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Kindly Relations Chapters 35 and 36

May 25, 2018 04:29PM
AN: thank for the comments. Glad you enjoyed the surprise. You might notice lots of direct quotes from JA in this post.
Chapter 35

On the trip back to London, the Darcys drove in the carriage together with Musgrove attending them on a Darcy horse. He was grateful that they were also returning so that he would not feel uncomfortable in their home without them there. He expected to be on the road home the following day. He had wanted to allow them some privacy in the carriage.

Elizabeth said, “You know, this is so unexpected. I know Mama was a trying individual, but she was always there, such a presence. Even with her nerves, Jane will miss having Mama with her during her confinement. With her nerves acting up, it might not have been a soothing presence, but she did have five daughters. She knew what to do at a delivery.”

“I am sorry that Bingley and Jane have this shadow over their news. How long do you want to wait to share ours?”

Elizabeth blushed. “I understand it is best to wait until the babe quickens. Sometimes, something is wrong and they die before they even get that far. I thought we might announce it next month.”

“Whatever you say. In this, I am only along for the ride. However, I will continue to worry about you both.”

Elizabeth smiled, “As well you might.” Changing the subject, she said, “I am glad Georgiana and the Musgroves are there to help comfort my sisters after Father visits them. Lydia was such a favorite of Mother’s that I expect she will find it quite difficult.”

“I will admit I was lost when my mother passed. I had seen her failing but could not believe she would not rally. Father was similar, although I did not know how ill he was. At least I had some warning with them. We had none with your mother, so do not feel you need to hide your grief. I understand.”

“Thank you, Wills. I know I will start healing once we get back to Pemberley.”

When they arrived in town, the Wheelers offered their condolences when they heard the news. Elizabeth acknowledged the sentiment and said, “I thank you for your good thoughts. Mr. Musgrove will leave in the morning. Can you see that he has a basket to accompany him? He has a long journey. Mr. Darcy and I will leave for Pemberley as soon as it can be arranged. We have a number of engagements to cancel and a few calls to make before we can go, but we expect it to be by the beginning of next week.”

Jane found it hard to leave Longbourn even though she knew her father would be leaving the following day. She said to Bingley as they drove away, “I know Mary will care for Father, but I worry for him. And I feel responsible for what happened.” She choked back another sob.

Bingley looked at her with a sad smile. “Jane, you know he said he will be well enough. You cannot blame yourself. If anything, blame her tonic and nerves. You did not cause her to trip and fall.”

“I know, but I did cause her excitement.”

“At least she knew she would become a grandmother this summer.”

Jane nodded. “She was certainly pleased by the news.”

“You must not let this diminish our happiness, my dear. It is hard when we lose family members, but we must carry on. She would not want you to give way to grief.”

“I suppose not. There is much for us to do to prepare for the little one, in any case. I am glad we will be able to come to Mary’s wedding. It will now be a tribute to Mama.”

Mr. Bennet’s trip to Bath was a somber affair. He spent the drive there grieving the loss of both his companion and the dreams they had shared when first they wed. That those dreams had never materialized was part of his grief. That she had turned out to be so different than he had expected was another.

His message had preceded him as had the others sent to their friends, so Lydia and Kitty were not surprised to see him. They had already begun the grieving process, so he was not greeted by tears and red eyes. However, they were far more restrained than he had ever seen them.

He arrived after classes were out for the day and found them in the parlor with their friends. Kitty saw him first as he entered the room. She rose from her chair quickly and moved to his side, “Oh, Father, it is so impossible to believe.”

Lydia followed her. “Yes, who could have thought it?”

Mr. Bennet looked at his girls and thought, my how they have matured. “It is very unexpected. I know we will all miss her, and I wanted to spend a few days with you, but once you have adjusted to her loss, you must continue to make her proud by your achievements at school. She was so pleased at how well you are doing.”

Kitty asked, “What will you do when you go home again?”

“Mary is there to help out until her wedding. She will help me get organized about how to manage without your mother as well as sort through all your mother’s things. Since I am tutoring the Garret boys, that will keep my quite busy. Longbourn always requires at least some attention. Then I will be back here to collect you for the wedding. After the wedding, we will go to Ambleside to see Jane and await the new arrival.”

Kitty said, “It is exciting that Jane is to have a baby this summer. Just fancy, we will become aunts.”

Mr. Bennet agreed. “And I a grandfather. We may spend a bit of time with the Darcys before returning to Longbourn to prepare for your next year at school. Other family members are also making visits this summer, so we expect to see them as well. The Gardiners are spending July at Pemberley so we will see them as well.”

Lydia said, “It sounds like we will be quite busy.”

“Yes, there is a lot going on this year. I believe both the Musgroves and Hattons are having shooting parties in the autumn. I will likely attend those since it allows me to see so much of the family. It will keep me from brooding about missing your mother. She would have been so happy to have such parties to attend.”

Mr. Bennet acknowledged the other girls as he sat with them in the parlor. They all visited for a while before he offered to take all of them out for tea. He felt a need to be moving around much more than was his normal custom.

While they were chatting at tea, Mr. Bennet said little, listening a great deal. Kitty said, “So, we have all been talking about all these weddings. It is fabulous that they have all occurred so close together. We have decided that all five of us want to come out together.”

Mr. Bennet was startled. “When?”

Lydia said, “We are all full young so we thought two more years of school for all of us. We would go to London the following winter and spring.”

“All five of you, eh? It will certainly keep your aunt and sisters busy if you do.”

Georgiana shyly said, “Yes, but we think it will make it easier for all of us. Lydia and Louisa are so bold while Henrietta and I are a little shyer. As we support one another, we can help each other along.”

Henrietta agreed. “We think it will be less attention on any one of us if we are there as a group.”

Mr. Bennet said, “I think that makes excellent sense. Have you suggested it to the rest of the family yet?”

Louisa answered, “No, although we all plan to write about it in our next letters. It was all these recent weddings that started us thinking about it.”

By the time Mr. Bennet left, the girls had begun processing what had happened. He was becoming accustomed to the idea of life without Fanny. On the ride home, he realized that he would need to become more involved in these final stages of raising his remaining daughters. He could no longer turn everything over to Fanny. He would have to stop being quite as passive as he had begun. He wondered if he was capable of making such a change at this late stage of life. After all, he was nearly forty five. 

Chapter 36

Lady Fitzwilliam and Lady Harriet called upon Mrs. Gardiner shortly after they all returned to town. They found Caroline taking tea in the parlor with Mrs. Gardiner.

Lady Harriet said, “I am glad we are back in town. However, I will miss the company of Miss Bennet and Mrs. Darcy. They are so amusing. We are all so sorry for the loss of Mrs. Bennet.”

Caroline agreed, “They certainly will be missed. Miss Bennet will be busy helping her father adjust to their loss. What an unhappy ending to your brother’s wedding.”

Lady Harriet said, “It certainly was. At least your sister will have some joy with the addition to her family. That will be nice for the whole family. We haven’t talked much of your new role with Mr. Findlay in Parliament. How are you finding it?”

“I will admit it has been interesting. However, there are also some trials. As you know, I had tried to cultivate the acquaintance with Sir Thomas Bertram to assist Mr. Findlay with little success. He has now left town to tend to his son. It seems Mr. Bertram became quite ill at a race and was left to cope alone by his friends. He is now seriously ill. His sisters are still here in town, but it seems Sir Thomas wanted to be there for his son.”

Lady Fitzwilliam asked, “How has the friendship with Mrs. Rushworth and Miss Bertram proceeded? They are certainly fashionable if not terribly personable. I have encountered them a few times and find them a little trying, I will admit.”

“They actually seem much as I was before Mr. Findlay set me straight,” replied Caroline with a smile. “I know I am not quite at their level, but really, they do not need to be quite so condescending. It is like being around our cousin.”

Mrs. Gardiner asked, “Elizabeth Elliot?”

“Yes. They seem to look down on almost everyone and have very little conversation. I feel like I am looking into a mirror of the past. I am grateful I do not act that way anymore and actually feel somewhat sorry for them. However, Mrs. Rushworth is quite fashionable and an excellent hostess. I have enjoyed her entertainments even if her personality is not welcoming.”

Lady Fitzwilliam asked, “Other than that, do you like the social side of politics?”

“I think I do. It is of more import than other social activities, and that is fun. I hope Mr. Findlay continues in Parliament for quite a while.”

Lady Stevenson joined them then, and after suitable greetings, asked, “Have you heard or seen the news?"

Mrs. Gardiner answered, “No, what kind of news?”

“You will see it in the papers and probably hear much of it throughout the day. Mrs. John Dashwood has learned of her brother Edward’s secret betrothal and not taken it well.”

Mrs. Gardiner said crisply, “That would not be a surprise. She seems a person who does not handle it well when thwarted. But why would everyone be talking of it today?”

Lady Stevenson added, “It seems Mr. Edward Ferrars has been engaged for quite some time to Miss Lucy Steele. They kept it secret from everyone except her sister Miss Steele. They were afraid of the reaction of Mrs. Ferrars, and the two Steele sisters have been staying with Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood. Miss Steele let it slip just as Mrs. Dashwood was discussing the possibility of Mr. Ferrars becoming engaged to some Lord’s daughter. She fell into violent hysterics immediately, with such screams as reached Mr. Dashwood’s ears, as he was sitting in his own dressing-room down stairs. So up he flew directly, and a terrible scene took place, for Miss Lucy Steele was come to them by that time, little dreaming what was going on. Mrs. Dashwood scolded like any fury, and soon drove her into a fainting fit. Mr. Dashwood did not know what to do. Mrs. Dashwood declared they should not stay a minute longer in the house, and he was forced to go down upon HIS knees too, to persuade her to let them stay till they had packed up their clothes. THEN she fell into hysterics again, and he was so frightened that he would send for Mr. Donavan, and Mr. Donavan found the house in all this uproar. The carriage was at the door ready to take the Steeles away, and they were just stepping in as he came off; poor Miss Lucy Steele in such a condition, he says, she could hardly walk; and Miss Steele, she was almost as bad.”

Lady Harriet exclaimed, “Heavens! I have never cared for Mrs. Ferrars nor Mrs. John Dashwood, but this is quite a blow to their plans. I imagine this will be all anyone can speak of for some days. How dreadful.”

Caroline said, “It is surprising that Mr. Ferrars would be hiding such a secret. I am also surprised that Miss Lucy would trust Miss Steele with a secret as Miss Steele seems to have no conversation except for gossip and beaux. How could she expect her sister to keep such news a secret?”

Lady Stevenson replied, “Which is a good reason to have something of substance to say. But I agree it is not surprising that Miss Steele would accidentally share the secret. She has never been one for keeping a confidence. Much better not to need secrets with friends such as she.”

Mrs. Gardiner said, “How unfortunate for the families involved. I have never really cared for Mrs. Ferrars. Her treatment of her sons probably brought most of this on. That Mrs. John Dashwood was housing the Miss Steeles instead of the Miss Dashwoods tells a tale in itself about the lack of understanding about family obligations. I must say, I am glad they are not close friends but merely acquaintances. I must say, I much prefer Miss Dashwood and Miss Marianne to the rest of the family.”

Lady Stevenson said, “Since they are acquaintances, and it has been quiet of scandal lately, you know it will be the primary subject at all calls today. I must be getting old as I do not want to even think of it at all. I wish you all joy of the day. I will be at home and not receiving. Hearing this at the first two places I called was sufficient.”

Lady Stevenson had been correct. The Ferrars scandal was all that anyone spoke of that day. When Caroline saw Findlay that afternoon, she said, “How sad that so many wanted to speak of the troubles of the Ferrars and Steeles.”

He said, “Yes, it is often true that small minds can only speak about others. I know you prefer ideas, but this constitutes major social news. However, they will fall out of the news soon enough. Now, we must prepare for the dinner we are to attend.”

Caroline sighed. “I suppose we must. While it will likely not be the topic of conversation at the table, it will likely be the main subject in the withdrawing room. This is the one thing about the ton that I do not care for. So much glee at the difficulties of others is so unattractive.”

Findlay smiled. “My dear, do you realize how very much you have changed?”

“Yes, I do. It is quite amazing. I would never have expected it. At one time I would have gloried in someone else’s misfortune like this. Of course, we need to track all the foibles in the ton in case there is something we can use to further our causes but I do not have the stomach to enjoy such folly. Oh well, do you expect I will be seated next to someone interesting today? I think I have heard enough gossip for a while.”

“We can hope you are.”

Unfortunately for Caroline, the first person who greeted her after the hostess was Lady Milton. After asking about the Fitzwilliam-Lucas wedding, Lady Milton said, “What a scandal today with Mr. Ferrars.”

Caroline answered, “Yes, it is a surprising situation, is it not?”

Lady Milton said gleefully, “Mrs. Ferrars has ever tried to control her sons. It appears Mr. Ferrars was far more cunning than she credited him in becoming betrothed to Miss Lucy Steele. I do not see why their betrothal is such a scandal. The true problem is Mrs. Ferrars trying to run her son’s life.”

“You do not approve of her efforts?”

“Well, he is of age and should make his own choice. Of course, his mother’s hopes for him to marry into a title were absurd. They are not of sufficient rank for that to even be a possibility. She puts on such airs but really is quite common, really only a step up from a shopkeeper. Mr. Ferrars has appropriately chosen someone more of his own class.”

Caroline smiled, “Yes, he seems to have done so. His sister seems just as upset as their mother.”

Lady Milton spoke even more spitefully, “Yes, she has tried so hard to move upward in marrying Mr. Dashwood, but her origins show in all of her actions. She may now be gentry, but she will never be a lady.” Just then, Lady Milton saw someone more important, nodded at Caroline, and excused herself.

As Lady Milton walked away, Caroline thought, “She is a good advertisement for the school we attended. She sees everything in terms of rank and class. I am surprised she was willing to do more than acknowledge me and spoke to me so much. I think that is more words from her than I have heard since she left school four years ago. Amazing!”

Caroline found she had partners at dinner who were far more interested in either sport or the war than the indiscretions of the fashionable. She was pleased and managed to charm both men. One was fairly influential in the party, so that was of some aid to Findlay. The other was a Duke who had a younger son fighting on the continent. He too could be of aid to Findlay. As they returned home after the dinner, Caroline said, “At least I had a nice time. Both of my dinner partners were interested in other things. How about you?”

“The older matron was definitely interested in speculating about the Ferrars. The other one only cared to speak of her new son. Frankly, I fear my responses were merely routine. I did not pay very much attention. I thought I saw Lady Milton talking with you before dinner.”

“You did. We were at school together although she was a few years ahead of me. She has barely acknowledged my existence in the past because I am too close to trade. However, she detested Fanny Ferrars even more when we were at school and wanted to gloat about the gossip of the situation with Fanny’s brother Edmund.”

“She knew that you would understand her feelings because you knew about their history together.”

“Yes. I admit I never cared for Mrs. Dashwood either. She was not very kind, but then our school did not encourage kindness. She did manage to marry up as did Lady Milton, as did I for that matter, but I do not believe either Lady Milton or Mrs. Dashwood have found much joy in it.”

He smiled at her. “Perhaps, but at least they have what they wanted in the improved social standing.”

Caroline added, “I am sure society would be easier to navigate if there were more people in the ton and fewer hidden antagonisms. Oh well, I am sure there will be a new scandal next week to entertain us all.”

Kindly Relations Chapters 35 and 36

ShannaGMay 25, 2018 04:29PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 35 and 36

BrigidMay 25, 2018 11:30PM

Re: Kindly Relations Chapters 35 and 36

EvelynJeanMay 26, 2018 07:13AM


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