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A Kindly Aunt 37 & 38

December 01, 2016 10:31PM
AN: Once again, thank you for you kind comments and thoughts. I appreciate them greatly

Chapter 37

Jane warned her aunt that Mr. Bingley would be calling as early as was acceptable so that Mr. Gardiner would not leave early for chambers or the business. Bingley and Caroline arrived, accompanied by Findlay and Mrs. Findlay. With much blushing by both Jane and Bingley, he excused himself to meet with Mr. Gardiner while the others pretended not to notice his obvious nervousness. They spoke mainly of the entertainment from the previous evening for perhaps fifteen minutes before Bingley and Mr. Gardiner rejoined them.

Mr. Gardiner cleared his throat with his entrance and said, “Although I am sure it is not news to any of you, I am happy to announce that Mr. Bingley has requested Jane’s hand in marriage and been accepted. Really, when we agreed to the courtship, we were already pleased to welcome him to the family. Now, I understand the rest of you have some planning to do before we send the notice on to the Bennets and the newspapers.”

After formally offering congratulations, the planning began in earnest. Mr. Gardiner, Bingley, and Findlay sat to one side chatting, offering an opinion when required, but otherwise allowing the women to plan the day. When he had come to the parlor, Mr. Gardiner had informed the butler that no visitors would be admitted until the current guests took their leave, so the planning was uninterrupted. Mary joined them so she could also participate in the planning.

With a double wedding before them, Caroline and Jane agreed not to have attendants. It would be so much simpler to have only the two couples to coordinate. Although they would hold the ceremony in three weeks, the men would each obtain a special license so that they would not have to wait for the banns to be read on three consecutive Sundays. The Hursts had offered their townhouse to host the wedding breakfast. However, after more discussion, they decided to hold the breakfast at the Findlay’s. This would allow it to proceed as Jane and Caroline desired, and not as Mrs. Bennet would choose. If they held it at the Hurst’s, Mrs. Bennet might want to have more control over events. Once the planning was complete, Bingley would travel to Longbourn with letters to meet with Mr. Bennet and share the news.

They spent a productive morning planning. When they were done, the ladies left to make other calls while Bingley and Findlay met with the minister to obtain the church and his participation after obtaining their special licenses. They went on to share the news at their clubs. Bingley would leave for Longbourn early the next day. The Hursts had invited everyone to their home for a celebratory supper. None had other important engagements for that evening, so they were pleased to change plans to join in congratulating both couples. Jane wrote a letter to Anne explaining about their plans hoping that the Wentworths could return to London in time for this new wedding and sent it off to Somerset that afternoon.

Mrs. Gardiner sent a note to her mother informing her of the betrothals before the planning session was completed. In reply, she received an invitation for Mr. Findlay and his mother to join the Sunday dinners if they desired. She also indicated her understanding if Miss Bingley preferred quiet time with her own family instead as the time was so short. After a quiet discussion, the Findlays decided to join the rest of the family at the Stevensons’. They thought it sounded like a pleasant break from the rigors of the Ton’s social requirements.

Supper at the Hursts’ was a very pleasant respite from demanding social situations. The children had remained at Gracechurch Street, but Mary had joined the festivities of the evening. Participating in Anne’s wedding had helped her become much more comfortable in social settings. She realized she was perhaps more prepared to have her own season than she had thought. She was particularly grateful for the friendships with her sisters and cousin which had helped her arrive at this comfort.

Now that the Hursts, Bingleys, Bennets, Gardiners and Findlays were so comfortable with one another, the evening was very relaxing. It was filled with laughter, particularly between Caroline and Elizabeth who were still enjoying Bingley’s single-minded devotion to Jane. Findlay joined in the teasing with glee, grateful that he was not quite so ridiculous, although he realized that if Caroline had wanted such ardent, visible devotion, they might not have been as well suited as they were.

Bingley left early the next morning carrying letters from the Gardiners and Jane addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia. When he arrived at Longbourn, he was shown directly into Mr. Bennet’s library. He was lucky that Mrs. Bennet was out making calls when he arrived.

Bingley began, “Mr. Bennet. My name is Charles Bingley. I have here some letters that may better explain my errand.” He handed the letters over to Mr. Bennet.

“Please have a seat. Do you mind if I look these over?” Mr. Bennet indicated the chair.

Bingley shook his head as he sat. “Please do. I imagine you will have some questions.”

They sat quietly for a few moments as Mr. Bennet read his letters. He began with the one from Jane, then from the Gardiners. Finally, he set them down and took a steadying breath. “According to these, you and Jane have come to an agreement, and you are here to ask for my blessing.”

Bingley smiled. “Yes, to my very great pleasure, it is so. Miss Bennet is the most wonderful woman I have ever met. I am greatly honored that she has agreed to become Mrs. Bingley.”

“I know that my brother has already given permission. Before I give my blessing, I need to know something more about you. Tell me about yourself.”

Bingley spent the next half hour much as he had with the Stevensons discussing his background and life. As he spoke, Mr. Bennet assessed the young man. He could understand how his quiet, peace-loving daughter might find herself attracted to this very genial young man. Finally, he said, “Very well. Well, you have my blessing. I would like you to stay until Mrs. Bennet returns so you can meet her. The letters indicate that this will be a double wedding with your sister.”

“Yes, Miss Bennet and Caroline decided it would be most convenient if we could hold them together. Otherwise, one would have to wait until the other returned from her wedding trip.”

“And all of the planning already done with a breakfast at your sister’s new home?”

“Miss Bennet wanted to have it done before I visited. She thought it would be best if Mrs. Bennet could just enjoy the wedding without worry over being at a distance from all the work.”

“Very diplomatically put. I hear the carriage returning now. Come with me and greet your new mother.” With a sardonic smile, Mr. Bennet led the way into the entry where they welcomed Mrs. Bennet home.

After performing introductions, Mr. Bennet announced, “Mr. Bingley is here to seek our blessing to his marriage to Jane. They will wed in a little under three weeks in London. You will need a new dress, as will Lydia and Kitty, so, tomorrow, you must visit the dress maker.”

Mrs. Bennet took just a moment to process what he said. Then she shrieked, “Jane! Married! But I must be there to help her and to plan. What do you mean, visit the dressmaker? I must to London to help.”

Mr. Bennet took her arm and led her into the parlor. “All the work has already been done. Miss Bingley, Mr. Bingley’s sister, is also to be wed at the same time, so she and Jane have already planned everything. All you need to do is procure new dresses and arrive the day before the wedding.”

Hill brought tea as Mrs. Bennet continued to protest that she must go directly to London. Bingley was bemused by her reaction. He thought back to the interview with the Stevensons and could see why they had asked the questions they had. It was obvious that Mrs. Bennet’s concern was not for Jane but for herself and the part she could play in the wedding. As he watched Mr. and Mrs. Bennet interact, he recognized that he would need to protect Jane from the excesses of her mother when they were together. He also realized that he had no idea of how to do that. Perhaps a discussion with Lady Stevenson would be in order. He was grateful he could talk with her tomorrow at dinner.

As Bingley was finishing his tea, two more young ladies entered the parlor and stopped short upon seeing the visitor. Mr. Bennet introduced Kitty and Lydia and told of the reason for the visit.

“Oh, how wonderful. I offer you both my congratulations and wish you every happiness. Jane is so sweet that I am sure you will be very happy together,” responded Kitty.

Lydia smiled and squealed, “Married! Are we to come to London for the wedding?”

Mr. Bennet answered, “Yes. We will go for a couple of days. You will all need new gowns. I have just told your mother that you must go to Meryton tomorrow to visit the dressmaker and find something appropriate. I hope that pleases you both.”

They chorused, “Oh, yes Father. Thank you.”

Bingley had finished his tea, “I am pleased to meet you both. However, I must be away if I am to make it home before dark. I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks. I believe these are for you.” He handed over a letter to each as he took his leave.

Kitty and Lydia excitedly read their letters. These were from all three sisters, explaining the plan for the double wedding, welcoming their upcoming visit, and telling of the courtship. As they read, they exclaimed to one another about all the details. As they became more and more excited, Mrs. Bennet began to be more excited, but once again, exclaimed, “Oh, why would Jane complete all of the planning without me. How could she do this to me? Has she no consideration for my nerves?”

Mr. Bennet answered, “I think she has been very considerate to your nerves. You need to do nothing but attend. It could not be any easier.”

“You just have no appreciation for what I suffer.”

He shook his head and said, “You are right; I do not. I will be in my library if you need me.”

Bingley headed to Gracechurch Street when he arrived in London. He was warmly welcomed into the parlor where he shared the results of his visit. Jane winced a little as she imagined what Bingley was not saying about her mother’s reaction. Just as it had given him some insight into why the Stevensons had asked their questions, she could now readily see how she might want and need some shielding from her mother in the future.

Dinner at the Stevensons added the Findlays with the Bingleys. Mrs. Findlay and Lady Stevenson had long known each other, so they had a very pleasant reunion. James and Mary Stevenson had also known Findlay for many years, so they were also pleased to welcome him into the larger family circle.

While they all visited, Lady Stevenson spent some time becoming better acquainted with Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst. She was pleased at what she saw. Later in the afternoon, she spoke with Mrs. Findlay. “Are you considering sponsoring your new daughter next season so she can have her presentation? She does not seem like she would be an embarrassment.”

Mrs. Findlay replied, “I have been considering it. She has called upon me frequently since our introduction. I enjoy her company.”

Lady Stevenson asked, “What about her sister?”

Mrs. Findlay said, “I think it might be good for the family if we present them both. The Hursts are an old family but have never been of the first rank. However, with these new connections, I think they can easily move up. Of course, the Bingleys are new money, but they are very genteel and do not flaunt their wealth or supposed position.”

“Well, if you do sponsor them, we will be sure to acknowledge their status to try to assist the effort.”

“Thank you, Rachel. That is very kind of you.”

“Launching these young girls forces one to stay current with the times. I have enjoyed the Bennets this year. I believe Jane and Mr. Bingley make a very nice couple. They may be so good natured that others will take advantage. I hope Mr. Darcy can help Mr. Bingley take a hard line as an estate manager.”

Mrs. Findlay smiled. “I believe if Mr. Bingley takes Darcy as his model he cannot do far wrong on his estate. It is not for nothing that he has a stellar reputation as a landowner.”

“Yes, his parents would be proud. I know Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam certainly are.”

They continued to talk of Ambleside, of the Hurst estate in Sussex, and of the trials of the season and the happy outcome of the upcoming double wedding. Lady Stevenson was pleased that Jane had been able to order things to her liking without having to give way to her mother’s far more grandiose plans. The wedding plans sounded lovely.

Bingley followed through on his thought about seeking advice from Lady Stevenson in a quiet moment after dinner. “I now understand and appreciate the questions you asked when I first met with you. However, I also now realize that I have no idea about how to protect Jane from her mother’s excesses. Do you have any suggestions?”

Lady Stevenson smiled at him and reached over and patted his hand. “While I could load you up with advice, I suspect that being aware if half the answer. Now that you can see that there are likely to be times when Jane will need protection, when those times arrive, you will have a better idea about what you might do. I know the family tries to soothe, change the subject, ignore, but sometimes the best option is to remove you and Jane from the situation. I think that will depend on what is happening. Being aware that you need to watch out will likely be your best defense for Jane.”

“Perhaps I need to think on it more.”

“You could also ask Mrs. Findlay’s advice. She also has a wealth of experience in society which might be useful. For that, you might want to wait until after she meets your new mother. It will offer her more insight into the situation.”

“Thank you. I may do that.” 

Chapter 38

The next week was busy as both couples made plans for their future together. Caroline and Jane spent time together with Mrs. Findlay taking a tour of the Findlay townhouse and making decisions about any needed updates. As they viewed the mistress’s suite, Caroline said to Jane, “At the beginning of the season, I think I would have felt a need to update everything and make many changes to show that I am in charge. However, as far as I can see, I do not really want to change anything. I would never have anticipated such a change in myself.”

Jane smiled, “And that is probably why you’ve found someone you appreciate who also admires you.”

Behind them, Mrs. Findlay also smiled, “Well, even if you love it as it is, we still need to make at least a few minor changes so it says it belongs to you, and not to me.”

After more discussion, they decided to reupholster the settee in the sitting room and the chair at the desk. “Honestly, I see no need to make any other changes at all. But, since you are moving to new rooms, what about those? Do we need to make changes there?”

They spent another quarter hour reviewing those and finally agreeing on some minor changes there as well. Then, Jane left, and Caroline stayed to meet the staff and learn about the routines in the Findlay townhouse. They talked of menus past, which were favorites and which were less so. When Caroline finally left, the Findlay staff was pleased with the new mistress. Of course, some had met her when she had been present at different times, but now all had made her acquaintance. They were pleased with her attitude and her friendship with Mrs. Findlay.

Jane spent more time with Louisa Hurst, trying to learn about Bingley’s favorite meals, preferences in a household, and more about their childhood. If they were to turn Ambleside into what he considered a home, she felt a better of understanding of their childhood home would help. Louisa shared a great deal she had not even thought of in many years. The two grew a great deal closer as a result, and Jane began to feel more like a sister to Louisa. They finally moved to a first name basis.

A couple of days later, Elizabeth shared a letter she received from Mrs. Bennet. “The letter I received from Mama this morning is, as usual, full of all sorts of advice about hurrying to secure someone before Jane’s wedding. Mama would like to meet any of my admirers when they come to town so she can help me ‘catch some rich man who can make life easier for your younger sisters.’ I was wondering just how much validity her worry has-should we be looking for beaux who can make life easier for our sisters?”

Jane put her book down as she, too, listened to their aunt. “If your father and uncle had not already taken steps to secure their futures, there might be some validity. However, between them, they have managed to put aside savings for your dowries and money to ensure a comfortable life for your mother should she outlive your father. Between investment and economizing, your father has provided a secure future. As I said when we first talked of marriage, your responsibility is to find someone you believe with whom you could comfortably grow old. All of the men who are now your friends have an adequate income and rank. You know we will warn you off someone unsuitable. Are you thinking you may have found someone?”

Elizabeth frowned. “No. But how can I really know?”

“Well, my dear, I think you just have to take your time. In spite of what your mother says, there is no rush. We still have over two weeks to the wedding and another month of the season before you need to return to Longbourn. You have the entire month of Jane’s wedding trip to finish this season. And you are still full young, not even eighteen until May. You are more than welcome to return for another season next year or come to the little season if you desire.”

Elizabeth smiled ruefully. “I am not sure I can face the censure from Mama if I am not successful.”

Jane said, “I know what we can do! If you do not attach someone this year, I am sure you can come spend the summer helping me and Mr. Bingley at Ambleside instead of going home to listen to Mama’s complaints. Mary, too, would be welcome if she would like to come.”

Elizabeth asked, “Are you sure you want to ask without checking with Mr. Bingley first?”

“No, we have already discussed such possibilities. It is not as if I do not know what Mama will be like. And I am sure we could use the assistance of my sisters in our work at Ambleside. The question will be whether or not Father will permit them to join us.”

Elizabeth said, “Well, I imagine he is getting accustomed to just having Lydia and Kitty around. I do not know why he would not agree.”

They went up to Mary in the classroom and continued the discussion. Finally, Jane wrote a note to her parents asking permission for her sisters to attend her when she moved to Ambleside at the beginning of June.

As they continued to talk, Mary asked, “What would you think about my coming out now? With these weddings and various attendant activities, I am more inclined to put the studies aside and become part of our current circle.”

Jane replied, “If that is what you want to do, why not?”

Elizabeth added, “It will give you a head start on your season. You know Almack’s is out for this year. Were you thinking of joining us at balls?”

Mary said, “Not even the balls. I was thinking of cards, dinners, soireés, and such, and probably not even all of those. I know most of the matrons from our sewing circle. I thought I might ease into society instead of making the grand come out that will happen when I am presented.”

They talked as they headed back down to the parlor where they continued with Mrs. Gardiner. After the decision had been reached, Mrs. Gardiner said, “Well, my dear, we will need to make some modifications to your appearance. The day dresses need to be lengthened and you will need to start putting your hair up.”

They removed to Mary’s room to examine the dresses to see how easily they could be modified. They found that most could be lengthened by adding an extra flounce at the hem, but there were a couple that would need to be passed down to Kitty or Lydia instead. Each of them took a dress to work on. Before returning to the parlor, the maid came in and helped Mary find an adult hair style for daily wear. When she finally joined the others, she was pleased at the compliments she received. From that time forth, she participated in calls, becoming better acquainted with their friends.

That week, Elizabeth and the Gardiners attended Almack’s without Jane who again stayed home with Mary. They played duets together for an hour, read for a while, and then went to bed early.

Elizabeth found herself very busy at Almack’s with a full dance card that evening. She had enjoyed each week at Almack’s, but now she thought she detected a bit of strain on some of the faces of other debutantes. It seemed they were now receiving that pressure she knew her own mother would apply to quickly find someone to attach. Most of the gentlemen were much as they usually were, charming with superficial conversation. There were a few anxious mothers also applying not so subtle pressure to some of the sons. Now that they were about half way through the season, it was time for everyone to get serious about the search for a mate. Although she was kept quite busy, Elizabeth did note that Darcy and Captain Fitzwilliam did not attend that week.

The next day, they had a number of callers. Mary sat quietly in the parlor listening as they paid their attentions to Elizabeth after an introduction to Mary. All seemed nice, but most had very little interesting conversation. After two left together, and the girls were alone with their aunt, Elizabeth said, “I do not seem to be making any progress. It is hard not to feel frustrated. Perhaps I was too swift to dismiss Mr. Raynor.”

Mrs. Gardiner said, “No, my dear, your reasons were valid. There will be someone.”

“So, you think I should not mention him to Mama?”

Everyone laughed. Mary answered for them all, “Only if you want advice on how to attach him more quickly. Really, Lizzy, sometimes I wonder at your sense of humor.”

Elizabeth smiled. “If I cannot laugh at myself and the humor of our lives, I would be bereft. I try to find the humor around me for I do not think I could keep myself under control otherwise. I am not sweet and serene as Jane is. Rather, my mind is constantly probing, testing, and so much is found wanting that I feel I must find humor in the situation.”

Mary asked, “Is that why you and Father so enjoy watching our neighbors?”

“In many respects, yes. There are so many little things that can make an otherwise unhappy or distressing situation bearable. However, I do know that trying to find someone, as we are doing here in London, would be much harder under Mama’s watch, even with trying the find the humor. I could wish she were not so-so-but as she is, well, I am grateful we are in London.”

In Somerset, the new school for the tenants commenced with great enthusiasm. Those who had been disabled by war injuries were grateful for the opportunity to acquire an education that might allow them to again contribute to their families. Edward was pleased to be able to assist in this effort. It would keep him busy for the rest of the summer. He also received his new orders that would send him further north starting in September. If this new effort saw some success, perhaps he could start a similar school in his new assignment.

Jane had received a letter from Anne offering her congratulations and their plans to return to London for the wedding. Since the Fitzwilliams had offered their home should they return to London, they would stay with them instead of at Gracechurch Street. She was having a nice week in the Kellynch area, really saying goodbye to friends for the foreseeable future. Lady Russell had returned and was making some progress in developing a friendship with Captain Wentworth. She had enjoyed seeing the Musgroves again and detailed their plans for education on the estate. They were pleased for the reason that brought them back to London so soon. Jane had also heard from Mr. Bennet that he would regretfully allow his daughters to remain together at Ambleside.

Elizabeth said, “That is a relief. I really do not want to imagine how difficult Mama might be if I do not at least become betrothed while we are in town.”

Mary smiled. “At least for now, I am safe from that. However, since Mama does not think I am attractive enough to attract someone, I think it will also be easier for me not to hear her criticisms.”

Mrs. Gardiner added, “You both know she loves you and means well. She just does not know how to express it in a helpful manner.”

Both nodded their heads in agreement. Just then visitors were announced and they set themselves to enjoy their guests.

That afternoon, Mary joined the rest at a card party at Lady Harriet’s. Lady Harriet had enjoyed her acquaintance with this quiet Bennet sister and was pleased that she was quietly joining society. She could see why Anne had selected Mary as her attendant at the wedding as they shared so many characteristics. Mary enjoyed the party although she kept her comments brief and listened much more than she spoke.

At one point, Mary found herself partnered with Captain Fitzwilliam. During their play, she mentioned that the Wentworths would be returning for the wedding. He replied, “So I understand. Wentworth has written my mother to verify that the invitation to stay remains in force. He does not want to overstay his welcome. Of course Mother replied immediately in the affirmative. So, your presence here indicates to me that you’ve decided to start your come out a little early.”

She smiled. “Yes, thanks in large part to both weddings. I turn sixteen next week, so it is not as if it is terribly early. I still have not decided about my presentation next year or later, but I thought it would be fun to begin socially now instead of waiting. We have made so many friends that it is not as intimidating as it might be once my older sisters are off.”

He smiled in return as he played a card. The other lady at the table also smiled and added, “I think that an excellent plan. There is so much attention at the beginning of the season it can be quite overwhelming. I think your plan a lovely one.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Stanley. I will admit society is a bit overwhelming, so easing in a little unobtrusively is a bit less stressful.”

“I wish my own daughter had tried that. Her season was difficult for all of us. At least she finally found herself a comfortable situation. She will be married shortly.”

Mary smiled again. “Good for her. I’m not looking yet, just testing the waters. I will wade in later when I’m ready.”

Findlay hosted everyone for an evening of theater on Saturday. The box was quite full with a number of friends stopping by to pay their respects. Caroline found that he had a very interesting circle of friends. As the curtain rose, she said to Louisa, “I must say that since our acquaintance with Mr. Findlay, Mr. Hurst has quite blossomed.”

Louisa said, “He is become what he was when we first met. I think it is your change in attitude that has allowed him to once again become the man I married.”

Caroline frowned. “Then I must apologize to both you and him for causing him so much discomfort. Truly, I never imagined I was doing so. I honestly could not understand why you chose him. But now, I think I can see. How strange that the advice from school should be so very wrong.”

Louisa replied, “Indeed.”

In her seat, Mary whispered to Elizabeth, “Do you think I will ever become accustomed to the vast number of people at every venue in London? I declare that I would just shrink away if I could.”

Elizabeth patted her sister’s hand. “Do not fret. I will admit I found it a bit intimidating at first, there are so many people, and I enjoy people. However, I no longer even notice them. You must admit, our circle of friends is very welcoming, so there is no need to worry about all those others. They signify nothing.”

“Thank you. I will try to remember that.”

When they supped at Findlay’s house after the theater, Mary found that Mrs. Findlay was a wonderful source of stories. She spent the remainder of the evening prompting Mrs. Findlay for even more tales. She found that even better entertainment than the theater had been.

Sunday at the Stevensons found the Elliots making a farewell call upon the family before returning to Kellynch. Miss Elliot was once again disappointed that she had not found someone. She offered cool congratulations to both Jane and Caroline on their betrothals all the while wondering how they had attached someone when she still had not. Neither of their men was of sufficient lineage to interest her in any case, but still…It was probably a good thing that they would be returned to Kellynch before having to endure another wedding with these lower ranked relatives.

Once the Elliots had left, the party at the Stevenson’s was much more congenial and relaxed. With the Bingleys and Findlays also present, Mary found a great deal of pleasure in the company. Mrs. Findlay continued to share stories of their recent experiences in Sweden. Even Hurst shared a story or two of when he and Findlay had been boys.

Caroline took a moment to visit with Jane. “You know, at the beginning of the season, I could never have foreseen our friendship. Of course, I was somewhat jealous of your looks. Since you are one of the most beautiful women of our acquaintance and by far the sweetest, you were very intimidating. How could I possibly compete with someone like you? I am afraid I was not very kind or friendly at first. Could I ask your forgiveness?”

Jane smiled and patted Caroline’s hand. “I will admit that I noticed a few moments of tension, but honestly, you were never as difficult as you are implying. I am sorry that you felt intimidated. You must know that there was truly no reason for that.”

“Well, now that I have Mr. Findlay helping me along, I do realize it. However, the instructions from school were not such that I would have had much social success if I had continued to follow them. And truly, I am happy that you are to by my new sister. I know we will not live near one another, but I will readily admit it is comforting that Charles has you and your family to rely on. He has tried so hard to make up for the loss of our parents, but he really does need someone like you to help him along.”

“Thank you. But while you will be far from your brother, at least your estate will be near Mrs. Hurst.”

“Yes. That is also a great comfort.”

Mary spent time visiting with Lady Stevenson discussing her decision to come out quietly at first. They debated the merits of having her season while still sixteen or waiting until seventeen. Lady Stevenson said, “Do you think yourself ready to marry and have children?”

Mary shook her head. “No, I do not. That is why I think it probably better to wait an additional year, just on the off chance that I actually do attract someone.”

Lady Stevenson smiled. “I do not think you need fear that you would not attract someone. You may not be as beautiful as Jane, but you are very attractive, in spite of what your Mother says. She seems to have a very limited perspective of what constitutes good looks. All five of you are quite nice-looking.”

Mary blushed at the praise. “Thank you. I have always feared adulthood because of Mother’s criticism of my looks and manners.”

Lady Stevenson brushed that away, patting Mary on the hand. “Nonsense. Now, I do like this idea of easing into the social scene slowly. You will build up your confidence before you start attending the more stressful events like balls. I hear you are to join Jane at Ambleside. I am sure there will be assemblies each quarter just as there are in Meryton, so you can attend those and gain confidence before coming to town. How long do you think you and Elizabeth will stay with Jane?”

“That is hard to say, for sure. I would guess that by the end of the summer, we will either return home or to the Gardiner’s. Since I can go home without hearing recriminations about attaching someone, Lizzy and I may go our separate ways. We will see which way the wind blows when the rest of the family comes to town for the wedding. If Anne’s was any indication, Lizzy will not be returning to Meryton.”

“I had a sister who was as outspoken as your mother although slightly, now only slightly, mind you, better informed than your mother. It was quite embarrassing, but believe me, you will live through to laugh about it at some later date when you are safely settled in your own home.”

“I hope you are correct.” 

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/02/2016 03:38PM by Amy I..

A Kindly Aunt 37 & 38

ShannaGDecember 01, 2016 10:31PM

Re: A Kindly Aunt 37 & 38

BrigidDecember 04, 2016 04:21AM

Special License

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EvelynJeanDecember 04, 2016 06:01AM

As well...

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EvelynJeanDecember 02, 2016 05:59AM

Re: A Kindly Aunt 37 & 4

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