closer to Lizzy, but this past year together has meant so much to me. I feel the same as you. This feels so like the end of all that has always been. Without the fire, we might have been planning the wedding, buying wedding clothes, and treasuring up this last time together."
Lizzy replied, "At least we two will do that together. But Jane, Mary isn't as optimistic as you. Who will help me to see only the good in the high society people we meet? You know my cynicism was always tempered by your goodness."
Jane smiled, "Well Lizzy, you will just have to remind yourself of what I would say. I expect to hear only good reports of you."
With that they smiled, hugged, and Jane departed. Lizzy refused to be downcast, "Mary, would you play us a lively tune? That should cheer us up a little. Not a loud one, but something to give us some hope."
Together, they retired to the music room. Mary first played some hymns of hope, the moved into some of Mozart's lighter pieces. She succeeded in lifting both their spirits, at least to some extent.
Ainsely and Violet, Georgiana and Louisa were all regular visitors to the sisters. Their close friends helped everyone cope with their grief and the many changes taking place in their lives. The regular weekly meeting of their circle of friends proceeded without Mary and Lizzy for their weeks of mourning. The friends who visited made it hard for Lizzy to miss Darcy's company, except at night when she was alone in her room. Otherwise, her days were full of work.
There was one happy day as Lizzy and Mary attended the wedding for Alicia Fitzwilliam with Mr. Montague. Due to their mourning, they did not attend the wedding breakfast afterward, but they wanted Alicia to know of their joy in her situation. It was also a happy distraction from the grief at home.
The Countess and Viscountess began making fall wedding plans as an antidote to their grief. With Darcy away, plans were tentative although Lizzy felt confident that he would agree. There were some disputes as Lady Enfield wanted something more elaborate than Lizzy did, or Lady Arlington even more elaborate than Lady Enfield. Finally all came to agreement. In this way, the plans for the wedding and breakfast were tentatively drawn up, awaiting only Darcy's return for ratification.
*(Note-Anne has hypothyroid disease in the form not related to iodine. Treatment was not discovered until the 1870s so not much could be done. This also makes her very susceptible to infection and depression.)Chapter 46
21 - 28 April 1817
Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam returned from their trip to Rosings with great relief. Lady Catherine continued to disparage Elizabeth and harangue Darcy at every chance she got. Darcy found this very irritating. They went directly to Matlock House to update the Earl on the situation.
"The over-abundant rain is hurting the crops but, with the drainage we ordered, most of the fields should be usable. Income remains steady and the situation is still quite good," reported Darcy.
"Indications with the tenants are that Lady Catherine is becoming ever more interested in their day to day affairs. She has always been a meddler, but it is growing. She advises on everything from how to turn a hem to how to manage your poultry. She seems to be far more imperious than in the past," was Fitzwilliam's report.
They talked of all the conditions the men found on the estate. They also talked of Anne. Darcy said, "Anne seems to be doing worse. She is constantly tired and cold. Her skin is very dry. She is not eating much, but she is putting on weight. She has almost constant headaches. She says she now has trouble concentrating. I do not think her physician or medications are helping her."
Fitzwilliam agreed, "Each year, Anne seems to be worse than the year before. She does not seem happy but is too tired to do anything about it. She has written Mother that she would like to visit this summer. We both think the change would be good for her." *
They discussed the situation further and the Earl agreed that he would visit his sister to assess things for himself. He would encourage the visit with Anne. He realized that his son and nephew had their own concerns to deal with and it was his responsibility to deal with Rosings. He also realized that it was time Anne took over management of Rosings. Moving Lady Catherine out of the role she had held so long would prove very challenging.
Darcy then went home to visit Georgiana. The next day, they went to Hertford House together. Said Darcy as he greeted Elizabeth and squeezed her hand, "Elizabeth, I loved your letters, but it is so much better to see you in person. I cannot express how much I have missed you."
"It is good to see you as well, Fitzwilliam. How was the travel back from Rosings?"
Darcy handed her letters from Charlotte and from Anne. "With all the rain we've had, the roads were not very good. At least that is done. I have told my uncle he will have to take back responsibility. He agreed, which relieves my mind. Since it is not raining today, could we steal you away for a walk in the park?"
Lady Enfield approved, and Mary decided to join them. Darcy and Lizzy walked side by side with Georgiana and Mary following close behind. The ever-present footmen followed discreetly behind them. Since the incident with the Count, all had taken both Martin and Jones on every walk. Lizzy had become quite accustomed to their presence. "It will be nice to be in the country where it is a little easier to go for a walk. But all the rain we've had will still curtail that pleasure, I'm afraid," stated Lizzy.
Darcy said, "There are lots of beautiful walks in Pemberley. Has Georgie shown you any of the pictures she has drawn of the gardens?"
"No, she has not. I will ask her to do so."
"When she is homesick, she often draws a view of the house or gardens. I have one of her pictures in my library here in town. I find it restful to consider when there is too much to do."
Lizzy asked, "My sister Kitty does something similar at school. She sketches family members when she misses us. Wills, when do you leave for Pemberley? We are leaving for Enfield sooner than we thought. Father needs to meet with the steward before the end of the month. We now leave Monday next."
"Well, I will plan that we leave then as well. There is much to do, but for now, everything seems to be under control. And what about Enfield House? Is there any report there?"
"They are starting to clear the site. Plans have been drawn up, but construction cannot begin until the rain lets up for more than a day. We hope sometime next month they can begin," was Lizzy's reply. "Father has all sorts of ideas for modern conveniences. I think he will actually enjoy the project. Uncle Gardiner will manage the day-to-day construction details. However, mother has many plans for the wedding that you must see so that we can move forward on that front."
He spent a couple of hours with Lady Enfield, Lizzy, and Mary becoming acquainted with the tentative plans. They seemed sensible to him, so he readily agreed. He did draw the line at any comments on gowns though. Whatever Lizzy liked would be wonderful.
Lady Arlington hosted a family dinner that Wednesday to which the Bennets, Gardiners, and Fitzwilliams were invited. The Bingleys did not attend since they were already at Stoke. This would be the last family dinner at Hertford House until the September wedding preparations. Part of the evening was given to discussion of that wedding and the plans everyone had made.
Lord Arlington sighed, "I can see that this will become a major event, just as the ball was in January."
Lord Matlock replied, "At least much of the Ton will be out of town. Many won't bother coming just for the day since there are no other events planned. That will allow us to limit attendees to some extent."
Lord Enfield added, "Even if we limited it to family, there are so many of us we will fill the church anyway. We might as well enjoy it since we cannot avoid it." The others laughed and agreed.
Colonel Fitzwilliam was seated next to Lady Marianne Blake during dinner. Lady Marianne was great company, an interesting conversationalist. As the only daughter of Lord and Lady Hertford, she was an heiress and had a significant dowry. She had also inherited a small sum from her late husband. Although he had found himself more and more attracted to her, he was unsure if it would be prudent to pursue her. She had already wed and lost one soldier. How would she feel about another? She seemed to return his interest. Perhaps it was time he that consider resigning his commission. He knew there was property he could manage for his father that would provide an adequate income. Lady Marianne's dowry would also help. By the time dinner was over, he had determined to speak to her.
After the separation of the sexes, the Colonel took his coffee over to the settee where Lady Marianne was seated. When the conversation grew louder in the rest of the room, with no one currently near them, he began, "Lady Marianne, I find I have enjoyed our various meetings that I would like to take an opportunity to court you. Would you object to my calling on you?" He looked at her anxiously.
Marianne considered before she responded. "I too have enjoyed our meetings. Like my cousin Jane, I have not been out of mourning long. I will tell you honestly, I do not know if I could lose another husband to war. My marriage was a love match and it was very difficult when he was killed. Before I can answer, I need to know what your intentions toward your commission and service to the crown are."
Fitzwilliam replied, "I have been considering that. If you give me permission to court you, I will resign my commission and talk with my father about taking over one of the smaller family estates if that would please you. He has offered it in the past and I am sure would be amenable to such a thing. Mother would also like me out of harm's way, even though hostilities are for the most part over now."
"Then yes, I would be happy to have you call upon me. I do not think I can lose another husband in service, but you do not need to resign immediately."
"In that case, if you would excuse me, I think I will go talk with Lord Hertford and apprise him of our understanding. Is that all right with you?"
"I think that would be perfect. I know Father would appreciate hearing of this from you."
At that, Fitzwilliam rose and sought out the Marquess. They had a short conversation and the Marquess gave his approval for Fitzwilliam's pursuit of his daughter. "She is a lovely woman. I hope things work out well for the two of you. When the time comes, you have my blessing."
This was a farewell for all those that lived most of the year on their estates away from London. All were planning to leave within the next two weeks. Lizzy and Mary paid farewell visits to the new friends they had made during the course of the season. The friends all promised to be diligent correspondents.
The next day, Jeremiah Ainsley visited Hertford House and asked to speak with Viscount Enfield. Carson directed him to the library. Lord Enfield had not changed with his elevation and looked at the young man's nervousness and said, "You were cutting it pretty close weren't you?"
Ainsley was startled and said, "Sir?"
"I presume you are here to ask me something?"
"Oh. Yes. Er. I would like permission to ask your daughter Mary for her hand in marriage. I have never met someone like her. She is everything I have ever wanted. Although I live most of the year in London, my estate, Melbourne, provides me with a comfortable living. It is in Derbyshire and will allow Miss Mary to be near her sister at Pemberley."
Lord Enfield scrutinized the young man and responded, "I will admit that I am not surprised by your request, although I am surprised you waited so long. You know we are leaving the day after tomorrow. I suppose you will want to correspond with Mary? Yes? Very well. You have my blessing."
Ainsley was ecstatic and asked if he might speak with Miss Mary right away. Lord Enfield summoned Carson and asked him to have Mary join them in the library. When she arrived, he excused himself for a moment and stepped into the hallway leaving the door ajar.
"Miss Mary, through the course of the winter, I have found myself thinking of you more and more often. You are the most wonderful woman I have ever met. I find I ardently desire you to be my wife and have spoken to your father about it. Would you do me the very great honor and consent to become Mrs. Ainsley?"
Although she had come to greatly esteem Jeremiah, Mary had not really expected him to propose until perhaps next Season. She was delighted and replied, "I would like that very much, Mr. Ainsley."
He smiled and said, "My family generally calls me Jerry. Would you do so?"
She nodded as her father returned to the library. Blushing, she said, "Father, I have accepted Mr. Ainsley's offer to become his wife."
Enfield offered his congratulations and sent Mary and Ainsley to inform Lady Enfield of their news. Then Ainsley returned, along with Lord Arlington, and the three composed another announcement for the papers. Lord Arlington noted, "We have done well this winter-Jane in December, Elizabeth in March, and now Mary in April. People with daughters to marry off will want to send them to us. Must be something in the water or the air around our family." They all laughed at this.
Then Ainsley and Mary spent some time in the drawing room discussing when they might marry. After some discussion, they talked with Lizzy about the possibility of sharing a wedding. Since it would be lower key than otherwise with the death of the Charles Bennets, this would also ease planning for Lady Enfield and Lady Arlington. After further discussion, everyone agreed that this would be a good plan. Because most of the Bennet relations were fairly large families, all agreed that it made the most sense to hold the ceremony in London where most of them had homes. The idea of hosting that many additional families at Enfield and Arlington was quite overwhelming making the decision to hold the wedding in London easier. They would arrive in town in time to have the banns read and finish the last minute fittings and preparations.
Since the only family Ainsley had was his sister Violet, who was already known to the family, a large celebration dinner was not necessary to introduce everyone. However, Lady Arlington asked Ainsley and his sister to join them to celebrate with the immediate family that night before everyone left for the country. He agreed and left to collect his sister.
The congratulatory dinner was much more intimate than the last since so much of the family had already left for the country. However, the well wishes were no less. Ainsley had become popular with the entire family during the winter. In particular, John and Andrew were happy because Ainsley had so often visited them in their schoolroom and told particularly wonderful tales. Kitty, Lydia, and Tom would not have the opportunity to meet him for quite a while.
They delayed their departure for an additional day so that Mary could stop by Madame Arlette's and select a gown for her wedding. While Elizabeth had done so immediately after the announcement, Mary needed to select hers before their departure for the summer. They invited Violet Ainsley to assist.
While Elizabeth's material had been a snowy white, Mary selected a soft cream. Everyone agreed that the color would be very flattering. Her dress was also simple, like Lizzy's, but with more lace around the face. Marie would have both gowns ready for final fittings when the girls returned to town in late August.
With this engagement, Darcy extended the invitation to visit Pemberley to Mary and Ainsley so that they too might see each other during the summer. Since Ainsley had an estate in Derbyshire, it would also allow him to have Mary visit the estate. They parted with all looking forward to the summer visit.
Posted on 2014-08-13
May 2-11 1817
The trip to Enfield was uneventful, filled with both anticipation and sorrow. Lord and Lady Enfield traveled in one carriage. The girls and their maids traveled in a second. The boys and their tutor, Mr. Sykes, were in a third, with the remaining servants coming with the luggage.
Lord Enfield still mourned the loss of his brother CJ and the family but was excited to tackle the new opportunities Enfield entailed. Enfield was a much larger estate than Longbourn. Both he and Lady Enfield had far more lives dependent on them than in the past. Their aid or neglect would impact a far greater number of people.
"My dear Lady Enfield," said he as they turned into the drive to the estate. "Are you ready for this new adventure?"
"It is not something I ever aspired to. I was happy as the wife of a diplomat, assisting in the social events that made discussions easier. Responsibility for our family and Longbourn's tenants was always enough for me. However, our partnership is for better or worse although I'm not sure which this one is. I am ready to meet it with you," she smiled.
The girls were excited when the carriage made the turn into the drive. "How solemn this new responsibility for Mama and Papa," commented Mary.
Lizzy was drinking in the spring beauty of the drive, noting the beautiful wildflowers in the meadow and the large areas of woods waiting to be explored. "Yes, there will be much to do for both of them, not including preparing for our departures from the family," she replied.
In the boys' carriage, John and Andrew were each hanging out a window noting places that would provide great background for various adventures they were planning. Mr. Sykes asked, "Shall we make some of these adventures historical?"
John asked, "What do you mean?"
"That meadow over there looks like a very good place to re-enact the battle that ended King Richard III's reign or the battle of Hastings. That wood there could be a place to stage a siege. You have both begun studying some history this year. If you would permit me to participate in your adventures, we could have your history lessons outside and try to see what it might have been like at the actual events."
Andrew responded, "Yes, please. That would be so much better than just reading about it."
Mr. Sykes said, "But you would have to read enough to help with the planning."
Both boys agreed, "That sounds wonderful. Yes, let's do that."
The new Viscount's family took a few days to accustom themselves to Enfield. They had visited the family there in the past only a few times, but now it must be more thoroughly explored. Mrs. Wheelwright, the housekeeper, conducted the tour for the ladies. Her husband, the butler, conducted a different tour for Lord Enfield, ending with an introduction to Satterly, the steward. Satterly and Lord Enfield spent the next several days alternating between the study, where accounts were reviewed, and on horseback as the estate was viewed. Lord Enfield was grateful for the job Satterly and CJ had done in managing the estate.
Lady Enfield was equally grateful for the good management of her late sister-in-law Mary. Talking with Mary and Lizzy after the detailed tour, Lady Enfield said, "I knew Mary had done an excellent job here. It is so reassuring that there is no major crisis wanting attention. After Susan and Sarah select the mementos they wish, we will consider how me might want to redecorate. Some of that will depend on what they want. I think we will leave most of it as it is for now. With the expense of rebuilding Enfield House, it just makes economic sense to wait on any major changes here. It has always been such a lovely home. You know, with both of you marrying in the fall, we should consider not only which rooms are to be yours for now, but which will be your family rooms when you come to visit."
Although selection of their current rooms was relatively simple, it took longer to select "family" rooms for their future visits. Lizzy selected a couple that overlooked the woods while Mary selected those across from them overlooking the gardens. Jane's family rooms would be between Lizzy's and the nursery, since she already had Robbie to house in the nursery when she visited. Andrew and John were quite satisfied with both the nursery and their classroom space.
Mr. Sykes and the boys did not go on a guided tour of the house or estate. They went on an adventure playing the roles of some of the early English colonial explorers. As they explored, they made maps much as the early explorers had done, and shared these with Lizzy and Mary at the end of each day. They gave place names to different parts of the surrounding woods, to the various outbuildings, to different meadows, and to other landmarks throughout the house and estate. After all the places near the house were well known, exploration moved to horseback. The stables at Enfield were far more extensive than those at Longbourn had been. This allowed everyone the opportunity to improve their horsemanship. When the weather permitted, a ride was a necessity at least every afternoon. For the boys, they would study for a while, ride, study again, and ride again. They learned far more history that spring than they had in the past years.
May 11-30 1817
Susan and Sarah, the former Viscount's daughters, arrived without their husbands who had gone to their own estates to attend to spring duties while the women went to Enfield together. All felt it would be easier to cope with the changes and grief if the sisters could mourn together.
Lady Enfield put Susan and Sarah in the rooms their families had always used. After refreshing themselves, they all joined in the parlor to discuss next steps.
"I would like you girls to consider which items you would like. Enfield has been your home for so long, it is full of memories. In some ways, it is easier for us to move since we have been living abroad for so long. Longbourn has some memories for us, but since we only really moved in last year, it isn't full as Enfield is," said Lady Enfield.
"Thank you, Aunt. You are correct that there are memories around every corner. I speak for both of us when I say how grateful we are for your consideration. It is still hard to think of losing Mother and Father. I still keep expecting to see them at any minute," said Susan.
"You and your families will always be welcome here. Enfield did not stop being a part of your family when it came to us," replied Lady Enfield.
"How shall we ever decide what memories to take with us?" asked Sarah. "Things are just things. It isn't like we still have Mother or Father or Harold."
"You take things that evoke pleasant memories, that you might look upon them and remember the good times you had. While you do not have the ability to speak to your brother or parents and have them respond, as long as you continue to remember them, they are not completely lost. For example, this necklace that I am wearing belonged to my mother. I think of her any time I wear it. I remember her wearing it with certain of her day dresses. It helps bring back many happy memories. As you look through things, think of items that will cause that sort of memory. It might be a dress, jewelry, a book, or an item that one of them purchased for the house," answered Lady Enfield.
"Then that is what we will do," responded Susan.
For the next two weeks, that is exactly what they did. Susan and Sarah spent most of their time selecting items they would like in their own homes with Lady Enfield's assistance. They cried over some items, laughed over others, sharing the stories with Lady Enfield, Lizzy and Mary. Both the laughter and tears were cathartic. Finally, they felt that their grief had become manageable, and Susan and Sarah had mementos that would help provide the reminders they wanted of their family and early life together. Everything was packed up and sent off to their family estates. Both women entered their own carriages to return to their families and the Bennets were left to themselves.
While the ladies were engaged in inventory and memento selection, the new Lord Enfield spent his time on the estate with Satterly. By the time his nieces left, he felt he was just about comfortable with his knowledge of his new home. Both he and Lady Enfield met with many of the tenants. He became aware of who was slightly problematic and would require extra watching, who was a hard worker down on his luck, which families were experiencing difficulties. Elizabeth and Mary often accompanied them on the visits to the tenants.
The family settled into a more comfortable rhythm similar to the one they'd had at Longbourn. The three ladies visited various tenants on an almost daily basis, taking baskets of needed items such as food, linens, and clothing for children that were in need. They all became well acquainted with the tenants and enjoyed this responsibility.
Various neighbors visited and were visited in return. Lady Enfield found that there were two or three ladies who were of like mind that she would enjoy friendships with. Formal social activities would wait until the immediate period of mourning was over in July. By then, Lady Enfield was sure that they would have a large, comfortable acquaintance in the area.
Once again, frequent letters were exchanged between Darcy and Lizzy. Mary and Ainsley were also regular correspondents. This was in addition to the regular mail between the family members at school or in other locations such as Stoke. Everyone was adjusting to life at Enfield while also awaiting the end of school and arrival of Lydia, Kitty and Tom. Andrew and John were having fun exploring Enfield. Lizzy and Mary became very familiar with the gardens and many of the surrounding woods. With the expanded stables at Enfield, all spent a great deal of time on horseback, greatly improving their proficiency.
Posted on 2014-08-20
June 1-13 1817
At the beginning of June, everyone returned from school. Lord Enfield collected both Kitty and Lydia on the first trip. Once they arrived home, Lord Enfield refreshed himself and immediately departed to collect Tom.
After removing the dust of travel and greeting their mother and siblings, Kitty and Lydia immediately demanded a tour of the house. Lizzy and Mary obliged as they wanted to catch up with their sisters. As the two new arrivals exclaimed over their new home, Lizzy and Mary were pleased with the maturity they saw in the younger girls.
"So Kitty, how do you feel about leaving school? Have you any friends that will be coming out this next season as well? Will they visit us here this summer or in the fall?" asked Mary.
"There are three or four others who come out next season with me. I am corresponding with two of them who have become close friends, much like Miss Darcy and you Mary. We all particularly enjoyed our drawing classes together and find that we have a common outlook on life. They are particularly nice girls, not as difficult as some of the others."
Lizzy asked, "And you, Lydia? Tell us everything."
Lydia replied, "There is not much to tell. I have made a couple of particular friends. I am very glad to be home again, even if it isn't Longbourn. While Mary always liked reading and it seems Kitty does too, I only enjoy novels occasionally. I would much prefer to be out riding."
Mary said, "Then you will be glad to know that we have a particularly fine stable here. Even Lizzy has greatly improved her horsemanship as we ride out almost daily. Once we finish the tour of the house, we must take you there so we can all take a ride together."
After this, the tour was somewhat abbreviated so that they could do just that. Both girls admired the house. Kitty looked at it somewhat differently than Lydia knowing that she would begin assuming some of the responsibility for it now that she was out of school. As it was so much larger than Longbourn, she knew it would require more attention. She timidly asked, "Mary and Lizzy, are you finding it much harder to manage Enfield than Longbourn? It is so much bigger."
Lizzy smiled and responded, "Well a little. What is much more complicated is the visiting with tenants. There are so many more people dependent on us. However, you shall have both of us to assist you for a while longer. By the time we visit Pemberley, you will be comfortable with the tenants and can visit with only Mother or Lydia for company."
Kitty smiled back at her in return. They finished up the tour, changed into riding attire and headed to the stables together. They found Andrew and John mounting their own rides as they entered and all decided to show Kitty and Lydia around together. Kitty selected a sedate mare while Lydia opted for a more spirited gelding, each matching the nature of the rider.
The boys were happy to wait as their sisters mounted. They all headed out into the grounds together. As the senior explorer, John led the way. Andrew was the more vocal, explaining all they had discovered to Kitty and Lydia. It was a happy time for them all.
Tom joined them a couple of days later. John and Andrew shared their explorer maps with Tom who greatly enjoyed sharing adventures with his younger brothers. They decided to retrace some of the voyages of exploration together and were frequently seen leaving early in the day with packs and not seen again until quite late in the afternoon. With school out for the summer, Mr. Sykes was given leave to spend the summer with his family, so he left as soon as Tom arrived. All three boys enjoyed the time of outdoors activity.
The June weather was pleasantly warm, particularly after all the rain the previous spring. They all enjoyed long walks, horseback rides, picnics, and visits to their neighbors and other family members with estates nearby. At least once each week, all the boys joined Lord Enfield on estate activity. He wanted them all to understand the obligations and responsibility that accompanied stewardship for an estate, whether large or small.
Kitty was excited to begin the next stage of her life as she started learning household management. Her first major assignment was to arrange many of the picnics. After each such outing, Lady Enfield would sit with Kitty and discuss what had been successful, what had been merely tolerable, and what had failed and why. Each girl had always had such discussions with their mother as they assumed their responsibilities and found it a good way to learn household management. Lizzy and Mary were careful to praise all of Kitty's efforts, and heaped more praise on those that were more successful, easily remembering when they were in her position.
Lady Enfield and the three older girls began the round of regular tenant visits with Lydia joining them occasionally. They visited at least one family each day, always bringing a tempting treat from the Enfield kitchen. As they became better acquainted, they would know what items the family needed rather than just something to be enjoyed. With the extensive notes left by the late Lady Enfield, the family was aware of some needs and of the basic information about each family. After a few joint visits, Kitty felt confident enough to visit some of the smaller families on her own. She loved sharing the gift of biscuits that she brought to those with small children.
The family chose to attend church in the town of Enfield rather than in a private chapel on the estate. They found that CJ had left the position of pastor vacant and Lord Enfield determined to continue that way for now. Attendance in town allowed them to meet more of the locals and become more involved with their neighbors. Since they were in mourning, social visits were constrained. This helped make them new friends. They would start entertaining later in the summer to more fully enjoy these new acquaintances.
June 14-30 1817
The morning of June 14, the Bingleys arrived for their much anticipated visit. Lizzy was waiting to greet them as their carriage pulled up in front of the house. Bingley was the first out of the carriage and turned to help Jane. As soon as she was out, Lizzy was there with a hug and "Oh Jane, I can't tell you how much I've missed you. How is Stoke? How is Robbie? You look wonderful. And Charles, it is also good to see you." While this was going on, Bingley assisted Robbie and his nurse. Lizzy finally took a breath as both Jane and Bingley laughed at her exuberant greeting. She laughed as well and they all went into the building.
After initial greetings, the Bingleys went up to their rooms to refresh. Robbie was in need of a rest, so he did not return to the rest of the family to visit. Lady Enfield was grateful to have the family home again. She knew that as the years progressed, it would become harder as her daughters married and moved away as Jane had done. She determined to enjoy this time before losing both Lizzy and Mary from her household. For now, she would store up the memories and cherish every moment. The recent elevation in rank would also cause stresses and changes in the family, and those would only increase over time. Also, the marriages of Jane, Elizabeth, and Mary would bring major changes to the family circle.
Jane and Bingley returned to the parlor for tea and light refreshments. As she poured herself some tea, Jane remarked, "Oh Mother. It is so nice to see you all again. Charles, Robbie and I have had a lovely spring. Stoke is doing well and Charles is doing a wonderful job managing it. But I have missed you all. Letters are never sufficient."
Lizzy replied, "I agree that letters are insufficient. It is always so much nicer to have you here with us. I am glad you can both visit for a while before you attend Mrs. Hurst. How is she doing?"
Bingley answered, "She is well. She has entered her confinement with only a few weeks until the little one is due to arrive. Hurst's mother is there to assist. They will notify us after the birth. We will remain here until it is time to join them at Mayfield. Hursts's mother is very nice and always a very calming influence, which was helpful when my other sister was with them. Now that Caroline is gone, life is much calmer for Louisa. That will be very important for them with a new baby in the house."
Jane asked, "Lizzy, when are the Gardiners expected? I think you leave for Pemberley at the beginning of July, do you not?"
"They arrive next week and will stay a few days before we leave for Derbyshire. I am both nervous and excited to see Pemberley. Just as letters between us are not as satisfying, those with Mr. Darcy do not make up for his absence. I admit to missing him more than a little. I am sure Mary feels the same about Mr. Ainsley. We both are anxious for this trip," responded Lizzy. "Of course, I am also looking forward to seeing the Gardiners and visiting with our cousins before we leave."
Once again, the girls went on an abbreviated tour of the house as Jane admired everything. After a peek in at the sleeping Robbie, the girls went on a walk in the gardens while Bingley retired to the study with Lord Enfield to ask some advice on estate matters.
"These gardens are quite lovely," said Jane as she admired the flower garden.
"There are many lovely gardens here," said Lizzy.
"And there are many flowers and herbs we can dry. I love the still room here," was Mary's contribution. "I have been spending a great deal of time with Kitty showing her how to manage most of those. She is the one who will be responsible this year."
Lydia added, "We have met some of the neighbors and they seem to be very nice. There are even a couple of girls my age so at least I have someone to talk to when we go on visits."
Jane responded, "It looks like Enfield will be a lovely place for all of us to visit."
Lizzy agreed with a nod. "There is so much to do here that even when we are all on our own in a few years, Mama and Papa will have plenty to keep them busy. Bringing out Tom, John, and Andrew will not be nearly as taxing as the five of us. Of course, they still have to deal with Kitty and Lydia. One more year left in school for you, right Lydia?"
They all laughed and Lydia added, "Well, I plan to be very choosey when my turn comes. The three of you have selected very fine men, I'm sure, but I mean to have more fun before I find mine. I want lots of balls and parties. You only had one season. I don't know about Kitty, but I want at least two."
They laughed again and Kitty said, "I would not mind two seasons, but really, I would like to have fun, not fall on my face when I am presented, and find someone I can respect and admire. I am not sure I want to spend two whole seasons making inane small talk while trying to determine who has more than the small talk he makes indicates."
Lizzy said, "Kitty, that is a really insightful comment. I find making inane small talk very irritating. Once I became engaged, it magically appeared that many of the young men I danced with suddenly became much more interesting and fun to talk with. However, I still think I found the one that will best suit me. Lydia, if you do enjoy two seasons, I hope you really do have fun but also take the time to get to know your suitors as well as you can. Bingley and your new brothers will be happy to help both of you weed out the most boring or the wildest so you can select from the best. And of course, they will be doing that for you this winter, Kitty."
They spent their days with visits, horseback rides, shared confidences, wedding planning, and the forging of more wonderful memories of their time together. The daily visits to estate tenants also continued. Lord Enfield and Tom were gone for much of this week as the construction in town was at a critical stage and required their supervision. Staying with the Gardiners for the week was an added inducement. Lord Enfield had determined that, for the summer, he and Tom would be intimately involved in the reconstruction in town. They would journey there at least every other week. Tom would benefit from seeing all that was required to build a modern home. He would also learn from his uncle what was required of a good manager.
Finally, the Gardiners arrived with Lord Enfield and Tom. They were greeted with much joy. Within an hour of their arrival, the messenger arrived announcing the early arrival of Alexander Hurst and health of both mother and child. The messenger returned with congratulations and the news that the Bingleys would leave at the beginning of July to join the Hursts.
The Gardiners had never before visited Enfield, so after they were shown to their rooms and freshened up, refreshments were served, and then the ladies went on another tour of the house, this more all-encompassing than the last. The men retired to the study where Mr. Gardiner and Lord Enfield partook of slightly more potent libations than the tea the ladies had consumed. Mr. Bingley retained his cup of tea. Mr. Gardiner started, "So Thomas, are you becoming accustomed to being a Viscount? Losing your brother and his son was such a shock. I wish could help by doing more than overseeing your construction project in town."
"I will admit it is quite a change. However, your help with the construction is greatly appreciated. It has enabled me to spend most of my time here with the family, learning about the estate, and watching as Lizzy and Mary prepare to leave us. I will admit that the loss of my daughters is also difficult. Make no mistake, their young men are fine, but I lose more of my daughters than I gain in the new sons. I am no longer the most important man in their lives, and our family is no longer at the center of those lives. I am proud of the women they have become, but I do miss the little girls that they were." Mr. Gardiner gave a nod of agreement and they saluted the girls with their drinks.
Mr. Bingley grinned and said, "While you may lose some of their hearts, be assured that you always retain a special place. And, at least with sons like Darcy, Ainsley and me, you have no competition from our fathers, so we will enjoy having a father again."
Lord Enfield returned Bingley's grin and said, "You know it is no reflection on you. It is simply a father not wanting to give up his girls. Should you ever have daughters, I will remind you of this conversation when they prepare to marry." All three laughed and relaxed as the ladies enjoyed their tour.
They all enjoyed the week together before the Bingleys left for Mayfield. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner, Lizzy, and Mary all prepared to follow them the next day. The Gardiner children were excited to stay and visit their cousins and the new estate. Kitty was excited to be in charge of the Gardiner children-with lots of help from their nurse.
Posted on 2014-08-27
July 1-2 1817
With such good company, the two-day carriage ride to Pemberley was pleasant. They took turns reading aloud from a new novel, pausing to comment on the characters, situations, and the writing at the end of each chapter. At each rest stop, they would stretch their legs and enjoy the village in which they stopped. The meals at the Inns were acceptable, and the Inn in which they overnighted was actually quite nice. By mid-day the second day, all were in anticipation of arriving soon and the book was abandoned.
Mrs. Gardiner called everyone to attention as the passed through Lambton. She shared some of her childhood memories as they passed through the town. As they neared the lodge, Elizabeth watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods. Finally, the driver slowed, and then turned into the long drive and Lizzy's spirits were in a high flutter. The woods were lush and green from all the spring rain. The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent.
Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;--and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration.
Lizzy was overcome with the beauty before her. She thought, "All this shall be home. I will become accustomed to such beauty. Think of all the places waiting to be explored."
Mary asked her aunt if she had ever visited Pemberley. "Only as a small child. It was quite stunning. I cannot wait to see the house again," replied Mrs. Gardiner.
They continued along the lane until they finally arrived at the house. Its size was similar to Arlington, just slightly larger than Enfield. As the carriage came to a halt, the party noticed that Mr. and Miss Darcy were awaiting them at the bottom of the front steps. As Mr. Gardiner stepped from the carriage and turned to help his wife descend, Mr. Darcy walked over to the carriage and greeted them as he assisted Lizzy and Mary, "I am so pleased to welcome you to Pemberley. Miss Mary, Mr. and Miss Ainsley will be joining us tomorrow. Miss Bennet it is wonderful to see you again. Georgiana and I have missed you so much."
At this, Georgiana said, "Indeed it is so. We are so happy you are all here. Please come in and refresh yourselves."
They all entered the spacious foyer and Georgiana indicated the formal parlor where refreshments awaited them after they had washed off the dust of travel. Maids were waiting by to show them to their rooms and to provide any assistance required. In short order, all returned to the formal parlor.
As they all partook of tea, fruit, cake, and biscuits, the ladies exchanged hugs while Darcy and Lizzy shared a long look at each other. Georgiana and Mary took their refreshments to one end of the parlor to better converse. Darcy, Lizzy, and the Gardiners sat together at the other end of the room and discussed the journey, their impressions of Derbyshire in general and Pemberley in particular.
Mrs. Gardiner complimented the room, "What a lovely sitting room, so light and airy."
Lizzy added, "Come, look at the view from these windows. It is just magnificent." They joined her at the window and found a gorgeous flower garden in full bloom outside. At the window, they could also take in the fragrances coming from the garden.
Georgiana responded, "This was always Mother's favorite room. Last year, Fitzwilliam had it redone for me. I always love it in here. I think I feel close to Mother when I am here. It is one of the few places where I have memories of her."
"I can see why you like this room so much. It is so relaxing," said Mary. "With that view, I would do most of my reading in here."
Lizzy asked, "Would you mind if I went out to investigate those gardens? They are very enticing."
After further discussion, they all decided to visit the gardens. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner chose paths near the house, while the others ventured further afield. Darcy paired off with Lizzy, and Mary and Georgiana lagged behind them. The day was beautiful, warm but not too hot except after a lot of time in direct sunlight. Because of that, they all made sure to spend much of the time in the shade. After this pleasant interlude, they all returned to the house to dress for dinner.
Dinner was a convivial time, relaxing and pleasant for all. Georgiana had discovered favorite dishes of both Lizzy and Mary and ensured that those were served. Elizabeth and Darcy were happy to be back together. Georgiana was happy to have both Mary and Lizzy visit. Without seeming to do so, Mrs. Gardiner kept the conversation flowing throughout dinner. Darcy tended to sit back and watch Elizabeth, so Mrs. Gardiner's promptings were gentle reminders to participate with the rest of his guests.
As the sweet was served at the end of the meal, Lizzy commented, "Georgiana, I do believe that you have served many of both Mary's and my favorites-and I do not think that is a coincidence. Thank you so very much for your consideration. It was all wonderful."
Mary added, "Yes, it was. And this is one of my favorite sweets. I just love strawberries," and she raised a spoonful of strawberries as an emphasis to her words.
Georgiana said, "Well, I wanted to be sure that you knew we were happy to have you all here. I had no way of finding out favorites for the Gardiners, so Mrs. Gardiner, you must share some of those with me so that they will also appear on the table."
Mrs. Gardiner smiled and replied, "I will be sure to do that when we visit in the morning."
Tired from the earlier travel, the Bennets and Gardiners retired at the conclusion of the meal. The Darcys followed shortly thereafter.
July 3 1817
Everyone met over breakfast the next morning with cheery greetings for one another. First down was Lizzy, who had asked a footman to show her where to go. She found a lovely assortment of breakfast foods on the sideboard and helped herself to a variety. She took her plate and her tea to the table and was just preparing to start when Darcy entered the room.
He smiled to see his fiancé, and said, "And a very good morning to you Elizabeth. I cannot tell you how very happy I am to see you sitting at my breakfast table."
She responded, "Wills, you cannot know how wonderful it is to be here at your breakfast table. Seriously, though, Pemberley is simply beautiful. It is so elegant, but not ostentatious. I think it is simply wonderful. While elegant, it is not so fine that it does not feel like a home. I like it very much."
Darcy smiled again and sat near her with his plate. They enjoyed their breakfast in companionable silence broken only when the next member of the party entered the room. Slowly, each member of the party entered the room, filled a plate, and selected a seat at the table.
Once all were gathered, Darcy began, "I hope you all found your rooms comfortable and were able to sleep well. I will admit that I am very gratified to have you all here." All agreed that the rooms had been comfortable and that they were well rested. "Good. Since you have not visited before, I have arranged for Mrs. Reynolds to give you a tour of the house. Not just the public rooms, as she has given so often, but the family ones as well. After all, I expect all of you will be here often and we would not want you getting lost."
They all laughed at that and hurried to finish their meals. Mrs. Reynolds joined them and began the tour discussing the breakfast room. They moved through all the public rooms, then into the library where Lizzy was stunned by the sheer number of volumes. Her husband smiled at her reaction envisioning them spending many evenings sharing their love of books.
Mary was quite impressed with the new pianoforte in the music room. Georgiana offered, "It was a recent birthday gift from my brother. He is the best of brothers, always so thoughtful." Impishly, she added, "It will be interesting to see how he responds to having an additional four sisters." Everyone laughed at her comment, including Darcy.
The size of the ballroom was a good indication of the kind of entertaining that Pemberley had seen in the past. Lizzy asked, "And shall we fill this room by hosting a ball to greet all my new neighbors?"
Darcy replied, "As much as balls are not a favorite activity of mine, I think that an excellent suggestion, future wife." With a smile, he continued, "Let us consider how we might host a hunting party and ball for friends and family after our wedding. Maybe in October?"
Lizzy laughed and said, "That sounds delightful. We must plan to do so."
Given the size of the house, the tour continued for some time. At its conclusion, Georgiana invited Mary to join her at the pianoforte so that Lizzy might meet with Mrs. Reynolds. Mrs. Gardiner also joined them in the music room, while Mr. Gardiner and Darcy opted for a game of billiards, since Mr. Gardiner rarely had an opportunity to play.
Lizzy spent some little while with Mrs. Reynolds learning about the running of the household. She asked questions and shared many complements on the fine way Mrs. Reynolds managed the house. "You need have no fear that I will change things just for the sake of change. The one that I do foresee is that the mistress must begin again to visit the tenants. You have filled that role ably, but it is clear that this is something I can do to make my own place at Pemberley. Perhaps while I am visiting, you can introduce me to a few key tenants' families so that the transition will be easier come September? I would like to ask you to help me continue the education of Miss Darcy in her future role in an estate as well, so she should also meet with the tenants with me. I understand she has not yet assumed that responsibility."
Mrs. Reynolds said, "I would be delighted to assist you both. When would you like to start?"
"The Ainsleys arrive today. When do the Fitzwilliams arrive?"
"They arrive tomorrow."
"Are there any who would benefit from a visit Sunday afternoon? When we have wanted to meet the entire family, we have timed our visits for Sunday after services. If we are only looking to meet with the wives and children, we tend to do morning visits."
Mrs. Reynolds thought for a moment, "There are two families that have required a great deal of assistance from the master. One has a new baby. In the other, the mother is dying. Perhaps, if you both were to visit together after church, it might make more of an impression?"
Elizabeth replied, "That should be excellent. I will discuss this with Mr. Darcy, but let us tentatively plan on those visits this Sunday. For the rest, let us say that on Monday and Wednesday morning, we will make some visits. Georgiana can be hostess to the Fitzwilliams, Ainsleys, and Mary on those two mornings. Once I am more knowledgeable about the tenants, Miss Darcy can join me on the visits."
Mrs. Reynolds was very satisfied with the new mistress-to-be and that Pemberley would be in very good hands. She could see that Miss Bennet was clever, but kind, and quite capable. By the time their interview was over, both were very comfortable with one another.
Jeremiah and Violet Ainsley joined the party that afternoon. Their estate at Melbourne was a convenient carriage ride away. Georgiana had them shown them to their rooms to refresh before everyone gathered in the drawing room to greet them. Mary was particularly pleased to see Ainsley and greeted him as he entered, "I am sorry I was not there to meet your carriage. I was lost in my book. You must see the library-it is amazing." Then she blushed as Darcy and Lizzy laughed at her enthusiasm.
"Indeed Ainsley, you re most welcome to see the library. Perhaps Georgiana and Mary can give you and Miss Ainsley a brief tour after you are refreshed. We would not like to see you lost in the halls," offered Darcy as everyone partook of tea and biscuits.
"I look forward to it, Darcy. Miss Mary, I forgive you. I can certainly understand being lost in a book and not hearing an arrival take place." He moved over to sit next to Mary, and more quietly continued, "I have missed you greatly. Thank you so much for your letters to Violet and me. It has eased the pain of separation although only seeing you again has caused that to cease."
Meanwhile, Violet was speaking with Georgiana, thanking her for the invitation to spend this time together at Pemberley. "It is so exciting that soon I will have all the Bennets for sisters. Since you will as well, that makes us sisters of a sort also, does it not?"
Georgiana smiled and replied, "It does indeed. And you are most welcome here with us. We are so pleased that you and Mr. Ainsley could join us. I find that the weekly visits of all our friends in London became such a habit that, although I write them each week, I find I miss all those wonderful women so much. Having you here will be such a treat. Particularly as both of our couples will want to spend time with one another and you will give me someone to visit with-at least until the Fitzwilliams arrive." Georgiana looked at her knowingly and Violet blushed at the allusion to Arthur Fitzwilliam.
"I am sure we will have a very pleasant time together."
By then, everyone was refreshed. Lizzy and Mrs. Gardiner determined to take a walk in the gardens while Mary and Georgiana took the Ainsleys on the tour of the house. Darcy had some estate business to see to, so Mr. Gardiner decided to relax in the library with a good book. This was a pursuit he often missed in his busy life and so relished on the rare occasions he could indulge it.
Dinner was another excellent example of the hostess skills Georgiana was learning. She had managed to add some Gardiner favorites as well as one of Jeremiah Ainsley's. She mixed the seating arrangements from the previous day so all would have an opportunity to converse with other members of the party. She saw Darcy's smile of satisfaction upon seeing that Elizabeth was near him this evening and gave him a smile in return. The previous night, Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner had been seated near Georgiana.
During dinner, it was discovered that all three men shared a love of fishing, although Mr. Gardiner seldom engaged. They determined that they would spend the next morning in that pursuit while the ladies chose to sketch in the flower gardens. This would enable all to be available when the Fitzwilliams arrived. With the Friday schedule mapped out, the discussion turned to Saturday. Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner planned to visit Lambton to reunite with old friends. Weather permitting, the rest would enjoy a picnic lunch after a ride to a lovely section of Pemberley's woods.
That evening, the men chose to retire to the music room with the ladies rather than take time away after dinner. All of the ladies took a turn at the piano or singing. Surprisingly, so did the men. Mr. Gardiner claimed he did not play, but accompanied by his wife, he sang for them all. Ainsley convinced Violet to accompany him, but Darcy showcased only his hidden ability to play the piano. The ladies were quite pleased with the contribution from the men. This pleasant interlude kept them busy much later than on the previous night. They were surprised to hear the clock chime midnight, as they had expected to retire rather earlier.
As all mounted the stairs to their rooms, Darcy reflected on how much his life had changed since Bingley had leased Netherfield. Perhaps after the wedding, a nice gift could repay Bingley for his fortuitous choice. Perhaps something Mrs. Bingley would also enjoy. He would discuss it with Elizabeth.
Posted on 2014-09-03
July 4-5 1817
After a brief very early breakfast, the men headed to the lake for their fishing expedition. Darcy had plenty of equipment for all three of them. The morning was cool and crisp, giving no hint of the heat that would descend later in the day.
Before heading to the garden, Elizabeth and Georgiana met with Mrs. Reynolds to discuss housing the Fitzwilliams. Said Lizzy, "It is my understanding that the whole family will attend us this time. I did not meet the children in town, but I understand they are George and Harold Fitzwilliam, Agatha Alleyn and Susan Gorham. I assume we have rooms ready for all and the nursery is set up to manage them?"
At 8 and 9, George and Harold would consider themselves reaching the age to move out of the nursery, but they would be satisfied this time. Their cousins Agatha and Susann, at 6 and 5, would continue to use it for a few more years.
Mrs. Reynolds replied, "We are putting everyone in their usual rooms. You are correct that the boys will be in the nursery, but we expect George to be in his own room next summer. Mr. Darcy indicated that Colonel Fitzwilliam will be here but Captain Fitzwilliam will not."
Georgiana added, "I think Fitzwilliam said that Andrew might be able to join us a day or two before everyone leaves. I am glad that Richard could get leave."
Elizabeth added, "We should make you aware, if no one else has, that Arthur Fitzwilliam has been courting Miss Ainsley. So you have not just two couples, but three, to keep track of."
Mrs. Reynolds smiled and said, "I think with so many here we shall have sufficient chaperones for you all. But thank you for informing me. Arthur was always a quiet child. It will be interesting to see him with his young lady."
Since Matlock was only a distance of a couple of hours by carriage, they arrived at just about noon. A number of carriages and men on horseback alerted the fishermen that it was time to return to the house with their catch. Darcy handed a basket of fish to a footman and directed him to deliver it to the kitchen. The ladies too noted the arrival, so everyone was assembled in the courtyard to greet the Fitzwilliams.
The children were together in the first carriage along with one of their nurses. While they greeted their cousins and were introduced to the rest of the visitors, the nurse conferred with the mothers who had exited the second carriage. After introductions, rather than going inside, the children were ushered in the direction of a large meadow. The boys raced off with the intention of climbing a large tree on its perimeter. The nurse and the girls followed.
Darcy ushered the adults into the house as greetings were shared. Arthur Fitzwilliam headed straight for Violet Ainsley. He said, "I had not known you were to be here as well. This is a wonderful."
"When I found out who was invited, I thought it would be fun to surprise you. Miss Mary is betrothed to Jerry and neither wanted to spend the entire summer without visiting. Since Melbourne is so close, Mr. Darcy invited us to join the rest of his callers. We plan to spend one day next week showing Melbourne to Miss Mary and Miss Bennet."
The Fitzwilliam men decided to take the opportunity to spend the afternoon fishing while the others agreed to return to the activity. The ladies opted to visit in a shady nook in the rose garden. None of the Fitzwilliams had had very much opportunity to spend very much time with Lizzy. While they had visited in drawing rooms and ball rooms, the more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the garden was more conducive to deepening the acquaintance.
Georgiana, Mary, and Violet sat together at one end of the nook with sketching pads attempting to capture the scene. The rest sat near Lizzy, with Mrs. Gardiner there to provide support should Lizzy need it, as the Fitzwilliam women prepared for an interrogation of this young woman who had unexpectedly captured Darcy's heart. The dinner in town had not allowed for such intimate questioning.
Lady Matlock started, "Miss Bennet, we are so grateful you were willing for us to join you on your visit to Pemberley. We both have such large families that it can be quite difficult to spend any time at a typical social event really getting to know one another. As you might guess, we are all anxious to welcome you to the family and really come to know you."
Lizzy smiled, "You are quite welcome to join the party. Aren't you really too kind to ask, how in the world did you get past Darcy's reserve enough to capture his attention? We never discussed that when we visited in town."
They all laughed, and Martha said, "That is true enough. He always looks so solemn and reserved like he never smiles. Please tell us about how you met."
"Well, as I am sure you know, his friend Mr. Bingley rented Netherfield in Hertfordshire last autumn. At the time, we lived in Longbourn, not three miles from Netherfield. Mr.Bingley brought Mr. Darcy, among others, to our local Assembly that week. Had not Mr. Darcy and my father a previous acquaintance, things might have been different; he was so solemn. He visited with my father; we were introduced and danced together."
Lady Darley exclaimed, "Fitzwilliam Darcy danced at a local assembly? With someone he had just been introduced to? Will wonders never cease?"
Lady Matlock added, "Did he actually speak to you?"
Lizzy laughed, "He was a quiet, but we actually had a nice conversation. After that first night, we continued to meet and, while Mr. Bingley was quietly courting my sister Jane, we became very good friends. We danced together at a number of events. When Mr. Bingley left the area after having given a ball, both Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley called upon my father on their way out of town together to declare their honorable intentions. I think you know most of the rest."
Lady Harriet stated, "We know Fitzwilliam was just looking for the right woman. Miss Bennet, I am not sure you are aware, but all of us married for affection, not for position or money." Looking over at her mother, she added, "Mother and Father were a love match and with their example before us, all of us were determined to marry for love. Each of us had opportunities to marry men of higher rank, but we selected men we felt most likely to bring us happiness, men of compatible temperament. It isn't a fashionable practice, but we are all most happy. It appears to me that Fitzwilliam has done exactly the same thing."
Lizzy replied, "My parents also provided a similar example. Even Jane did with her first marriage to Robert Nelson. We seem to be idealists who look for a mate such as you have described. I find Mr. Darcy to be the best of men. I could never be happy with someone like Mr. Bingley, as my sister has chosen. I need someone who challenges me. I love my brother, but he is too amiable and even-tempered. I like the challenge Mr. Darcy provides."
After the initial interrogation, the women discussed books, poetry, music, fashions, and favorite activities. When they discovered that most of them loved riding, they agreed to go for a long ride and picnic the next day. Given the size of Pemberley, all felt that would be the best way to show the Bennets, Gardiners, and Ainseleys more of Pemberley's beauties.
By the time everyone returned to the house to rest a bit before changing for dinner, they were all fast friends and were on a first name basis. Lizzy was pleased that she had developed warmer relations with Darcy's family. They were all pleased with the choice that he had made. With such camaraderie, dinner was a relaxed and merry affair in spite of the number of diners. There were many jokes and fishing stories told as the fish was consumed for dinner. The cook had done a masterful job and all enjoyed the meal. The women were careful to both tease and praise the men's efforts.
The children took their meal in the nursery. The nurse had done a good job keeping them very busy all afternoon, and all found themselves quite exhausted and in bed asleep early.
The gentlemen agreed to the long ride and picnic for the following day, so all were pleased to see a beautiful day when they entered the breakfast room. After a leisurely meal, they headed out to the stables for their mounts. Darcy led a pack horse that held some of the provisions for the picnic. The rest were in saddle bags attached to all the men's saddles. Lizzy was grateful that she had improved her riding so that she could participate in so much fun.
Darcy led the way through beautiful woods, finally arriving at a clearing some miles from the house. There they opened the saddle bags and removed items from the pack horse. Blankets were spread for the ladies' comfort and a full cold collation spread for everyone's enjoyment. They all enjoyed the variety of breads, cheeses, fruits, and tarts.
This time, the children had joined the adults. All four spent time running around, climbing trees, and exploring the woods around the picnic site. John, the Colonel, and Darcy were all convinced by the youngsters to demonstrate the proper way to climb trees. Georgiana was shocked to see her ever so proper brother up in a tree laughing and having a good time. In her memory, he had never seemed so relaxed before. Possibly when he was a child like George or Harold he had been. But since he was even older than they were when she was born, she did not remember him as a child.
Arthur preferred to jeer at his brothers and cousin and stay firmly on the ground next to Violet. After much laughter, the Earl arose from his seat on the blanket and said to his eldest, Viscount Darley, "Hal, think you can still outclimb me?"
The Viscount laughed and said, "Do you question it? Although George can probably beat us both. Let's see."
Laughing, they both approached a large tree and grabbed a limb on either side. It took a few tries, but both managed to climb up at least a few branches. The children were amazed to see their grandfather in a tree. The Earl called to the Countess, "Well Connie, I guess the old man still has what it takes."
She laughed and replied, "Well, don't expect me to help you down or commiserate with you when you are stiff and sore in the morning."
Shortly after the tree climbing, most of the adults chose to rest (or take naps) on the blankets. The children took their explorations farther afield but always under the watchful eye of the nurse. Finally, as the sun began to drop behind the trees, it was time to pack up the remnants of the picnic and return to Pemberley for dinner. By the time they cleaned up and returned to their horses, there could be no closer group of friends and family.
July 6, 1817
Sunday dawned as fair as Saturday but promised to be a little cooler. Breakfast was a quiet affair. Some came already prepared for Sunday services; others ate quickly and returned to their rooms to dress. At the appointed time, Darcy presented his arm to Lizzy and led the way to the Pemberley chapel.
Pemberley's chapel was located a short walk from the main house in a quaint churchyard. As the group entered the churchyard, Darcy led Lizzy to the area holding the graves of his parents. As they passed, she whispered, "I am glad to make your acquaintance. I promise I will take care of your son." This caused him to smile, and that smile remained as he led the rest of the family into the chapel to the ringing of the bell.
The front rows of pews had been left for the family while those near the rear were filled with servants who worked at the main house. With so many visitors, the chapel was filled to overflowing. Once everyone was seated, the Reverend Decker entered to begin the service.
Lizzy found it very comforting to again be seated next to Darcy at church. The interior was far more intimate and charming than the plain exterior implied. She found the stained glass window to her right depicting the Lord as the good shepherd particularly enchanting. She kept returning her gaze there again and again until the service began.
It was apparent that at least some of the husbands of her new cousins were unable to sing, causing Lizzy some degree of amusement. They sang with gusto, each repeating the same note, and each one singing a different single note, through each hymn in the service. She gave an expressive glance at Mary after the first hymn and saw the same amusement reflected on her face. Both immediately turned their attention to Mr. Decker.
Lizzy listened to the words of the collect for the fifth Sunday after Trinity:
"GRANT, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
She thought, "May the world be so peaceably ordered. Isn't that what Wills is trying to do? He so orders our world that we have an opportunity to serve in quietness. My father and grandfather do that too. Soon, I will help to do so for our people here in Pemberley. I pray that I may truly assist in that effort."
As she listened to the Epistle and the Gospel, she felt that the Reverend Decker was speaking to her. She felt her soul touched by the message of compassion, of seeking peace and the reward of following the gospel, she felt herself commit to service for the people of Pemberley.
Mr. Decker's sermon continued the theme of compassion and love. Lizzy considered him to be a very good speaker. His love for his congregation shone through his message. As he discussed opportunities to show compassion, mentioning the kinds of disagreements common between those who worked closely together, she could tell that there were some specific messages for members of the congregation. She heard at least one quick intake of breath meaning that someone had noted something very appropriate to himself. He couldn't be more different from what she had heard of her cousin Mr. Collins.
Upon the conclusion of the service, Mr. Decker stood at the door to shake the hand of each member of the congregation and offer them a kind word. She and Mr. Darcy waited to be the last to exit the chapel. As they approached him, Mr. Darcy offered, "Mr. Decker, may I please introduce my wife-to-be, Elizabeth Bennet. Miss Bennet, Mr. Decker."
"I am so pleased to meet you Miss Bennet. You could not find a better man than Mr. Darcy."
"I am also pleased to meet you, Mr. Decker. Your sermon was quite inspiring. I look forward to the time when I am a regular congregant and can hear you preach weekly."
"Indeed, your words today were very thought provoking, as usual. I am grateful you are here to minister to our needs," added Mr. Darcy.
As the group walked back to the house, they discussed their impressions of the service and the day. Most had felt uplifted by the messages of the day. They gathered for a light repast, then retired to various quiet activities.
Darcy and Lizzy met with Mrs. Reynolds and Mr. Wilson, the Pemberley steward, to discuss the two families that they would visit that day. They debated to have all four of them visit together or just Mr. Darcy and Miss Bennet. After discussing pros and cons of both actions, they agreed that it would be the master and future mistress who paid the visits.
Darcy ordered his phaeton prepared. He felt this was the best conveyance for the visits. Mrs. Reynolds had prepared a basket for each home. Darcy looked at Lizzy sitting next to him and felt the feeling that all was right with the world as long as this wonderful woman was at his side.
They drove up in front of a trim cottage and pulled to a halt. The door opened and a young man walked out, dipped his head at his master, and said, "Mister Darcy. What an honor you do us."
"Mr. Johnson, please allow me to introduce Miss Bennet. She will become Mrs. Darcy in September."
"Pleased to meet you ma'am."
"I am also pleased to meet you, Mr. Johnson."
During these greetings, Darcy helped Lizzy down from the phaeton. She curtsied to Mr. Johnson as he bowed to her. From within the cottage, she heard a thump. The she heard a baby cry. She looked at Mr. Johnson and saw him turning a bright red with embarrassment. Mr. Johnson motioned them into the front room of the cottage. As Lizzy's eyes adjusted, she saw someone sitting in a chair in the corner and could hear the baby crying more powerfully. She sent a questioning look toward Mr. Darcy who nodded just slightly. She turned to Mr. Johnson and asked, "Can I help with the baby?"
At his embarrassed nod, she moved toward the cradle next to the woman in the chair and lifted out the unhappy infant, doing her best to soothe his distress. After a moment of cuddling, he calmed down. Mr. Johnson cleared his throat and said, "That's my son Walter." Turning to his wife, he continued, "Mrs. Johnson, this is Miss Bennet." There was no response from the woman in the chair.
As the silence grew uncomfortable, Lizzy sat in a chair near Mrs. Johnson. A look at Darcy suggested that he converse with Mr. Johnson. As the men began talking, Lizzy tried to talk with Mrs. Johnson.
"Mrs. Johnson, Walter seems to be doing quite well. You are doing an excellent job caring for him. Do you have any assistance? New babies are so challenging and tiring."
Mrs. Johnson stirred in her chair and slowly looked over at Lizzy. Her voice sounded rusty when it finally came out with "Thank you. There's no one here but Mr. Johnson to help me. I am so tired all the time. All Walter does is eat, sleep, mess himself, cry and repeat. I can't even think any more." She closed her eyes again as tears slowly dripped down her cheeks.
"You have no family available to help out a bit?"
"No. There's no one. Just us."
"Well, in that case, we will see to it that someone comes around to help you out a bit until Walter gets a little older and you regain your strength."
Darcy had been listening with part of his attention and replied to that, "And Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, I'm sorry we weren't aware of how hard things were after this birth. Rest assured there will be someone here to help starting tomorrow."
Mrs. Johnson started sobbing out loud and said, "Oh sir, thank you so much. I never expected to feel so exhausted. This is nothing like caring for others' children. I've had lots of practice with that. Just a little help until I'm not so tired and I'm sure everything will be fine."
Mr. Johnson added, "I just had no idea what to do to help her."
Mr. Darcy responded, "Most of the time, people have family members who can help out for the first few weeks until the mother recovers. Since you two have been managing these first two weeks with no help, I offer my sincere apologies. When there is no family to help, we generally send someone over for the first month. I had no idea you were managing on your own. She will be here tomorrow."
A few minutes later, they returned to the phaeton. Darcy said, "We knew there was something wrong since Johnson was not himself these past few days. Thank you for making this visit with me. What I said is true. We just did not know there was no family coming to help out with the new babe. I thought her sister would be joining her. That was their original plan. Something must have happened to change it."
Lizzy said, "That is good to know. I have seen other mothers like her-just overwhelmed and exhausted. She's giving everything she has, but it isn't quite enough. I'm glad Pemberley cares for those who need help with the new babes."
Darcy smiled and said, "They are all our responsibility. We must do the best we can for them. This second case isn't a new babe though. The wife is ill. The older children are doing what they can, but she will not last long. Nothing can be done. Either Mrs. Reynolds or I visit each week bringing comforts for her and the children. His sister has recently joined them to care for them all."
A few moments later, they reached another cottage slightly larger than the Johnson's. Darcy helped Lizzy down and offered her his arm. She took it as he escorted her to the door where he knocked. A young woman of about Lizzy's age opened the door. "Oh, Mr. Darcy. Welcome. Please come in," she said as she opened the door more fully and motioned them inside.
Darcy replied, "Good afternoon Miss Wilson. Miss Bennet, this is Miss Wilson. Miss Wilson, Miss Bennet who will soon become Mrs. Darcy." Both ladies curtsied. Darcy and Lizzy entered the room, with Darcy handing Miss Wilson the basket they brought.
He said, "How is your sister today?"
"Mrs. Wilson is awake. Would you two like to visit her? She seems to wake for only a few minutes each day. Thank you for sending the doctor. Unfortunately, he confirmed that not much time is left."
Darcy led Lizzy into the bedroom at the side of the house and greeted the woman in the bed, "Mrs. Wilson. It is good to be able to introduce you to my wife-to-be, Miss Elizabeth Bennet."
Lizzy dropped a deep curtsy and said, "Mrs. Wilson, I am pleased to meet you and wish it could be in better circumstances. I understand today is a relatively good day?"
Mrs. Wilson said, "Miss Bennet, I am very glad to meet you. We are all happy that Mr. Darcy has found someone to become mistress of Pemberley. Yes, today I am doing well. I treasure these days for the time with my children. They are currently picking me some flowers."
Darcy asked, "Is there anything you required? Anything at all we can do?"
"No, I thank you. These little comforts you bring are more than enough. Since we can do nothing but wait, at least we are waiting with some treats for the family."
After a few more minutes, the couple left the Wilson home. As they pulled away, he said, "I hate situations like this. There is nothing we can do to help but pay for the medication that eases the pain and continue to visit to show that we care with little dainties for everyone."
Lizzy placed her hand on his arm and gave it a squeeze. "You are doing what you can even if it does not seem enough. Life always offers us challenges like this. How many children do they have?"
"There are two little boys. At least his sister can be here to help."
They returned to Pemberley in silence. Darcy was pleased to see Lizzy's care with his tenants. Lizzy was pleased to see his show of concern as well. They could both see that they were well matched in their approach to tenants with needs such as these.
Sunday dinner was quieter than Saturday night had been. Lizzy was still thinking about the magnitude of overseeing the needs of all those looking to Pemberley for their existence. It was a daunting task. She was immensely grateful for the example of her mother and extended family in rising to meet challenges and responsibilities.
Once again, Georgiana had selected items that were favorites of one or another of the diners. She was finding that this part of her new responsibilities was something she truly enjoyed. Planning menus was a way to show her appreciation of the visitors.
This evening, they spent the time quietly reading together. For a while, the mothers spent that same time in the nursery reading to the children. It was a peaceful end to a beautiful day.
Posted on 2014-09-10
Through the next weeks, Lizzy and Mrs. Reynolds paid visits to various tenants around the estate. More and more, Lizzy was pleased with what she saw and grateful for the opportunity she would have to be of service to the estate.
On Tuesday, Mary and Lizzy accompanied the Ainsleys to his estate for the promised tour. Mary loved both home and grounds, finding them to be not quite as impressive and imposing as Pemberley. The house was sufficiently large for family members to visit, but not so large that she would be overwhelmed in managing it. She found it charming as it was and did not expect to make any decorating changes at all. They returned from the day satisfied with the plans they were making for their future.
The month at Pemberley was enjoyed by all. The adults appreciated time away from their normal daily routines. All spent a great deal of time on horseback, usually in a large group. The children enjoyed the freedom to explore Pemberley and were almost always outside riding or playing in the woods. The horses were all well exercised that month.
The weather for the remainder of the month was quite fair, with only infrequent showers and no heavy rain, quite a contrast to the previous summer's endless cold and rain. Elizabeth and Darcy went for daily walks together before breakfast. This would be a feature of their lives together in the future. Since Darcy often had many responsibilities that occupied him throughout the day, the 30 minutes that they walked together in the gardens before eating guaranteed that they could chat without interruptions at least once each day. Even later in life after having children, they kept to this habit to ensure the strength of their relationship. Mary and Ainsley also thought this a good idea, so they emulated the other pair although they kept their distance. In this way, both couples could spend time alone but without any hint of impropriety. Frequently, Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner also followed along as they too enjoyed the quiet time together without children. Violet and Arthur watched the other pairs together and decided that, although neither was much of a walker, this was a good habit to acquire. The early morning gardens thus saw a parade of couples having an intimate chat before the start of the day.
Mary, Violet and Georgiana often spent a good part of the mornings in the garden or a pleasant spot in the woods near the house drawing. Some efforts were better than others, but most were quite pleasing compositions. When Elizabeth and Mrs. Gardiner joined them, they would read to the others. Over the course of one week they read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The artists each drew her conception of what the 'monster' looked like as they discussed such an idea. All were grateful that such a thing could not exist. To counteract that, Elizabeth next read them poetry from both Wordworth and Keats. They all appreciated that much more. The Fitzwilliam ladies sometimes joined these reading/sketching expeditions although they also spent a more time than usual playing with the children. The wonder of having few fixed appointments was a luxury not to be dismissed.
Elizabeth enjoyed the luxury of spending much time in Pemberley's library. When she was not reading to the other ladies as they sketched, she spent her time browsing through many volumes in the library, noting those she planned to explore in more depth after her marriage. She found much that interested her and relished the idea of expanding her mind in such a place.
While the ladies were engaged in their drawing and reading, the men alternated between fishing and riding and the occasional game of billiards. Mornings were an opportunity to get out and be more physically active than their normal schedules permitted. Richard's normal activities including much drilling of new recruits, so he actually enjoyed less activity than normal. His father and brothers were far less likely to do anything physically taxing, so they enjoyed this time to ride hard or relax outdoors fishing. When his responsibilities would permit, Darcy enjoyed leaving his office and participating with his guests.
A picnic luncheon, usually carried upon horseback, often followed the leisurely mornings. With such felicitous activities, all the participants were relaxed and created or deepened their relationships with one another. Elizabeth found that she rode more than she had ever done in the past and was also enjoying it more.
Some mornings, Georgiana and Elizabeth took the phaeton and visited tenant families upon the recommendations of Mrs. Reynolds. They would deliver a basket, learn about the family situation, and report back to Mrs. Reynolds. They found that Mrs. Reynolds kept a large book filled with information about all the tenant families on the estate. Each Sunday, Darcy and Elizabeth would visit one or two families together.
Mary and Georgiana spent many afternoons at the piano, practicing together. Lady Harriet and Lady Frances often joined them. Lady Matlock and Lady Martha tended to play in the mornings when the younger women were sketching. They preferred to practice alone. Both Agatha and Susan had started lessons and practiced for at least a short while each morning before the other ladies. All of the other ladies were strong in their encouragement for their efforts. They would frequently listen to the practice and applaud the progress made.
Since everyone was leaving the last week in July, Darcy and Georgiana planned a dinner on the 28th which included at least one favorite dish from every person present. Georgiana had so much fun creating a menu after obtaining a list of at least five favorite items from everyone. It was perhaps not a typical combination of foods, but everyone felt appreciated by the effort. It created a very carefree atmosphere at dinner.
The extended Fitzwilliam clan left on the 29th. The Fitzwilliams returned to Matlock while Richard headed to Kent with his father to collect Anne for the long promised visit. It was to be a summer just for the family.
The Ainsleys left on the 30th. The Gardiners took Elizabeth and Mary with them on the 31st. Darcy and Georgiana really felt the loss in that Pemberley felt emptier than usual. Both were grateful that soon, Elizabeth would be a permanent fixture at Pemberley.
Everyone had enjoyed the visit. All of the ladies were now very close and would be exchanging letters regularly when they were not able to visit frequently. This month had really helped create a close extended family that now included the Ainsleys and the Bennets. All expected that Arthur would finally reach an adequate income within the next few months to enable him to propose marriage to Violet. When that finally happened, the Earl would give his son a small estate that would supplement the income and give them a place of retreat. However, he expected his younger sons to first make their own way in the world before giving them any assistance for their marriages.
1- 18 August 1817
Lady Arlington arrived at Enfield while Elizabeth and Mary were on the road home with the Gardiners. She arrived early on the 1st and they arrived at the end of the day. Invitations had been already been sent but there were many details to complete. With the finalized date September 10, there were only few days to conclude matters at the estate before returning to London. While Mary and Elizabeth were gone, Kitty and Lydia had completed and sent the invitation for their sisters.
With Lady Arlington's arrival, the next order of business was to determine what would go with Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Ainsley and what would be passed on to younger sisters. Lizzy's closet was first. As Lizzy pulled a bonnet out of her closet, she said, "What do you think of this?"
Lydia's immediate response was, "That was fine for Elizabeth Bennet but isn't good enough for Mrs. Darcy. However, it will look very well on me."
Everyone in the room laughed at that and Lizzy replied, "Very well. You shall have it then." With a smile, she handed it to Lydia who placed it in a pile of things to be transferred to her room. She and Kitty both had a large armful of clothes with even more accessories piled on the bed when they were all finished in Lizzy's room.
The morning had been fun, sharing memories of when certain items were acquired or worn. While many items were passed on to Kitty and Lydia, Lizzy was pleased with the items she would take with her. After this hard work, they all shared a light luncheon as fortification for the same efforts in Mary's room.
Mary and Elizabeth remembered this same activity when Jane first married. Lydia and Kitty were too young then to benefit from any hand-me-downs Jane might have passed on to them. As items were sorted, there was much discussion about fashion, taste, which colors suited which sister, and lots of reminiscing.
Lady Arlington and Lady Enfield had not assisted with the sorting so that the sisters could have that time together. However, they had pursued memories of their own as they did a different type of sorting. They looked for items from the Bennet's past that Lizzy or Mary might enjoy having. Just as the girls were successful in their efforts, the ladies were also successful. They made up boxes and trunks for each containing memorabilia and other items for their new homes. They included a variety of clothing worn by each girl for their future children as well as some linens, pictures, household accessories, and some of the herbs the girls had dried over the past couple of years.
One week sufficed for Lizzy and Mary to pare down their belongings in preparation for their futures. Most of the items were carefully packed and then shipped off to their new homes. The rest were packed into the trunks that would accompany them to London. This was truly the end to their lives as Bennets and the beginning of their new lives.
All were happy that Enfield enjoyed a mostly sunny August. The grounds were lush with fresh growth and flowers seemed to bloom everywhere. Each main room of the house sported fresh flowers cut almost daily. Their scent provided a perfumed background that changed as one changed location in the house.
Mary took advantage of these final few days with her mother to ask about various household responsibilities with which she was least conversant. Mary felt she needed all the practice she could get before she took over her duties as Mrs. Ainsley. She would have two homes to manage and she was not sure she was ready for even one. However, her mother assured her that, while she might make a mistake or two, she would do just fine. "Whenever there is a change in management, the transition time seems chaotic. However, you have learned well. You have a good head on your shoulders. The most important thing, whether dealing with tenants or servants, or friends for that matter, is to let them know that you are listening to them and understand their concerns. If you make that clear, they will forgive the little mistakes that will inevitably happen," soothed Lady Enfield.
Lizzy had some concern, as well, since Pemberley was so big. However, she did all she could to help her sister accustom herself to these new duties. She was constantly grateful for the supervision their mother had always given and how well prepared they were to become mistresses of estates. Not everyone could manage the finances and servants as she knew they could. "I am sure we will find a way to make it work successfully. After all, we also have the support of our new husbands and the wonderful housekeepers they already employ."
Mary replied, "That is true. I forgot we would have the housekeepers to help us. You know, more than anything else, that eases my mind. I just don't want to mess up too badly."
Lady Enfield gave her a hug and responded, "If you keep in mind that you care, they will forgive almost anything that happens."
Kitty worked closely with both of them knowing that soon she would be the one in charge (under her mother's supervision) and could not turn to them for help. She realized that she truly loved her sisters and what wonderful examples they were. Jane had seemed so grown up for so long that she and Kitty were not truly close. However, this time with Mary and Lizzy in the spring and summer had shown Kitty what fun it could be to work with those she admired. She determined to learn all she could so that she could provide that assistance to Lydia when the time came. For her part, Lydia spent time with her sisters and enjoyed her break from school. She was glad she wasn't responsible for any of the things she was assisting with as it was more fun to decorate bonnets.
It was a relief when they all put away their mourning clothes again in mid-month. While the grief would continue, duty had provided an excellent distraction. And the new responsibilities they all had assumed went a long way to keeping everyone too busy to spend very much time concentrating on that grief.
As the ladies prepared to return to town, Lizzy and Mary mentally said goodbye to childhood. They were excited for the future as well as a little apprehensive. It was time to get down to business.
Posted on 2014-09-17
19 - 31 August 1817
After the packing was complete, the ladies of the house headed to London, while the men and boys stayed home to see to summer harvesting activities. While it was still hot in town, and would not be as pleasant as Enfield, there were too many things to accomplish before the September 10 wedding for them to remain away any longer. The men would join closer to the wedding as they were not required for the last minute details the ladies would attend to.
Lydia was excited to spend some time in London shopping before returning to school. Kitty would start attending adult social events while in town this time. There hadn't been any social activities at Enfield due to the family mourning. There would be many when they returned after the wedding, including a planned shooting party, but these weeks in town would allow her to take part as an adult.
With Enfield House still undergoing construction, they all stayed in Hertford House again. Carson welcomed their arrival late in the afternoon, and they spent the remainder of the day settling in. The ladies enjoyed a quiet dinner together.
The next day, the first item of business was a visit to the Madame Arlette's salon to see the progress on the bridal gowns which had been selected in the spring. Both Lady Enfield and Lady Arlington were pleased as only minor alterations would see these dresses complete. Both Elizabeth and Mary were very happy with the dresses and how they looked in them. They were sure their grooms would appreciate their efforts.
The Ainselys had returned to town on August 15 so that Violet could assist in the final preparations for the double wedding. Violet was excited that she would be gaining a sister in Mary and an extended family in the rest of the Bennets. Violet met up with the Bennet women at Madame Arlette's to check on the progress of her own new gown for the wedding. Each of the sisters, the mother, and grandmother had selected new dresses for the event the prior spring. There was some discussion about whether or not changes in fashion would require updates to the dresses. In the end, all were satisfied with their selections. When they returned the next week, all of the dresses should be complete.
Lady Arlington remarked, "All the dresses we have chosen look remarkably well together. We will be quite a pleasing group to see together. I always like it when the family looks like they planned the event together, rather than having the family party in clashing colors creating disharmony. I think it a good omen for your futures together that we all can work together so harmoniously."
Elizabeth laughed at this and said, "If only it were as easy as finding compatible colors. However, I think Mary and I have chosen well and we will both be happy. And our husbands and their families will be great additions to our extended family."
Lady Enfied said, "I agree."
Violet added, "You cannot know when it means to Jerry and me to be included in such a happy family circle. Ours has been too small for far too long."
Mary replied, "Well, now you are in for a much larger group and you cannot get away from us."
Lydia added, "We should warn you that as you are used to so few, we might be a bit overwhelming. I do not think it is ever quiet when more than two of us are present."
Violet replied, "That is fine by me. We have had enough of quiet."
Beginning the Sunday after they arrived, the banns were read in church for both Elizabeth and Mary for the first time. While a special license could be obtained, there was really no reason for the extra expense. Elizabeth and Mary both enjoyed hearing their names linked with their betrothed as they were read to the congregation. Many in attendance had not seen them since spring and offered their congratulations to Mary as her engagement had occurred just as they were leaving. Although announced in the papers, very few had seen her to share in her happiness.
They spent quite a lot of time after church receiving congratulations from the congregants who were still in town. In spite of this being a quiet time of year, there were still a lot of people to greet and chat with. Happiness seemed to be flowing on all sides.
The next day, it was back to shopping. Lydia particularly enjoyed these shopping expeditions. Along with a special dress for the wedding, Lydia selected new fall clothing for school. She was quite enamored of fashion and wanted all of the most up-to-date items available. She took careful note of things she would do to embellish and update some of her current dresses when her mother refused to get more than a few new items. Lady Enfield allowed her to buy trims to her heart's content.
The shopping expeditions also required that Kitty get a wardrobe suitable for one who was 'out' and no longer a schoolgirl. She had a start on more sophisticated clothing with the items that Mary and Lizzy had given her. However, it was more fun to have things made especially to her taste.
Lydia pouted, "Kitty is getting ever so many things. I only got a couple of new dresses. It isn't fair."
Lady Enfield replied, "It is more than fair. With what you got from Mary and Lizzy, you have sufficient for school. You have new trim with which to update them. However, Kitty is no longer a school girl. None of her older clothes are satisfactory. If you weren't so much taller than she, you could have them. However, we cannot let them out enough to fit you. So, while we will alter those few of her sisters' gowns that will work, for the rest, she deserves something new."
Lydia responded, "Kitty, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to complain. Yes, you deserve these. Maybe next year I will get some too." As they were looking at one soft rose fabric, Lydia said, "That would look very well on you Kitty. " With a grin she added, "And it would not suit me at all, so you know you would not have to share it."
All of the ladies laughed at that. With one out and one not, there would be far less sharing between the younger sisters than there had been in the past. There would also probably be far less bickering as well. This would be well for their relationship, at least until Lydia also left school.
After the main dresses were selected, Mary and Lizzy chose items for their trousseaus. Shopping was very much the order of the day. With so much of the Ton out of town, the ladies had most of the establishments to themselves as they shopped.
The Darcys arrived a few days later. Lizzy spent a wonderful morning with Darcy and Georgiana at their townhouse reviewing the renovations which had occurred in the mistress's private sitting room. The darker colors preferred by Lady Anne had been replaced with a cheerful combination of pale yellow and green. It felt like a meadow in early spring.
"We have a surprise for you," remarked Darcy taking her by the hand and leading her to one of their favorite rooms. Darcy and Georgiana had also updated the music room in colors they knew Lizzy would enjoy as a surprise for her. She loved the new look and was touched by their thoughtfulness.
"Georgiana, I can tell that you advised your brother on updates we would both enjoy. This room looks so wonderful."
"I think it has turned out very well. I liked it before, but it often reminded me of my mother. Now, it is truly ours, I think, and I will be able to concentrate more fully on my music," replied Georgiana.
Lizzy visited with Mrs. Taylor to get some understanding of the household she would be directing. They enjoyed a cup of tea together as Mrs. Taylor reviewed the staff, providing her opinions and impressions of each. Mrs. Taylor was gratified by the astute questions the future Mrs. Darcy asked, and enjoyed their conversation. At the end of their hour together, Lizzy said, "Mrs. Taylor, you need have no fears that I will demand significant changes. It is easy to see that Darcy House has always been managed by you very capably. What I expect will change is that when we are in town, we will entertain more than Mr. Darcy had in the past. Because of our marriage and Georgiana's entry into society, we will be expected to host a number of engagements. I plan to enjoy arranging these events with your assistance. Also, I know that Georgiana has been having some lessons from your and Mrs. Reynolds on domestic management and she will assist us in these activities. I am not one to ask for change simply to make my mark. I love Darcy House as it is and I expect it to continue on just as it has done in the past."
Mrs. Taylor responded with a smile, "Miss Bennet, I am sincerely pleased that the master managed to find you. I look forward to your presence here in the house. Since your engagement, Mr. Darcy has smiled more than he had in all the years since the death of his father. We all wish both of you every joy."
Over the course of the final days in August, the families spent every evening together. One evening they were at Hertford House. Another night, they were with the Darcys. Then the Ainsleys hosted everyone. The Gardiners had a turn as did the Andrew Bennets. There seemed to be a sort of frenzy to create final wonderful memories before Elizabeth's and Mary's wedding and everyone's life would be changed.
The final Sunday in August, the banns were read for the second time. This repeated public announcement of their intentions provided both women with an affirmation that they were making the correct choice. They were excited to hear the reading and to feel the rightness of what they were about to do. Darcy reached to Lizzy and gave her hand a squeeze and smiled when he heard it. Ainsley looked over at Mary and nodded his head as if to say, "Yes, we are going to be very happy together."
The Fitzwilliam relatives all arrived in town at the beginning of September. Surprisingly, they were accompanied by Anne de Bourgh, but not Lady Catherine. Lady Catherine was said to be 'indisposed,' but all knew that it was really pique and nothing more. For civility's sake, all ignored her temper and enjoyed having Anne present for the festivities.
Anne had traveled to Matlock at the beginning of August to visit with family long ignored by her mother. She had done this against her mother's wishes. Her discussions with Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam had shown her that she could take some control over her life away from her mother. She found that she greatly enjoyed them, although she still tired frequently and was easily confused. However, they were far more accepting of her limitations than her own mother, who had taken Darcy's decision to marry as a challenge to 'fix' Anne so that she too could marry. Lady Catherine refused to accept that there was anything truly wrong with Anne's health. She was merely frail.
The Fitzwilliams and Anne de Bourgh gathered together at Hertford House for a luncheon the day after their arrival. Lydia joined the rest of the women, which was her first introduction to most of the Fitzwilliams. During the introductions, she was all that was expected of a polite school girl. However, she kept looking over at Miss de Bourgh with a faint expression of unease. She could not bear to see someone so ill-dressed. Finally, after the meal, she could keep quiet no longer.
"Miss de Bourgh, forgive me for asking, but do you actually like that dress?" Lydia asked.
Anne looked down at her skirt and said, "I never really thought about it. I can see that it is not as attractive as those the rest are wearing, but at least it is new. And it is much nicer than the ones I have had in the past."
"I think that dark gold is not the right color for you. If you would come with me, there is something I would like to show you," said Lydia. Anne looked at her with a questioning expression on her face but followed her up to her room. The rest followed curiously. Here Lydia pulled out a dress that had belonged to Jane and was in shades of pink and lilac. She draped the dress around Anne's upper body and showed her the result in the mirror.
"There, see how much better that is?" demanded Lydia as she had everyone in the group admire Anne swathed in a delicate fabric of pale pink and lilac. "We must help you get something that makes you look beautiful like that for the wedding." Everyone agreed with her.
For this first trip with Anne to the modiste, Lady Matlock agreed to take Lydia and her own youngest daughter, Lady Martha Smythe. Lady Martha and Anne had similar coloring and features although Lady Martha did not have the health issues that Anne faced. They had become good friends during Anne's visit to Matlock. Since Lydia was determined to help Anne, Lady Matlock agreed to accept that help. She did not want to overwhelm Anne, who still tired easily, by including the entire family. They left immediately after the luncheon.
After greeting Madame Arlette, Lady Matlock and Madame Arlette agreed that Mademoiselle Marie would assist Anne. With Lydia's encouragement, they spent the first quarter of an hour holding up various swatches of materials to see which colors flattered Anne and which did not. They realized that almost every single choice Lady Catherine had made for Anne caused her to look washed out and sallow. The pastels Lydia had suggested gave a brightness to Anne's complexion which was far more flattering.
After finding colors that were more attractive, the women set out to find styles that Anne would find comfortable that were also timelessly stylish. They determined that less fussy adornment was better than multiple flounces and ruffles. Finally, even Anne agreed that their choices would be lovely.
At the end of the session, Lady Matlock said, "Lydia, thank you so much for helping out. You are right, Anne will look wonderful in these new styles and colors. Anne, you must not let your mother dress you in the future." She looked at Marie and said, "Madame Arlette will keep track of the colors and styles that look most flattering and will be able to supply you even when you are not in town. You may simply write her with your request. Your local seamstress can make any adjustments that might be necessary. You deserve to look this good all the time."
Anne smiled and said, "Miss Lydia, I am so grateful for your help. My mother means well, but I believe her sense of fashion is quite limited. I really do like the suggestions you have made." She pointed to some ribbons and said, "Would these look well on you?" When Lydia agreed that they would, Anne purchased them for her as a way of saying thank you. Mademoiselle Marie agreed to have one of the new dresses ready within two days, and another for the wedding so that all of the women would look their best.
Anne returned for her next fitting with Lady Harriet Alleyn, another of her cousins. She found that, although she still tired easily, she really enjoyed this opportunity to spend time with her family. Her mother had always kept her close to home, and most of them had not visited in years. They did not expect her to sparkle or display any wit. They just wanted to spend time together. It was much easier than dealing with her mother's expectations. She was not sure that she would return to live at Rosings when the wedding was over. Aunt Matlock had offered her a home. Perhaps she would take her up on that offer. She found visiting her relatives much more relaxing that listening to her mother's constant strictures on something or other. She also hated her mother's recent attempts to force her to be healthy.
Finally, Lord Enfield and the Bennet boys, Lord Arlington, the Bingleys and Hursts arrived in town. The final days before the wedding required all to be in attendance. Lord Enfield and Tom had been frequent visitors to town all summer watching the progress of the reconstruction of Enfield House. If all went well, it might be ready for occupancy in January or February. For now, they all stayed in Hertford House and enjoyed the convivial atmosphere.
The arrival of the Hursts on the 5th required that everyone visit and admire Master Alexander. As many of the Bennets and the Bingleys gathered in the Hurst's parlor, Louisa handed Alexander over to Lizzy to hold. She smiled down at the little bundle in her arms, marveling at his perfection, and heard her father teasing Darcy, "Doesn't she look natural holding that little one? She has always liked babies. Lizzy was a great help to her mother from the time Lydia was born. She was an extra mother to all her brothers. Don't be surprised if she mothers your sister and everyone on your estate. I expect we'll hear about your own little ones soon enough." That last pronouncement caused Darcy to turn a bright red. Lord Enfield just laughed at the reaction.
That Sunday, the banns were read for the final time.
Everyone was truly happy except Caroline, who had still not been invited back into the family. She was still at Wetherby and knew she was not invited to the weddings. She had not even been invited to meet Alexander Hurst. She was no longer a part of the family. She made up for the exclusion by hosting lavish house parties that summer. Wetherby spent the time to good effect by winning a great deal at cards. Some of her friends who had been in town had let her know about the banns being read in church.
The Wetherby's summer ball was the talk of the neighborhood as the locals were only a small portion of the people who attended. All of Caroline's fashionable friends attended as did most of Wetherby's. After this event, more of his family came to accept her as they saw that she could be an excellent hostess. It helped that Wetherby boasted to his brothers of his winnings over the course of the summer. This was now the set Caroline belonged to.
The ladies of the Bennet family continued to finalize preparations for the double wedding. Selections for flowers were finalized. The menu for the wedding breakfast required adjustment due to seasonal availability of some items.
The men, joined by Darcy and Ainsley, would escape together to a club to avoid the last minute details and the constant talk of fashion. Bingley was constantly amazed at how social Darcy had become. He was seldom alone in his own townhouse but found frequently with the others at Hertford House or in a club with them.
All of the circle of friends managed to make it back to town to attend the weddings. They spent as much time at Hertford House as they could, assisting in preparations, and generally enjoying catching up on everyone's summer activities. These women had become lifelong friends and would support one another through both joys and trials throughout their lives. Anne found this group of women a revelation. She had never seen such interactions between friends, only those with relatives or subordinates. She loved meeting these women and acquiring true friends of her own. This hardened her in her resolve not to return to Rosings and her mother. Her aunt agreed to continue to host her for as long as she desired.
Finally, the day arrived for which everyone had been waiting. All were resplendent in their finery. Lady Enfield and Lady Arlington visited both girls to provide last minute advice and ensure that they looked their best.
Looking at Elizabeth, Lady Arlington said to Lady Enfield, "When you look at her now, you could never imagine her up in a tree, could you?"
Lady Enfield chuckled and said, "Indeed not. She has cleaned up and grown up quite nicely. You are truly beautiful Lizzy."
As Mary joined them in the hall, she added, "As so are you Mary. I am so very proud of both of my girls."
There was a suspicious brightness to her eyes causing Lady Arlington to say, "Fanny, please do not start yet or we will all look like red blotches before we get to the church. Wait until they come down the aisle."
This caused them all to laugh and they all descended the stairs and entered the carriages with laughter on their lips. The brides and Lord Enfield arriving last.
The church was filled with beautiful fall flowers. In spite of this being an 'off' time of year, attendance was excellent. With such important families involved, the weddings were a significant social event for the Ton, even for those not invited. They wanted at least one opportunity to call on the brides after the wedding before everyone left for their shooting parties.
Once most of the guests were seated, Lord and Lady Matlock were seated. They were followed by Violet Ainsley. Then Lord and Lady Arlington were escorted to their seats. They were followed by Lady Enfield. Finally, the organ began the fanfare for the bridal promenade.
Both brides looked radiant as they walked down the aisle on either arm of their father. Their grooms awaiting them at the altar looked both nervous and excited. Lord Enfield handed them over to their grooms and moved to sit with Lady Enfield. She wept quietly in her pew as did the aunt of one groom and the sister of the other. Lady Matlock was gratified that her nephew had found someone to help carry his heavy burden and make his life more joyful. She had more than an occasional sniffle into her handkerchief.
Ainsley's sister was grateful he had found a sensible bride who would be a great asset in his life and a good friend and sister to her. Lord and Lady Enfield were happy that both daughters had found men who loved and respected them and would cherish them in deeds, and not only in the words mouthed in the wedding ceremony. The circle of friends also managed more than one sniffle but smiles generally prevailed.
Sitting next to her mother, Kitty kept glancing around the church and was much moved by the ceremony. She was excited that she was now old enough to join society and she hoped to meet someone just like Lizzy and Mary had done during the upcoming season.
Lydia was just happy to have new clothes and more time before having to leave for school. She found weddings a little boring although she liked the necessity of dressing up. She thought there was too much talking. She much preferred the shopping before and the breakfast after
Many dreams of society mothers and their daughters were dashed on the day the Fitzwilliam Darcy wed Elizabeth Bennet. Most of those with such hopes were not invited to that wedding. Those who did attend were very happy for both couples and would be included in their future social events. Lizzy and Darcy preceded Mary and Ainsley down the aisle. Both couples were ready to start a happy future together, once the lavish wedding breakfast had been consumed.