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Kindly Relations Chapters 43 and 44

June 08, 2018 03:36PM
Chapter 43

The Musgroves and Findlays enjoyed a pleasant evening at Lady Fitzwilliam’s dinner. They renewed political and social acquaintances and caught up on all the gossip and news. Mrs. Findlay chatted for a few moments with Lady Fitzwilliam after dinner.

“Quite a few new people were elected to Parliament this time. I shall enjoy becoming acquainted with them. We will have a very busy season with all the younger sisters coming out.”

Lady Fitzwilliam agreed, “Yes, it will be very busy. We have lots of new Members to learn about and the young men to scope out for the girls.”

“I understand Captain Fitzwilliam will be returning.”

Lady Fitzwilliam smiled. “He and the Wentworths are expected, perhaps as early as the beginning of March. I look forward to having Andrew home for a few months before he goes to see again.”

Mrs. Findlay asked, “He has done well, though, has he not?”

“Yes, he has taken part in some captures and accumulated a nice cushion for his future. Since no one has left him an estate like Richard’s, he must make his own way.”

“Do you think he is ready to retire yet?”

“No, his letters give no indication of any such thinking. He says there is still so much opportunity in the navy. I wish he would follow Richard’s lead, but he is not ready. At least most of my children are here in London like yours.”

Mrs. Findlay smiled in return. “Yes, Rupert and Caroline are certainly a comfort to me. Well, with the Bennet, Darcy, and Musgrove girls coming out, I expect to see you at many of the more fashionable venues this year. It was more relaxing avoiding them these past two years, but times change.”

“So you are all helping with the young ladies?”

“Yes. Elizabeth would be hard pressed to manage all three and Mary her two. Right now, the plan is Mrs. Beaumont will help Mary as she is already well acquainted with the Musgrove girls from childhood. Caroline will help Elizabeth as will Mrs. Gardiner. That way, each sponsor only has to manage a single young lady. Mr. Darcy will find it difficult to keep everyone under his critical eye at all times. It may very well force him to trust some of the rest of us to help him.”

Lady Fitzwilliam chuckled. “Fitzwilliam takes his responsibilities very seriously, as of course, he should. But with three young ladies to chaperone, and one of them his beloved Georgiana, well, I am just glad that Charlotte and Richard are also coming to town. Richard has always been able to help Fitzwilliam relax a little. Of course, Elizabeth does that very well, but she will not be able to spend most of her time worrying about her husband. Of course, we also have all these little ones as well, so, it will be a very busy time.”

“It is lovely that they have all had children together. That should mean another generation coming out together as friends as well.”

Lady Fitzwilliam smiled ruefully, “At least I will not have to help with that one. Their parents or aunts and uncles will do just fine.”

“I understand Lady Harriet is increasing?”

“Yes, Rory should have a new brother or sister by March, around the same time the Bennet girls will have their new sibling. Rory has been an only child for a very long time since Harriet lost her previous baby.”

Mrs. Findlay said, “It was not too surprising that Mr. Bennet married the mother of those boys he was helping. And now she is adding to the family.”

“Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth have always spoken very highly of her. Even the two younger daughters seem to have accepted her quite well. She has tried to be more a friend than a mother to them. I suppose that helps.”

“Her older boy is with the Wentworths, I understand.”

“Yes, he signed on as midshipman when they were here last. He comes home to a very new life and family. They wrote him when they decided to marry. He wrote back excited about the new father as he enjoyed Mr. Bennet’s tutoring.”

“Well, that is a happy ending for all concerned then.” Mrs. Findlay smiled at Lady Fitzwilliam, then continued. “So how is it with Lord Milton and his family? Have you seen your grandsons recently?”

Lady Fitzwilliam shook her head slightly. “Lady Milton finds our estate too far away for comfortable visiting. We see Harold and Agnes occasionally at some event here in town, but the boys remain at Milton year round. Little George writes to us-such funny little letters-and expects to be off to school starting next autumn. I have said to my husband that we must visit Milton this summer to see those boys once again. I believe he agrees with me.”

Mrs. Findlay said, “I am glad that Rupert did not go away to school until he was older. I know many send their sons off as it is more convenient, but I truly enjoyed having him around. I believe Caroline plans to follow our pattern and not send off Carl until he is eleven or twelve. Your plight makes me even more grateful to live with my grandson. Well, at least you do see the others.”

“Which is why I am grateful Richard and Charlotte will be here this season. Since they will live with us, I can see plenty of Georgie-although they made it a bit confusing by naming him after my husband since we already had a namesake. Still, I must not complain. You are right, having them here to visit will be lovely. And I shall be here this time when Harriet delivers a brother or sister for Rory. That will be splendid.”

Caroline enjoyed hearing all the gossip and news. Lady Fitzwilliam always had such a varied guest list that there was always someone interesting to speak with. Shortly after arriving, she encountered one of those friends. “Ah, Mrs. Brandon, it is good to see you again. Are you here for the seating of Parliament?”

Marianne smiled to see her friend again. “Yes, Colonel Brandon is taking the seat this year. It seems that the time he spent with Mr. Findlay and Mr. Musgrove convinced him it was time for him to do his duty to our neighbors.”

“How wonderful! Mrs. Musgrove and I will be sure that you meet all the other wives. We both enjoy helping where we can. And how is Mrs. Ferrars doing?”

“Elinore is quite well and very happy. They have recently had a son, Edward, named after his father. I understand you have a son as well?”

“Yes. Both Mrs. Musgrove and I have added to the family with sons. I have Carl and she has Charlie.”

Marianne smiled again. “Well, late this summer, I expect to be confined, so all of our children will be able to grow up together.”

Caroline smiled in return. “That will be splendid."

Later, Caroline ended up sitting by Mary Musgrove on the sofa. Caroline asked, “Have you had fun catching up with everyone?”

“Between the visits and everyone here tonight, yes. So many of our friends have also had babies, it is quite amazing. Before marrying, I declare I never saw so many little ones. Yet they must have been around. I guess I was just unaware of them.”

Caroline agreed. “Since they are not in society, it is easy to take very little notice of all the children. Then, once you have one, you seem to see them everywhere. So, are you planning any major social events for your sisters?”

Mary smiled. “Our home is not large enough to host anything major. I will leave that up to Elizabeth and Aunt Gardiner. However, just as with our seasons, we will be attending as many different venues as possible to give them the widest possible exposure to likely gentlemen. Henrietta seems to have developed an admiration for a local cousin who you may remember, Charles Heyter. However, Father Musgrove has said she must put that aside for now. If she is still of the same mind after the season, he will give permission for courtship. Henrietta felt quite ill-used that she could not come to town already engaged as I did. I suppose if it were not for the presentation, Father might have allowed it. I know he would love having her live nearby, but he does not want her to throw away the possibility of an even more felicitous arrangement.”

Caroline crooked an eyebrow at Mary. “Felicitous arrangement?”

Solemnly, Mary nodded. “His exact words. More than anything, he wants them to be happy in life. If they marry someone of the same station, they will have sufficient to be comfortable. He wants to see them find someone to respect and enjoy, even if it means moving away from Uppercross. Besides Mr. Heyter, there are not many likely candidates at home. His estate is nice enough, but there is not even enough to really help any of his brothers get a start anywhere else. He is a cousin of Mrs. Musgrove and perhaps at a step down from the Musgroves. If Henrietta still wants him after her time in town, I expect it will happen. However, there are so many likely young men here that she may find someone even more suitable.”

“I can understand that. I believe I know who he is. We have met him at the shooting parties. I think Henrietta could do better. Do you feel ready to tackle the season as a chaperone?”

“Since I am only a couple of years older, not really, but I will have lots of help, including yours, I hope.”

“Yes, of course including mine-and Mother’s as well. There are enough of us around in town that you need have no worry.”

“Thank you, Caroline. And you, have you had fun catching up?”

“Oh yes. There have been some lovely scandals to consider. How the mighty have fallen. Some of those who could not know me because of my background in trade, you know. I am afraid that I have not developed enough Christian charity not to gloat when they run into trouble. And Colonel Brandon is now a Member of Parliament, so we must be sure to include Mrs. Brandon to help her learn how she can help her husband.”

Mary smiled, “Oh, how fun for Mrs. Brandon. I am sure most of us enjoy seeing the mighty fall. We want those virtues, but they can be difficult to acquire. I still look for the moral choice even if unpopular. I just do not advertise that as I did before I came to town.”

“You are an excellent example to me in that. However, I do not feel that I am serious enough about it to make any real progress. I am pleased I am not the snob I tried to appear, but I am not sweet and charitable as you and Jane are.”

“I am not sweet in the way that Jane is. She sees only the best in everyone. I am afraid I see the worst but hope for the best. If we were all the same, think how dull it would be. I think all of our differences in the family are complimentary and create a better whole.”

“Once again, see how kind you are?”

Chapter 44

The next day, Caroline, Mrs. Findlay, and Mary called upon Marianne Brandon. As they were seated, Mary said, “We thought you might enjoy paying calls with us. We are calling upon many of the political wives with whom we socialize. You know many of them, but I believe there are at least a few with whom you are not yet acquainted.”

Marianne smiled. “That would be lovely. I understand the three of you can help teach me some of what I can do to help Arthur.”

Mrs. Findlay answered, “We hope to, if you want that help. Caroline and Mary are familiar with all of that now. I helped them meet many of the older ladies they did not already know from their seasons. Some of our other friends also helped.”

Caroline added, “Well, then, we can continue to talk as we drive between visits. We have a busy schedule for the morning. We need to get all of this out of the way before Mary’s sisters arrive.”

Marianne looked puzzled. “I am afraid I do not understand.”

Mrs. Findlay chuckled. “Well, Mary is sponsoring her sisters in their presentations and giving them a season in town. She will be very busy with them, so we must cover the politics before they arrive. We have about a week, I believe.”

Mary agreed, “Yes, once they are here, I will have much less free time to help. Of course, we will see each other at some of the events, but they will be my focus this year. Charles knows I will have a little less time to help this year. Not only his two sisters, but my two younger sisters, and Mr. Darcy’s sister are also coming out. We will all be very busy.”

Marianne said, “My, that is certainly a large group for all of you to manage. At least you will have help. So they are all being presented together?”

Mrs. Findlay said, “Yes, a crush of them just as when Caroline and Mary were. You did not have any other family when you were presented, did you?”

Marianne shook her head, “No. The Colonel’s sister very kindly sponsored me, but Elinore was not interested. I had not thought of sponsoring Meg, but that might not be a bad idea.”

Caroline said, “I never expected it, but Mrs. Findlay felt it would open so many more doors to us and our children that it was really an important step.”

Marianne said, “You must tell me more.”

As they paid their calls, they continued the conversation. Marianne realized that she should really consider sponsoring Meg even though she was more or less out already. She would write her and see what Meg wanted. They all paid calls again together daily that week. By the end of the week, Marianne felt she had a full complement of friends within the ranks of political wives.

Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove arrived with their parents as scheduled. They had not previously been to London and found the ride long. The Musgroves stayed a week to help them settle and show some of the more interesting sights. Mary did not need to have the discussion with Henrietta and Louisa that her aunt had held with her and her sisters about what they were looking for in a mate as that had occurred when the girls arrived home the previous spring. They had enjoyed an autumn of adult social pursuits which had helped them refine the traits they were seeking.

As they were preparing to leave, Mrs. Musgrove said to Mary, “We are ever grateful for this opportunity for our dear girls. You know we have not traveled in these same circles. Mr. Musgrove is essentially a country squire. You offer so much more for them to find.”

Mary patted her mother’s arm. “He may be a country squire, but so is my father. The important thing for the girls is that they find someone to help them to a happy life-like yours and mine. I am glad Charles and I could help them this way. You know we both are. And that, of course, is because of the way you raised him.”

“Thank you my dear. If there is anything we can do, just let us know.”

And then they were off. As they pulled away from the house, Louisa said, “This will be such an exciting adventure. We have already seen so many new and different things.”

Mary said, “Well, now that your parents are gone, we will start in on the social activities-small at first. Aunt Madeleine is having a card party this afternoon, so you will have no time to miss the folks. We have about an hour to prepare. And you will have your interviews for admittance to Almack’s tomorrow. That is very important for our plans.”

Henrietta said, “What must we prepare for the card party?”

Mary smiled. “We will dress and you must do your hair. Fargo has already laid out the dresses for you to wear and will help with the hair. Now, let us be up and doing.”

They moved off to their rooms quickly to change. Louisa said, “Fancy having to change from our morning dress to something better for a card party.”

Henrietta answered, “We are possibly less formal at home than we will be here in town. It must be why Mary insisted on those new gowns at home and the ones we’ve ordered since we arrived. I must say, having all these pretty new gowns is quite enjoyable.”

“It certainly is.”

When they arrived at Gracechurch Street, they found a fairly large crowd gathered. Tables were arranged for different games, but no one was yet playing. Guests were visiting and becoming acquainted first. Mary Beaumont was one of the first to greet them. “How lovely you look. Those frocks are quite perfect.”

Henrietta blushed as Louisa answered, “Thank you. Henrietta and I had just agreed how nice it is to have so many pretty new dresses.”

Mary replied, “I enjoyed it too. It is one of the benefits of coming for the season. You can see what is fashionable and decide which of the new fashions to adopt.”

Henrietta added, “Yes, there are some very pretty things here. It is so different from home, but I think I like it. Mary, what do you think would have happened if you had not come to town?”

Mary smiled. “It is hard to imagine. My life would have been so different. Well, I certainly would not have met Mr. Beaumont. Who knows? I would probably have married someone local, maybe even your brother, since he would not have met Miss Bennet. I am glad it turned out as it did. I am very happy here and have a wonderful life. I am sure you will both have success as well.”

Mary visited with Marianne Brandon over a round of cards. Marianne said, “I wrote to my younger sister after we talked about you presenting yours this season and invited her if she wished. She said she had no use for the presentation but would love to join the season, so she will be arriving when the Middletons arrive. Sir John and Lady Middleton like to spend a few weeks each year and will bring Meg with them. I suppose I should start calling her Margaret if she is truly having a season.”

Mary smiled. “I think that is maybe the hardest thing-that we must give up the childhood names. I am still not accustomed to thinking of my sister as Catherine instead of Kitty although I finally have made that adjustment for Elizabeth.”

Marianne smiled in return. “I hope your group will welcome Margaret. She won’t know anyone as Mother kept her at home instead of sending her off to school.”

“I am sure our girls will do their best to make her feel welcome when she arrives.”

The Musgroves enjoyed the cards but did not immediately find someone who attracted their notice. They knew that Mary Beaumont had met her husband at a dinner at Gracechurch Street, and both had secretly hoped they would meet someone at their first real social event.

As they returned to the Musgrove home, Mary asked, “Did you enjoy yourselves?”

Louisa replied, “Ever so much. It was quite entertaining.”

Henrietta added, “Yes, in spite of my partners who were not very interesting. They had no conversation at all.”

Mary nodded. “You will find that frequently. Look upon it as a test of your ingenuity to see if you can find something on which they can converse. It is good practice for boring dinner partners. There is usually something, often hunting or horses.”

Louisa asked, “Are we doing anything more today?”

Mary answered, “No, we are starting out slowly. The season will not get truly busy until after the presentation, but there are plenty of smaller events to attend to help you meet new people. I think we can expect the Darcys to arrive tomorrow, so we will call upon them the following day. Tomorrow, we are going to the museum after your interviews for Almack’s. It will give you some interesting things to talk about at the soiree we are attending in a few days. Since we are staying home this evening, I thought we might spend some time reading.”

Louisa asked, “Reading? Really? Why?”

Mary smiled. “I have found some interesting books that I think you will enjoy. They will give you something additional to talk about, and, at the same time, inform you somewhat about the fighting on the continent. At school, they spend little time on such current events, but it is often a subject of conversation.”

Henrietta asked, “I have already noticed that. That is also why we are now reading the papers, isn’t it?”

“Yes, as I told you, we have a wide variety of acquaintance. There are some who will expect you to know what is going as since Charles is in Parliament. You need at least some knowledge of it.”

Once the girls had changed into more comfortable, but still fashionable attire, in case of callers, they settled to read and discuss the first of the books Mary had for them. They took it in turn to read aloud, stopping often to discuss what they read. Louisa found it moderately interesting, but Henrietta became more and more interested as they read. Who knew that history and politics could be so fascinating?

Kindly Relations Chapters 43 and 44

ShannaGJune 08, 2018 03:36PM


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