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Kindly Relations Chapters 13 and 14

April 17, 2018 03:12PM
AN: Glad you are enjoying this. During editing, it is growing beyond the 52 chapters I had when I started. Not sure yet how many there will be. Even if no further inspiration, at least a draft is done.
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Chapter 13

For the Christmas holiday in Longbourn, Mr. Bennet collected his daughters from Bath and brought them home where they found the Bingleys awaiting them. Mrs. Bennet had remained home to greet Jane, so she once again missed the experience of Bath. Elizabeth would be missed, but the other four were happy to be together again. Mrs. Bennet was so excited to have them all there that she had a serious attack of nerves requiring that she take to her bed for the afternoon shortly after Lydia and Kitty arrived home. The others enjoyed the time together to hear all about the adventures at school.

While Mr. Bennet sat idly perusing the paper, he heard about incidents that had been only sketchily described by letter. It sounded to him that, although they were still a bit silly, they had also put their time to good use and were gaining a number of friends and talents. They were maturing although perhaps a little slowly.

Kitty was showing her sketchbook to Mary who said, “Why, these are excellent. You have a wonderful eye for color. You must surely enjoy this.”

“Yes, I do. While I am home, will you sit for me?”

“Are you certain you want me to?”

“Of course. I would love to have a picture of you.”

“Then yes, I would be honored.”

Lydia was explaining to Jane, “There are so many girls; it is so different from Meryton. We do so many things together with the Musgroves and Georgiana. Georgiana and Kitty are very close. Louisa Musgrove and I are particular friends. School is so much fun-even the learning. Father would be so proud of me. I cannot believe how much I am learning. And it is all interesting. I never expected that.”

Jane smiled. “When you have your season, I think you will find that all these things will benefit you. You will always have some source for conversation. I am very pleased you are so happy. Your letters have sounded like you are enjoying it.”

“The only thing wrong with it is that it is so far from home. I do miss home, at least some of the time.” Lydia thought for a moment, and then added, “Well, at least I do miss it when it is quiet of a Sunday morning. I also cannot ramble as I can when I am home.”

“That sounds like the Lydia I know,” smiled Jane. “I know I do not ramble like Elizabeth, but would you like a companion tomorrow?”

“Oh Jane, that would be wonderful.”

Mary also ended up joining them the next day as well. They found they all appreciated the walk and the conversation that accompanied it. It was obvious to the others that Lydia had matured significantly from her experiences at school even if Mr. Bennet could not yet see it.

Mary spent an afternoon sitting for Kitty. While Kitty sketched, the four sisters continued to talk of school, of the changes to the family with the marriages and betrothal, of the tenants and Longbourn, and of news of their friends. When Mrs. Bennet returned from visiting Mrs. Phillips, she found them still in the parlor. Kitty was just finishing her sketch while the others were busy with embroidery.

“Your aunt sends her best wishes. You will see her at dinner later today. Lady Lucas as well. Of course, you will all want to see Maria. She has missed you all very much. Oh, why must you all be so far away. I must go lie down for a while.”

Lydia frowned. “It is hard seeing Mama so upset all the time. I know that she enjoys our company, but why can she not see how important these changes are for us?”

Jane answered, “I think she does, but she does not like having us grow up and go away. She enjoyed having us around and does not like that we are all moving away.”

Mary said, “I think it is very hard for her just now. Perhaps things will improve when you come home from school and we have the wedding. Having only me at home was certainly not to her liking.”

Mrs. Bennet seemed more her usual self at dinner that evening. She loved having her girls home and sharing company with their guests. Lydia and Kitty were allowed to share dinner with the guests because their deportment had improved so much. It was quite a pleasant time together. Mrs. Bennet continued to praise her two married daughters and Mary’s betrothal throughout dinner. It was such a relief to her nerves to have three of the girls well settled. However, after stating this, she would always repeat, “However, we still need to take care of Kitty and Lydia. With their sisters so well situated, of course they will see that their sisters meet many eligible young men. I am sure they will do very well once their turns come.” After about the fifth time, Lydia found herself unable to control an eye roll as she glanced over at Kitty and shook her head. It was as if their mother was unable to say anything else.

When the Gardiners arrived a few days later, the older girls were pleased to play with their younger cousins. Everyone had fun together. As they sat in the parlor one afternoon, Mrs. Bennet said to Mrs. Gardiner, “Well, Madeline, I am grateful you are there to take Mary for the season. At least she has compassion on my nerves and is letting me plan her wedding. Still, I fear that it will drive me distracted. She says I may do as I please in all but her dress. You will ensure that her dress is fine, won’t you?”

“Yes, Fanny, have no fear. She will have something very nice. Why don’t you tell me all about the wedding plans?”

Mrs. Bennet spent the next hour recounting her plans for both the wedding and the breakfast. She finally felt worn out and decided to go lie down in her room for a while. After she left, Mrs. Gardiner looked over at Mr. Bennet and said, “Thomas, Fanny appears to be even more nervous than in the past.”

“Yes, her nerves have become omnipresent instead of occasional visitors. She cannot get through a day without at least once or twice resorting to her tonic to soothe her nerves. Before, it was the girls that bothered her. Now it is the quiet. I do not know what we will do when Mary leaves with you. How will she cope without Mary’s attentions? Mary has helped soothe her mother multiple times each day.”

“Oh dear. What can we do?”

“I admit that I am at a loss as to what to do. It has certainly been unexpected. I thought that having the girls well settled would bring ease not make things worse. I have tried many things to ease her mind but to no avail.”

“Perhaps you need to spend more time with her?”

“I have tried but it did not seem to help. We are now either dining out or having friends over every night except Sunday, and even then, we have the vicar and his wife. She simply cannot be alone. I tried taking the advice from the Darcy wedding about communicating. However, that went absolutely nowhere. Well, perhaps once Mary is gone, she will allow herself to settle.”

Mrs. Gardiner nodded her head at that hope but privately worried about Fanny. Her nerves seemed to be over-riding all other feeling. However, nerves did not stop her dispensing advice at every opportunity.

As they all sat together in the parlor, Mrs. Bennet repeated her constant instructions to Jane on marital responsibility. “Now, Jane, you must do everything you can to ensure that Mr. Bingley is happy in all things. Your foremost responsibility, of course, is to give him his heir as soon as possible. I cannot stress how important that it to a man. But everything you do must be as he wishes and pleasing to him, even if it is not to your taste.”

“Yes, mother, I understand.” Jane smiled at her mother, but the others looked at one another trying not to laugh. Once again Lydia shared an eye roll with Kitty. They could all recite Mrs. Bennet’s instructions to Jane without even having to think about it.

Mrs. Bennet continued, “And Mary, it will be important to Mr. Musgrove as well.”

Mrs. Hill interrupted to ask Mrs. Bennet for some assistance. After she left the parlor, Kitty asked Jane, “Do you think Mother sees the irony in preaching how important it is that we do everything we can to please our husband while she does so many things that she knows Father does not like?”

Jane shook her head, “No, I do not think Mother understands irony or that she is displeasing Father. She is doing what she believes she must. Lydia, it is all I can do not to laugh when you roll your eyes at mother’s instructions. Really, you must stop.”

Lydia smirked. “Perhaps I shall.”

Mary added, “Had you ever noticed this disconnect before in her instructions to us as opposed to her own actions?”

Kitty thought a moment. “No, not really.”

Mary said, “Then school is definitely opening your eyes to new ideas. That is important. Mother’s heart is in the right place, but her understanding is not sufficient to allow her to accomplish her designs in creating a happy life. Learn from that lack and you will have a happier life.”

Mrs. Gardiner added, “You have all become very wise. I am pleased for you. Your grandfather never required his daughters to strengthen their understanding. He was not over fond of education. You are developing a capacity for thoughtful reflection that was not allowed to your Mother. I agree with Mary that it will give you a happier life in the long run. Reflection allows you to change what you find is not really working to your advantage.”

The holiday flew by for everyone. The Bingleys left first, causing Mrs. Bennet to break down in tears. “My dear, beautiful Jane. Why must you live so very far away?”

“I am sorry we are so far, but at least we are able to visit. If not sooner, we will be back for Mary’s wedding in June. Please do not grieve.”

“You all just delight in torturing my nerves. That is all.”

Mrs. Bennet managed to upset Jane enough that Bingley felt the need to comfort her for the first few minutes of the journey. “All will be well. Do not worry about her.”

“I do worry. I thought her nerves would decrease when we began to marry but they seem to be getting worse.”

“At least she forgot to lecture you again about your duty to produce an heir as soon as may be when we were leaving.”

“Perhaps she felt she had reminded me as much as she could, but yes, that was a nice change.”

Soon it was also for the Gardiners to return to London and start Mary on her season. As they prepared to leave, Mrs. Bennet exclaimed, “Oh, whatever shall I do? Mary has been all my company these past months. Perhaps she should postpone the wedding and wait another year?”

Mr. Bennet tried to soothe her. “Now, Fanny, we know that is not what is best for Mary. She shall have her presentation and fun and then settle in helping Mr. Musgrove in Uppercross. You would not want her to lose this chance, would you?”

“Of course not. It is just that I will miss her.”

“Yes, we both will. We will simply need to find other avenues of entertainment. Perhaps now is a good time for you to become involved with our estate management and that charity circle that Mary and your sister joined. By waiting, you have allowed the girls to have that learning experience. You may take over those duties if you wish. I am sure the charity circle will keep you entertained.”

“I will think about it.”

By then, the carriage was out of sight. Before thinking of taking up those responsibilities, Mrs. Bennet thought it best to retire to her room to cry and have a dose of her tonic. That would soothe her nerves better than Mr. Bennet ever did. After a rest, she packed her bags for the visit to Bath. That finished, she went in search of her girls. “Kitty, Lydia, have you packed everything for the trip tomorrow?”

Kitty answered, “Yes, Mother. We will be ready to leave in the morning. Would you sit for me this afternoon? I would like to take a sketch of you back with me.”

“Oh, why would you want that?”

“I would like to see you occasionally. Of course, I love your letters, but I would like something more.”

“Well, then, yes. Lydia, would you read to us while Kitty sketches?”

Lydia smiled. “Can I choose the book?”

Mrs. Bennet said, “Yes, as long as it is something interesting.”

The three had a very pleasant afternoon together. 

Chapter 14

Mrs. Bennet was finally able to see Bath when Kitty and Lydia returned to school after the Christmas holiday. She reveled in three days seeing the town and shopping. She would have so much to tell all her friends about it when they returned. It was wonderful to have something new to talk about.

“Mr. Bennet, you must allow me to come with you to collect the girls in the spring. Why, the shopping here is so much better than what we can acquire in Meryton. I declare I could spend a week just browsing the shops.”

Mr. Bennet looked at her, pleased with this enthusiasm. It was the first she had shown in quite some time. “Of course, you must come to again in the spring. I am sure there will be different items on display then which will be quite interesting.”

“This new shawl is quite the most beautiful thing. I am sure I will wear it everywhere. It is so smart.”

Mr. Bennet smiled. This was like the young woman she had been so many years ago. “Yes, it looks very well on you.” Perhaps she would now be able to leave off that tonic. He would have to consider whether regular trips to town might be a way to easy Fanny’s mind. “Did you find what you were searching for to use in Mary’s wedding?” He didn’t really care, but he was still trying to engage her in more conversation than in the past.

Mrs. Bennet smiled. “Oh, yes. I found some new table linens and some lovely material for my own new gown. And there were some beautiful vases of which I purchased two. Our dining room will look quite modern and up-to-date.”

Mr. Bennet was pleased that she was doing better. He decided that was worth the money he had given her for shopping. It was certainly better than her nerves although somewhat more expensive. She was bubbly and effervescent the entire drive back to Longbourn with not a single complaint. She had not been so animated since Elizabeth’s birth. It was like having the young Fanny home again.

The day after returning home from Bath, Mr. Bennet encountered two young men cutting through the fields heading in the direction of the home farm barns. “Hello, and who might you be?” he asked, pulling up his horse to stand by the two boys.
The older replied, “I am Matthew Garret. My brother here is Michael. Are you Mr. Bennet?”

“Indeed I am. Were you coming to see me?”

“Well, you or the steward at the farm. We were coming to see about some possible employment.”

Michael nodded in agreement.

Mr. Bennet dismounted to better converse with the boys. “And why is that?”

“Well, in another year or so, I hope to join the navy as a midshipman. Mike’s ambition is to follow our father into the military and attend Sandhurst. We hope to find a way to help Mother save the money to pay for those choices and had heard that Longbourn might have some need of help.”

“Where do you boys live? I thought I knew everyone around here.”

Mike smiled as Matt answered, “We are living with Mr. and Mrs. Decker. She is Mother’s aunt.”

“Ah yes, the vicar did say something about some family coming to join him.”

Mike spoke up. “We had been with my grandfather, but he died, and my uncle’s wife would rather not have young boys around. Aunt Decker said she would be happy to have us come join them so here we are.”

“But neither of you are in school?”

Mike said, “We study with Mother to save on the fees. It works moderately well except for Latin. She is unable to help us much with that, but Uncle Decker says he can when he has time.”

Mr. Bennet thought for a moment looking at the two boys. “Is your mother at the vicarage now? Do you ride?”

Matt answered, “Yes, she is. We do. Grandfather had some nice horses and made sure we rode regularly.”

“Well, then, come along with me to the stables. I would like to talk to your mother before deciding about employment.”

They walked along with him chatting about their interests, their late father and grandfather, the excitement of moving to Meryton. Soon, horses were saddled, and they were on their way to the vicarage. As they rode up and tied the horses, Mr. and Mrs. Decker and an unknown woman came out to greet them. Mr. Decker introduced Mrs. Garret and Mr. Bennet to each other.

After greetings, Mr. Bennet began, “These two enterprising young men sought me out looking for employment opportunities. As you know, Mr. Decker, with the girls all away, I no longer have the opportunity for the same intellectual stimulation they provided. Their quest suggested an exchange to me-they could work on the home farm in the forenoon, and I could assist them in their schooling in the afternoon. That should allow them both to build the foundation they will need for the navy and army, particularly in the areas they claim their mother does not enjoy such as Latin. It will allow me to continue to have intellectual converse as these young men grow in their literacy. However, I wanted Mrs. Garret’s approval before suggesting it to them.”

Looking at the longing on her sons’ faces, Mrs. Garret chuckled. “Of course, I agree. It will be very helpful. I take it that they have explained their plans and our circumstances?”

“To some extent.”

“Uncle has said that we generally dine with you and Mrs. Bennet of a Sunday, so we would have made your acquaintance tomorrow in any case. I am grateful you can help me provide for their futures. I think you will find them excellent students. I do not think they know much of farm work, so that may actually require more supervision. Thank you.”

They all spoke for a while longer before the riders mounted once again and turned toward Longbourn. After they unsaddled and cared for the horses, Mr. Bennet introduced the boys to his steward and left them in his care. He went to his library and wrote a letter to Elizabeth.

Dearest Elizabeth (when will I think of you as Elizabeth instead of my Lizzy?),

Apparently, I took your advice to adopt an orphan or two to heart although not literally. The vicar’s widowed niece has moved in with two very determined and ambitious boys. They are going to work on the farm. In exchange, I am going to tutor them. The younger wants to get into Sandhurst in a few years. The older wants to join the navy as a midshipman if he can. Would you write to Mrs. Wentworth to see if Captain Wentworth might be able to assist when next in England?...

He rarely took the time to write, but for some reason, felt this was important enough to put pen to paper. Since he was writing anyway, and Elizabeth had not joined them for the holiday, he also commented about their Christmas in London and asked after Darcy. He felt surprisingly satisfied in his choice to help the boys.

A couple of hours later, they appeared at the back door of the house. Cook showed them where to wash up and fed them before Hill directed them to the study. The three spent the afternoon in discussion as Mr. Bennet quizzed them to determine their levels in various subjects. They all enjoyed themselves. As they were just finishing for the day, Mrs. Bennet returned from her day’s visits and was introduced. They expressed gratitude for the fine day they had enjoyed at Longbourn before they began the trek back to the vicarage. Mrs. Bennet actually asked questions about the boys as they took the carriage to their dinner engagement that night. She was surprised that Mr. Bennet would spend time with such boys rather than with her and her visits. She was unable to understand his explanation for the choice.

Mrs. Bennet met Mrs. Garret at church the next day and enjoyed having her join the Deckers at her Sunday table. She was less sure about the two boys, but they were quiet and polite and so allowed at the table. Mrs. Garret would be a fine addition to the social community.

By the middle of the next week, Mrs. Bennet slowly slipped back into her habit of nerves and complaints. She had given up the tonic at the outset of the trip to Bath, but once again found the need to have her nerves calmed at least a few times each day.

Mrs. Bennet called upon Mrs. Philips often to discuss the plans for the weddings. After her return from Bath, she had brought her purchases to show her sister. After that visit, they would discuss different aspects of the wedding each visit. They would talk of the flowers one week, other decorations for the chapel the next, then of the menu for the breakfast, then of the decorations for Longbourn. She had determined that all of the girls would be attendants, that Mr. Musgrove’s younger sister would be a flower girl while the older girls would join the Bennets as attendants. The new sons, Bingley and Darcy, would stand up with Musgrove along with his younger brother James. She would need more groomsmen, but she was sure she would be able to find those. After one such discussion, Mrs. Bennet lamented, “Oh, sister, do you think Longbourn big enough to host this breakfast? Should I hold it elsewhere?”

“Since Mr. Musgrove is not bringing a host of guests, I think Longbourn is sufficiently large to hold them all. You already purchased new table linens and those vases, did you not?”

“Yes, in Bath. They are quite lovely. We will use them for Sunday dinners after the wedding. Should we replace the china? It is getting rather old.”

“No, it is still beautiful. I think you worry needlessly, Fanny. It will be a lovely occasion for Mary and Mr. Musgrove.”

“I suppose. Now, let me read to you from Mary’s latest letter. Events are starting to have larger attendance.” Mary continued the practice of her sisters in describing everything they attended. At least once Musgrove arrived in town, she would not have to hide his existence. She could write of him as well as descriptions of the activities.

While Mrs. Bennet filled her days with visits and gradually increased her nervous complaints again, Mr. Bennet found immense satisfaction working with the Garret boys. After the first week, as the boys had finished a chapter of Latin, Mr. Bennet asked, “Since both of you are going into the military, I must ask, do either of you play chess? It is an excellent tool for learning strategic thinking,”

Mike answered, “We both play although not at all well. Father was just beginning to teach Matt when he passed away. Grandfather played, after a fashion, so I was able to learn a bit. However, we do not have a set of our own on which to play. Father’s set seems to have disappeared after his death. None of us ever saw it again.”

Matt added, “We have learned some of the basic gambits but not much more than that.”

“Would you like to opportunity while you visit me?”

Both boys immediately responded, “Oh, yes. That would be wonderful.”

Mr. Bennet smiled and pulled a chess set from a cupboard. He set it up on a table and asked, “Do you wish to play each other or would one of you rather play me?”

Matt smiled, “I think we would progress better if we were to play with you rather than each other. Perhaps we could usually play with you and occasionally each other?”

Mr. Bennet agreed, “That would seem a reasonable proposition. Well, Matt, would you like to go first as the oldest?”

“Thank you sir.”

After this, at the end of the study sessions each day, Mr. Bennet would play a match with each boy. He allowed the boys to help each other, but only occasionally. Since neither Kitty nor Lydia had wanted to learn chess, he was grateful to have the opportunity to play regularly again. The matches he was playing by mail were challenging but slow.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Kindly Relations Chapters 13 and 14

ShannaGApril 17, 2018 03:12PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 13 and 14

EvelynJeanApril 18, 2018 06:10AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 13 and 14

BrigidApril 18, 2018 12:25AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 13 and 14

ShannaGApril 18, 2018 02:07AM

There is definitely something fishy going on...

Kimberly F.April 17, 2018 06:42PM

Addiction?

Maria VApril 17, 2018 05:38PM

Re: Addiction?

ShannaGApril 17, 2018 07:46PM



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