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Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 8 (Part 2)

June 19, 2017 04:49PM
Author’s Note: Once again, must give a shout out to Roxey and Betsy! Thanks ladies for all your help!

Chapter 8 – The Irony… (Part 2)

Grosvenor Street, London
August 14, 1812

Dear Jane,

Now that I have a moment to breathe, I find my first thought is of you. I am exceedingly sorry for what you and our family are going through.

Please assure Mary that we will be there for her wedding. In fact, let both Mary and Catherine know that I expect letters from both of them frequently. As for Lydia, I am quite aware of her being sent to school. Grandfather is helping Uncle Thomas with the arrangements. While I was being fitted for my new wardrobe, I took the liberty of having a few new dresses made for Lydia that agree with the dress code for her new school. She may not like them but then again, she has always appreciated new things.

By this time, Mr. Bingley should have already arrived at Netherfield again. I caution you Jane: I think you are in very great danger of making him fall even more in love with you. I only hope, for your sake, that his sisters will not join him.

Have you given any thought as to coming up to London to stay with me? As Grandfather mentioned so many months ago, my room is dreadfully outdated. I am quite pleased that Grandfather is insisting that we redecorate it. I find the soft yellow to be very comforting and lively. I have chosen such a pretty pale shade of pink for the walls for the suite next to mine, I cannot help but think that you will feel very much at home in there.

I find that only a few days in London with Grandfather can be very overwhelming. In the next two weeks, we are to have all of his closest friends over. A small dinner party to Grandfather is only about 20 people. He is inviting at least two earls, another duke, and a few other close personal friends. Mrs. Baines, the housekeeper, has assured me, once she receives the final list of those attending, we will work on the seating arrangements. She offered to schedule it herself and then discuss it with me. I find her small suggestions a necessity. In truth, she really is making all the decisions for this party with none of the praise. Grandfather assures me that she prefers it that way.

Mrs. Baines is simply a gem. I cannot sing her praises enough! About two days after my arrival, she asked if I had time to interview a candidate for a maid. Since we had not discussed yet what I was looking for, I was a little worried. However, I have had no problems with the rest of the staff and so sat down with the potential maid. Mrs. Baines was quite close to Abby’s mother and had helped Abby find a maid position almost five years ago with the Lady Edwina Baldwin, the wife of the Earl of Huntington.

I was concerned at first when I found out she had been dismissed without references. Jane, I know how you feel about gossip, but when I found out that the Lady Baldwin actually hit her maid for such a silly reason as her bath not being hot enough and then dismissed her because of it, I became incensed! I hired Abby immediately.

What a dream she has been! Once I was fitted for my wardrobe and ordered the dresses for Lydia, Abby to care of everything else. She even informed me of a wonderful yet little known tradition of the ton: when a woman of fashion updates her wardrobe, she gives the older dresses to the local parish, woman’s house, or poor house. I cannot say much of many of the traditions I have learned since coming to London, but am quite pleased with this one.

After speaking with Madeline on this subject, she informed me that her sewing circle uses old dresses and makes them into quilts. I informed Abby that I wish for all my older dresses, now and in the future, to be boxed up and we will use them in that endeavor. Abby took my instructions one step further and went around to all the maids and they also donated to the box! I am quite pleased with Grandfather’s staff, I must say.

I must admit to finding my Uncle Robert even more of a jovial man than I had previously thought. He sent so few letters, perfectly content to wait to meet me in person. There have been a few times that I have seen a harder side to him, but I believe that comes with being in the military for so many years.

I do not know if I have told you, I do not believe that I have: Mr. Darcy is Grandfather’s godson! To believe that we have had a mutual acquaintance for so many years, at times, is a little overwhelming. I cannot help but ask myself, would I have had a different reaction to him if we had met in London?

I probably should also mention that Grandfather never received my letter regarding Mr. Darcy’s proposal. However, he has it now and last evening we sat down and talked at length about it. I wish I could say that I find the same amusement and irony in the situation as Grandfather does. I am still so ashamed of how I treated him. However, I will endeavor to take Grandfather’s advice and remember the past only as it gives me pleasure. We shall be in each other’s company quite often. It is clear that his family and Grandfather are quite close. I am hoping that one day we can call each other friends.

Jane, after rereading your letter, I wonder, what have you been doing for yourself? You have been taking care of Fanny, and running errands for your sisters. What are you doing for yourself? Please take care yourself Jane.

I find myself falling asleep as I write this. I look forward to your next letter dear Jane.

Elizabeth Bennet

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
August 15, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

I will admit to no amount of shock as to the latest developments. I was hoping that now that Lydia had been returned with no scandal attached, life would continue to go on as it was before. Even as I write that, I know it not to be true. I was hoping for your return daily and now I know that you will not be coming back to Hertfordshire. When Father told us that you would not be returning to Longbourn, Mama was more upset than I had originally imagined by your removal to London. She has been complaining that it does not do well for you to live with a man who cannot offer you anything.

I will also add that my own heart is breaking as I write this. I do not know when I shall see you again.

Father is very bitter at the moment. He is blaming himself for your removal. He was warned of Wickham’s character and he did nothing about it. I cannot imagine what he is going through. Since Lydia’s return, Mama has left her room twice, both times, she has fainted. The near disgrace has caused her nerves to make her extremely sick. Father has requested a doctor from town. We are all quite worried that maybe her nerves are making her more ill than we thought.

Lydia has spent much time in her room alone; I believe that she is feeling the seclusion. Catherine had, as you know, become quite close to Mary these last few months and was quite put out with Lydia upon her return. Father seems to be equally as upset with Catherine as he is with Lydia. Catherine has confided in me that the letter she received from Lydia stated Lydia’s preference for Wickham and hinted at the possibility of an elopement. However, Catherine was unsure as to whether she would actually follow through with it and was in agony for a full week before Lydia actually attempted the feat.

Father has rescinded Lydia’s ability to be in society and has claimed she will be removed to a school in London upon the fall term beginning in three months. He has been threatening Catherine as well. However, since she has attached herself to Mary these past three months, and since it was Lieutenant Sanderson who helped find Lydia, Father seems to believe she has already gathered some intelligence and is less silly than before. Indeed, he heartily approves of Catherine’s relationship and now teases her with questions on when she will be married.

It is Mary who has brought joy and merriment back to the house. She and her reverend have set a date and wish to know if you and James can attend. Mama is still ill and not able to do as much as she wishes in planning Mary’s wedding. She gives us instructions every morning and Aunt Philips visits every afternoon for tea in Mama’s bedroom.

It was during one of the many trips to town that Mary and Catherine were informed of Mr. Bingley’s return to the country. I can see your look, Elizabeth. I am not distressed by his return. I assure you that this news does not affect me with pleasure or pain. I am glad that he comes alone, because that means we shall not see him very much. Not that I am afraid for myself, I simply dread other people’s remarks. It is troubling to believe that he cannot come to a house which he has a legal right to, without raising all this speculation!

Mama is asking for my presence; I will write again soon.

Jane Bennett

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
August 16, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

I sent you out a letter yesterday, and then this morning, I received both of your last letters at the same time. I feel I must start with my regret that you are not home with me. So much has happened in these past two weeks and I am feeling the loss of your presence exceedingly. Part of me wishes that I could accept your invitation to visit you in London. But Elizabeth, I will be honest: Mr. Bingley has returned and has called upon me here at Longbourn.

The first visit was a few days ago and I will admit my surprise at his coming. Oh! How I wish you had been here. The call was very awkward at first, however, Mr. Bingley and I had quite a comfortable conversation about what we both had done while in London.

I asked after his sisters and he stated that they had not wished to return to the country with Darcy and him. Apparently, they have returned to London. He then confessed that he was unsure of his reception and had waited to call upon us until Mr. Darcy could accompany him. Apparently, Mr. Darcy needed to take Georgiana to their London home before returning to Hertfordshire.

My shock, at reading your letter, at the news of Mr. Darcy’s connection to James, I assure you was complete! As I read it, both he and Mr. Bingley were announced. Do you wish for me to tell him of your connection to him? I believe I may be able to do so without Mama hearing.

You will be surprised, however, at how attentive Mr. Darcy was of your absence. He asked after you almost immediately at having entered the room. Mama informed him that you had removed to London and that you would make that your new home. He did look surprised at the statement. He even commented that he had seen you in Lambton and had thought you were returning to Hertfordshire.

He spent almost the rest of the visit speaking quietly with Mama and Mary. He congratulated Mary quite effusively. He even complimented her fiancé, stating that his grasp of the Word was immense and that he had enjoyed his sermons when he was last here. Mama was shocked that Mr. Darcy was speaking more than a few words. She quite exclaimed at his being “such a gentleman” by the time they left.

I can only agree with your assertion: the best thing to do, if you can, is to put aside your past and move on. I never believed him to be as awful as you did. I can also see you two becoming friends. If his attitude toward my family here is any indication, he wishes the same as you do.

Oh,Elizabeth! Mary’s wedding preparations are going exceedingly well. They have set a date for late September. That is the soonest the Reverend can get anyone to cover his duties. Mama has quite recovered from her illness and has even started helping Mary choose a new, more suitable wardrobe for her new position. Catherine has had much to occupy her time, as she has been helping Mary choose fabrics for the parsonage. The Reverend’s brother has been very generous and is paying for her to redecorate the parsonage as it has some very outdated furnishings.

Lydia has been in high dudgeon, as Catherine calls it, for the entire two weeks. Papa, however, has allowed her to start taking walks through the countryside as long as she takes a groom with her. She is lamenting the loss of her freedom, although everyone believes she deserves it.

Please tell me how you are. Your last letter was informative but brief. I hope things have slowed down for you since you have arrived. What plans for your introduction have been made?

I must go; we have company arriving. I miss you, dear cousin.

Jane Bennett

P.S. Mr. Darcy asked if you would be able to visit with his sister. I told him that you might not have the opportunity but I would ask. Apparently, she was upset that your time had been cut short, and wished to become better acquainted with you.

“What are you reading so secretively over there, my dear?”

Elizabeth was startled out of her reverie. The letter from Jane was exceedingly diverting. Elizabeth felt as if she had not really had a moment to herself since she had come to town over two weeks prior. “Letters! One from Jane, of course, one that looks to be from both Mary and Catherine, and one that is from Lydia!”

“Ah! Does Jane accept our invitation?”

Elizabeth smiled and replied, “No, it seems Mr. Bingley has returned and has been calling on her.”

“Well, that is good news! Although, when you return the letter be sure to convey our grief that our company is not as preferred.” With that, he excused himself.

“Of course. But where are you going? I thought you wanted to be here when the new furniture arrives.”

Distracted, he asked, “Is that today?”

“Yes. It is the twenty-first.”

“Blast! William just returned to town and I wanted to meet with him to see if he was coming to our party in a few nights.” Sighing, the Duke said, “Well. There is no help for it. I will just have to send a note.”

Robert offered with a wicked look, “I would be more than happy to deliver that note, Brother.”

James glared at his younger sibling and replied, “That will not be necessary.” Pointing his finger at Robert he added, “You go nowhere near Darcy until I have had a chance to speak with him. I would like something left to interrogate myself.”

Robert only laughed at his brother’s reaction.

Mrs. Baines came upon them to announce, “I was just informed the things for Lady Elizabeth’s and Miss Bennet’s rooms are here, Your Grace.”

“I will be right there,” replied James as he grabbed his brother’s arm, “Leave the girl in peace, Robert. You had best come with me instead!”

As the two walked away, Elizabeth eagerly broke open the letter from Mary and Catherine.

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
August 19, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

We hope you are enjoying your new life in London. Longbourn is by no means as lively without you here. Lydia is in a slightly better mood, if you can call bored a better mood than mad. We, Catherine and I, have a feeling that the letter she is writing to you right now contains so much information about the extent of her visit to Brighton as to try to make you jealous. At least that is what she has been trying to do to us since she has been back.

This is Catherine writing Elizabeth. It must be very confusing to have one letter from two people. However, we thought it would be easier. Mary is off to the dressmakers for a fitting of her wedding dress. We do not understand why Mama has ordered it so early. She will have it for a full six weeks before she marries.

As for their courtship, I have never seen Mary laugh so much or smile so much. She even smiles when no one is in the room! She is twice as pretty when Michael is in the room. Is that what love does to a person? Makes them prettier? I know it is working with Jane as well. Although, I am quite shocked: I did not know Jane could get any more beautiful. But I promised to let Mary describe Jane and Bingley.

Indeed, you did Catherine! Elizabeth, this is Mary now. I will admit, watching Jane and Bingley I have every wish that you would be here: you two were always the closest. It must be unbearable for you to be apart at this time in Jane’s life. Bingley, as you know by now, arrived in Meryton a little over two weeks ago. He called on us as soon as he was able to a little over a week ago. Since that time, he has visited Jane three times. His preference for her was marked last fall, but it is engrained this spring. No one looking at them could believe that this time it will not last. They are very much in love. And yes, I believe Catherine is correct, love is making Jane even more beautiful.

I do not believe that either Mr. Bingley or Jane is aware of Mr. Darcy’s involvement in their reunion. I was able to sit down with Mr. Darcy during his last visit two nights ago. He was watching the two lovebirds with a depressed look on his face. I was instantly angry for Jane’s sake. I mean who could be upset with his friend falling in love with my most gracious sister? So, I was a little impertinent: you would be proud of me! I asked him if he had a problem with their relationship developing. Thankfully, Mother was not near.

He was quite shocked at my question but rallied instantly. He said he approved of the match and that his look was one of derision toward himself and his belief last fall that Jane did not love Bingley. I could not believe my ears! I asked if he had kept Charles from Jane and he responded that he had. Then it occurred to me: Charles returned to Hertfordshire right after you saw both of them in Derbyshire. I asked if he had been instrumental in returning Charles to Jane.

He responded, “I may or may not have put the idea into his head, but Charles is his own man and can make decisions for himself.” I laughed at the look on his face; I then asked why he was in Hertfordshire then. Elizabeth, it was almost like hearing you! He said, “I could not let him muck it up again could I?”

We spoke for a few more minutes. When Mama joined us, Mr. Darcy started to make his apologies to our mother! He had been invited to dinner with Bingley later in the week and stated that he was needed in London and would be leaving the next morning very early. He promised Mama so faithfully that he would be back to visit and visit soon. Mother has quite changed her opinion about him and has decided he is a true gentleman.

Elizabeth, Michael has assured me that the Damask Rose is to be my ‘wedding present’ from him. I do not know what your garden looks like, or indeed if you even have one. But if you do, I can start a new Damask Bush for you. I would like to thank you for pushing me to overcome my own silliness. If it was not for you, I would not be about to marry the most wonderful man of my acquaintance.

We must finish this now. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Mary and Catherine Bennet

P.S. We almost forgot. Mr. Darcy asked to be remembered to you in my next letter, and repeated his request of visiting his sister. Apparently, she has written to him of her boredom with London and how she was tempted to visit with the Bingley sisters.

Elizabeth could not picture Mr. Darcy sitting down and holding entire conversations with her aunt. It must be true though, Jane, Mary and Catherine had all written about different times when he had done it. Mary and Catherine’s letter was a second request to visit Georgiana. Confused and overwhelmed with thoughts of Darcy, Elizabeth set the letter aside to return to later. She hesitantly picked up Lydia’s letter. With what her cousins had described to her of Lydia’s behavior, Elizabeth had a feeling this letter would be no different.

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
August 19, 1812

Dear Elizabeth,

I must admit to no little amount of jealousy! You are in London, new wardrobe (for I overheard Jane telling Mary) and a new bedroom! Are you doing anything else fun?

For myself, after the delights of Brighton, I am very much bored here in Longbourn. You probably will not, but would you please speak with Father about me going to school? I am quite sure I have nothing to learn from boring stiff teachers. I almost had a husband already, and me just fifteen! I should have laughed, had that awful Mr. Darcy not gotten in the way. Now I do not know where Wickham is. I assure you, I have not spoken two words to Mr. Darcy since he has been calling.

Elizabeth was shocked at her cousin’s behavior. She had obviously not learned anything from her experience. A school in London is not remote enough for Lydia, she thought as she read the next six paragraphs on her youngest cousin’s time in Brighton. Elizabeth folded Lydia’s letter and went to her mother’s desk. She spent the next hour penning her response to each letter. As soon as she was done, she also decided to write a note to Georgiana, inviting her to tea the next morning.
As she started to write the note, she had no idea how to let Georgiana know, gently that it was her. Simply signing, “Lady Elizabeth Bennet Talbot” seemed too formal. Instead, Elizabeth’s teasing nature got the better of her and she decided to surprise Georgiana in person.

Grosvenor Street, London
August 21, 1812

Dear Miss Darcy,

If you are not otherwise engaged, I would be honored to have you for tea tomorrow morning at ten o’clock. I wish for at least one friendly face before the ton descends upon me. As I have been hearing about you recently from my grandfather, and I am certain we will be the best of friends. In truth, I feel as if I have already met you.

If tomorrow morning will not work for you, at least show pity on me and arrive a little early in the evening so that we can chat before the hordes of Grandfather’s friends descend upon us.

Sincerely Yours,
Lady E. Talbot

When Elizabeth informed James of her plans, he only smiled and replied, “Well, that will be a loud surprise. Georgie is a quiet creature most of the time, however but she becomes very high pitched when astonished. I will certainly leave you to it.”

Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 8 (Part 2)

MarciJune 19, 2017 04:49PM

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LisaYJune 20, 2017 03:57PM

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Lucy J.June 20, 2017 07:24AM

A dozen of strict governesses would be needed to control Lydia (nfm)

GracielaJune 21, 2017 05:15PM

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Linnea EileenJune 20, 2017 07:19AM

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