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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

April 30, 2020 03:06PM
Here we are on chapter 6, in total my Word document is over 100 pages, and I haven’t even had D&E meet yet. Although, to be fair, I do use size 14 font in Word so I don’t strain my eyes.

I never would have thought the one-shot would have taken on a mind of its own. It seems to be, I either have to force myself to sit down and get past a particular scene that just won’t take shape or I am typing like mad to get everything out of my mind.





**Potential trigger warning**


The beginning of this chapter contains a conversation regarding a domestic abuse situation. It is not very long and not described in detail. If you wish to skip it, scroll down to the first section break, Sunday, December 16, 1810.

I did not intend to go in this direction, but when I was trying to think of ways to make Lydia understand the dangers involved in marrying in the regency period, this is what I came up with. I apologize if anyone feels I was too descriptive.







Chapter 6

Lochdale, Inverness
Saturday, December 15, 1810


Matilda Tucker looked at the girl sitting across from her. After 13 days on the road, she still had not made a dent in the cocoon of self-importance Lydia had wrapped around herself. How any child of fourteen could be so self-assured was beyond her comprehension. She had tried making the child walk alongside the carriage and lectured until her voice was hoarse. Neither idea worked.

“We just turned off the main road,” she told Lydia. “We should arrive at Lochdale shortly.”

“La, it is about time,” Lydia complained. “I cannot wait to have a bath and sleep in a quiet house instead of a noisy inn.”

An idea started to form in Matilda’s mind. “I have told you, Miss Lydia, we are not guests of the estate and will not be treated as such. If you want a bath, you will have to heat the water and fill the tub yourself. Then, after your bath, you will need to empty the water.”

“What are you going on about, Mrs. Tucker? Of course we are guests here. This is my uncle’s estate,” Lydia stated.

Matilda shook her head and watched the scenery pass by until they approached the house.

“What is the carriage driver doing? Why is he going to the stables?” Lydia demanded.

“I told you, Miss Lydia, we are not guests. We will be using the servant’s entrance and meeting with the housekeeper,” she answered with a smirk. “You will hold your tongue until we are in Mrs. Douglas’ office or you will be eating porridge for the next two days.”

“And I have told you, Mrs. Tucker, I do not answer to you. I do not even listen to my parents, what makes you think I will listen to you?” Lydia asked smugly.

Matilda allowed all of the malice she had felt for the girl over the past days to show on her face and was pleased to see Lydia’s expression change slightly. “You heard your parents, did you not? I was given permission to treat you however I see fit. We will not be leaving until I think you are reformed. Do you know where we are?”

“In Scotland,” Lydia responded, enunciating each word clearly, as if she were speaking to a simpleton.

“Where in Scotland? Did you know Scotland is half the size of England? Think about it, child. It took us almost six days to make it to Gretna Green and another six to make it to Inverness, although we did lose almost an entire day when the carriage wheel broke. What would you do if I made you exit the carriage right now? Where would you go?”

“Why, I would go to the house and they would let me inside.”

“Would they really? An unknown, arrogant, spoiled child who wanders up to the door? If such a person arrived at Longbourn, what would happen?” Matilda watched Lydia attempt an answer. “I see you have no idea. If you do not know how a household runs, why do you feel prepared to marry?”

“My housekeeper would handle everything, of course. I would entertain my friends, attend assemblies, and make merry,” Lydia stated.

“If you do not want to spend the night outside in the cold, I suggest you are quiet until we are in the housekeeper’s office. Do not try my patience, little girl, or you will not be allowed in the house and we are twenty miles from the nearest neighbour. You need to think about consequences before you speak,” Matilda warned as the carriage came to a stop.

“Thank you, Noah,” she said to the footman when he helped her down. “You will follow us to the housekeeper’s office and wait in the hallway until we are done.”

“Yes, madam,” he responded before helping Lydia down.

“Sims,” Lydia cooed, while taking a step and brushing up against him, “Mrs. Tucker is being dreadfully mean. Would you show me to the family wing?”

Noah allowed disgust to momentarily show through his normally bland facade as he took a giant step back. Matilda was thrilled to see the first crack in Lydia’s defences.

“This way, Miss Lydia,” Matilda said, as she all but pushed the child towards the waiting housekeeper. “Mrs. Douglas, it is good to see you again. I hope our arrival was not a surprise.”

“Mrs. Tucker,” the housekeeper acknowledged her with a curtsy. “We are prepared, the express rider arrived on Monday. Please follow me.”

Matilda made sure to keep Lydia between herself and Mrs. Douglas as they walked to the housekeeper’s office.

“Forgive my forwardness,” the housekeeper said once everyone was seated, “Do you know yet if the young miss is with child?”

Matilda heard Lydia gasp in outrage and smiled.

“I am not with child!” Lydia defended.

“What else was I to assume? You acted the part of a hussy when you approached the footman outside, in plain sight.”

“I did not! When I write to my uncle about this, you will be fired,” Lydia threatened.

“Your uncle?” Mrs. Douglas asked with wide eyes.

“Yes, her uncle. Miss Lydia, if I were you, I would keep that information to yourself unless you want everyone here to think what Mrs. Douglas did,” she warned. “And she will not be fired.”

“Yes, she will, my uncle will not stand for the insult,” Lydia claimed.

“What did she say that was incorrect?” Matilda asked.

“She... She... My uncle will not allow this to go unpunished!”

“Did you, or did you not, brush your breasts up against Noah’s arm not five minutes ago?”

“You brought a person of easy virtue into this house?” Mrs. Douglas asked, shocked.

“I am a gentlewoman!” Lydia yelled.

“So am I,” Mrs. Douglas responded dryly. “Yet you do not see me brushing my bits up against young men to try and get what I want.”

“Mrs. Douglas, as Miss Lydia has already demonstrated, the entire family is worried her behaviour, if left unchecked, will ruin them. Tell her about yourself, please.”

“Miss Lydia, as I said, I am a gentlewoman. In fact, I am the niece of a Baron.”

Matilda saw Lydia trying to process this information. “She needs to know how you became a housekeeper.”

“I see your reason for bringing her here now,” Mrs. Douglas sighed.

“Your history did not occur to me until we were almost here,” Matilda admitted. “Our first thought was to get her as far away and isolated from society as possible.”

“I was once like you, Miss Lydia. Bold, fearless, and certain I had the world in my hands.”

“What happened? Did your father lose his estate? Uncle would never allow Papa to lose Longbourn,” Lydia said confidently.

“When I was sixteen, I was visiting my uncle’s townhouse in London. I was not old enough to have a season but I was to attend a few smaller family parties with my aunt and uncle. At one of the parties, I met a dashing young man in uniform who was in the unit of a distant relative. He turned on the charm, but I now know he thought I was the Baron’s daughter. You see, I was standing next to my cousin when he asked where to find the Baron’s daughter. I was so naïve,” Mrs. Douglas said while shaking her head, “I had no idea I kept meeting him by design and thought he looked so handsome in his uniform.”

After a short pause, Matilda encouraged her to continue.

“He convinced me to elope with him.”

“But, I do not understand. How did he not know you were the Baron’s niece? Why are you a housekeeper if you are married?” Lydia asked, confused. “Did he die in battle?”

“I was not out yet, so our interactions were few and for the most part well chaperoned. He thought he knew who I was and never asked about my family,” Mrs. Douglas said with a sad look on her face. “As far as I know, he is very much alive. When he went to my uncle demanding his daughter’s dowry, he found out I was the daughter of his wife’s sister with 500£. To say he was displeased would be an understatement. You do realize, do you not, that when you marry, you become your husband’s property? He can do whatever he wants to you, short of murder, and the law will do nothing to him?”

“Gentlemen are honourable, especially if they wear a uniform,” Lydia dismissed the warning carelessly.

“Impudent child!” Mrs. Douglas seethed. “Would you like to see the scars I have on my body?”

“Miss Lydia,” Matilda broke in, “Mrs. Douglas was not treated kindly by her husband. He had planned to marry the wealthy daughter of a Baron and failed. He took his rage out on her. Do you understand what we are trying to tell you?”

“He hit you?” Lydia asked quietly.

“That is like saying it snows a little bit in Scotland,” Mrs. Douglas said. “Yes, he hit me. Repeatedly. He refused to call for the apothecary because it was too expensive.”

“You got away and have a good position,” Lydia stated. “Everything turned out fine in the end, did it not?”

“Miss Lydia, all did not turn out well. Would you like to live the life of a servant? I did not get the courage to escape until we had been married for a year. The first time I tried, he found me in less than an hour and almost killed me. When I healed enough to get out of bed, I tried again. Thankfully, that time I planned things better. I waited twenty minutes after he left for duty, packed what possessions I could carry, and walked out of the rooms we rented. I had managed to save up enough for a ticket on the post carriage to London but my husband had warned the postmaster I might try to abandon him and asked to be notified immediately. I panicked and started walking down the road. Thankfully, I tripped as your aunt’s carriage was passing by and the driver stopped to make sure I was alright. When she saw my face, your aunt immediately put her cloak around me and had a footman help me into the carriage.”

Matilda took up the tale, “Your uncle was handling a tenant dispute and asked me to accompany your aunt on her visit to a friend’s estate. We had Mrs. Douglas lay on the floor of the carriage, under some blankets, and made a show of driving through the village, slowly, while loudly discussing whether or not would shop. We even browsed one of the stores supposedly looking for a particular brand of coffee before continuing to your uncle’s estate. The driver pushed the team through the night and we made it home just before dawn the next day. We were able to get Mrs. Douglas into my room without anyone seeing her.”

“They saved my life,” Mrs. Douglas said simply.

Matilda could tell Lydia had no idea how to respond to what they divulged. “I believe she needs time to reflect on all that she has heard, Mrs. Douglas. Miss Lydia, I was serious when I told you we are not guests. I realize we gave you quite a shock so we will have the maids prepare a bath for you tonight, but starting tomorrow, you will handle all of your own needs. You will dress yourself, do your own hair, empty your chamber pot, haul your own bath water, and have daily duties assigned to you. If I am not mistaken, you normally do inventory just after the new year?” she asked Mrs. Douglas.

“Yes, the family always spends the holidays at their main estate and the mistress feels it is a good way to start the year off right.”

“Miss Lydia and I will be happy to assist in any way. She thinks she is ready to marry but has no idea what being the mistress of an estate entails. She will also be taking lessons from you on household matters. Consider her in training to be an under housekeeper.”

“Very well, I have a few ideas myself. I will have a tray sent to Miss Lydia’s room tonight. Tomorrow, she will have to eat in the servant’s hall or prepare her own food.”

“I like the way you think, Mrs. Douglas. I knew coming here would be the perfect solution.”

~*~


Lochdale, Inverness
Sunday, December 16, 1810


“When I send the mistress an express tomorrow letting her know we arrived, I am going to demand a raise,” Matilda Tucker told the housekeeper. “I will go wake the child up, please see that a plate is ready for her. I cannot believe after all the trouble you went through to prepare something for her last night, it was sent back untouched.”

“In all fairness, after her bath, she cried herself to sleep before I arrived with the tray,” Mrs. Douglas said. “Those dresses are for her.”

Privately, Matilda was encouraged by the progress she seen in Lydia since arriving at Lochdale the previous evening. She had envisioned a battle over the coming months, but Lydia seemed to take Mrs. Douglas’ story to heart.

She entered Lydia’s room and was surprised to see her on her side, curled into a ball, clutching a battered looking doll, with evidence of her tears clearly visible. “Miss Lydia, it is time for you to wake up. Mrs. Douglas gave me a few dresses that should fit you. The rest of the servants have already broken their fast and been working for almost an hour. Mrs. Douglas saved a plate of food for you. I will stay as you get dressed and help do your hair today. After you break your fast, we will meet with Mrs. Douglas.”

She was not disappointed at the look on Lydia’s face.

“I will not wear those! I brought dresses.”

“Did you forget, Miss Lydia? If you want to wear the dresses you brought, feel free. All you will do is ruin them and inform the servants of your true standing. If you thought Mrs. Douglas’ guess was insulting last night, just wait until the servants start gossiping. Hurry up now.”

Matilda had to prod Lydia a few times to finish, but faster than she anticipated, they entered the kitchens. She was not surprised when Lydia quickly finished what was on the plate and asked for more.

“Now that you are done, we will talk in Mrs. Douglas’ office,” she said while standing up. “Servants do not have the liberty of asking for seconds.”

“Before I can determine what Miss Lydia will be responsible for, I must get an idea of her knowledge. Can you read?” Mrs. Douglas asked from behind her desk.

“Of course, I can,” Lydia responded belligerently.

“Miss Lydia,” she warned. “Watch your attitude. If you were a servant, you would most likely be disciplined.”

“I would have fired her,” Mrs. Douglas confirmed. “You will have to learn your place here. Do you know your sums?”

“Yes.”

“Have you ever seen a household budget?”

“No, Mrs. Hill does that,” Lydia responded dismissively.

“No, Miss Lydia,” Matilda broke in, “she does not. Your mother handled the household budget until Miss Bennet was old enough to learn. They are now assigned to your sister, Miss Mary, however Mrs. Bennet spoke of teaching Miss Catherine after the new year.”

“I did not know that,” Lydia said.

“Have you helped with the dinner menus?” Mrs. Douglas asked.

“No, Mrs. Hill...” Lydia stopped and turned to her. “Does Mary do the menus too?”

“Yes, Miss Lydia, she does under your mother’s direction,” she confirmed. “Your mother has taught your sisters confidence in household matters by letting them feel the task is their responsibility, but ultimately it is your mother’s and she takes it seriously.”

Mrs. Douglas looked thoughtful before nodding to herself.

“Mrs. Tucker, I would like your permission to inform one of the maids of Miss Lydia’s true status. Lara has a story of her own and I feel she can be trusted to keep yours and will not judge,” Mrs. Douglas asked her.

“I would like to meet her first,” Matilda answered.

“I would expect nothing less. We will need help because it would raise too many questions why I would train an under housekeeper who did not even know the basics of being a maid.”

“I understand,” she said. “I will take Miss Lydia on a tour of the house while you arrange a meeting.”

“One last thing,” Mrs. Douglas said. “She will no longer be referred to as Miss Lydia on this estate. From this moment on, she will be introduced as Lydia.”

Matilda was momentarily silenced. “Thank you, Mrs. Douglas. That had not crossed my mind.”

~*~


Pemberley, Derbyshire
Sunday, December 16, 1810


Reginald Hurst and the Pemberley party were in the drawing room chatting, passing the time until Mrs. Annesley arrived for tea.

“I received a letter from Bingley today,” Darcy announced.

“On Sunday?” the Colonel asked.

“Let me guess, it was misdirected due to the blots?”

“Yes, Hurst, it took longer to arrive than normal. I was told the servant who brought it to the postmaster in London mentioned it was intended for Derbyshire, otherwise I do not believe it would have ever arrived.”

“William, how did they know the letter was for you?” Miss Darcy asked.

“That was a stroke of luck, Georgie. The letter did arrive in Derbyshire based on the initial information and one of the postmasters in the county was able to make out enough to guess it was for a Darcy at Pemberley. It was delivered to our vicar yesterday and he pulled me aside after services today to confirm it was mine.”

“But brother, if the writing was so bad, how were you able to read the contents?”

“Georgie, I have had a lot of practice deciphering Bingley’s handwriting and the outside was in worse condition than inside. I must have been raining when it was delivered to the postmaster in London.”

“What did my brother have to say? Was it sent before or after they were made to leave my townhouse?” Hurst asked.

“It appears as though it was written the day after. He said they went directly to a hotel and arranged rooms, then Bingley found a rental agent,” Darcy answered.

“You mean he had not already contacted one?” he asked, surprised.

“That does not surprise me, Hurst,” the Colonel said. “Bingley seems like an impulsive man. He would have waited until the last day to start looking. I expected you to receive an express on the day they were to be out begging for a few extra days to complete the rental paperwork.”

“Yes, well, the next day the rental agent brought Bingley to see three townhouses and he signed a year-long lease on one of them,” Darcy explained.

“When do they move?” Miss Darcy asked.

“They took possession immediately, Georgie. Bingley wrote to give me his new directions. He also asked if the siblings may visit Pemberley.”

“If you say yes, I will take Georgie and go to Matlock,” Richard stated definitively.

“Oh, thank you, Richard. I am sorry, William, but I do not want to be in Miss Bingley’s presence.”

“Darcy, what are your thoughts?” he asked.

“Do not worry, Hurst. I have no intentions of inviting them here,” Darcy said emphatically.

“Brother, I know you abhor deceit, but in this case...”

“Georgie is right, Darcy. You could tell him that I have been granted leave for a month and you planned to visit with me at Matlock.”

“Fantastic, Colonel. It is entirely factual and even my brother would not dare show up at the house of an Earl without an invitation, regardless of his sister’s insistence. Darcy?” Hurst saw Darcy start at the reminder of the Bingley’s past behaviour.

“I agree, Hurst. If I ignore his request, either Bingley will take my silence as acceptance or Miss Bingley will demand they travel here and he will agree immediately.”

“Darcy, I know you might not like this, but with Alfie on his way to Surrey, you need to go one step further. My father sent a note asking your opinion on an estate matter, correct?”

“Yes, he did, Richard. There was some question regarding the stability of a tenant’s roof and whether or not it should be replaced before winter sets in with a vengeance.”

“Would it not be better to view the roof before answering?” Richard asked with narrowed eyes.

“Yes, I suppose that is true. Why?”

“If it were me, I would take a trip to Matlock, view the tenant’s roof, give my father a sound opinion based on your observations, send an express to Bingley, and return to Pemberley the next day,” the Colonel said with a grin.

“I do believe you are onto something, Colonel. Darcy could address his response from Matlock and your father might be prevailed upon to offer one of his staff to deliver the express because Darcy’s messenger is occupied. The letter was misdirected after all, and Bingley deserves a prompt response,” Hurst said with a delighted look in his eye.

“It would help your case if the letter was delivered by someone wearing Matlock livery,” the Colonel supported.

Miss Darcy giggled and added, “I agree, William. I know it will not feel entirely right to you, but I believe it is the best solution. Think of Mr. Hurst. You offered him five quiet months to mourn his loss and he has stated he is not comfortable living in the same house as Miss Bingley. And, you invited his aunt here for the same reason. Richard and I will go so you can mention the family party is away.”

Hurst saw Darcy nod his head.

“We will have to make sure we are back by dinner on Friday in case Hurst’s aunt accepts our invitation,” Darcy decided.

“So much for rarely travelling further than Lambton after it snows,” Hurst said with a grin. “You should have Hodges drive you so Wiggins may stay here with Reggie.” He noticed everyone was grinning at him and defended his statement, “Sally is still recovering from her ordeal. New families should spend time together to create a bond, sort of like a honeymoon. Do you disagree?”

“No, that is a good idea, Hurst,” Darcy agreed with a smirk. “Bingley’s letter also mentioned the happenings in town, that is why he asked to visit.”

With a grateful smile, Hurst asked, “How so?”

“People are refusing to acknowledge the siblings. They are being shunned every time they are in public.”

“Brother, they are supposed to be mourning,” Miss Darcy stated, her surprise clear. “Why are they out in society?”

“To be sure, there is a great amount of guesswork involved in deciphering Bingley’s handwriting, but it appears as though there were issues when they were picking up their mourning clothes. Miss Bingley was unhappy with the quality of the work and the modiste would not listen to her complaints. Madam went so far as to tell Miss Bingley to find another establishment as she was unwilling to handle future orders. Bingley was essentially told the same thing by his tailor.”

“There is more, is there not?” the Colonel asked.

“Yes, Bingley said their acquaintances refused to acknowledge their presence when they were in the two shops. They were not given the cut direct by anyone, but it is clear the rumours have turned the town against the siblings. Bingley mentioned they planned to shop for furnishings within the next few days.”

“With the lease of a new townhouse, shopping for household items is an acceptable outing while in mourning,” Hurst agreed. “Right now, they appear to be receiving indirect cuts, but unless a major scandal breaks out, I fear they are in for tougher times. Looking back, I realize it started before we left. Most of the condolence callers asked for me and only addressed the siblings when they had to.”

“Darcy, I wonder how much of this is our fault,” the Colonel said.

“Richard, how could any of it be your fault?” Miss Darcy asked.

“I believe he is right, Georgie,” Darcy said. “When we dined at Matlock House before we left London, during the separation after dinner Richard and I told Uncle Michael what actually happened, he had only heard rumours and wanted details. He could tell how upset I was with the reaction of both Bingley’s and was scarcely less upset himself.”

“You should have heard father’s response when I told him Bingley implied Darcy was expected to ask for Miss Bingley’s hand,” the Colonel said with a wicked grin.

“Georgie, you remember Uncle Michael asked you to play for us?” Darcy asked his sister after scowling at the Colonel. “He asked us to tell Aunt Olivia the story and she was appalled. I told them we had invited Hurst to stay with us and they agreed to keep it to themselves. Uncle Michael suggested that Aunt Olivia make our displeasure of the Bingley’s known to the ladies and he would handle the men.”

Hurst could not help himself, he started laughing. The looks on the faces of everyone made it worse, until tears were streaming down his face.

Once he got control of himself he said, “I apologize. The irony of the situation suddenly hit me and I could not contain my mirth. Miss Bingley is not very subtle so I imagine I am not telling you anything too shocking. Obviously, the intent of her visit was to strengthen her friendship with Miss Darcy with the hopes of getting Darcy’s attention. It would also not hurt their standing in society to see them admitted into your townhouse.”

“Subtlety is not her forte,” the Colonel agreed. “I agree with both counts.”

“Now this is pure conjecture, but I think she was also going to drop hints that her brother admires Miss Darcy, after all, one marriage may lead to another. The ironic consequence of the call is that instead of raising their status in society and forwarding two marriages, they are being ostracized from the group of people she had hoped to join.”

“How certain are you Miss Bingley is trying to match Georgie with Bingley?” the Colonel asked with a dangerous look in his eye.

Hurst saw Darcy move to comfort his clearly distraught sister before answering, “As I said, it is a conjecture.”

“Based on what?” the Colonel demanded.

He took a moment to think back, “Based on previous conversations that, when added together, appear to be more than what they seemed at the time.”

“Brother, I do not want to marry Mr. Bingley,” Miss Darcy sniffled.

“You will not have to, Little Star.”

“Details, Hurst!”

“I do not know if I can give you specific details, Colonel, as I said, it was my impression.”

“Do you recall what they said that was most concerning?” Darcy asked.

“Miss Bingley brings Miss Darcy up all the time. She never fails to mention how accomplished she is and states what a good wife she will make,” he said then paused to think. “The most overt thing I heard was this past season. Bingley met an ‘angel’ and Miss Bingley did everything she could think of to separate them and finally ordered him to drop the acquaintance. She told him if he liked fair haired beauties, he needed to wait four or five years for one with a large dowry. She guaranteed he would be able to marry into the first circles, like her.”

“That concerns me too, Hurst,” the Colonel agreed. “Darcy, I know we are headed there within a few days, but I am going to send an express to my parents tomorrow, I am tempted to send one today even though it is Sunday. Mother needs to address this discreetly in case Miss Bingley dropped hints to anyone else. I will also send letters to a few friends stationed in London. They will start a campaign to counter any gossip.”

Hurst saw Darcy looking uncomfortable. “Darcy, it needs to be done. If Bingley noticed they are not being acknowledged, it must be really bad. Do you think Miss Bingley will stop at anything to keep whatever standing she has deluded herself into believing she has in society?”

“Brother, I had hoped I would not have to return to school so I packed as many of my belongings as I could fit in my trunks. We need to send someone from Darcy House to clean out my quarters. I will write my friends informing them I will not be returning and explain what happened at our townhouse. I will also mention that my cousin heard a rumour was apparently being spread about me in London, someone falsely claiming I had intentions toward a friend of my brother’s.”

“Good idea, Georgie,” the Colonel said. “Darcy, have you ever told Bingley you will never marry his sister?”

“Of course not, Richard. That would be highly improper.”

“In what way? You and Bingley are good friends, are you not? Has he ever mentioned you marrying Miss Bingley?” the Colonel asked.

Hurst saw Darcy thinking and interjected, “I have heard Bingley make comments while in Darcy’s presence. Bingley frequently says how well Darcy and Miss Bingley look standing next to each other and what great partners they made while dancing. Put together with Bingley’s comments at Darcy’s townhouse, I now believe he was hinting at a match.”

Darcy shook his head sadly before responding, “Hurst is correct. There were things that seemed harmless at the time. I propose we retire to the library after dinner and start writing letters. Be careful what you say, I do not want to vilify the Bingley’s based on our assumptions.”

“Agreed, Darcy. We can discuss how best to accomplish our goals as a group,” the Colonel stated.

“Mrs. Annesley,” Mr. Reynolds announced.

“Thank you for agreeing to take tea with us today, Mrs. Annesley,” Miss Darcy greeted their guest.

“Welcome, it is a beautiful day, I appreciate your desire to walk to Pemberley after services. My carriage is ready to take you to Lambton when we are done,” Darcy confirmed.

As the only person not previously known to Mrs. Annesley, Darcy introduced Hurst while Miss Darcy poured tea. They discussed the weather briefly before Darcy opened the real conversation they wished to have.

“Mrs. Annesley, I was glad to hear you agreed to help your sister-in-law through her confinement. Is the child well?”

“Yes, Mr. Darcy, I have a new nephew and my sister is almost back to her previous self,” Mrs. Annesley answered.

“Oh, I adore holding new babies,” Miss Darcy said. “Do you plan to stay with your brother and continue caring for your nephew?”

“I am unsure what my future holds, Miss Darcy. My brother does not have a lot of space in the apartment above their shop.”

“Have you given it any thought?” Darcy asked.

Hurst saw Mrs. Annesley’s eyes narrow slightly and her take in Miss Darcy’s eager expression.

“Mr. Darcy, we have known each other for a number of years. Please, be direct with me. It appears as though you have a reason for inviting me to tea, other than social niceties,” Mrs. Annesley stated firmly, while still being appropriately deferential to her late husband’s employer.

Darcy chucked before responding. “Well said, Mrs. Annesley. I will be direct if you promise not to be offended.”

Hurst saw her look at Miss Darcy again before agreeing.

“Have you given any consideration to seeking employment?” Darcy asked.

“To be honest, I was hoping you asked me here for that reason,” Mrs. Annesley answered, with tears glistening in her eyes. “As much as I adore my younger brother and his family, I do not want to be a burden on them, sir.”

“Oh, brother, I am so happy.”

“Georgiana, do not get ahead of yourself, my dear. I have yet to ask,” Darcy gently admonished his sister. “Mrs. Annesley, Miss Darcy has convinced me and Colonel Fitzwilliam that she no longer needs to attend school. Would you be interested in becoming my sister’s temporary companion?”

“Temporary only, sir?”

“I have asked my solicitor to start a search in London.”

“Darcy, hold on a moment. Mrs. Annesley has been known to you for many years, correct?” the Colonel asked.

“Yes, Richard.”

“Do you trust her?”

“Completely.”

The Colonel nodded. “Mrs. Annesley, are you looking for a permanent position?”

“Yes, Colonel, I refuse to be a burden to my family. And before you ask, I trust the Darcy family with my safety. I would be honoured to be Miss Darcy’s companion and ask you to cancel the search in London. I apologize if that is too bold a statement.”

“Not at all, Mrs. Annesley,” the Colonel responded. “Georgie, do you have any reservations about offering her the position permanently?”

“No, Richard. My only concern would be that she is still in mourning, but by the time we leave Pemberley, she will be in half mourning,” Miss Darcy said.

“You are also in mourning, Mr. Hurst?” Mrs. Annesley asked.

“Yes, until the end of May,” he responded.

“This will be a quiet household for the next few months, Mrs. Annesley. With Georgie not returning to school, Hurst in residence, and my unmarried state, we need a companion to retain respectability,” Darcy explained.

“I understand, sir. Pemberley is a large and prosperous estate. Do not take this to heart, but through no fault of your own there is animosity from some of the wives of men with lesser estates. In my opinion, there are one or two of them who would delight in causing you trouble.”

“I have found that is true no matter where you are,” the Colonel agreed. “I saw it happen on the continent frequently.”

“Truly? Is there anything I can do to change that?” Darcy asked.

“No, sir. The people I am speaking of, feel they should have been, or their daughters should become, Mistress of Pemberley,” Mrs. Annesley said gently.

“Ah, I see. Thank you for the explanation,” Darcy said. “My sister, cousin, and I will be traveling to Matlock to assist my uncle with a tenant issue, Hurst will be staying here. When I decided to start a search for a companion in London, we invited Hurst’s aunt, who is also in mourning, to visit. If she agrees, and there are no delays in traveling, she should arrive on Friday. Would it be an imposition to have the Dowager Viscountess here too? We thought she could start preparing Georgie for her coming out.”

“Not at all, sir. While I am a gentleman’s daughter, I did not have a season in town. Having a Dowager Viscountess here would ease my mind. I daresay nobody would dare insinuate anything improper is happening at Pemberley with her in residence too.”

“Mrs. Annesley, you are a gentleman’s daughter?” he asked.

“Yes, Mr. Hurst. I imagine you are wondering why I have not returned to the estate I grew up on? My father was a gamester, sir, and was killed during a dispute over a card game. My elder brother inherited and found the estate was deeply in debt. Rather than sell, my brother has leased the estate and took a position in London. He will hopefully be able to take possession again after the current lease ends.”

“Admirable,” the Colonel said. “I have known people who were in his situation. Most of them sold the estate and either bought a commission or a ticket to the Americas rather than undertake the work involved in turning their situation around.”

“My brothers are dedicated to restoring the estate, Colonel. My younger brother was to have a commission purchased out of our mother’s dowry, which my father could not touch. He took just enough to open his shop in Lambton and allowed our elder brother to use the rest to repair some tenant houses. Our aunt has a small townhouse in London. She let my elder brother stay with her and refused his offer to pay rent. He took work as a clerk and saved or invested every penny for seven years. He made some profitable decisions in the past two years and recently paid off the last of our father’s debts and the balance of our younger brother’s building loan. The lease on the family estate was renewed last month, and my brother made sure the tenants knew it would not happen again.”

“It was smart of him to sign another lease and kind to give the tenants one year’s notice. He will be able to save for a year and the tenants will be able to look for a new situation without urgency. Shall we go to my study to discuss when you will start your duties and what your pay will be?” Darcy asked.

“Of course, sir. If I may be so bold, I would like to start immediately.”

“Immediately?” Darcy asked with a skeptical look.

“Not truly immediately, I would need to return to my brothers shop and pack my clothes. My brother and I have discussed me finding a position so he will not be shocked. Also, I feel a conversation with the Countess would be prudent, especially before deciding what my duties to Miss Darcy will be.”

“Ha!” he said, while slapping his knee. “Well played. I think we have another lady to invite to our discussions, gentlemen.”

“Poor Darcy,” the Colonel grinned. “When I return to my duties, you two will be outnumbered by the ladies. At least Hurst is used to living with a strong-willed woman.”

“Yes, and it drove me to the drink,” Hurst grinned.

“Do not worry, Richard. We will not be too hard on them,” Miss Darcy smirked.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

LizzySApril 30, 2020 03:06PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

BrigidMay 01, 2020 10:12PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

EvelynJeanMay 01, 2020 04:11AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

ChristinaKApril 30, 2020 05:06PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 6

LizzySApril 30, 2020 06:30PM



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