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Marigold Intervenes

August 12, 2018 10:04PM
There was a prompt on another board, and I really needed to just have some fun. I had so much fun I went over the word count and couldn't post there! Please accept this effort to make your day brighter!

Blurb: What will be done when Mrs. Phillips, Mr. Gardiner, and Mrs. Bennet all meet an untimely end via a beer cart? We will see in

Marigold Intervenes

The library of Thomas Bennet of Longbourn, early September 1803, one evening after dinner

“I know, brother, that you would prefer to hide here in your library and assume the girls will eventually sort themselves out. But that is impossible. You must see it. Jane is just 15! Had my sister lived, she would have pushed poor Jane out on to society next spring. She had already been after her brother and I to bring Jane to town for the season.”

This statement met no response, and Marigold, seeing her brother’s thoughtful look into his brandy and the fire, felt leave to continue.

“I have a few ideas that may help us both. I would take Jane, Lizzy, and Mary to town with me. There they would have lessons and experiences that would broaden their minds and abilities. We would leave off having Jane enter society until she was 18, which would give her time to develop more skills and graces to augment her god given gifts. With 100 pounds a year to their credit, and I cannot say too much about the generosity of our brother Phillips in settling their aunt’s portion upon her nieces, this time and attention might help them attract a more worthy partner, or would at least broaden their acquaintance. In exchange, I would leave you Edwina and her nurse, and a governess. As Edward’s and my only child, I would be giving you mine, and your late brother’s, greatest treasure. Dr. Harris insists that her best chance is for me to keep her out of London. But, I must be in London to oversee her inheritance. Your younger girls would benefit from a smaller child to look after. Kitty and Lydia are suffering for a woman’s attention. Jane and Lizzie, good as they are, are not experienced enough to handle those two. Especially given Lydia’s already wild and wayward manners. A child of nearly seven ought not to be so forward in company, Thomas, and you know it.”

“What would you have me do? She’s lost her mother, for as much good as she did her. I cannot lock her up until she gains sense.”

“You most certainly can. There is no reason for her to be in company at all. She, like you and I were, should still be in the nursery learning to govern her temper and become a credit to her family rather than a scourge.”

Marigold knew that she had not been the only witness to Lydia’s shocking display of temper earlier that day. Lydia and Mary had been right outside the window to the library when Lydia had punched Mary right in the eye and pushed her down into the mud, breaking Mary’s spectacles into the bargain. All that ten year old Mary had done was to tell Lydia that cleanliness was next to godliness, trying to encourage Lydia to follow Mrs. Hill’s directions to go get cleaned up for tea.

There was some silence between the brother and sister in-law, where both thought of all that had changed since the day when Edwin Gardiner had escorted his sisters, Mrs. Bennet and Mrs. Phillips, into Meryton in the Gardiner’s carriage, and they had been pushed off the bridge by an oncoming runaway beer wagon. While Mrs. Phillips had lived a few days after her brother and sister, eventually all the Gardiner siblings were lost. Leaving behind Mr. Phillips, Mr. Bennet and the five Bennet daughters, and a pregnant Mrs. Gardiner. The angst suffered by one family was dinner conversation at more than one table in the country for months to come, until the day that story was superseded by the news that Netherfield had burnt to the ground on the night that Mrs. Gardiner gave birth to a daughter, quite an heiress, at Longborn.

While normally such a fire might be seen as a calamity to the surrounding neighborhood, Marigold, Mrs. Edwin Gardiner, from the comfort of her bed as she admired young Edwina, had found in it an opportunity. Lady Lucas paid her many visits first of condolence, and then in realization that poor Mrs. Gardiner would have no female relatives who could attend her in her confinement. They had developed a sincere friendship and knew each other’s concerns and fears.

There was the obvious for Mrs. Gardiner, and grievous that was. On Lady Lucas’s side there were concerns for Charlotte, who at 19 was all that was good, but not handsome enough to tempt the local talent, and even poorer than the Bennet sisters. And her eldest son, William “John” Lucas, who was a sensible, active fellow, rather trapped under his father’s decision to play the gentleman farmer without much of a farm.

“Well then, when shall you all leave?”

She had thought he might argue more, but Marigold also knew that the loss of his late wife had shocked her brother grievously. Left to manage 5 girls under the age of 15! And Fran, silly goose though she was, had been completely involved with her daughters. He had been relying on nature, and the girls good sense, and Franny efforts to get them all husbands. And now she was gone. He feared nature, and had no hope for the sense of most of his daughters. He was grateful for Marigold’s suggestion. Glad to have his responsibility taken from his hands. Although he would miss his Lizzy. It was for the best.

“Well, I’ve been at Longbourn for nearly 6 months. We are half-way through our mourning period. I have been churched. And there is much waiting for me in town with Mr. Stone, Edwin’s partner, who has been too good to me since Edwin’s passing. But Mrs. Stone has just entered her first confinement and he has concerns enough of his own. So there seems very little reason to wait longer. Lady Lucas and Miss Lucas have volunteered to look after the girls’ lessons and studies until I can find the appropriate governess to send from town--”

“Which I will be paying for, if this person is to live in my home.”

“Very well.” said Marigold with real pleasure, “I may have need of your assistance with some business I have with Netherfield that our brother, Mr. Phillips, is also assisting me with.”

“Netherfield?!”

“Yes. I am in the process of buying the property. Land is always a good investment, and without that large house sitting on it, it is a steal, and I have found a local young man who wishes to rent the land and the stable yard that remains to begin a business.”

“So, that is what you and Lady Lucas have been whispering about? I see. So, John Lucas is to go into horses, I gather.”

“Exactly. Eventually, I may build a smaller home on the property again, or, should Mr. Lucas be able to purchase in the future, I may sell it to him. That remains to the future. More immediately, Mr. Stone has found a buyer for some of Edwin’s interests, but this Mr. Bingley would like to meet the owner before coming to terms. It seems he has children he hopes to have move into the gentry, and wants to make sure all of the business he is involved in is completely respectable. Mr. Stone thinks the connection could be profitable for us all.” Marigold did not disclose that she was in the process of brokering a marriage as a part of this deal. That should wait for a later date. Her own had been very successful and happy arranged union, there was no reason to think that she might not be able to find a wife for this 15 year old young man, if he be as personable as Mr. Stone suggested, among her nieces, perhaps in 10 or 12 years even Lydia might be marriageable.

And there was every hope, between she and Lady Lucas, to arrange a more immediate marriage between Mr. Bennet and Miss Lucas. Such a union, with a sensible, young, un-extravagant female who might yet help to break the entail? Yes, that was to be much hoped for. Marigold had set the situation up, now Charlotte and Lady Lucas must take advantage of it. Marigold would be sure to avoid sending the new governess, a much older, steady, serene, Scots woman that Marigold had known would soon be looking for a new place, for at least a month, maybe two, should Thomas be recalcitrant. Even if she had to bring the woman into her own household for that time.

Exactly eight and forty hours after her conversation with her brother, Mrs. Gardiner kissed her baby with a few tears, admonished her younger nieces to mind the Lucas ladies, and allowed her brother to assist herself and her three eldest nieces into the coach, and they were on their way to Gracechurch Street..

Much had been done, but there was much more to accomplish.
-----
Four years later in a fashionable drawing room in a fashionable part of London, after breakfast.
Mrs. Marigold Gardiner is writing to Longborn:


November 3, 1807
My dear sister and brother,
I cannot tell you how much pleasure your letter of yesterday brought to this house! Another son for Longbourn! Edwin Lucas Bennet is a fine name. It pleases me greatly to know that your young Thomas will have an Edwin. For now and ever, odious Mr. Collins is quite shut out! Lizzy, Mary, Kitty, and I were able to deliver the news in person to Sir John and Lady Middleton as they arrived from Devon the day before last. Jane was radiant. Being enceinte becomes her. They send their good wishes and will be sure to send on a note of their own as soon as they are settled. They are come for her safe confinement, which will allow me to attend her, as I cannot buddle the girls up from their studies, and Lizzy from her season, for Devonshire. Have no fears, Thomas, I shall take care of your girl.
We all laughed heartily over the story of finding Edwina and Lydia walking home from Meryton with a kitten in each of their two pockets. I hope you found that poor mother. Tell Edwina she may indeed save her mother one, and with my thanks. A good mouser is always useful, even in the poorer parts of Mayfair. Lizzy and Mary have asked that Lydia send a sketch of the kittens in her next letter. The girls are very impressed with her skill, as even with the benefit of a town master, Lizzy cannot make a passable cow, Mary can only do landscapes, and Kitty cannot be bothered with more than an embroidery pattern! They all think she will greatly enjoy her lessons when they begin next year. She will certainly have more to show then they!
We are to be out today with Miss Bingley, who will also enter society this season. Mrs. Hurst, her sister, and I are escorting the girls to the drapers to begin their wardrobes. Lizzy instructs me to assure her father that, “There will be no lace.” Although, I cannot say the same of Kitty, who is now taller than Elizabeth though three years younger. At 13, I suppose even Lizzy was enamoured of a bit of lace, if I remember. Miss Bingley and Lizzy have prepared some duets for the season. I cannot say they are the best of friends, but they appreciate each other’s merits, both being rather witty. I think seeing Miss Bingley’s great efforts has sharpened Lizzy’s own practice a bit. She is now also doing quite well with the harp. I think Miss Bingley still feels her father’s absence and is grateful to have a few friends going into the season. She admires Lady Middleton greatly, but who does not admire dear Jane? I worry for her chances due to her background in trade, but as I have told you, based on my own experiences in the last few years, twenty or thirty thousand pounds can shift the “trade winds” that blow through town, if the woman is handsome enough, for some anyways. I must say, I do not envy these girls and am happy to be much on the shelf, an old widow of eight and twenty. Mrs. Hurst and I our much in agreement that the season is much more enjoyable as an already married lady. I can’t help but think she would not mind my status. But she has made her bed.
I’m sure we will all be very happy to see you at Christmas. Make sure to send any requests in to town as soon as may be. I expect to be out quite a bit with all of these girls.
Yours,
M. Gardiner

December 24, 1807
The parlor at Longbourn

“So, Lizzy, what do you think of Mr. Bingley? You must see him from time to time since you are so much with his sister?”

Lizzy, who was a present holding her newest brother in her lap, looked over to Mrs. Bennet and her mother, Lady Lucas, and said, “ He is a very agreeable, pleasant young man of good fortune, who is handsome, as a young man should be. But he is full young. At 19, he is not much down from Cambridge, and I find him a bit scattered in his attentions. I think four or five years will see him everything a young man should be.”

“But you are not willing to wait until then?” asked Charlotte.

Lizzy looked very surprised, “While I am in no hurry to marry, I’m not sure that Mr. Bingley and I would suit regardless. He is…”

“What my niece does not want to say about our young friend is that he is still rather trifling. In such a way that I do not know if he will grow out of it. He needs a strong, managing sort of woman. Lizzy could not be bothered to be such a woman.”

“Aunt!”

“Well, am I wrong? I think you are much more suited to a more active, managing kind of man. Like Mr. Darcy, for instance.”

“Mr. Darcy? Are you acquainted with him? We’ve read about him in the papers. They say he is a very handsome and wealthy man.”

“Indeed. He is friend to Charles Bingley. We have met him on occasion. Miss Bingley sees much to admire there that Lizzy does not. In truth, he has not been very charitable to our Lizzy.”

“What? What man could find something wrong with Elizabeth?”

“Thank you, papa. Mr. Darcy, it seems is offended on Mr. Bingley’s behalf. Although Mr. Bingley seems not offended at all. You see, Mr. Bingley’s father arranged for him to marry the daughter of some impecunious gentleman farmer. Mr. Darcy seems to hold it against all the daughters of impecunious gentlemen, or so I overheard him to say.”

“I’m hardly impecunious, Lizzy. What with buying that adjacent piece of land and investing in young Lucas, we are doing quite well.”

“Mr. Darcy has 10,000 a year and owns half of Derbyshire. The other half belongs to his uncle, the Earl.”

“Ah. Well then. His loss, my dear. Now, might I borrow my son from you a moment.” And the two of them sat side by side enjoying the youngest Bennet.
-----
Two years later,
A guest room at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Henry Dashwood, it is morning as Lizzy writes to:


My dear aunt,
You were quite correct in assuming that everything would be very elegantly appointed in Caroline’s new home. She and Mr. Dashwood are all kindness. They send their best wishes to Mary and Dr. Davies, and are only sorry they must lose my company as I return to Longbourn for the wedding. Caroline and I are in agreement that pink will look very well on Mary for the wedding and is especially fitting as it is her intended’s favorite color.
I have greatly enjoyed my stay here at Norland Park. Mr. Dashwood’s sisters and mother are everything one would wish for Caroline to find in such near relations. She and the middle sister, Miss Marianne, are often to be found in the music room together. Miss Dashwood and I join young Margaret in long walks through the countryside. Miss Dashwood is to join me to Longbourn, and then to Devonshire. It seems that our dear Jane and the Misses Dashwoods are now cousins through Sir John and Mrs. Henry Dashwood. The Dashwoods, minus Miss Dashwood and I, leave in a fortnight for Barton Park. Miss D and I will follow with my parents after the wedding. It gives me great comfort to know that Mary and Jane will not live so very far apart. Perhaps there is a man for me in Devonshire?
I hope Kitty and Lydia are not causing you many problems, as girls of 17 and 15 are wont to do. I’m not surprised to hear that Lydia is homesick. It’s quite a tumble to go from being one of the eldest and of some consequence, to a young lady not out in London. I was surprised to hear of her making friends with Miss Darcy. Surprised so great a man would allow his sister to spend time with an impecunious gentleman farmer’s daughter. But Lydia is a jolly girl, and sensible enough for anyone now. You tell me Miss Darcy is very shy. Certainly, that must be an attraction.
I look forward to seeing you all in a fortnight.
Yours,
Elizabeth
-----
May 8, 1811
Netherfield Cottage


Dearest Aunt,
John and I wished to write to you as soon as we arrived home, our home, to thank you once again for all you have done for us. When you started building this cottage on the land of Netherfield three years ago, neither John nor I had any thought of it one day being OUR home. That section of land abuts so nicely to Lucas Lodge that I am within a ten minute walk of my new family and John may see the stables of the old house from out our guest room windows.
Which room I hope we shall see you in soon. Edwina tells me everyday how many days until your arrival. She is much the little lady these days. It’s funny to think I was just about her age when mamma died. It seems a very long time ago.
Come to us soon,
Yours,
Mrs. William John Lucas
Or, your Kitty
-----
June 15, 1811
Pemberley


Oh, Aunt, you would not believe Georgiana’s home! Although I suppose you have seen it, being from Lambton. I tell you my mouth fell right open as we rounded on the lane! Right open! I know Lizzy thinks Mr. Darcy is a pill, but I would take all the pills in the world to live in such a place, except that it is too far from town. The colonel sends you his best regards and wants me to assure you he arrived with us at Pemberley all in one piece. Whatever can the man mean?! He’s fought the French, for heaven’s sakes, how could two sixteen year old girls do him harm!?
Do you know, Aunt Marigold, Georgiana has the silliest idea that the colonel has a tendre for you. Which makes me wonder, how does one even know such things about men? Do they smile a lot? Or stare and look brooding like the hero in a novel? Oh no! I promised you I wouldn’t read any of those anymore. I guess I am discovered!
All my love,
Your best niece,
Lydia
-----
July 4, 1811
From Longbourn


My dear niece, and Miss Darcy,
I suggest you ask the colonel.
My best love,
Marigold Gardiner
-----
September 14, 1811
Delaford


Aunt,
I write to you from my new escritoire, here in our green sitting room, which room my husband says matches my eyes and made it difficult for a time for him to be in peacefully. Who would have thought such a solemn, thoughtful man should be such a fount of romance? And, yet, every day I find more and more to appreciate and love in him. I know you were surprised by our sudden nuptials, but when it is right, why wait for longer? My father and Charlotte much admire my new husband. And as I told you, he has been a friend of Sir John’s for many years. I know now that it was Sir John’s and Jane’s greatest wish that the colonel and I should meet and that we should make each other happy. And to think I nearly missed it! Thank goodness for Elinor, who saw his admiration for me before I could own it myself. There cannot be too much goodness in her future.
I look forward to introducing you my dearest husband this January.
Love,
Lizzy Brandon
-----
January 4, 1812

...I will own, Thomas, that Elizabeth’s marriage greatly shocked me at the time, but now having met the man, I have no complaints. They are truly an happy couple. I cannot say for sure, but I do think her choice came as a great shock to one gentleman, who was not quite sophisticated enough to cover his surprise. I wonder that Lydia did not mention the marriage when it happened while she was at Pemberley. It’s hard to believe that only one of your girls remains unwed! It is very nice having her and Edwina here with me in London. We see much of Miss Darcy, the Brandons, The Dashwoods, of course, the dear Middletons, and find ourselves missing only the Bennets and the Lucas’ to make us truly happy.
-----
Was that even true?
No, not if she searched her heart. Marigold knew that the truth would out her.
While her first marriage had been arranged. (Arranged! Oh, my goodness, what if Lydia and Mr. Bingley didn’t take, how would the terms of the arrangement be met? Heavens! She would likely have to move, as what no one but herself and her solicitor knew, she leased this house from the Bingley family. But Mr. Bingley still seemed content unwed. Let’s not borrow trouble, Marigold!)
Her first marriage had been arranged. And they had fell in love despite her first fears. Edwin Gardiner was a very good man, and even these years later she missed him.
But there had never been anything early in their marriage like this tremendous longing she felt for Colonel Fitzwilliam. Were she not a woman of good virtue, or were he less of a gentleman, how many times over would she have compromised her good name since meeting him. Almost from the first. All he needed to do was ask.

“Aunt, did you not hear the bell? Georgiana and the colonel are below.”

Marigold, carefully folded up her journal, where she had schemed and planned for the last several years, and placing it safely away, said to Lydia, “Thank you, my dear, I shall be down in just a moment. Go and ring for tea.”

She looked up and caught her image in the mirror. Thirty three years. She was still trim. Still fashionable. Could it be possible that after this time she might still love. Woman to man. She pulled off her cap, and settled a much smaller, merely decorative one upon her head. Her golden gown brought out the tints of red in her hair. She smoothed her hands upon it’s satin ribs and went to greet their guests.
-----
June 1815
Brussels


...Of course, Thomas, I never expected to end up married again, and married to a soldier in a time of war. I cannot tell you, although I imagine you would understand best, what it meant to him when I told him we were expecting. He had thought to never marry. His family is still a little starchy about the origin of mine and Edwina’s wealth, but they say nothing overt and we manage. His cousin, Mr. Darcy, marrying Miss Dashwood, with only 3000 a year, made them realize their son could have done much worse, financially, than a clergyman’s daughter with 25,000 pounds from her late husband in trade.
Hopefully, after our time here in Brussels is over, we will arrive home in time for Lydia’s wedding. I can not tell you how delighted I am that she and Mr. Stone are to wed. He has been very lonely since his wife died, with only his little girl with no mother. Lydia will make an excellent mother. I look forward to our all being together in town in September.

Your sister,
Marigold Fitzwilliam

Epilogue

General and Mrs. Fitzwilliam are pleased to announce the marriage of their daugher, Edwina Gardiner, age 18, to Mr. Charles Bingley, 33, of London. (It was a love match. Of course.)
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