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Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

April 10, 2018 04:00PM
AN: I am glad Brigid is enjoying this. I hope some of the rest who lurk are as well. Slightly shorter chapters this time.
Chapter 9

By mid-morning, the festival for the servants and tenants had begun in a meadow away from the house. There were games throughout much of the day with an abundance of food. By evening, the games gave way to dancing. The food and drink continued throughout. Most of the tenant families attended during the day with the children returning home as dark approached. Many returned home with small prizes for their participation in the games.

Servants were provided with breaks throughout the day to attend the festivities. However, by the time the guests for the ball began arriving, those involved in welcoming and assisting were all in place. They were as excited as the Darcys to see Pemberley once again central to the social life of the area.

As Elizabeth and Mrs. Reynolds verified that all was prepared early in the afternoon, Elizabeth said, “I hope Mr. Darcy enjoys himself tonight. I know he does not particularly enjoy a dance, but I think he enjoys the idea of reconstituting the tradition.”

Mrs. Reynolds chuckled. “He enjoyed it enough when he was young. He would peek out through the railings on the stairs to watch the spectacle and listen to the music well into the night. I think that with you at his side, he will enjoy this far more than many of the balls he has attended in the past.”

Lady Fitzwilliam had joined them and agreed. “I believe you are correct, Mrs. Reynolds. Fitzwilliam always felt so hunted a these society events. Since that is no longer the case, I think he will enjoy it more. Well, as expected, you both have done an excellent job of showcasing the beauty that is Pemberley. Elizabeth, I believe your sister has arrived.”

“Oh, thank you. Jane had said she would come by a little early to give me some moral support.”

Elizabeth turned and moved in the direction of the entry to greet her sister. Charlotte had been checking on the ball room and heard the carriage, so she, too, went to the entry to greet her friend. After the greetings, both Charlotte and Elizabeth retired to change into their ball gowns. Jane chatted with Elizabeth as she changed.

As she finished helping Elizabeth, Dawson said, “Oh, ma’am, you look so beautiful.”

Behind her, the door opened and Darcy entered. “Indeed she does. All she needs is this to finish off.” He held out a beautiful sapphire and diamond necklace.

Elizabeth said, “It should look beautiful with the new trim on the dress.” She had determined that she would always have at least one dress in the light blue that Darcy loved so well.

“This was one of my mother’s favorites. I thought it would look well with your dress.”

“Thank you, dear.”

Dawson helped her with the necklace and then excused herself to help Charlotte with any finishing touches. Jane said, “You truly look splendid, Elizabeth. I will just go see how Charlotte is doing.”

“Thank you Jane.”

As Dawson shut the door after them, Darcy asked, “Is everything ready, Mrs. Darcy?”

“I certainly hope so, my dear. You look quite dashing. I like that your weskit matches the sapphire of my dress. Very nice.”

“Ross and I thought so,” he smiled. He offered her his arm. “Shall we? Guests should begin arriving soon.”

As they made their way to the parlor to join the Fitzwilliams, Bingleys, Anne, and Charlotte, they glanced into the ballroom to once again verify that all was ready. In the parlor, Lady Fitzwilliam smiled at the pair. “I am so pleased you have re-implemented the ball. It was always the highlight of autumn in the area. I am sure many of the neighbors are anxious to welcome the new Mrs. Darcy.”

Elizabeth replied, “We have certainly had a great number of acceptances. It is honestly quite exciting. Most of the neighbors have stopped by for introductions so at least I am acquainted with many of them. With so many good wishes I have received, I anticipate a wonderful time.”

Just then, they heard the sound of arrivals beginning and put on their aspects as host and hostess as everyone else moved into the ballroom. For the next hour, carriage after carriage arrived disgorging their inhabitants to the welcome of the Pemberley foyer. The carriage drivers and any extra staff with them would attend the tenant’s celebration for a few hours before retiring to the common room to await the end of the ball. Gradually, the noise level of conversation in the ballroom continued to grow until it was finally time to start the music.

All of the newcomers were introduced to those they had not previously met. For Charlotte and Anne, this was almost everyone. There was not an abundance of single gentlemen, but at least there were a few. One of those was John Lucas who had arrived at Kympton the previous week. He had asked Anne for the first set after their introduction.

Darcy and Elizabeth, along with Lord and Lady Fitzwilliam, led out with other couples following after the first figures were completed. Charlotte had secured a partner in one of the older widowers for the first dance during the conversation before the music began.

During one set, Anne found herself standing with her aunt and uncle. “Thank you for taking the time to teach me to dance. It really is quite enjoyable.”

Lord Fitzwilliam replied, “You are most welcome. It is fun, isn’t it? You will have many opportunities once we get to town this winter.”

“Yes, I expect so. I must develop some stamina-more walking would help, I think. However, I think I have had enough society to begin with. After the ball, could we find a companion and maid in London and then return me to Rosings until I need to be in London? I would like to become much more conversant in running the estate.”

Lady Fitzwilliam answered, “Certainly. We can let your uncle go about his business while we attend to that. I think we might also procure a few new gowns in town while we are there. It is amazing how an attractive dress can help improve one’s confidence.”

The ball was a success. Elizabeth was deemed an excellent hostess. She had upheld all the Darcy standards and exemplified beauty and grace. The Fitzwilliams and Darcy heard these comments from many of the guests, pleased at her acceptance by the community. Finally, all the guests retired to their carriages for the moonlit rides to their own homes. Anne had retired a little earlier, followed later by Charlotte.

The Fitzwilliams stood with the Darcys to farewell the guests as they left. As Darcy and Elizabeth finally followed the Fitzwilliams up the stairs to their rooms, he said, “Well done, Mrs. Darcy. I think it has been a triumph.”

Lord Fitzwilliam added, “I second that. It was splendid.”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “Yes. I believe a good time was had by all.”

Elizabeth replied, “Thank you all, but it was not just my effort. It took a team of us to accomplish. I shall pass on your approbation to all.”

The Fitzwilliams and Anne remained at Pemberley for a few more days before going their separate ways. He returned to his own estate in Yorkshire, while Lady Fitzwilliam and Anne headed to London. They were successful in obtaining a companion and maid to accompany Anne. Anne felt she was now ready to begin to fully assume management of Rosings and her life. It was all very exciting.

Chapter 10

Once Lady Stevenson and Mary arrived in town, Lady Stevenson sent off a wagon to collect Mary’s trunks from Kellynch knowing that Sir Walter would delay, and Mary would benefit from having her own things around her. Mary found her room to be even more comfortable than her own at home. As she considered this, she realized that her father had been delaying certain repairs which had resulted in a drafty window in her room. The snug room in town made her realize that certain private compartments in Kellynch were actually becoming quite shabby. She mentioned this to her grandmother.

“It seems to me that father has been delaying repairs to our private quarters. I have not spent the winter at home for many years, but I can feel how much more comfortable this room is than mine at Kellynch. Why would father not care for our rooms?”

Lady Stevenson smiled. “That is an excellent question which you might ask him or Elizabeth. My guess is that they really only care about the public rooms that their guests might see. Many people only care about what others think of them and not the comfort of the family. It might also be that they do not know that your room needs some upkeep. It might be that the housekeeper has not informed them.”

“What do you mean, the housekeeper has not informed them?”

“Well, the mistress of the house works closely with the housekeeper to see to the comfort of all of its inhabitants. Does Elizabeth meet with her regularly to discuss care of Kellynch?”

Mary thought for a moment. “I do not think so. I think she only tells her of what she wants for meals or who might be calling or of something she might host. So, a lady meets regularly to discuss household affairs?”

Lady Stevenson sighed. “Oh, my dear, did they not teach you of this at school?”

Mary frowned. “Not really. Oh, they mentioned that household management is a responsibility of a lady, but we never really discussed just how to carry it out.”

Lady Stevenson said, “Well, then, I will see to it that you learn what your mother would have taught you had she been able. It appears she managed to share it with Anne, but you were probably too young.”

“But it seems that Elizabeth did not learn. How could that be?”

Lady Stevenson said, “I can only think that she chose to ignore those things that did not interest her. That seems to be her way. From what you say, it sounds as if the household suffers as a result. Since she will not listen to any suggestions from anyone else, I do not know how Elizabeth can learn otherwise. You must have a good housekeeper for her to manage to do as well as she does with no direction from her mistress.”

After this discussion, Lady Stevenson included Mary in her daily meetings with her housekeeper. Mary watched quietly and asked her questions when they were alone together after the meetings. She was surprised at how many things a lady needed to do to manage a household. The more she learned, the more she realized how many things were being ignored at Kellynch.

One morning, after calling on one of her classmates, Mary said to Lady Stevenson as they sat in the carriage, “I had never realized what fun friends can be. They do not really teach you those things in school.”

Lady Stevenson smiled. “If it is a finishing school, they teach some of it. But a seminary is more focused on specific accomplishments and academics. The personal side of life is completely ignored. I am glad you are finding that satisfaction even in our limited social engagements.”

“I do not mind that we are not yet attending many events. It is nice that we do so many different things though-the visits, the charitable efforts, the museum, and the shops, of course. I do like the new clothes. I think I would have expected to buy more new ones, but the re-trimming of my favorites is quite nice. I am glad that Aunt Madeline allows me to attend things with them since you are not yet going out much.”

“There are those who think nothing of purchasing new things right and left. I admit that I am old-fashioned in my frugality. I detest the waste. It is why we makeover the dresses for the presentations. You cannot wear them for anything else. Why would we want to spend a fortune on it and wear it only once? Yes, it is good that Madeline is here for you. She has a wonderful group of friends.”

“True. Well, of all my schoolmates, I think I like Miss Lovedean the most. She is sensible and interesting and not afraid to share her thoughts. Most seem like my sister Elizabeth with no thoughts at all.”

“You will find much of society like that. Very well, we will make regular visits and include Miss Lovedean when we host things. Be sure to tell your aunt when you visit this afternoon.”

“I will.”

Mary found that the Gardiner home, with so many children, was a wonderful place to visit. Rachel was actually becoming quite personable and fun to talk with. As the oldest still at home, she was insistent about her role in helping with the younger ones. Jenny was now walking and trying to babble which was quite funny. Mary regularly attended card parties and visited the Gardiner friends with her aunt.

“I hope we can continue this when Miss Bennet joins the household.”

“Of course we will. Now, are you still practicing your piano?”

“Oh yes. Grandmother expects it at least thirty minutes every morning. I do not love it the way Anne did, but at least I am proficient.”

“Good. It will come in handy. Are you going to get help from a master?”

“I do not think so. I do not love it enough to want to continue to learn and improve. I simply want to maintain an adequate standard for demonstrations. Perhaps I can have Rachel’s master listen to me occasionally?”

“Yes, that would be a good idea.”

“Grandmother has received a letter from Anne she thought you might like to read.” Mary handed it over with a smile.

Mrs. Gardiner took a few moments to peruse the letter. “Have you read it?”

“Yes. She sounds very happy. The Indies sound very different from England.”

“Yes they do. We might want to find a book about the Indies to see just how different.”

“That would be fun. I am sure Rachel would like it too. It sounds like they will be there for at least another year or so. I wish she could come home sooner. I wrote to her before coming to town with Grandmother which she should be receiving eventually. I would like her to know all that is changing.”

“You mean with you?”

“Yes. She was always so nice, and I was not in return. I apologized in my letter and asked her forgiveness for my neglect.”

“I am sure she will give it. Life on board ship sounds quite challenging. I am pleased she is a good sailor.”

“Fancy how hard it would be if she were continually sick. At least they are together.”

Mary Elliot found that life in London was a significant improvement over that in Kellynch in many different ways. Her grandmother saw to it that there were often things to do. They both read the papers and discussed the news. Mary was introduced to the wonders of a good museum. She participated with charitable endeavors on a weekly basis. She found it quite satisfying to feel she was helping someone. With the Gardiners, she also attended a few concerts and other activities. She had not read a book since quitting school but now found herself reading and discussing new books regularly with both her grandmother and her aunt. She particularly enjoyed learning about the West Indies with Rachel. It was hard to imagine Anne living there. Life was never boring.

Mary had also come to some conclusions about what she wanted from life. She knew her father and sister only valued rank and beauty, but she had come to see that there were other things that would offer more satisfaction. She was more like Anne than she had realized. Many of the gentlemen she met could talk only of sport. If that was their only interest, life would be as boring as it had been at Kellynch. She wanted someone who was interested in what was going on in the world. She was usually ignored at Kellynch as was Anne. She wanted someone who would keep her informed and involve her in his decisions and life.

As she wrote to Mary Bennet, Mary Elliot realized that she had already changed a great deal from the girl who had left school in the spring.

Dear Mary,

I know London in the little season is not as active as it will be, but I declare, it already seems very busy to me. Of course we have the weekly sewing circle which has caused my sewing to continue improving. I almost enjoy it now. I am learning to manage a household-there is more to it than I imagined. We have been to the museum which is fascinating. We have also read and discussed some interesting books. There have also been a few smaller activities we have attended. Grandmother does not go right now, but I go with Aunt Madeline. It will be so fun when you are able to join us.

How was the visit with your sisters? I hope Mrs. Bennet was pleased at the reception they received from your neighbors. What are you doing to keep busy now that they are gone?...

Mary found that even a quiet day had more activity than almost any day at Kellynch. Along with everything else, her grandmother was ensuring that she would be more than capable of running her own establishment. She had already learned so very much; it was much like being in school again.

After one morning discussing upcoming menus with the cook, Mary asked, “Is this the usual thing that the lady of the house plans the meals with the cook? I don’t think Elizabeth bothers except when we have guests. Otherwise, the housekeeper manages that for Kellynch.”

Lady Stevenson said, “Yes, a good mistress oversees the meals. It can be very detailed or general, depending on the relationship with the cook, but you are responsible for the food on the table.”

“Does everyone also plan meals using the leftover items? I do not recall any of that at home.”

“As with retrimming the dresses and reusing the presentation garments, I abhor food waste. The leftover joint can make a nice ragout or soup for the following day. Leftover vegetables can go into it as well. Some toss out the leftover food; others donate it at the back door. We donate anything still remaining after the second use. Leftover breads that do not go into bread pudding are also donated. If you watch, you will see Sally, the scullery maid, distributing a basket of goods daily at the back gate sometime in the mid-morning.”

“I think I have seen that. So nothing goes to waste?”

“Even the scraps are used in compost for the garden. I was raised to expect to be a wise steward over my resources.”

“I imagine this is very important in the country, but is it so in town as well?”

Lady Stevenson said firmly, “It is. I consider it almost a sin to waste. God made us stewards. That means I must account to him for how I use my resources. I do not want him to think me a wastrel.”

Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

ShannaGApril 10, 2018 04:00PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

RoxDawnApril 13, 2018 02:01AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

Trish1006April 11, 2018 02:51PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

EvelynJeanApril 11, 2018 05:09AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

EvelynJeanApril 12, 2018 03:46AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

mpinneyApril 11, 2018 01:47AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

ShannaGApril 11, 2018 04:52AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

mpinneyApril 11, 2018 03:35PM

Original link to start of A Kindly Aunt

ShannaGApril 11, 2018 04:36PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

BrigidApril 10, 2018 11:35PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 9 and 10

ShannaGApril 11, 2018 04:56AM


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