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Kindly Relations Chapters 15 and 16

April 20, 2018 03:42PM
AN: Yes, Mrs. Bennet now has issues. She does not handle the empty nest very well. Glad you are enjoying my speculations. These two chapters are a little shorter this week.
Chapter 15

A few days after the Gardiners returned from Longbourn, Mrs. Gardiner received a note that her mother was back in town. She said to Mary, “Shall we visit Grandmother and Mary Elliot today? They arrived in town yesterday.”

“Oh, yes, I would love to see them. Mary’s letters have sounded so happy. We have a lot to catch up on.”

Within the hour, they were ushered into the parlor at the Stevenson’s. Lady Stevenson greeted them, “I hope you had a wonderful holiday. You are both looking well.”

“Thank you, Mother, we did. However, it is good to be home.”

Mary Bennet added, “It is good to see you again. Mary wrote of the nice holiday she enjoyed. I hope you enjoyed it as well.”

Lady Stevenson chuckled. “I did. While James was ailing these past years, we have been unable to join the revelry at South Park. I had missed it. Even though we are in mourning, we were able to enjoy the time together as a family. It has been lovely having Mary with me. However, I can foresee some confusion with names with the two of you at various family activities together.”

“At least we have different surnames which will differentiate us among our friends,” replied Mary Elliot. “If people would use some of the older names, not just the ones from the royal family, we would have far less duplication.”

Lady Stevenson laughed. “You are correct, my dear. Well, you must all be certain to pick unique names. It will make things much simpler.”

The four had a lovely visit, catching up on all that had been happening in their lives. As the older two watched the younger together, Mrs. Gardiner said, “Mother, I am grateful we have been able to sponsor the family together. It is much easier knowing that you are there to help. Thank you.”

“I have enjoyed it too. I think it keeps me young. Mary Elliot is the last of my granddaughters I will need to help.”

Mrs. Gardiner shook her head in disagreement. “Only for sponsorship in the presentation. All of them will always need your wisdom and advice. I am grateful it will be a few years before I need to worry about Rachel.”

“Do you think you will sponsor the younger Bennets or let their older sisters handle that?”

“There is no need to decide about that now. This year is enough to think on right now. I expect a lot will change before we need worry about Kitty and Lydia.”

“We shall be very busy. At least Mrs. Darcy will be able to provide some assistance.”

“Yes, I might be able to leave her to chaperone Mary, at least on occasion. It appears that Lady Fitzwilliam will also be bringing out her niece Miss de Bourgh. And, except for the presentation, we can have some assistance from Mrs. Hurst and Mrs. Findlay. At least, with Mary Bennet already betrothed, we do not have to worry as much about her prospects. We can concentrate on helping Miss de Bourgh and Mary Elliot find someone compatible. We may also want to do what we can to assist Mrs. Darcy’s friend, Miss Lucas. She is a very fine young woman and would make someone an excellent wife.”

“Yes, it will be an interesting season all around. I think Mary Elliot may already have someone interested-that young man from chambers.”

“Yes, Mr. Beaumont?”

“Yes, that was the one. Inviting her to dinner when you had him was certainly an excellent idea on your part. We shall see if they can make a match of it. They seem to have enjoyed their various meetings. When will the Darcys arrive?”

“They expect to be here by the middle of February. Mary Bennet will have to settle for letters with Mr. Musgrove until then. I believe the Hursts are coming then too, but the Findlays will be here when Parliament is seated as he is now a Member. I believe they arrive on the twenty first.”

“Ah yes. I had heard he was to stand in the by-election. So he was successful, was he? Excellent. James would have been pleased. He always did enjoy politics.”

“So are you back to making regular morning calls or still keeping to the background with mourning?”

“I am ready to return to full participation. Keeping to the background in the autumn was sufficient. I will miss James, but life goes on. Should I need a day off, I can send Mary to Gracechurch Street and rely on you. I hope that if Mary is admitted to Almack’s, she can usually go with you rather than me. Other than that, I expect to attend most of her social activities.”

After the requisite time, Mary Bennet and Mrs. Gardiner left to make other calls. Lady Stevenson and Mary Elliot also spent the day making calls. It was good to be back in the routine of social activities in London even if many friends were yet to arrive.

One of the stops for Mrs. Gardiner and Mary Bennet was Lady Harriet Alleyn. After greetings, Mrs. Gardiner said, “So, your cousin Miss de Bourgh will be presented this season. Will you be attending more events this season as a result?”

Lady Harriet said, “I may just to give Anne a little more family support. However, as I am no longer a debutante and Roderick is often busy in chambers, I do not anticipate attending much more often than in the past. An event here or there is sufficient. We had a nice visit during the holidays. I think Anne will find London quite stimulating.”

Mary said, “I am sure it will be a change for her from the country.”

Lady Harriet said, “She enjoys music so much, she will enjoy it here for the greater variety and availability of skilled performance if for nothing else.”

Mrs. Gardiner said, “We expect to see much of her once she returns. I understand from your mother that Miss de Bourgh will be back by the end of the month.”

Lady Harriet said, “Yes, Mother likes to ease us into society just as you do. Mother is having Sunday dinners as Lady Stevenson does, so most of the family will be together, at least occasionally. That will help all of us become better acquainted with Anne and her with us. I believe Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam will alternate between the two families so as to do their duty to both.”

Mrs. Gardiner chuckled. “I predict they will have a very busy season, then.”

Chapter 16

In due course, both Mary Elliot and Mary Bennet received vouchers to attend Almack’s. Lady Stevenson averred that she would allow Mary Elliot to attend with Mary Bennet accompanied by the Gardiners. “I will put up with many uncomfortable evenings, but the poor food and crush at Almack’s is not something I wish to experience again. Madeline will take care of you.”

Mary Elliot chucked. “Yes, Grandmother, I am sure she will. At least you will have one evening a week to relax. I am sure that is really what you are saying.”

“Perhaps you are correct. We will be so busy that an evening of rest might be what I require.”

Anne de Bourgh and Mrs. Annesley rejoined the Fitzwilliams in early February. Anne was also successful in gaining entry to the hallowed halls of Almack’s. She thought it would prove an interesting experience. She had been far less nervous because she was not as concerned with meeting the upper ton who attended Almack’s. She assumed she would meet them in due course at any number of events. However, it was nice to be admitted to its select ranks.

Anne was introduced to a number of her aunt’s friends and their debutantes, including Mary Bennet and Mary Elliot during calls with Lady Fitzwilliam. “Ah, Miss Bennet, you are Mrs. Darcy’s sister?”

“Yes, Mrs. Darcy is my sister. And you are now her cousin, aren’t you?”

“Yes, so we are also cousins of sorts.”

“And Mary Elliot is a cousin of sorts too as we share an aunt. Sharing the season with our family makes it much more fun. I hope you feel as if we are also your family. I would love if you would call me Mary.”

Anne smiled, “Thank you. I will be pleased to do so. I know I will see you regularly in any case as we are in the same circle, but it is nice to feel I have close family after so long alone. You must call me Anne. It has been many years since anyone except Mother or occasionally Fitzwilliam has addressed me as anything but Miss de Bourgh. It will make a very nice change.”

Mary Elliot added, “I have been mostly alone, too, but I am enjoying having cousins again. I have been away at school and was never particularly close to my sisters when I was home. It makes it far less lonely, for certain, and much less boring now that there are more people in my life. I would love it if you would also call me Mary.”

Anne said, “My aunt tells me we will all be presented together with more of your sisters, Mary Bennet, won’t we?”

“Yes, with Mrs. Findlay and Mrs. Hurst. They are the new sisters of my sister Mrs. Bingley,” replied Mary Bennet.

Anne said, “I met Mrs. Bingley at the Darcy’s harvest ball. She is very pleasant and quite beautiful. You already had a large family and now it is even larger. That is so very nice. I look forward to getting the presentation over with. I am afraid I do not care for such ceremony, but it is a necessary evil.”

Mary Elliot said, “I think it will be quite interesting. I hope it is entertaining as well.”

Mary Bennet said, “It is certainly a spectacle. Those elaborate dresses are quite ridiculous. I am glad I only have to wear it in public the one time.”

Anne giggled, “Me too.”

A few days later, Anne met the Findlays and Hursts at an afternoon card party. Her ‘cousins’ introduced them. As they conversed, Anne was privately amused at the diversity in her new acquaintance and extended family. There had been so few callers for so long, and now she had a multitude of friends and family to keep her busy. She appreciated these quieter events before the bulk of the ton arrived for the season. They were helping her develop conversational skills she lacked. It had required too much effort to have a real conversation when her mother was present-and her mother had always been present dominating every conversation.

As she and the Fitzwilliams were returning home after one such card party, Anne observed, “I am finding it easier to conduct conversations now. I will admit it was simpler to say nothing around Mother. I got quite out of the habit of ever saying what I was thinking.”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “We had hoped you would feel some ease before the full season got underway. I am pleased you are becoming more comfortable.”

Lord Fitzwilliam added, “I, too. I want you to enjoy yourself while you are here with us, at least after the presentation is over. No one enjoys that.”

“I am enjoying myself, Uncle. I think I will even enjoy the presentation as I never thought it would take place. I am just grateful I have the opportunity.”

Lady Fitzwilliam had a number of calls and errands to run the next day, so Anne and Mrs. Annesley were on their own. After receiving a few callers, they determined to pay some calls of their own. Their first stop was Gracechurch Street where they found Lady Stevenson and Mary Elliot also in attendance.

After everyone was comfortably seated, Mary Bennet asked Anne, “Are you enjoying being back in town? Do you find it much different than during the holidays?”

“Yes, to both. There are more people to visit than during the holidays, and I am enjoying myself greatly. So many people call upon us that it is far busier than it ever was at home, and I find I enjoy that. However, I will admit that some of the callers are amusing.”

Lady Stevenson asked, “In what way, my dear?”

“Well, some of the gentlemen callers are obviously hoping to attach the heiress. They make assumptions about my gullibility and naiveté, assuming that because I have lived in the country, they can quite easily attach my affections and gain my estate.”

Mary Elliot said, “I understand that can often be a problem for an heiress. My dowry is small enough that it is not something I need worry about. How are you managing them?”

Anne chuckled, “It really depends on what they say to me. Generally, I try to gently inform them that I am not desperate or stupid enough to be fooled by their actions. There is only one that Uncle has forbidden the house. I understand he is in desperate financial straits through gambling, so it is understandable enough. I am in no rush to find someone. There is plenty of time to start looking after the ordeal is over.”

Mrs. Gardiner asked, “What ordeal?”

“Oh, I consider the presentation an ordeal, a sort of trial by combat, which must be mastered before the pleasantries of the season can be enjoyed.”

Everyone in the room laughed at such a description of the presentation. Both Marys were glad that they would be seeing much of Anne this season. She was so amusing.

Mrs. Annesley said, “At least, until the season is fairly underway, we have time to consider the various gentlemen caller at our leisure. Who knows how we will have time to assess them once things become so busy?”

Mrs. Gardiner said, “Well, you may know that we screen all the gentlemen in our acquaintance who want introduction to our girls. Should we learn anything unpleasant, we will pass on the information so Miss de Bourgh will also be informed.”

Anne said, “Thank you. I am sure that will be helpful. Aunt usually knows who to discourage, but I am sure additional information would be appreciated.”

Kindly Relations Chapters 15 and 16

ShannaGApril 20, 2018 03:42PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 15 and 16

EvelynJeanApril 20, 2018 11:52PM


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