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Kindly Relations Chapters 17 and 18

April 24, 2018 04:01PM
Chapter 17

Caroline enjoyed learning from Mrs. Findlay and her friends what she could do to assist her husband’s work in Parliament. She held regular teas, inviting the wives of the men with whom Findlay worked most closely. She also occasionally hosted a dinner for them to all socialize together, easing the working relationships. One of the regulars, however, did not have a wife to join him. His wife remained home in Northamptonshire while he sat in Parliament. This gentleman, a Sir Thomas Bertram, paid almost no attention to Caroline when he attended a dinner, having interest only in those men with whom he worked. He acknowledged her upon arriving and then ignored her for the rest of his stay. All of the other attendees spoke with her as if she were worthy of knowing, however, Sir Thomas was uninterested in her acquaintance.

Caroline mentioned Sir Thomas to Lady Stevenson at their next Sunday dinner. “I always feel as if there were more I should be doing.”

Lady Stevenson smiled, “Well, my dear, I do not think you will ever find him overly warm and friendly. His wife came to town before he took his seat only long enough to be presented by his mother, and then returned home immediately. She accompanied him in his first term, spent about two weeks, and has never returned for the season. From what I could gather, she was nice enough, but very aware that she had married above herself and always afraid of putting a foot wrong. She deferred to him in everything, never expressing an opinion on anything at all. A couple of years ago, she was here to present her daughters, and they all returned home almost immediately.”

Caroline said, “So, if his wife expresses no opinions and is so quiet, that would explain his inability to converse with me or any of our friends at table. He seems to ignore all the women and only speaks to the other men. He is not terribly social.”

“I imagine he will pay attention if he needs something from you. What else do we know about him? Ah, yes. His oldest son is one of those heirs who needs something substantial to do. He fritters away his time with a fast crowd. The second son recently graduated from university and should be taking orders soon. He is expected to take one of the livings at his father’s disposal and inherit the other when the current incumbent dies. The daughters do not come to town, but I understand the oldest recently married and plans to have her time here. Her sister accompanies her. Oh yes, and he seems to have assumed responsibility for an impoverished niece some years ago. One never hears of her, though, so she must still be home with his wife.”

“So, Mr. Findlay will be on his own with Sir Thomas then.”

“Yes, you cannot provide any assistance there although striking up an acquaintance with the daughters might not come amiss. Not let’s see…” she thought for a few moments. “Ah, yes, Mrs. Rushworth. That is now the older daughter’s name. I do not know if you met Mr. Rushworth last year, he came right around the time of your wedding. I know Elizabeth met him and perhaps Mary did as well. It is interesting that he should have selected Miss Maria Bertram. Go talk to your sisters about him.”

“Thank you, I will.”

After talking with Mary and Elizabeth, Caroline decided she would indeed seek out acquaintance with Mrs. Rushworth, although she doubted it would in any way assist Mr. Findlay in working with Sir Thomas. Still, one never knew and extending acquaintance could never hurt.

The next fortnight passed with various social activities. The ‘cousins’ all became close friends during these smaller events. As they visited with Mrs. Hurst at a soiree, Mary Elliot considered how much more interesting this was than any evening at Kellynch.

“Are these activities always so entertaining?”

Louisa chuckled. “Oh no, not at all. Eventually, you can expect that some will be rather dull, but during the early days before everyone arrives, it is so much more personal that it is quite pleasant. Some of the musicals will be amusing when those who do not really have the skills to exhibit try to perform. I pity them. Far better to say you do not play than to play so poorly. I notice that you play nicely.”

Mary Elliot smiled. “Thank you. I do not play well, like my sister Mrs. Wentworth, but at least I am adequate. Now, Miss de Bourgh never had the chance to learn, so she simply enjoys. I think that is less nerve wracking.”

“That is certainly true. If I play at all, it is to accompany Caroline. Now that she no longer feels the need to demonstrate her accomplishments, I just play occasionally at home for my own enjoyment. Miss Bennet plays very well. She says that was not the case before she came to town to work with a new master last year, but I enjoy listening to her. My brother certainly picked a wife with talented sisters. You will notice I do not exhibit. I play adequately. That is enough for me.”

“And they are all so very different, although I will admit I barely remember Lydia and Kitty, they were so young when I saw them last. However, Mrs. Bingley, Mrs. Darcy, and Miss Bennet are very nice. I enjoyed becoming reacquainted at the shooting party in the autumn. I look forward to Mrs. Darcy joining us soon.”

“I am sure Miss Bennet is anticipating that as well since Mr. Musgrove will be arriving shortly afterwards.”

“Yes, that will be very nice for Miss Bennet.”

Once the music was over, Mary Elliot found herself in company with Miss Lovedean discussing the evening.

Leticia said, “I thought all the performances were excellent.”

Mary replied, “I agree. We know some very talented ladies.”

Just then, Mr. Raynor and Mr. Beaumont joined the ladies. It was the first time Mary Elliot had seen him since he left for the holiday. Mary asked, “Mr. Beaumont, how was the wedding?”

He smiled, “There were no problems of which I am aware, and I am told that it was beautiful. The new Mrs. Beaumont is a pleasant young lady, so I am pleased for my brother. I am afraid a man is not one to ask about wedding details.”

Raynor added, “I think it positive that you noticed any. I never do, I am afraid.”

Mary asked, “Did the new Mrs. Beaumont accomplish all the updates to Edlington Beck that had been planned?”

Beaumont replied, “Yes. The old place is looking quite smart now. She will be good for my brother and the place.”

Leticia asked, “Will they come to town for the season?”

“He has in the past, but they decided to stay home this year. However, they plan many entertainments for our neighbors to make up for the lack these past few years. Father will enjoy that. They will likely take part in at least some of the season next year.”

As they continued to visit, Miss Raynor and Mr. Marsh also joined them. Mary Elliot noticed that Marsh was paying particular attention to Miss Raynor as she had indicated when they had visited in early December. Mary thought they seemed to get on well.

At an afternoon card party a day or so later, Mary Elliot was pleased to see Cora and Ethel Stanson again. “Oh, I am so pleased you were able to come to town this year. Will you be staying long?”

Cora replied, “Charles and William thought it might be amusing to come for a few weeks, perhaps even longer. Our return is not yet settled.”

Ethel added, “I will confess that both of us helped to convince them. We wanted to enjoy some of your season with you.”

Cora said, “With so much family at grandmother’s Sunday dinners, we thought it would be nice to see more of the extended family for more than a few days. Since Uncle Hugh, James, and his wife Mary live here in town, we almost never see them. It was more than past time for us to spend a season in town again.”

Mary smiled. “I am very glad you are here. We are already so busy and the season barely started. I would like to introduce you to some of my new friends.” She made introductions and soon everyone was playing cards.

Lady Stevenson sat with Lady Fitzwilliam visiting while watching the young ladies play. Lady Stevenson said, “How is your niece doing with all this change in her life? I would expect it to be somewhat overwhelming.”

“I think she is adjusting quite well. Her companion is now helping her to learn the piano which her mother never allowed, but she will not be able to exhibit this season. She has enjoyed becoming friends with these new extended cousins and Harriet. My older son, Viscount Milton and his wife, will be arriving soon to renew acquaintance as well. Major Fitzwilliam also begins a leave this week, so he can escort her as needed.”

“She seems a sweet girl. I am happy for her.”

Lady Fitzwilliam once again looked over at Anne. “It is definitely something she needed. She has done much better since removed from her mother’s unfortunate authority. If she is lucky in finding someone to share her life with, it will be even better. As an heiress, of course, she will be very much sought after. We have had a number of interested callers.”

“I imagine you have. She is an heiress and not unattractive. She has all the charms most young men are seeking.”

“Hopefully, her other assets such as her knowledge and interests will be as charming to someone.”

When the card playing was over, everyone enjoyed a bountiful buffet of dainties. Beaumont took a seat near Mary Elliot. “Miss Elliot, I know we’ve met only a few times. I have truly enjoyed our conversations. I wonder, would you allow me to formally court you?” He looked at her anxiously.

With a small smile and a blush, she replied, “I would enjoy that. Please talk to my grandmother about permission.”

“I will.”

Just then, Leticia Lovedean and Raynor joined them. The four chatted for a few moments about their various hands at cards that afternoon. When his plate was empty, Beaumont excused himself, asking if he could bring anyone an extra. All declined. Before refilling his plate, he sought out Lady Stevenson.

“Lady Stevenson, I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” he asked.

“Of course, Mr. Beaumont.” She rose from her chair and the two walked a little away from the company in the room to a quiet corner. “What can I do for you?”

“I have asked your granddaughter for permission to court her. She agreed and suggested that I speak to you about obtaining permission.”

“You will need her father’s agreement as well as mine. If you would write him a note, you could bring it by my home tomorrow, and I will enclose that in a letter to her father. Would that suit? I have a number of questions for you before I give you my approval. Her grandfather and I asked similar questions of her cousins’ and her sister’s suitors last year, so this is me simply being somewhat cautious. You have nothing to worry about.”

“I will gladly come by to help you determine my suitability. I assume that is the direction of the questions.”

“Yes, it is.”

He then returned to the buffet and filled another small plate. He was careful to select options that he could easily share with the others. As he returned, he found his seat still available and offered his plate to his friends. Raynor accepted one of the treats but the ladies declined. He was able to convey Lady Stevenson’s approval to Mary unobtrusively which left her smiling even more than usual.

Chapter 18

Beaumont paid his call the next morning, handing his note to Lady Stevenson. Mary sat by quietly while her grandmother asked a number of questions to determine his suitability. As Lady Stevenson contemplated the discussion beforehand, she had a moment or two of regret that Sir James could not be there to assist. At least Beaumont seemed more reliable than Mary’s father was.

As they neared the end of the discussion, Lady Stevenson said, “Well, I just have a few last items I want you to consider. Mary’s father is one of those aristocrats who are enamored of rank. That your father is a viscount will go to your favor with him. That you do not inherit it will count against you. He has always had a tendency to overlook those of lesser rank, particularly his younger daughters. One of your responsibilities will be to support Mary in her relationship, such as it is, with her father. When you finally meet him, you will better understand. I suggest you watch those around you to see how others are doing something similar so that you will be prepared to protect your wife from her family. There will be no need to do so with the Wentworths, but there will be with the Elliots.”

“Miss Elliot and I have discussed a very little about her family situation. I gathered some of it from Mrs. Wentworth last year as well by reading into what she did not say about her family when we talked. Perhaps I should talk with Mr. Gardiner?”

“That might be an excellent idea. My son-in-law is an excellent judge of character.”

Finally, Lady Stevenson said, “Very well. Let me write to Sir Walter. You can visit with Mary while I am busy if you like.” She finished her letter while he and Mary talked.

“Mr. Beaumont, I do not even know your name. Might you tell me?”

He laughed. “It is no secret. I am Hugh.”

“You already know that I am Mary. We have talked of Edlington Beck, but never of your home here in London. Can you tell me about that?”

“I do not currently live in my London townhouse. Father gifted me with a very nice home when I became a barrister. However, as a bachelor with little social life, I had no need of such a large place, so I have leased it out these past few years. I currently rent a modest flat not far from chambers. It would not suffice for long after I marry, so, should we determine that we do suit one another, we would have access to my townhouse after the end of the season. The house is leased until the end of June.”

He described both the house and his flat, the amenities of each, and that the house would likely require some refurbishment before moving in. “I suppose it only right that Mrs. Beaumont would want the house to be to her taste. Now, you must tell me more about Kellynch. Has it been in your family long?”

They spent the remainder of the visit talking of their homes and preferences. Both thought this a good way to come to a better understanding. Both approved even more of the other when the process was done. As he prepared to leave, Lady Stevenson asked, “Shall we see you at Almack’s?”

“Yes, I shall be able to attend tonight. I will be pleased if Miss Elliot will grant me a dance after I arrive.”

Mary smiled. “She should be able to do that, sir.”

When they arrived at Almack’s, Mary Elliot found Anne de Bourgh arriving at the same time escorted by her cousin, Major Fitzwilliam. They entered to discover Leticia Lovedean talking with Mary Bennet. The four young ladies greeted one another while Anne introduced her cousin as the chaperones retired to one side to watch the proceedings. All were introduced to acceptable young men and found themselves dancing almost immediately. Anne was pleased that she now had the stamina to dance the entire evening. Mary Bennet found herself enjoying the dance but knowing that she would enjoy it even more when Mr. Musgrove was available. Major Fitzwilliam did not dance that evening as he required support from a cane due to an injury received during the autumn campaign.

When Beaumont arrived, he was forced to wait to claim his promised dance with Mary Elliot. However, at that moment, Anne was free, so he asked her to dance, and she accepted. “Are you enjoying London, Miss de Bourgh?”

“Oh, yes, it is very nice to be here. I had never expected to be presented, so having a season is quite a nice opportunity. There is always so much going on and always something to see. That is very different from my life these past few years.”

“It is certainly true that London presents lots of exciting opportunities. There are many people to meet and see here at Almack’s.”

“Yes, it is quite a crush.”

Mary finally had her dance with Beaumont. “Do you think your father will grant permission?”

“All he cares about is family name and rank so I am certain he will. Grandmother is more particular as is Uncle Gardiner. I think their approval more important.”

“Good. I enjoy working with Mr. Gardiner, so it is good to know I have his approval.”

“He must approve everyone that they invite to meet the young women in the family. Those that do not pass muster are gently discouraged from pursuing an acquaintance, and we are warned to avoid them. Happily, there have been only a few of those.”

Anne found she truly enjoyed one of the young men introduced to her that evening at Almack’s, a Mr. Hatton. It had been surprisingly easy to talk with him, and he requested a second dance that evening. She never expected such a thing to happen.

Lady Hatton sought out Lady Fitzwilliam during the second dance. “Constance, would you object if William and I were to drop by during calling hours tomorrow?”

Lady Fitzwilliam smiled, “Augusta, it appears that it would to be an excellent idea. What is William up to these days?”

“Not much. He helps out his father and brother but really, what does a second son do? He is not a huge intellectual. He enjoys helping out about the estate but once his brother marries, he will need to find something else to do.”

“He was not interested in law or the church?”

“No, he does not like the intellectual side of life either. He does still read, but never liked studying. Of course, he enjoys the social side of life with the shooting, fishing, racing, hunting, and house parties, but it is getting time for him to settle down.”

“We will look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

As they rode home that evening, Lady Fitzwilliam remarked, “Lady Hatton indicated that she would be paying a visit tomorrow and likely would bring Mr. Hatton along with her. Would that please you?”

Lord Fitzwilliam looked interested as he had not heard the conversation between the two. Anne considered a moment, and then replied, “Yes, I believe it would. He was very easy to talk to, and I enjoyed his dances.”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “She said he spends considerable time helping his father and brother on the estate. That might be a topic of conversation for the two of you.”

“Thank you. I will keep that in mind.”

Major Fitzwilliam joked, “Perhaps I should stay as well and look as fierce and protective as possible.”

Anne smiled. Lady Fitzwilliam laughed saying, “You well know that would not scare William Hatton. He has known you almost his entire life.”

“That is most definitely true. But seriously, Anne, he is a very nice gentleman. I give you my leave to pursue an attachment if he interests you. I would enjoy him as a cousin.”

“Oh, that means so much, of course,” Anne said with an ironic tone. Then, more seriously, she added, “But I am grateful you approve. Having only just gained real friends in the family, I would not lose them just yet.”

When Mr. Hatton and Lady Hatton called, they did indeed have a very interesting conversation. Anne was able to elicit advice on a number of issues she had noticed at Rosings. He enjoyed discussing them with her. Anne thought she would enjoy becoming better acquainted.

As they sat chatting, Anne remarked, “It seems your mother and my aunt are friends.”

Mr. Hatton replied, “I believe they have known each other since they were young.”

“Can you tell me about your family?”

“Well, father is Viscount Hatton. My older brother, Christopher, is a typical young buck, in my estimation. He works a bit at the estate, but prefers what I consider a rather fast lifestyle with his friends-gambling and racing being favorite pastimes.”

“Who are his close friends?”

“Most of them are also older sons of the upper ranks. Let me see if I can remember some: Mr. Bertram, Mr. Yates, Mr. Willoughby, and Mr. Dudley. Oh, and I believe your cousin, Lord Milton, was a close friend before his marriage. However, he seems not to be there so often now. Most of them are not yet titled but probably will be once they inherit.”

“You do not enjoy the gambling and racing as they do?”

“Not really. I think it a waste of both time and money. I enjoy managing the estate with father. I guess I favor a quieter life in the country. Christopher feels now is the time to sow his wild oats. He can take on responsibility later. I am afraid that is a common attitude among the first born who already have a life’s work ahead of them.”

Anne smiled. “I have heard that before. So, tell me what you enjoy doing around the estate.”

They had a very pleasant conversation, both feeling quite a tentative attraction. Major Fitzwilliam joined them after they had been chatting for a quarter hour.

“So, Hatton, it is been quite a while since I have seen you.”

“Indeed it has, Fitzwilliam. You did not have a cane the last time. I am sure that does not slow you down much.”

“Oh, just a trifling injury in the leg. I have hopes that it will continue to heal with no lingering effects.”

Anne added, “He must heal by the time the season starts in earnest as he is to be my escort.”

Hatton smiled. “So you will be home for a while?”

“I have leave until I am completely healed. I expect it will be at least April before I am fit for duty although I might be able to dance a bit before then.”

Within a few days, a response arrived from Sir Walter giving approval to a courtship for Mary and, should it develop, a subsequent betrothal. Mary Elliot was relieved that she would not face the drama in her courtship that Anne had in hers.

When Mary Elliot and Lady Stevenson paid their visits that day, they shared Mary’s news with her friends. As they visited with Cora and Ethel, Cora said, “Well, now we must make his acquaintance and see what we think. Tell us about Mr. Beaumont.”

Mary said, “I enjoy his company and conversation very much. We met when Aunt Gardiner held a dinner and invited many members of chambers. If we do decide that we suit, I will be living here in town like James and Mary Stevenson. I will have at least one cousin I can see frequently just as I would Grandmother and the Gardiners. Grandmother has invited him to our Sunday dinners, so you will meet him then if not before.”

Ethel said, “So you have Aunt Gardiner to thank for the introduction? Does that mean he works with Uncle Gardiner?”

“Yes, it does. He enjoys being a barrister.”

“Since the only time they have come to South Park has been during Mr. Gardiner’s summer holidays, seeing the Gardiners again is another excuse for us being in town. Her niece Mary Bennet is staying with her. Do you see much of them?”

Mary smiled. “Oh, yes, a great deal. In fact, when I go to Almack’s, I go with the Gardiners. Grandmother has no desire to attend.”

Cora asked, “Since the presentation is coming soon, are you prepared?”

Lady Stevenson spoke up then. “Yes, she is. We have been doing a lot of practicing with all the girls. I am sure it will be quite a success.”

Kindly Relations Chapters 17 and 18

ShannaGApril 24, 2018 04:01PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 17 and 18

BrigidApril 25, 2018 01:31AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 17 and 18

ShannaGApril 25, 2018 05:25PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 17 and 18

EvelynJeanApril 25, 2018 02:36AM


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