April 05, 2017 09:34PM
Author's Note: Huge shout out to Betsy for editing and helping me clean this story up! It would not be as interesting without your help!

Chapter 1 – New Tenants of Netherfield (Part One)

Longbourn, Hertfordshire 1811

“Mr. Bennet! Netherfield Park is let at last!” The words rang out; Thomas Bennet cringed as he spilled some of his drink on his desk. He got it cleaned up and had the glass hidden just as his wife of 24 years burst into his study. “Do you want to know who has taken it?”

“Not really.”

Continuing on as if she had not heard him, Fanny Bennet exclaimed, “A Mr. Bingley of London! Oh, what a fine thing for our girls! Mr. Bennet, he has £5,000 a year!”

“Why is it a fine thing? Whatever does he have to do with our girls?”

“He is single Mr. Bennet! Surely he will find one of our girls to his taste!”

“Is that his design then, in coming to Meryton? To marry into our family?”

“A man with a large fortune must be in want of a wife! And why not our lovely children? Why not one of our girls? Oh! You must go visit him, directly he comes!”

“Why should I visit him? No. No. You should go, if he is to marry one of our girls, take them. That way he can simply pick and be done with it.” Thomas Bennet stopped and considered his wife for a moment, then with a twinkle in his eye, he added, “On the other hand, Mr. Bingley might like you best of the party…you should probably send our girls by themselves!”

“By themselves?” cried Mrs. Bennet incredulously, “Preposterous! If you do not visit Mr. Bingley, our girls will not be acquainted with him!”

“Mama! Papa! Have you heard the news?” shouted Lydia Bennet as she bounced into her father’s study, with her elder sister Kitty following right after. Anyone who was not familiar with the Bennet family would actually believe that Lydia was the elder of the two; her figure was full and her height a full two inches taller than her elder sister. It also did not help that Catherine Bennet, also known as Kitty, was not as exuberant as her younger sister. It was not uncommon to see the elder follow the younger around.

It also pained Mr. Bennet to see his wife completely disregard Kitty’s presence as she started to speak with her youngest.

“Yes, my dear! Are you not excited? A single man coming to Netherfield!” Mr. Bennet was also not thrilled with how high pitched and shrill his wife’s voice inevitably became when she did join their youngest in her boisterous moods.

“He is bringing a large party,” started Kitty, “eight ladies and six gentlemen-”

Lydia interrupted rudely, “No, it was twelve ladies and five gentlemen!”

“It was not, I assure-a”

“Do not make assurances you cannot guarantee, Kitty!” interrupted Lydia again.

As the two youngest Bennet children were arguing, Thomas Bennet exhaled with relief when he saw his eldest daughter, Jane Bennet, and his niece, Elizabeth Bennet approach the study door. He was thankful that they chose not to enter, as there was already more activity than his wished crowded in his small sanctuary.

However, from outside the small room Lizzy exclaimed with laughter, “Either way, cousins, that is entirely too many ladies!” Her comment quite quieted the youngest two’s squabble. For a moment, the room became quite again. Unfortunately for Mr. Bennet, the quite did not last long and soon, Mrs. Bennet was complaining of Mr. Bennet’s treatment of them. Lydia soon added her opinion on the matter and before Mr. Bennet could do anything, the noise level in his study started to steadily rise.

Thomas Bennet sighed. He realized he needed to get the ladies who were in his sanctuary out and so called out to Elizabeth, “Lizzy! Is that a new bonnet? Do you think Mr. Bingley will like it?”

Mrs. Bennet, upset by his refusal to visit the new neighbors, started waving her only weapon: a white handkerchief toward her husband and exclaimed loudly, “If you do not visit them, how are we to know what Mr. Bingley likes? Oh dear! My poor nerves! You do not know what I suffer!”

“On the contrary madam, your nerves and I have been friends for twenty years at least. I have a great compassion on your nerves. This is why I will put in a good word with Mr. Bingley about our daughters.” Then winking at Lizzy, added, “Although Lizzy is quite smarter than the rest of them, I daresay he might like a silly wife.”

“Lizzy is not better than the rest of the girls,” turning quickly to Lizzy she soothed, “That is not to say you do not have good qualities my dear. I am sure we will be able to find a husband for you,” to herself she muttered, “a little help from you would go a long way as well, Miss Lizzy!”

Mr. Bennet interrupted before Lizzy had a chance to comment, “Mr. Bingley did not seem to mind when I described the girls to him. He actually seemed happy that there would be adequate dancing partners for the assembly on Friday.”

A loud scream sounded and Kitty and Lydia started to dance with joy. Jane simply moved away pulling Elizabeth with her. Mrs. Bennet was in a state of shock for a full minute. During that time, Mr. Bennet was able to get Kitty and Lydia calmed and removed from his study. Now, as he approached his wife, she started becoming hysterically happy, “Oh Mr. Bennet! You have already visited him! How good you are to our girls. Now we cannot escape the acquaintance, even though we should not wish to. Oh! My nerves can’t handle such surprises! I must go lie down!”

“Of course! My dear,” responded Mr. Bennet, “by all means, go rest. Calm those nerves of yours. I have a letter I need to write.” He said the last words as he firmly shut the door. As an afterthought, he locked his study door. The lock on the door was an excellent idea; I will have to remember to thank James for it. Now he was ensured a peaceful afternoon.

Lizzy could not help but feel a little melancholy as she and Jane walked outside. Leave it to Uncle to be the cause of one of Aunt’s fits. I will miss this though. With a wistful eye, Elizabeth stood and looked back at the home she had grown up in. This was a lovely place to be alive in. She looked to the right where her favorite oak tree had been growing next to her window for the past seventeen years. So many years of happy memories.

She was taken from her reverie when Jane stated quietly beside her, “Lizzy, I am so glad you are back from London. I miss you so when you are away.”

“Yes. I as well.” To get her mind off of her depressed thoughts, Elizabeth linked arms with Jane and started to walk around the rose garden Mrs. Bennet had planted many years before. “I still do not understand why you did not wish to go with me this year. You normally enjoy yourself so much.”

Jane blushed. She had never been good at lying and holding out the entire summer on her cousin had taken a toll on her natural serenity; Jane felt bad for the withholding of information, “I thought…this was the last season before your first season in London as Lady Elizabeth, surely you wanted to the time alone with your grandfather. I can only image what next season will be like for you.”

Elizabeth stopped walking and cried, “You are telling me that you did not go because you thought I would enjoy it more without you? Never!” Smiling she added, “I will admit, grandfather and I went on more vigorous rides without you, but I promise you, we both missed you. Me more than him, of course.” Here Elizabeth thought for a moment and impishly added, “Actually, I think Cleopatra missed you more.”

Jane laughed at the reference to the docile horse James kept on hand for her, “Surely you rode her for me?”

“Only a few times, as I wrote to you, Grandfather purchased a lovely Andalusian mare for me. She loves to jump even though I do not.”

They walked in silence for a while until Jane asked, “What do you think about the new tenants of Netherfield?”

“I have never met them, so hold no opinion…yet.”

Laughing at her cousin’s small joke, Jane stated, “Of course not. I was referring to whether or not you had ever heard of Mr. Bingley in town?”

Shaking her head, Lizzy responded, “No. I had not. Why would I have heard of him and you not? After all, with the exception of these last few weeks, you were with me as well. I assure you this last visit, Grandfather and I stayed at Heythrop Park. We did detour and visited several estates in Oxford at Grandfather’s instance, but that was all.”

“I thought perhaps your grandfather would have heard of him?”

“Oh! Of that I am sure! Grandfather knows just about everyone in London. I believe I will include it in my next letter to him.” Then a thought occurred to her, “Jane, why all the questions? You have never really been interested in new tenants before, why now?”

Jane sighed and shrugged.

Elizabeth nudged her cousin and asked, “Jane?”

Jane rolled her eyes and said, “I can never keep anything from you, can I?”

“No secrets. I hate secrets as you know.”

“Yes, no good comes of secrets,” laughed Jane. It was a long standing joke between the two and they often would tease Mr. Bennet with it.

“Well. What has my lovely cousin on her mind?”

“It is only….Miss Jonas became engaged while you were gone.” Jane said without looking at her cousin.

“And she got engaged to a man you wanted to marry?” teased Elizabeth.

Jane laughed at the thought but replied, “No! No indeed! You shouldn’t tease so.”

“Then I do not understand why you should be upset with Miss Jonas becoming engaged.” stated Elizabeth sincerely, “We barely even know her.”

“I know. It is just that…she just turned eighteen.” Elizabeth was silent and Jane continued, “And earlier in the summer, right after you left, Miss Brigham also got engaged at nineteen, and Miss Alderson got married while you were gone as well, and she is only seventeen.”

“I see,” Elizabeth hesitated only a little before she asked, “Jane, are you feeling a little ‘on the shelf’ at the young age of twenty two?”

“No. Maybe…I do not know!” cried Jane. “I had so wished to marry for love, but what if I never find someone to love?”

Elizabeth started laughing almost uncontrollably. When she was finally able to get a breath, she saw her angelic cousin standing a few feet away from her with a very rare scowl on her face. She instantly tried to soothe Jane as she said, “Oh dear Jane! I am truly sorry to laugh so, but the very thought of someone not falling in love with you is completely ridiculous. I am quite sure you will find someone who will match your temperament perfectly. Of that you should have no fear.”

Jane relaxed a little and said, “Mother has been beside herself all summer; she has never been this bad before. However, I think it finally occurred to her that her eldest is not yet married and approaching the late age of 23.”

“Did her eldest also reach the same decision? Is it time for her to marry?” inquired Elizabeth with sympathy.

Jane took a deep breath and said, “I wish to marry, Elizabeth, you know that. You also know I wish to marry for love; just anyone will not do. I could not be happy simply by marrying. However, it occurs to me, that Mother may not feel this way.”

Shaking her head, Jane looked off into the distance, and continued, “I never realized how bad it was until I stayed home for the beginning of the season. I know the balls and parties we have here in the country are nothing to those we might experience in London. But having been with you these past years for the first part of the onslaught of engagements instead of at home, I had forgotten just how many Hertfordshire offers. I think we went to at least four balls in the twelve weeks you were away, and who knows how many card parties and ‘intimate dinners’.”

The girls fell into silence until Lizzy stated her thoughts out loud, “Maybe that is why Mary is so….studious.”

“What do you mean?”

Distractedly, Elizabeth said, “Have you ever wondered why Mary is so passionate about Fordyce’s Sermons? I have been watching her these past few days and can’t help but wonder if she feels comfortable in company. She seems to only quote the text when she wishes to be included in the conversation and I am starting to believe it is because she simply does not know what to say.”

Turning swiftly to Jane, she continued, “Yesterday, Lydia and Kitty were arguing about that new blue dress of Lydia’s. Kitty was trying to tell Lydia that the color suited her, which it did, but Lydia was simply not listening. I entered and saw Mary standing to the side of the group listening to her two sisters prattle on. Instead of interrupting the two, as I would normally do, I stood back and watched. Mary started to inch closer to the group until Kitty finally asked Mary to settle the argument. Mary looked…lost. Then she quoted some passage of Fordyce’s about over worrying about one’s vanity. Of course Kitty and Lydia laughed it off and it seemed to hurt Mary.”

Jane did not reply immediately, when she did she asked, “And this has you believing Mary wants to be heard but simply does not know how to say what she wants?”

“Somewhat. I believe Mary wants to say something but does not know what to say. She wants to be a part of conversations but does not know what to contribute, so she quotes Fordyce.” Getting passionate about her subject, Elizabeth added, “To be quite honest, before that moment, I never even considered that she may feel…lacking or neglected. I feel heartily ashamed that I never noticed before then.”

Jane, as sympathetic as ever, “Well, what is to be done then?”

“I have no idea. Any notion, I come up with or try seems to be rebuffed by her. I am thinking about writing to Grandfather for some ideas.”

They walked in silence for a few minutes before Jane hesitantly asked, “Lizzy, was everything at Heythrop alright? Is your Grandfather well?”

“I do not understand you Jane,” Elizabeth replied with a furrowed brow, “Grandfather is as healthy as a horse.”

Jane stared off into the distance and after a few quiet moments stated, “But you have not been your usual cheerful self. Did something happen at Heythrop? You have been very introspective. Not that looking at one’s actions and making changes like you are suggesting is bad, only…you have never really done it before.”

Elizabeth smiled and gave her cousin a small laugh as she replied, “I love to study other people, as you well know. However, does it not translate that I would enjoy studying myself? I am not perfect you know and have plenty of faults.”

Jane continued in a serious manner, “No, I know that you do Lizzy. I am only asking if something specific happened. Truly you have not really been yourself. I can tell.”

Grabbing her favorite cousin’s arm, Lizzy indicated she wished to walk further from the house. “Yes, something did happen on my trip, and it has me only a little unsettled. I promise Jane, I will overcome this and be myself again.”

When they had walked almost out of sight of the house, Elizabeth looked back at the building she had grown up in. It was not a small house to be truthful, but when she compared it to her grandfather’s home at Heythrop, Elizabeth normally felt quite suffocated. With four cousins running about the place, and an aunt and uncle who hardly ever leave except to go to town, it is no wonder I feel as if I have no room here, she thought as she studied the two story home. The yellow paint had faded in spots and was missing altogether in others, but as she considered the small stately building, Elizabeth was disconcerted to realize she did not feel the same welcoming spirit Longbourn normally held for her. Elizabeth almost felt like a visitor and said as much to Jane.

Jane cried out, “Lizzy! This is your home! Why would you feel any differently?”

Elizabeth shrugged and started walking a little bit more away from the building and said, “It happened about a week into our return to Heythrop. As you know, Grandfather wanted to visit a few places before we went to his country estate. I had only mentioned in passing that I had never seen the inside of any home in the area, except for Heythrop Park. Grandfather instantly changed our plans and was determined to stop at every large house we could as we traveled to his estate. In the end, we only stopped at two or three places.”

With a twinkle in her eye, she said, “I was a little worried about applying to the housekeepers at each home. After all, anyone who has heard of James Talbot knows of his position in society. I was amused to see the housekeepers show us around without pomp or circumstance after he introduced himself simply as ‘James Talbot’. They automatically assumed he was Mr. James Talbot and not His Grace, Lord James Talbot.”

Jane laughed at the image; having met her cousins’ grandfather she could picture the scene very well. However, Jane was more curious about what happened when they got to Heythrop and indicated for Elizabeth to continue.

Elizabeth exhaled and with slumped shoulders responded, “It had been hard to write to you while we traveled because of the stops we had been making. In fact, it had taken me a good day to recover from the travel before I found myself at leisure to write to you. After I had written to you, I went to Grandfather’s study to put it with his pile of business correspondence since he had shut himself up that morning to get as much as he could done. His study door was open a little and I realized he was arguing with someone. I did not mean to eavesdrop but I heard my name.”

When Elizabeth stopped, Jane realized she was losing her cousin to her memories and prompted her to continue her tale, “Lizzy, who was it?”

With disgust she answered, “Lord Charles Talbot, the 14th Earl of Shrewsbury and his nephew, Viscount John Talbot, future Earl of Shrewsbury. Both are cousins of mine and Grandfather’s.”

“Cousins?” asked Jane, “From your mother’s side?”

Elizabeth nodded, “Yes, our great-great grandparents were siblings.”

Jane went and sat on a log that was near and when she was comfortable said, “Lizzy, start at the beginning. I can see whatever was said has greatly upset you.”

Elizabeth started to pace in front Jane, and after a few minutes she said, “At first, when I realized who Grandfather was speaking with, I was in a little shock. I was under the impression that he was not fond of our Talbot relations. In fact, he told me once, in passing, about how his father and grandfather never spoke with our Talbot cousins. There was never a cut direct but there was much animosity in the family. He said it was my Grandmother who wished to heal the breech and had finally convinced him to seek out his Talbot and Berkeley relations.”

Continuing to pace, Elizabeth’s words came out in a rush, “As I stood there, it occurred to me what they were talking about: my inheritance and my title. My cousins were proposing an arranged marriage between myself and my distant cousin the Viscount, John Talbot.”

Elizabeth turned to Jane with panic in her eyes and said, “I do not wish to marry by contract but rather by the heart. However, it seems as if that is not to be my lot in life.”

Jane cried, “Surely His Grace would not do such a thing!”

Elizabeth shook her head in resignation and sat down next to her dearest cousin and said, “I did not hear the remainder of the conversation, so I do not know for certain if this is my fate. However, the rest of the visit, Grandfather continued to make comments about my meeting my cousins. He also brought up my future marriage multiple times.”

Jane asked, “But you do not know for sure if he has arranged a marriage for you? Did you speak with him about your wish?”

Laughing wryly at herself, Elizabeth asked, “Just how should I have phrased that conversation, dear Jane? I overheard a conversation I was not supposed to hear and now wish to inform you that I do not want to marry?” With a breath of resignation she added, “This is how it is done in the upper circles, I believe.”

“Oh Lizzy! You must write to him. You must tell him how you feel!”

“No Jane. This is my fate, I will be resigned to it.” Then with a teasing laugh Elizabeth added, “I have decided that grandfather would not wed me to anyone too boring. I truly do not believe he would arrange a marriage between myself and my cousin Lord John unless absolutely necessary. After all, he does not like them; and he knows I would torment him with the entire Talbot family presence if he did!”

“Lizzy!” cried Jane in astonishment, “You would not!’

“I would!” Elizabeth then took her favorite cousin in her arms and said, “There, you have helped me overcome my melancholy. Now, the rest of my time at Longbourn may be spent in freedom and joy.”

The next day, Lizzy was up bright and early, ready for her walk outdoors. As she went to the kitchen to sneak a few biscuits, she stopped short: William Hill was in the kitchen speaking quietly with his mother. She had decided to leave through a different door, without her biscuit, when Mrs. Hill saw her. “Miss Elizabeth! Out for your morning walk?”

“Yes, Hill!” her courage rising, she walked calmly into the kitchen and turned to the cook, “That is if Mrs. Brown would part with a few morning biscuits to give me the strength I need for it.”

Laughing at the antics of the young miss, Mrs. Brown started filling a napkin with a few blueberry muffins, “Ain’t got to the biscuits yet ma’am! But here’s some fresh muffins for you!”

“Miss Elizabeth, your Uncle does not uncle doesn’t like you out walking without someone, do you need me to accompany you?”

Sally, the upstairs maid, quickly turned from the scene, an action which did not go unnoticed by anyone except William Brown. Elizabeth quickly said, “No, no! I was going to ask my cousin Mary to join me; she’s just in the music room.”

“Beggin your pardon ma’am, your cousin is not a servant and your uncle specifically said –”

Getting irritated, Elizabeth interrupted, “I know what my uncle has required and his reasoning, Billy Hill. I was planning on asking Mr. Smith to accompany me and my cousin since there was a drainage issue that needed his attention on the south side. My cousin needs the exposure to how estates are run as well. I appreciate your willingness, but I believe your mother has more of a need for you.”

With that, she walked out of the room toward the music room. Behind her, Elizabeth could hear lecturing her son. Sally simply walked out of the kitchen to start lighting the fire in the dining room for breakfast. No one noticed the single tear coming out of her eye.

As Elizabeth made her way to find Mary she mentally added more to a letter she was composing for her grandfather.

There are many advantages to leaving the surrounding community in ignorance, Grandfather, but there are also quite a few disadvantages: Aunt Fanny’s constant comments on my single state, and the constant looks of disapproval or sympathy at parties and dinners when I sit and speak with any young single man being at the top of the list. After all, if I do not have anything to offer him, why I am wasting his time? However, lately I have found yet another disadvantage: interest being shown by someone who could possibly be acceptable for the penniless, connectionless Miss Elizabeth Bennet, but wholly unsuitable for the next Duchess of Shrewsbury.

You remember William Hill? Our housekeeper’s son? Since my return, and after some reflection, even before I left to visit you this last summer, he has been attempting to garner my attention in the most officious manner. Just this morning, he attempted to be my and Mary’s chaperone on a walk because Uncle Thomas requires I have an escort. Poor Sally, one of our maids, she is so in love with him. It must be torture to watch him fawn over someone who has no feelings for him whatsoever.

“Mary!” Elizabeth cried out when she found her cousin practicing the pianoforte. A loud clang could be heard as Elizabeth startled Mary at the piano. “Oh! I’m sorry! I thought you heard me coming!”

“Well, I did not.”

“Oh. Well, I brought you a blueberry muffin.”

“No thank you. I will wait for breakfast.”

Sighing in resignation, Lizzy sat on the chair next to the piano forte, and said, “I was going with Mr. Smith to see to a drainage issue since Uncle was not feeling the best. I thought it would be good exposure for you to start to learn how an estate is managed.”

“Thank you, but I have plans today.”

Slyly, Elizabeth looked out of the corner of her eye as she added, ignoring Mary’s comment, “I was also going to visit the new parson on my way back and need someone to walk with me. Mr. Smith would be heading to see to other tenant business after the drainage issue.” She saw the slight pause in Mary’s actions and it encouraged her to continue, “I know Aunt has visited the Parson but I did tell him that I would be willing to look over his roses. He claims they are in ghastly shape – ”

Turning sharply to her cousin, Mary exclaimed, “Lizzy you are horrible with roses! You keep pricking yourself no matter how many times I tell you to wear gloves! I will have to come now or you will run our new parson off!”

“Well, then, here is your muffin and I will wait for you near the front entrance. Please hurry, I told Mr. Smith I would be there in 15 minutes.”
Elizabeth smiled as she saw Mary dart off quickly to change. My suspicions were correct Grandfather. You wait and see! They will be either courting or married by the end of the year. I am sure of it!

As Lizzy waited for Mary, she started to munch on the muffin she had. She was startled when Sally came around the corner from the breakfast room. Lizzy felt she needed to say something to Sally about what she had witnessed in the kitchen and started to say, “Sally...”

“Yes, ma’am? Did you need something?”

Not really knowing how to put what she felt she needed to say, Lizzy opted for being blunt, “I am sorry Sally. It is not my intention for Billy to be so…focused on me…truly, he is nothing more than a friend….an irritating one at that.”

Half smiling, Sally responded, “I know it is not your fault ma’am. I had best just get over him and move on.” Shrugging, she said, “He’s been stuck on you for years. I believe I need to head upstairs now, Miss Bennet will be waking and she likes a hot bath in the mornings.”

“Oh I know!” Almost as an afterthought, Lizzy asked, “Sally? Did you ever think about leaving Longbourn and getting away from Billy?”

Startled, Sally asked desperately, “Leave Longbourn? Where would I go? I have not done anything wrong have I?”

Realizing her error, Lizzy rushed to make amends, “NO! Sally! You are wonderful! We would never ask you to leave! We love you here! I only meant – ”

“My cousin only meant, if you wanted to leave to make it easier on yourself in regards to overcoming your fascination with Billy Hill, we would not blame you for it,” interrupted Mary.

Sally visibly calmed and responded, “No, Miss Mary, Miss Elizabeth, I am quite happy here at Longbourn serving the eldest Miss Bennets.” With that she left to go upstairs.

As Mary and Elizabeth left to meet their steward, Elizabeth turned to Mary and said, “Thank you Mary! I do not know what I was thinking.”

“Of course. You were probably thinking your grandfather would be able to help her find a position.”

Alarmed, Lizzy tried to dissent from that claim, “What on earth could my grandfather do to help?”

“Probably much more than Father could. The Duke of Shrewsbury could well afford to hire another maid. It would certainly be a better position than what she has now.”

Shocked, Lizzy grabbed Mary arm and almost dragged her to the side of the house and whispered, “How on earth do you know that?”

“You need not worry about me telling anyone.”

Pinching her nose, Elizabeth stated, “I am more worried about how you came by this information.”

As Mary blushed a little with guilt, she said, “I probably need to apologize for it. When you were going to go to London to meet your grandfather a few years ago, I was about to interrupt the conversation you were having with Father,” She hurried to add when she saw Elizabeth’s look of horror, “I did not hear much. All I heard was Father remind you that it was a good thing mother did not know about the Duke.” Holding out her hands in submission, Mary added, “I know you send letters to Oxford, and there are only a few Dukes who reside there. I heard Father mention writing to Talbot once or twice and simply put two and two together.”

Hissing Elizabeth exclaimed, “Quiet! We do not want the world to hear you!”

“We need to be off,” was Mary’s only response.

They walked in silence until they met with Mr. Smith. Elizabeth was somewhat disconcerted by the fact that Mary not only had known but had known for years about the identity of her grandfather, but she had not sought to tell anyone. She was thankful for the distraction that Mr. Smith afforded her.

It was some time later that Mary and Elizabeth were finished with the drainage issue and started walking toward the Parson’s house. It was during this trip that Mary spoke quietly, “Thank you for thinking of me, Lizzy.”

“What on earth do you mean?”

“Normally, you would take Jane on trips and walks like this. Thank you for inviting me.”

“Jane is horrendous with roses,” was all Elizabeth could say.

Elizabeth watched her cousin out of the corner of her eye. As they approached the Parsonage, she noticed her cousin getting visibly stiffer. She realized Mary was nervous, and abruptly stopped. “Mary,” she said, “You need to be calm. He is just another person.”

It occurred to her that this might be the opening Lizzy needed to get to know Mary better and said, “Mary, did you know, those pianoforte pieces I bring home every year are a source of humor for myself and Grandfather? They are sort of a standing joke.”

Mary looked in confusion at her cousin and asked, “I do not understand; what do you mean by a standing joke?”

“Well, the first time I visited Grandfather in Oxford, I was very nervous. You should know my character by now: anytime someone attempts to intimidate me, I rise to the occasion.”

“You mean you are determined to prove the other person wrong?”

Laughing at her cousin’s accurate description of her, Elizabeth replied, “Indeed! You are quite correct. I did in fact feel intimidate by Grandfather. One night, very early into our visit, Jane felt she needed to spend at least some time practicing her music. I, of course, practiced my singing. Grandfather found us in the music room and asked if I was to practice after Jane was done. I of course, took this as a challenge, and attempted a very complicated piece, and to my dismay, Grandfather stayed and listened to the entire poorly played song.”

Elizabeth smiled in remembrance. “Jane, of course, tried to appease my wounded pride by informing me it was not bad at all, that I only needed a little more practice with it before I could play it perfectly. Grandfather seconded her opinion.”

As the ladies continued to walk toward the parsonage, Lizzy added with a smile, “The next time I visited, I found an enormous pile of new sheet music in the music room. When we asked Grandfather about it, he told Jane and I that he was sure I could play the pieces just fine, and only needed a little more practice with them. Since then, there is always a new set of sheet music that comes home with me, or he sends in his correspondence to me with that same statement, ‘I am sure you could play this beautifully and will only require very little practice time for it’.”

Mary asked with a broad smile on her face, “Is that why there is always new music at home?”

Elizabeth nodded, and both ladies laughed quietly with each other. The remainder of the walk, they discussed a new piece that Elizabeth had brought home and added to the ever growing pile. As they approached the Parsonage, Lizzy noticed her sister getting visibly stiffer; she realized Mary was nervous, and abruptly stopped,

Mary was standing as straight as could be, and Lizzy witness a severe degree of haughtiness and pride descend upon her cousins’ face. Having experienced her cousins’ current manners many times before, Mary drew a deep breath and Elizabeth could feel the moral lecture coming on. “Stop!” She said with her hand up in the air, “Do not even say it.”

“Excuse me?”

“Lecture me on modesty. There is nothing wrong with either of our decorum. If you had decided to simply visit the parson on your own, there would be an issue there. However, there is nothing disrespectful about our visiting him to help in his garden. In fact, you could say we are doing our Christian duty.”

Mary looked toward the parsonage, and asked quietly, “What if he does not see it that way? I do not want to seem too forward.”

Laughing, Elizabeth responded, “If anyone was forward, it would have been me! I offered my help reclaiming a rose garden when everyone in Hertfordshire knows about my inability to grow a thing!”

“That is true.”

Becoming serious, Elizabeth put her arm around her cousin and said, “Stop trying so hard and simply be yourself. Most of the conversation will be about roses. If you feel uncomfortable, simply bring the conversation back to the roses.”

Mary hesitated before she admitted, “Lizzy, I am not very good at…leading discussions.”

With a wink, Lizzy responded just before the Reverend came out of this cottage and spotted then, “I am sure you can converse very well and will only require very little practice to become perfect at it.”

As the Reverend Mr. Michael Forsythe called out to the ladies in greeting, he heard the most delightful laugh come from Mary.

Sensing that her nervousness was gone or at least abated, Elizabeth hurriedly brought Mary to where the Reverend stood before her cousin lost her courage. Elizabeth greeted him when they were near, “Good morning Reverend!”

“Good morning Miss Elizabeth and Miss Mary!” he exclaimed as he bowed to the two. “You have finally come to revive my flower patch? I daresay there will be a lot of work to do there!”

“No, Reverend Forsythe! We are only here to give you advice. You must do the work yourself!” teased Elizabeth. “As you can see, Mary has volunteered to come along as well. She is much better than I with making the dying thrive.”

“Well, then, please, allow me to show you my humble patch of weeds.” He offered his arms to both of the young ladies. Elizabeth took his immediately, Mary was much more hesitant.

As they walked around what was very accurately called a weed patch, all parties were shocked when Mary exclaimed quite excitedly, “Oh! Reverend, you have a Damask Rose! I have not seen one for quite a few years! Netherfield Park used to have quite the rose garden you know! However, the last tenants removed it and replaced the wonderful roses with those awful statutes. They had a very fine Damask Rose at one point. I was sorry they tore it out before I could get a few clippings from it!”

Having never heard Mary speak for so long and definitely never with such animation, the Reverend could only respond, “Really?”

Elizabeth fared only a little better with her response, “Why Mary! I knew you loved roses but I did not know about the rose garden at Netherfield! When did you find out?”

As she pulled out a pair of gloves and clippers from a small bag she had brought, Mary answered, “Oh, it was years ago! I think I had just turned fourteen. Do you remember Lady Sotherton?” She paused only a moment before continuing, “She lived there for a full year before she left to go live with her son in Scotland. She was the cousin of the owners. Anyway, her husband had died, and the owners allowed her to live there while she mourned. Apparently, Lady Sotherton did not want to mourn in a foreign country.”

Mary kept talking as she clipped, “Anyway, I had heard that she had been working in the long forgotten rose garden and went over there to see if I could help. I learned a lot from her. She even left a few books on roses with me when she left! I just simply forgot to ask for some clippings before she left. The next thing I knew, the roses had been torn out.” With disgust she added, “There was something about the next lady getting poked or hurt by them…or some such nonsense.”

“Now Mary! That’s is not nonsense! My fingers have been cut many times in our own garden!”

Laughing as she continued to prune the rose bush back, Mary said, “Once again, that is because you do not wear your gloves!”

“True! True!”

“Miss Mary,” started the Reverend, “What is a clipping? And why would you want one?”

Mary froze, she had almost forgotten his presence, she composed herself and said, “A clipping is piece of a stem of a rose bush,” she said as she pointed to part of the Damask Rose she was working on, “You use it to start a new bush. I wanted some clippings to add a Damask Rose to Longbourn’s rose garden.”

Smiling at her cousin, and trying to help her calm down, Elizabeth stated, “Yes. Mary is almost as dedicated to the rose garden as she is to studying and our pianoforte. Indeed, the garden flourishes due to her tender and devoted care.”

“Miss Mary, would you like a clipping of that bush? I do not mind.”

Turning around with a brilliant smile, she caught the good Reverend off guard, “Oh Reverend Forsythe, could I? I would be most grateful!”

Laughing at her exuberance, the Reverend responded, “Of course! After you cut that bush into submission just now, I believe you deserve it!”

Mary saw the mess that she had made, and started to blush, “Oh dear! I am sorry Reverend; I’ll clean it up right now.”

“Absolutely not! I will clean it up! After all, it is my rose garden!” He rushed over to stop her from cleaning the pile of rose thorns and stems on the ground. “I thank you for showing me how to prune the bush. Now, I just need to get a pair of gloves myself and a pair of shears and I will have this place cleaned up in a hurry!”

Extremely embarrassed, Mary started to stammer, “I…um…I had…oh, goodness.” She said. She took a huge breath and exhaled then said, “Reverend, I did not know if you had a proper pair of shears, so I brought a second pair.” She started digging in her bag again, “I am afraid, they are small, and I do not really need bigger ones for our garden,” then looking back at his weed patch, “You might need to get some larger ones. Some of these bushes will take a lot of work to fix.”

Taking hold of the shears she held in her hand, he startled her out of her thoughts, “Miss Mary, this is more than generous. I appreciate the foresight and thought.”

Stumbling again as she looked at the reverend, Mary tried to say, “Of co-cour-course Reverend.”

Seeing that Mary needed to be rescued Elizabeth said, “On that note, Reverend, we will bid you adieu! Mary and I need to get back home. Jane will be visiting some of Longbourn’s tenants and Mary is needed for that excursion.”

Startled, Mary said, “I am?”

“Yes. She was going to ask you later” Lizzy added with a wink, proving the Mary that Jane probably did not even know of the plans, “but I’m sure you’ll say yes.”

Looking back and forth between the Reverend and Elizabeth, Mary tentatively said, “Of course I will.”

“How admirable of you Miss Mary!” exclaimed the Reverend, “It is my opinion that too many ladies are too idle these days! Indeed, I will not keep you from you mission of mercy! After all, our Lord has promised not to forget those who help his people.”

“Hebrews,” Mary added quietly, and then a little more strongly, “that is in Hebrews is it not?”

Again, the Reverend was surprised by his visitors, “Indeed it is; a small but powerful passage.”

“Hebrews is a favorite of mine as well,” Mary added a little quieter. She looked with panic at Elizabeth, and it was apparent to her cousin that Mary had no idea what to say next.

So Elizabeth decided to rescue her cousin, and curtseyed and made her goodbyes to the Reverend. Lizzy was quite pleased to see the Reverend’s eyes follow her and her cousin as they started to walk away. It was not until the parsonage was out of sight before Mary sighed in misery and asked, “Was I really that bad?”

“No! You were quite charming! I am sure he never really took his eyes off of you!”

“Probably because I was bumbling like an idiot.”

Elizabeth looked with confusion at her cousin, as they walked. To her Mary’s downcast face, she said, “I heard no ramblings from any fools. Besides,” she added with a grin, “Was it not Shakespeare who said, ‘What is past is prologue’. It is done, let us move on to better things. Learn from your actions but remember them only with pleasure.”

Elizabeth stopped in the middle of the road right before a small hill, and continued, “Mary, you must not think that you are a fool. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth as both I saw and Reverend Forsythe saw was that a sweet young lady who is not only is energetic about roses, but also an intelligent and studious. I had not known half of what you knew about Lady Sotherton; Reverend Forsythe never met her either! He also saw a very giving young lady who offered him a pair of her own shears to help him. Indeed…”

At that moment, both young ladies heard a commotion on the other side of the hill. Unfortunately, Mary was barely able to jump out of the way as two massive horses came bolting over the hill. The one rider veered his horse off to the right, away from both young ladies, whereas the other rider was going too fast and e was unable to do so, he was already upon Elizabeth. As he proceeded to jump his black horse over her, Elizabeth screamed as she ducked low to the ground.

The whole incident only took a few moments. The tall man on the black horse rode a short way away before he jumped off his horse; and after calming his horse down, he returned to where Elizabeth and Mary were standing. Mary was ascertaining if Elizabeth was alright and was wiping dust off of her dress; Elizabeth was glaring at the tall dark man walking back in their direction.

“Are you alright, miss?” asked the tall blonde man who had veered off to the side of the road. He horse was already calm as he approached, “I am so sorry! We were unaware of your presence before it was too late! We are new to the area and are unfamiliar with –”

Mary interrupted, “Please sir! We are fine, my cousin and I are quite well. It is we who should not have been standing in the middle of the road –”

“I completely agree! Why, we could have killed you two!” exclaimed the tall man as he drew near.

“Darcy –”

“No, Bingley!” he exclaimed as he turned to the young ladies, “What on earth could have possessed you two to be in the middle of an obviously well-traveled road?”

“Mr. Darcy, I presume?” asked a seething Elizabeth.

“Yes! This is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. I am Mr. Charles Bingley. I am the new tenant of Netherfield Park! I am absolutely sorry for my friend’s behavior. We truly apologize for almost killing you!”

Elizabeth turned to Mr. Bingley, and said, “That is quite alright, Mr. Bingley. You both are forgiven for this incident. As you,” she said glaring at Mr. Darcy, “have rightly said, we should not have been in the middle of the blind portion of the road. However, as to our reason for being there, that is none of your business.”

As she said this Elizabeth turned back to Mr. Bingley, “Mr. Bingley, as we are to be neighbors, I suggest we put this accident behind us. I look forward to making your formal acquaintance at a later time.” With that she took Mary’s arm and started to walk away.

“Miss, may we know whom we just almost killed?” called Mr. Bingley.

Mary turned and said, “This is my cousin Elizabeth Bennet and I am Mary Bennet, we are from Longbourn, your closest neighbors.”

“Oh!” exclaimed Mr. Bingley. “We met a Mr. Bennet of Longbourn. Is he your father?”

Mary replied, “Yes he is, but how did you happen to meet him? We were unaware that you had taken possession of Netherfield yet.”

Mr. Bingley walked toward the sisters, and said, “I met with the solicitor for Netherfield last week and accidentally met with him there. I was returning the call today. I had a lovely chat with him. He even invited my friends and I to the assembly we had spoken of during our first acquaintance; I believe it is this Friday. As to taking possession, the previous owners are letting me take possession today!”

“Yes, the assembly is next week.” stated Elizabeth clearly starting to enjoy the company of the blonde man, “How many will be in your party?”

Clearing his throat loudly, Mr. Darcy interrupted, “Charles, we really must be going if we are to make London by nightfall.”

Glaring at the dark man, Elizabeth stated, “We would not want to keep you.” Looking back at Mr. Bingley with a smile, Elizabeth said, “We look forward to seeing you at the assembly.” With that, the two ladies parted ways from the gentlemen.

After the men were out of hearing, Lizzy turned to Mary and said, “We mustn’t tell Aunt about this.”

Mary simply rolled her eyes and said, “Of course not, Lizzy. Why on earth would I want to do that?”

Heythrop Park, Oxford
October 01, 1811

My Dear Lizzy,

I will admit to being very reflective recently. Not an internal study mind you, but going through many wonderful memories I have. I have thought about my own entrance to society as an adult, my life with your grandmother, and most specifically my life with your mother.

I do not know if I have told you this recently, but you remind me of her a quite a bit. In the moments when you do not resemble my Faith, you are definitely Gregory’s child. That was a compliment mind you. However, the combination that I see of both Faith and Gregory manifests itself in an unmistakably Elizabeth sort of way. Another compliment I assure you.

I have been thinking about a ball we should hold in your honor. If we do not, I am sure Bea will insist. I like the idea of her doing all the work only to have us simply show up. I am sure she would love it. She loves a good ball. I am also equally sure that Eddy would have my head if I did.

Thoughts of throwing you a ball remind me of your mother’s first ball. As you know, when your mother was seventeen, your grandmother, God rest her soul, died. However, I believe I may have mentioned this but she left Faith a collection of journals. Evette spent every evening for the previous year writing in them. She wrote of everything and everyone your mother may have had a need to know for her debut. It was almost as if Evette knew she would not make it to see your mother finally become an adult.

Faith pored over those journals the year we were in mourning. I think she felt her mother’s presence every time she read them. After the year of mourning, I would have been perfectly content to keep Faith from London. After all, I had just lost my Evette, I had no wish to lose my Faith. However, Faith insisted we go and simply be done with the task.

Faith embraced society like a toothache: something you deal with until the pain was gone. The worst of which was probably her presentation to King George III. She hated that dress.

However, I will forever remember that first ball. She danced with anyone who asked, never refusing a person. I overheard many of the conversations of some of the lesser partners. Anytime her partner would twirl her toward me, she would roll her eyes, and say some witty remark that had the gentleman laughing but not realizing it was about him.

At one time, she had her partner bring her back to me and I had been chatting with Lady Fitzwilliam and her daughter, Ann and her eldest son Edward. I was fast becoming friends with Eddy even then, despite our age differences. His father had died when they were all children and he had only just been granted the title of Earl upon his recent coming of age.

I was more than a little upset to see that Faith was being led to me by my Cousin Lord Charles Talbot, who had already inherited the title “Earl of Shrewsbury”. As they approached me it was apparent he was now trying to convince her of his suit, even though he was twice her age at the time. I almost said something when Faith replied, “Thank you Lord Talbot, I hope your gout gets better”, just as we approached.

Lord Talbot turned the darkest shade of red almost immediately. He sputtered some nonsense about him not being ill at all. Faith had the good sense to look ashamed and embarrassed and made her apologies and said, “I had thought that story earlier had been about you! I am so sorry!” He immediately went away. Lady Fitzwilliam asked her what story Lord Talbot had told her and Faith replied, “Mother wrote that if I ever wish to dissuade someone, simply misconstrue some story your partner told you in such a way as to embarrass him. Not too crass however, just enough that it will leave him wondering the rest of the evening what he said.”

I could hear Evette’s voice saying that. I also started to remember her doing that very thing many times at the dinner table when one of my cousins got out of line. It was then that Robert showed up, with his wife (and I use that term lightly) Lady Deborah. He heard the tail end of Faith’s story and started laughing louder than the rest of us. After we had calmed down, he told us a similar story of when he was dancing with Evette. Apparently, she had chosen to hand him a glass of water from a nearby servant and said something about his breath.

When you are at Heythrop next, I will have the servants find the journals for you. If I am not mistaken, I believe Faith added some of her own comments to them. You will love reading them I assure you.

As I write this, Robert has come to visit me for a time. A cold has settled in his chest and he wished to get out of the city. I wish he would simply retire; however, he informs me that even if he put the paper work through and left the army, one never really leaves. Personally, I believe he has done enough for England. Leave it to Bea’s children to protect us. Let Robert rest. He sends his love and will more than likely write to you himself shortly. Apparently, I am unable to properly write his wishes. Expect a letter from him soon, that is if he ever leaves the comfort of my chair.

Give my love to the Bennets. Know that I keep you in my prayers every night and pray for the time to pass quickly until I see you again.

James Talbot

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
October 03, 1811

Dear Grandfather,

Let me be the first to feed the fodder of your ego: you are an excellent story teller. I may have never met my Grandmother or mother, but your tale had me laughing out loud to an empty room and then I changed swiftly to crying softly because I will never meet such amazing ladies.

I have been reflecting myself for quite a bit on society and what taking my place will mean to my family. Not only my Bennet family but also my family who may or may not believe I actually exist. Until this last trip to Heythrop, I never really gave much thought to what you have had to deal with. You have told me story after story of Grandmother, Mother, and Father. You have even told me so much about Uncle Robert that I cannot wait to meet him.

I am not excited about my court presentation.

It is not that I am worried about the responsibility I will be taking on as Lady Elizabeth Evette Talbot Bennet, but rather what I feel I will be losing in Miss Elizabeth Bennet. I understand and truly believe you when you say that I will not be kept from my Bennet relations, however, I will still be missing out on a lot in their lives. This shames me when you add into account the years of neglect that I have to make up.

Take, for example, Mary. Were you aware that she has known your identity since she was fourteen? She has kept it to herself all these years; a fact for which I am extremely grateful. I have been watching her this past week and found out a few things: Mary is a genius in the garden, actually plays shorter less complicated pieces quite adequately, and is in love with the new parson (a Michael Forsythe).

I feel as if I hardly know her. I certainly have no stories or tales like the ones you have of your relations. It is my own fault, however. I have realized that I have held myself back from my cousins, all excepting Jane, simply because I felt I could not let them know me for fear of the truth of my situation being made known. That, of course, is nonsense, especially when you take into account the fact that Mary has known all along.

I find myself growing more and more fond of Mary as our conversations progress. She is not as religious as everyone believes. Well, that is not true: she is very generous and passionate about giving back. She has taken to visiting Uncle’s tenants with zeal. What I mean to say is that the more time I spend with Mary the more I realize her intelligence extends beyond Fordyce’s sermons. She even has taken to quoting that specific piece of work less and has started to show her love of Shakespeare. It is quite astonishing really; and of course I love every minute of her company. I am quite pleased with how our relationship is progressing.

That brings me to Kitty and Lydia. Yesterday, I attempted to observe them in the afternoon and then again this morning, and I have come to a startling revelation: Kitty attaches herself to Lydia because Lydia receives the attention. Unfortunately, Lydia receives a tremendous amount of attention, only none of it is good. I plan on discussing this with Jane to see what she thinks about Kitty and how we can help her.
I am heartily ashamed for not seeing it sooner. All Kitty wants is time and recognition. Something I find I can relate to, especially when Aunt Fanny is fawning over Jane. Please do not misunderstand me: Jane is all that is good. It is just…sometimes I wish I were as good and beautiful as Jane.

In some ways, as I open myself up to these new relationships with my cousins, I find myself growing somewhat jealous. It is a feeling I am not comfortable with. I recently had a conversation with Jane about her fears that she will never wed, which of course is preposterous. Jane is too good to waste away in this life. After I spoke with Jane about her marital wishes, I was able to help Mary speak with the man she is falling in love with. He is the new reverend in Meryton.

Do not worry; I have no wish to become the local matchmaker.

I am pleased for Mary, truly I am. When Jane falls in love I will be ecstatic. However, the more I watch Mary the more I wish to marry for love as well. Unfortunately in my case, I am quite aware that the choice of one’s partner in life is not always up to the parties involved, especially for people in our social standing.

It is not that I am against arranged marriages. I am only against them for myself. In some cases the choice of one’s spouse should not have been left up to himself or herself. A perfect example of that would be Uncle Thomas and Aunt Fanny. Two more unsuitable people one could not find. Somehow they make their marriage work. Their life, however, will not suit me: I am too obstinate to wish to hide from my spouse like my uncle does and I have no wish to bury my head in a basket of lace or the latest fashion magazine like Aunt Fanny.

A movement caught Lizzy eye, startling her from her musings as she wrote the letter to her grandfather on a bench tucked into the garden. She watched as Kitty came out with a huge blanket and pillow and proceeded to lay them out on the ground in front of a particularly large rose bush. She stifled a giggle as she watched her second youngest cousin flop in a very unladylike down on the seating arrangement and pull out a pencil and a book from a bag she had brought with her. Curious, Lizzy could not help but ask, “Kitty, whatever are you doing?”

Kitty was so startled that she jumped and fell over as she tried to hurriedly hide the book from Lizzy’s view, “Nothing Lizzy, Nothing at all!”

“What is that book? Is that a sketchbook?”

Hiding the pencil behind her back where she was holding the book, Kitty exclaimed, “Why would I have something like a sketch book?” then to try to get Lizzy’s attention away from herself, she asked, “What are you doing out here? It is Thursday, you normally are with Father going over the books right now.”

Laughing at the obvious attempt to change topics, Lizzy rose and went to sit on the blanket with her cousin, “Uncle is showing Mary all about the books. I am quite caught up with them and we felt it was time she learned. Now, why would you be hiding a sketchbook? May I see it, please?” she asked holding out her hand.

“Do I have to?” Kitty whined.

Hesitantly, Elizabeth withdrew her hand and said, “No. I am curious, though, as to why you feel compelled to hide it.”

“Lydia says that only boring people draw,” whispered Kitty.

Laughing outright, Lizzy almost snorted as she said, “Oh my! That is a good one! Untrue though.” Beaming at her cousin she asked again, “May I please see your work? It will not be boring to me. As you know, I have no training in drawing, painting or anything like it; therefore, I will not be able to be a severe critic.”

Hesitantly, Kitty withdrew the black book from behind her back and asked as she handed it to Lizzy, “You will not make fun?”

“Of course not!” She said as she took the book. Unprepared for what she found within, Lizzy gasped. She made Kitty even more nervous as she continued to look through the book without saying a word.

After a few moments, Kitty ventured to ask, “Um, Lizzy…any thoughts?”

Looking up from being engrossed in the book, Lizzy said, “Kitty! You are really good! How long have you been sketching?”

“I do not know, a few years, maybe?”

“A few years! Why have I never seen you drawing?”

Looking down at the grass, Kitty said quietly, “Do you remember when Lydia was able to go to London with Mama? She went to visit Aunt Madeline after she had baby Benjamin?”

“Yes. I believe it was to retrieve Jane and me.” Smiling at the memory, she added, “If I remember correctly, Lydia was quite pleased she was allowed to go to London and you were not.”

“I still have not been. Everyone has been to London except for me.”

Shocked, Lizzy said, “Really? I had not realized…”

“Oh yes! Well, you and Jane took Lydia to a book shop while Mama went with Uncle to look over his warehouses…”

“I remember. I do not remember buying anything though. I do think Lydia purchased something, pretty stationary or something like that.”

Snorting, Kitty responded, “She bought me a sketchbook and said, ‘here is a boring present containing nothing for you, it is quite dull, like you.’ I was quite upset with her and threw it in a corner. Then one afternoon, Lydia was not speaking to me again and went to play with Maria while you visited with Charlotte. I just sat in our room for a while…bored. When I saw the stationary; I started to doodle and try to copy the flowery image imprinted on it. I was actually having fun with it…”

Realizing the end of the story, Lizzy finished it for her, “then Lydia saw it, told you only boring people draw, and you have been hiding your talent ever since.”

“Not really hiding it. I mean, Lizzy, you are the first to ask about my book. I have it with me a lot. People just do not notice me.”

Feeling ashamed, Lizzy said, “You are right. Now that I think about it, I have seen you with it before. I have never asked. Well, I’m asking now, do you only draw, or do you like to paint as well?”

“I have never really gotten into painting, it always seemed like too much work, but I have been interested in it. I just do not know where to begin…”

“Well! I know exactly where to begin. Do you have any of your pin money left?” Lizzy asked as she rose from the blanket and started helping Kitty pick up her things. After seeing Kitty look sheepishly away, she continued, “let me guess….Lydia and you used it to buy some lace or fabric or some such nonsense.”

“We bought a hat for Lydia,” confessed Kitty.

“With both of your pin money?”


Frowning at the thought, Lizzy said, “Well, from now you, you are not to give your pin money to Lydia. If she asks you send her to me and then walk away.”

As Lizzy started to walk inside the house with the pillow and the blanket, Kitty called out, “Elizabeth, what are we going to do?”

Turning to her cousin she said, “See about some art supply money from your father.”

Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 1 Part 1

MarciApril 05, 2017 09:34PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 1 Part 1

Elaine JeremiahApril 23, 2017 05:42PM


elleApril 11, 2017 08:26PM

The blurb was included in the Preface to this story

CinthiaApril 12, 2017 11:41PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 1 Part 1

Linnea EileenApril 07, 2017 01:48PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 1 Part 1 (nfm)

Trish1006April 06, 2017 04:42AM


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