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They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

July 21, 2015 11:26AM
Chapter Seven.

So Lydia was back. Chastened?, relieved to have escaped from a scandalous situation?, sorry for her behaviour? None of those things were evident as she flounced noisily through the door and back into her home. It was almost as if she had achieved something wonderful rather than causing stress, scandal, expense and almost shame to her whole family…..

The most significant thing that struck Mary amongst all the ten days that Lydia and Wickham were to stay at Longbourne, was Lizzie’s peculiar behaviour. She seemed so thoughtful and withdrawn in general and was decidedly short with Lydia almost all the time. Mr Bennet gave little of his time to either Wickham or his youngest daughter, but Mrs Bennet more than made up for his reticence by having parties and suppers and behaving generally as if Lydia had married the Duke of Wellington rather than eloped with a penniless soldier of the militia. Mary was quite disgusted at the way Lydia informed Jane she must move down table for herself as she was now a married woman. Of that, there was no need, for if decorum required it, then Jane, whose manners were impeccable, would have observed it without mention. Lydia’s behaviour, although seemingly beyond her comprehension, was arrogant, brash and rude and although Jane did not show it, quite probably hurtful to her. Mary, depending on what Lizzie chose to tell her, was only to find out much later the details of any of it, for indeed she knew little or nothing at that time, of Wickham or his dealings with Fitzwilliam Darcy or anyone else. She was deeply puzzled by several things. If Wickham really had so many debts from gambling and other nefarious pastimes, as gossip would have it, how could he, with just a soldier’s wages suddenly be able to clear them? How indeed could Lydia marry a man with such a reputation? Indeed, how could he afford to marry at all? Lydia’s dowry was small indeed and if Wickham had no money and such serious debt? Lizzie had written to Aunt Gardiner, that much Mary knew, and received a long letter in reply for she had seen Lizzie reading it, yet she made no mention of what or why? It was all so very puzzling. Lizzie had been quite friendly with Wickham prior to the elopement and although that was now resolved she behaved almost coldly to him, avoiding him completely much of the time. He had married Lydia and done the right thing, had he not? Then again he had also proposed marriage to Mary King? People were such strange, complicated creatures at times. Lizzie herself was almost another person from the one that left for Hunsford and later the tour with Uncle and Aunt Gardiner. Her mood was such that Mary refrained from asking questions she normally would have done. Her own life, Mary decided, would never be so complicated. She would live a simple life with the man she loved and married, and they would raise children and……was this really herself thinking this way?........

….Captain John Robinson was finding it increasingly difficult to fight off the two Xebecs and protect the lighter sloop from becoming isolated at the same time. The faster pirate craft had a different mission than himself. He just wanted to leave them far behind and make safely towards his destination. They sought only prizes and would not hesitate to kill wantonly to get them. Apart from an isolated cannonball taking away part of his stern rail he had suffered no damage as yet, but the Xebecs were also managing to remain largely undamaged. If only he could de-mast one of them and half the odds…..

“Ship on the starboard bow!. Brigantine I think sir.. Too far away to see for sure yet, but she might be flying the Tricolour”

Robinson groaned softly at the words as he raised his telescope to search the call. The Tricolour was the French flag and a French ship would give him no help, indeed they may well be privateers themselves…….

…….At last Lydia and Wickham were away and, although she wished her sister well, Mary found she was not truly sorry to see their carriage leave the drive. The period of their stay had been an unsettling one at Longbourne because no one behaved as they normally would. Lydia toured noisily around and forever made herself the centre of attention, being both rude and advisory by turn, boasting of her new, handsome husband and behaving annoyingly to everyone except Mrs Bennet who would see no wrong in her. She told her sisters she would invite all of them to stay in Newcastle and gaily offered to find them husbands. Lizzie did not quite scoff aloud at the idea, but, in her own case made quite a point of decrying the very thought as utterly ludicrous. Jane said little, Kitty was subdued and Mary thought only of one who would remotely interest her on that topic. Mrs Bennet made a great show of regret at the couple leaving, and then suddenly, they were gone……

Whilst the next couple of days after the noisy, hectic period of the Wickham visit were quiet and somewhat restrained, there was an underlying sense of peace and a distinct lack of tension and stress in the Longbourne household.. Two day after they had left, a new topic was aired after Mrs Bennet was informed by her sister Phillips that Charles Bingley was to be back in residence at Netherfield Park. Mrs Bennet, whilst dismissively insisting the news was of no particular interest to her or hers, soon sought out Mrs Nichols to confirm the totally uninteresting news. She quickly knew all the details including when Bingley’s party would arrive and her constant remarks to Jane completely belied her stated lack of interest. She also very soon informed Mr Bennet that decorum and common decency required him to call on the Netherfield residents. Mr Bennet, in return, coldy informed her he would do no such thing. He had already, he claimed, been made a fool of once and had no desire to repeat the experience. Mr Bingley knew where they lived and was quite as capable of visiting them as they were of him. On that point, much to Mrs Bennet’s anguish, he would not be moved.

Mrs Bennet’s utter dread that any of her neighbours should be first to meet and greet Mr Bingley was allayed in the best possible way when a couple of days later both Bingley and Mr Darcy arrived at Longbourne on an unannounced visit. Mary watched Jane closely and, unaware of the true circumstances that had shaped events so drastically to affect both her elder sisters, could only be pleased that Charles Bingley had returned. That dear Jane had suffered a great deal of hurt when Bingley suddenly went away, she did know. She was not privy to the maelstrom of feelings inside Lizzie at the sight of Darcy. Both he and Bingley had disappeared and Jane had somewhere mentioned that Lizzie saw Darcy during her visit to Hunsford, but both Jane and Lizzie had pledged to keep much between just themselves. Kitty had told her “in deepest confidence” that Lizzie had let slip to her that Darcy had been at her wedding, but the reasons why were still unknown to Mary. Of Darcy’s proposal at the parsonage, Lizzie’s refusal and Darcy’s letter, she would never know. The visit was carried out pleasantly, in the main, with Mrs Benett fawning over Bingley a little sickeningly, but she still appeared barely to behave a modicum above an acceptable level of civility in Darcy’s case. Dinner invitations were, of course extended with aplomb. Lizzie, Mary noted, said little and still appeared somewhat quiet, reserved and uncommunicative and the gentlemen eventually left. The mood at Longbourne however, had taken a decidedly upward swing…….

After such long absences, Mary found it a little strange that at first Bingley and Darcy were now visiting regularly. Darcy then ceased to come and Charles Bingley alone came to them. It was all explained in the best possible fashion when Jane announced after one of his visits that he had proposed to her and she was overjoyed and had accepted immediately. Mary was delighted for her and her inner thoughts, free from the negative aspects of relationships and problems that Jane’s prior period of sadness and Lydia’s unfortunate experience had exposed, now made her wonder at her own situation. She was aware of her past habits of always trying to see the sense of things, and thinking romance rather foolish, but that was before she had met John Robinson. Was she also being foolish in believing there was more in that than just a new acquaintance who liked music? Was his gift nothing more than just a well-worn song book that he no longer wanted or needed himself? He had decided to run the family business in Luton, but what opportunities would there be for him to visit his brother, for that surely would be his only reason to come to Meryton. Where would he himself live if they had sold his family home? Might he indeed never come to visit her again.? Hurriedly she pushed that possibility aside as unacceptable. That would not do at all, he would come to her. He must come to her..

Another somewhat strange event happened to puzzle Mary. Already unsettled at Lizzie’s remoteness, she was even further perplexed a week later by a totally unexpected visit by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Of course, until she heard Lizzie and her mother speaking about it after the rather grand carriage had swept regally away from Longbourne, having been in the music room when the coach arrived, she really had no idea who the visitor was. Lady Catherine was but a name much flaunted by Cousin Collins and later mentioned by Lizzie after her trip to visit Charlotte at Hunsford. What struck her forcibly was Lizzie’s expression. She had accompanied the visitor into the garden and discussed with her for a short while it seemed. On returning to the house she was pale with just two high spots of colour on her cheeks, and looked exceedingly disturbed, almost angry as she returned alone and immediately went upstairs passing Mary on the way. Nothing further was said by anyone about the visit, not even by her mother, which just added to the confusing nature of it……..

Captain John Robinson was just about to order his helmsman to come about and try to get his guns to bear on the second Xebec when his order was checked by the roar of voices of his men on deck. With nothing to lose now with the French brigantine joining the battle he had to risk charging past the leading raider firing as he went, and try to dismantle at least one of them. Suddenly, he was hearing his men cheering. The voice of his bosun carried across the deck..

“The Brigantine’s one of ours Captain, she’s dropped the Tricolour and she’s running the Union flag !”

Robinson raised his eyebrows in surprise, then grinned widely and a great rush of relief and euphoria washed over him. Flying a false flag was against all the rules of engagement, but when did pirates play by rules? He turned to see the two Xebecs veering away towards the open ocean, then leaned down from the deck.

“Who is she Trevanion? Do we know her?”

“I’ve come across her before Cap’n. She’s The Mary, a tidy little scouting Brigantine out of Bristol. Nice stroke of luck for us her being about today!”

Robinson raised a hand to the bosun and suddenly laughed aloud. Saved by Mary! Surely that was an omen. It was time to head for the Channel and home to England…..

…….Darcy was back. He was staying at Netherfield with Bingley and visiting with him. Bingley was a regular visitor now and time was spent discussing wedding dates and arrangements, guest lists and plans for the future. In the midst of it Darcy suddenly came with Bingley one day and Mrs Bennet foisted him off to walk along with Lizzie. At what stage it happened Mary again never knew, but suddenly Lizzie was behaving in a friendly manner. She was aware Mr Collins had sent a letter to her father and he had called Lizzie in about it, but the contents were not divulged. Of much more interest, nay shock even, was the fact that Darcy had visited her father and Lizzie suddenly announced that he had asked her to marry him and she had accepted. With only prior knowledge of Lizzie’s intense dislike of the man, it was indeed a great surprise to find she was now confessing her love for him. Mary felt very removed from it all as Kitty was hardly the person to discuss things with and the others were very close in their dual wedding arrangements. Her own life felt suddenly empty, and only her music kept her in any form of spirits. Of John Robinson she had heard not a single word and was beginning to feel she had imagined much where little existed. What was there for her to cling to? He had spoken to her, visited and taken a dinner with them, brought her a song book and then gone off to sea. Never a hint of any sort of attraction had been spoken of at all. How foolish she now felt she had been in thinking otherwise. She must be rational and forget any thoughts of an imagined romance. Study and her music must suffice to fill the gaps in her life….

……A week after Lizzie’s shock announcement and whilst she and Jane were out and about somewhere, Mary was at her music and thus did not hear a visitor arrive. Despite her resolve her fingers were drifting reflectively over her pianoforte keys playing a familiar melody and she was surprised when here mother walked into the music room. Her mother’s face was a mirror of her own surprise and… delight…?

“Mary, come quickly dear. Make haste, we have a visitor who has asked specifically after you…Captain Robinson is here….”

“And I would love you all the Day, Every Night would kiss and play,
If with me you'd fondly stray, Over the Hills and far away”

The End.

Author’s note: If we are to obey Pride and Prejudice canon, in the main, Mary Bennet’s story is one based more on what we do not know than what we do. Jane Austen made her a rather shadowy figure and many times did not include her in events or dialogue. When mentioned even rarely, she comes across as a character of little worth, overly moral and an exhibitionist. As the middle daughter she surely deserves some interest, but again she would not be privy to many things that occurred amongst the rest of the family and thus know little or nothing of them, making her story rather hard to tell. My own story must thus be one of mainly total imagination with the ending left for the readers to see as they will. The ships mentioned are actual ship names and the Brigantine Mary did exist around the period as did the Mary and Jane. . The Mary foundered off the Cornish coast at the beginning of the nineteenth century, but all the hands were saved.

They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

Jim G.MJuly 21, 2015 11:26AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

junewilliams7September 13, 2015 12:45AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

Lucy J.July 23, 2015 06:48AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

LucieJuly 22, 2015 02:43AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

AlidaJuly 21, 2015 09:55PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

Jim G.MJuly 21, 2015 11:36PM

And if it was Lizzy's wedding

GracielaJuly 21, 2015 10:28PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

ShannaGJuly 21, 2015 04:00PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

Jim G.MJuly 21, 2015 07:24PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

ShannaGJuly 21, 2015 08:33PM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

terrycgJuly 22, 2015 02:01AM

Re: They must have heard about Mary. Chapter 7 and closure.

LisetteJuly 21, 2015 01:56PM


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