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Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 11 (Part 1)

July 12, 2017 04:16PM
Author’s Note: Thank you so much, Betsy and Roxey. I could not have written this without you two! I know I said this was the final chapter of this story – however, I could not fit the epilogue into two posts with the Chapter 11. You’ll see it posted in a few days. Thank you to everyone for your kind words! I truly appreciated the support! I apologize for any errors that I may have missed!

Chapter 11 – Portrait of Home (Part One)
September, 1812

They were a merry group as they set off for Hertfordshire. Both Elizabeth and William gave their views of the country to a rapt audience. Georgiana was excited to meet a whole family of sisters. She already viewed Elizabeth as such and hoped that they would be as welcoming as Elizabeth was. The carriage was filled with laughter as Elizabeth attempted to describe other inhabitants of Meryton, only to have William interrupt with his own thoughts on the people.

It was not a long trip from London to Netherfield, only a day’s ride. For the first half of the trip, both James and William rode in the coach. But as the day wore on, they both felt the need for some fresh air and took to their horses. The Darcys had also brought along their carriage for their servants to use and bring both parties’ luggage. Therefore, when the two men wanted to ride, Jones, who was riding James’ mount, and Stewart who was riding Darcy’s mount, simply transferred to the second carriage.

As the men were mounting, Georgiana whispered loudly to Elizabeth, “I do not know if you know, but my maid Elsie found out that Abby, your maid, has the crush on Jones.” Elizabeth’s eyebrows rose as Georgiana continued, “Indeed. Apparently, she has been attempting to get to him to notice her since you and my brother started your early morning walks. They have been your companions, correct?”

Elizabeth laughed and said, “Yes, they have. I never thought about it. Oh dear. Do we know if Jones feels the same?”

Georgiana smiled, “Why, are you planning on setting them up?”

Elizabeth sat back and looked evenly at her young friend, “Georgiana, it is not a secret that your brother is courting me. What do you think will happen if I marry him? Abby will come with me to Pemberley and be removed from Jones. If they are indeed as attached as we think, then two things could come from this: Grandfather could lose an extremely trusted man, or I could lose my personal maid. I would prefer hiring a new maid if that was the case. Jones is simply too valuable a man for Grandfather to replace.”

Georgiana looked a little taken aback by the comments and replied, “I had not even thought of that.”

Elizabeth smiled, “Elsie has been a maid for much longer than you have had her. She was very aware of what she was telling you, it was not a piece of idle gossip. I have a feeling she would have told me herself if she had not wanted to offend you by not telling you first. After all,” Elizabeth raised her eyebrow again and challenged Georgiana, “You are her mistress, not I.”

Georgiana sat back and stared out the window for a while. After a long pause, she said, “There is so much that I am not ready for. I am so used to William simply taking care of me that I forget I must start to take responsibility. I am coming out next year and I am still acting like a school girl!”

Elizabeth crossed the carriage to sit with Georgiana and attempted to console her, “Yes. You will be coming out next year. Yes, you do have to change certain…thought processes until then. However, Georgie, you have never really had a female to talk to, have you?”

As Georgie shook her head, Elizabeth continued, “You are simply trying to make up for lost time. I assure you, you will do fine next year. I will be with you and so will William.” Then she rolled her eyes and said, “I also have a feeling you and Catherine are going to get along famously. I do not believe she will let you become too serious too soon.”

As they continued their journey, it was a quiet one. Georgiana was thinking about her coming out, and Elizabeth about the reception at Netherfield. She did not know what Bingley had told his sisters about her and her grandfather and therefore did not know how they were going to respond.

The men were equally as quiet on outside the carriage. James was simply enjoying the pleasant ride and had attempted a few times to draw Darcy into conversation. However, his godson was only giving one or two word answers. It was apparent to James that his mind was elsewhere and allowed the silence.

For Darcy, he was not meaning to ignore his companion; however, William found that his mind simply would drift back to one topic whenever there was a lull in the conversation. Having no idea what Elizabeth’s views would be on the issue of changing names, he scrambled to think back on all of their conversations to see if she had given him any hint. The very core of his values were based on the duty he owed being a Darcy. How would that change if he was no longer a Darcy? How would his family react? When Darcy realized he had pretty much spent the entire ride in silence, he attempted to apologize to His Grace, he was waved off with annoyance.

As the group approached Netherfield, Elizabeth woke Georgiana up, and pointed out Longbourn as they passed. Elizabeth assured the girl they would be going over in the morning to greet and meet her family, “It is too late to go over there tonight. We have just enough time to change before dinner, more than likely.”

As she said this, they pulled up in front of Netherfield. Elizabeth looked out the window to see Charles, Mrs. Hurst and Mr. Hurst were there to receive them. Caroline was nowhere in sight. Elizabeth smiled as she saw Charles bow extremely low to her grandfather. As she was handed out by Mr. Darcy, she saw the astonished look on Louisa’s face as she also curtseyed as low as she could.

Elizabeth could tell that both her grandfather and William were amused by Louisa’s reaction to his introduction. She could also tell that her grandfather took extra enjoyment when he took her hand and said, “Mr. Bingley, my granddaughter the Lady Elizabeth and I are pleased you are allowing us to stay with you for this indefinite period of time. Do you know when your own wedding will be?”

Bingley smiled and replied, “Yes, we will be marrying in four weeks, the week after Miss Mary. I know your plans included some additional time after Mary’s wedding. Louisa and Hurst were also planning on staying. Do not feel like you need to leave on my account. Stay for as long as you like, Your Grace.”

James smiled at such a jovial proclamation. He looked over to Mrs. Hurst, who was wringing her hands and trying to avoid Elizabeth’s eye, as he said, “Thank you! I believe we shall! Mrs. Hurst, I understand you are soon to have a child. When is the joyous occasion?”

Louisa looked alarmed as she looked back and forth between James and Elizabeth and stammered, “After Christmas.”

Elizabeth broke away from her grandfather and attempted to calm Louisa. She could tell Louisa was feeling guilty for her and her family’s attitude toward Elizabeth before, however, Elizabeth felt there was no call for Louisa herself to feel bad; after all, Louisa had tried to seek a friendship with her.

Elizabeth was also pleased that Louisa had helped her brother return to Jane. She grabbed Louisa’s hands, and drew her close and said, “Oh! It is good to see you Louisa. I am ashamed to say that it was completely my fault we did not get to know each other well enough before you went to London last year!”

With a slight move of her head she indicated where Louisa’s brother was standing and added, “If we had, maybe much discontent could have been avoided. I appreciated the letter you sent a few weeks ago. I apologize for not returning it. By the time I was ready to sit down to do that, we had already made plans to come here. I thought I could respond in person!”

Louisa hesitated and smiled and nodded in agreement. However, that was all the encouragement Elizabeth needed to continue: “I rather regretted leaving Derbyshire so soon this past spring; your and Georgiana’s presence was so rewarding. I hope we can get to know each other better on this trip.”

Louisa smiled in appreciation and said, “As I told you last November as well as my letter, I would love to become better acquainted with you. Please, will not you come in? You all must be very tired. We are having a late dinner and will be eating in about two hours. That should give you time to rest. Your things arrived a while ago, and should already be in your rooms.”

Mrs. Hurst became nervous once again as she eyed James out of the corner of her eye and started to apologize, “When I found out of your intended visit, Charles allowed me to update some of the rooms. Unfortunately, most of the family rooms have not been redecorated in years. I apologize if they are not what you are used to.” She hurried to add, “Jane has been helping me and has assured me that they fit both of you perfectly…”

Elizabeth started to laugh and cried, “Oh Louisa! There is no need to worry about that. I was fairly comfortable here when Jane will ill last year,” then she teased, “And Grandfather is not one for frills. Can you believe there was a hole in the carpet of my room when I arrived in London?”

Louisa started to smile and feel more at ease when the Duke cried out, “I was counselled by all my maids, and housekeepers NOT to redecorate your rooms or you would simply re-do it! Do not blame that one on me!”

Louisa started to laugh with the rest of the group and as she grabbed both Elizabeth and Georgiana’s arms to lead to them to their rooms, she said, “I have invited only Jane to dinner tonight. As far as the Bennets are concerned, you will be arriving tomorrow. Mr. Bennet is the only one who is aware of your arrival today,” she winked as she added, “Jane is not aware of your presence.”

“That will be a nice surprise then!” Elizabeth then hesitantly asked, “Louisa, might I ask, who knows about my grandfather?”

Georgiana listened attentively as Louisa responded, “Charles apparently knew. I can only guess that Jane told him. I have not heard anything ever since I have arrived, I can only guess that your aunt is not aware.” Surprising herself, Louisa exclaimed almost immediately, “Not that…I mean…I did not mean…” Elizabeth only laughed at Louisa’s stammering.

Louise, realizing that she was forgiven offered, “Jane, however, was invited for a family meal this evening. For my part, I was unaware until Charles received His Grace’s missive two weeks ago. That was when he informed me.”

They stopped at Georgiana’s door and before the two ladies left, and Georgiana asked, “Elizabeth, what is it that people do not know about James?”

Elizabeth sighed and said, “Georgie, when we told you that we kept the fact that my grandfather is a Duke a secret, we meant from everyone, including my own family.” She looked at Louisa and replied, “Tomorrow, it seems the cat will finally be out of the bag.” Amidst laughing, Georgiana excused herself and went to the room that Louisa indicated was to be hers.

Louisa hesitated at the doorway when she showed Elizabeth to her room. Once Elizabeth set down her things, she called to her hostess: “Louisa, do you have a moment to talk?”

“Of course, My Lady.”

Smiling, Elizabeth motioned to the seat next to her. After Louisa shut the door behind her, Elizabeth said, “First, Louisa, you need to know I am serious in my wish to get to know you better. I was intrigued by you before you and your brother left last November. Your recent letter was very…formal, which is something I can understand. I was pleased to receive it though..” Winking at her hostess, she added, “Hopefully, I can assume that in the future your correspondence will be less…formal?”

When Louise hesitantly smiled and nodded, Elizabeth continued, softly, “Louisa, it is now obvious that your distraction last year and even earlier this year was due to your worrying over your pregnancy. I do not believe for a minute that you harbored the same feelings for Jane, myself, and my family that Miss Bingley did or still does.”

Seeing the mention of the younger Bingley It was also a very smart decision to move closer to doctors who could help, should something go wrong. I am only sorry something did go wrong. I was not able to tell you that this past spring.” Elizabeth squeezed her hand and added, “I pray that you will not have the same problems with this pregnancy that you did last winter!”

Louisa was surprised by Elizabeth’s statement and said, “But I was so rude to you and to Jane!”

“When?” Elizabeth asked as she patted one Louisa’s hands, “I remember Miss Bingley making comments that were almost rude and intrusive. I remember your sister looking down her nose at both Jane and myself. I remember it was Miss Bingley who attempted to separate your brother and Jane,”

Elizabeth paused before she offered, “However, when I think back on your character, I remember you being somewhat distracted. I also remember you mentioning you had been ill recently and could not be near Jane. Knowing that you could have contracted her cold and yet you were still in her room taking care of her when I arrived and still chose to comfort Jane while she was here sick, reveals much about your character. It is understandable that you would avoid her in your condition while she was ill. If I had known, when I arrived that day, I would have told you to leave the room myself!”

Looking Louisa in the eye, she concluded, “I do not remember a single word that you said that made either Jane or me feel inferior. I also remember it was you who helped your brother reunite with my cousin.”

Elizabeth smiled as she recalled, “I also remember your anger when you realized that Miss Bingley had not only thrown your letters out in London, but took callers without your knowledge. You were not your brother’s hostess here at Netherfield, Miss Bingley was, but to be so disrespected in your own home…” shaking her head she finished with a flourish, “I do not blame you for a thing.”

Louisa was overcome with emotion, “My Lady, I – ”

“You will stop calling me ‘My Lady’ or ‘Lady Elizabeth’: I am Elizabeth or Lizzy. I actually would like your help tonight.” Elizabeth smiled as she said, “I hope you and your brother do not mind, but I am assuming Miss Bingley is in residence and thought to show her disdain for my cousin’s marriage to your brother by not greeting us?”

Louisa looked embarrassed for her sister and yet was interested in what Elizabeth had planned. She replied, “Yes. However, I am acting as Charles’ hostess before his marriage and as well as after the event, while he and Jane are gone. Hurst and I will be here until the baby arrives, after Christmas, so Caroline’s presence was not really needed.”

“I can only assume by her lack of appearance that she does not wish to acknowledge me or my grandfather’s presence. I will accept her decision, of course, and treat her as formally as she has treated us,” concluded Elizabeth.

Louisa’s smile grew bright as she realized what Elizabeth was saying. Elizabeth was not done, however, “Of course, out of deference toward our host, your brother, I will not cut her direct, but if you would please make a point tonight, to call me Elizabeth to point out our familiar relationship, I would appreciate it. If Miss Bingley attempts to change our relationship to a friendly one, I would appreciate it if you would help me by reminding her of her place?”

Louisa laughed outright and stated, “She had made some comment about not coming down to dinner. I will make sure she is there.”

“Good! Now, I need to change! I will see you I am simply covered in filth! I still do not understand how one can get so dirty when one doesn’t even leave a carriage? I will see you at dinner.” As her hostess left the room, Elizabeth smiled and thought, this evening will be fun.

As Elizabeth descended the stairs to meet everyone for dinner, she saw her cousin Jane entering the hallway. “Jane!” she cried and hurried down the stairs to greet her most beloved cousin and grasp her in a tight hug. “I have so missed you! Your letters simply are not enough!”

Jane’s eyes moistened as she exclaimed, “When Charles proposed you were the first person I wanted to tell!”

“Then why did I read the letter that Charles sent to William and not one from you?”

Jane held her cousin out a little and cried, “You never received my letter?”

“No. We were waiting for it, but it never came.” Elizabeth stated quizzically. “The only reason we were able to change our plans so quickly was because William got a very illegible letter from Charles.”

“Oh dear. Then you do not know?’

“Do not know what?”

“Charles and I are marrying the week after Mary. That is in four weeks.” Jane’s normally serene face was fast becoming a shade of desperate, “Please tell me that you are able to stay at least that long!”

Elizabeth laughed and stated, “Yes. We do know. Uncle Thomas and Grandfather have also been communicating.” She linked arms with her cousin and she ushered them both into the sitting room. Louisa was already there, and the three started speaking, “I have a few surprises for you. First, I have commissioned Madam Mobley to come and fit you for your wedding dress. Second, while she is here, she is also going to work on a trousseau for you.”

“Lizzy! That is too much!”

“I disagree.” Elizabeth became serious and said, “You have been my best friend for years, and are as dear to me as an actual sister. Let me do this.”

Recognizing Elizabeth’s tone as one that she could not argue, Jane simply nodded.

Louisa became rather excited as she said, “Oh! Elizabeth, tell Jane about Christmas! His Grace mentioned it to my husband and Charles. We all think it is a splendid idea!”

Elizabeth smiled and said, “Jane, Grandfather and I want to have a big Christmas at Heythrop Park. It has been ill used for so many years. You and Bingley are both invited for an extended stay during the winter after you return from your honeymoon! The Darcys will be there, now the Hursts as well.”

Elizabeth then stopped and looked quizzically at her new friend, “Louisa, should you be traveling during the winter in your condition?” She hurried to add, “Not that I hope you are not able to come! However, I would not wish for you to travel unnecessarily.”

Louisa replied, “Our child is not due until late February or early March. Hurst has decided that we will return to Blackridge immediately after Christmas and we will spend some time there. The travel will be uncomfortable to be sure; however, your Grandfather has already offered to allow us to stay at Heythrop until the baby is born if necessary.”

Elizabeth nodded and turned back to Jane, “Your parents and sisters are coming too! We still have to ask Mary and her betrothed, however.”

“Oh Lizzy! I would love that!” Jane then got a little worried, “But are you sure it is no trouble? So many people.”

Raising an eyebrow at her dearest friend, Elizabeth replied dryly, “I promise not to tell Mrs. Comstock about your distrust in her abilities. Our housekeeper at Heythrop would be extremely vexed. Now,” Elizabeth stated as she changed the topic “Tell me what you two have been planning. I wish to help. After all, we only have four weeks!”

The rest of the afternoon was spent in pleasant conversation while Elizabeth, Louisa, and Jane discussed what wedding plans were already in place. Elizabeth found herself quite pleased with Louisa’s dry swift wit. Throughout the afternoon, she found herself laughing on more than one occasion at Louisa’s quips.

Pleased with the new friendship she was forming, Elizabeth was unhappy to see the men start to gather in the sitting room for dinner. Such an action could only mean it was almost time for Miss Bingley to come down for dinner. Elizabeth was pleased with the men’s presence, but was a little down hearted when Miss Bingley swept into the room.

However, Elizabeth was raised by Thomas Bennet: her impish side immediately took hold and she shared a look with Louisa.

It was clear, when the family and guests gathered in the sitting room before dinner was announced that something was going on between Elizabeth, Louisa, and Miss Bingley. The men sat back and decided to watch and let it play out. As Caroline swept in the room, Louisa rose to introduce her to her to Elizabeth’s grandfather.

“Caroline, please come and greet our guests. You know –”

However, Caroline was slightly put out that she had to sleep in the same house as Elizabeth and her low relations, that she interrupted her sister fairly rudely, “I know the Darcys, and am already acquainted with Miss Eliza. Your introductions are rather unnecessary.” To James she said, “You must be Elizabeth’s Grandfather: Mr. Bennet.”

James could see the horror on Louisa’s face and the smile on Elizabeth’s; James chose to say nothing as Elizabeth approached and to offer the introduction again, “Miss Bingley, please meet my grandfather, James Talbot.”

She only paused for a moment before she was going to add his title, but Miss Bingley interrupted rather abruptly and said very dryly, “Mr. Talbot, pleased. I am sure.”

The inhabitants were all shocked by her rudeness. James did not know whether to be angry at the slight to his granddaughter or laugh at her apparent ignorance. However, most everyone was curious when Elizabeth simply smiled larger and did not attempt to correct Miss Bingley’s address. Instead she chose to share yet another look with Louisa.

Caroline, having no wish to speak with either Elizabeth or any of her family, turned to Georgiana and asked her what she had been doing with herself in town.

“I have been spending time with Elizabeth and my godfather,” the young girl replied timidly. Miss Bingley had always intimidated her and Georgiana knew something was going on between Caroline and Elizabeth.

“Really? Whatever could you have been doing with Miss Eliza?” Miss Bingley queried.

However, Georgiana was unable to reply as dinner was announced at that moment. James held his arm out to Elizabeth while Darcy came near to Georgiana to escort her inside.

Caroline became irritated when she was forced to be escorted in to dinner by her brother-in-law along with Louisa. Charles, of course, had offered his arm to Jane. Miss Bingley became further annoyed when Mr. Hurst allowed James and Elizabeth to enter next.

Miss Bingley was about to comment on the disparity of ranks when she heard her brother–in-law say, “After you, Your Grace.”

James bobbed his head in acceptance and proceeded to escort Elizabeth to dinner.

For Caroline’s part, she had no idea what had just happened. As they were seated, she realized she was being placed as far away from the head of the table as possible. As the food was being served vexed at being placed in such a lowly position, Miss Bingley said loud enough for the entire table to hear, “Mr. Hurst, I believe you have spent too much time here in the country.”

The man looked up from where he sat across from her and asked, “Why?”

“It would seem that you have started to revert to using country manners. In town, individuals are escorting to meals according to rank.”

The table went silent. James noticed Elizabeth’s small smirk and the look she exchanged with Mrs. Hurst. Jane and Bingley were confused, and both, individually, trying to decide if either of them had done something wrong. Darcy looked amused and then noticed that his sister was genuinely confused at the statement.

Hurst however, did not miss the opportunity to educate his sister-in-law. Many who endeavored to sketch his character normally took him for a lazy man who over ate and only took pleasure in his own personal pursuits. The truth of the matter was rather different: Mr. Hurst was genuinely a clever fellow who took extreme delight in the foolishness of others, much like Thomas Bennet.

When he had originally married Louisa, Gilbert Hurst had taken much joy in watching Caroline fall all over herself to impress Darcy. However, as time went on, he continually became more and more irritated with Caroline’s selfish nature. It was only the love he held for his wife that had Caroline staying with them so often.

However, tonight, Hurst felt was the opportune moment to put Caroline in her place once and for all. To say that he had been anticipating Elizabeth putting his sister-in-law in her place would be an understatement. However, it seemed Lady Elizabeth was in no hurry to correct Miss Bingley’s perception of her and her grandfather, and as Louisa had not mentioned the mischievous plan to her husband.

So, Mr. Hurst decided to correct his sister-in-law himself, “I do not know what country type manners you are referring to, Caroline. In my experience, both in town and in country, a Duke is always escorted in first. In fact, Bingley probably should have allowed His Grace to go first. However, it is done, and His Grace does not seem to mind the error on Bingley’s side.”

“His Grace?” asked Caroline thoroughly confused.

“My grandfather,” interrupted Elizabeth from the far end of the table, “is His Grace the Duke of Shrewsbury.”

For a moment, Caroline did not know if she should believe Elizabeth. However, with a quick look toward Louisa, Miss Bingley realized the truth and after composing herself stammered out, “Of-f-f course, Eliza.”

Lady Elizabeth,” corrected Louisa. Caroline looked at her sister as her face showed the shock she was reeling from. Louisa continued, “The correct form of address, unless otherwise invited, is Lady Elizabeth, Caroline.”

Caroline looked quickly from Elizabeth to Louisa and back to Elizabeth. After a few minutes, she finally ground out to both Elizabeth and James, “I apologize for my ignorance, Your Grace and Lady Elizabeth. Had I known, I would have been more respectful.”

In order to allow the dinner to continue, James dryly replied, “Of course you would have Miss Bingley. I would have expected nothing less.”

Dinner did continue after this, only Miss Bingley was remarkably quiet. Her mind was swirling with the fact that a women she despised was now of a higher rank than her. Someone who Caroline knew was not educated in fine schools had no real accomplishments to impress society with. None the less: Elizabeth’s rank was higher than her own, and she was probably richer too.

As she surveyed the dinner arrangements, Caroline was a little put out that she was ensconced between Mr. Hurst and Louisa but decided to make the best of the opportunity to converse with Elizabeth and try to salvage what she could. “Lady Elizabeth, that blue is such a becoming color on you. Did you purchase it while in London?’

“No Miss Bingley. It is an old but favorite dress.” Elizabeth had dressed with care for dinner, she had wished to remind Caroline of who she was before Caroline was aware of her title “…and “I actually purchased it here in Meryton. I believe I wore it during my stay here last year, during Jane’s illness. It is a favorite. If you wish, I would be willing to go to the local dressmaker’s with you, and help you choose something similar.”

Caroline felt the slight and only said, “That will not be necessary, I assure you. I would not wish to take up your limited time while here in Meryton.”

“Oh, it would be no difficulty, as Grandfather I had planned on being here through both Mary and Jane’s weddings before we remove to Oxford.”

“You are not for London?” inquired Caroline.

“No. We attended many functions during my short stay, and I am somewhat worn out with the ton’s manners.”

Caroline snickered, “Perhaps, Lady Elizabeth, it is because you are not yet used to the society London has to offer. When you to return to London, I would more than pleased to introduce you to more…fashionable people.”

Elizabeth smiled back and retorted, “Oh dear. His Grace, the Duke of Carlisle, and even Mr. Darcy’s own uncle, the Earl of Matlock, would be fairly put out to hear they are not fashionable. However, I believe they will be less put out than their wives, Lady Margaret, and Lady Beatrice.”

Many people around the table could be seen immediately grabbing their napkins to cover their grins and soft chuckles.

Georgiana, who was unaware of the verbal war that was happening exclaimed, “Aunt Maggie and Lady Victoria are very fashionable, I assure you Miss Bingley.”

Miss Bingley simply continued to eat her soup, and only replied, “Indeed.”

Later on during the meal, Caroline decided to try a different tactic. She had been listening to Georgiana speak with Louisa quietly toward one end of the table with Darcy listening with a smile. They were discussing what plans the Darcys had for Georgiana’s coming out the following year.

“Oh! My dear Georgiana!” she cried, causing the table to stop their conversations, “You have decided to come out this following year! How delightful! When do you start planning your wardrobe?”

“Actually, we have already started,” the young girl replied. The whole table was listening into the conversation and Georgiana was feeling relatively shy.

“Have you been spending much time with your Aunt, Lady Matlock then? When I am in London next, I would be more than happy to help you choose fabrics and styles.” She smiled pretty widely when she added, “I will admit, I have a flare for style.”

“Actually, I have been helping Georgiana, Miss Bingley. Her choices are beautiful I assure you,” interrupted Elizabeth.

“Indeed, Lady Elizabeth. I had not realized you had spent so much time with Georgiana since Pemberley,” cooed Miss Bingley.

“Indeed, in fact, she is to be fitted for some of her new winter clothes here in Meryton.” Elizabeth stated calmly, realizing the assumption Caroline would make.

“Really?” questioned Caroline, who clearly thought this would be a perfect moment to point out the differences between her and Elizabeth’s backgrounds, “Do not you think, that one of Georgiana’s standing should be fitted by the best, Lady Eliza?”

“Lady Elizabeth,” corrected Louisa with a harsh tone.

“Lady Elizabeth,” Caroline returned.

“Indeed I do, Miss Bingley. I am sure my seamstress will be adequate.”

“Lady Elizabeth, I do not know if you are aware but the town has a….different view on what is fashionable and what is not.”

Elizabeth feigned ignorance and stated, “I had not thought Madame Mobley to be…unfashionable? I had understood her to be the best in London.”

“Madame Mobley?” questioned Caroline. “I thought you said your seamstress was in Meryton.”

“I said my seamstress, and indicated she was in Meryton, not that she was from Meryton. I convinced Madam Mobley to come and make Jane’s wedding dress and part of her trousseau, as well as some winter things for myself and Georgiana.” Elizabeth smiled sweetly toward Georgiana and then turned back to Miss Bingley, and asked innocently, “She was to arrive tomorrow and start the day after that. I had not realized this was a mistake. Is she really that unfashionable?”

“Absolutely not!” cried Miss Bingley. Madame Mobley only took on the most prestigious clients and had excellent taste. Since Caroline was from new money and her relations were in trade, she had not been able to obtain an appointment. She was already scheming as to how she could get an appointment with the lady while she was in Hertfordshire. Caroline completely missed the smirk on Elizabeth’s face, who had read Caroline’s mind.

The conversation turned to a different topic and Caroline fell silent. When the men separated from the women after dinner, Caroline saw her chance to speak privately with Georgiana. The ladies had retired to the music room, where Elizabeth, Jane, and Louisa sat and started to discuss Jane’s wedding plans. Georgiana wandered over to the piano and started to play quietly. She had not had a chance to practice in a few days and Louisa had assured her earlier that background music would be appreciated.

Caroline approached the piano and attempted to turn the pages for Georgiana. Thankfully, Georgiana realized Miss Bingley was not really interested in the music and started to play a song that was not on the pages. She giggled to herself when she realized Caroline had not noticed the change.

As she listened to Georgiana play, Caroline was trying to come up with a smooth way to introduce the topic she wished: Madame Mobley. Miss Bingley felt the easiest way to get an appointment would be to be invited by one of her clients who had already scheduled one. Georgiana seemed the likeliest choice.

“My dear Georgiana, how excited you must be to be outfitted by Madame Mobley!” she stated as she turned a page.

Georgiana giggled when she saw the page turn, and this encouraged Miss Bingley to continue, “But surely, Lady Elizabeth has not spent enough time with you to understand your tastes. Truly you need someone with you who you can trust for the best advice.”

“Actually, Elizabeth and I have spent almost every day together since the dinner she held for His Grace’s closest friends. We have been shopping multiple times, and practiced the piano multiple times. We have even attended the theatre and opera together with my family,” she replied innocently.


“Yes. Elizabeth has excellent taste, in music, books, fashion, and ever so much.” She smiled as she added, “I am extremely excited to meet Miss Catherine, her cousin. Elizabeth claims we will be great friends.”

“Miss Kitty is a very lively girl to be sure.”

Concerned, Georgiana said, “Elizabeth told me she prefers Catherine.”

“Oh well. I do not know her that well, to be able to say. We do not have much in common.” Miss Bingley replied.

By that time Georgiana was tired of playing and rose to join the other ladies. Miss Bingley joined her and attempted to join in the conversation, but found all of her ideas regarding Jane’s wedding were dismissed by either Jane or Louisa.

Jane was still hurt from Caroline’s treatment of her while she was in London and true to her word, did not invite Caroline into any type of friendly acquaintance. She did not ignore her future sister-in-law by any means; Jane simply listened to what Caroline had to say without any encouragement to continue. Louisa, however, who was still very upset by Caroline’s actions, and had no problem out right verbally dismissing her sister’s comments that she felt would not be in Jane’s and Charles’ best interest.

Caroline was becoming reasonably put out. Finally, she turned back to Georgiana and asked, “You said before you have spent a reasonable a bit of time with Lady Elizabeth during your recent stay in London.”

The men returned just as Georgiana replied, “Yes. In fact, we have been invited to Heythrop Park for the winter, so that my brother can continue his courtship of her without the interruptions on London society.”

Caroline did not realize that the men had returned, and exclaimed, “What? Mr. Darcy is courting Lady Elizabeth?”

“Yes. I am.” William stated firmly as he led the men back into the room. He took a stance behind Elizabeth’s chair and added with a smile to the occupants, “I am endeavoring to win her favor.”

Through her teeth Caroline seethed, “Well, then I guess I should wish you joy.”

Darcy smiled as he looked down at Elizabeth and said, “Only after she finally accepts me, Miss Bingley. I will accept your well-wishes, only after that much anticipated event...”

Caroline cried, “Finally accepts you? What do you mean? Surely, you have not already proposed?”

“Caroline!” cried both Charles and Louisa simultaneously.

William held up his hand, and stated, “It is alright. Most people would be shocked to find that I have already proposed to this dear lady and she most vehemently refused.”

“Probably felt that he was not good enough or as well titled as she could get” sneered Caroline louder than she intended.

Elizabeth had enough, and said with a steely voice, “On the contrary Miss Bingley: William proposed before he knew of my title. I am wealthy and connected enough not to need a fortune or connections, like some. I chose to refuse him because he was extremely rude, a character trait I cannot abide, as so many in London society feel is fashionable.”

Miss Bingley felt this was aimed at her. She was not wrong and Elizabeth continued, “Anyone, be it William or someone else, who maligns the name and respectability of any of my family members, will not have my favor. Before I was recognized by the fashionable, I was Miss Bennet. I have a long memory and am very aware of who my friends are and who my enemies are. Should one find themselves on the latter side of my will, they will not be pleased.”

Caroline felt the entire weight of the statement fall on her like a tons of bricks. She means it, she thought. Oh what have I done? I hope it is not irreparable. I must make this right. Her tone turned sugary sweet as she stated, “Of course not Elizabeth –”

Lady Elizabeth,” corrected Louisa, harshly.

Lady Elizabeth, I am sure no one who knows your esteemed family would have anything negative to say about them!” Caroline exclaimed.

Elizabeth only said, “Indeed.” She then changed the topic and included the rest of the party in the conversation. Caroline was quiet for the rest of the evening and retired early, begging a headache.

After Miss Bingley left the room, Georgiana spoke up timidly and asked, “Elizabeth, I know there was more that was being said that…well, was not actually being said when you spoke with Caroline just now. However, I do not understand what.”

Elizabeth sighed and rose to indicate some music might be enjoyed. She asked Georgiana to play while she spoke, “Georgiana, did you realize when we were at Pemberley that Caroline did not like me?”

“Yes,” she said hesitantly, and then added, “Well, I realize it now. She was very cold to you and persisted in trying to berate you. I do not believe I was supposed to hear, but after you left that evening, she was somewhat harsh in her words about you and Jane. I admired the way you handled her, often wishing I could speak the same.”

“Yes. I have no doubt she would take any opportunity to persuade people to her way of thinking. But do you realize why she acted that way?’


“While your brother was here last fall, when Bingley moved into Netherfield, William showed particular interest in me, someone whom she had written off as…unworthy of her notice. I was not fashionable enough for her, my country manners were very different from her town ones. I did not go to a school like she did, and I did not even have a governess. Basically, Miss Bingley thought I was not worth knowing.” Elizabeth then sat next to Georgiana on the piano bench and continued, “You do realize she wishes to become Mrs. Darcy?”

Blushing at the comment, Georgiana replied in the affirmative. Elizabeth continued, “Her dislike stems from your brother’s interest in me. From the beginning, even though I was unaware of it, she saw that he was falling in love with me; that meant he was not interested in her.”

“So she is simply jealous?”

“A jealous woman can be a dangerous woman,” replied Elizabeth, “I have even been known to feel a little jealousy. The problem is, she acted and is acting upon it in a very unladylike manner. Tonight, she has been confronted with three truths. First, your brother has stated out loud his preference for me. Second, not only am I now wealthier than she is but more titled two things that she values above anything else. Lastly, I informed her clearly that I would not abide any mistreatment of me or any of my family, which includes those she feels are inferior to her, like Jane.”

Elizabeth concluded by adding, “She left the room early because she needed time to adjust her way of thinking, I think. She is not pleased with the way this evening has turned out. She sought to show my and Jane’s inferiority, only to be shown her own inferiority of character.”

Georgiana sighed, “Oh Lizzy, I do not think I could ever do any of that.”

“Why do you feel that you must?”

“Will I not be approached by ladies like Miss Bingley next year when I come out?”

“Probably, however, you forget: no one will ever mistake you for less than an esteemed Darcy.” Then she cheekily added, “Plus, I will always be near enough that no one would ever think of treating you horribly. After all, I hope to call you sister one day.”

“I have never had a sister and have always wanted one.”

Elizabeth smiled and looked at Jane and said, “I have never had a real sister either, but I have some great cousins who could never be substituted.” Then looking at Georgiana, she made them both laugh, as she stated, “I will share!”

James watched the two with a satisfied smile as once again, Elizabeth drew out Miss Darcy from her shyness and lack of confidence, as they both played together. He was sitting next to Darcy and Bingley, when he noticed Darcy was distracted. “William? What is wrong?”

Darcy was lost in his own thoughts and simply responded, with his voice fading, “An esteemed Darcy…”

James sighed when he realized what William had on his mind. However, he could not stop Bingley from asking, “What are you talking about Darcy?”

William looked up from his thoughts and considered his friend for a moment and said, “Bingley, if someone asked you to change your name to Jane’s would you do it?”

“You mean become Charles Bennet rather than Charles Bingley?”


James watched in fascination as the friend who was only seen as the jovial friend of Darcy’s make the strongest argument that anyone could for Darcy to change his name, “Well, I love Jane. I do not think it really matters what name we go by. If for some reason, Jane needed me to change my name, I would.”

“You would become Charles Bennet?”

Charles nodded, “Yes. You have to admit all the advantages are on my side for it.”

Darcy sighed and replied, “Yes, you would be seen as a member of the Bennet family and therefore no longer in trade.”

Charles frowned with disapproval and replied, “That is not what I meant at all! I could care less about our country’s hierarchy, something you are well aware of! No, what I meant was that the advantages to being known as Jane’s husband outweigh those of being known as Charles Bingley.”

“You do not feel as if you would be sacrificing yourself and who you are by making the change?”

Again, Charles frowned at his friend and replied, “No. I am who I am with or without the name Bingley. I do not read very much but I am sure it was Shakespeare who said, ‘A rose by any other name would smell as sweet’.”

“That was Juliet talking about Romeo though, not the other way around,” responded, Darcy. He dryly added, “A couple who took their lives in the end.”

“Because their families valued their names above their children,” retorted Charles, “You also just made my case for me: they both took their lives. Romeo and Juliet did not care about their last names or where they came from: they only wanted the other person. It was the outside forces, in their case, their families who thought more of names than the couple did. No, if Jane needed me to change my name I would, simply because Jane needed it.”

“How can you discount how both were raised?”

“What do you mean?”

“Being raised as a Montague or Capulet meant something. There was a reason the feud started between the two families.”

Confused Charles said, “I cannot recall why…”

Shaking he head, Darcy added, “It does not matter why it started. What it means is that there was some sort of family duty within each family. How does one choose one duty over another?”

“How can one duty be more important than another?”

“Take for example, my name versus your name, and our legacies.”

“You mean the Darcy’ family versus the Bingley family?”

“Yes. Please do not take this the wrong way; however, I was raised to believe that I have a duty as a Darcy to be a good landlord and a good master. You have barely even begun your family’s journey of land ownership. Would not society deem my family duty greater than your family duty?”

Charles stopped and considered Darcy’s comment for a moment; he asked confused, “Are we comparing our names or our holdings?” Before Darcy could respond, Charles continued, “If we are comparing names, then I fully believe there is no difference between the two of us. A name is a name, Darcy. You could have just as easily been a farmer Brown than a Darcy. If we are comparing holdings, then yes: your duty is greater than mine and you have been far better prepared for your duty than I have been. However, that duty does not change simply because a name does.”

Charles said earnestly, “However, I simply cannot stand behind the thought that our names distinguish us. It is our characters that define us. Too many people,” he said as he shot a glance from between the door that Caroline had left through earlier and his intended, and concluded, “Believe that a name is more important than the character of the person that holds it.”

As James listened to the two debating, he could not help but think that Darcy chose his friends very well. Here was a man that by outward accounts was not as logical or as intelligent as Darcy; and here he was the first person who actually had a chance to change Darcy’s mind. He is quite the character indeed; Jane chose very well, James thought.

The next morning, James rose early. He had spoken with both Darcy and Bingley the night before and informed them of his intent to join Elizabeth on her early morning walk. Having only guessed she would revert back to her old habits, James was please to find his guess had been correct when he met her in foyer about to leave. “Elizabeth, do you care if I join you? I have been hearing about the beauty of Hertfordshire for years and wish for a personal tour.”

“Of course!” she said with a laugh, “I believe I have offered it a few times as well.”

The first part of the walk was quiet. As they neared the summit of Oakham Mount, Elizabeth sighed, “It is good to be back.”

“But not home.” James had noticed a faint aura of discontent both in London and now on the bright sunny morning on her old path. He had been wondering for a while if his granddaughter was having trouble adjusting to her new position.

“No,” She shook her head sadly, “Not home.”

Hesitantly, James asked, “Is London home then?”

Elizabeth sighed again, “I love our home there, and I am excited to see Heythrop Park again, but…a part of me feels like I am still searching for home.”

James nodded, realizing his fears were founded. He had hoped that Elizabeth would speak with him about her adjustment, but then as they continued to walk, he realized, Elizabeth may not even realize her faint melancholy.

As the two walked in silence, James could not help but wonder if her hesitation to adjust to leaving Longbourn and residing with him was more than just her adjusting to her new title and position in society.

Hesitantly he asked, “How about at Pemberley? How did you feel when you were there?”

Elizabeth started to blush and finally admitted, “At peace.” All at once, she started to scowl, “Except for Miss Bingley. She certainly made the evening uncomfortable, both then and last night.”

James smiled and followed as Elizabeth directed him down the path, “Yes, she did. I was pleased to see you put her in her place.” He looked out the corner of his eye at his granddaughter and added, “It will not be the last time. She is far from finished causing grief.”

Elizabeth sighed again, “I know.”

“She will probably attempt to make today more difficult than it needs to be.”

Elizabeth looked up, startled, at James, “Is she planning on coming with us to the Bennet’s?”

“No,” James stated, “Charles, William, Harold, and I spoke last night. Charles and his family will not come until before dinner. The entire party has been invited for that.” They walked amiably as he continued, “Darcy will bring Georgiana around mid-day for tea. You and I have been invited for breakfast.”

Smiling mischievously, he added, “Mrs. Bennet does not know of our invitation, Thomas and I thought it would be fun if we were at the table when she came down.” Looking around he asked, “Is this the way to Longbourn? We do have enough time, correct?”

Elizabeth laughed at his plans and stated, “Yes, it is. Let us hurry a little faster, however. I believe it would be fun to surprise Uncle Thomas!”

“Indeed, it would!”

The two hurried like little children to Longbourn. As they approached Elizabeth’s childhood residence, His Grace felt Elizabeth had described it perfectly and said as much to her. Elizabeth only laughed and directed him around to the side of the house.

They entered through the kitchen and started to wipe off their boots when a loud voice could be heard coming from around the corner, “And who is messing in my kitchen? I will not have any of you stealing those muffins! They are Miss Lizzy’s favorite –” the words died out as Mrs. Brown saw who was in her kitchen. “Miss Lizzy! Why, my goodness! There you are coming back from one of your walks! We’ve missed you, dear lady!” the burly woman sang as she approached Elizabeth and hugged her.

The old servant stepped back, horrified at what she had done, and stammered, “I am sorry, Miss Lizzy! I do not know what overcame me!”

Elizabeth simply laughed and hugged the old lady again, when she pulled back she whispered loudly, “I came for your blueberry muffins!”

In just as a loud stage whisper, the kind lady offered, “There over on the counter dear, help yourself!”

“Mrs. Brown! What is all this yelling? Do you want to wake the entire house?” cried Hill as she came marching in. She stopped stock still, and a big smile overcame her face when she spied Elizabeth. “Miss Elizabeth! It is good of you to come home! We’ve dearly missed your laughter around here!”

“I have missed Longbourn as well, Mrs. Hill.” She then went back to where her grandfather was standing and taking in the very intimate scene and said, “Ladies, this is my grandfather, James Talbot, the Duke of Shrewsbury.” She could see she had shocked both ladies. Elizabeth laughed as she asked the cook, “Mrs. Brown, he also has a weakness for blueberry muffins and I have been telling him about your blueberry syrup for years. Could he have some as well?”

“Of course, His Grace may have whatever he wishes!” the lady cried as she dipped low for a deep curtsey.

“Thank you, dear lady!” James marched over to the hot muffins and took one and immediately bit into it, and said, “You are quite right, young lady. These are better than my own cook’s! Mrs. Brown, would you be willing to part with the recipe?” he asked.

Mrs. Brown was shocked speechless and it was left up to Mrs. Hill to say, “Of course, Your Grace, I will make sure she writes it down and make sure Miss Eli – Lady Elizabeth receives the copy.”

“Capital!” he cried, and turning to Elizabeth he said, “Onward? The breakfast room?”

As the two left the room, both attempted to hide their laughter as they heard aloud, “I am cooking for a Duke???!”

James opened the door for Elizabeth, and the two seated themselves in the middle of the table and patiently waited for Thomas to arrive. They spoke quietly for only about ten minutes before he arrived downstairs. He almost did not see them as he passed the dining room to go to his study. When he did, he did a double take.

Standing in the doorway, he smiled and said dryly, “Well, James, I see you took my suggestion to come for breakfast seriously. I had no idea you were an early riser like Elizabeth. I am sorry, Lady Elizabeth.” He said as he approached the Duke.

James rose and grabbed the man and pulled him into a hug, “You are a sight for sore eyes! Ten years at least, since the last time I saw you! I do not count that evening at the Gardiner’s, Lord knows neither of us had a chances to get our bearings! Thomas, you need to come to London more.”

“Why? I am traveling to Heythrop Park this winter, am I not?’

“So, you have decided to accept! Good!” cried James, he then stepped back and let Thomas hug Elizabeth.

“Hello Uncle! You have been missed!” she said quietly with a few tears in her eyes.

“So have you, my dear.” He replied, and they remained hugging for some time.

The trio sat down together for a quiet conversation; Thomas, at the head of the table, with Elizabeth and the Duke bracketing both sides of him. They spoke for a few minutes when Mrs. Hill brought in a fresh teapot for the three and a blushing Mrs. Brown brought in a basket of blueberry muffins for everyone to munch on. If she blushed when James winked at her, no one mentioned it.

As the servants started bringing in piping hot food for everyone to eat from the buffet, Jane wandered in. She sat next to James and they started speaking quietly, while Elizabeth and Thomas continued to speak about a recent book they had been reading.

Mary and Catherine entered together. Catherine squealed when she saw Elizabeth and lunged toward her. Mary was a little bit more refined than Catherine and smiled and took her seat next to Catherine, who chose the seat next to Elizabeth. They were then introduced to the Duke who neither girl had realized was sitting at the table. He waved off their apologies and told them both to call him James, “Or Grandfather, as I count all of you as family!”

James then winked at the two ladies and said, “I have been hearing so much about both of you these past years, I feel like I know you already. Now, I understand one of you is getting married and the other one needs to convince her beau to propose. Tell me about them!” He demanded, “I want first hand gossip, no this drivel I have to pry out of Elizabeth.”

Everyone started talking and the noise level was fairly jovial. The room had become reasonably loud with conversation when Mrs. Bennet entered with Lydia sulking behind her. When she entered, the room went quiet. James looked at Thomas and both men rose for introductions.

“Mr. Bennet! What is going on here?” she cried, and she became even louder when she said, “Lizzy! You are back! I thought you were not back until this afternoon!” turning to James she exclaimed, “You must be Lizzy’s grandfather!” She was so nervous she started rambling, “My, you are a handsome man! Dear me, you have the same shade of green eyes as Lizzy. That proves it: she has her mother’s eyes. I have always thought so. She certainly got her dark hair from Gregory, but those eyes! I have always said they belonged to her mother.”

James was overcome with emotion at the mention of this woman seeing his beloved daughter in his granddaughter. He could tell by her rambling that Mrs. Bennet truly did love Elizabeth and he silently thanked God for the wonderful family Gregory had brought to him.

Thomas cleared his throat and said, “Mrs. Bennet. Please! I would like to introduce you formally to Elizabeth’s grandfather! Calm down a moment.”

“Oh well. Go on!” with one arm around Elizabeth’s waist, she waved her ever present white handkerchief at her husband, “I do not know why you have to be so formal about it: he is family after all!”

James could not help but smile at such a statement.

“Mrs. Francis Bennet, please meet, His Grace, James Talbot, the Duke of Shrewsbury.” Thomas concluded with his most aristocratic voice. The room became deathly silent as they waited for her reaction.

“Duke of Shrew – ” she tried but found her voice was unable to work. She tried again, “His Grace, the Duke of – ”

After a moment, Elizabeth became truly worried for her aunt and asked in a small voice, “Aunt Fanny?”

Mrs. Bennet turned her attention to Elizabeth and said, “That means you are –”

“Lizzy,” Elizabeth finished for her. She reiterated, “I am still Lizzy. I am still the young girl you became frustrated at for climbing trees, throwing apples, and fishing in streams. I am still the young lady with petticoats still not fit for company!” she concluded and pointed toward her petticoat which was indeed, six inches deep in mud again.

All of a sudden, Mrs. Bennet grabbed Elizabeth’s arms with both hands and whispered, “This is why you told me never to worry.”

Elizabeth felt her own tears and replied, “You have been like a mother to me, all these years, and I would never have you worry.”

Unfortunately, at that moment, Lydia started to exclaimed, “A Duke! What a good joke! Never telling anyone, Lizzy! Oh my!” she then started to say, “This means you are very rich, right?”

“Lydia!” cried Catherine and Mary.

“What?” answered Lydia, “It is what everyone is thinking, right? Now that Lizzy’s a grand lady, we will have balls and parties, and dancing and music all the time! The only thing that would make this better would be if there were officers here, like in Brighton! I am sure, if I had told some of them of Lizzy’s title while I was there, I would have been the hit of the party!” Lydia stated as she gathered some food and went to the table to sit and eat.

Before she could sit down, Thomas yelled, “Lydia!”

“What, Papa?”

Thomas looked at the horror on his wife’s face, the growing anger on James’ face, and the equal disdain on Elizabeth’s and realized he needed to correct her immediately, “Lydia, take your plate and go to your room. You are to remain in it for the remainder of your time at home.”

“But Papa! Surely, I will not go to school now? I will attend balls and parties with Lizzy!”

“No! You have demonstrated that you are not fit to be out in society.” Thomas said in a cold tone, “You will take your food to your room, and be confined there until after Mary’s wedding, after which I will take you to school.”

“But Jane’s wedding!”

“You will not attend.” He said succinctly. “You will go now.”

Lydia started to protest; Thomas sat and pointed, “Now!”

Lydia stood up angrily and picked up her plate, put four blueberry muffins on it and stomped to her room. An awkward feeling descended upon the room. Lizzy felt she needed to liven i and so said, “Aunt Fanny, there are plenty of Mrs. Brown’s muffins left; unfortunately, I believe grandfather and I ate most of the blueberry ones.”

Mrs. Bennet wiped her eyes and said distractedly, “You always did like them.”

“Indeed! Mrs. Brown has promised we could take the recipe with us when we go home!” stated James as he buttered another piece of muffin.

Tentatively, Mrs. Bennet asked as she hugged Lizzy tighter to her, “And when will that be, Your Grace?”

“James! Fanny, please call me James!” he offered, “Elizabeth and I have been offered to stay at Netherfield for a full two months, even after Jane has become Mrs. Bingley; we leave the first week in November for Heythrop Park. There is much to be done there to make it ready for your presences come December.”

“Excuse me?” She asked, “December?”

Elizabeth said excitedly, “We are to have everyone to Heythrop Park for an extended Christmas Aunt! Uncle Thomas will be bringing you and Catherine in December. Mary needs to discuss it with the Reverend first, but if need be, we will send a carriage for them. Jane and Charles are coming! Along with the Darcys and the Hursts! Even Madeline and Edward are coming with their whole family!”

“Christmas at Heythrop Park?” Fanny repeated. She thought for a few moments and said, “I daresay, we will need some winter things. Oh, Lizzy,” she said as she reverted back to her usual self, “There is just so much to do. I do not know if we can get it all done in time! We still have to go to London for Jane’s clothes, when I do not know! Mary is getting married in a few weeks…maybe we should try for Easter instead?” she offered. In a much lower voice she said, “I would not have us embarrass you.”

Equally as quiet Elizabeth replied, “Nonsense.” In a louder voice she added, “I came with help and have brought reinforcements!” Then is a stage whisper for the benefit of her aunt she added, “After all, I have quite a bit of pin money and rich grandfather. We will see that everything is done to your satisfaction!”

Elizabeth explained as she walked Mrs. Bennet to her chair and filled a plate for her, “Jane’s wedding dress and trousseau will be sewn by the renowned Madame Mobley, who is arriving just today. She has multiple appointments with Jane, myself, and Miss Darcy. If you wish, while we are with her, you and Catherine could sit with the Meryton seamstress and get your measurements and a list of what you want.”

Elizabeth’s enthusiasm was staring to catch, as she continued, “We could work on your winter clothes after Jane’s wedding. I am sure there will be enough time to make you something suitable. We will be here for another week after the second wedding, but Madam Mobley was reasonably amendable to the idea of working on your clothes and sending them to you from London.”

“Oh Lizzy, really?” cried Mrs. Bennet, “You are really here to help?”

“Yes! We will make sure everything is taken care of for Jane and Mary’s weddings as well as Lydia’s going to school. We will get your and Catherine’s wardrobes settled so that when you come to Heythrop Park, you will be able to really relax! After breakfast, you and can show me what you have planned for her wedding, and I will see where I can help! Then once we turn Mary into Mrs. Forsythe, we can work together to turn Jane into Mrs. Bingley. Louisa Hurst has offered to help Jane as well! We spoke last night and she has some excellent ideas!”

As they were speaking, Jane moved down to sit next to her mother, and Catherine moved across to sit in between James and Jane. The rest of the meal was light with laughter. It was obvious to most of the party that Mrs. Bennet was becoming overwhelmed. Jane and Mary soothed her as much as possible, but it was no surprise to anyone when Mrs. Bennet asked to be excused in order to lay down. What was surprising was her unenergetic tone of voice.

It did not pass anyone’s notice that she never mentioned her nerves.

Ignorance and Irony - Chapter 11 (Part 1)

MarciJuly 12, 2017 04:16PM

buttering a blueberry muffin?

TasieJuly 13, 2017 05:12PM

Re: buttering a blueberry muffin?

LiloJuly 15, 2017 03:00PM

Re: buttering a blueberry muffin?

MarciJuly 13, 2017 06:27PM

Re: buttering a blueberry muffin?

Trish1006July 14, 2017 06:00AM

Re: buttering a blueberry muffin?

NickiJuly 13, 2017 08:44PM

Calling all Brits!

elleAugust 29, 2017 12:29AM

Re: Calling all Brits!

NickiAugust 29, 2017 10:25PM

Re: buttering a blueberry muffin?

MarciJuly 13, 2017 11:24PM

so which one was it?

TashaJuly 14, 2017 06:58PM

Re: so which one was it?

CeciliaJuly 17, 2017 02:46PM

butter for all

Gloria L.July 18, 2017 09:57PM


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