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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

May 14, 2020 02:36PM
Again, I played with this A LOT after my beta, Alida, finished. All errors or inconsistencies are mine.


One of the things my beta noted, was the relationships are a bit confusing. I come from a large family, my mother is one of 10 kids. My eldest first cousin is a grandmother herself but I refer to all three generations as cousins because it is so much easier at family gatherings. My daughters automatically called my cousin aunt because she’s 15 years older than me. She went with it, because that’s just what you do in a large family, but it took a while for my girls to understand she was my cousin. If you would like, I would be happy to create family trees.





Hurst grandmother ---- 1st cousin ---- Horace Fielding



Ernest Hurst ---- 2nd cousin ---- Arnold Fielding



Reginald Hurst

Grace Hurst



Aunt Phoebe is the half-sister to Ernest Hurst.





Sorry the post is long and there is a lot happening, I couldn’t help myself. I thought about moving the Hyde Park section to the next chapter, but I want to get them to Hertfordshire.


As I mentioned previously, this will be a D&E story, and I will not match Hurst and Georgiana. I envision they became closer over the winter in a familial sense, like another brother or cousin.


Someone mentioned Grace has Elizabeth-esque tendencies, which is true. In my mind, Grace is a harsher version of Elizabeth. E is usually friendly to all with gentle teasing nature, but Grace is a bit darker. I think it’s probably because with her brother at school and then living in London, she was essentially an only child who grew up with two selfish parents.












Chapter 9


Pemberley, Derbyshire
Monday, January 7, 1811



The Honourable Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam walked slowly down the stairs at Pemberley for the last time of his visit and saw the rest of the party assembled at the bottom to farewell him. He was always sad to leave his cousin’s estate, but this was the worst in memory. Never had he been so well entertained during a leave. The addition of the Dowager Viscountess and Miss Hurst had made the company even more enjoyable than it usually was.


When he reached the main floor, Georgie cried, “Richard,” and ran into his arms, crying.


“Come on, sprout, I am headed to London, not the continent.”


“I know, but I so enjoyed having you here,” she answered from the folds of his red coat.


“And I relished being here, but the general told us we had to report for duty in London by January 14th. With the weather so unpredictable at this time of the year, I need to leave now,” he comforted her until she released him and stepped back. “I will miss you, Georgie. Mrs. Annesley, I am counting on you to keep her entertained and safe.”


His cousin clapped him on the back. “Safe travels, Richard.”


“Thank you, Darcy. I am grateful Alfie brought my father’s carriage to Pemberley. I am also thankful he is accompanying me to London. I will let you know who wins the most games of chess,” he said with a smirk.


“How do you play chess in a moving carriage?” Lady Dobbs asked. “I have tried, but we spend more time putting the pieces back onto the correct squares or picking them up off the floor to make it worthwhile.”


“Darcy has a maintenance man who is particularly skilled with wood. Howard enjoys whittling and makes beautiful hand-crafted pieces and a special board with raised lines. The base of the chess pieces fit into the squares perfectly. I find it quite dastardly that father has already received two sets he keeps in the largest Matlock carriages. Although, since I do not have a carriage of my own yet, and Alfie and I will be able to use one of them on our trip to town, I cannot be too upset. I do believe I am next on his list to receive a one, am I not?” he asked Darcy with a glare.


“I will ask and let you know,” Darcy grinned.


“I am sorry to say, Colonel, but your set may be delayed,” Lady Dobbs said playfully. “I plan to ask this Howard, if he will make one for me. If Grace will be part of my household, we will need a way to pass the time in a carriage. I may have to offer an incentive.”


“You would bribe the man? For shame, my lady,” Richard responded while shaking his head and adopting an air of disappointment.


“As you like,” the Viscountess responded with shallow curtsy and grin.


Richard was intrigued by Miss Hurst. He stepped in front of her and asked, “You play chess?” When she nodded, he continued, “How did I not know this fact about you?”


“It has been a very busy two weeks, Colonel, and we have not had a Sunday with nothing to do. Perhaps, if we meet in London in the future, we could play a game then?” Miss Hurst asked shyly.


“I would honoured,” he said before bestowing a kiss on the back of Miss Hurst’s hand and stepping in front of her aunt.


“Lady Dobbs, Howard supports his widowed mother and spinster aunt. His household could definitely use the funds from your incentive. I would be happy to cede my place on his list to you. An officer in his majesty’s army is expected to be chivalrous after all,” he said while performing an elegant bow.


“You are an even bigger scamp than Alfie, but you do seem to have a big heart. I appreciate the gallant and thoughtful gesture, although I do not think it was for me, so much as it was for someone else,” Lady Dobbs finished quietly with a smirk.


“Beauty and brains are a dangerous combination, my Lady,” Richard responded just as quietly. “Miss Hurst, again, I must apologize that I will miss your birthday dinner.”


“I understand, Colonel. In this weather, it would be impossible for you to attend and still report for duty on time. I will pray for your safe arrival in London.”


“Thank you, Miss Hurst, I appreciate all the help I can get,” Richard stated. “Hurst, my good man, Alfie and I will meet with both Mr. Fielding’s to answer any questions they may have and arrange the transportation of any necessary documents related to your inheritances to Pemberley with Alfie. Be sure to keep to the schedule we created. You will perform some sort of physical activity every day. I do not care if you fence, ride your horse, or both, as much as you want, but every other day you must run,” he finished with a glare until Hurst nodded.


“Lady Dobbs, I am relying on you to keep that nephew of yours on track with the exercise plan he agreed to,” Richard continued with a wink. “I will be sure to keep the appointment you scheduled with your solicitor on Miss Hurst’s birthday then accompany him to your brother’s solicitor’s office. I have all of the necessary legal documents in my possession to ensure I am able to act as your proxy. I double checked to make sure I packed them.”


He accepted one final round of goodbyes before walking out the front door to join Alfie in the Matlock carriage. It was going to be a long few months until he would see Miss Hurst again. He would be sure to respond to Georgie’s letters immediately and ask questions to probe for information about their activities.


~*~



Pemberley, Derbyshire
Wednesday, February 20, 1811



Mr. Reginald Hurst sat at the dinner table at Pemberley thinking back over the past three months. In his wildest dreams, he never would have imagined his life could have changed so drastically in such a short period of time. He was a much-improved horseman, exceeded the Colonel’s expectations for learning fencing, could run the ten miles round the whole park at Pemberley without stopping to walk, had lost three stone, and wore clothes he last fit into before his marriage. Thankfully, his valet was not one to get rid of anything, so Alfie was able to bring him smaller sizes from the attic in his townhouse.


In his role as the executor of the will, Horace Fielding had sent a packet to Pemberley with Alfie which included a copy of the entire document. Grace did inherit the other half of their grandmother’s dowry and jewellery, but they were astonished to find out there was a small estate their grandmother had inherited at the same time as the townhouse.


His grandmother had thought ahead and left a letter for her heirs to explain her reasons for bypassing her own son. At five years old, she said he was already ordering the servants about as if he was the lord of the manor and by the time he was ten, it was unbearable. The parents had tried to lessen their son’s attitude and strengthen character, to no avail. She could tell it would only get worse and did not want to add to his sense of self-worth. There was also a lesser concern that in his arrogance, her son would make bad decisions that would force him to sell the estate that had been in the family for four generations.


Her Cousin Horace and her solicitor worked out scenarios for the disbursement of her possessions dependent on how many children her son’s wife bore him or what would happen in her only child died without issue. With two grandchildren, of different sexes, her will split the jewellery and dowry evenly and left the townhouse to her grandson and the estate to her granddaughter. With their portion of her dowry left invested for so many years in the four percents, the siblings each inherited a trust fund with a significant balance. They also inherited a secondary trust containing the proceeds from the rental of their properties.


He had been able to allow the interest from his grandmother’s dowry to reinvest every year and live off the interest from the rental payment trust. Now he also received the interest from the £5,000 of Louisa’s dowry that had not been required to save his family’s estate, the trust his Uncle James had gifted him, and most recently from the £5,000 of Miss Bingley’s dowry. To honor his Uncle James, he used the first £225 interest payment from the Dobbs trust to create nine funds for future Hurst children. The interest is reinvested and his solicitor automatically adds to the principal every quarter. His intent is to make sure his daughters have healthy dowries and sons all receive an inheritance, not just the first born. If he is not blessed with children, Grace’s will be his heirs.


In the hope of pressing his point, Hurst’s father had cut off his allowance when he refused to disclose the extent of his inheritance, but it did not work. Not even Louisa had known how wealthy he was because he circulated an incorrect amount to keep fortune hunters, of all sorts, and salesmen away. It amused him to find out Darcy safeguarded his wealth the same way.


Grace was upset with him, at first, for not telling her she would receive an inheritance from their grandmother, but surprisingly Miss Darcy came to his defence by pointing out that he was not allowed to read the will and had no idea that she was left half the dowry and jewellery, let alone an estate. Miss Darcy asked Grace what would have happened if her brother told her to expect the same amount of dowry and jewellery that he inherited, only to find out that she received much less because everything was not split evenly. Grace finally conceded that she was wrong to be upset, which was a rare occurrence.


Hurst was pleased to see how well his sister, Aunt Phoebe, and Miss Darcy got along. The three ladies spent a good portion of their days together, with Mrs. Annesley, and had decided to call each other by their given names. Even though it was a few years away, Aunt Phoebe and Grace had started training Miss Darcy for her presentation at court while Mrs. Annesley concentrated on the specifics regarding precedence and how to seat people at dinner. He and Darcy had even learned some things when more than a few tea times were spent discussing some trickier guest lists his Aunt Phoebe put together.


He was unprepared for the amount of work and effort the ladies spent preparing for a curtsy that his aunt said would take less than five minutes to complete. They had requested a statue be moved into one of the sitting rooms to be used in place of the monarch. Darcy agreed with him that it was ridiculous, but neither of them begrudged their request. Hurst doubted the sculptor had intended the statue to witness Miss Darcy tripping over the table cloth that had been tied around her waist to mimic the train on a presentation gown.


Most nights, the Hurst party would take dinner trays together in the sitting room between the ladies’ suites and spend the evening in whatever pursuits they desired. When the snow had built up, Darcy mentioned he had two sleighs that were pulled behind horses. None of the Hurst guests had ever ridden on one before, so Darcy asked Wiggins to teach him how to handle them in the snow. It did not take long before they found a new way to pass the winter months. Grace and Aunt Phoebe loved the feel of the sleigh gliding over the snow. It was a very relaxing time for everyone.


The most notable thing, to Hurst at least, was when Sally and Wiggins asked him to be godfather to young Reggie. Sally was nervous at first, asking a gentleman to undertake such a task, but he quickly made them understand he was hoping for the outcome but was afraid to ask himself. Unknown to the parents, realizing from his own experience how quickly funds grow when the interest was left to reinvest over many years, he had sent a letter to his solicitor on the day Reggie was born to create another trust fund in the four percents for the boy’s education.


“I received a letter from Bingley today,” Darcy said, interrupting his thoughts.


“Do we want to know what it contained?” he asked with a cheeky grin. “Is he still annoyed with me for making them pay £5,000 out of Miss Bingley’s dowry?”


“He does not say, but it is doubtful. I think he finally realized you did them a favour. I must admit, I was so tired of his complaining, that in my last response, I was unrelenting. I told him he was lucky you did not press charges and explained what would have happened to Miss Bingley if you had. Bingley does not always connect an action with the appropriate consequence,” Darcy explained.


“Thank you. I am a little nervous what his letter to me will say. Like yours, mine have been increasingly filled with nothing but complaints about Miss Bingley losing part of her dowry and how the siblings are being treated by society along with demands to know where I am,” he said. He could not believe his brother-in-law still did not understand why the siblings were being shunned, by him and society. He had a feeling his Aunt Phoebe had sent letters to friends explaining what happened to her niece-in-law. They had all heard from acquaintances who were in London that there had been a marked increase in the hostility being shown to the pair of siblings in the past month instead of the gradual decrease they had expected. Although, that could be because Miss Bingley had started wearing half mourning clothes, after only two months, and took a trip to Bond Street frivolously shopping at the confectioner’s, tea room, and pastry shop while shamelessly trying to invite anyone of whom she could claim the slightest connection to a ball she had decided to throw before her deep mourning was officially over. Thankfully, the Bingley’s had not ignored Darcy’s refusal to extend an invitation to Pemberley. They had all been concerned that the siblings would show up at the front door regardless of an invitation.


“When Bingley signed the lease for his townhouse in December, the agent told him about an estate in Hertfordshire that he could take possession of after Michaelmas. After two months in the townhouse, Bingley signed a year-long lease on the estate, Netherfield Park, sight unseen,” Darcy informed them.


“Sight unseen, are you sure?” he asked, shocked.


“Yes, Hurst. Bingley invited me and Georgiana to visit for two months after he takes possession. He told me that he plans to invite you, too. I am sure your invitation will arrive with the next packet of letters from your townhouse,” Darcy told him. “I believe that means you have been forgiven.”


“Do I have to join you brother?” Miss Darcy asked. “Miss Bingley makes me uncomfortable and I do not believe anything will stop her desire to become your wife. Please tell me that will never happen,” she pleaded nervously.


“She makes everyone uncomfortable,” Hurst mumbled.


Darcy chuckled before responding to his sister, “That will NEVER happen, do you hear me? I do not care what circumstances she engenders, I will not marry her. I promise you.”


“Thank you, William,” Miss Darcy responded. “You really are the best brother.”


“As to your other question, Georgie, you do not have to accept the invitation. My biggest concern with accepting for myself, is that I am not comfortable staying at Netherfield without a proper chaperone.”


“As you should be,” Aunt Phoebe interrupted. “I am sure that woman would try to compromise you in front of as many witnesses as possible or she would inform everyone in town you were staying in a house, with four unmarried people, with only your sister’s companion as chaperone. Georgie would probably be saved having to marry Mr. Bingley because of Mrs. Annesley’s presence, but all of society would expect you to ask Miss Bingley for her hand. Although, a rich, single, handsome young man who has made his distaste for a particular young lady known, would probably come out unscathed after a few months, especially since the lady in question is out of favour with everybody who matters in society.”


“Perhaps you should place a notice in the London papers stating you will never marry Miss Bingley?” Grace suggested with a smirk. “You could even insinuate you are close to an engagement with a fictitious lady. I am sure you have met such lady in your dreams, we could call her Miss P for perfect.”


“Grace,” his Aunt Phoebe admonished while shaking her head.


Darcy looked unsure how to respond, or if one was required, and turned to Miss Darcy.


“Little Star, I know we talked about you visiting Ramsgate this summer with Mrs. Annesley to care for you. What say you to joining me in Hertfordshire instead? We could rent a dwelling and establish ourselves in the area before the Bingley’s arrive. If you agree to come with me, you could befriend the daughters of the local gentry and I would be close enough to advise Bingley without having to worry about being compromised by Miss Bingley almost every single moment of every day and night. Although, we would have to return to Pemberley for a few weeks during the harvest,” Darcy offered.


“Oh, brother, do you really think it possible? I would love the opportunity to spend so much time with you and make more friends. Could you be away from Pemberley for so long? Would you even be able to handle a holiday of that length?”


“Yes, Georgie, believe it or not, I could be a gentleman of leisure,” Darcy told his sister with a rueful grin. “Mr. Grey has proven himself to be a trusted steward and Ward’s training is coming along nicely. I am sure there will be a few necessary trips to Pemberley, but on the whole, they should be able to handle most things between them or with my direction via post. I will send a letter to Stevens asking him to start a search for an appropriate property to rent or lease for six months. Hurst, would you like to join me and Georgiana at the lodgings I find in Hertfordshire? If Lady Dobbs and Miss Hurst intend to continue living with you, they are welcome too. I am quite certain they would not get along well with Miss Bingley.”


He looked at his aunt and sister to see them nod their approval. “We are grateful for the offer, Darcy. I would rather refuse Bingley’s invitation than stay in a house with them. With all of us watching out, we can protect you from the dreaded Miss Bingley,” Hurst finished with a wicked grin.


The elder Darcy rolled his eyes while the younger giggled with his sister and aunt.


“Seriously though, Darcy, Bingley’s behaviour last November has me concerned,” Hurst said thoughtfully.


“Me too, Hurst,” Darcy agreed. “But we are forewarned.”


“We will be watchful brother,” Miss Darcy said.


“Let Miss Braggley try anything,” Aunt Phoebe, who shared their worries, said with an impish grin.


His aunt had filled the group in on the fun she and Grace had trying out new last names for Miss Bingley. His aunt’s favourite had stuck.


“Careful, Aunt Phoebe, if you use her new moniker too often, you are liable to slip and call her that to her face. I know you like to play with their last name in good fun, but please be careful, for my sake. Unfortunately, I am tied to them.”


“Really, Reginald, who do you think I am? I know the difference between a fun game to help ease the tension and a serious matter. Although, I will admit, especially for Grace’s sake, you have a point. We cannot let ourselves be unkind or ungracious,” Aunt Phoebe agreed with a hard look at Grace.


“Thank you, Aunt Phoebe,” he said with an over-exaggerated bow.


“Sounds like we are going to Hertfordshire this summer,” Darcy announced with a grin.


~*~



Pemberley, Derbyshire
Tuesday, March 5, 1811



“I do not think I have ever had so many interesting letters arrive at Pemberley as there have been in the past few months,” Darcy announced when they were having tea.


Hurst looked at Darcy closely. He did not appear upset by what he received, so it must not be from Bingley. “Out with it then, obviously it is not from my brother-in-law.”


“One of them was from Stevens, my solicitor, who had some luck searching for lodgings,” Darcy explained.


“How does that qualify as interesting, Mr. Darcy?” Aunt Phoebe asked.


“He likes to say things that will shock us to hear, Aunt Phoebe,” Grace said with a grin. “We should ignore him, Georgie, and continue our game of chess.”


“I am sure William would not have brought it up unless it was relevant to all of us. Perhaps we can tease it out of him,” Miss Darcy stated playfully.


“I relent, dear Georgie,” Darcy said while laughing. “It is not fair of you four ladies to continuously gang up on me and Hurst.”


“Well, what did Stevens have to say that was interesting?” he asked.


“Interesting might not have been the best adjective to use, Hurst. Intriguing is probably more accurate. Stevens wrote the attorney in the town nearest to Netherfield Park, a Mr. Phillips from Meryton, asking about places to rent or lease in the area. Mr. Phillips assured him the only property available had been leased recently, but suggested an alternative.”


“Now I am intrigued too, I think. What type of alternative could he have suggested? Did he propose you rent a cave on the countryside? Did he suggest a tent like the army use? A room above the horses in his barn? A chicken coop?” Aunt Phoebe asked Darcy.


“In a cave? Really?” Darcy shook his head. “It seems there is a family in the area, the Goulding’s of Haye Park, who have family in one of the villages twenty miles from Pemberley. They have been looking for long term lodgings in the area for months, but have had no luck. Mr. Phillips proposes we switch houses for the summer. He describes Haye Park as a lovely estate with nine bedchambers and mentioned that a neighbour’s steward has agreed to handle the estate business for the summer.”


“Curious,” he said. “That really is ingenious. Are you tempted, Darcy?”


When Darcy failed to respond immediately, Aunt Phoebe asked, “How big is your dower house, Mr. Darcy?”


“Well done, Lady Dobbs. Before Pemberley was built, the dower house used to be the main house so there are ten bedchambers and room for a full complement of personal servants. You are suggesting I offer them the dower house for the summer?”


“That is exactly what I had in mind. I realize most men do not think of the dower house unless it is occupied. Haye Park does seem to be large enough to suit our needs, even if the Colonel and his parents were to visit,” Aunt Phoebe stated.


“Would you be willing to keep house for me, Lady Dobbs? I know the job should really fall to Georgie, but she is not out yet,” Darcy asked.


“I have never learned how to run a household, so it makes perfect sense to me. Allow me to unreservedly concede the position of mistress to Lady Dobbs if she desires it,” Miss Darcy announced gratefully.


“I would be happy to assume the duties of the lady of the house, Mr. Darcy,” Aunt Phoebe said. “If you would like, Grace and I could start teaching Georgie how a household works now in an environment she is intimately familiar and comfortable with the servants, most importantly the housekeeper.”


“Mrs. Reynolds took over facilitating the mistress duties when my mother passed away and I never thought about Georgie needing to learn. I think it would have been too much like realizing she was growing up,” Darcy said sadly. “Mrs. Annesley, please do not take offense at my next statement, I know you are familiar with a much smaller house. Lady Dobbs, if it is no imposition, I would appreciate you training Georgie. Would you mind working with Mrs. Annesley to devise a schedule?”


“Aunt Phoebe, I need to learn how to run a household too. Mother never taught me,” Grace told their aunt.


“Why does that not surprise me?” Aunt Phoebe shook her head. “I am sure the housekeeper at Whitemeadow has complete oversight of all household matters. I would be more than happy to teach the girls all they need to know, with Mrs. Annesley’s help of course. As the vicar’s wife, I am sure she became familiar with the tenant families in the neighbourhood.”


“Mr. Darcy, I know the letter said a neighbour’s steward would handle the estate matters for Haye Park, but would asking you to teach me how to manage an estate be too much? I will have to start learning how to run Cherry Grove sometime.”


“Brother, I would like to learn too!” Miss Darcy stated excitedly.


“Latin and estate management? What do you think, Hurst? Do you feel comfortable enough in what you have learned to start teaching our sisters?” Darcy asked him.


“As long as you are there to keep an eye on our progress, it would help us figure out if I really understand what I have been taught,” he decided.


“You said one letter was from your solicitor. Did you receive two? Who was the other letter from, Mr. Darcy?” Grace asked.


“Very observant, Miss Hurst,” Darcy told Grace. “The other one was from the investigator I had looking into Georgie’s old school and the headmistress.”


“What did he find?” Miss Darcy asked her brother.


“He is of the opinion that Mrs. Younge was looking for a lucrative side job that would allow her to take a free holiday. The investigator has been following her for months, and the only concerning thing that happened was a single card game, at one of her friend’s houses, where she met Mr. Wickham.”


“Does he think they have an ongoing relationship?” he asked.


“It did not appear so, Hurst. The investigator believed it was the first time they met and they only played one game at the same table. Did Mrs. Younge have an ulterior motive for suggesting a trip to Ramsgate? He was not sure,” Darcy said. “Could the two of them have joined forces? The investigator said Mrs. Younge asked probing questions of all of the people at her table and seemed to become excited when Wickham mentioned his father worked for the Darcy family at Pemberley. Wickham answered a few of her questions, but he was apparently disinclined to continue and changed the subject.”


“Georgie is a pretty, kind, innocent, sheltered, and rather naïve young lady with a very large dowry. The miniature I saw of Wickham was of a handsome man who she has known her entire life. If they were working together, it does not take a genius to figure out their goal would have been,” Aunt Phoebe said.


“Georgie is only fourteen and I would rather send her to one of my estates in disgrace than give my consent. I doubt even George Wickham would have been so deprived,” Darcy stated.


“She would be fifteen by that time, but it would not matter in Scotland,” Aunt Phoebe said to a now silent room.


“I do not understand what is happening,” Miss Darcy said. “Why is everyone so upset?”


Hurst saw Darcy looking at his sister with worried eyes. “Darcy, how about we let my aunt and sister explain to Miss Darcy what their potential motive could be.”


“Good idea, Reginald,” Aunt Phoebe agreed. “Please ask Mrs. Reynolds to join us and go fence or take him on a nice long ride, maybe both will be necessary.”


~*~



Matlock House
Thursday, April 18, 1811



“Hurst, it is nice to see you. How have the past few days been?” Darcy asked as Hurst walked into Matlock House with his sister and aunt on his arms.


“Darcy, it has been peculiar,” he acknowledged his friend with a nod.


“Allow me to introduce you all to my aunt and uncle then we will continue our discussion before dinner.”


After the formal introductions had taken place, the Colonel quickly offered Grace his arm and escorted her into the parlour leaving everyone else to follow.


“Miss Hurst, I have heard so much about you from my son and Lady Sheldon,” Lady Matlock greeted his sister once they were all seated. “Georgie and I were planning to shop on Bond Street next week. Would you and Lady Dobbs like to join us?”


Hurst saw his aunt nod to Grace and the invitation was accepted.


“Darcy, have the Goulding’s left for Pemberley?” he asked.


“Yes, Hurst, they stayed at Darcy House for two days and Alfie left with them this morning. He will make sure they are introduced to everyone they need to know at Pemberley and in Lambton. William Goulding expressed interest in working with Mr. Grey and Ward on estate matters. I wrote Mr. Grey authorizing him to train the young man, if they had time and got along well.”


“Why would they travel half a day’s journey south to begin a northern journey of three days? Could Alfie not have picked them up in Meryton?” he asked.


“That was Mr. Phillip’s doing, Hurst. I must say I have been rather impressed with him so far. He insisted we meet and spend a few days together to be sure we wanted to proceed. The Goulding’s were a little apprehensive when they saw Darcy House, but relaxed when I told them they would be staying in the dower house at Pemberley. We got along famously and signed an agreement outlining the terms to protect both families, another one of Mr. Phillips requirements and rightly so. Similar to a lease document, our responsibilities are clearly spelled out. For example, if there is a fire at the stables at Haye Park and my carriage is damaged, I am responsible for replacing my equipage.”


“I enjoyed getting to know Dottie and Martha, the Goulding sisters, through the letters brother allowed me to write them, but meeting in person was wonderful,” Miss Darcy said. “They told me about the other families with daughters I would meet this summer. The Long family has two nieces living with them, the Lucas family has three daughters, but the youngest is only nine and still in the nursery, and the Bennet family has five, two of which are near my age.”


“Do not forget, Georgie,” said Aunt Phoebe, “you and Grace will also be learning how to manage an estate when we are in Meryton and continuing your household education. There will be many duties that need to be accomplished. Your days will not be spent socializing with the ladies of the neighbourhood and practicing the piano forte.”


Lady Matlock looked scandalized and asked, “Why will Georgie be learning to run an estate? That is hardly a proper thing for a gentile young lady to learn.”


“I inherited an estate, Cherry Grove, from my grandmother, Lady Matlock. I would like to have some idea what I am looking at when I visit for the first time. Georgie asked if she could learn too,” Grace explained.


“Aunt Olivia, I think it is a good idea for Georgie to learn about running an estate,” Darcy interrupted. “How will it harm her? Uncle Michael and I have discussed estate issues quite frequently. Would it not be convenient if a man could discuss such things with his wife?”


“Well, I guess. An estate? Really?” Lady Matlock asked with a speculative look between her guest and son. “I suddenly find myself interested in learning more about how an estate is managed. Perhaps my nephew can be persuaded to extend an invitation to his favourite aunt and uncle.”


Hurst caught the Colonel’s eye and nodded at Lord Matlock who was looking at his wife with appreciation in his eyes. It was all he could do to hide a smile.


“I say, there must be a fine line between favourite and only. If Uncle Lewis was still alive, who is to say the de Bourgh’s would not be my favorite aunt and uncle,” Darcy said wryly.


“Really, Darcy,” Lord Matlock gently admonished. “Your aunt is right though, we would love to visit with you for a few weeks this summer. Richard would to, I wager.”


“Brother, have you told Mr. Bingley we will not be staying at Netherfield when we visit?” Miss Darcy asked.


“Not yet, Georgie. Hurst, have you seen the Bingley’s since you have returned? Is that why your time in town has been peculiar?”


“I have not, Darcy. Given the possible trouble with my in-laws, cousin, and father, I have yet to put the knocker on the door. Mr. Mayes has turned away one or both of the Bingley siblings every day,” Hurst said shaking his head. “I have no idea how they found out we are in town. We had to station extra footmen near the front door yesterday after Miss Bingley arrived and yelled at Mr. Mayes. We did get the few remaining items related to my grandmother’s will taken care of, though. Cousin Horace was glad to officially be relieved of his duties as executor. I am not looking forward to the visits my father and Cousin Alfred are certain to make.”


“Mrs. Mayes and I have interviewed all of the female staff of his townhouse while Reginald and Mr. Mayes handled the males. We are trying to identify any who may be loyal to the Bingley’s instead of the Hurst’s,” Aunt Phoebe informed everyone in the room.


“I wish you both luck,” Lord Matlock said. “It is not an easy task to undertake.”


“Miss Hurst, would you and Georgie like to walk in the park with me tomorrow?” the Colonel asked.


“Colonel, given my family members who have yet to make an appearance at my townhouse, I do not want Grace in public without me. We shall all go,” Hurst answered for his sister. “What time?”


~*~



Hyde Park, London
Friday, April 19, 1811



Grace Hurst strolled along one of the paths in Hyde Park on the arm of The Honourable Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam. She could feel the strength of his arm under her hand and it was exhilarating. When he left Pemberley a few months ago, she had no possible way to know how much she would miss him. The temptation to snuggle closer was strong, but she knew her Aunt Phoebe would give her a never-ending lecture and Reginald just might lock her in the attic of his townhouse. She had not yet decided if the comfort it would give was worth the possible risk to her freedom.


When they arrived at Hyde Park, Georgie took Reginald’s arm and started the group walking along the path. She would have to figure out some way to repay her friend for the timely assistance. Grace had seen her brother look back every once in a while, but with Aunt Phoebe, Mr. Darcy, and Mrs. Annesley walking behind her and the Colonel, he had nothing of which to complain.


The group had been walking in the busy park for twenty minutes and Grace had lost track of how many times the group had stopped to speak to an acquaintance someone had met along the way.


They most recent people they encountered were Lady Sheldon, her two young daughters Lady Sarah and Lady Elinor, and Grace’s friend Clara. Lady Sheldon and Clara were in town for the season and decided to take the younger girls for a walk. As both ladies were eager to hear how Grace’s life had improved once she was free from her parents, the groups merged and started walking again. Grace was delighted to see the elder daughter, Lady Sarah, walk slightly ahead with Georgie and Reginald chatting happily about drawing while the younger, Lady Elinor, walked next to the Colonel and was asking him questions about his uniform and riding horses. It melted her heart to see how kind he was with the young girl, then realized she should not be surprised because Georgie was so much younger than him.


Grace saw Georgie, Lady Sarah, and Reginald, who were about twenty paces in front of the rest of their group, come to an abrupt halt just before a bend in the path and quickly turn around. She asked the Colonel if he could tell what had happened.


“I am sorry, Miss Hurst, I have no idea. There must be someone on the path ahead they know, but the trees are blocking my view,” he replied. “Let us walk a little faster, sprout looks uncomfortable.”


“Yes, the angle she is holding her head is a dead giveaway, but she also looks afraid,” Grace said as Mr. Darcy walked past them quickly. “Apparently, her brother agrees.”


She saw Miss Darcy mouth Bingley to her brother just as the siblings came into view. As soon as they were close enough, she said, “Lady Sheldon, I am sorry but we must part company. Reginald, you and Mrs. Annesley get Georgie to the carriage while the Colonel, Aunt Phoebe, and I help Mr. Darcy.”


“Is that Miss Darcy I see further up the path? I do not recognize the man she is with, is it one of your Fitzwilliam cousins?” they heard Miss Bingley ask Mr. Darcy while trying to take his arm. Mr. Darcy stepped back quickly and put his arms behind his back.


“Aunt Phoebe and Colonel Fitzwilliam, please forgive what I am about to do,” she said quickly before taking a deep breath and walking forward to enter the fray.


“William,” Grace cooed while approaching Mr. Darcy from behind. Hearing the nickname his sister used, in a tone of voice it had never before been spoken, caused Mr. Darcy to stop his greeting of the siblings, turn around quickly, and unclasp his arms. Pretending he was the Colonel, she grabbed his arm, stepped closer than strictly proper, looked up at him, and said, “We should join Georgie and our friends.”


“Uh, sure, whatever you say,” Mr. Darcy answered, looking confused for a moment before he grinned.


“Miss Hurst, what are you doing here?” Miss Bingley sneered loudly to the capture the attention of the people walking nearby. “How dare you importune Mr. Darcy! You should not risk harming the good name of dear Miss Darcy by claiming a false friendship and speaking of her so informally. How uncouth! Are you trying to use Mr. Hurst’s slight acquaintance with Mr. Darcy, created through the close friendship he has with Charles, to raise your connections? Or, even worse, are you trying to force Mr. Darcy to propose in order to retain his honor? I dare say I need to have a conversation with Mr. Hurst regarding your disgracefully inappropriate behaviour.”


Grace looked Miss Bingley dead in the eye and without acknowledging her, turned around dragging Mr. Darcy along. As expected, she saw her aunt and the Colonel, but surprisingly enough, Lady Sheldon and Clara were waiting on the path too.


“Imagine, Mr. Bingley standing about in a stupid manner letting that woman make a dunce out of herself in the middle of the park. To call your friendship with my brother slight is a ridiculous fallacy,” Grace said to Mr. Darcy a little louder than normal as they approached the rest of their party. “I do believe you inviting my brother to spend five months at your estate, with his sister and aunt, means you are close friends. She obviously does not know you well enough if she thinks anything could force a man as arrogant and conceited as you to do something you did not want to. Besides, I rather think her accusation is the pot calling the kettle black.”


“Quite so,” Mr. Darcy answered, sounding amused.


Behind her, she heard Miss Bingley let out an exasperated screech.


“Charles, take me home. Now!”


“Insufferable, horrid women,” she hissed quietly after she had taken the Colonel’s offered arm. “How dare she call my behaviour inappropriate. I am sorry, Mr. Darcy, but I know you would have ended up inviting them to take tea with us because you are too much of a gentleman. I could not bear to see Reginald upset and make poor Georgie suffer Miss Bingley’s fawning. I will have to warn my brother what I just did. He could not have honourably acted against Miss Bingley without completely cutting the acquaintance, but as a female I have more leeway. We may need to move to your townhouse, Aunt Phoebe.”


“Grace,” Aunt Phoebe hissed.


Grace could tell her aunt was winding up for an epic lecture on deportment, which if she was being honest, she deserved, but thankfully Lady Sheldon interrupted loudly for the benefit of the crowd that had yet to disperse.


“Grace, Clara told us Mr. Darcy took you and Miss Darcy out on horse drawn sleigh rides when you were at Pemberley. When you all dine with us later this week, you must tell me all about the visit. Mr. Darcy, Lord Sheldon is looking forward to hearing all about how you and Colonel Fitzwilliam taught Mr. Hurst to fence. I do hope Mr. Hurst is skilled because my husband is quite eager for a new partner,” Lady Sheldon announced.


Grace did not remember receiving an invitation to dine with the Sheldon’s, but she could see the crowd Miss Bingley had delighted in creating were listening with anticipation of more gossip to spread.


“Lady Sheldon, I left Pemberley just after twelfth night so Darcy took the brunt of Hurst’s fencing training. He was already better than expected after two weeks, so I am eager for a bout with him myself. The addition of Mr. Hurst, Lady Dobbs, and Miss Hurst to our family party at Pemberley, made my visit more enjoyable than anticipated. I would be honoured to tell you all about the goings-on. My young cousin has apparently become quite an intimate of Miss Hurst. I do believe Georgie thinks of her as a sister she always wanted,” the Colonel responded just as loudly with a wicked grin.


Grace realized what was happening and appreciated the Colonel was quick on the uptake. “Georgie has indeed become one of my closest friends. Poor Aunt Phoebe,” she said with a shake of her head. “She was trying to prepare Georgie for her presentation, and I was not very helpful.”


“To be fair, Miss Hurst, from what Georgie wrote to me, you only instigated mutiny and absconded to the orangery with my ward when she needed a break. I do feel bad for poor Darcy though,” the Colonel said playfully, “Georgie took advantage of his good nature and he ended up sitting for your paintings and drawings more times than I thought possible.”


“His good nature?” Grace asked with a laugh. “I believe it was due to the fact that the man cannot stand to see his sister disappointed.”


“I am standing right here, you know,” Darcy tried to interrupt.


“My husband is the same way with Sarah. All she has to do is look at him with forlorn eyes, and he agrees to almost anything,” Lady Sheldon said with a grin.


“Georgie and I improved our chess skills over the winter months. You owe me a match, Colonel. I have not forgot, you see,” Grace added.


“I am looking forward to it,” he responded quietly.


“Lady Sheldon, pardon me for dropping in uninvited and eavesdropping, but it was too delicious of a scene to pass by. I hate to inform you that none of my beastly relatives told me about your dinner invitation. Was I included? I was unable to hear Miss Hurst play at Matlock House last night, unfortunately I had a prior commitment, but I know from our dinner at Darcy House earlier this week that she plays exceptionally well.”


“Lord Halburn, where have you been hiding?” Lady Sheldon welcomed the Matlock heir to their group. “Of course, the invitation included you.”


Grace could have sworn Viscount Halburn gave Lady Sheldon slight wink with his bow of acceptance. Another one who loves to play to an audience, she thought before the Viscount turned to his brother with a challenging look.


“Richard, I am sure you need to be getting back to the general. I would be more than happy to take over as escort to Miss Hurst,” Lord Halburn offered.


“You are wrong, brother,” the Colonel responded. “I am free for another hour.”


“A pity,” Lord Halburn answered his brother with a smirk. “Miss Hurst, I heard mother mention you would be attending Lord Mordaunt’s ball with us next week. May I have the honor of your first set?”


“I am sorry, Lord Halburn, your brother has already requested that set,” she responded, ignoring the brothers’ obvious rivalry.


“The supper?”


She shook her head and answered, “I am afraid that one has been promised to your brother too.”


“The final then,” Lord Halburn stated. “Richard could not possibly have asked you for three sets.”


“No JT, he did not. The final set is mine,” Mr. Darcy answered before she could.


Grace was only slightly worried she was going daft. She did not remember Mr. Darcy requesting a set in advance, but she accepted the offer discretely as he asked for it. “I am sorry, my Lord, that set is reserved too.”


“Of course, all of your important sets are spoken for. Do you know how rare it is for a beautiful and rich young lady, who also has a brain, to appear in society?” Lord Halburn asked. “The second set?”


“It would be a pleasure, my Lord,” Grace confirmed with a grin.


“I am not so sure that was a truthful statement, Miss Hurst,” Lord Halburn said quietly. “Well,” he continued louder, “I must be off. Until the ball, Miss Hurst. I look forward to our set.”


As he walked past his brother, Grace was sure she heard Lord Halburn whisper, “You lucky devil.”


“Grace Madeline Hurst!” Aunt Phoebe hissed at her. “I am not saying Miss Bingley did not deserve what you all did, but that was very poorly done. I am ashamed of you Grace and expected better of Lady Sheldon and Colonel Fitzwilliam. That was both unkind and ungracious.”


Grace knew her aunt was correct.


“While I do believe we could have handled it better if we had time to think,” Lady Sheldon said, “we could not let Miss Bingley’s statements go unchallenged. We had to act immediately or the gossip would have been blown out of proportion by dinner time.”


“Perhaps,” Aunt Phoebe conceded. “Grace, we need to speak with your brother and made decisions as a family.”


“You are all welcome to take tea at Sheldon House. We could convene a war council by inviting the Matlock’s too,” Lady Sheldon invited the group. “The best way to combat the Bingley’s, will be a united front.”


When they arrived at the Grosvenor Gate, Grace’s spirits were lifted to see her brother and Miss Darcy playing in the grass with Lady Sheldon’s daughters.


~*~



Lochdale, Inverness
Friday, May 17, 1811



“Lydia, I believe our work here is done,” Matilda Tucker announced to her charge.


“Really, Matilda? Do you mean it? I can go home?” the young girl asked with tears in her eyes.


“You have made a tremendous amount of progress while here. You are behaving properly, but more importantly, seem to understand why it is necessary. If you do not listen to Mrs. Waldron at Longbourn, we will end up right back here,” she warned sternly.


“You, Lara, and Mrs. Douglas helped me understand. I always thought propriety existed to make adults boring,” Lydia admitted.


“Well, I am sure there is a fair bit of that mixed into the rules too,” Matilda agreed with a grin.


“I never realized how little servants earn for the long hours they work. Papa gives me more pin money than the wages I received here,” Lydia said.


“Lydia, I am pleased you made the connection. You do realize, do you not, that Mrs. Douglas assigned you jobs that would not damage your hands? Normally, the maid who polishes the furniture would dust first and the maid who washed the clothes would fold them. You were given the easy tasks.”


“I did not at first, but Lara pointed it out to me. She helped me realize I was very fortunate to be born a gentlewoman and should not squander the gift God gave me.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

LizzySMay 14, 2020 02:36PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

EvelynJeanMay 19, 2020 07:22AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

LizzySMay 19, 2020 01:57PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

EvelynJeanMay 20, 2020 02:44AM

why will the ton care about the Bingleys?

SiraMay 15, 2020 06:39PM

Re: why will the ton care about the Bingleys?

LizzySMay 15, 2020 07:10PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

BrigidMay 14, 2020 05:37PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

LizzySMay 14, 2020 06:22PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 9

BrigidMay 18, 2020 01:45AM



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