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With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 23 and 24

June 24, 2015 08:58PM
Chapter 23

Jane was also busy while Lydia was learning her lesson about officers and income. Bingley called upon her almost every afternoon. On the nicer days, they might venture to the park again. When the weather was not as clement, they sat in the parlor and visited. Darcy, and frequently Miss Darcy and Mrs. Annesley, often attended him. Darcy enjoyed seeing Elizabeth and Georgiana becoming friends. He rarely spoke, but he watched the growing camaraderie between his sister and Elizabeth with satisfaction. Georgiana enjoyed visiting with people who never made cutting remarks about their friends and were always pleasant. She appreciated that these visits also kept her out of the house when Miss Bingley paid calls.

On one visit, Elizabeth asked, “Miss Darcy, I wonder if you would enjoy playing some duets? I find it becomes harder and harder to sit through so many visits as we seem to see these days. Would you join me?”

Georgiana looked over at Darcy who smiled and nodded. “Thank you. I would love to. Mrs. Annesley, would you also like to join us?”

“If you do not mind, I think I will stay here on this comfortable sofa and work on my knitting.”

Elizabeth and Georgiana retired to the music room and soon both music and laughter were heard in the parlor. Darcy said to Jane, “It is kind of you and Mrs. Raynor to encourage my sister through her shyness. I can see that she is far easier in your home than I have ever seen her around those not in our immediate family. I appreciate your efforts.”

Jane replied, “I must say that we are not making any extraordinary effort. Miss Darcy is quite a nice person and we enjoy her company very much.”

“Unfortunately, many of the women my sister has met are not really interested in friendship with Miss Darcy so much as with Mr. Darcy, I’m afraid. She has noticed and become even more withdrawn in most company. Since you and your sisters are truly interested in her friendship, it has been most helpful.”

“Well, then you are most welcome. I believe I speak for all three of us when I say that your sister is delightful, and we hope to be friends for many years to come.”

Laughter continued to mix with the music as the duets continued for the next half hour. Finally, it was time for the visitors to take their leave for other obligations. As they headed toward the door, Georgiana said, “I must thank you again, Mrs. Raynor. I do not know when I have had so much fun playing duets.”

“I too had a wonderful time. I must say that you play so much better than I that it was a great condescension on your part to spend so much time accompanied by my feeble efforts.”

“Oh, no, they were not feeble. It was quite enjoyable.”

At the end of January after a few weeks of regular visits to Jane, Bingley called upon Darcy in his study to have a discussion about his future. “I have made up my mind. I believe Mrs. Nelson is everything I have ever sought. She is a true angel. Anyone seeing her with her daughters would affirm such.”

“I have seldom met anyone as pleasant as Mrs. Nelson. She does seem to enjoy your company.”

“Tomorrow, if the weather is fine, I will ask to take them all to the park again. As we walk, I will ask her to become Mrs. Bingley.”

Darcy smiled and asked, “And what will Miss Bingley say about that?”

“I do not think she will be pleased. She has definitely severed the connection with Mrs. Nelson. Whenever I visit her, she keeps dropping hints about the wonderful Miss Darcy. I see your sister as a sister, not as a potential spouse. Caroline will just have to be disappointed, I guess. I think she believes that if I am closer to you, she will be too. I am sorry about the way she pushes herself forward.”

“It is not your fault. She is of age. She makes her own choices. As for Mrs. Nelson, I think you will be very happy together. You should really enjoy fatherhood starting with such nice little girls.”

Bingley smiled and said, “We’ve talked around the issues, but I believe the Nelsons plan to remain very involved with the girls. Since I have almost no family, I will suddenly be part of a much larger family. I think I am looking forward to it.”

“I think you will enjoy it. They are a nice group. Many of them are highly competitive, which is what got Robert killed. He always had a bit of it in him, but he became much more of a risk taker after his marriage. Allen Raynor was the same. He was highly competitive, but it moved into serious risk after marriage. Before marriage, neither man was so involved in physically competitive activities. They would compete in fencing, but otherwise, it was chess, or at cards, or less strenuous games. It is sad that both sisters have suffered from that change in their husbands. You might want to reassure Mrs. Nelson that you have no desire to participate in any such behavior. Since the Nelsons are of such a higher rank, perhaps Miss Bingley will come to appreciate Mrs. Nelson as it may give her more access to the higher circles.”

“Since I have no intention of taking my life in my hands, it should be easy to reassure Mrs. Nelson. I believe Caroline has already hurt her chances of a close relationship with her treatment of Mrs. Nelson. Once she understands what she has thrown away, I think Caroline will be very upset.”

“How it is that she has not yet learned of their rank?”

“Since we move in such different circles, Caroline has no mutual acquaintances with them. The first ball of the season will show her otherwise, but I want things settled before then. They have made it clear they wanted to discontinue the acquaintance, so they do not know how much I have been seeing of Mrs. Nelson. Louisa has not been as socially active thus far as she has been in the past, so she too has managed not to learn the truth.”

After their talk, Bingley returned home reassured. He had chosen not to lease a home this season and was staying in his club. Since Caroline had closed up Netherfield and left without knowing of his plans, he left her to stay with the Hursts. Mr. Hurst was not pleased, but at this point, there was not much he could do about it. Bingley found the club quiet and soothing, something not true when Caroline was in residence at his home. Perhaps his marriage would be a way to remove her from living with him. He contemplated that while he ate his supper.

The next day, Bingley called slightly later in the morning. As it was a fine, sunny day, he suggested the park. Elizabeth decided to stay in with Allen, who had sniffles that morning. The nurse, Meg and Betsy accompanied Jane and Bingley since both girls were full of boisterous energy that day. They had not had a chance to run around for a couple of days.

Bingley and Jane walked sedately behind as the nurse scurried to keep up as the girls ran around chasing one another. After a few moments, he cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and said, “Mrs. Nelson, I hope you know how very much I enjoy these times with you and your daughters. Over these past months, I have realized that I would very much like to make them a permanent feature in my life. Would you make me the happiest man in London by agreeing to become Mrs. Bingley? I can assure you that I will never take a risk that would cause me to hurt you as happened to you before.”

Jane smiled at him and replied, “I can think of little that would make me happier. I should be honored to become Mrs. Bingley. However, I must ask, what of your sisters? They have made it clear that they do not wish to continue the acquaintance.”

“When they realize the rank of the Nelsons, I suspect that will change,” he replied with a wry smile.

“I have decided that I too wish to discontinue the acquaintance because of their treatment of us. I will not introduce them to the Nelson family. I have talked with the Nelsons in the past about a possible future marriage, and they plan to be supportive if they can remain my parents with the change. They are truly wonderful people. Now that we have come to an agreement, I must introduce you to them. Would you accompany me there on a call this afternoon?”

“I would enjoy meeting them.”

“We could also stop at Stanford House, and you could speak with my father. Perhaps we should do that first?”

“Yes, let’s stop in and see him first. Before we return, I want to promise you that I have no desire to participate in any risky or dangerous behavior such as that that claimed Mr. Nelson. I intend to be here to take care of you and the girls for many years to come.”

“Thank you. That will be excellent. I know the girls will appreciate it as I do.”

“So, at least in private, would you call me Charles?”

“Yes, Charles, I can manage that. However, you must manage to call me Jane.”

“Gladly, Jane.”

After an hour at the park, they returned to Jane’s home. Jane sent her father a note asking to meet with him at about 1. She also sent a note to her mother-in-law informing her that she would be calling this afternoon with news. She knew that Lady Nelson would understand what the news was. They then spent time with Elizabeth telling her of their engagement. Elizabeth sat at her embroidery as Jane and Bingley made tentative plans and discussed possible wedding dates. They finally settled on a week in early March. Bingley would see about procuring the church the next day. He planned to stop by the Hurst’s to notify his family that evening.

That afternoon, Jane and Bingley stopped at Stanford house together. While Jane spent the time in the parlor with her aunt and Kitty, Bingley met with Mr. Bennet in the library.

“Sir, I am sure you have noticed my interest in your daughter, Mrs. Nelson,” stammered Bingley. Mr. Bennet merely tried to look severe, not very successfully. “Well, I have asked her to become Mrs. Bingley, and she has graciously agreed. We would like your blessing.”

“You think you can make her happy, do you? You seem to be a steady young man, but then, so did Robert.”

“Yes, I hope I can. I think she is the most wonderful woman I have ever met. I plan to care for her for the rest of her life.”

“That is a good start. If you go on thinking that, you two should be very happy. Very well, you have my blessing. I must say that I am not entirely surprised by this development. I think you two are quite well suited.”

At this, both men joined the women in the parlor where Mr. Bennet shared the news. The happy couple received congratulations from the family along with questions about when the event should take place.

Jane replied, “We are thinking about the beginning of March. We are going to see Lady Nelson to speak with her about it. Then Mr. Bingley will go to the church to see about reserving its use. Its availability will determine exactly which day we select.”

Kitty exclaimed, “This is so fun. Jane, I am so happy for you.”

“I had not expected to take away attention from your Season this way.”

“I do not mind at all. I do not need to be the center of everyone’s attention. I merely need to find the right one and be his center of attention.”
Everyone smiled at her comment although they also agreed. Then Jane and Bingley returned to the carriage and headed to the Nelsons.

Lady Nelson greeted them in the parlor, for once devoid of other guests. They had noticed the knocker had been removed, ensuring that no other callers would be accepted today. Jane introduced Bingley and said, “Mother Nelson, I would like to introduce Charles Bingley. I have agreed to become Mrs. Bingley only this morning. Mr. Bingley, this is my mother, Lady Nelson.”

Lady Nelson replied, “You both have my felicitations.”

Bingley answered, “I will do everything in my power to make Mrs. Nelson, Meg, and Betsy as happy as I can.”

Lady Nelson smiled and said, “I am sure you will. Please sit down and let me pour you some tea.”

They all sat and made small talk as Lady Nelson came to appreciate Mr. Bingley’s amiability. Before they were ready to leave, she suggested, “I would like to indicate to all our friends our support for Jane’s new situation. Would you two allow us to throw you a ball to celebrate?”

Jane smiled and said, “Thank you. That would be wonderful. We hope to marry at the beginning of March.”

“How about if it is the last week of February? That should be sufficient to plan everything. And Mr. Bingley, please include Lord Nelson and me in the announcing when you place it in the papers. I want everyone to know of our support.” Within a few moments, she handed him an announcement he could place in the paper.

Bingley replied, “Well, if we are all in agreement, I will ensure we have the church and place the announcement in the papers. Shall I leave you here or return you home?”

Jane said, “If you leave me here, Mother and I can plan the ball. She can return me home.”

Bingley took his leave to continue the arrangements for the wedding, while the ladies stayed and planned a ball. Once Bingley was gone, Lady Nelson asked, “And what of his sisters? Do you want to invite them or show our displeasure by cutting them?”

Jane answered, “Since it is our Nelson family hosting the ball, I am sad to say that we should not invite them. They were very clear in their disapprobation. I may have to invite them to events in our own home, but there is no reason to have them impose themselves upon you or the rest of the family.”

Lady Nelson smiled, “I am both sad and glad to see you take such a position. With your sweet disposition, you always think the best of others. I am sorry they took that away from you. However, it is their loss.”

“They seem to be the worst type of social climbers and will be avid to claim acquaintance once the announcement is acknowledged by Lord Nelson. At least, that seems to be the case for the younger. I am less sure about the older, but she has not tried to continue the acquaintance so far. I do not want to subject you to that.”

“Not inviting them will make things very clear.”

After that discussion, they determined who else would or would not be invited. Since Lydia was not out, she would not be included. Jane suggested Darcy be included, knowing that he was such a good friend of Bingley’s. Georgiana would not be as she was also not out. Lady Stanford and Kitty soon joined them and helped round out the invitation list. Kitty was excited to help with this ball to celebrate Jane’s wedding. They spent the remainder of the afternoon addressing the invitations to be delivered the next day after the announcement had appeared in the papers.

Bingley stopped at the church and was able to reserve it for the morning of March 5. At the Hurst home, Charles shared his news with the rest of his family. Their response was as he had anticipated. He chose not to clear up Caroline’s misconception about Mrs. Nelson’s status. He would get his revenge from the announcement in the paper.

Louisa said nothing. She just contemplated what her brother had said.

Caroline screeched, “I thought you understood we could not associate with Mrs. Nelson. You cannot denigrate the Bingley name by marrying someone with such connections. They have family involved in trade. Whatever were you thinking?”

“I was thinking that I would marry the most wonderful woman I have ever met. I care not what her relations are. She is everything I have ever wanted. You waste your breath. It is already decided.”

“If you persist, we will never accept her. You will be cut off from everyone.”

Louisa responded, “No, not everyone. Charles is still my brother. I do not have anything against Mrs. Nelson. You are on your own in this, Caroline, even though I have not been as cordial as I should.”

Bingley shook his head and replied, “If that is your decision, so be it. Good bye, then.” He nodded to Hurst and took his leave. “I am sorry to lose my sister, but Mrs. Nelson and her children are now my family. Thank you for your tentative support, Louisa.” 


Chapter 24

The next day, Hurst laughed as he saw the announcement in the paper. When Louisa asked what was so funny, he merely passed her the paper, pointing at the announcement. She read:

Lord and Lady Nelson and Mr. Thomas Bennet take great pleasure in announcing the engagement of their daughter, Jane Bennet Nelson, widow of Lord Nelson’s son Robert, to Mr. Charles Bingley. The Nelsons will host a ball at the end of February to celebrate the nuptials which will be held on March 5 at St. George’s, Hanover Square.

Louisa gasped. “Her husband was the son of an Earl? I thought she was a poor widow with no connections. Why did she never correct our perceptions? Caroline, come quickly.” Louisa arose from the table taking the paper with her to her sister. Mr. Hurst continued to laugh at the mess his wife and sister had made for themselves.

Caroline was as upset as Louisa. They realized that they would be hard pressed to recover the relationship with Jane but must make the attempt. They determined to call upon Jane and offer congratulations. Since Caroline had thrown away the address, and neither could remember it, they would have to try to obtain it from Charles. They sent a note to his club asking him to call upon them as soon as possible. Suspecting why they were summoning him, he chose to delay until the late afternoon.

Meanwhile, Jane’s friends all called to offer their best wishes. Many had not yet met Mr. Bingley, so Jane and Elizabeth had the opportunity to describe him to their friends over and over again that day. Most would have to wait for the ball to meet him in person although a few voiced the desire to have Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Nelson join them at a dinner or card party prior to the ball. All had received their invitations and were excited to celebrate with Jane. One of the callers had been Georgiana Darcy. She was pleased to see that there were no other visitors when she was shown to the drawing room.

“Mrs. Nelson, I am so happy for you. I know you and Mr. Bingley will be very happy together since you are both so amiable. And it is wonderful that the rest of your family is so pleased that they are throwing a ball to celebrate.”

“Thank you, Miss Darcy. You are such a good friend of Mr. Bingley, I am grateful you approve.”

“He is almost like another brother to me. How could I not approve? It is apparent that the two of you are meant to be together.”

At that, Elizabeth laughed and replied, “Well, Miss Bingley certainly had a different plan in mind.”

Georgiana smiled and said, “But she cannot truly be unhappy about this, can she?”

Jane answered, “I am afraid she is. She did her best to assure me her brother’s heart was already engaged elsewhere. She has also made it clear she had no wish to continue the relationship with me. I am almost sorry for her now that she has learned the true situation.”

Elizabeth added, “Well, I am not. Her treatment of you was shocking. She must now suffer the consequences.”

Jane shook her head sadly and replied, “That she will. At least the rest of us are happy about it.”

Charles finally arrived at the Hurst home late that afternoon. Mr. Hurst had chosen to remove himself from the upset and spent the day at his club. Charles joined Louisa and Caroline in the parlor.

Caroline almost screeched just as she had when he announced the betrothal, she was so upset. “Charles, how could you do this to us? You let us go on thinking that Mrs. Nelson was a poor widow with nothing but those two brats, and all the time she was widow of the son of an earl. We thought her so far beneath us and nothing could be further from the truth. You must give me her direction again. I have lost it.”

Charles looked at her sadly. “Caroline, you have caused your own problem. If you had bothered to get to know the Bennets, and Jane in particular, you would have realized that they spent their time in circles far above ours. And had you bothered to find out anything about her husband, you would have known of the relationship with the Earl. Instead, you made assumptions and treated her very poorly as a result. You are both not invited to the ball the Nelsons are throwing as a result of your treatment of Mrs. Nelson. I must say, as I have heard what you’ve done, I am ashamed you are my sister.”

“Surely we can repair the damage. This is just the kind of rank I was hoping you would marry. You know I want only your happiness.”

“You want only your own happiness and have never cared for mine. I think you’ve also made Louisa unhappier too, but I would not swear to that. However, I do know you are never welcome in my home again. I will make my life with Mrs. Nelson, Meg, and Betsy, and their extended families. You have shown yourself no friend, so I plan to treat you only as a distant acquaintance in the future. And I know the Bennets and Nelsons will do something similar. I suspect Darcy will too. He knows all about your manipulation of the truth when it comes to my plans, so I think you have also irreparably damaged any minimal prospect you had there too.”

Caroline’s voice became even shriller, “No, you cannot do this to me. You must help me fix it.”

Sadly, Bingley shook his head and replied, “No, I must not. I am sorry, but your behavior has caused this, and you must live with it. I hope Hurst and Louisa can help you find some happiness, because I wash my hands of you. When I visited my solicitor today to begin drawing up the settlement, I notified him that I no longer will act as conservator in your trust. You will be responsible for your own money now since you are of age. I have done my best, but it seems it was for naught. Do as you choose, but leave me alone.”

He looked over at Louisa, who had sat frightened in the background during the altercation, and added, “Since you were also involved in the poor treatment of Mrs. Nelson, you are also excluded from the ball. Whether or not you are also excluded from the rest of my life will depend on how you act in the next few weeks. You were less vocal in your criticisms. I do not know if that was because you were less critical or just quieter than Caroline.”

Louisa replied, “I am afraid I gave it little real thought. I have become accustomed to letting Caroline lead and I just follow. I think I will have to rethink my position. However, I do offer congratulations that, in spite of our efforts, you were able to follow your heart and obtain her consent. I think you will be very happy together.”

“Thank you Louisa.”

As Bingley turned to take his leave, Caroline interrupted him. “Wait, you must give me Mrs. Nelson’s address. I have misplaced it and must try to make amends.”

Charles looked at her sadly and replied, “Very well. You can try. But we are already decided.” He went to her desk and wrote the address for her. He handed her the paper and left. He was sad at her duplicity but grateful to have seen her for what she truly was. He went directly to Jane’s.

After he was shown in, he greeted the sisters whose previous visitors had just left. “I am surprised to see you alone.”

Elizabeth chuckled while Jane replied, “We have been inundated with well-wishers all day. Many of our friends have not met you yet and were very curious. Thank goodness Mother is hosting a ball so they can all satisfy their curiosity. We have been invited to a number of dinners and parties, so we will have to take some time to sort through and decide which to attend. Our friends are happy for us.”

“Caroline will be coming by to try to make amends. She would have been here earlier but ‘misplaced’ your address and required that I come supply it. We all know she never misplaced it, so I made her wait until it would be too late for her to come today. However, you should know she will be coming.”

Elizabeth scowled, but Jane serenely replied, “That was to be expected. However, invitations to the ball were sent today, and her name was not on the list. I will be civil to her, but she can expect no sympathy from me. Also, I will not introduce her to the family. I would not subject them to that.”

Bingley nodded. “I agree that this is a good way to manage her. I think Louisa was less involved in the opposition, so her contrition may actually be genuine. She offered her congratulations and wished us the best.”

Jane merely remarked, “We will see.”

Shortly thereafter, Bingley left for a previously planned dinner with the Darcys. He knew that there, he could talk of his Jane to his heart’s content and proceeded to do just that.

The next day, Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley called upon Jane to offer their congratulations. They found Mrs. Raynor sitting with Jane in the parlor when they arrived.

As they curtsied upon entering the room, Miss Bingley gushed, “Oh, Mrs. Nelson, we were so excited when Charles gave us the news. We want to wish you every happiness.”

Jane serenely replied, “Thank you. However, you made it very clear you wanted to sever the relationship even as your brother had already indicated a wish to court me. I am sorry, but since you ended the relationship, I will not take it up again. You may be his sisters, but you will not be mine. My Nelson family has requested that they not be introduced to you. Know that you are not the ball guest list and will not be permitted to attend. Perhaps at some point in the future, you can be readmitted to my family, but for now, I do not know you.”

Jane rose, and the butler entered as previously arranged. “Carter, please show Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst out. They are just going now. They will not be returning.”

He held the door open for the very embarrassed sisters and led them out of the room. When they were safely ensconced in their carriage, Caroline said, “Can you believe that? She threw us out.”

Louisa replied, “At least she let us in. She could have refused us entry. Caroline, you have really hurt our chances in society with your rudeness to her in the past. If she will not see us, how can we make amends and move into her circle?”

“I will find a way.”

“You will try. However, I think the damage is permanent. You have given me much to think about.”

Meanwhile, inside, Elizabeth was laughing. “Jane, I am so proud of you. I did not know you had it in you to show them the door like that.”

“Since Charles had warned me, I have been thinking about my response. I am sorry to be rude, but I think it the only way to impress Miss Bingley that I am serious. Being amiable does not mean that I will not react to poor treatment. Now she knows.”

“It was marvelous to see them escorted out so forcefully. That was great entertainment.”

“Lizzy, I fear for you if you think that was fun.”

“You know how I like to laugh at the foibles of our neighbors. This was wonderful.” Jane merely shook her head and smiled at her sister.
SubjectAuthorPosted

With Just a Little Guidance Chapters 23 and 24

ShannaGJune 24, 2015 08:58PM

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Lucy J.June 26, 2015 06:33AM

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BrigidJune 27, 2015 08:59PM

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