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Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

October 31, 2019 06:03AM
AN: So, this is by far the darkest thing I have ever written, or thought about writing. None of my usual fluff. Sorry, no Darcy/Elizabeth. This is very much a dark Jane story. Let me know what you think. I look forward to reading other JaOctGoHoNo stories throughout the day!

Jane Bennet's Box

Jane Bennet was well known for her serene countenance and quiet nature. For some reason, this meant that many people felt comfortable sharing their secrets with her. Her first secret was revealed to her the year she came out into society.

Jane was staying with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner in London, when a young man began courting her. Mr. Appletree seemed to be an amiable gentleman, and even wrote her a bit of poetry. One day she was enjoying a visit with his mother and younger sister. While his mother was talking with Mrs. Gardiner, Miss Appletree drew Jane to the other side of the room.

When it was clear that Miss Appletree was distressed, Jane offered a friendly ear.

“I do not know if I should tell you,” Miss Appletree admitted.

“You need not confide in me, if you do not wish,” Jane replied. “I would only like to lend a friendly ear.”

“I would not tell you, except that I know my brother has been courting you,” Miss Appletree said. “So, it has the potential to affect you in the future.”

“Whatever you think is best,” Jane replied, although even she was becoming quite curious.

After a pause, Miss Appletree started relating her tale.

“My personal maid has been dismissed.”

Confused as to how this could affect her, Jane sat quietly, listening to her friend.

“It was discovered this morning that she is in the family way,” Miss Appletree whispered. “My mother says that we don’t have a choice but to dismiss her. In most cases, I would agree, but as she was gathering her things my maid confided in me that my brother forced himself on her.”

Jane was so shocked at such a pronouncement she could not have replied even if her friend required it. Fortunately, or not, Miss Appletree continued.

“I immediately went to my father, asking him to show compassion. It was not my maid’s fault that she found herself in such a position.”

“What did he say?” Jane was finally able to squeak out.

“He told me he would make sure she was accepted at St. Magdalene’s, but otherwise appeared completely unaffected. When I asked if anything would be done for the child, he seemed genuinely confused as to why such action should be necessary. I am completely disgusted with both of them.”

“Is there anything that can be done?” Jane queried, quietly.

“I can no longer share a home with them,” Miss Appletree replied. “I’ve decided to accept Mr. Thistlewhait. He is a man of much more modest means than my father wanted for me, but I no longer care what my father wants. I only want to leave home as quickly as possible, and Mr. Thistlewhait appears to be everything that is amiable. Perhaps most importantly, his staff appears to like him. I will not need to worry about having the same thing happen again.”

Although Jane had more concerns about her friend’s future felicity after making such a precipitous decision, their conversation came to an abrupt end when Mr. Appletree was shown into the parlor. Jane was unsure what her reaction should be when he asked her to take a stroll. Although she would much rather have some time to sort out her feelings, both Mrs. Gardiner and Mrs. Appletree encouraged her to walk with him. Fearful for her own wellbeing in the company of such a gentleman, she asked if Miss Appletree would join them.

As they walked, Mr. Appletree rattled away about his day. As he talked, Jane was struck with how little he actually said. He talked of the weather, of his horses, of the journey to visit her, but not of anything of real import. Suddenly, she desperately wanted to know what he would say to defend himself if she asked him about his sister’s maid.

“A most alarming report reached me today,” Jane began.

“Is it a juicy bit of gossip?” Mr. Appletree asked, laughing.

“I understand that your sister’s maid was dismissed this morning.” Jane replied.

With a look of fear in her eyes, Miss Appletree slowed her steps, hoping to distance herself a little from her brother.

“And what is so alarming about that?” Mr. Appletree asked. “Servants are dismissed quite regularly.”

“But most servants are not dismissed for being in a delicate condition,” Jane replied.

“That is still not so alarming,” Mr. Appletree insisted. “She is just a servant, after all. It is not like she is a single gentlewoman in the same position.”

“But she claims she was put upon,” Jane replied. “She was not a willing participant in the affair that brought about her condition.”

“Did she name the man responsible?” Mr. Appletree asked after a slight pause.

“She did,” Jane replied. After a lengthier pause, she added. “I would like to return to the house now.”

“I see,” Mr. Appletree replied. “May I call on you again tomorrow?”

“I do not think so,” Jane answered. “I will be returning to my parent’s home soon. I do not imagine we will have occasion to see each other again.”

“Because of some servant?” Mr. Appletree replied heatedly.

“Because a girl in a vulnerable position was forced into an untenable situation, then dismissed,” Jane replied.

“What if I were to take care of the girl?” Mr. Appletree promised. “I could find her a small home in the country until the child is born. By then, you and I could be married, and you could hire her back again if you desired.”

“And ask her to return to work with her assailant?” Jane replied in shock. “I am not such a monster that I would ask that of her.”

“What would you have me do to fix this?” Mr. Appletree asked.

“I do not think it is possible,” Jane replied. “I find that we do not suit. Now, I must ask that you return me to my uncle’s home.”

Not willing to accept rejection, Mr. Appletree grasped Jane’s upper arm quite forcefully.

“I could force your hand,” he replied. “If I kissed you here in the middle of the lane you would be required to marry me.”

“Let me go,” Jane replied, attempting to step back. Seeing her friend in distress, Miss Appletree decided to try to intervene.

“Please, let her go,” Miss Appletree begged her brother, grasping at his hand. “You are making a scene. Let us go back to the Gardiner’s and discuss this.”

“This is your fault,” Mr. Appletree stated, turning on his sister. “You told Miss Bennet about your maid.”

“You have no one to blame but yourself,” Miss Appletree hissed out. “If you had behaved as a gentleman should, this would never have happened.”

All three of them were shocked when Jane reached out and slapped Mr. Appletree on the cheek. Enraged, he swirled back around to confront her again. In the tumult that followed, it was unclear what exactly happened. Just as a large cart came barreling by, Mr. Appletree lost his footing. In the aftermath, Jane could not stop staring at the cufflinks that had somehow come off in her hand during the confrontation.

Later, the doctor would assure them that it was a quick death. He did not suffer. Jane wondered if there was a defect in her character for wishing that he had been made to suffer more.

As the years passed, Jane became more discerning. When a young man showed promise, she was always careful to observe the way he treated his servants. The observation did not go unnoticed, and as a result she became the receptacle of secrets. She sheltered maids from footmen, and helped to bring other undesirable circumstances to a happier conclusion. No one ever seemed to question how it was that Jane Bennet was in the vicinity of so many accidents. Very few of the accidents caused were fatal; most caused a loss of limb or other deformity that would cause the victim to have a much harsher life.

Finally, a young gentleman came into the neighborhood. Jane’s mother was mostly concerned about the wealth of the young man, but Jane was concerned about his character. After engineering a stay of close to a week in his home, Jane was satisfied that he treated his servants properly. There were no whispers of ungentlemanly behavior, or even tolerance for misbehavior between the servants. Unfortunately, it was not long before the young gentleman left the neighborhood, without any indication that he would return.

Jane was once again in London, listening as her sister, Elizabeth, related the sordid history of a gentleman of their acquaintance, Mr. Wickham. Jane hoped that she showed the appropriate level of shock at the story. It truly was horrid, but not all that different than other secrets she had collected over the years. As she commiserated with her sister, she also started making plans. Punishing Mr. Wickham would require a bit more finesse, as he was stationed in Meryton as part of the militia. He was rarely alone, though Jane was certain it would be easy to lure him away from his comrades.

George Wickham could not believe his luck. Although he was upset to be denied Mary King’s ten thousand pounds, he was elated when the eldest Miss Bennet approached him in consolation.

“I know some of love and loss,” Miss Bennet said. “I can only imagine the pain you must be suffering.”

Putting on a suitably somber face, Mr. Wickham replied that he was dealing with his loss as best he could. When Miss Bennet clasped his hand in compassion, he decided on his next conquest. Jane Bennet was decidedly the most beautiful of the Bennet daughters. She was also demure and well refined. It would be quite an accomplishment to bed her. If he played his cards right, he could even make a handsome sum off the effort.

That night, when he returned to the campsite, he placed a wager that he would bed the eldest Miss Bennet. Most of his fellow officers laughed at him, exclaiming that he had chosen the wrong sister to place such a bet on. Wickham was delighted by the number of men that took him up on the wager.

It did not take Jane long to discern a suitable accomplice in her scheme against Mr. Wickham. She only had to notice the quickly hidden look of shame from the butcher’s daughter, Mattie, when Wickham passed her in the street.

Fortunately for her, Mattie had an older brother. Said brother, Adam, was quite surprised when he was approached by the eldest Miss Bennet. When he heard what she had to say, he was shocked. He asked Mattie for the veracity of Miss Bennet’s assertions. With Mattie’s confession, Adam promised his assistance in any way that was required.

On the very last day of the regiment’s remaining at Meryton, Mr. Wickham dined, with other of the officers, at Longbourn. After the sympathy that Jane Bennet had shown him shortly after her return to the neighborhood, he had expected to already have fulfilled the terms of his wager. As the officers approached the house, some of his associates reminded him that this was his last opportunity to fulfill his end. When the regiment left Hertfordshire in the morning, he would owe a rather large amount of money.

Mr. Wickham was frustrated at the distance between him and the eldest Miss Bennet while dining at the table. Throughout the course of the dinner, he sent longing looks in her direction. He took hope at the slight blushes she sported in return.

After dinner, Wickham sought her out, giving her his undivided attention.

“After losing my dear Miss King, I did not think my heart was ready to love again,” Wickham whispered for her ears only. “But then you returned to Hertfordshire, and it was like the sun was able to shine again.”

“You have brought meaning back into my life as well,” Jane replied quietly. “I only wish we had more time to spend together before you were required to leave in the morning.”

“There is a way,” Wickham whispered, even quieter. Jane looked at him inquisitively. “Surely there is somewhere we could go to be together. Somewhere we could spend time together before we must part in the morning.”

“It would not be proper,” Jane quietly replied, silently rejoicing that he was finally making his move.

“No one need know,” Wickham replied. “You are familiar with your home. You must know of a place we could disappear to for the night.”

Jane made a show of quietly considering his suggestion. When Wickham started to squirm just a little, she made her suggestion.

“There is an empty tenant’s cottage about a quarter mile from here,” she replied. “I could make my way there after everyone else is abed.”

“That sounds delightful,” Wickham replied, kissing her hand. “I would be most delighted to join you there tonight.”

Jane quietly gave him directions to the cottage, promising to be there as soon as she could after the rest of the house went to bed.

As the officers made their way back to the encampment, Wickham assured them that he had made arrangements to fulfill his wager. Although the other officers laughed at him, he promised that he would bring a memento in the morning to show that he had fulfilled his part.

Wickham strode confidently towards the small tenant cottage. Miss Bennet had left a candle burning in the window to the left of the door, just as she had promised. Opening the door, he walked inside. When the door closed behind him, he turned with a swagger, having no doubt that he was moments away from his goal. What he saw shocked him.

“Mattie my dear, what a delightful surprise.”

“I have no doubt that you are surprised,” Mattie replied.

“But I doubt it is delightful,” Jane added, stepping out of the shadows.

“Jane, my dear,” Wickham said, turning in her direction. “I do not know what this girl has said, but I assure you that I am devoted only to you.”

“I am certain you are not devoted to Mattie,” Jane replied. “You only have room in your heart for one person.”

With a smile, Wickham stepped closer to Jane. It might take a little more work, but he was sure he could still salvage the night.

“Unfortunately, the only person that you care about is yourself,” Jane added.

“I am fully devoted to you,” Wickham replied. “If we were alone, I would not hesitate to show you just how devoted I am.”

“Is that what you truly wish?” Jane asked.

“It is,” Wickham replied, stepping closer.

Jane closed the gap even further, then whispered, “If you step through the door to the bedroom to give us some privacy, I will ask Mattie to leave. Then we can finish this discussion.”

“It would be my pleasure,” Wickham replied.

Wickham was confused as to what exactly happened next. One moment he was demurely backing through the bedroom door, and the next he was tied to a chair with a massive headache. When he let out a groan, he caught the attention of the three figures in shadow on the other side of the room. One of them broke away and came closer to him.

“Do you know what it is to suffer?” he heard whispered in his ear. He had never imagined that Jane Bennet could sound so frightening.

“Surely there’s been some kind of misunderstanding,” Wickham slurred out as best he could.

“No, there has not,” Jane replied matter-of-factly. “I would like to introduce you to someone.”

When the other two figures came into the light cast by the single candle, he was terrified.

“You already know Mattie, of course, but have you had a chance to meet her older brother?” Jane asked. “I would like to introduce you to Adam Brown. He has been studying with his father, one of the finest butchers in Hertfordshire.”

“What do you want,” Wickham said desperately. “Name it, and it is yours.”

“I want you to stop preying on vulnerable young women, of any station in life,” Jane replied.

“Agreed,” Wickham stated. “The militia is leaving today. You will never hear of me ever again.”

“That is not good enough,” Jane replied. “If I let you go as you are, you will be free to prey on young women in other areas.”

“What promise can I make that will appease you?” Wickham asked desperately.

“Therein lies the problem. I cannot trust a word that you say. A promise will not be enough. The only question is whether we should rid the world of your sorry existence, or maim you, but let you live.”

Wickham’s eyes widened in horror. He had never imagined that the demure Miss Bennet hid such a vindictive soul. If he had any doubts as to the sincerity of her threats, they were dismissed when she stretched her hand towards the butcher’s son and was handed a cleaver.

“Now, where to start,” Jane murmured.

“Without his tongue, he will not be able to tell such eloquent lies,” Adam suggested.

“What a perfect suggestion,” Jane replied. Any further protests Wickham may have made were quickly cut off with the loss of his tongue.

The next appendage to go was his right hand, to ensure he would be unable to write out an explanation of the night. His left hand followed, for the same reason.

Little by little, Wickham lost bits and pieces of himself throughout the night. When he finally succumbed to his injuries, Jane felt satisfied that the monster had suffered enough.

The three compatriots worked together to ensure the room was clean of any evidence.

“Adam, would you mind making sure our pigs are well fed before you return to your home?” Jane asked.

“It would be my pleasure,” Adam replied.

As Adam and Mattie disposed of the remains, Jane made her way back to Longbourn. She was certain that Wickham was the type of man that would have boasted of his conquest. When it was discovered that Wickham was missing, she had little doubt that some of the officers would come looking for him at Longbourn. She had a part to play, and it was essential she was back in her bed before dawn.

When Wickham failed to appear on the morning the militia were to depart Meryton, many of the officers grumbled. Those who were certain that he failed, assumed he was dodging interaction with those he now owed money. Those who thought he might have succeeded, assumed he was still in bed with the eldest Miss Bennet. It was finally decided that two of the officers would go to Longbourn, claiming to have left something behind the night before, in an attempt to locate him.

When they arrived, they found the eldest two Miss Bennets calming eating breakfast. After explaining they were searching for a missing hat, the Bennet ladies let them search the coat closet and all the rooms they had occupied the night before. They were unsurprised to not find anything, as there was not a lost hat.

When they calmly asked if any other members of the militia had been by since dinner the night before, both sisters appears genuinely confused as to when such a visit could have occurred.

When the officers returned to the camp, it was generally agreed that Mr. Wickham had failed to bed the eldest Miss Bennet, and had fled in the night in order to avoid paying off his wager. His remaining possessions were divided among the officers that had bet against him, and he was reported as missing to Colonel Forster.

Colonel Forster left word with the Sir William, the local magistrate, to send word if Wickham were to reappear, then ordered his men to march out. It was time to leave Meryton, with or without Lt. Wickham.

Jane Bennet stood watching the pigs on the Longbourn home farm. As they moved around, she caught a flash of metal in the mud. Leaning into the pen, she picked up the object, which turned out to be a brass button, like those worn on a military uniform. With a small smile, she used her handkerchief to wipe off the mud, then placed it in her pocket. She had been so concerned about returning to Longbourn the night before, she had neglected to collect a souvenir. She was glad she was able to find a little something.

“G’day Miss Bennet,” Mr. Hill addressed her, approaching from the stables. “I see you are out watching the pigs again.”

“They really are fascinating creatures,” Jane replied. “Is there anything they won’t eat?”

“Not that I’ve found yet,” Mr. Hill replied with a laugh. “Though they didn’t seem as hungry as usual this morning.”

“I hope they are okay,” Jane replied, concerned.

“It happens every once and a while,” Mr. Hill replied. “They’re usually fine the next day. Nothing for you to worry yourself about.”

“Then I will put it out of my mind,” Jane replied with a smile.

It was not long before Jane excused herself and made her way back to her room at Longbourn. After making sure her door was locked, she quietly pried up the loose floorboard in her dressing room, and pulled out the box hidden inside.

“Time for you to join your brothers,” Jane whispered as she pulled the brass button from her pocket and opened the box. Inside there were various bits of odds and ends. This was not the first button, but there were also cufflinks, ripped pieces of cloth, the tip of a shoe, and even some hair. After running her fingers over a few of the artifacts, Jane quietly replaced the box and pushed the floorboard into place, hoping it would be quite some time before she would be required to bring it back out again.

Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

BethWOctober 31, 2019 06:03AM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

BrendaNovember 07, 2019 07:31AM


Michelle AnnNovember 06, 2019 09:24AM


BethWOctober 31, 2019 07:29PM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

LizzySOctober 31, 2019 04:22PM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

BethWOctober 31, 2019 07:30PM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

NN SOctober 31, 2019 11:10AM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

Harvey S.October 31, 2019 06:19AM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

LisaYNovember 02, 2019 12:03AM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

BethWOctober 31, 2019 07:36PM

Re: Jane Bennet's Box - JaOctGoHoNo 2019 - one shot

MarciOctober 31, 2019 07:47PM


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