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Kindly Relations Chapters 19 and 20

April 27, 2018 06:36PM
AN: For those wondering, in my mind, the upper ranks were small enough in number that most of them likely were at least acquainted. That is one reason for bringing in other JA characters who visit London on occasion. I won't bring all of them, but many will feature as minor acquaintances.
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Chapter 19

By mid-February, the Darcys arrived in town. After their arrival, the Darcys sent notes to the families to let them know that they had arrived. They would call on all of them the next day. Elizabeth was pleased to see the Wheelers and to realize that she had remembered almost all the names of the staff. Although they had made no changes when they were in town in December, she planned to spend more time reviewing the house to see if there were changes she would like to see. Musgrive arrived about three days after the Darcys.

Lady Stevenson once again invited the extended family to Sunday dinner. Since Lady Fitzwilliam also did the same, the Darcys decided that they would alternate families, but that Musgrove would dine at the Stevenson’s each week allowing him to become better acquainted those close to Mary. The Darcys would attend the Fitzwilliam family the first week in order for Elizabeth to meet the Viscount and his wife who were arriving that week as well.

That week at the Stevenson’s found Lady Stevenson’s grandsons William and Charles Stanson, with their wives Ethel and Cora, attending for the first time since their own seasons. They had not spent much time in London since their 1806 marriages.

After introductions, everyone spent time becoming better acquainted. Because Mr. Beaumont was now officially courting Mary Elliot, he was also invited to dinner and somewhat overwhelmed at the number of family members. It took some time for him to sort out how the Findlays and Hursts fit into the family. Once he had a clear picture of the relationships, he was surprised at how inclusive this family group was.

He said to Mary Elliot, “The diversity of relationships in your extended family is amazing. After my mother passed, we rarely saw anyone from her side of the family. My father had no brothers and only one sister, and we only rarely see her or her family. I am overwhelmed by all this family.”

Mary chuckled, “Wait until we add in the rest of the Bennets. Mrs. Darcy is one of five girls. Mrs. Hurst and Mrs. Findlay are her sisters by Jane Bennet’s marriage to Mr. Bingley. Miss Bennet is the third girl in the family. The Darcys are at the Fitzwilliam’s this week but should be here next. The Stansons haven’t been here before today either, so my cousins are getting to know everyone else just as you are. We did meet at the funeral for my grandfather and again at Christmas. They have been here about a week, so we did some visiting with them already.”

“I like the wonderful feeling here. You should know how lucky you are.”

“Believe me, I know. My home sounds more like yours than this. We never visit with family there either.”

Musgrove was also present, glad that he knew the Bingleys, Findlays, and Hursts fairly well. Beaumont at least had the benefit of a number of years of social events in London; Musgrove had little of that. By the end of the afternoon, he felt he had all the relationships clear and was much more comfortable. He found he had a great deal in common with the younger of the Stansons, Charles. However, he was able to talk with William about the challenges in managing an estate when in tandem with a father who was still vigorously involved.

To Mary Bennet, he said, “What a remarkable woman your aunt’s mother is. She has opened her family life to all those of us who are relatives of her relatives. It certainly extends my acquaintance in London and will ease things for me when I start attending activities with you.”

Mary agreed. “She is very like a grandmother to us too even though we are not technically related at all. We are all grateful.”

After dinner, Musgrove spent time discussing Parliament with Findlay. He was interested to hear Findlay’s impressions about his new responsibilities.

Findlay said, “I must thank you for inviting Mr. Dickinson to the shooting party. Becoming acquainted in such circumstances makes it easier to form positive relationships and work together.”

“He has always seemed a very earnest fellow.”

“When you are not busy escorting Miss Bennet, you might want to call upon him. I am sure he would enjoy seeing you.”

“I may do that. I find what you are doing to be very interesting.”

At the Fitzwilliam’s, Anne finally got to become better acquainted with her cousin Harold, Viscount Milton, and his wife Agnes, and their children George and Harold. She had never spent time with any children since she was a child except for her Christmas meeting with Rory Alleyn, so this was another completely new experience. Although she was awkward with them, she found it pleasant. She found her cousin a bit distant, but Agnes even more so.

Anne said to her, “So, Lady Milton, do you prefer your country home or town?”

“There is nothing to do in the country. We did not come to town last season only because of Harold’s birth. I prefer to be here for the entire season, while Milton usually goes off with friends once spring is truly here. Of course, once the hot weather arrives, everyone returns to their estates. That is only interesting if one has house parties, of course, with interesting people. I understand you have not been to town before?”

“Not to stay for any duration. I suffered from ill-health which has only recently abated,” admitted Anne. She was not sure how much Lady Milton knew of her situation. “I am looking forward to the season’s activity though.”

“I am sure you are,” said Lady Milton. She nodded and moved off.

Elizabeth and Charlotte joined Anne. “So, are you enjoying this family dinner?”

“In general, yes, I am. It is so different from the formal dinners at Rosings. I can actually have a conversation with others if I wish.”

Major Fitzwilliam joined them. “I see you met our sister Agnes.”

Anne replied, “Yes. Have they been married long?”

“I think it has been three years. Yes, that must be about right. George is 2 and Harold is 1. She does not appreciate most of us very much, I am afraid, so none of us are very close.”

Elizabeth said, “I had noticed a degree of condescension on her part. I thought it was only me, though.”

The major chuckled. “Oh, no, she is generous with her opinion of all of us. We are too active and busy for Agnes. She thinks the upper class should sit around looking elegant. Mrs. Darcy, I believe her attitude is similar to your cousin, Miss Elliot.”

“Ah, that explains it, I guess.”

Charlotte asked, “Is that a common attitude?”

Major Fitzwilliam considered this as Darcy joined them. Darcy asked, “Is what a common attitude?”

Charlotte replied, “That the upper class should sit around looking elegant.”

Darcy replied, “I believe it is. The women are expected to look elegant, the men to participate in sport and dance the night away when required. What brought this on?”

Elizabeth answered, “Major Fitzwilliam was explaining your cousin, Lady Milton.”

“Ah, yes. Her expectations are somewhat extreme but well within what society dictates, I am afraid. My active participation on the estate has always seemed highly distasteful to her.”

At dinner, Charlotte sat by Major Fitzwilliam. “So, your injury would indicate active duty in the military and not a desk job.”

“That would be correct. I have enjoyed it over the years and expect to be promoted again in another year or two if I continue.”

“Are you thinking of resigning your commission?”

“It is always something to consider when recovering from an injury like this. During the past summer, my mother’s aunt passed away and unexpectedly left me a comfortable little estate. She had moved in with her son and rented it out, so right now it gives me a bit of extra income. Should I want to retire from the military, it could provide a nice little home. It is in Cheshire, so not too far away from Pemberley, which is convenient if I want to visit. Of course, Mother always worries about me, so she would like me to resign and settle down since I would not require the income from the military. I assume all mothers are like that.”

“They probably are. It was nice of your aunt to give you the option to make different choices.”

“Yes, it was, and quite unexpected. I barely knew her. It does give me some flexibility that I lacked in the past, though. So, I gather you have known Mrs. Darcy for a long time.”

Charlotte smiled as she glanced over at Elizabeth who was talking with Anne. “Yes, we have been friends these many years. It was kind of her to ask me to join them. She claims she would be lonely with Mr. Darcy working so much, but I know she is also hoping to help me experience a wider acquaintance than we had in Hertfordshire.”

“She seems a very good friend. I know she has made Darcy very happy. They seem well-suited.”

“Yes, they seem to be very happy. I am pleased for her as there was no one suitable for her at home. She needed someone she could respect who would also respect her, and it seems they found that.”

Later, Charlotte had an opportunity to spend time with Lady Harriet. “I understand that you are close friends with Mrs. Darcy’s aunt, Mrs. Gardiner.”

“Yes, we generally socialize together rather often. Rory likes to play with her younger sons and daughters. She came out just a few years before I did. I am a part of her charitable circle as well.”

“Rory seems to enjoy playing with George and Harold.”

“Yes. It is nice that they are here this year. Now that George is getting old enough to play well, they seem to be having a nice time. Of course, thank goodness for a good nanny to care for them in the nursery so we do not have to participate in their play while trying to hold a conversation.”

One the way home that evening, Elizabeth said to Darcy, “I am pleased to meet your cousin Lord Milton. However, I can see why you are closer to Major Fitzwilliam than to Lord Milton. He is not very forthcoming and welcoming, is he?”

Darcy chuckled, “No, he is not. His wife is well suited to his attitude, but they are not a warm addition to the family group. He is not someone I would choose to socialize with when given a choice. Of course, at family dinners, there is no choice.”

Elizabeth added, “Well, one does not choose family, only friends. Charlotte, I am very glad you are with us and not Lady Milton.”

Charlotte replied, “Thank you. I imagine it must be hard to find everyone so lacking as she seems to do.”

Darcy said, “I know I have at times shared some of her opinions but I have learned better. I fear she will never do so. However, she has plenty of friends who share her views, so she seems happy in her life.”

Elizabeth said, “That is good for her. It would never do for me though, so I am glad we are not as off-putting.”

The next day, between visitors, Elizabeth asked Charlotte if she had any thoughts about the sort of partner she might want. “After all, we should have some idea of the type of single gentleman we want to encourage.”

Charlotte smiled. “I am not romantic, you know. All I really ask is a comfortable situation. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."

"You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself.”

“After Mr. Morris died, I determined that all I ask is comfort in a respectable situation. I care little for the companionship I know you sought and found with Mr. Darcy. I admit that it might be pleasant, but, I am afraid I really would take the first suitable proposal that came my way. I do not want to be a burden to my family, or now that I am with you, to you.”

“Oh, Charlotte, you are not a burden. You are a friend. Well, if you are determined that you would accept any suitable situation without regard for compatibility and happiness, I hope that someone who can make you happy in spite of yourself presents himself.”

Charlotte smiled at her. “You are such a romantic, my friend. Thank you.”

While the young ladies were finishing up their practice for the presentation, Musgrove visited Dickinson at Parliament and found it very interesting. Dickinson, in turn, offered Musgrove the opportunity to assist him. This allowed Musgrove activities outside the social events with Mary Bennet. He did not want to spend all of his time dogging Darcy. He thought his friend was entitled to some time on his own, not always having to entertain him.

As he sat with Mary shortly after his arrival, he said, “You know, when I agreed to come escort you, I never gave a thought to how I might spend my days when I was not with you. I knew there would be some social activities, such as card parties but hadn’t realized how much free time I might have. Darcy kindly takes me along with him, but I cannot allow myself to follow at his heels like a lap dog.”

Mary chuckled, “Such an image. Well, what are you to do during your free time instead. You cannot spend all of them with me, much as I might enjoy that.”

He smiled. “I would too, but that will come after the wedding. I thought I would spend time assisting Dickinson in Parliament. There is much I can do to help out, and watching the proceedings is fascinating. I can also help out your brother Findlay as well.”

“That is an excellent idea. So I will not worry if you do not visit me during visiting hours as long as I know I will see you at our social events.”

“Good. Of course, I blame this need to be doing on your influence. Before I met you, I was content to idle much of the time. However, that no longer seems acceptable. There is too much to be done to make the world a better place.”

“I will gladly accept blame for that as long as you continue to make time for me.”

“Always.”


Chapter 20

Finally, all the practice paid off. As with the previous year, the ladies were presented, made their curtsey, and returned home without mishap. On the ride home, they discussed the drama of the scene. Caroline and Louisa changed back to everyday dress and met in the parlor.

Caroline said, “That was quite something. I never expected to participate in it. Although I was glad to see the queen, she was not particularly impressive. Some of the ladies I have met whose husbands are in the House of Lords are more impressive.”

Louisa said, “Perhaps so, but she is the queen. Father and Mother would be so proud of us. This will open many more doors for our own children. We have certainly come a long way.”

“Yes, we have. Thank you very much, Mother, for giving us this opportunity.”

Mrs. Findlay said, “You and Louisa are most welcome, my dear. Now we can start having some fun.”

Louisa said, “Well, perhaps not all of us. Speaking of children, I am not going to spend the season in town. I am expecting to be confined in early May, and we want to be home for the event.”

Caroline said, “Congratulations. I thought I had detected a bit of change but did not want to say anything in case it was simply a matter of gaining some weight.”

“At least this ridiculous dress hides how much bigger I am getting without the need for significant stays. I am tired of stays. I will leave off with them until the baby arrives.”
Mrs. Findlay said, “I am very happy for you, my dear. Mr. Hurst and his mother must be excited.”

“Yes, they are. We told her just before we left for town. Now that the presentation is over, we are going back home. I am just grateful I was not as big as a house for the presentation. I expect that stage will be somewhat uncomfortable.”

Caroline said, “I would be there for the birth, but we must stay until Parliament recesses. But you should be fine with Mrs. Hurst attending. If you need me, I can leave Rupert behind and join you.”

“Yes, I expect to be fine. We have plenty of family at home to offer any needed assistance. You concentrate on helping Mr. Findlay.”

Just then, Findlay and Hurst entered the parlor. Findlay chuckled. “Each time I see those gowns, I am awed by the excess they represent. I am glad to see you back in more usual attire.”

Hurst agreed. “Indeed. I suppose this means we have all arrived in the upper ranks.”

Mrs. Findlay said, “You have our best wishes. Mrs. Hurst has just told us of your happy news.”

Hurst smiled, “We are quite excited, as you might imagine. We will head back home to await the confinement.”

When apprised of what was happening, Findlay also offered his best wishes. He hoped he might have similar happy news sometime soon. They had certainly had every reason to hope for such an eventuality.

The Darcys and Musgrove were waiting at Gracechurch Street to greet Mary Bennet when she returned. When she entered, Musgrove said, “Oh my, that is some dress. You look lovely.”

Mary smiled fondly. “I look ridiculous, but you are quite gallant to claim it looks well. Give me a few moments so Fargo can help me change into something more appropriate, and we can tell you all about it.”

They spent an hour discussing the spectacle, comparing it to Elizabeth’s presentation the previous season, and discussing the things that Musgrove was learning about Parliament. The gentlemen left so that the ladies could make their calls.

Mary Elliot and Lady Stevenson chatted on the way back to her townhouse. “It certainly happened quickly for something so important.”

Lady Stevenson smiled. “The presentation is not necessarily important, but what it represents is. It sends an indication that you are of the upper ranks and of some importance. You can be gentry without it, but you cannot be first rank. Since you already have someone interested, it does not open doors today as it does for others, but it also keeps options available. Well, I am glad that is over with. You did well, my dear.”

At the Fitzwilliam’s, Major Fitzwilliam laughed as Lady Fitzwilliam and Anne entered the house. “Oh, my, that is some dress.”

Anne joined in his laughter. “Yes, quite ridiculous, isn’t it?”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “Well, it does not have to be attractive. It must only showcase our wealth and importance. It accomplished that. The queen recalled Lady Catherine and asked Anne to pass on her regards.”

The major’s laughter increased. "That is all we need.”

Anne said, “I will mention my presentation when next I see Mother. I am sure she will not believe it but would appreciate that it happened. Of course, I will write about it in my next letter to her.”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “Now we can concentrate on having an enjoyable time. Richard, will you think about finding a partner this time?”

“Well, only if I think I want to settle down. I am not sure I would want to subject a wife to my current life of army travel.”

“Aunt Gertrude gave you the option to select a different life than you had originally planned. Have you given that any thought?”

“Yes, but so far, I am not ready to make any changes.”

Anne said, “Well, I am, so I am going to change into something more comfortable.”

From her place on the sofa, Mrs. Annesley now joined in the laughter. “Oh, Miss de Bourgh, that was just perfect.”

Major Fitzwilliam added, “It certainly was. Does your mother know you have a sense of humor?”

Everyone laughed as Anne went to change. As she exited, she replied, “Of course not. She would have found it intolerable.”

The Fitzwilliams, Darcys, and Findlays attended a pleasant card party that evening. It was a quiet diversion after all the tense preparations of the past few days.

Anne said to Caroline, “I am so glad that is all over.”

“It was a bit nerve wracking. I had expected just to enjoy myself this season, but I find that politics is a part of society now that Mr. Findlay is a Member.”

“Are you enjoying that?”

“You know, I think I am.”

“I hear that Mrs. Hurst has returned home to await a happy event. Congratulations. You must all be quite excited.”

“We are. They lost their first a couple of years ago, so this is quite welcome news.”

Caroline was pleased that at this card party, she had been introduced to Mrs. Rushworth and her sister Miss Bertram as well as their brothers Mr. Bertram and Mr. Edmund Bertram. From their manner and comments, she understood that they were pleased to be in town and out from under the authority of their father. She could also see that there would be no way to curry favor with Sir Thomas through his daughters. There was not a close enough family feeling to promote that. However, they were quite fashionable and would be good social contacts if nothing else.

When Elizabeth encountered Rushworth after having been introduced to his wife and sister, she said, “It is good to see you again. I congratulate you on your marriage. You must be very happy.”

“Thank you. Mrs. Rushworth and I are very glad to be in town. My mother stayed home this year knowing that Mrs. Rushworth would be happy to serve as hostess. I hope we will see you often. I also offer my congratulations on becoming Mrs. Darcy.”

“We have both been blessed.”

As he left her and went to his wife’s side, she could see Mrs. Rushworth take very little note of his presence. She could not see any great sign of affection by either of them, but that was often the case in society marriages. She would not have enjoyed the constant presence of Mr. Rushworth’s absence of thought, but perhaps Mrs. Rushworth was able to overlook it.

Miss Bertram seemed a nice enough young lady. Apparently, they had both come to town two years prior for one week for their presentation. Their mother had been willing to sponsor them but not to spend any time in town. Lady Bertram had not enjoyed her own presentation and would not spend any more time in town than required. The opposite was the attitude of both Mrs. Rushworth and Miss Bertram. They wanted to be in town as much as they could and hoped to spend as little time at home as possible.

Elizabeth spoke with Mr. Thomas Bertram for a short period of time. She could see why he was such good friends with Lord Milton. “Yes, I will be heading off to the races with Milton and some of our other friends shortly. I generally make an appearance in town for two or three weeks before the racing season starts.”

“You must be pleased that you can see your sisters this time,” suggested Elizabeth.

“Yes, I am staying with them this year. In the past, I am usually at a friend’s place. It is nicer to be with my sisters. Rushworth is not a bad sort. I believe this is the first time Edmund has come to town for any part of the season.”

“I understand your sisters have not had the option to stay for much of the season in the past.”

Bertram shook his head. “Lud, no. The Pater has no time for them and Mother is not comfortable in town.”

“You never thought to chaperone them?”

He looked at her in surprise. “Of course not. I am no kind of chaperone. I leave that to the old biddies who have nothing better to do than matchmaking. I’m too busy for that sort of thing. Besides, I never stay more than two or three weeks. They would want to be here the entire season.”

Elizabeth replied dryly, “Of course.” She then moved away toward Darcy. “I can see why we are not to include the friends of Lord Milton in the circle for our young ladies.”

“Oh?” replied Darcy.

“Yes. Mr. Bertram has a very familiar attitude with little consideration for others. His favorite pastimes are gambling and racing. Not someone we want for our sisters and cousins.”

“Yes. Seems very much a scrapegrace. I suspect only Anne has sufficient dowry to interest him and Milton’s other friends. Even Miss Musgrove’s dowry would not be enticing.”

“He has very little family feeling. He appreciates staying with his sisters this year but could never be bothered to help them out himself. He comes to town every year while they were stuck away at home since their mother does not like town. There seems little harm to him, unlike some, but I believe he is better left alone. Now his brother, Mr. Edmund Bertram seems much nicer. I would not mind our knowing him. However, it seems he already has an interest in Miss Crawford”

Darcy smiled. “She is very fashionable while he is far simpler. Should they continue into an attachment, I foresee a very interesting life together.”

Elizabeth agreed, “Yes, she is far more worldly than he. It makes me very grateful that our perspectives are so much closer than I first supposed. Ah, well, Caroline has been cultivating this group as acquaintances in hopes of facilitation the relationship with Sir Thomas Bertram. Of course, Mrs. Rushworth is a rising star of the ton this year. She has been mentioned frequently in the society columns of the paper.”

“It makes me even more grateful that I have no need of pursuing such acquaintances for politics. I am glad we have no need for such notoriety.”

SubjectAuthorPosted

Kindly Relations Chapters 19 and 20

ShannaGApril 27, 2018 06:36PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 19 and 20

BrigidApril 30, 2018 11:37PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 19 and 20

EvelynJeanApril 28, 2018 04:51AM



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