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Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

June 09, 2017 03:13PM
Author’s note: Once again, thankyou Betsy and Roxey for all the help with this story. You guys rock! We are so close to meetign James!

Chapter 7 – Last Trip Part Two

When Georgiana and Darcy came back in from seeing their guests to their carriage, Georgiana begged Darcy to make her excuses, “I am simply too tired from my day. Please Brother? They will surely understand.”

Darcy smiled, and said, “Of course.”

When Darcy returned to the sitting room, he was shocked to find Louisa and Caroline in an argument with each other and Charles looking confused as he stood in the middle of it.

“Caroline, you had no right to disobey my own orders in my own house!”

“Surely, Louisa you can see that their acquaintance is not fit! Her aunt and uncle are in trade, for God’s sake!”

“Oh no, Caroline! They are in trade!” Louisa cried sarcastically, “Where do you think the money for your fine clothes came from? Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather, and the rest of our family are in trade!”

“Not Aunt Priscilla!”

“She married into money, but her roots are still in trade!”

Darcy felt something needed to be done, “Ladies! What on earth? Charles, what is going on here?”

Charles scratched his head and he looked between his sisters and finally said, “From what I gather, Darcy, Caroline did not send some letters of Louisa’s to an acquaintance she found unfit. She also barely showed this acquaintance the barest of civilities, effectively cutting the relationship off. Louisa apparently is upset by this.”

Darcy knew exactly whom they had been speaking of, and quietly asked, “Charles, would you please join me in my study for a few minutes? Mrs. Hurst, no matter what Caroline has done, getting angry will only hurt your child. I mean this in the nicest way, but maybe you should go to bed?”

Mr. Hurst, who had been hovering behind his wife, seconded the motion and escorted his wife out of the room. Darcy, realizing he would leave Caroline by herself in his sitting room, decided to leave her to her own devices, and directed Bingley to his personal study.

“What is it? Do you know who this person is that has my family in uproar?” Charles asked the moment the door was closed.

There was an ominous and anxious feeling in the room until Darcy spoke quietly, “Charles, I am sorry. I abhor disguise of any kind and engaging in it has hurt you terribly.” When he saw Charles’ confused look, he added with a deep breath, “Jane Bennet is the acquaintance Caroline shunned in London. I was unaware of the extent to which she went to conceal her presence to you and your family, but I was aware she was in London. According to Miss Elizabeth, she was in London from January through the end of May.”

“You…Jane…Caroline!” Charles spit out trying to comprehend what his friend has just told him. “She was in London all those months and you concealed it from me?”

“I offer no excuse. I am sorry.”

“Why?” cried Charles, he added, “Why would you and Caroline keep her presence from me?”

“My reasons are much different from Caroline’s. As I told you in November, I did not feel that she was in love with you, and if you had offered for her she would have accepted simply to save her family.”

Charles asked with a little bit of excitement, “You say that as if you doubt your own words now.”

“Miss Elizabeth gave me to believe that she might not be as indifferent to your suit as she appears.”

“So, I have your blessing?”

“Do you need my blessing?” asked Darcy, clearly shocked at how forgiving his friend was.

“No.” Bingley replied quite decidedly, “But I should like to have it all the same. You said you wanted my happiness and I know you will support me in that endeavor.”

“Then go to it!”

“Good!” cried Bingley, “I will leave at first light!”

Darcy held up his hand, “First, you are still a guest of mine and Georgiana’s, would you slight her and her ability to act as hostess by leaving so soon after you arrive? Second, I have reason to believe that the Bennets are not up for company just now.” When he saw Bingley starting to question him, he simply held up his hand, “If you wait until the time when our visit to Pemberley was scheduled to be completed, I will be free to accompany you…if you would like.” He added, “It also sounds as if Mrs. Hurst will not be upset if she is removed to Hertfordshire either.”

Charles stopped smiling for a minute, and Darcy could see the anger starting to gather on his face. Finally Charles ground out, “Their acquaintance is unfit!” he quoted. He looked at Darcy and asked, “What was the reason for Caroline’s interference if your reasons and hers were so different?”

Darcy hesitated to speak ill of anyone, even though it was Miss Bingley and said, “Perhaps you should ask her.”

Mr. Bingley rose and marched toward the sitting room where he found Miss Bingley patiently waiting for their return. Mr. Darcy was only slightly amused when he found the door to the sitting room effectively shut in his face as he heard Charles say to his sister, “Caroline, we must speak.”

Darcy simply smiled and took himself to bed. Tomorrow will be an interesting day, he thought. Although our time is short, I know as soon as Elizabeth and the Gardiners find out about Lydia, they will whisk Elizabeth away to Hertfordshire. I am sure by her pleasant countenance this morning and afternoon, Miss Bennet is still unaware. Surely she is. After all, she mentioned to Bingley that Lydia was still in Brighton. Surely she would not say that if she was aware of her cousin’s return to Hertfordshire. But I will not worry about it. Tomorrow, I will enjoy her company until I have lost it again. Then when Bingley returns to Netherfield, so will I.

Lambton Inn, Lambton Derbyshire, August 1812

“Mr. Darcy, Ma’am!” the maid curtseyed as she moved out of the doorway.

“Mr. Darcy! You find me all alone. My aunt and uncle have not yet completed their breakfast and should be here shortly.” Elizabeth smiled nervously as she said this. “I understand you and my uncle are to go fishing again today.”

Mr. Darcy was, by this time as at ease in Elizabeth’s company as he felt he could be. The yellow muslin gown she was wearing complimented her dark hair perfectly, and he wanted nothing more than to tell her how beautiful she looked. That would have to wait. “Yes. I was quite pleased to find a fellow angler in your party. Bingley does not sit still long enough, and Hurst normally is pleased to go, but he seemed preoccupied with Louisa yesterday. The first fishing trip, so long looked forward to, was an absolute mess. I am sure Mr. Gardiner told you of that. May I enquire what are you and Mrs. Gardiner planning on doing to occupy yourselves for the day?”

Having decided very late last night she would inform Mr. Darcy as soon as was possible about her grandfather, she stood, searching for the right words. Elizabeth started, “Madeline and I were to meet with childhood friend of hers –”

“Excuse me Miss Bennet, the post just come, and you said you was waiting for some letters from your cousin,” interrupted a nervous maid.

“That is quite alright Hannah. You are correct.” Elizabeth stated as she attempted to read who the letters were from. “Oh dear; no wonder they were delayed, her handwriting is awful.” She then put the letters aside and turned back to Mr. Darcy. “As to your question, we are meeting some of her friends for tea, but outside of that, our day is our own.”

Mr. Darcy smiled at Elizabeth’s attempt at civility. He noticed her distraction and accounted it to her letters. “Miss Elizabeth, you excitement betrays you: those must be from Miss Bennet. I am aware of your anticipation for those letters, I myself look forward to each one Georgiana sends me when we are parted. Do not mind me, Mr. Gardiner should be out soon. If you wish to read them, please, go ahead.” He settled himself into a nearby chair and grabbed a nearby newspaper.

“Thank you Mr. Darcy. I have been anticipating them. I have not received a letter from anyone these two weeks. I know I have been traveling but wish to know why they have been delayed.” Elizabeth was, by this time, not surprised at Mr. Darcy’s civility. She silently thanked Jane for the slight reprieve as Elizabeth still did not know how to tell Mr. Darcy that his godfather was actually her grandfather.

Before she opened her letters, she absently thought that Mr. Darcy looked as comfortable in the chair he had chosen as he did in his own superior furniture not five miles away. Had Elizabeth been able to read Darcy’s mind, however, she would have found out that Darcy was not at all comfortable as she supposed. When he started to fidget, she simply convinced herself that he was only bored. Since seeing him at Pemberley, it had occurred to her that Mr. Darcy was not one for idle relaxation. It completely made sense when she realized it: that would account for him bringing either a book or his correspondence with him every evening at Netherfield.

After few minutes of fidgeting, Mr. Darcy set the paper aside and got up; he walked to the window where he could watch not only the people outside but also Elizabeth in the reflection. He knew the moment Elizabeth turned white as a sheet. He crossed quickly to her and asked, “Miss Bennet! What is wrong! Can I do anything? A glass of water perhaps?’

Elizabeth sat there and ignored him as she continued to read her letters. After finishing the first, she quickly grabbed the second and tore it open. Tears were now starting to stream down her face, as her eyes scanned the paper, the tears continued to cascade down her cheeks.

Mr. Darcy could not stand it anymore and knelt in front of her and cried, “Elizabeth, please tell me what is wrong!”

She looked up at the man kneeling before her and whispered in shock, “Lydia attempted to elope with Mr. Wickham.”

She saw the emotions cross Mr. Darcy’s face in waves and felt her heart sinking. Unable to discern what they meant, Elizabeth could only listen as he asked, “What has been done to recover them?”

“She has been recovered,” she hastily responded as she re-read Jane’s second letter.

Mr. Darcy rose from his position in front of Elizabeth and said, “And that is all? How long ago was this?” He fidgeted as he quickly added, “I am assuming she is alright.”

Elizabeth, attempted to dry her tears as she replied, “I do not know much more than that,” She stood up and looked directly at Mr. Darcy and replied as her voice cracked a little, “Rest assured, however, Jane has informed me that my Uncle Thomas has left to retrieve Lydia. I am sure that my grandfather has been made aware of the situation. Mr. Wickham will most certainly regret his actions.”

Mr. Darcy continued to fidget as if there was something he knew he needed to say but struggled with saying it. Elizabeth, however, was unaware of his agitation. She suddenly she realized how her grandfather would react to the news of her youngest cousin eloping, and cried out, “Grandfather! He will not be pleased in the slightest.”

Before Mr. Darcy could respond, the Gardiner’s returned.

“Elizabeth!” cried Mrs. Gardiner as soon as she saw the tears on Elizabeth’s face.

Before Elizabeth could respond, the maid came abruptly in the room and announced, “Miss Bennet, you have some visitors, they insisted on seeing you and delivering a note personally.” She bobbed as she practically ran out of the room.

The party turned toward the door as four burly men entered. The largest was a brute of a man, almost as tall as Darcy but twice as muscular. Darcy immediately stepped in front of Elizabeth as soon as the man entered the room. Elizabeth, however, even though she had never met the man, knew exactly who he was, and asked even though she knew the answer to her question, “Jones? What on earth are you doing here? Is something the matter with Grandfather?”

“No, my lady. He is in perfect health, as always. He sent a message to both you and Mr. Gardiner.” The bulky man handed the letters to the recipients as they moved forward.

Elizabeth slid slowly down into the nearest chair as she held the missive from James in her hand with her other letters. She was unaware of the darkening look which crossed Mr. Gardiner’s face before he handed the missive to his wife saying, “I will ready our carriage.”

As Madeline stood next to Elizabeth, confusion clearly marked her face. Mr. Darcy was faring no better. Elizabeth seemed defeated; Darcy rushed to her side, oblivious to the tenseness that crept into Jones and his companion’s stances. “Miss Bennett, are you well?”

“I am fine, Mr. Darcy,” she replied as she sighed and folded her letter back up, “I imagine his response in person was more…effusive, was it not Jones?”

The bulky man only nodded and replied, “My Lady, the carriage is ready when you are.”

Mr. Darcy stared confused at the man’s reference to Elizabeth.

“Elizabeth, I thought that you would be returning with my husband and me?” queried Mrs. Gardiner from where she stood on the other side of Elizabeth.

Jones simply responded, “It was thought that his carriage would be safer, my men and I will be riding alongside for the entire trip.”

“No.” The steel could be heard in Elizabeth’s voice. The entire company was astonished as the almost cold nature in which she stood to address Jones, “I appreciate the concern for my safety, however, I have no intention of riding alone in a carriage. I insist upon completing the trip with my friends.”

The bulky man hesitated, clearly not wishing to go against either Elizabeth’s or his employer’s wishes, and instead opted for a diplomatic answer, “Your grandfather thought it would also be more comfortable, my Lady.”

“I am aware of what my grandfather’s beliefs are, Jones.” She responded indicating the letters in her hands, “However, I will ride with Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner. You may send the carriage ahead. If you feel that is not enough protection, then you may ride alongside the Gardiner’s carriage.” She stepped forward until she had reached Jones and continued, “We will be ready to leave within the hour. In the meantime, I suggest you see to the new arrangements as well as a meal for you and your men.”

“As you wish, My Lady,” As Jones bowed deeply to Elizabeth, the other three men did the same and left the room.

Elizabeth started to pace, her mind racing with thoughts of home, her family, her grandfather, and what she should tell the gentleman standing confused, next to her. She was startled out of her reverie when she heard, “Miss Bennet, you have long desired my absence. In light of these unfortunate circumstances, I will assume you and your friends will not be able to come to dinner tonight, or fishing this morning.”

With a frown, Elizabeth replied, “You are right; of course, we will be leaving for Longbourn as soon as possible. Please convey by deepest apologies to your sister. Tell her a family event has necessitated my presence; please conceal the truth of the matter for as long as you can.” She offered a slight smile as she added, “Lady Catherine was quite correct about your sister: she is a treasure, I would not wish her harmed due to the callousness and carelessness of my youngest cousin.”

Elizabeth faltered as she looked at Darcy; she felt she needed now more than ever to explain who her grandfather was, but somehow could not form the words. Before she could come up with an adequate response, Darcy said, “Of course, I will convey your message. She will be quite upset. Your presence will be quite missed,” Mr. Gardiner returned at that moment only to have Mr. Darcy bow to him before he swept from the room.

Knowing her chance to inform Darcy discreetly of her inheritance was lost, as well as her chance for a possible future with him, Elizabeth sighed as she turned to the other occupants, “Madeline, would you please request Hannah’s help in packing? We will need to leave immediately. I will be in shortly, I must write a letter to both Longbourn as well as London. Grandfather has probably already written to Uncle Thomas who is more than likely already at your lodgings, but we should inform him just in case.”

Edward and Madeline moved to do as they were bid. Neither was surprised at the authoritative tone she was taking. After all, Madeline thought, she has James’s blood.

Elizabeth sat down to re-read Jane’s letters one more time before she grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and responded to her grandfather’s summons. Once that was completed, she started toward her room.

The next hour was a flurry of activity. Before she knew it, Elizabeth was on her way to London. The first day was a quiet one. Edward and Madeline sensed that Elizabeth needed some time with her own thoughts. However, the second day of the journey, Madeline was determined to have some answers.

“Elizabeth, I do not know how to ask this, so I will just ask, why would James order us back to London?” with a slight glance to her left where her husband sat, she said, “At least that is how Edward said he phrased his request.”

Elizabeth had been staring out the window as they drove, and without turning her head, she responded, “Lydia attempted to run away and elope with Mr. Wickham. Fortunately, her absence was noted and she was recovered before they were too far away to damage her reputation.”

“Oh Lydia!”

At this she turned to Madeline and offered Jane’s letters to her, “Madeline, you may read them if you wish.” She opened up her reticule where she had put both James’ and Jane’s letters and handed them out across the carriage to the Gardiners. She waited patiently as Madeline and Edward read each letter carefully. She watched the emotions cross their faces. She had spent much of the journey the day before with nothing other than those missives on her mind; Elizabeth had them practically memorized by now. She knew the moment Mrs. Gardiner got to the part about Lydia.

Something has happened Elizabeth, I am afraid of alarming you however; Lydia has eloped! After we had all gone to bed last night, there was a huge commotion in downstairs around midnight. A rider had come from Brighton with an express from Colonel Forster. He was writing to inform us that Lydia had left his home to elope with Mr. Wickham!

Imagine our surprise; to Kitty, however, it does not seem so wholly unexpected. I am not surprised; the past week she has been very secretive. Mary claims that Kitty received a letter from Lydia that had quite upset her. But for Lydia to simply run off! I am very, very sorry. So imprudent a match on both sides! But I am willing to hope the best, and that his character has been misunderstood. I can believe him both thoughtless and indiscreet but surely to have taken such an action he must be in love with her? He must know she can give him nothing.

Our poor mother is sadly grieved and has taken to her bed with a case of nerves. My father bears it better. They are believed to have left Saturday night at about midnight and were not missed until yesterday morning around eight. The express was sent off directly. My dear Elizabeth, they must have passed within ten miles of us. Colonel Forster gives us reason to expect him here soon. Lydia left a few lines for his wife, Mrs. Forester, informing her of their intention. I must conclude, for I cannot be long from my poor mother. I hope you can read this letter, for looking at it I did write it terribly ill.

A small gasp emitted from Mrs. Gardiner. She exclaimed, “This cannot be true! Surely Lydia would not act so…wanton? She is by no means defenseless or friendless.”

Elizabeth sighed as she pointed to the second letter in Madeline’s hands, “The second letter does not explain all but it will put your mind at ease.”

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
August 5, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

You have, by this time, received my first letter. I hope it was not too distressing to you. I am quite pleased to say that I have wonderful news: Lydia has been found! She should be back in Brighton by now!

Our Father has left to Brighton to retrieve her himself. They will not stay more than a night once he is there. He will be journeying first to London and then they will both return home. He should be home before the end of the week! I am so sorry to have written you of terrible news and disrupted your trip. Hopefully, you will be able to put aside your worry and enjoy the remainder of your time in the Northern counties.

Until we see you again,
Jane Bennett

“Oh dear! If they have found her, why would your grandfather summon you back to town?” asked Mrs. Gardiner.

Elizabeth only offered her aunt the letter she had received from her grandfather, and said, “I believe this will be clearer as to my hasty removal.”

Grosvenor Street, London
August 4, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

You are to remove to Grosvenor Street at once. Jones will convey you with the utmost speed and security. The Gardiners, of course are invited to return with you. I have included a letter to Edward explaining as little as possible to him and the need for you to return home. He will be acquainted with more upon his arrival.

Knowing the correspondence you have with Jane, I believe that you have already been made aware of Lydia’s situation and the near disgrace she has placed on Thomas’ family. Thankfully, her immature actions will be caught before her reputation is harmed: of that I assure you. Thomas has assured me that Mr. Wickham may have contacts all over the country but he is not aware of my connection to you. I am not convinced. His choice of your silliest cousin was a calculated action to solicit funds from me.

If he did not know about our connection to Lydia, why would he kidnap her? She has an insignificant dowry, has no known connections, and little money of her own. No. He somehow found out. Every moment, I dread that the next servant to bring me news will bring me a ransom note.

This is what I have always feared for you. I thought I had put all the memories of that night so many years ago behind me, only to have them haunt me these past few days. When you were three I will admit to cowardice. I never attempted to make the people pay for what they did. I simply hid you away. No more. I will find this man and he will know my wrath. Of that you can be sure.

I sincerely apologize for breaking up your holiday, but I hope you understand the reasons behind bringing you to my side. I also hope you will forgive me for not allowing you to return to Hertfordshire first, but I will not have your first season tainted by an elopement.

Your Grandfather,
James Talbot

“Elizabeth, he said that he was told Wickham does not know anything about his connection to you. So why the hasty removal?”

“You read the same letter I have. I believe he was quite clear: he is concerned for my safety and reputation,” was all she responded.

“Surely, he does not think that you are in danger with us.”

At this Edward sighed, and started to retrieve the letter that he had received from James, as he handed it to Madeline, he stated, “Yes, that is exactly what he believes. My dear, I do not believe you had a chance to read this yesterday.”

Grosvenor Street, London
August 4, 1812

Dear Edward,

First, I would like to apologize for the bluntness and possible arrogance that this letter will contain. It is not my intention to hurt you or your wonderful wife. I am truly honored that you have taken Elizabeth into your family these past seventeen years. I could not have had the relationship with her that I do, if not for your hospitality and benevolence.

I am, however, incensed that such a fortune-hunting cad was able to not only get close enough to my granddaughter to engage her affections, but that in her absence he was able to use a cousin of hers to potentially harm Elizabeth’s reputation.

Both you and your wife wrote to me of your concern last winter. Your concern regarding his near elopement with that chit from Hertfordshire, Miss King I believe, should have been a warning to you and your family to be stricter in your regulation of your nieces. I know that you have no say in the discipline your brother, Thomas, gives his daughters. Knowing that your silliest niece was to be alone and almost unprotected near the cad, you should have made more of an effort to convince Thomas to be more strict with her and not allow her to go without suitable guardians.

I do not believe that Colonel Forster is an intelligent enough man to have found Lydia and will thank God every day that nothing worse happened to her. I will find out exactly what happened, and I assure you all parties involved will pay a hefty price.

In the meantime, you will understand that I feel Elizabeth will be safer at my own side in London. Thomas has proven that he is not capable of controlling his daughters and I can no longer trust him with Elizabeth’s reputation. I know that is harsh, but it is the truth. I have written him a scathing letter and anticipate a personal visit from him.

I shall see you in two to three days. Do not be late.

James Talbot
Duke of Shrewsbury

“Oh Edward!”

Shaking his head, Edward responded, “He is right Madeline, all three of us mentioned Wickham’s perfidies to Thomas and neither he nor you nor I chose to do anything about it. Thomas himself said at one point that his family had not enough to tempt a fortune hunter. Our brother completely relied on the fact that Elizabeth would be safe because of the rumors of her destitution. We now have evidence none of that was enough to protect them. I believe that if Wickham had known about Elizabeth’s connections, we would be in an entirely different situation.”

After the last statement the carriage became quiet again, each lost in their own thoughts.

Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

MarciJune 09, 2017 03:13PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

Linnea EileenJune 10, 2017 06:31AM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

mpinneyJune 12, 2017 11:51PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

Sabine C.June 09, 2017 10:22PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

Michelle AnneJune 11, 2017 12:16AM

But if the Duke's fears come true ...

GracielaJune 09, 2017 10:51PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

Trish1006June 09, 2017 06:32PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

Patricia NodaJune 09, 2017 05:27PM

Re: Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 7 Part Two

MarciJune 09, 2017 08:20PM


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