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Even More Consequences of A Call - Chapter 2

April 04, 2020 03:32PM
Other than posting once a week, I really have no planned day.

The prologue was set in 1786 and centered around Mr. Thomas Bennet as a young adult, his sister, and his parents. The father, aunt, and grandparents of the five Bennet sisters in Pride and Prejudice.

This chapter is the longest I have written and consists mostly of flashbacks to round out the prologue. Please pay attention to the dates. If you have an idea of a way to make it more clear or another way to set the stage, please let me know. I toyed around with the idea of getting rid of the prologue and making Chapter 1 set entirely in 1786, but I wanted to dive right into Hurst’s story.

Constructive criticism is welcomed and encouraged.





Chapter 2

On the road to Longbourn from London
Saturday, December 1, 1810


Jane Sakville nee Bennet started getting excited as her carriage entered the village of Meryton. “We are almost there! I cannot believe it has been two years since we last visited. Other than the church being painted, it looks as though nothing has changed.”

“I am sorry, my dear, that we could not visit sooner,” her husband, Frederick Sakville, said.

“I understand, truly I do. Mother Sakville’s illness took us all by surprise, then to lose your father the following year.” Jane paused and took a deep calming breath. “I would say our family is due some frivolity.”

When the carriage stopped on the side of the road to Longbourn, Jane said, “Oh Frederick, I do love you so. I am so grateful we visit Longbourn when we return to our estate from London. Every time we stop here, I think about the first day I met you and Edmund.”

Frederick, responded, “Hertfordshire to Dorset is not much farther than London to Dorset and we get to see our family. Besides, I would do anything to see that smile on your face. As to that fateful day, I have never been as grateful to have a mishap with a carriage.”

“Father is right, mother,” four and twenty year old Edmund Sakville said, “if the carriage wheel would not have broken, I would not have a mother or sisters.”

“Oh Edmund, always so dramatic,” nineteen year old Juliet Sakville teased. “I am sure father would have married someone, although I doubt they could be anywhere near the woman mother is.”

“Jules is right,” seventeen year old Celia Sakville said, “we have been blessed. Mother, please tell us the story of how you met again? It is my favorite.”

Before answering, Jane stared out the window seeing the events of the past unfold.

~*~


Meryton, Hertfordshire
May 1786


Jane Bennet rambled across her fathers estate thinking about the past month. Tommy had been worried Mr. Attwood was growing desperate, he had forbidden her walking alone. She defied him this once because it had been a difficult few days and she needed a solitary walk.

Word had leaked that Mr. Attwood had made her an offer. Her father thought their servants gossiped but she, Tommy, and Mother knew Mr. Attwood started the rumor hoping to force her hand.

On certain days going into Meryton, even with a maid following, was like walking the gauntlet as described in the history books father did not want her to read. Thankfully it appeared Meryton was mostly on her side. The older residents remembered Mr. Attwood had proposed to her mother and Janes friends all agreed with her reasoning. The spinsters were affronted that she had not accepted an honorable offer of marriage immediately. At least everyone acknowledged he was much too old for her.

Jane was thinking about returning to Longbourn when she heard a loud crack followed by the wails of an infant. Hiking up her skirts slightly, she made her way as quickly as possible towards the sound.

What met her eyes as she cleared the tree line astonished her. An elegant black carriage had broken a wheel and the most attractive man she had ever seen was holding a wailing infant trying to direct what she presumed was his staff.

“Are you all well?” Jane asked slightly breathless, she did not care to decide if it was due to her haste or seeing him. When he turned eyes as blue as the seas on her, she was lost.

“None of us are hurt,” the man said.

It took Jane a moment to realize he was answering her question. “Here, let me take the babe while you help your servants,” she offered. At seeing his hesitation, she continued, “I will stand to the side of the road and try to calm the little one. I promise I will never leave your sight.”

With a nod he handed her the child. When their hands touched briefly, fire spread through her body causing her to gasp. She looked up with startled eyes and was sure he felt it too. His eyes had widened and he looked at her intently before he turned to help his men inspect the wheel.

A few minutes later Jane realized the men were quiet. She stopped pacing and cooing at the babe to turn towards the carriage and found all five men staring at her, their mouths agape.

“Did I do something wrong?” Jane asked quietly. “I never left your sight.”

“How did you do that?” the man asked. “Edmund has been raising bloody hell since we left London.”

She raised an eyebrow and waited.

“Oh, pardon my language. It has been an extremely long four hour carriage ride Miss...”

“I am Miss Jane Bennet of Longbourn. You mentioned this little man is Edmund and I presume you are his father,” Jane answered the unspoken question.

“Mr. Frederick Sakville at your service,” he answered with a bow. “And yes, Edmund is my son.”

“The little man appears to be hungry. Pardon me for prying into your affairs, but are you not traveling with your wife or a nurse?” she asked delicately.

“My wife passed away from childbed fever. Edmunds nanny is terribly sick and had to stay in London and his wet nurse received an express this morning and left her position. Her uncle passed and she inherited enough funds to live independently. There is hopefully a wet nurse on the way, my housekeeper was looking when I left,” Mr. Sakville explained.

“Unless the wet nurse left immediately, they will be too late for little man. I know this may sound presumptuous, but I have a suggestion,” she offered.

“Please Miss Bennet, what is your idea?”

“I do not know if it is a good idea for many reasons. One of our tenants passed away two days ago, he tripped while crossing a stream, hit his head, and drowned. His wife was very close to confinement and the shock sent her into labor pains. She labored all evening but the boy child was born too early.”

“I see,” he said thoughtfully. “Does she have any other children?”

“No sir, this was their first. They married just over a year ago,” she said sadly.

“You are correct, it might not be a good idea, however I believe it is the best option currently. Is this farm close by?”

“It is on the other side of this orchard, sir. We will call on her if you and one of your servants will follow me?”

“Afraid I am going to ruin your reputation, Miss Bennet?” Mr. Sakville teased with the first real smile Jane had seen on his face.

~*~


On the road to Longbourn from London
Saturday, December 1, 1810


Shaking herself out of her memories, Jane said, “The first time I met your father he used language not often to be found in mixed company and threatened to compromise me.”

She delighted in coming up with new ways to explain their first meeting. As expected, her darling husband chuckled and her children laughed. Jane told her children the story until the carriage started down the drive to Longbourn.

After Frederick handed her down, Jane saw the family lined up to greet them and she threw herself into her brothers arms. “Tommy, I have missed you so much.”

“Jane, it is wonderful to see you,” her brother said.

Jane moved to her sister in law, “Fanny, I know we are only here for a few days, but we have much to discuss.”

“Oh Jane, the fun my girls will have. All the dresses, shoes, ribbons, and other accoutrements needed for a season! Tis too much, I may need my smelling salts,” Fanny exclaimed while fluttering her handkerchief around her face.

“Do not worry, we will have everything planned well in advance,” Jane chuckled.

“You will be sure to introduce them to rich gentleman?” Fanny asked.

Jane nodded and turned to greet her eldest niece when the youngest charged forward.

“Aunt Jane, did you bring me any gifts? I must have them first!” fourteen year old Lydia Bennet proclaimed loudly.

Jane continued towards her namesake and greeted the four elder sisters, pointedly ignoring Lydia.

Once everyone was settled into the drawing room, Jane said, “Kitty, happy birthday. Does being sixteen feel any different?”

“Not yet, Aunt Jane,” Kitty answered.

“I understand. Wait until the next assembly, that is when you will notice,” she informed her niece.

“I get to come out at the next assembly too!” Lydia interrupted the conversation loudly.

Jane glared at her youngest niece. She could not believe how brash and unruly Lydia had become in the past two years. Her eyes narrowed when she noticed the smirk on Lydia’s face and what was hanging around her neck.

“Kitty, why is your sister wearing the necklace we gifted you for your birthday last year?”

“She took it from my room and refused to give it back. I told mama, but she said to let her have it and be done.”

Jane turned to her nineteen year old niece Elizabeth, while noting Lydia’s smug look. “Lizzy, where is Mrs. Waldron?”

“Mama does not allow her to sit with us any longer. I sent a letter informing you but you never responded,” Lizzy said testily.

“I also sent a letter,” her two and twenty year old niece Jane added.

“I did too,” seventeen year old Mary confirmed.

“I find it hard to believe that three letters went awry, four if you include the letter I am sure Mrs. Waldron sent,” Jane said with a stern look at Lydia who had a smirk on her face again. “Sims, please get Mrs. Hill.”

“I have always wondered, Aunt. How do your footmen know which Sims’ you are asking when they are both in the room?” Mary asked.

“That is a good question Mary. Nathan is the elder twin by almost twenty minutes. When they are both in the room, Nathan takes the first order and Noah takes the second.”

Mary smiled and nodded, “Yes, that sounds like an ingenious way for them to always know.”

“Sara, it is good of you to respond so quickly,” Jane thanked the housekeeper and long time friend. “After Lydia returns Kitty’s necklace, escort her to the nursery and inform Mrs. Waldron she will be having lessons today.”

Lydia leapt to her feet, stomped her foot, and held her hands balled into fists at her side as she screamed, “The necklace is mine now! You cannot tell me what to do!”

While Jane stood things seemed to slow down. She noticed her brother looking dumbfounded, her sister in law looking at her angrily, and the Sims’ brothers advance a couple steps into the room. She also heard her daughters gasp, her son mutter “Dear lord,” and her husband caution “Jane.”

She knew in that instant it would take something drastic to make Fanny realize the danger her youngest daughter presented to their entire family. She would be forever grateful the only servants in the room were Mrs. Hill and the Sims twins as she had known all three of them their entire lives. Mrs. Hill grew up at Longbourn and the Sims boys were the children of her housekeeper at their main estate in Dorset, Cloverdale.

“Lydia, we gifted the necklace to Kitty. Why do you believe you should be able to claim it as your own?”

“I wanted it so I took it. I knew mama would let me keep it because I am her favorite. Why does Kitty need it anyway as she is unlikely to marry for many years, if ever? I WILL be the first Bennet daughter to marry,” Lydia proclaimed stubbornly.

Oh, this is worse than I expected, Jane thought to herself. “Your father has declared that you girls may come out in Meryton at sixteen and you are not eligible to be presented in town for a year or two after that. At bare minimum, you have another year and a half until you can even start a courtship, Lydia. With Juliet and Lizzy coming out in town this season and Jane joining us for the season, it is likely one of your sisters will meet, court, and marry a gentleman before you come out in Meryton society.”

“No! I will not allow it!” Lydia screamed as she stomped her foot again. “I do not care if I have to elope with or compromise the first man I see, even if it is my cousin. I told you I will marry first!”

When Jane looked at Fanny, she was pleased to see fear in her eyes even if her brother was still staring at Lydia as though he had never seen her before.

“Lydia, you will take that necklace off or you will be restrained while Mrs. Hill does so. The choice is yours,” Jane said in a dangerously quiet voice. “But make no mistake, the necklace will be returned to Kitty.”

Lydia gave an unlady like growl before she reached up quickly. Jane was grateful that Nathan grabbed her arms in time because it looked like Lydia planned to rip the chain off her neck. She nodded at Mrs. Hill who undid the clasp and handed it to Kitty while Lydia complained.

“That is enough Lydia! You will go up to the nursery or Sims will carry you. You have two seconds to decide.” Jane saw Nathan let Lydia shrug out of his grasp and then follow her out the door.

As Jane sat down, she noted the expressions on the faces of the people still in the room: shock, fear, regret, amusement, disgust, hurt, anger, worry, annoyance, and even displeasure.

“I can see you are displeased with me, husband but I refuse to apologize. Fanny needed to see how much danger that child posed,” Jane defended herself. “Girls, how long has her behavior been like that? Around two months?”

“Yes Aunt Jane, ever since Mrs. Waldron was banished from the family rooms,” Lizzy answered.

“I truly am curious what happened to your letters. I have not had a single letter from Longbourn in two months,” Jane said. “That is why we decided to arrive earlier than usual, I was worried something happened.”

“I...”

“Kitty dear, if you have something to say please feel free,” she said encouragingly.

“I walked into Lydia’s room the other day without knocking and saw her putting some letters away before she yelled at me,” Kitty explained.

“Did you see where she put them?”

“Yes, Aunt Jane. Shall I bring them down?”

Jane nodded and the room was quiet until Kitty returned and handed her a bundle.

“Why, these are all addressed to me!” Jane exclaimed. “Thomas and Frances, you will join me and Frederick for a conversation in the study. Now!”

~*~


Longbourn, Meryton
Saturday, December 1, 1810


Frederick Sakville watched his wife walk out of the parlor with a sense of dread. The way she held her shoulders back with narrowed eyes was a problem, but the way she was clenching her hands spelled certain disaster.

“What has been happening here!” he demanded as soon as the study door closed. “That display was worthy of a child in leading strings not a child who thinks she is ready to join polite society. Need I remind you of our deal, Bennet?”

“No Sakville, I did not realize...”

“Should I ask Miller how much time have you been spending in your study? What your family does affects mine! I will not allow one spoiled child to ruin the work of my ancestors.” At Bennet’s guilty look he rounded on Mrs. Bennet. “What about you, madam? That child is bold as can be yet you looked angry at my wife until Lydia mentioned eloping or compromising my son. MY SON!”

“Frederick dear, please calm down. I believe you have made your thoughts known,” his wife said.

Internally he smiled. Everything he said was true, but acting as he had allowed his wife to see through her rage. “As you wish dear.”

“Frances, my husband made some very astute observations. How could you have let things get this bad?” his wife demanded.

“Oh Jane, I do not know. Looking back, it came on so gradually, that I hardly know where it began.”

“I have a good idea,” Bennet broke in. “Lydia played on your fears of Jane becoming an old maid.”

With a heavy sigh Mrs. Bennet agreed.

“What should we do, Jane? How is Lydia to be worked on? I am embarrassed to say, but I do not know if I have the strength to undertake the task,” Mrs. Bennet admitted sadly.

“What thought just crossed through your pretty little mind, my dear wife?” he asked his wife when he saw a satisfied grin upon her face.

“Matilda.”

Soon all four adults had the same smile upon their faces.

Frederick thought back to the day that changed his life. The day he met his darling wife and Matilda.

~*~


Meryton, Hertfordshire
May 1786


“I am not afraid for my reputation, however it is only proper we have an escort. Would you like Master Sakville?” Jane asked reluctantly as they started walking through the orchard.

“Heavens no, he would only start screaming again. How are you so knowledgeable regarding infants, Miss Bennet?”

“I help my mother with tenant visits, sir. Three years ago, one of our tenants had a bad case of...” she stopped suddenly not wanting to remind this gentleman how his wife had died.

“Of child bed fever?” Mr. Sakville asked softly.

“Yes,” she responded quietly. “She was unconscious for almost a week. The doctor feared she would not survive. Her sister moved in to tend her while the ladies of the area took turns during the day helping with the babe and other children. Father was not happy I spent so much time at their farm, but he has a hard time saying no to me. Usually,” she finished with a mutter.

“This appears to be a caring community.”

“Yes, it is. How old is Master Sakville?” Jane asked.

“He is two months old.”

“Does he cry a lot?”

“I believe so, at least if the comments the wet nurse gave when she left were any indication,” Mr. Sakville answered ruefully.

“I have heard similar stories from our tenants. In most cases, it usually stops when the babe is three months old,” she offered.

“That is certainly good news.”

“Here we are...” she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Mr. Attwood leave the house.

“Miss Bennet, what are you doing with those men!” Mr. Attwood exclaimed loudly while starting towards her. “Is that an infant in your arms,” he asked as his eyes narrowed in anger.

Jane gasped and took a step back. Mr. Sakville stepped partially in front of her and Edmund and she felt the footman approach her on the left. She was too mortified to respond but was glad to notice Mr. Attwood stopped.

“Jane is here? What are you doing with an infant my dear?” Mrs. Bennet asked.

Grateful to see her mother, she answered, “Mother, may I introduce Mr. Frederick Sakville. Mr. Sakville, my mother Mrs. Mary Bennet. I was walking and heard Mr. Sakville’s carriage wheel break and little man crying and had to offer assistance. I was in plain sight on the main road and in the orchard the entire time.”

“Your daughter was a godsend madam. She insisted my footman walk with us from the carriage to the cottage. At no time were we alone,” Mr. Sakville added.

“I am grateful she was of assistance,” her mother said then turned to vicar. “Thank you for stopping by Mr. Attwood, have a good day.”

Jane heard Mr. Sakville chuckle quietly at her mother’s dismissal of the vicar. Before Mr. Attwood left, he directed a look of such loathing towards their group, Jane felt the footman step closer and heard a low growl of displeasure from Mr. Sakville. She was frightened.

“Jane Elizabeth Bennet! Your brother forbid you from walking out alone. What if you had run into Mr. Attwood unaccompanied? My goodness child, you do drive me to distraction,” her mother huffed.

“Mother!” Jane said quietly.

“Do not backtalk me young lady. You are a fool if you think Mr. Sakville and his footman did not understand your reaction to Mr. Attwood, which I saw from the window by the way. Of all the foolish things, girl. I thought we were trying to save you from an unwanted marriage. You just wait until your brother hears about this. Although, I am sure Mr. Attwood is on the way to our house so it is really your father you need to worry about,” her mother finished. “Jane!”

Mr. Sakville managed to get an arm around Jane before she crumbled. She was faintly amazed at how fast he could move.

“Give me the babe,” she heard her mother say.

“Miss Bennet! Miss Bennet, can you hear me?”

“Oh mother, what have I done?” she wailed.

“Mr. Sakville, would you please carry my daughter to the chair on the porch?” Mrs. Bennet asked.

“Of course,” Mr. Sakville responded before picking Jane up. “My wet nurse left my employment this morning and Edmund is hungry. Your daughter suggested we pay a call on your tenant who may be able to assist me.”

“That is a good idea,” Mrs. Bennet said thoughtfully, “for more than one reason. My goodness, who convinced you to travel without a wet nurse? Do you enjoy wailing?”

“Of course not, madam, when I say suddenly, I was being truthful. The carriage was packed and we were boarding when an express arrived. Apparently, her uncle passed away and left her a sizable inheritance. The uncles lawyer demanded her presence immediately to execute the uncles will.”

“Well, that was certainly high handed of him. If he knew where to send the express, obviously knew she was in service. What type of person does not allow a replacement to be found?” Mrs. Bennet wondered.

“Do not worry, Mrs. Bennet,” Mr. Sakville answered. “I made note of his direction, he will be receiving a setdown.”

“As it should be,” her mother harumphed. “Are you looking for a permanent wet nurse?”

“My London housekeeper started the search this morning. I would have stayed until a replacement was located, but I had a meeting scheduled. I missed it anyway,” he finished ruefully.

“Matilda Tucker has no family, no way to pay the quarterly rents, and nowhere to go when she is inevitably evicted. Unfortunately, Longbourn is fully staffed because she is a good, strong, loyal, hardworking young lady. You could not ask for a better wet nurse for your son,” she suggested.

“The idea has merit. Shall I take Edmund while you see if she is willing to assist me temporarily? I would have to meet her before a final decision is made, but if she is half the person you claim, I will tell my housekeeper to stop searching,” Mr. Sakville decided.

Jane heard the door open and Matilda say, “I would love to nurse this little angel.”

“Matilda Tucker, what are you doing on your feet!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.

“I am sorry Mrs. Bennet, I simply cannot lay abed any longer. Please allow me to feed the babe,” Matilda pleaded.

“I would appreciate the assistance, Mrs. Tucker,” Mr. Sakville said.

With a sigh, Mrs. Bennet gave in. “Come along Matilda, I will show you what is to be done.”

Jane’s mind was reeling. What had she done? In her wildest dreams she never would have guessed Mr. Attwood to be here.

“Miss Bennet, may I get you anything for your comfort?” Mr. Sakville asked quietly.

“No sir, I am well. Thank you for asking,” she responded.

“You do not look well. Now it is my turn to be presumptuous. Mr. Attwood made you an offer of marriage, which your father supports, but you refused,” he stated confidently.

Jane nodded, sighed, laid her head back, and closed her eyes. “You are close enough, sir.” She appreciated that Mr. Sakville allowed the companionable silence to stretch until the door opened and the ladies walked out.

“It appears as though you also have the magic touch, Mrs. Tucker. I have never seen Edmund so calm. Did you also help the tenant a few years ago with her new babe,” Mr. Sakville asked.

“Yes sir, I was a maid in the Bennet household at the time and Mrs. Bennet brought me along to help,” Matilda answered.

Jane and Mrs. Bennet watched silently as Mr. Sakville and Matilda became acquainted. After a half hour discussion, Mr. Sakville turned to Mrs. Bennet.

“I apologize if my arrival has caused a disruption to your household, madam,” he said.

She waved her hand before replying, “Think nothing of it, this has been brewing for the past five weeks. It was bound to happen soon.”

“Jane, you are welcome to hide from your father here, if you need to and your mother agrees,” Matilda offered.

“There may be a problem with that, Mrs. Tucker,” Mr. Sakville interrupted. “I am officially offering you the post of wet nurse to my son.”

Mrs. Tucker looked torn for a moment until she straightened her shoulders and looked Mr. Sakville in the eye.

“I would be honored to accept, your offer is the answer to all of my prayers, however I cannot leave Jane in her time of need. I am afraid I must decline.”

“No Mattie, you must not let my situation affect your decision,” Jane pleaded. “This is the perfect opportunity for you when you need it the most. I would rather marry Mr. Attwood than have you decline!”

“Mr. Sakville, speak what is on your mind,” her mother cut in.

“I have not mentioned my destination. I believe we are not very far from my estate. You might have heard of it, Netherfield?” he chuckled at their stunned expressions. “My footman Walters is the soul of discretion, do not worry this conversation will be spread by him. If Miss Bennet’s situation becomes unbearable, she could stay with Mrs. Tucker. I will inform the housekeeper my son is a light sleeper and demand nobody enter the nursery suite. Mrs. Tucker will be chaperone and Miss Bennet will be safe.”

“That is an admirable offer to make to relative strangers. How do you know my husband would not challenge you to a duel? He could be the magistrate and have you arrested for kidnapping,” her mother asked lightly.

“He would not know where she is unless you told him, madam,” Mr. Sakville challenged.

“I think you overestimate your control of the servants. Jane is well known in Meryton and the current butler of Netherfield is not known for his discretion after a glass of ale at the pub.”

“My dear Mrs. Bennet, please, do you consider me a daft man?” Mr. Sakville asked in mock outrage. “Of course she would not apply for admittance like a guest. Walters will stay on the grounds near the stables until night fall unless I receive a note from you letting me know everything is fine at home.”

“You offer your footman’s services without so much as a by your leave?” Mrs. Bennet stated.

“He knows I would have suggested it, madam,” Walters spoke for the first time. “I have a sister about Miss Bennet’s age and coloring. I would expect someone to help her in the same way if it was necessary.”

Jane watched the scene play out in front of her in a haze of confusion. She was brought of out it by her mothers next question.

“Jane, what do you think?”

“I do not know mother. Father has been acting odd, I do not understand.”

“I know dear. If it becomes necessary, would you prefer going to Basil or Netherfield?” her mother asked.

After a long look at Mr. Sakville, Jane answered, “I should go to Cousin Basil. It is the proper thing to do.”

“I understand Miss Bennet,” Sakville said. “All I ask is that you consider Netherfield a possibility if you find yourself unexpectedly in need of sanctuary. Put on a cloak with a deep hood and ask for Walters at the stables. I will send you to your cousin in my carriage with Walters and a maid on a circumvent route. It is best if your mother is not involved so she does not have to lie to your father. She would truthfully not know where you are at any point in time when your father asked.”

“A fine precaution, thank you,” Mrs. Bennet said. “I will get my horse and we can walk back to your carriage.”

“Mrs. Tucker, we will have a maid watch Edmund and Walters will escort you and a few maids back later with a carriage to pack your belongings. Is there anything you want to take right now?” Mr. Sakville asked.

“Yes, I need to grab a few dresses and the drawing Jane did of my late husband. I shall only take a few minutes,” Matilda answered handing Edmund to Jane.

“I will help you, dear,” her mother offered.

~*~


Longbourn, Herfordshire
Saturday, December 1, 1810


“That is a wonderful idea,” Bennet said. “Matilda is fiercely loyal to your family and would never breath a word of what occurs.”

“Inverness,” Frederick stated confidently. “We will send Matilda and Lydia to Lochdale in Inverness. It will be made clear to Lydia that no matter what happens, Matilda has final say as to when they return.”

“Brilliant my dear. Lockdale is one of our estates in the wilds of Scotland. The nearest neighbor is twenty miles and the closest town is thirty. Lydia will need a new wardrobe. An appropriate wardrobe Scotland and her age,” Jane said with a stern look at Mrs. Bennet.

“I agree,” Bennet said.

“I will tell her,” Mrs. Bennet said to the surprise of everyone. “I allowed this to happen, I will take the brunt of her displeasure. When do they leave?”

Bennet pulled the bell and asked Mrs. Hill to fetch Matilda.

~*~


Longbourn, Herfordshire
Sunday, December 2, 1810


Mr. Thomas Bennet sat at the head of the table while his family broke their fast. He could not believe how far he and Fanny had fallen. How did neither of them notice what had been happening? He was spending far too much time in his study and Fanny was allowing herself to be led by their youngest.

He was grateful to Matilda for helping Fanny inform Lydia what was happening. His head still ached at the wailing that had taken place earlier when they sent the carriage off to Scotland.

He noticed his sister staring intently at her husband. He was reminded of the events that happened as a consequence of Jane and Mr. Sakville calling on a Longbourn tenant.

~*~


Meryton, Hertfordshire
May 1786


True to Matilda’s prediction, a few minutes later Mrs. Bennet walked out of the Tucker cottage with a bag of items Matilda would need immediately. Mary saw Jane and Mr. Sakville looking at each other longingly. She caught Walters eye and grinned when he discretely rolled them. She wondered if the two young people had any idea how interested in each other they were.

“Mr. Sakville, we are all set,” Mary said a bit loudly breaking the spell. She heard Watlers chuckle when the couple jumped and joined him quietly.

When Mrs. Bennet cleared the orchard and saw Mr. Sakville’s carriage, she knew she was right. This young man was very wealthy but she could tell Jane had no clue.

Upon hearing from the carriage driver they would be unable to fix the wheel with the items on hand, Mrs. Bennet said, “Mr. Sakville, I suggest we remove my saddle and send two of your footmen towards Netherfield. There is a chance the stable lads would recognize a Longbourn horse, so it would be safer to have one of them walk up the drive seeking help while the other rides back.”

“Mother is right,” Jane added. “Jimmy works at Netherfield and Longbourn, he would definitely recognize the horse.”

The group had a pleasant conversation while waiting for the footman to return. Once the horse was saddled again, the Bennet ladies took their leave.

“Remember ladies, Netherfield is a safe haven should it be needed,” Mr. Sakville said one last time.

“We will keep that in mind Mr. Sakville. Do not worry, my husband cannot marry Jane off tonight. After all, he would have to arrange for another vicar to perform the service as Mr. Attwood could not marry himself,” she joked.

“That is not funny mother,” said a distraught Jane.

“You are right Jane, I apologize. It should be a little comforting knowing we would have time to get you away from Longbourn though,” she said gently.

“Your mother is right Miss Bennet. I feel partially responsible for the predicament you are in. I would rather compromise you myself than have you forced into an unwanted marriage because you were being kind,” Mr. Sakville stated emphatically.

“Was that meant to be comforting?” Jane asked sarcastically. “If it was, you failed.”

“Jane! Mr. Sakville was trying to be helpful. And honestly, I agree with his thinking. If I was going to be forced to marry, I would prefer to marry someone I thought was attractive and got along with instead of someone old enough to be my father who I despised,” she said.

“Mother is right, Mr. Sakville. I apologize,” Jane said sadly.

“I understand Miss Bennet, really I do. It has been a difficult hour for you. If given a choice, I would prefer you were not forced to marry. However, if it comes to pass I hope I am the more appealing alternative,” Mr. Sakville said dryly.

The Bennet ladies were silent during the walk to Longbourn. Mary was annoyed to see Gerald waiting impatiently for them on the front lawn.

“You let me deal with your father, Jane. When I send you to your room, leave no matter what he says,” she told her daughter.

“Jane Elizabeth Bennet! What were you thinking!” Gerald said.

“Jane, up to your room right now,” Mary instructed. “Your father and I will be in his study discussing what happened today.”

“No Mary...”

Mary raised her voice, “I said now, Jane! Gerald you will come with me.”

“What has gotten into you Mary,” Gerald asked once they were in his study.

“Gerald, did you give Attwood permission to marry my daughter,” Mary asked quietly glaring at him. She knew he realized how upset she was when he sat back and his eyes widened. “Did you?”

“No, I told him I would work on convincing her,” Gerald defended himself.

“In all the years we have been married, I never regretted my decision to accept your offer. This past week has me wondering if I was right. Jane is fifteen and he is OLDER THAN YOU! Have you taken leave of your senses? What is going on Gerald? Why are you pressing this when the rest of the family is against the match? Is Mr. Attwood blackmailing you?”

“Blackmail? You must be joking Mary,” Gerald said looking offended.

“No, I am not. I have been thinking about this all month and blackmail is the only thing that makes sense. You do not even like Mr. Attwood. If he is not blackmailing you, why are you prepared to give him our only daughter?” she asked vehemently.

“I did not realize you were all so against the idea,” Gerald grumbled.

“I am not fat headed! At least act like you respect me and my opinions,” she hissed.

“Oh Mary, you know I respect your intelligence and your counsel has helped solve many estate issues,” Gerald said. “I guess I have no choice. Promise me you will not tell the children what I am about to relate.”

“I cannot make that promise Gerald until I hear what you have to say. I will, however, promise to wait at least a week and then give you the option to tell Jane first,” she countered.

“Fair enough,” he said. “I have been having episodes where my heart races. I have talked to the doctor and he thinks my heart may be failing.”

Mary’s mind raced with this information, but it kept coming back to one point. “I still do not understand why you think marrying Jane to Mr. Attwood is a solution.”

“It is not a solution, I simply want to see her settled, maybe have a grandchild on the way,” he finished quietly.

“A grandchild? Oh Gerald, if this is about the entail, why are you not insisting Thomas marry?”

“He has not looked twice at any of the ladies in Meryton. Besides, Attwood has five brothers,” Gerald defended.

“You know as well as I do there is no way to determine gender, Gerald. Of all the ridiculous excuses. If you would pay attention, you would have noticed that Thomas is infatuated with Fanny Gardiner. If you recall, she is four months younger than Jane and I suspect he is waiting until she comes out in Meryton society at sixteen,” Mary informed her husband.

“How can you tell,” Gerald asked.

“Are you blind? How can you not know? As for Jane, I think a solution has presented itself.”

“What do you mean by that?” Gerald asked curiously.

“Did you hear the owner of Netherfield is coming for a visit?” Mary asked.

“Of course, you know the butcher told everyone when he got the meat order. The old bird is going to demand I ride the shared fence with her steward and then insist on repairs she will refuse to help pay for,” Gerald complained.

“You know you must be neighborly. I insist you call at Netherfield tomorrow,” Mary said. She thought it would serve him right to go unprepared to meet the new master. “I also insist that you apologize to Jane tonight. She is terrified you are going to force her to marry that man.” It made her feel better that Gerald still had the good sense to look guilty. “Now let me explain what happened today and then we will discuss your health.”

~*~


Meryton, Hertfordshire
May 1786


Dinner that night was stilted. His mother had explained everything that had happened earlier in the day to Thomas Bennet. He was sure Jane had packed a bag and stashed it at the back gate, ready to make a run for Netherfield. Mr. Sakville was right, they needed to save their mother the trouble of being thought an accomplice. Thomas would escort Jane himself.

“Mother, are you well? You are barely eating,” he asked.

“Yes Thomas, it has been a long day,” his mother said with a pointed look at father.

“Speaking of the events of the day,” his father started.

Jane gasped, covered her mouth, and fought back tears.

“Gerald!” his mother said sternly.

His father took Jane’s hand and said, “Jane I apologize.”

The unexpected words made Jane start crying and stare at father in terror while he started to get angry.

“What exactly are you apologizing for father? Did you give Jane’s hand to that man!” he asked loudly.

“No son and this apology is for all of you. I was so wrapped up in my own concerns I did not realize how against this engagement you all were. I have sent a note to Attwood refusing his request, permanently,” Mr. Bennet said emphatically.

Jane cried tears of relief. “Oh father, truly? I am free to make my own choice?”

“Yes dear. I will write a note giving you permission to choose your own husband. I doubt it would stand up in a court of law, but I am sure it will make you feel better.”

“Your father is feeling guilty enough to agree to visit the old bird at Netherfield tomorrow.”

Jane giggled and he looked at his mother who winked.

“That is a hefty penance indeed,” Jane said with a sniffle. “I hope you are up to the task father.”

“Jane, you will never know how sorry I truly am for trying to force an engagement,” his father said quietly.

“I forgive you father, especially once you give me the letter,” Jane said cheerfully.

~*~


Meryton, Hertfordshire
May 1786


The next day Thomas was sitting in the drawing room with his mother and sister when father returned from Netherfield. He was still trying to make sense of what his mother told him. Father was ill? Mother told him not to tell Jane because she had promised father a week to tell her.

“I ordered the tea to be brought in, Mary. We will start the real discussion after it arrives, however let me say that was a wicked thing you did,” his father said shaking his head while everyone else laughed.

“What did you think of the old bird,” mother asked after serving tea.

“Wicked woman and horrible children,” father muttered. “As all three of you obviously know, the old bird passed away and left Netherfield to her grandson. That was a pretty significant piece to leave out of the explanation of what happened yesterday.”

“You told him,” Jane asked her mother in surprise.

“Yes, I told him everything except that Mr. Sakville had inherited and was inhabiting Netherfield,” his mother said.

“After we were introduced, he told the same story you did Mary, with details you did not notice because of your vantage point. Jane dear, did the expression on Attwood’s face when he saw you really make you take a step back and gasp?” his father asked worriedly.

“Oh yes father, it was very frightening. Mr. Sakville stepped in front of Edmund and his footman moved forward ready to help protect the babe if needed.”

“You think they were only protecting the child? My dear girl, you really are very young and naive. Yes, they were protecting Edmund, but after meeting Sakville, I believe he would have stepped in front of you even if HE was the one holding Edmund,” father said.

There was such an expression of hope on Jane’s face, Thomas grinned.

“You are blushing, he must have been right.”

“Father, what are you talking about,” he asked.

“Jane, you do like Mr. Sakville?” father asked ignoring his question.

“Yes father, he was very kind to me.”

“That is not what I mean Jane,” father closed his eyes and sighed.

“I think your father is curious if you would consider Mr. Sakville as a suitor, Jane,” mother clarified.

“A suitor? But we have just met,” Jane stated the obvious.

“Would you be interested in courting him?”

“Father, his wife passed away two months ago. He is in deep mourning.”

“Yes Jane, he made that clear. Would you agree to a courtship?” father asked again.

“I am not yet out father. I do not turn sixteen for almost a month.”

“Jane Elizabeth Bennet, quit stalling. Do. You. Like. Mr. Sakville. Enough. To. Agree. To. A. Courtship?” father asked slowly as if Jane was a simpleton.

“Yes father, I am interested in getting to know him better once his mourning is over,” Jane finally answered while blushing.

“Jane, did you know his marriage was arranged? He met his wife the day before they married, they went on a two week honeymoon, and then she moved back to her fathers house because she was afraid of the servants? He did not see her again until just before her confinement. He mourns the death of his son’s mother, but he barely knew his wife.”

“What a sad story,” mother cried out.

“It is, but do you understand why I may be willing to bend the rules under the circumstances?” When Jane nodded father continued. “Sakville called for Mrs. Tucker and we agreed you could have a quiet courtship at Netherfield while he is in residence. It is no secret you and Matilda are good friends. Sakville is willing to sit with you ladies in the nursery. Matilda is a proper chaperone in case the other servants catch wind of the visits.”

“Jane, what do you think,” mother asked.

Thomas said, “You do not have to say yes. You are my sister and will always have a home at Longbourn.”

“Thank you, Tommy, I appreciate hearing you say what I already know,” Jane responded while patting his hand. “Father, I am inexplicably drawn to Mr. Sakville. I welcome a courtship with him.”

~*~


Longbourn, Herfordshire
Sunday, December 2, 1810


“Tommy!”

Thomas Bennet was brought out of his thoughts by his name being called. “Yes sister?”

“Is there something wrong? You have been staring at nothing for quite a while.”

“I apologize, Jane I was lost in memories of days past. I am well. What can I do for Matilda to thank her for the task she is undertaking and in fact everything she has done for our family? Sakville, may I add to her retirement bonus?”

“That is not necessary, Thomas. Matilda does not know it, but she is actually quite wealthy.”

“Really? How is that possible?”

“You know Matilda loved her husband very much. She will not look at another man and cares for our children as if they are her own She has refused to accept payment since the moment I hired and brought her to Netherfield. In her mind giving her children she would never have, feeding, clothing, and housing her was enough payment. I had my solicitor start an account for her wages and all of the bonuses she has refused.”

“Thomas, I will buy some yarn at the mercantile and send it to her,” his wife decided. “You know how she is always knitting.”

“That is a good idea, my dear. Thank you,” he said.

“Her favorite color is blue, Fanny,” his sister added.

“Seeing everyone at the table made me nostalgic. Do you remember the dinner after you met Mr. Sakville?” he asked. “You were so frightened. When you took Mr. Sakville to call on Matilda, did you have any idea how far reaching the consequences would be? Our parents would be proud of our family.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences of A Call - Chapter 2

LizzySApril 04, 2020 03:32PM

Re: Even More Consequences of A Call - Chapter 2

BrigidApril 23, 2020 03:38AM

Re: Even More Consequences of A Call - Chapter 2

AlidaApril 05, 2020 05:04AM



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