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To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

November 28, 2016 09:34PM
Thanks to all who commented and suggested corrections! I apologize for my portrayal of Bingley but I’ve always enjoyed stories where he has a bit of backbone. While Bingley and Darcy are friends (and will be friends again at the end of the story), one is allowed to get mad at one’s chums when they do something as stupid as Darcy.

In the story so far, the Gardiners and Lizzy are headed north to the Lake District and Darcy, with Miss Bingley attached, is hoping to intercept them in Windermere. Bingley’s headed south to reconnect with Miss Bennet.

Chapter 3: The Journey North

The next day the Hursts left, to travel southward to London to find Louisa’s brother. They seemed rather festive given the purpose of their trip but as they were leaving Caroline behind, the trip was greatly anticipated.

A day later, Miss Bingley and Darcy prepared to travel north to the Lakes. The coaches were packed at a reasonable time and the servants’ vehicle had left an hour earlier.

Darcy handed Miss Bingley into coach and followed only to find the interior otherwise empty.

“Miss Bingley, where is your maid?” Darcy asked as he started backing himself out of the coach.

“Ellen is in the servants’ coach. I thought there would be more room for us if I sent her ahead,” Caroline coquettishly stated as she patted the seat next to her. “This way, we can make the trip much more enjoyable. Why don’t you sit here next to me?”

A panic stricken Mr. Darcy replied, “Miss Bingley, I cannot. I hold your reputation too highly to allow any rumours to become associated with it. Let me find a substitute.” And before Caroline could complain, he had strode back into Pemberley to confer with his housekeeper, Mrs. Reynolds. In a very short time, a young maid, Mary, was added to the coach and the travel commenced. Unbeknownst to Caroline, Mr. Darcy also had an additional horse tied to the coach. If it had not been expected to rain shortly, he would have been astride it already.

The first stop of the trip, for tea and to rest the horses, was the next of many trials. Miss Bingley, when being helped down, made sure to keep her hand on Darcy’s for longer than was necessary. The conversation deteriorated from there.

“Mr. Darcy, you are such the proper gentleman.”

“Mr. Darcy, will you not help me to the table? I seem to have a stone in my shoe.”

“Mr. Darcy, whatever you order will be fine with me. It is your company I find most appetizing.”

“Mr. Darcy, your conversation is so illuminating.”

During tea Caroline confessed herself extremely tired and that they would need to stay for the night after having travelled only three hours that day. It was only when Darcy suggested that he would thus ride ahead alone that Miss Bingley’s headache improved.

By the second stop, Darcy was doing all he could to ignore Miss Bingley. He was reading Phadrus by Plato only to be interrupted by Caroline. “Mr. Darcy, surely your eyes must be tired. Perhaps I could read for you from your book. I remember my Latin very well.” Darcy sensing that laughing would be impolite so made the mistake of showing a slight smile that Miss Bingley took as a sign of encouragement.

But the largest embarrassment occurred at the Raging Water Inn. Mr. Darcy had been shown much deference due to the owner having relatives in Derbyshire and Caroline was delirious when the man asked after her, referring to her as Darcy’s wife. The owner was all that was apologetic when corrected that it was the Lord D’Alancy of Derbyshire who had recently married but Caroline practically glowed with pleasure the rest of the evening.

The situation would have been improved if Darcy had let Georgiana participate in the journey but his shy sister had begged off the trip, blaming it on the need to practice her music when in fact, both knew, the required exposure to certain parties was the real reason.

(~)

In Meryton, the town was aflutter. Mrs. Pope, the housekeeper at Netherfield, had been seen entering the butchery. Mrs. Phillip, never one to lose an opportunity for amassing gossip, had had a sudden desire to see if Mr. Hack had any new cuts of beef and found herself in conversation with Mrs. Pope. Mrs. Phillip hit gold when Mrs. Pope revealed that the master of Netherfield, Mr. Bingley, was to take up residence within the fortnight.

It took one and only one hour for the news to reach Longbourn. Mrs. Bennet, not surprisingly, was ecstatic. Jane had not been made so beautiful for no reason at all and Mrs. Bennet was quite clear that Mr. Bingley, and his four thousand a year, was the reason. Mr. Bingley had previously accepted an invitation, yes, for three courses and Mrs. Bennet was even now thinking of what menu would make Mr. Bingley more likely to propose to her Jane.

A good piece of fish won’t hurt and a ragout of venison seasoned as her mother had taught her. Hill could be counted on to make the biscuit light and fresh and she could serve them with the blackberry jam put up last year. Yes, she would provide a good meal and then see that Mr. Bingley had a little time alone with Jane. All would work out for the best.

The visit by Mr. Bingley to Longbourn occurred within a day of his return to Netherfield. Luckily Miss Bennet was in the garden thus allowing Charles an opportunity to reintroduce himself out of earshot of her mother. The two quickly scurried through re-introductions and explanations to come to an easy understanding such that an hour later it was hard to tell that Bingley had ever left.

Jane’s emotion did not know where to alight that day. Being demur, she had of course welcomed Mr. Bingley back as a neighbour. Being kind, she had listened to Mr. Bingley explain why only now he had returned. Being human, she railed internally when she discovered Caroline’s role in their separation. As a student of human nature, she could not but recognize the look in Charles’ eye and steel in his voice as he explained that now he was his own man. In all, Jane clearly discovered that the man before her had improved and while she had been unhappy being neglected, she was now so much more pleased with what she saw.

When the couple walked into the Bennet’s house, it was Mr. Bennet who first recognized the change in his daughter’s behaviour and perhaps the excessive liberties that Mr. Bingley was taking holding Jane’s hand and helping her to her seat. But if Mr. Bennet was first, Mrs. Bennet was not far behind and immediately engaged Mr. Bingley in conversation.

“You know, Mr. Bingley, you promised that you would come to dinner before you left. I promise three courses, sir. May we have you to our table tonight?”

“Mrs. Bennet”, Bingley replied though he did not take his eyes off Jane, “ I would be happy to accept for the morrow if that is possible but unfortunately, some dastardly person has already wreaked my schedule by inviting me to dine today and I see no way to get out of it.”

“That would work well, sir. Let me go talk with Hill to make arrangements. May I invite that …” and here the word ‘unpleasant’ came to mind but even Mrs. Bennet knew she should not insult a friend of Mr. Bingley, “… friend of yours also?

Mr. Bingley actually chuckled. Though half his mind was contemplating Jane’s ever so perfect smile, the other half still supplied the unstated adjective and he could not but agree with Mrs. Bennet’s phrasing. While he expected Darcy to have to show his head shortly to return Caroline, he didn’t know exactly when. “No, Mr. Darcy is not with me at the moment though I expect him in the bye and bye.”



Chapter 4: Windermere

The House called Lily White was everything pleasant. The windows from the front of the house had an uninterrupted view of Lake Windermere. The interior was light and airy with the sun sneaking playfully into many of the rooms. The first day there, the 24th of August, the parties simply rested and become familiar with the house. The house servant presented an excellent breakfast and the Pemberley guests had been professionally attended to. Mr. Darcy settled himself in the guest office and ploughed through the correspondence he had not completed before leaving Pemberley.

Caroline spent some time on her own correspondence in the mistress’s parlour as Mr. Darcy was not amenable to sharing the guest office. Caroline’s thoughts were spent conjecturing that she would not have to write so many letters shortly, that is, once she was married as married women have so much else to do besides writing letters. But letters, implying much more than reality, were sent this day to her closest friends detailing the delightful journey she and an ever-so-handsome Mr. Darcy had just completed.

It was on the second day that Caroline cleverly came down at 7am, a full four hours prior to her usual descent thus catching Mr. Darcy by surprise at the breakfast table.

“Mr. Darcy. There you are. And so wide awake so early. This northern air is so good for my sleep – I am so refreshed.” Her maid would have wondered at these words, if she had heard them, given Caroline had rung for her three times during the night to build back her fire, and to find additional comforters. – “What are your plans for us today?” she continued.

Darcy, who had not to that point thought of any plans “for us” today, slowly finished his bite of a beignet buying time. How much of the day did he need to spend with Miss Bingley? He hadn’t even thought on the matter as he had other concerns. But since Miss Bingley had asked, an answer was required.

“I hope to walk over to town to see what the place has to offer. These small towns often have specialty stores where I might find something unusual for Georgiana. I’m also told that the view from the city wharf is not uninspiring.” He hoped that exercise would discourage Caroline.

Caroline smiled. All was going to plan. “Then I will join you. At what time do we leave?”

(~)

Darcy reviewed the day in frustration. Miss Bingley had acted as if she had him on a short leash. They had toured the town, stopping for tea not one hour into the journey as Caroline couldn’t walk a step further without refreshment. She had affronted the shopkeeper implying that any store that did not sell chocolate macaroons didn’t need to exist. In London, chocolate macaroons were the latest craze, and any baker …. He had been mortified that Caroline could be so shallow to think the world centred on macaroons!

She had dropped the Darcy name into every conversation, at every opportunity. Many people knew of him and his family and now their impression was coloured by the lady who had been on his arm. How would he ever correct that impression? He had already placed a large order at the bakery, with generous terms, in recompense for the insult Caroline had caused.

But worse, his valet had not found the information he had demanded of him. He had visited each of the major hotels in town and the answer was the same at each. Could their travel have been delayed? What if their plans had changed again? Darcy grimaced. He and doubt had never been amenable friends. Oh, what could be done?

The smell of lavender from an open window soothed him as this was the scent he associated with Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Lavender, that simple scent was enough to send Darcy’s mind spinning with possibilities. Would she be happy to see him? They had parted in less than friendly terms and yet, perhaps his letter; yes, his letter where he had explained all must surely have helped his cause. But even it could have been significantly improved upon. Why had he not poured out his heart to Elizabeth, his blessed, wonderful Elizabeth? He would love her and care for her for all his life. But then he realized, first he needed for her to be willing to talk to him.

Darcy’s mind played back every conversation he had had with Elizabeth, every look she had directed at him. The ecstasy of envisioning their first kiss and intimacy that would happen only after the marriage combined with the agony of remembering his poor past behaviour and the possibility of Lizzy exiting his life made him restless half the night.

Perhaps this explains why on the second day Darcy’s plans to leave the house earlier didn’t succeed and his arrival at the breakfast table at nine in the morning found Miss Bingley there before him. She was neatly reading a fashion book and immediately set the agenda for the day. What was worse, the day would involve a picnic on the waterfront at Promontory Point. She had already arranged with the staff for the event, putting them through much unnecessary work, so Darcy had no possibility to back out.

Promontory Point turned out to be beautiful. Darcy was able to forget about his companion for a short time and just gazed at the lake in wonder. The spot was perfect, he had to give Miss Bingley credit there. As he sat on a blanket considering the view, Miss Bingley called to him asking what she could serve him for lunch. Looking back to ask a footman to do so instead, he found no one present but Miss Bingley. She had dismissed the servants without him noticing!

“Mr Darcy. We must have some conversation. What shall we talk of?

“Do you usually talk at a picnic?”

“Yes, now why don’t I mention something about the food and you remark on the pleasure of the company?” Caroline simpered.

“I can certainly comment that the view is magnificent!”

Caroline flushed, thinking the compliment for herself, “How very kind of you, sir!” Darcy quickly quipped back. “Yes, the view of the lake here is quite breath-taking”, turning to hide his embarrassment that she could think he would pay her such a complement. “Excuse me a moment, while I refresh myself.”

After confirming he was not followed, Darcy found a spot to ‘deal with the necessities’ a good distance away from their picnic. Approaching the lake, to cleanse his hands, who should come upon him but the Gardiner party?

“Mr. Darcy! Is this some new type of fishing that doesn’t require a rod and reel,” teased Elizabeth, who appeared slightly in advance of her relatives.

“Miss Elizabeth!” Mr Darcy exclaimed, stood, and then stared.

“Mr. Darcy. I shall not see you tongue tied. Gentlemen of Cambridge should be capable of simple conversation.”

“Miss Elizabeth, you are most correct. How are you faring? And how is your family?”

“It is a pleasure that I can report that I am quite well. But who could not be in fine spirits given the charm of this portion of the country. And as to my family, all are well except Jane who is only tolerably in spirits.”

“I am glad to hear of the health of the majority of your family and hope Miss Bennet feels better soon.”

Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner had arrived at this point though they stood to one side so as not to impede the conversation.

“And your companions? Would you do me the honour of introducing us?”

It was now Lizzy’s turn to be reticent. While she could remember her aunt’s and uncle’s names easily enough, to be asked by Mr. Darcy of Pemberley with an income of ten thousand a year, to have trades people introduced to him was something out of the usual. Perhaps he did not know her relatives’ type of employment.

“Sir, I would be happy to do so. This is Mister Edward Gardiner, and his wife, Mrs. Margaret Gardiner. They are my aunt and uncle on my mother’s side and live in London, that is, in Cheapside.”

Darcy was startled given the refinement he was able to discern in the look and clothing of the Gardiners but to follow Miss Elizabeth’s dictum required him to respond and interact politely with her relatives. It was only a few minutes later when Mr. Gardiner had him laughing at a double entendre that Darcy realized how fortunate he was to meet this couple. Indeed, they were delightful people he would be proud to converse with. It would be easy to invite them into his circle of friends.

Elizabeth was also all amazed. Not only was Mr. Darcy talking with her relatives but he was laughing with them. What had happened to the dour man from Meryton? Had he forgiven her for her impertinent outburst when they met last? Well, Elizabeth’s courage rose at a challenge and thus she joined the conversation which continued a few minutes longer with Darcy inviting them back to the picnic. Mrs. Gardiner looked quickly at Elizabeth to gauge her feelings and then quickly assented to the invite.

It was at this point that a strident scream interrupted the festive air!

(~)

Phase two of Caroline’s conquest had been developing in her mind as she waited, impatiently, for Mr. Darcy’s return. She would be Mrs. Darcy, Mistress of Pemberley and everything necessary to make this happen was readily accessible. She quickly stepped to the waterfront and splashed sufficient water on her décolletage until her light orange dress was quite transparent. She stood to consider the effect and while she wasn’t well endowed, what God had given her was now clearly visible. But as this Narcissus looked up, she slipped on a tree root and accidentally stepped into the water immersing herself to her knees.

Surprisingly, it was Mr. Gardiner who arrived first to rescue Caroline. Darcy, while running, had fallen face first, when he looked back to see that Miss Elizabeth was okay. Mr. Gardiner quickly introduced himself as a married man, helped Miss Bingley ashore and wrapped her in his coat. Mrs. Gardiner was the second to arrive, as Elizabeth was somehow detained with the gentleman who had fallen, and added the picnic blanket to Miss Bingley’s shoulders hiding most of the damage from view.

The last to arrive were Darcy and Elizabeth, Darcy with a bloody handkerchief to his forehead and Elizabeth on his arm. Caroline’s reaction was most violent upon espying Elizabeth. “You!” She screamed and then turned to cry on Mr. Gardiner’s shoulder only to realize that he might be related to she-who-will-not-be-named. With her shoulders thrown back, she wrenched herself off Mr. Gardiner and demanded to be taken home.

Since the Gardiners had a carriage nearby and Darcy did not, it was decided, over Caroline’s objection, that the Gardiners would return Caroline to Lily White. This left Darcy and Elizabeth to find their own way home.

Heaven smiled on Darcy that day as the walk home was most pleasant. Yes, the air was clear and clean and the Lake simmered oh so pleasantly, but it was the company that made everything so brilliant. Elizabeth at first had made him to sit down so she could use one of her handkerchiefs, having dipped it in the lake, to clean his wound. The touch of her hand was very pleasant but it was the attention she bestowed on him that he would always remember.

They talked of books and Lizzy’s travels but also of misconceptions.

“Mr. Darcy. I must apologize. I cannot have you think ill of me any longer. After reading your letter in Kent, I have re-examined all of my interactions with Mr. Wickham and I now realize how naïve I was.”

“Miss Elizabeth, no apology is needed. Wickham has been fooling people, even my most excellent father, for many years. And did I not help Wickham’s case by the contempt I showed for all in Meryton? It has only been through your words that I gained insight into my behaviour and realized how much I needed to improve. I thank you for this.”

“Mr. Darcy, you take too much on yourself! How could you have acted any other way given what had happened to your sister?”

And thus they argued back and forth and in the end, decided that each would simply accept the past and move forward afresh.

When they rendezvoused later with the Gardiner - the admirable housekeeper, Mrs Cali, having provided them with refreshments - Darcy asked “Mr. Gardiner, do you plan to be in town long?”

A small frown came over his face as he replied: “I’m unsure of our plans at the moment.”

“Are your plans firm enough that I may invite you, in three days, to the opening of “The Taming of the Shrew” followed by dinner at Lily White? I am sure that Miss Bingley would appreciate having an opportunity to thank you for your help today.”

Here Lizzy smiled and thought, “And to think I believed Mr. Darcy didn’t have a sense of humour!”

“I also feel I must insist given my party has usurped your first day here, with you helping us instead of enjoying yourselves. I would feel deeply indebted to you if you do not let me correct this situation.”

Mr. Gardiner, with a devilish glance at Mrs. Gardiner, responded that in fact, it was he who was indebted to Mr. Darcy! He had planned to go fishing later in the day and now he no longer needed to as he would never be able to land a larger fish than the one he had caught this morning!

When the laughter calmed down, Mrs. Gardiner formally accepted the invitation to the play and dinner, and the discussion turned to the Lakes, Pemberley, and travels.

(~)

That night, Darcy secured Elizabeth’s handkerchief in the wooden box his father had given him on graduation from university. It held all of his more personal treasures. He then locked it, hoping the smell of lavender would never dissipate.

Preparing for bed, Darcy assigned his valet two tasks. The first was to determine the colour of the gown that Miss Elizabeth would be wearing for the play. He knew the servants had an underground network that allowed for such information to be passed between households. John was also to prepare Darcy’s attire to best complement this colour.

The second task was to query the housekeeper on the keys and locks of the house. Darcy was now keenly aware of Caroline’s level of scheming and had to protect himself accordingly. A short time later, John returned with the information that Miss Bingley had borrowed the household room key for the night from the housekeeper giving some flimsy nonsense as the reason. As the two men looked at each other, John asked if he should spend the night on the couch in Mr. Darcy’s room and Darcy nodded.

It was some time after midnight that a slight rattle had John upright and answering the door before it could be opened. In the hallway, in a very slight and revealing negligee was Miss Bingley; a Miss Bingley who was very surprised to find Darcy’s valet instead of the great man himself at the door.

“And what do you mean by this, surprising me so?” she asked as she pulled her robe around herself.

John was employed to be unflappable, was unflappable, and always would be unflappable. “Madam, my pardon, I was sure I heard the door handle rattle and wanted to confirm the matter before asking the local locksmith to fix it. Is there some way I could help you?”

“Well I never. Of course I have no need for your help. I was just … just … just on the way to the kitchen for some milk to help me sleep and fell against the door given the poor visibility.”

“I see I can be of assistance then. Madam will find the kitchen in this direction,” said John as he pointed in the direction from which Caroline must have come.

As John closed the door, the sound of a strangled laughter could be hear from the direction of Mr. Darcy’s bed. John simply raised his left eyebrow in response.

Even with Caroline’s shenanigans, John was up at servant hours and at the hotel where the Gardiners were staying before light. A few simple questions, a few answers in return and he had his information. Now the only issue was how to see that Darcy was properly attired.


Pemberley
Mrs. Reynolds,

I ask that you act with all expediency – the express rider has been told to wait for a reply. I need the master's aquamarine waistcoat, as found in the fourth section of Mr. Darcy’s closet, wrapped and sent immediately. It seems that the master is to entertain a Miss Elizabeth Bennet and he has asked that his outfit match her dress in colour. Yes, I can’t believe the request either but there is always a first and we must not disappoint. Make sure the express rider is given a fresh horse for the return trip!

John Dresser
Lily White
SubjectAuthorPosted

To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

troNovember 28, 2016 09:34PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

gioNovember 29, 2016 03:08PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

troNovember 29, 2016 06:58PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Maria VNovember 29, 2016 08:12AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Lucy J.November 29, 2016 04:30AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Harvey S.November 29, 2016 03:21AM

I agree.

ElleNovember 29, 2016 10:03PM

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EvelynJeanNovember 29, 2016 05:30AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Harvey S.November 29, 2016 06:00PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Victoria LisaNovember 29, 2016 03:16AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Maria VNovember 29, 2016 05:28PM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

LucieNovember 29, 2016 12:48AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

Margaret FNovember 29, 2016 03:26AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

MargaretFNovember 29, 2016 09:00AM

Re: To the Lakes We Go - Chapter 3 and 4

NicoletteDecember 19, 2016 09:21PM



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