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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 8

May 09, 2020 03:24PM
I will definitely not be posting again until Thursday. I haven’t written any of Chapter 10 because I have spent so much time editing 8 and to a lesser extent 9.

I did a bit of research into London police forces in regency England, apologies if I got anything wrong in this chapter. According to numerous websites I read, London seemed to be against a formalized police force, especially within the official city limits, until they finally created the Metropolitan Police Service in 1828. Before that time, law enforcement was haphazard. The organized police forces were rife with corruption and constantly tripped over themselves or the private citizens who were encouraged to enforce the law.

The Bow Street Runners were started by half-brother magistrates Henry and John Fielding in 1749 and called themselves Bow Street Constables. Whether or not the Fielding brothers had children to carry on their legacy was entirely in my imagination.

Thank you to my beta Alida. As I mentioned, I played around with this chapter heavily. All mistakes or inconsistencies are my own.

Chapter 8

Hurst Townhouse, London
Wednesday, December 19, 1810

Sara Mayes was in her office reviewing the final results of the inventory. The staff had found more items missing, but were unable to determine how long ago they vanished. She was almost done adding up the total when Nora, one of the upstairs maids, burst in.

“Mrs. Mayes, you hafta come quickly. There are men, they be tryin to break past Mr. Mayes and the footmen. They said they were to search the house.”

“Nora, take a deep breath. You did very well. Go inform Cook what is happening and stay out of the way,” she told the distraught girl.

She could hear the argument before she reached the front door. The second she heard the elder Mr. Hurst, she knew they were looking for Grace.

“Gentlemen!” she said loudly. “What is going on here? Are you trying to create a spectacle for the neighbourhood?”

“Where is my daughter?” her former employer hissed at her.

“Why do you believe I would know where Miss Hurst is? In case you forgot, you ended my employment, without notice I might add, when she was sent to school,” she responded calmly. “Although, I guess I should thank you, even though you could not be bothered to write me a recommendation. In an indirect way, you are responsible for my marriage.”

“What are you blathering on about? I know Grace came here, she does not know anyone else in London,” he said forcefully. “Mr. Slith, earn your fee, sir!”

“Madam, I assume you are the housekeeper. We are here to search Mr. Hurst’s townhouse for his underage daughter. Her father is determined to find her and bring her under his protection as is his legal right. If you hinder our search, you will be arrested,” the pudgy little man said smugly.

“Mr. Slith, is it? I am the housekeeper, Mrs. Mayes, and I assume you met my husband, Mr. Mayes, when you tried to push past him. This man,” she indicated her former employer, “is not master of this townhouse. It is owned by his son, Mr. Reginald Hurst.”

“That does not matter, madam, we will be searching the premises,” Mr. Slith stated.

“Do you have a warrant?” she asked sweetly.

Mr. Slith responded arrogantly, “I do not need one. If you do not move aside, the lot of you will be arrested.”

“I may be a simple housekeeper, but my master is generous and allows us to read the newspaper when he is done with it or not in residence. I seem to remember an article that was printed last week, it outlined the ground-breaking 1765 decision by Lord Camden on Entick vs Carrington. You do know the case, do you not?” she finished with her own smug smile, as she watched the man squirm. “I am unfamiliar with your uniform. What policing force are you employed by?”

“I am a Middlesex Constable madam, and we will be searching this house,” Mr. Slith stated again.

“You must not be a very good constable,” she baited him. “Not only are you trying to unlawfully search a residence but you are unaware that Regent Street is in Westminster. You have no authority in this part of the city.”

“What you are saying is irrelevant,” Mr. Hurst broke in. “Grace is my daughter and I have a right to search my son’s townhouse for her. Her betrothed is in town and has acquired a special license. They will be married immediately.”

“I was unaware Miss Hurst is courting someone, let alone doing so long enough to receive a proposal. Who did she agree to marry?” she asked innocently.

“She will be the new Lady Camfield,” Mr. Hurst responded. “Now all of you will move, this instant!”

“Mr. Hurst, we are completing an inventory of the townhouse and have strict orders that nobody is to be admitted. As I am sure you were already told, Miss Hurst is not here,” she stated forcefully.

“I see you are choosing to be difficult and hide the disobedient young lady,” Mr. Slith said. “Very well, I will be back in a moment with more help to arrest everyone.”

“Really, Mr. Slith, must we go through this again? You have no authority in this part of the metropolis and no right to search this house without a warrant signed off by a magistrate. Did I miss that part of the conversation? Do you have a warrant? If you do, I would be happy to escort you through the rooms with the Bow Street Runners as witnesses.” She saw him open his mouth to complain and quickly added, “As I said, the household is being inventoried and I have the only key to open rooms that were locked behind the inventory staff.”

“I do not care if you are working on an inventory. This man hired me to find his daughter, and I intend to do just that. Now, step aside or you will be forcibly moved,” Mr. Slith threatened.

Sara saw Mr. Slith’s expression change to one of fear and heard someone approaching from behind. She turned to see that Mr. Fielding must have followed her from her office when she walked out of their meeting.

“Did I hear correctly? Did Mr. Hurst pay for your services?” Mr. Fielding asked Mr. Slith with a menacing look on his face.

“Of course, I paid him. You must pay Bow Street Runners to take your case. I hired the first one I came across. Enough of this nonsense. I want my daughter!” Mr. Hurst shouted.

“Mr. Slith told you he was a Bow Street Runner?” Mr. Fielding asked.

“Are you daft man? Of course he is a Bow Street Runner, he must also work as a Middlesex Constable when he needs funds. GIVE ME MY DAUGHTER!”

“You are a constable for the local parish?” Mr. Fielding asked the one person in the invading group Mr. Hurst brought with him who looked confused.

“Yes sir, I am,” that man responded.

“Did you know he was misrepresenting himself?” Mr. Fielding asked the constable.

“No sir, he identified himself to me as a Bow Street Runner when he asked for help in executing a search. I would not be here if I had known what I do now.”

Mr. Fielding turned to Mr. Hurst and said, “I want to make sure I have this situation correct, sir. Your daughter, Miss Grace Hurst, is underage and chose to leave your protection. You travelled to your son’s townhouse, in Westminster, expecting your daughter to be here. Along the way, you met a Middlesex Constable who identified himself as a Bow Street Runner, hired him, and are now attempting to trespass in order to perform an illegal search of your son’s townhouse to look for your daughter, who does not want to marry Lord Camfield.”

“What insolence!” Mr. Hurst said. “This is my son’s townhouse so I am cannot possibly be trespassing. Whether or not my daughter wants to marry Lord Camfield is irrelevant! She will do as she is told.”

“From what I have witnessed, you understand the matter correctly, Mr. Fielding,” Mrs. Mayes confirmed.

“Aye,” she heard her husband speak for the first time since she walked up, “you have hit the nail on the head. I told them Miss Hurst was not here and they would not be allowed entrance because of the inventory. One of the footmen fell when they tried to push past us and hit his head. I told him to find Cook to be bandaged up.”

“Mr. Slith, you will arrest these people for hindering our search,” Mr. Hurst ordered. “Now!” he yelled when that man did not move.

“Mr. Hurst, you are labouring under a false pretence. Mr. Slith is not a Bow Street Constable and will in fact be arrested by the constable behind him,” Mr. Fielding nodded at the man who escorted Mr. Slith away. “Take him to the Piccadilly office, constable. I will meet you there after I ask the footman if he wishes to file charges on assault.”

“What do you think you are doing?” Mr. Hurst asked. “You have no right to arrest him.”

“Yes, sir, I do because he is not a Bow Street Runner. You paid an impersonator who was attempting to trespass, which is illegal in itself, but a servant was assaulted in the process which makes it a more serious charge.”

“You are a liar and a swindler who is trying to make me pay another fee. Arrest this man and bring Mr. Slith back,” Mr. Hurst ordered one of the other lawmen from the group he brought with him.

“Perhaps introductions are in order, as it appears you do not remember me. Unfortunately, we are distantly related. I am Mr. Arnold Fielding and we were introduced, in his very house, four years ago, when you and your wife tried to make Cousin Reginald violate the terms of his grandmother’s will by disclosing what he inherited. Conveniently for my cousin, father and I were in town. As the executor of your mother’s will, who was his cousin, my father was able to support Reginald. Since our last meeting, my father was installed as a judge and I was promoted to the head of the Bow Street Runners.”

Sara was amazed at how fast the bluster left Mr. Hurst. It was obvious he knew there was no way he was going to be able to remove Grace from the townhouse. “I was not lying, sir, I have no idea where Miss Hurst is right now,” Sara said, then noticed Mr. Fielding caught how she worded her statement. “Mr. Fielding arrived at daybreak to help verify the inventory was completed. In his official capacity, he will tell you she has not been here.”

“That is true, my staff and I arrived early this morning to confirm the results,” Mr. Fielding agreed, while glancing at her with narrowed eyes. “Since my father refuses to have anything to do with you, I have never met Miss Hurst, however, I have not seen anyone who could be my younger cousin or heard any of the staff speak of her arrival.”

“Where could she be?” Mr. Hurst asked dejectedly.

“We do not know, sir,” she said. “Husband, will you please see these gentlemen get into their carriage?”

“No, I need to stay here. My townhouse is not ready to receive me. Have a room prepared,” Mr. Hurst demanded.

“That is impossible, sir. As Mrs. Mayes told you, multiple times, in the past ten minutes, this house is being inventoried by the order of Bow Street. You cannot be admitted.”

“You just said the inventory was done. Therefore, I can stay here,” Mr. Hurst asserted.

“I said we were verifying the results but we are not done. Now, if my cousin is as smart as I think she is, you will not find her before she reaches her majority on January 11th. Hopefully, she will contact father, wherever she is, in regards to her inheritance. Father and I know enough about Lord Camfield to help make sure the marriage never takes place. I will warn you now, if you arranged your daughter’s marriage based on what you think she will inherit, prepare to be disappointed. My father has not allowed me to read your mothers will, but he did tell me they put safeguards in place to protect whoever ended up being her heir.”

“Mother’s wealth should have been left to me,” Mr. Hurst claimed forcibly.

“Your mother signed a will in front of her doctor, solicitor, husband, and cousin, who as you know is my father and is now a judge. You have absolutely no right to try and challenge the terms,” Mr. Fielding replied.

“Father was present? I did not know that. Did he know what was in the will?”

“My father may know the answer to the question, but I do not. Let me be perfectly clear. Miss Hurst is not here, you will not be staying at this townhouse tonight, and if you give these good servants, or my cousins, any trouble, you will be arrested for your part in assaulting a footman. Good day,” Mr. Fielding said sternly.

“Mother’s wealth should have been mine,” Mr. Hurst mumbled as he left.

Sara watched the group leave with a sense of relief. “Thank you, Mr. Fielding, I am grateful you were here.”

“Let us finish the inventory,” Mr. Fielding said. “Perhaps your husband should join us?”

Once they were back in her office, she finished totalling the column. She handed him the first page and explained, “Mrs. Hurst had been keeping track of the items Miss Bingley broke since she moved in so all I had to do was add the items between the day Mrs. Hurst passed away and when Miss Bingley was made to leave the townhouse. The combined total is almost £1,000. It boggles the mind to see it all in writing like this. The missing items are...”

“I do not care a single bit about the inventory right now, I just used that as an excuse to get both of you in this office,” Mr. Fielding said while setting the paper down. “I remember now, you were my cousin’s nanny who turned into the governess. You raised her, not Mrs. Hurst. With her brother away from London, Miss Hurst would have headed directly to you. Where is my cousin?”

“I am sorry, sir, but I cannot tell you. Mr. Hurst left explicit instructions that we were not to tell anyone where he is. You may write a letter and we will see it delivered to him with the next packet we send,” she answered lightly.

“That is not what I mean, Mrs. Mayes, and you know it,” Mr. Fielding glared at her. “Where is Miss Hurst? And do not give me that nonsense about not knowing where she is right now, I know you have seen her. Approximately, where is she?”

Mrs. Mayes nodded her head yes as she said, “I am afraid you are mistaken, sir. I do not know where she is.”

Mr. Fielding sat back and studied Sara and her husband for a few moments before writing something down and giving it to her.

You are afraid we will be overheard?

“Yes, sir, that is a concern we have had for a while. Miss Bingley was very particular about things,” Sara nodded and he wrote another line.

Miss Hurst is safe?

“Of course, it was done just as the master would have wanted.”

Where is she?

“No, sir, that amount is accurate too. It was a rather expensive vase because it was a gift from his Aunt Phoebe, the Dowager Viscountess Dobbs,” Sara said and smirked at him when he looked shocked.

You put her under her aunts protection?

“I told you, sir, it was just as the master would have wanted. I have worked for the family for a long time and I know the dynamics well. Lady Dobbs is a favourite of both siblings. The vase was precious to aunt and nephew, for the sentimental value.”

She will be joining Reginald?

“Yes, sir, they were a set and travelled everywhere together.”

“Very well, Mrs. Mayes, I am satisfied. It is a shame you do not know where my younger cousin is. My father will need to speak with her when she reaches her majority.”

“Yes, your father was the executor of their grandmother’s will. I am sure my master will be glad the matter is to be resolved. Mr. Hurst has always wondered what the entire will said. Any communication may be delivered here and we will see he receives it,” she said. “In good weather, it takes a week to receive a response, unless we send it express. Like London, the northern counties see a lot of snowfall this time of the year, but the wind whips through the open fields so fast it seems colder and travel times can be uncertain. My master’s friend has a personal messenger who is very loyal and trusted with all of his most important letters and packages,” she said significantly.

“Thank you for the information,” Mr. Fielding told her as he burned the paper he wrote his notes on in the fireplace. “It eases my mind to know you take such good care of your master. I am afraid we will have to finish the inventory another day. My father is expecting me at his townhouse shortly.”

“Very well, sir. Again, thank you for your assistance and remember we would be happy to forward anything you need to send to your cousin.”

“I would not be surprised if you heard from me later this evening.”


Pemberley, Derbyshire
Friday, December 21, 1810

“Hurst, calm down and stop pacing, please, I beg you,” Darcy urged.

“I am sorry, Darcy. I am anxious to get Aunt Phoebe inside,” Hurst said from the main entryway of Pemberley. He was worried the storm would arrive before his Aunt Phoebe did. He would never forgive himself if anything happened to her.

“I understand. Frankly, I am amazed we had such decent weather for our trip to Matlock. There is usually more snow in December,” Darcy informed him. “You heard the signal. The carriage has passed the gatekeeper’s house so she should be here soon.”

Hurst knew Darcy was right, but he could not help himself.

“There! Did you hear that? The carriage just pulled up,” Darcy said but Hurst was opening the door before the words were out of his friend’s mouth.

“Aunt Phoebe, I am so very glad you beat the storm here. We were not expecting you until later...” he greeted his aunt with a hug before he caught sight of his sister emerging from the carriage and abruptly stopped speaking.

“Come, Reginald, let us go inside and then you can introduce us to our host,” Aunt Phoebe gently ordered.

Hurst automatically offered an arm to each of the ladies and escorted them inside.

“Darcy, allow me to introduce you to my aunt, Phoebe Dobbs, the Dowager Viscountess, and my sister Miss Grace Hurst,” he explained. “Ladies, this is my friend and host, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.”

The ladies curtsied and Darcy bowed while looking apprehensively at Hurst’s sister. Hurst was about to ask his aunt for an explanation when his sister spoke.

“Mr. Darcy, from what I hear, you are quite the enigma about town. I know from experience people love nothing so much as talking about you. At a dinner party my family recently attended, the hosts and other guests discussed your behaviour last season. They all told the story as if they were acts in a play they attended together. The common theme was that when you attended outings, you spoke only with your acquaintances, danced only with ladies in your party or your relatives, and scowled at the unmarried ladies who dared to come anywhere near your person. I am sure they sensationalized the stories to entertain each other, but really, why attend Almack’s and private balls if you do not intend to dance? They also talked about the debutantes who chased after you and made spectacles of themselves. There are apparently wagers laid in betting books all over town at the beginning of each season as to which ladies would be bold enough to try compromising you, with the amount doubled if it happened in a room full of witnesses. Do not worry, sir, I did not show up, uninvited, with the hopes of forcing a marriage. No offense, but you seem too arrogant, conceited, and dismal for my tastes. Such presumption,” Grace said with a smirk while rolling her eyes and shaking her head.

“Grace! We must work on your tact, my dear. You should not point out everything you notice, even if you do appear to be correct,” Aunt Phoebe admonished with a matching smirk.

Hurst was afraid Darcy would be offended and then was amazed to see his friend shake his head deprecatingly and start laughing.

“Touché, ladies. You are both welcome here, although I am a bit nervous what you will do to my poor, sweet, innocent little sister.”

“Grace, what are you doing here? Is father well? Where is mother?” he interrupted.

Before his sister could answer, they heard the wails of an infant.

“Oh, Mr. Hurst, I cannot get Reggie...” Sally stopped when she noticed their guests. “I apologize, Mr. Darcy, sir, please excuse me.”

“Sally, wait! This is my aunt and sister, please speak freely. What is wrong with Reggie?” he asked while walking towards the pair. He heard his aunt ask Darcy why a maid was searching out her nephew to talk to him about an infant who shared his name and his friend start explaining the relationship before Sally answered.

“He is normally a good boy, but he will not settle. Evan was called to the stables a little bit ago and I cannot get Reggie to sleep,” Sally said in tears.

Hurst saw Miss Darcy and Mrs. Reynolds approaching. “Sally, give me the young man. Mrs. Reynolds, please make sure Sally gets some rest.”

“Very well, sir. Send for me if you need assistance. Come along now,” the housekeeper said as she gently guided Sally out of the room.

Hurst turned to see Darcy grinning and his aunt smirking while Miss Darcy looked excited and Grace shocked.

“Mr. Hurst,” Miss Darcy said, “you have the magic touch. Reggie is almost asleep already. I want a turn holding him soon.”

“Has the world gone mad? My brother helped deliver a maid’s babe and looks perfectly happy holding him?” Grace asked the room at large.

“Why did you miscreants desert me? Oh, of course, the lad is more exciting than I am. Hurst, introduce me to your aunt. Hold on,” the Colonel said as he got a better look at Grace. “Who do we have here?”

“Richard!” Hurst heard Darcy hiss as he watched his sister’s eyes light up.

“Why do we not let them go upstairs and refresh before adjourning to the parlour where Hurst can introduce Georgie too?” Darcy suggested. “Aggie, please escort them to the room prepared for Lady Dobbs and then go find Mrs. Reynolds to ask which room to prepare for Miss Hurst.”

Once everyone was refreshed, introduced, and settled in the parlour, the Colonel declared, “Alright, out with it, ladies. I am always eager to hear a good tale and I imagine this will be an exceptional one.”

He heard his sister giggle and lower her head shyly before explaining what led to her arrival. His sister, giggle! He automatically handed Reggie over to Miss Darcy when she said it was her turn to hold the babe and continued to listen to his sister while looking suspiciously between her and the Colonel.

“Well,” Darcy said when Grace was done, “I cannot like the risk you took but it seems to have been the lesser of the two options available and turned out well.”

“I am quite impressed, Miss Hurst,” the Colonel said. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman, regardless of her fortune, must be in want of an earl as a husband, no matter his proclivities.”

“So it seems,” Grace said with a sidelong look at Darcy.

Hurst heard his Aunt Phoebe chuckle and noticed Darcy blushing slightly.

“Unfortunately for my father, acknowledged or not, the statement is not universally true. Setting aside the rumours about Lord Camfield, I will not be made to marry a man I know nothing about. Reginald, I worry something is troubling father,” Grace told him.

“Darcy and I have discussed this, Grace. Father and mother have left the servants to run the estate with little oversight or praise. I do not know if you were ever aware, but the estate was in dire straits when father arranged my marriage to Louisa. It took most of her dowry to set the finances along the right path. I believe the estate is being stolen from by servants who feel under-appreciated and father is in need of another influx of money. Enough of that. Aunt Phoebe, it seems as though Alfie took the protection of you both seriously,” he stated.

“You have no idea how well, Reginald,” his aunt responded. “Would you believe he ordered your Cousin Alfred to leave the drive of the dower house as we were leaving?”

Hurst listened to the events surrounding his aunt’s departure with wonder.

“I knew he was the right person to send,” the Colonel said. “Darcy, we need to do something for the young man. I was dumbfounded when he declined your offer to pay for his attendance at university.”

“Me too, Richard. He told me the idea of sitting in a classroom and then an office all day did not appeal to him,” Darcy answered.

“Do any of your properties raise horses? I could see him becoming a much sought-after trainer,” the Colonel said.

“I tried something similar too,” Darcy answered

“Alfie and I talked in the carriage on the way to London. He is happy at Pemberley and doing what he loves. Why is that wrong?” Aunt Phoebe asked.

“It is not wrong, my Lady,” Darcy answered. “I feel as though he is capable of more and do not want his loyalty to keep him from achieving his potential.”

“I agree with you, Darcy,” the Colonel said. “However, I am also familiar with the phrase, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink. Who are we to decide what is right for him?”

“Maggie tried to convince him to accept my brother’s offer of funding a university education,” Miss Darcy offered. “He told her he enjoyed being a messenger because it allows him to travel and make important decisions that would help my brother.”

“That he has,” Darcy grinned. “I would hate to lose him as a messenger.”

“When Georgie comes out, or if you ever get married, you will assign a footman to guard the lady closest to your heart when you are not able to escort her personally. Tell me I am wrong,” the Colonel challenged Darcy.

“You know me well, Richard, and Alfie is the perfect choice. Father told me he had to hire a body-guard for mother because she was accosted while shopping on Bond Street shortly after they were married by a lady who had set her sights on becoming the mistress of Pemberley. There was also talk of a former would be suitor of hers trying to cause trouble.”

“Alfie seemed to enjoy coming up with ways to throw my son off our trail when we were shopping in London,” Aunt Phoebe added. “He seemed to be good at it, too.”

“I agree, Aunt Phoebe,” Grace said. “He had a huge grin on his face when he apologized for making the trip from Reginald’s townhouse to Darcy House take so long.”

“Talk to Alfie tomorrow. If he is agreeable, I will write a letter to a few of my former compatriots who have started a school of sorts,” the Colonel told Darcy.

“What kind of school, Colonel?” Grace asked.

“I will only say if Lady Dobbs thinks he is already good at throwing people off the scent, she should see him after he finishes,” the Colonel answered with a smirk. “Ah, Mrs. Reynolds, has that grandson of yours told you about his escort duty yet? It seems as though it was quite eventful. You would be proud of how well he protected these lovely ladies.”

“Enough of you now, Colonel. Sir, an express was delivered for Mr. Hurst and the rider was told to wait for a response. I have given him quarters in the servants’ wing for the night,” Mrs. Reynolds said while handing Darcy a packet.

“Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds. Given this storm, he may need to be our guest for a few days.”

“I have already warned him of that, sir,” Mrs. Reynolds said before she curtsied and exited the room.

“From what I have seen so far, that woman is a gem,” Aunt Phoebe said as Darcy handed Hurst the letter. “Before we reached my suite, she had already sent another maid to start the fire in the room she assigned to Grace. What is wrong, Reginald?”

“It is an express from my housekeeper. It seems more happened in London than even you were aware of. Father arrived at my townhouse the day you left demanding Grace be returned to him for her immediate wedding. Father was sure Grace was there and hired a Bow Street Runner, who turned out to be an impostor, to assist him by searching my residence. Cousin Arnold, who is a constable and the son of my grandmother’s cousin, was finalizing the inventory with my housekeeper and assisted the staff in making sure they did not enter. There is also a letter from his father, Cousin Horace, regarding my grandmother’s will. Mrs. Mayes told my cousin enough that my relatives know I am in the north. As the executor, Cousin Horace asks whether or not he should send a copy of the will to me with a trusted messenger, I am assuming Mrs. Mayes told him about Alfie, or wait until we return to London.”

“What do you mean, grandmother’s will?” his sister asked.

With help from his Aunt Phoebe, Hurst told his sister the story surrounding his grandmother’s death, her will, and their parents’ reactions to his inheritance.

“What rubbish. You had no control over the fact that father’s mother overlooked him and left her possessions to her first grandchild. I am sure father will disinherit me for my defiance. My only hope is that you or Aunt Phoebe take pity on me,” Grace responded. “May I stay with you Aunt Phoebe? No offense Reginald, but you need an heir. After your mourning ends, I expect that you will marry again. Aunt Phoebe and I can help you avoid waspish harpies this time around.”

“I would be honoured to take you under my protection but I would not worry so much, my dear,” his aunt said. “Because of his illness, James demanded that my father let me participate in the discussions surrounding our marriage contract. James made sure my pin money was enough to allow me to keep my dowry and marriage settlement, along with all interest, untouched for my care after his death. He agreed to fund our future daughter’s dowries entirely from estate funds, although with two boys it was unnecessary. I remember my father mentioning my brother’s settlement was written differently. If I am recalling correctly, your parent’s settlement said his wife’s dowry of £20,000 must be held in trust to be split between their daughters, with each daughter having no less than £15,000 upon their marriage or twenty-first year. I believe your parents are allowed to spend the interest from her dowry so the amount would not have grown.”

“If father was allowed to spend the interest, that would explain why he did not pressure me to marry right away. Oh, Aunt Phoebe, how will we know for sure?” Grace asked. “I would like to contribute to the cost of my upkeep.”

“I will write to my solicitor ordering him to visit your father’s solicitor on your birthday and demand the money be transferred to you. Mr. Darcy, do you have a local attorney who could complete some legal paperwork for us?”

“Actually, I think we do, my Lady. One of my neighbours has a son who is a solicitor. I seem to recall my steward telling me the lady of the house demanded her children all come home to attend her twelfth night ball. Once the snowstorm has passed, I will have a footman deliver a note.”

“Thank you, sir,” Aunt Phoebe nodded at Darcy. “Grace, there is more. Your uncle and I were hoping for a houseful of children. When we married, he opened four trust accounts in the four percents for future daughters. A few years ago, when it became clear there would be no more children, he closed two of the accounts, put one in your name, and the final one in Reginald’s name. After three and twenty years of the interest being reinvested, your account should have a balance of almost £25,000. If I am correct, you have a dowry of £45,000, plus whatever your grandmother’s will says.”

“But what about Cousin Harold?” Grace asked. “I would not feel right accepting the funds when he is in the navy. Wait a moment, I thought Reginald inherited everything in my grandmother’s will?”

“Unless I am off my mark, you do not need to worry about your cousin,” the Colonel broke in. “Your aunt said there were four accounts created for daughters, I wonder how many were set up for second sons? Besides, £50,000 would buy a small estate, probably worth £2,500 a year.”

“Maybe more if you got a good deal,” Darcy agreed.

“You are too smart for your own good, sir, even though it was only £45,000 at the time,” Aunt Phoebe told the Colonel. “The Colonel is correct, Grace, Harold has been well looked after. Your uncle wanted you give you security because he loved you as if you were his own. Your trust is set up so that only you can access the principal, with your brother or Cousin Harold’s approval, and the interest is for your use alone. As to your grandmother’s belongings, we will not know if you inherit anything until you reach your majority and are allowed to read the will.”

Mrs. Reynolds walked in and announced, “Dinner is ready, sir. Miss Darcy, I will take Master Reggie to his father.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds,” Darcy said while offering Aunt Phoebe an arm to escort her into the dining room. “Hurst, we will discuss how to respond to your cousin whilst we are eating.”

Hurst scowled when the Colonel rushed to offer Grace an arm forcing him to escort Miss Darcy into dinner instead of his own sister.

“Do not worry, Mr. Hurst,” Miss Darcy whispered. “Richard was enthralled with Miss Hurst before he found out she potentially has a large dowry.”

“Dear Lord, you were bad enough before my sister got here. Poor Darcy,” he muttered then heard Miss Darcy giggle quietly.


Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Sunday, December 23, 1810

Mr. Thomas Bennet was enjoying a glass of port in his study after dinner when he heard a knock. “Enter,” he called out.

“Sir, an express rider delivered a letter from Scotland. He said I was to tell you first it did not contain bad news and then explain that when Matilda hired him, she told him to disregard propriety and carry on through Sunday in order to arrive in London to visit with his parents,” Mrs. Hill explained.

“That sounds like Matilda. If I had to guess, the young man could not afford to travel on his own and she made it possible.”

“That is what he said, sir. He works at the estate closest to Lochdale and has not seen his family in almost five years. Somehow it was brought to Matilda’s attention,” Mrs. Hill explained. “I offered him a room for the night, but he intends to press on and make it to London as soon as possible.”

“Very well, thank you, Hill,” he said before he read the letter, burst into laughter, and then joined his family in the drawing room.

“My dear, I received an express from Matilda and thought you would like to know right away.”

“On Sunday? How scandalous!” Mrs. Bennet exclaimed.

“Now my dear, let me tell you the circumstances and I am sure you will agree it was understandable,” he said before he explained.

“Well,” said that man’s wife, “I still do not like that he travelled on the Lord’s day, but that poor boy. It must have made him so happy he could visit his parents. Imagine, not being home or seeing family in that many years.”

“If I had my books and steward to run the estate, I think I could manage,” he answered with a smirk. “I will read Matilda’s letter to you now.”

He enjoyed watching the expressions on their faces. It became a game of sorts, to correctly guess how each person would react. When he was done, he was not surprised to see Jane looking sympathetic, Lizzy amused, and Mary as though she wanted to give Lydia a stern talking to, but what surprised him were Kitty and his wife. Both of them seemed shocked, to be sure, but they were looking down while biting their bottom lips.

“Well, my dear, do you have anything to say?” he asked.

He was quite shocked to see Kitty’s shoulders start shaking and when she caught her mother’s eye, they both broke out in hearty laughter. He heard his wife gasp out ‘made her empty her own chamber pot’ and shook his head realizing he would never truly understand women.

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 8

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