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Kindly Relations Chapters 23 and 24

May 04, 2018 06:14PM
AN: thanks for the comments. I appreciate them. Many of you will recognize scenes borrowed from JA in this posting. I felt it fit too well to leave out.
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Chapter 23

A few days later, the Gardiners hosted a card party. The afternoon at the Gardiner’s began very quietly like all other such card parties in the past. A number of new acquaintances were invited quite filling the drawing rooms at Gracechurch Street. It was splendidly lit up and quite full of company, and insufferably hot. Once most of the expected guests had arrived, they sat down to Cassino with a few sitting in chairs about the room to visit if they were not inclined to play yet.

Soon two latecomers were shown into the room in earnest conversation. The young man bowed in the direction of some of the guests but continued speaking to the fashionable young lady. He then turned toward two young ladies seated by Mary Bennet, Anne de Bourgh, and Mary Elliot, speaking to the elder for a few moments. However, the younger was obviously overcome with emotion. Her face was crimsoned over, and she exclaimed, in a voice of the greatest emotion, "Good God! Willoughby, what is the meaning of this? Have you not received my letters? Will you not shake hands with me?"

He could not then avoid it, but her touch seemed painful to him, and he held her hand only for a moment. During all this time he was evidently struggling for composure. After a moment's pause, he spoke with calmness.

"I did myself the honor of calling in Berkeley Street last Tuesday, and very much regretted that I was not fortunate enough to find yourselves and Mrs. Jennings at home. My card was not lost, I hope."

"But have you not received my notes?" cried the younger in the wildest anxiety. "Here is some mistake I am sure—some dreadful mistake. What can be the meaning of it? Tell me, Willoughby; for heaven's sake tell me, what is the matter?"

He made no reply; his complexion changed and all his embarrassment returned; but as if, on catching the eye of the young lady with whom he had been previously talking, he felt the necessity of instant exertion, he recovered himself again, and after saying, "Yes, I had the pleasure of receiving the information of your arrival in town, which you were so good as to send me," turned hastily away with a slight bow and joined his friend.

The younger woman, now looking dreadfully white, and unable to stand, sunk into her chair, and her sister, expecting every moment to see her faint, tried to screen her from the observation of others, while reviving her with lavender water. Those around them began to speak in hushed asides as they watched the very interesting tableau occur in front of them.

Their escort, a Lady Middleton, though in the middle of a rubber, on being informed that the younger sister was unwell, was too polite to object for a moment to her wish of going away, and making over her cards to a friend, they departed as soon as the carriage could be found.

As the trio departed, normal conversation resumed with a buzz as many spoke of the scene just enacted before them. Mary Elliot turned to Mary Bennet and said, “That was certainly uncomfortable. It appears Miss Marianne has had some kind of major disappointment in, was it, Mr. Willoughby?”

“It certainly does. It seemed all she could do for Miss Dashwood to help her from bursting into tears. I do not believe we have encountered Mr. Willoughby before. I believe Lady Middleton said the Miss Dashwoods are staying with her mother and have been here in town some few days. We met Lady Middleton once or twice last season but I do not believe we have met her mother or these friends before today.”

“How difficult for Miss Marianne. At least only those seated near us had to witness her words. I am not sure I could stand the humiliation if everyone knew of my disappointment had I one like this.” Mary Elliot shook her head sadly. “Apparently the Dashwoods have some unfortunate acquaintances.”

Anne said, “The others could see that some scene was taking place, though. I heard Mr. Willoughby mentioned as a friend of Mr. Hatton’s brother and running in a rather fast crowd. How sad for Miss Marianne indeed, for I fear that this is not the first young woman he has disappointed. That crowd seems to leave them in their wake.”

Miss Grey, the fashionable young woman, and Mr. Willoughby felt it better not to stay for the afternoon of cards. They chatted with Mrs. Gardiner for a few moments but left almost directly after Lady Middleton. Mrs. Gardiner had made note of the awkward situation and promised herself to have Mr. Willoughby investigated. It looked as if he had created a very untoward situation. The rest of the afternoon progressed uneventfully. When she was finally able to spend talk with Mr. Gardiner, Mrs. Gardiner had a number of names for him to investigate. First on the list was Willoughby as she suspected he might be a rake and unfit for her nieces’ acquaintance.

Mrs. Gardiner replied, “I wonder if Miss Dashwood and Miss Marianne are sisters of that John Dashwood who married Miss Ferrars? We usually encounter them once or twice each season, and it might be good to know. These Dashwoods are staying with Lady Middleton’s mother rather than their brother as they apparently live in a cottage on the Middleton’s estate. One awkward card party is sufficient for me.”

“I will see what I can find.”

Mr. Gardiner was able to satisfy her almost immediately. Mr. Willoughby had just entered into a betrothal with Miss Gray. However, he had apparently encouraged the belief of an understanding with Miss Marianne Dashwood without ever actually proclaiming a betrothal. In addition, he had dallied with at least one, possibly two, young women with the result that he was now already a father although he had yet to marry. Apparently the marriage was to satisfy a relative who held his probable inheritance, and Miss Gray was wealthy in her own right. It would seem best not to invite either again and to avoid improving the acquaintance.

Mr. Gardiner reported, “The Dashwood girls are indeed the sisters of Mr. Dashwood. However, they are essentially estranged. When he took over the estate upon the death of their father, Mrs. Dashwood made it clear she would prefer that they find a home elsewhere, which they did, although Mr. Dashwood had promised his father that he would care for his sisters. Sir John Middleton is a cousin of the senior Mrs. Dashwood and has made them welcome. They are staying with Lady Middleton’s mother, a Mrs. Jennings, who is a very sociable soul. The Dashwoods use the excuse of hosting a pair of sisters, the Misses Steeles, as the reason why their own sisters cannot stay. Poor show of family feeling.”

Mrs. Gardiner nodded in understanding. “So, do not invite all to the same party if at all possible. There are plenty of others to entertain, so knowing that, I think I can avoid any further unpleasantness. It certainly did add to the drama at an otherwise quiet card party. Miss de Bourgh mentioned something about him running in a fast crowd.”

“Indeed he does. His group gambles on fights of all kinds, at cards for high stakes, enjoys racing of every kind, and in general follows a very dissolute lifestyle. I do not believe they are the kinds of young men we want as acquaintances for our girls. The Fitzwilliam’s oldest, Lord Milton, is generally part of that crowd as well although he has limited his involvement in the few years since his marriage.”

“Very well, I will warn the girls, Lady Fitzwilliam, and Lady Stevenson. Miss de Bourgh heard about his attitudes from Mr. Hatton as they are friends of his brother I believe Miss de Bourgh also met many of them at the ball recently. . I am glad Mr. William Hatton is not part of this group.”

“As am I. Now that they are betrothed, I would not want to see her hurt by his brother’s friends. And, of course, I do not want those friends about our girls.”

“He has already promised his brother will not be invited to call upon them at Rosings. They are a most unpleasant crowd of young men.”

Mr. Gardiner summed it up. “I am glad that our girls have all selected reputable young men. We need have no fear for them.”

Mrs. Gardiner added, “Now if we can just find someone for Miss Lucas and get Mr. Beaumont to come to an agreement with Mary Elliot.”

“It will be good to see them all well settled.”

Mrs. Gardiner sent notes to the others with the information Mr. Gardiner obtained. Charlotte and Elizabeth had not been present at the card party. When she received the note, Elizabeth said, “How awkward that afternoon must have been. Miss Marianne Dashwood sounds full young to be out in society if she is unable to master herself enough not to cause a scene.”

Charlotte agreed. “She does sound fairly young and inexperienced. That sort of disappointment can be difficult to overcome. It is nice that your uncle can let us know which young men are worth knowing and which not.”

Elizabeth agreed. “Yes, but not everyone cares about such things. Within our family, though, we want truly respectable young men, not those who only appear so.”

“We must hope Miss Marianne is able to recover from her obvious heartache. What a worrying situation.”

“I hope our uncle’s advice protects all of us from men like Mr. Willoughby.”

At the Fitzwilliams, Anne, Mrs. Annesley, and Lady Fitzwilliam all discussed the situation when they got Mrs. Gardiner’s note.

Lady Fitzwilliam frowned, knowing that Lord Milton was part of the same set. “I have never really liked Mr. Willoughby although I have met him a handful of times. He seems disingenuous to me although he is apparently quite charming.”

Anne said, “It sounds like that might be a good description. It looked like Miss Marianne was going to burst into tears, she was so upset by his treatment of her.”

Mrs. Annesley said, “These misunderstandings seem to be quite common with a certain set of young men.”

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “Yes, young men who ought to be gentlemen but are not. Well, at least we can avoid him as much as possible. I do feel some pity for Miss Grey as well as Miss Marianne Dashwood. What a tawdry triangle. I would not suppose that marriage will reform Mr. Willoughby.”

Anne said, “You know that I was introduced to Mr. Willoughby at the ball as well as some of Lord Milton’s other friends.”

Lady Fitzwilliam sighed. “Yes. I believe it would be best if you could simply to civil to them in the future. You have no need of friendship with them, in any case.”

Chapter 24

With the engagement between Hatton and Anne, the Hattons were now invited to join the Fitzwilliam’s Sunday dinner. The Darcys attended to celebrate with Anne although it was a week they would normally join the Stevensons. While everyone was visiting before the meal, Lord Milton arrived for the first time in a few weeks.

“Ah, Hatton, I hear congratulations are in order. You have managed to snap up the heiress and Rosings.”

Hatton looked at Milton with some distaste. “Yes, Miss de Bourgh has kindly agreed to marry me.”

“Well, I just came by to offer my best wishes. I should be seeing your brother-we are off to the races. I will give him your respects.” He turned to his mother and added, “I do not expect to be in town again during the season, mother, except perhaps for Anne’s wedding. Take care of Agnes for me.” He nodded to the rest and left, waving in farewell.

For her part, Agnes frowned at her husband, nodded to acknowledge his farewell, and then returned to a conversation with Lord Fitzwilliam. “I hope you are keeping him on a tight budget. The last time he went to the races before Harold was born, he spent all my summer dress allowance.”

Lord Fitzwilliam said, “He has what he has and will get no more from me. He is aware.”

“Well, with him gone, it will certainly be much quieter at home. It has been late night cards almost every night.”

Major Fitzwilliam was seated on a couch resting his leg. Charlotte joined him saying, “How is the leg doing? I notice you are not using the cane as much anymore.”

“It is almost healed. Just a slight limp. I can ride if I am careful but not yet march. I could probably manage a single dance, but not much more.”

“Have you enjoyed escorting your cousin this season?”

“Yes, it has been quite entertaining. I know when it is Georgiana’s turn, neither Darcy nor I will be quite so relaxed about it.”

“You share custody of Georgiana, don’t you?”

“Yes, we do, although Darcy bears the brunt of it since I am gone so much. I am grateful Mrs. Darcy can now help us with her.”

“Elizabeth will be an excellent sister to her. So, have you made your decision about resigning?”

He looked at her speculatively. “I have had some thoughts. As you know, Mother wants me to marry, but I am not sure it would be fair to a wife to live the military life.”

“It is not a terrible life. Many others live it. Do you have a usual base of operations or are you usually in camp?”

“It has varied. Right now, I am in an active cavalry unit. We spend most of the year in the field on the continent.”

Charlotte asked, “You are an officer, so your wife would be able to travel with you, wouldn’t she?”

“Yes, but there is so much hardship, I do not know if I would want her to suffer it with me.”

“If it is a marriage of respect and admiration, I am sure she would prefer to be with you. If it is merely convenience, that would be different. She could stay behind and wait for you at your estate. Then you need see her only occasionally.”

“If I marry, I hope it is for respect and admiration, maybe even love.”

“Ah, you are a romantic?”

“A little. What about you?”

Charlotte sighed quietly. “I was betrothed many years ago. He died before we could wed. That death killed any romantic notions I held. I would like to respect and admire my husband, and would do the best I can to honor him in all things. However, I have no real expectations, so all I really desire is a situation that is respectable.”

“So, if I were to ask you to marry me and travel with me, what would you say?”

“Yes.”

“And if I were to ask you to marry me and help me manage the estate?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure? We have only known each other for a couple of weeks.”

“You offer a respectable situation, which is all I ask. I certainly respect and admire you which is more than I had hoped for. So, yes I am sure. What about you? Are you sure?”

“Well, yes. I have enjoyed all of your conversations. You are so practical but have such a sense of humor lurking in the background. I just love that. Unlike every other woman I have known, I can actually imagine enjoying your company for the rest of my life. I do not really want to decide about my commission without your input, because I would like you to be at my side. I have never met anyone like you and want to be sure I do not lose you. I think it likely that, even without a large dowry, with the large acquaintance you will make this season, you will be asked by someone else if I do not get there first.”

“I think you may be overestimating my chances of being asked by others, but I thank you. Then, my advice would be to decide which would make you happiest. I can be happy anywhere and would follow wherever you went.”

“Then, Miss Lucas, would you marry me?”

“Yes, I would be honored. You know you have my respect and admiration. I expect love will follow-I do hope it will. I am of age and do not need permission, but I think you should meet my father. He would appreciate the gesture. And since I am living with the Darcys, you might just mention something about it to your cousin.”

Fitzwilliam chuckled. “I will call on your father tomorrow.”

Charlotte smiled. “Let us say nothing until after you talk with father. Then you can talk with Mr. Darcy. You might want to stop by Darcy House on your way out of town. I can give you a note to my father.”

Fitzwilliam smiled in return. “Very well.”

Conversation at dinner was quieter with Lord Milton gone. Lady Milton had little to say to anyone, which was no change, but was more noticeable now. Finally, everyone determined to talk of Anne’s wedding and her prospects for a happy future. Major Fitzwilliam hoped that the next week, they might be able to talk of his upcoming wedding.

With help from all the family present, Anne finalized her wedding plans that Sunday. She did not want an extravagant affair, just something sweet and simple. Lady Milton was the only one who did not offer input and support. She merely commented that it could have been so much more important if only Anne would choose to make it so. Lady Hatton agreed with everything and offered only minor suggestions. She did not want to overshadow her new daughter’s choices with her own.

Lady Fitzwilliam said, “Anne has already decided that society will not dictate her life, so why should it dictate her wedding. I am sure she and Mr. Hatton will manage very well with a quiet, personal day.”

Lady Milton sniffed, “If you say so. Well, I think I will collect the boys and say farewell. You can all then make the plans you wish.”

Lady Hatton said rather forcefully, “I am sure the day will be quite lovely.”

Lady Milton looked at her with a scornful expression, collected George and Harold and was on her way. No one regretted her leaving.

After much discussion of clothes, they moved on to flowers, then food for the breakfast. Although it would be simple, it would also be tasty. Lady Fitzwilliam would set a beautiful table to entertain the eye as the palate was satisfied by the food. Lady Hatton was pleased. Lord Fitzwilliam and Lord Hatton merely agreed with any suggestion the others made. It was all up to the ladies to decide.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Kindly Relations Chapters 23 and 24

ShannaGMay 04, 2018 06:14PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 23 and 24

EvelynJeanMay 05, 2018 08:33AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 23 and 24

BrigidMay 05, 2018 01:47AM



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