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Kindly Relations Chapters 33 and 34

May 22, 2018 04:53PM
Chapter 33

After the wedding breakfast was over, the Bennets returned to Longbourn together after saying farewell to everyone heading back to London. As they walked from Lucas Lodge, Mrs. Bennet said, “Well, that was fine enough, but Mary’s will be much nicer. I declare, it has quite worn me out. As soon as we are home, I will rest for an hour. I know the rest of you can entertain yourselves. Then we can have a nice supper together before you all leave me alone again tomorrow.”

Jane said, “We would rather spend the time with you, but if you must rest, we will amuse ourselves until you feel ready to join us again. Do not delay too long.”

“It will be only an hour. My nerves, you know.”

Mrs. Gardiner said, “Well, you rest up Fanny. We will be waiting for you when you are ready for us.”

After the hour was up, Jane sought Mrs. Bennet in her room.

“Mother, are you awake?”

Mrs. Bennet was reclining on a couch in the room. “Yes, my dear. I am feeling much relieved. My tonic, you know, helps me ever so much. The excitement today was a bit much.”

“Well, prepare for even more excitement.”

Mrs. Bennet sat up and replied, “What is it then?”

“I have told no one but Charles. I should be giving you a grandson or granddaughter sometime in late July. I wanted you to be the first to know.”

When Mrs. Bennet received the news, she was overcome with excitement and leaped from her couch. She embraced Jane in a bear hug. “Oh that is wondrous, Jane. I am so happy. Mr. Bennet, Mrs. Hill, Hill, our Jane is to become a mother!” She screeched as she heard the news. She ran flying from her room calling out loudly. “Oh, you all just love to drive me to distraction. Where are you?”

She called out again as she reached the top of the stairs. Her slipper caught at something, she tripped, her calling changed to a loud scream, accompanied by thumps as she careened down the stairs. Jane had followed her mother from her room and stood in horror at the top of the stairs.

Mrs. Hill and Mr. Hill came from their offices in time to see her coming to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. Hearing the crash, Mr. Bennet and the others came rushing from the parlor.

Mrs. Hill turned to her husband, “Call for the doctor at once.”

He replied, “We should get her back up to her room.” He called for the footmen to assist in carrying Mrs. Bennet to her bed. Mr. Bennet stood there in shock unable to move. Mrs. Gardiner, Mary, and Elizabeth followed him from the parlor, and Mary burst into tears. At the top of the stairs, Jane did the same. Elizabeth immediately ran out to the yard and commandeered one of the men to run for the doctor. She slowly turned back to the house.

Mrs. Bennet had not made a sound as she was moved to her bed. Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Gardiner carefully soothed her as they helped settle her on her bed. Mr. Bennet followed them up the stairs. Mrs. Bennet was unconscious and unresponsive to his voice. Mary and Elizabeth joined Jane and huddled together in a corner of their mother’s room while Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Bennet stood at the side of the bed. Mr. Gardiner, Darcy, Bingley, and Musgrove all stood just outside the parlor in shock. As one, they finally moved and followed everyone up the stairs to comfort their ladies.

Mrs. Hill said, “We have made her as comfortable as we can. The fall really knocked her about as she came tumbling down the stairs. She is not really bleeding, but she hit her head very hard. You can see here how it seems to have cracked her skull some. At least she is still breathing if just barely.”

She showed Mr. Bennet the depression in the skull. He shook his head. “Jane, what was that all about?”

“I had informed her that I am increasing and will be confined this summer. She was so excited, she wanted to immediately share the news with everyone else.”

Just a few months and they should have a grandchild. Would Fanny be there to greet it? Looking at her, he seriously doubted she would heal. Mr. Bennet said, “Jane, that is wonderful news.” He moved from the bedside to give Jane a hug. The others followed suit also offering congratulations. “Would you girls mind leaving me with your mother for a few moments? When the doctor arrives, you are welcome to rejoin us.”

Elizabeth answered for all. “Of course, Father.” She looked over at Mrs. Hill and nodded toward the door. They all left Mr. Bennet alone with his wife. Their young men offered each an arm as they left the room.

Mr. Gardiner said to Mrs. Gardiner, “Oh, my poor sister, so intemperate in her reactions. This time it has cost her dearly.”

Mrs. Gardiner nodded to him. They all retired to the parlor to await the doctor. Cook prepared fresh tea and provided a variety of biscuits. The sweet should help everyone deal with the shock.

Mr. Bennet said, “Oh, Fanny. So impulsive. So excitable. How I wish we could have moved closer together rather than further apart all these years. You gave me all those beautiful daughters. Why could you not see that that was good enough for me? Why did your nerves have to take over so?” As he sat at her side awaiting the doctor, Mr. Bennet wondered if her nerve tonic had contributed to the fall. He had noticed that she was occasionally a little unsteady if she had had more than one dose of the tonic.

When the doctor finally arrived, the girls followed him into the room. The gentlemen waited in the parlor. Mr. Bennet rose from the chair, still holding Mrs. Bennet’s hand in his. He said, “Thank you for coming so promptly.”

The doctor answered, “I am glad I was available. I am told she fell down the stairs.”

Mr. Bennet answered, “Yes. She was prone to taking that tonic,” holding up the bottle, “and it seemed to make her a bit unsteady.”

Jane added, “Her foot seemed to catch on something at the top of the stairs, she tripped, and went flying down. It was horrifying.”

The doctor nodded, “I imagine it would be. Well, let me take a look.” He examined her for a few moments and shook his head. “I am afraid there is nothing we can do except to try to make her comfortable. I fear there are serious damages from the fall. That depression on her skull almost certainly guarantees that she will never wake again. Mr. Bennet, you are likely correct that the tonic caused her to be a bit unsteady. That combined with a trip would result in such a fall. I am sorry I cannot offer more hope. It is surprising that she survived the fall at all. I do not expect her to see the night.”

Mr. Bennet sent a groom to the Philips to call her sister to join them. Hearing the news, the girls began sobbing quietly. As the doctor left, the gentlemen joined them to offer what comfort they could Mr. Bennet sat there holding Mrs. Bennet’s hand until Mrs. Philips joined them.

“I will give you some time alone with your sister.”

“Thank you, Thomas. I would say farewell. I understand the fall was a result of her excitement on hearing that Jane is expecting?”

“Yes, that is what seems to have happened. There is still a possibility that she will recover, but the doctor thinks it highly unlikely.”

“I will say my farewells then.”

“You can visit whenever you would like.”

Mr. Bennet went to his study quite shaken at the circumstance. The rest followed. Jane asked, “Should we notify Kitty and Lydia?”

He shook his head. “It can serve nothing. It will take a week to get them here, even if someone left immediately. They cannot attend the funeral and would not even be able to bid her farewell. I will go see them once we have buried her. It is still so hard to believe.”

Matthew and Michael Garret finished their morning chores and knocked at the back entrance. “How is Mrs. Bennet doing? We heard she had a fall.” asked Matthew.

Cook shook her head. “Not well. Now, come in, wash up, and have your feed. I doubt Mr. Bennet can work with you today, but you have earned your meal.”

Meanwhile, when Hill saw the boys in the kitchen, he checked with Mr. Bennet in the study. “Would you see the Garret boys today, sir, or should I send them on when they finish eating?”

“What? Oh, oh yes, the boys. I would have a word with them before we send them on their way. Thank you, Hill.”

“Of course, sir.”

When the boys were done eating, Hill directed them to the study. “Mr. Bennet would like to see you both.”

They entered when invited after knocking. “Ah, gentlemen, I know you will understand why I am not fit for lessons today. Mrs. Bennet does not look very promising, so I may very well be inattentive for at least a few days. However, I would invite you to challenge each other to a chess match.”

Michael replied, “Mr. Bennet, we completely understand. It was a confusing time when grandfather fell ill too. Would you prefer that we not come to work for a few days?”

“If you do not mind, we appreciate the work you are doing. Continue to come, and we will continue to feed you afterwards. As soon as I am able, we will resume our lessons. I hope your mother can assist you until then.”

Matthew said, “I am sure she will. We all offer you our prayers, sir.”

“Thank you. Now, if you will excuse me, I will rejoin my wife.” The boys stood aside as Mr. Bennet returned to Mrs. Bennet’s chamber. Mrs. Philips sat with her to one side of the bed, sobbing softly into her handkerchief. Mr. Gardiner stood at her side.

Mr. Gardiner said, “We must not give up hope Anne, however slim that may be.”

“Oh, Edward, it is so hard. We are too young to lose her now. I must get back home-we are expecting guests. However, I will be back in the morning.”

“Of course.”

When Mrs. Phillips left, the girls came back to Mrs. Bennet’s room and seated themselves at her sofa. After a few moments, Mr. Bennet excused himself and returned to the study again.

Mr. Gardiner, Musgrove, and Bingley joined Mr. Bennet in a glass of brandy. No one was very interested in supper, but Cook supplied a cold collation in the dining room for those who needed some sustenance. By the time Mr. Bennet had fortified himself with a couple of snifters of brandy, the girls joined them in the study.

Elizabeth announced, “She is gone, Father. She whimpered once, sighed, and was done.” She then broke down in tears.

Mary was already quietly crying. “What a horrible finish to such a nice day.”

Musgrove said, “At least we are here together. I imagine it will be difficult for your other sisters. I will write my sisters about what has happened. They can offer some comfort until Mr. Bennet arrives.”

Darcy said, “I will do the same to Georgiana. At least they are not alone.”

Elizabeth said, “I wish there was more we could do.”

Mr. Bennet said, “I will write your sisters and go to them directly after the funeral. I can stay for a few days to offer some comfort.”

Mr. Bennet addressed the appropriate messages and sent them off. He knew Mr. Decker would be able to hold the service in a couple of days. That would give the Londoners time to return if they chose.

Mrs. Gardiner and the girls discussed the impact of this death on Mary’s season. Mrs. Gardiner stated, “You know that your mother wanted you to enjoy all the trappings of the season. While it will not be as joyful as it otherwise would have been, I think she would want you to make the attempt. What say you?”

“I do not really feel like going back to London and trying to appear jolly. If I stay here, I can help Father make the adjustment to life without Mother. I can go through her things and dispose of them or pack them up for each of us. However, we will still have the wedding Mother planned in June. Jane, will you still be able to travel?”

“I should be. I expect to be confined sometime in July.”

“Oh Jane, we should be so happy for you. How hard this must be.”

Jane smiled a sad smile. “At least she knew I had done my duty, and she was to be a grandmother.”

Chapter 34

The funeral was held two days later. All of their family and neighbors attended. Friends from London returned for the day. The local ladies joined the other ladies at Longbourn bringing food to share following the service. In spite of her somewhat prickly nature, Mrs. Bennet was well appreciated, particularly for her hospitality. The girls all received condolences of their friends and well wishes for their future success and happiness. Mrs. Philips was probably the most inconsolable at the loss of her sister and best friend. Much of her social life had revolved around Mrs. Bennet. Mrs. Philips would now need to cultivate other resources for enjoyment.

Since Mary was not returning to London, Musgrove would collect his things from Darcy House and return to Somerset. What a sad ending to what had been such a fun winter. As he prepared to leave, he said to Mary, “I will write when I get home. I expect to be back here at the end of May as we finish preparations for the wedding. Make sure you take care of yourself.”

Mary said, “I will. I am sorry to disrupt our fun.”

“You have nothing for which to apologize. At least you are available to help your father at this time. If you need my help, I can return at any time. It is not as if either of us would enjoy ourselves right now. You need time to come to terms with your loss.”

“Thank you, Charles. I think we will be fine. It will just be quite an adjustment. Give my regards to your family-and kiss your mother for me.”

The death was such a shock to them all. Except for her nerves, Mrs. Bennet had always been so healthy. The Darcys returned to London with Musgrove to pack their things as well. They would then return to Pemberley.

As Jane prepared to leave, she asked, “Would you prefer that we stay, Father?”

“No, of course not. You have your own home to prepare for my grandchild. I am sorry your mother will not be there to help you with the babe. I will come and visit as soon as I can after the wedding, if you will allow.”

“Of course we will allow. But, what will you do with yourself?”

“Muddle along as I have always done. I will see your sisters for a few days. Mary will be here for a while to help me settle into a new routine, a new normal. I must start tutoring the Garret boys again once I return from seeing your sisters.”

Jane said, “Oh yes. They seem like very nice boys.”

“Yes, they can keep me busy until I go for your sisters in June.”

He helped all of them off to their carriages and waved them out of sight. Mary retired to the parlor to think, then went to meet with Mrs. Hill to make plans. Mr. Bennet retired to his study and simply sat at his desk, head in hands, until the knock that signaled the Garret boys were ready.

He took a deep breath, called out, “Enter.” When they did so, he added, “Well, I will be off to Bath to see my girls for a few days. When I return, we can begin again.”

Matthew nodded. “Is there anything we can do while you are gone?”

Michael added, “We would do anything you needed.”

“Mary might need a little assistance. She will be going through her mother’s things and will need boxes and trunks shifted.”

Matthew replied, “We would be happy to help.”

Mr. Bennet said, “I will let her know. Otherwise, I will see you in a little over two weeks.”

Mr. Bennet left the next day. Mary began the slow process of packing up her mother’s things. She gave herself plenty of time to grieve, sometimes just sitting in her mother’s room remembering. Every day, she and Mrs. Hill would begin on a different portion of Mrs. Bennet’s rooms. Mary never spent more than an hour as she would find herself overcome with emotion.

That first day after Mr. Bennet left, Mary said to Mrs. Hill, “I would like to have most of this cleared up by the time Father returns. However, I do not plan to spend all my time on it. I am going to start by sorting things into piles for each of my sisters, my aunt and uncle, Father, you, and mother’s friends. Once they are all sorted, we will pack the piles up and distribute what we can.”

Mrs. Hill looked at Mary fondly. “Now, don’t you overdo it, Miss Mary. I can help you if you would like.”

“I will probably ask for that help when we make the final determinations of destinations for her things. For today, I am going to go through her reading materials. There are far more periodicals than books. I suspect Aunt Phillips would appreciate them more than anyone else but there might be some hidden treasures. I do not want to get lost in remembering. Would you have someone interrupt me in one hour? I will wash up and take some tea and then visit my aunt.”

“Very good, miss.”

“I know I can rely on you to keep things going smoothly while we adjust. Once Father is home, it will probably be very strange at first for all of us.”

“Do you want Marlow to stay on?” Marlow had been Mrs. Bennet’s ladies’ maid and had assisted all of the girls at one time or another.

“I should talk to her to find out what she wants to do.”

Mrs. Hill nodded. “She has mentioned to me that her brother recently lost his wife and could use her to help him oversee his home.”

“Well then, send her in.”

Marlow joined Mary a few moments later. Mary said, “Mrs. Hill indicated that you would be interested in joining your brother. You have been a huge part of our lives. I hope you know how much we will miss you.”

Marlow said, “Thank you, Miss Bennet. Watching all of you mature has been wonderfully rewarding. Yes, my brother’s wife died a few months ago. He is could use help at home as his oldest son and daughter are getting ready to come out just as you have done.”

“Well, then, I think we can call that settled then. I know Mother often gave you some of her dresses for you to remake and use. Are there two or three you would like to take as mementos?”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?”

“No, I discussed this with my sisters before they left. We all agreed that we would pass on the most of the clothing to those who could use and appreciate it. We are keeping some shawls and scarves, jewelry, and other items like that.”

“Well, then, I truly love these two dresses.” She indicated two dresses, one a newer dress and one quite a bit older.”

“You must take them, then. Why don’t you begin packing? When I am done here today, I will see about putting together your wages. Please ask Hill to see to making travel arrangements for you.”

“Thank you, Miss. I will.”

As Marlow left, Mary nodded to herself. That was a relief. She had not wanted Marlow for a maid for herself and did not know how else to help her. Mary spent the rest of the hour looking through papers and books. There were two or three items for each of the Bennet girls. Aunt Phillips would appreciate most of the things, but there were a few that Mary though Lady Lucas would appreciate now that Charlotte had married so well. This Fitzwilliams were mentioned in those periodicals.

Kindly Relations Chapters 33 and 34

ShannaGMay 22, 2018 04:53PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 33 and 34

EvelynJeanMay 23, 2018 07:31AM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 33 and 34

BrigidMay 22, 2018 05:35PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 33 and 34

DorisMay 22, 2018 07:13PM


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