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Ingorance and Irony - Chapter 6

June 04, 2017 06:54PM
Authors Note:Huge shout out to Roxey and Betsy for your help! Don’t blame them for any leftover errors!

Chapter 6 – The Ignorance…
Longbourn, Hertfordshire May 1812

Elizabeth may have been able to overcome her melancholy state while in Hunsford, but that did not stop her from wanting to acquaint Jane with all that had happened. The ride was quiet as they approached London. Since she had not wanted to send the letter to her grandfather from Hunsford for fear Collins would be able to get his hands on it, Elizabeth carried it with her. It was very late when they did arrive and Mrs. Bennet hustled both girls up to their rooms to get a good night’s sleep before they told everyone of their adventures, “I am sure we all want to hear about the latest from London, Jane!”

“Of course, Mama,” Jane replied almost mechanically.

“Oh girls! I forget to tell you, while you were gone, I convinced your father and uncle that we needed another maid. One maid for five girls is simply too much! Sarah will take over the younger girls and the new maid, once she is completely trained, will serve you two!”

Elizabeth, if truth be told, was so anxious to speak with Jane, that she hardly heard what her aunt was saying. In the morning, however, she became acutely aware of something amiss. When she woke up, her trunk and all her things had already been put away and there was a tray in her room with her breakfast on it.

At that moment, Jane poked her head into Elizabeth’s room and said, “I think I am going to like our maid, Constance. She brought me breakfast in bed! Do you mind if I eat in here?”

Elizabeth laughed and said, “Absolutely not! However, I will have to have a word with her. I certainly do not want breakfast every morning in here.”

The girls gathered around a small table Elizabeth had next to her fire, and started to eat. It was Elizabeth’s impatience to acquaint Jane with what happened in Hunsford that caused her to finish her meal first. By the time she had completed her tale, omitting the part about Bingley, Jane was astonished to say the least.

“I feel bad for Mr. Darcy! But his being so sure of succeeding was wrong, not that anyone wanting to marry you would be wrong, my dear! But think how much more he was disappointed then!” Jane cried.

Elizabeth agreed, “I feel heartily sorry for him. However, he has other feelings which will drive away any regard he might have felt for me.” Elizabeth then asked Jane hesitantly, “You do not blame me for refusing him then?”

“Blame you? Oh, no!”

“But you do believe I should not have spoken so warmly of Wickham?”

“Could you be wrong in repeating something that your own ignorance believed to be true? I do not believe so. However, since you have corrected your lack of understanding, you will act accordingly.” Jane sat and thought, and finally added, “Surely, there was some type of misunderstanding though. Mr. Wickham seems so nice; he cannot be as bad as Mr. Darcy would have you believe!”

"This will not do," said Elizabeth, "you never will be able to make both of them good. There is only enough goodness to make one good sort of man. For my part, I am inclined to believe it all Mr. Darcy."

"But to believe Mr. Wickham is so very bad?” Jane cried, “And poor Mr. Darcy! Dear Lizzy, only consider what he must have suffered. Such a disappointment: to propose only to find out about his own ignorance to your ill opinion. Then having to relate such a thing of his sister! It is really too distressing. I am sure you must feel it so."

“Oh! No, my regret and compassion are all done away by seeing you so full of both. I know you will do Mr. Darcy such ample justice. I am growing every moment more unconcerned and indifferent to his proposal by the minute. If you lament over him much longer, my heart will be as light as a feather.”

“Lizzy! Do not tease so!” cried Jane. “Poor Wickham! There is such an expression of goodness in his countenance! Such an openness and gentleness in his manner!”

“There certainly was some great mismanagement in the education of those two young men. One has got all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it,” replied Elizabeth dryly.

“I never thought Mr. Darcy as deficient in the appearance of it as you used to do.”

“Of course you did not. I was blinded by my own ignorance to his character and allowed my pride to act upon my dislike,” Elizabeth laughed at herself, and added, “I meant to be witty and found I was only a foolish wit. The bard could find much to work with in my own character; I played the part of a fool perfectly.”

“Lizzy, when you first read that letter, I am sure you could not treat the matter as you do now.”

“Indeed, I could not. I was uncomfortable enough, I may say unhappy. Oh! How I wanted you!” Elizabeth cried, “I had not one to speak with because my dearest friend was so far away!”

Jane wrapped her cousin in her arms, and only let go when Elizabeth started to pace agitatedly, “I was so certain my opinion was not wrong. I was so certain that Mr. Darcy was not a gentleman. Imagine the shock I received to find out that my own understanding and my own pride at being able to understand characters was so wrong. I was mortified, embarrassed, and even ashamed.”

“There is no reason to be ashamed! You were ignorant of all the facts, and acted upon your own understanding of the situation”

Elizabeth would not allow herself to be given reprieve, not yet, “That is exactly why I am so ashamed! I chose not to be enlightened. You even told me that Mr. Bingley believed his friend! I chose to believe that Mr. Bingley was allowing himself to be blinded by his friend’s opinion. Not only was that arrogant on my part but completely foolish. It was not only you and Mr. Bingley who tried to tell me that there was another side of the story, but I was also counseled by Madeline, Uncle Thomas, and even Grandfather to not only take one man’s side of the story. I chose to remain ignorant.”

Continuing her rant, Elizabeth concluded, “Had I not been so blinded by my own prejudice, by my own vanity, I might have been able to see the same things that everyone else tried to warn me of. Even Mr. Darcy himself, being the gentleman, chose not to disrespect the very man who caused so much harm to his own family. He never once said a cross word about Wickham to me. The only time he ever even mentioned the man was to warn me about him.”

“What do you mean Elizabeth?” asked Jane.

“You remember the night of the Netherfield ball?” Choosing to ignore her cousin’s blush, Elizabeth continued, “I danced twice with Mr. Darcy. During one of the dances, I brought up that we had made a new friend of Wickham. Mr. Darcy’s only response was to tell me that Wickham was able to make friends but to keep them was a different matter. Now that I have been properly humbled, I can see that for what it was: a warning.” Shaking her head in disgust, Elizabeth continued, “I allowed my own wounded vanity and bitterness to color my opinion of the man and for that I should be heartily ashamed.”

Jane said softly, “Elizabeth, I think you are taking too much on yourself. Mr. Darcy never actually told you of his dealing with Wickham until he had to.”

“That was because it involved his sister,” Elizabeth replied, “That brings me to something else I wish for your opinion on: should I make Wickham’s character known to the general populace?”

Miss Bennet paused a little, and then replied, “Surely there can be no occasion for exposing him so dreadfully. What is your opinion?”

“That it ought not to be attempted: Mr. Darcy did not give me permission to make it public, especially since it involved his sister. However, I am torn, people need to know of Wickham’s dissolute character but how can I get them to believe me? The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is so violent; most people in Meryton do not see him in an amiable light. With Wickham soon to be gone and his horrendous behavior will not be felt in the community anymore, I do not believe we should say anything. ”

“You are quite right. If he is publicly censored it may drive Wickham to be worse than he already is. Perhaps now he is sorry for what he has done, and anxious to re-establish his character. We must not make him desperate.”

Now that the two secrets had been brought to light, Elizabeth felt a weight release off of her shoulders. She had found a willing listener in Jane. However, Elizabeth silently vowed she would never mention the second half of Darcy’s letter to Jane. She decided it would do Jane no good to find out that the man she loved had actually loved her in return. She would keep that secret to herself.

After a moment, Elizabeth decided she would also ask Jane her opinion on whom she should or should not inform about Mr. Darcy’s proposal.

“Jane,” she asked hesitantly, “There is another question that has somewhat plagued me about this entire circumstance…” As soon as Elizabeth saw she had her cousin’s attention again she asked tentatively, “I will, of course, be writing to Grandfather, regarding Mr. Darcy’s…request. But should I inform Uncle?”

Jane sat back and considered the situation and finally said, “I honestly do not know. If you write to His Grace and do not tell Father, and James tells him in one of his letters, Father may not be pleased. However, as you only have need of James approval or disapproval for any marriage request, and it does not seem likely that Mr. Darcy will return to Hertfordshire, Father would not need to know. What is your opinion?”

Elizabeth sighed and replied, “To be honest, I do not have one. However, I agree with your deduction: I do not believe Mr. Darcy will be returning here, but it is very likely that I will meet him in London this upcoming season. Grandfather should definitely be told, but does Uncle really need to know?”

“Has James written to you about it? Did you ask him?” inquired Jane.

Elizabeth thought of the letter she had written and replied, “I do not believe I asked him.” She then turned to where her reticule was and said, “I arrived to a letter waiting for me here from him and need to respond to it as well as so have not mailed the one about Mr. Darcy’s proposal. I could still ask him his opinion and I believe I will. If he thinks Thomas should know, I will tell him myself. However, if Grandfather does not believe it necessary, I will be spared Uncle’s teasing.”

“Lizzy!” cried Jane with a smile.

“You know it to be true! I can hear his response now,” Elizabeth rolled her eyes as then attempted to imitate her Uncle. In a deep voice she said, “Elizabeth! Is this true? You were not handsome enough to tempt him but you are tempting enough to marry? Even without a dowry? It is quite comical! It will be quite amusing when he realizes the connection to James! The prospect is almost tempts me to London to see it unfold!”

The two ladies fell back on Elizabeth’s bed with laughter at her theatrics. The rest of the morning was spent recounting their trips to each other. No more was said of either Mr. Darcy or Mr. Bingley.

However, over the next week, Elizabeth could tell that Jane was trying to rally for the sake of those around her. However, after all that had been said in Hunsford and her own reaction to Darcy’s letter, Elizabeth found herself without the words needed to comfort her cousin. What could she say that could ease the pain of being so cruelly separated from the one you love? She had already determined that the responsibility was not wholly Mr. Darcy’s or Bingley’s sisters’. After all, Jane herself should have been the one to convince Mr. Bingley of her regard, and Mr. Bingley should not have let himself be so wholly persuaded by someone else’s opinion. Therefore, Elizabeth said nothing.

Elizabeth daily attempted to lighten Jane’s spirits but it was becoming increasingly difficult as the Reverend’s attentions to Mary were an everyday reminder. Neither girl could fault Mary for being so happy during this time, but Mary’s happiness was only a reminder of Jane’s own disappointment.

Elizabeth was meditating on this as she went to gather herbs in the garden only the second week she had been home, when she came across Catherine crying amongst their roses. It seemed that Mr. Bennet was not wholly dismissive of his second youngest daughter’s affinity toward painting and had ordered a bench be placed for her in that particular area of the garden. As Elizabeth approached, she sat quietly next to her cousin and asked, “My dear, Catherine! What on earth is the matter?”

Catherine simply looked up with tears in her eyes and shook her head, “It is nothing. I should definitely not be jealous but for some reason I am.” Sitting up straight she attempted to straighten her face out, “I shall be fine.”

Elizabeth put her arm around the girl and tried again, “My dear girl, this is definitely not nothing if it has you, of all people, crying. I do not believe I have seen you cry more than a couple times. I believe the last time I saw you cry like this you had just fallen out of an apple tree.”

Catherine laughed slightly at the memory, “Billy Hill chased me into it, and then felt bad when I fell out of it.”

“Now, tell me what has you jealous.”

“Lydia.”

Elizabeth looked at her young cousin with curiosity, “What on earth could Lydia be doing or have that would make you jealous enough to hide from the world in Mary’s roses?”

“She was invited to Brighton by Mrs. Forster” stated Catherine, “I know I do not know the lady as well as Lydia does and definitely not as a particular friend, but I am very nearly being courted by a member of her husband’s camp.” She then sniffed and added, “Also, Lydia has at least been to London with Mama; I have never been anywhere. Why should I have to stay at home?”

At once, her tears made sense. Two days prior, Elizabeth had entered the dining room in time to hear Mrs. Bennet and Lydia lament that the regiment was moving to Brighton for the summer for training courses. When she had sat down to lunch, Mrs. Bennet realized that her niece was smiling brightly while the rest of the party was moping, except for Mary and Mr. Bennet, and of course Jane’s demeanor had nothing to do with the soldiers leaving.

“Good Heaven! What is to become of us? What are we to do?” Mrs. Bennet had exclaimed in the bitterness of woe. “How can you be smiling so, Lizzy? I am sure, I cried for two days together when Colonel Miller's regiment went away. I thought I should have broken my heart.”

“I am sure I shall break mine,” Lydia had interrupted.

“If one could but go to Brighton!” observed Mrs. Bennet. “A little sea-bathing would set me up forever.”

"Papa, I should love to see the sea!" added Catherine.

Elizabeth remembered the rest of the conversation; how Lydia had tried to get her to convince Mr. Bennet to take them. Unfortunately, Elizabeth also remembered Mr. Darcy’s objections toward her extended family’s characters and actions and immediately thought better of the idea. She had counselled Lydia that it was best that they be removed from the regiment and the regiment removed from them.

“Removed from the regiment? I would die first!” cried Lydia. She then lashed out at Elizabeth, “Why can you not support me in this, Elizabeth? You never support me in anything I wish to do! You are only jealous that the soldiers prefer my company over yours!”

Elizabeth was shocked by the attack from her youngest cousin, and was equally disappointed when she looked at her uncle to intervene and he remained silent. Finally she replied, “I assure you, Lydia, I am not jealous of you or whatever attentions anyone in the militia give to you. My opinion shall also not change: I am pleased the militia is being removed from our presence.”

Elizabeth had not thought a thing about Catherine’s comment and did not even remember it until that moment. As she sat there, she attempted to calm and soothe Catherine by using Mary as an excuse “Catherine, I understand you want to see and experience new places and things. I promise you that it will happen.” To herself she thought, I shall certainly make it happen!

To Catherine she continued, “However, consider Mary for a moment. You and she are becoming quite close. Would you not feel badly if you were not here to share in her joy and planning? Aunt and Mary have already started discussions regarding a new wardrobe for her. I daresay if the situation were like that for Jane and me,” and probably will be, she thought, “I would not be so keen to be traveling.”

Catherine nodded and said, “I know. You are right. Like I said, it is nothing and I shall be fine.”

Elizabeth added slyly, “Indeed, if your courtship continues, think of all the places you will be able to see that Lydia will not.”

Catherine blushed at the thought of marrying her lieutenant, and replied, “Lizzy! We are not courting!”

“Maybe not officially, but unofficially, I believe you are. With that in mind, I have a feeling you will miss him more than you will miss the sea.”

Catherine started to fidget where she sat and Elizabeth asked, “Is there something else dearest?”

Catherine asked quietly without looking up, “If Joshua did ask to court me, would Father approve? He is only a lieutenant.”

Elizabeth put an arm around her cousin and replied, “You are right to be worried about his situation in life. I am glad you have continued to consider it since our last discussion. However, before I answer your question, will you answer a few of mine?” Seeing her cousin look up and nod, Elizabeth asked, “If you do or have fallen in love with the lieutenant, have you considered what your life will be like? He does not make much money. I know you have lived with economy before, however, nothing like what you will as a lieutenant’s wife.”

Catherine replied, “I asked him about his situation. He was very vague in his references but I believe that his choice to join the military was not one he had to make. He hardly speaks of his family in specific terms, however from what I gather, they are wealthy and he need not actually work.”

“If they are wealthy, then why is he only a lieutenant? Why was a higher commission not purchased for him?” asked Elizabeth.

Catherine smiled and replied, “I believe he wishes to prove that he can be more than someone who simply inherits his wealth. I believe that is why he is hesitant to speak of his family. I know that he loves them, but Lizzy,” here she hesitated, with encouragement from Elizabeth she said, “He reminds me of you. He wishes to be known for himself and his capabilities, not his family’s position or station.”

Elizabeth then asked, “Please do not be offended, but I need to ask: could this be clouding your judgement? You see his situation as close to one of your romantic novels and see yourself as the heroine?”

Catherine shook her head, “Mary and I have discussed my feelings at length, and I do not believe so. Lizzy,” she held out her hands in impatience and said, “I feel like a different person, a better person, or I want to be a better person in his presence. He pushes me to have my own opinions and even respects them when they are different from his. I look forward to every meeting and count the minutes until I see him again. You were right in saying that I will miss his company more than I will miss the opportunity to travel.”

“You love him,” Elizabeth stated.

Catherine slumped in dejection and affirmed, “Yes, and I am worried Father will not approve.”

“Do not worry,” cried Elizabeth cheerfully, “We will let my Grandfather deal with Thomas! Grandfather loves a good healthy romance. He has already looked into Sanderson and has approved of his attentions to you. Let him deal with your father!” Seeing her cousin was feeling much better Elizabeth added, “I am proud of you. You have thought this through with logic and sought understanding. That is yet another sign of your growing maturity.”

“Is that why you have started calling me Catherine?”

Elizabeth sat back and said, “Partly. Kitty does sound like a child’s name, I grant you. However, my main reason for doing so is simple: Kitty was always imitating Lydia and never really thought for herself. As you seem to be growing into your own person, it just seemed right to call you by your actual name.” Then dryly she added, “I met another Catherine this past trip, and I daresay you are much better than she.”

“You are referring to Lady Catherine De Bourgh?”

“There is a lady as pretentious as her name.”

“What was Miss De Bourgh like?” Catherine teased, “Is she as noble as Mr. Collins portrayed?”

Elizabeth thought for a moment. After meeting the kind lady, she was somewhat upset to have people believing Mr. Collin’s inflated view of the young heiress, “Actually no. She was very generous, and cheerful. He was correct to say that she is sickly, but I think not as sickly as our cousin made her out to be. Miss De Bourgh was very solicitous, and I am pleased Charlotte has found a friend in her.”

“Then Mr. Darcy is not to be pitied.”

Turning her head sharply to look at her cousin, she asked, “What do you mean?”

Confused Catherine responded, “You told me once that he was engaged to his cousin. If she is as you described, then he is fortunate; although he does not deserve such kindness.”

Elizabeth released the breath she had been holding, and replied, “Catherine, do not believe everything I have told you. She is wonderful to be sure. However, from what I understand from Mr. Darcy himself, he is not engaged to her.” She then added, “I have also, recently found out that Mr. Darcy is not as…arrogant or prideful as I once thought him; please do not suppose that he or anyone else deserves to marry a boring partner.”

“Elizabeth, you were so sure, what happened?”

Elizabeth looked at her cousin and responded, “I met him again in Kent,” Elizabeth paused before she admitted; “I must admit that my previous opinion was completely colored by my own prideful nature and willful ignorance. Catherine I am heartily ashamed of my previous actions and behavior. Let that be the end of the matter: Mr. Darcy is a good man.” She then teased, “As we have learned from your own unofficial beau, first impressions can be deceiving.”

It was with laughter that the two returned to the house; Catherine to seek out Mary and Elizabeth to seek out Mr. Bennet.

Elizabeth found him hiding in his book room as usual. It was upon her entry that he put his book down and said wryly, “I expect you are here because of Lydia.”

“Two reasons, actually; the first being Lydia. Uncle Thomas, you know Lydia is not responsible enough to travel on her own.”

“Elizabeth, she will not be on her own. Mrs. Forster will be there and so will Colonel Forster.”

“Pardon me for saying, but Mrs. Forster has no more in her head than Lydia does. She is a married woman and I have even seen her flirt with many of the officers right along with Lydia.” Elizabeth felt she needed to warn her uncle of one particular officer as well, but lacked the words to explain without revealing her source as Mr. Darcy, “Uncle, while in Kent, I came into some information regarding some of the officers in this regiment: one officer in particular. I do not believe it would be wise to send Lydia without proper supervision.”

“Lydia will never be easy until she has exposed herself in some public place or other, and we can never expect her to do it with so little expense or inconvenience to her family as under the present circumstances.”

“Uncle, are you not aware," said Elizabeth, "of the very great disadvantage that will arise from the public notice of Lydia's unguarded and imprudent manner? I am sure you would make a different decision if you were aware."

Mr. Bennet laughed and asked, “What? Has she frightened away some of your lovers? Poor little Lizzy! Do not be cast down; such squeamish youths as cannot bear to be connected with a little absurdity are not worth regret. In fact, I am sure that in due time, he will regret it more.”

“Indeed you are mistaken; I have no injuries from her. I do not speak of any particular circumstance, but more of general evils. When I remove to Grandfather’s house, I will be removed from any scandal she created. The respectability of this house could be called into question even if she manages not to ruin her own reputation while essentially alone in Brighton.”

Frustrated, Elizabeth continued, “Excuse me for speaking plainly; if you, her father, do not take the trouble to discipline her and show her the importance of regulation, she will soon be beyond the reach of amendment. Her character will be fixed as the most determined flirt that ever made herself or her family ridiculous! Do you honestly think that society will not label her sisters as ridiculous also?”

Mr. Bennet could tell that this was of some importance to Elizabeth and therefore offered sympathy, “Do not make yourself uneasy. Soon, wherever you are known, you will be respected and valued, even if you do have a very silly cousin. I would say three, except both Mary and Catherine have changed, under your influence no doubt. I am allowing Lydia to go because we will have no peace at Longbourn if she does not go to Brighton.”

At this point, Mr. Bennet rose from his chair and approached Elizabeth, “Colonel Forster is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be an object of prey to anybody. I promise she will return before the world is aware of your inheritance. At Brighton she will be of less importance even as a common flirt than she has been here. The officers will find women better worth their notice. Let us hope, therefore, that her being there may teach her what her own insignificance is.”

Elizabeth by no means liked his response nor agreed with him. However, she had no choice but to accept it and brought up her second reason for intruding upon his privacy, “Uncle, are you aware of Catherine’s preference for Lieutenant Sanderson?”

Mr. Bennet looked up from his correspondence immediately, startled he asked, “Excuse me?”

Elizabeth tried again, “Surely you are aware of the time she has been spending with the lieutenant?”

Mr. Bennet sat back in his chair and rubbed his eyes with a well-worn hand and sighed, “Everyone seems to have seen it except for myself. Actually, I saw it myself but passed it off as an immature flight of fancy.” Holding up a letter he said, “I would be concerned by her interest to the point of intruding, except, I have recently had two separate dealings both in person and through a letter regarding the situation.”

Elizabeth was curious and asked, “What do you mean?”

Thomas handed the letter over to Elizabeth and said, “I received a letter this morning from James. The chief substance is about the lieutenant.” Elizabeth hesitantly took the letter from her uncle. After quickly scanning the letter, she sighed with relief when she saw no mention of Mr. Darcy’s proposal. Elizabeth then focused on the part Thomas had pointed out to her; as she read the section regarding the lieutenant, Elizabeth found herself smiling.

Thomas, I know Madeline brought it to your attention this past Christmas season. She told me as much when I saw her recently in London. I apologize for the delay in writing to you, I had almost forgotten about the entire situation until Jones brought it up.

It seems that Jones is well acquainted with Lieutenant Sanderson, although not as a lieutenant. Jones grew up on an estate only went to school with Sanderson and his elder cousins. One day he may tell you his story, but suffice to say Jones owes a great deal to Sanderson’s family.

When Jones found out one of his old friends was in Hertfordshire, he immediately told me all about our lieutenant. Do not be deceived by his low standing in the military. Sanderson is the son of the Honorable Alexander Sanderson and is the younger brother of the Earl of Alton in Somerset. It seems that his father married Lord Miles Stover’s only child: Gertrude Stover. Sanderson will inherit a large estate from on the Baron. He grew up visiting his cousins in Somerset and met Jones there.

Apparently, Joshua Sanderson is out to prove he is capable of more than simply inheriting an estate. To whom, Jones does not know, his father died when Sanderson was a child. However, Jones believes the man has an impeccable reputation: his grandfather would not stand for less.

If the situation is as serious as Madeline believes, do not hesitate to allow your daughter to get to know the man, despite his standing in the military. We both have learned, the hard way, that looks can definitely be deceiving. However, I have always found those individuals who wish to be known for themselves rather than their family to be of the highest caliber of people.

Elizabeth handed the letter back to her uncle and said, “I had not realized Madeline had concerns as well. We never spoke of them; did she speak with you during Christmas as well?”

Thomas nodded and replied, “However, I have had more recent dealings with the man himself. He left only moments before you came in; I believe his intent was to go speak with Catherine.”

Elizabeth’s smiled broadened as she cried, “Really? What happened?”

“He explained that with the removal of his company from Hertfordshire, he wished to make his intentions clear. He asked if he could court Catherine, with her permission, in order to allow their correspondence to be above repute.” Laughing dryly at himself he added, “I made the mistake of asking why he did not just ask to marry her.” Rubbing another hand over his eyes, he said, “The lieutenant made it clear that he has every intention of marrying my Catherine. However, he still had things to do in the military and was not yet able to take care of her on his own.”

Elizabeth smiled and asked, “Did you mention your knowledge of his actual station?”

“No, he offered me his story before I could!” cried out Mr. Bennet in amusement, “I was about to ask him when he abruptly stated that I should not worry about my daughter potentially marrying a lowly lieutenant. He has every intention of making his mark in the army and that if it would come to it, he will inherit an estate when his grandfather dies. He did not tell me much more than that and it was clear he had no wish to speak of it.”

As her uncle spoke, Elizabeth could see her uncle was a little overwhelmed by the entire situation, but was pleased to hear him say, “I will admit to being unprepared for his request: I simply gave him my approval and released him to go find Catherine.”

Elizabeth nodded and replied, “Well, he will be an interesting son in law, I daresay.”

“Is Catherine that interested?” Mr. Bennet asked seriously.

Elizabeth teased, “While you were giving your permission for the courtship, I was calming Catherine’s fears that you would keep her from the lieutenant.”

Mr. Bennet simply rubbed his eyes one more time; preparing to give away two daughters in one year was overwhelming him a bit. Elizabeth could see he was wishing for peace and quiet to organize his thoughts. She then left her uncle and went to find her completed letter to Mrs. Gardiner that she wished to mail.

As she walked to her room, she thought, I wonder why Grandfather has not written to me of Mr. Darcy yet. I am quite sure he will have something to say about not only his proposal but my behavior. After all, I had been abusing the man in my letters for months.

As she opened her door, Elizabeth realized something: I do not remember mailing my letter! That must be why Grandfather has not written of it to Uncle: he does not even know himself yet. She shook her head at her own forgetfulness and started to search her belongings for letter. After a few minutes of searching, Elizabeth realized it was not there. As Elizabeth searched she could only find her response to her grandfather’s correspondence she had arrived home and found. Puzzled, she went in search of the new maid.

When she found Constance, Elizabeth asked as she held up the completed letter to His Grace, “I had a few letters that I had not sent yet, have you seen them?”

Constance, hesitant that she did something wrong stated, “Yes ma’am. I found two letters one morning that were sealed and looked to be ready to go out. I thought you had not had a chance to mail it, so I had them sent for you. Did I do something wrong?”

Elizabeth shook her head in reply and said, “In this circumstance, you were quite right, I appreciate your endeavor. However, in the future, simply put all of my correspondence on my desk.” Then as an afterthought, “Constance, do you remember what I wrote on the front?”

Constance shook her head, “No ma’am, I did not really want to read your mail, ma’am. Mrs. Hill that morning had informed me that you receive mail from your grandfather who lives in Oxford and sometimes London and I was not to let Mrs. Bennet read any of your letters to him. Since it was already ready to mail and had a direction on it, I made a point to have Billy take it to town so it could go out that morning.”

Smiling, Elizabeth said, “Thank you. She is quite right; I do not like people reading my letters to or from him. When did you send them, though?”

Constance said, “I put both in the mail day before yesterday mama.”

Elizabeth nodded as she realized her grandfather was probably just receiving the information about the proposal and replied, “Thank you Constance.”

Constance curtseyed and went about her work. Sighing, Elizabeth decided to simply wait to see what her grandfather chose to do. During dinner, she absently thought she should tell her Uncle, but then decided to simply let her grandfather’s actions be her guide. After dinner, Elizabeth finally found a free moment to speak with her cousin.

“It is apparent I missed quite a bit when I was in with your father, Catherine,” said Elizabeth with a smile as she sat on the sofa next to Catherine after dinner. “I turn my back for a second and the next thing I know, you have an official beau.”

Catherine beamed as she said, “It was almost immediately after you shut the door that he showed up.” With a dreamy look on her face she offered, “He said that he had no wish to leave me in Hertfordshire without informing me of his feelings. He asked to officially court me so that we could correspond while he is stationed in Brighton.”

Mary, who was sitting in a chair near the two, interrupted and said with a smile, “I am not even married yet, and Mama is counting the number of grandchildren she will have from both of us.”

The group looked at where Jane sat with Mrs. Bennet, attempting to calm her down and keep her sedate before everyone went to bed.

Catherine said quietly, “I am so happy for myself, but I feel so badly for Jane. To watch not only one but two of her sisters find love when the man she loves will not acknowledge her.”

Elizabeth nodded, “It is a terrible thing for Jane, but Catherine you must not allow her situation to affect yours. You are allowed to enjoy this time. Jane would not wish for you to be depressed for her sake.”

Catherine replied, “I know. However, I just cannot help but wonder at everything she is going through; to fall in love with someone, only to have him not love her back, then to have to watch one her younger sister’s get married, while another younger sister starts courting someone must be terrible. If that were not enough misery; add the fact that her best friend and cousin who is more like a sister will be leaving soon. I feel so sorry for her.”

As Elizabeth considered her most cherished friend and cousin’s situation, she felt even angrier at Mr. Darcy for his actions. With bitterness creeping into her thoughts, Elizabeth chose to change the subject and asked Catherine to tell her more about her lieutenant.



Longbourn, Hertfordshire Late May 1812

The weeks flew by for Elizabeth. At first, Elizabeth did not know what to make of her grandfather’s lack of response. On more than one occasion, she could be found reading and re-reading his letters, wondering why he never spoke of her rejection of Mr. Darcy. On more than one occasion, Elizabeth wondered if she should bring it up in her own correspondence.

One morning, Jane noticed her distractedness as she replied to the latest missive from James, and asked, “Dearest, is there something wrong? You look worried.”

Elizabeth looked up from her desk in her room where she once again found herself wondering at her grandfather’s lack of interest in her refusal of Mr. Darcy and said, “Jane, Grandfather has not mentioned, not once, Mr. Darcy’s proposal. He has not mentioned that he knows him, his thoughts on his behavior or even my behavior.”

“You did write to him…”

“Yes, I sent him quite a long letter regarding the entire situation, as well as how I felt regarding the proposal.”

Jane sat on her cousin’s bed and said, “Should you ask him about it?”

“I do not know. Why has he not mentioned it?”

Jane considered her cousin and finally asked, “Do you remember what you wrote? Did you solicit his advice?” When she saw Elizabeth’s confusion she said, “Elizabeth, when you first told me, your opinion on the matter was quite closed. You asked me about whether you should inform people of Wickham’s nature and whether you should tell Father. You even asked if you had been right in refusing him. However, outside of asking whether or not you should have refused him, you never once asked about your own behavior.”

Jane rose and put a soft hand on her cousin’s shoulder and said, “You have been harder on yourself than I believe the Duke would be. He probably has seen that you have appropriately looked at your actions and amended them. He probably believes that you wish to move on.” Jane then teased, “Or, he could be waiting to speak with you about the proposal himself when he sees you in a few months. After all, you have said it yourself; you might meet Mr. Darcy again in London. If His Grace is acquainted with Mr. Darcy he may wish to speak with you personally about it.”

Elizabeth sighed in resignation and sat back in her chair and asked, “So, I should not worry about his silence anymore?”

“Does worry ever help?”

Elizabeth smiled at her cousin and said, “No, it never has”. Then, with a teasing smile, she added, “So I shall imitate his silence and be done with the whole thing!”

True to her word, Elizabeth attempted to put the failed proposal from her mind. She did not bring it up again and instead turned her attention to Mary’s wedding and Catherine’s courtship. Elizabeth found she had much to do and did not have much time to even think about her grandfather’s silence even if she wished to. She accompanied Jane on visits to tenants, started to prepare Mary and Catherine to take over her father’s books, and so much more.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Ingorance and Irony - Chapter 6

MarciJune 04, 2017 06:54PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony Clarification

MarciJune 07, 2017 07:48PM

Re: Ingorance and Irony - Chapter 6

DavidJune 07, 2017 07:23AM

Re: Ingorance and Irony - Chapter 6

MarciJune 07, 2017 03:10PM

Re: Ingorance and Irony - Chapter 6

AiJune 04, 2017 10:32PM



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