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Another Month Complete 4

June 28, 2020 09:22PM
Chapter 4

Anne de Bourgh was watching for Elizabeth from the foyer window and on her arrival greeted her with much enthusiasm. “Mama is resting and will be indisposed for at least two hours, Miss Bennet. We need not fear any interruption.”

Elizabeth had not anticipated Anne's desire to attend all her practice sessions, but gave no indication of her surprise. “And here I thought I'd have a little time to myself,” she mused. “Well, having another ally at Rosings must be a benefit.”

She placed the first page of the Mozart on the piano stand, studied the first few measures and gasped. “No, no, no. Good heavens! I cannot possibly play this! It is far too advanced a piece for me. It would take me another three years with a piano master to learn the left hand alone! What was your Mama thinking?”

But then she knew exactly what her Ladyship was thinking. What delight she took in humiliating her.

“Oh dear, what are you going to do Miss Bennet? Mama will be ever so cross.”

“What can I do but tell her the truth. Besides, she has no right to be angry. I never pretended to be better than I am and am not ashamed of being …. mediocre. Not everyone can be a Mozart, you know.” They laughed together for a moment, until Anne's eyes began to fill with tears.

“Oh, Miss Bennet, I fear Mama may be quite unkind to you when she hears it. It pains me so when she....

Elizabeth interrupted her immediately, gently laying her hand on Anne's forearm. “Miss Anne, do not fret on my account. Believe me when I say that I know only too well what it is like to be embarrassed by a parent. You are not responsible for your mother's actions or for her uncensored opinions. You are only responsible for what you do and say.”

Anne covered Elizabeth's hand with her own and allowed her tears to fall. “You understand me so well, Miss Bennet. I have never had a friend such as you before. Thank you.”

“You need not thank me for becoming your friend, Anne. I have gained your friendship in return and that is your gift to me. Now let's make the most of the time we have left and have some fun. Would you like to play a little melody with me?”

“You know I cannot play, Miss Bennet. I cannot read music and have never even touched the keys.”

“We will start small then, and I promise you shall enjoy it. Trust me”

“I do, Miss Bennet. I do.”

“But first you must agree to call me Elizabeth or Lizzy, if you like ... though not in front of the others to be sure,” she laughed.

Taking up Anne's left hand, Elizabeth placed her smallest finger on C and her thumb on G. “Now all you need to do is gently strike C and count two beats and then the G for two beats, like this.” Elizabeth demonstrated, repeating the simple pattern over and over again.

“My goodness, Miss Bennet, that does not seem at all difficult. I can do that!” she exclaimed happily.

“And while you do that, I shall play a little melody with the right hand. Let us see how it sounds together.”

Anne de Bourgh was giddy as Elizabeth varied the little tune but kept it harmonically pleasing within the chord they were playing. It could not have been simpler, but to Anne it was a revelation. She could be a part of something bigger than herself and still have her participation be of value. No one had ever made her feel so accepted and worthy before. In her mother's world, one had to excel at anything one did – or not attempt it at all.


For the third day in a row, Fitzwilliam Darcy left his estate responsibilities early to listen beneath the window of Mrs. Jenkinon's room. To avoid being seen, he placed himself among the tall shrubbery at the edge of the gravel path. Should anyone pass by, he could simply walk out pretending to be making his way back to the house. Distance prevented him from hearing the ladies conversation, for which he was grateful. He had no desire to intrude on their privacy, but he could still hear the music and the pleasing sounds of light-hearted chatter. Anne and Elizabeth were forming a fast friendship and it gladdened his heart – for Anne's sake, of course, but even more for his own. “You are perfectly right, Elizabeth, I am a conceited, selfish man, undeserving of your love. But I cannot let you go … I cannot!”

*****

“You want me to leave this afternoon?” said the Colonel in an exasperated tone. He looked completely perplexed and somewhat annoyed. “What's the hurry, Darcy? Why not let me get an early start in the morning. What difference would those few hours make? Georgiana won't be expecting me at either time.”

“At present, the weather is good and the roads are dry.” said Darcy. “Who knows what the weather will be over the next few days. If you leave by two, you'll be there in time for supper and a good night's rest. Then you'll be able to start off in good time to be here in the afternoon.”

This isn't like you, Cuz, making these last minute plans and pressing so hard to see them through. Besides, you normally do your best to protect Georgina from Aunt Catherine.”

Yes, that is true, but I have more than a few weeks of work left here and Georgie has been alone with Mrs. Annesley long enough. I know she is anxiously awaiting a letter with news of my arrival and must be sorely disappointed each time the post is brought in. Richard, it will be a splendid surprise for her!

“But if your days are taken up with estate affairs, she won't get the pleasure of your company anyway. And sadly, Anne, does not make for a very lively companion.”

“Well, I'll be sure to spend extra time with her at breakfast. I won't rush out. And we'll have dinner and the rest of the evening together. It is better than being apart for yet another month. And of course, she'll have you to entertain her during the day,” said Darcy, slapping his cousin on the back with a hearty
chuckle.

“And hopefully, she will have Elizabeth's company for at least part of each day!” thought Darcy. Knowing of Anne's growing affection for Miss Bennet he had no doubt that the three of them would find a way to spend time together.


*****

“They're here! Finally!” exclaimed Anne, rushing from her seat beside Elizabeth to the open window. The sound of the wheels on the gravel had alerted her to the much anticipated arrival of Georgiana and Richard. “Come Elizabeth, you must meet my sweet and talented cousin Georgiana,” she said, taking Elizabeth's hand and pulling her towards the door. “You will enjoy each other's company so much, I am sure. Thankfully Fitzwilliam has allowed her to join us this time. He usually makes excuses for her, but I know it is because Mama always upsets her.”

“No, Anne, I think not,” said Elizabeth, retrieving her hand from Anne's grasp. “This is a family reunion and I am certain her Ladyship would frown upon my being included. Go, go ahead and greet your guest. I will see myself out.”

“Oh, Elizabeth, you are right ... as usual. I hadn't thought it through. It would be best for you to meet Georgiana away from Mama's critical gaze.”

***

It was not long after the breakfast things had been cleared away that a knock was heard at the front door of the Parsonage.

“Who on earth can that be? It is far too early for visitors,” said Charlotte, rushing to the window and moving the curtains aside. “Good heavens, there's a Rosing's coach outside! Help me off with this apron, Lizzy. And as you are certainly the one to blame for this,” she teased, “you must be the one to receive them. Take them into the small parlor. I will come as soon as I am presentable.”

“You are perfectly presentable, Charlotte., besides, it is probably only a servant with a message.”

“Servants do not arrive by coach, Lizzy. They walk! Now go and see who it is.”

Charlotte's maid was taking the visitor's gloves and wraps and anxiously looked to Elizabeth as she came into the foyer. “Thank you Agnes, I shall take our guests into Mrs. Collins's parlor.”

“Miss Anne,” said Elizabeth, smiling broadly. “What an honour,” she laughed, knowing Anne would get her meaning. Anne had never entered the Parsonage before.

“Oh, Lizzy – that is, Miss Bennet, I know we are shamefully early, but I just couldn't wait! Georgiana pressed me to hold off another hour, but …

“Well then, would you do me the kindness of introducing me to your friend.?”

“Oh yes, of course,” said Anne, giggling. “Miss Elizabeth Bennet, may I introduce my cousin Georgiana Darcy? Miss Darcy, this is Elizabeth Bennet.”

The ladies curtsied to one another and smiled. Georgiana was both bewildered and encouraged by the informal rapport so obvious between her cousin and this pleasant young woman. She had never seen Anne so animated or met anyone so instantly warm and friendly as Elizabeth. She had been somewhat nervous about meeting her cousin's new friend, but Miss Bennet was certainly making an effort to put her at ease.

“Please be seated,” said Elizabeth. “Mrs. Collins will be down shortly. May I offer you a cup of tea or coffee after your long journey?”

Both ladies chuckled. “You know we have just finished breakfast, Liz.... Miss Bennet. But I know that you go for an early morning walk, and we did not want to miss you. May we walk part of the way with you? We can talk and get to know each other along the way.” Turning to Miss Darcy, Anne continued. “Elizabeth is known to be an excellent walker, Georgiana. She wanders about for hours and seeks out all the wildest places in Rosing's Park.”

“And how do you know that?” said Elizabeth in an accusatory tone, but very much amused.

“Richard has told me of your escapades to small waterfalls where you take off your stockings and wade in the water,” laughed Anne. “Oh my! I should not have revealed that, should I? I am terrible at keeping secrets!”

“Well, now I know not to reveal anything of importance to you, Miss de Bourgh. And I shall have to speak to the Colonel about spreading slanderous rumors about me.”

They were still laughing when Charlotte finally made her appearance. She had changed her frock and tidied her hair. Introductions were made and the four ladies spent a pleasant half hour in easy conversation. It was the first time, Georgiana later realized, that she had not been worried about saying just the right thing. As they rose and headed toward the door, Charlotte begged to be excused from walking out with them, citing some church business that needed her attention.

They set out together with Terrance, the coachman, trailing at a good distance behind so that he might ferry the ladies home when they tired. They walked in comfortable silence for a few moments, breathing in the early morning air and admiring the greenery.

“I am so glad to have met you at last, Miss Darcy,” began Elizabeth. “I have heard so much about you.”

“Really?” said Georgiana, very much surprised. “From what source, may I ask?” She was equally surprised at her boldness for posing such a question. She was usually far too shy to demand anything of anyone, no less a complete stranger.

“Well, at Netherfield, the Bingley sisters spoke very highly of your musical achievements. And, of course, your brother always spoke so lovingly of you that my impression of you was very favorable from the first. Then there is the Colonel, who obviously adores you. So you see, you've come with excellent references, Miss Darcy.”

Georgiana was bewildered by this information. She knew all about Netherfield Park, of course, but had never heard any mention of a Miss Elizabeth Bennet. She then remembered one of Fitzwilliam's letters mentioning a Miss Bennet who had become ill at Netherfield and had spent some time recovering there. But her name was not Elizabeth. She could not remember what it was, but it was definitely not Elizabeth. How strange.

“Did you spend much time at Netherfield, Miss Bennet,” Georgiana asked. “And did you enjoy the company of Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst?” She watched as Elizabeth hesitated for a moment and carefully chose her words.

“They are very elegant and charming ladies, but we did not spend much time together. My sister Jane had fallen ill while visiting them, so I came to care for her until she was able to travel home. And, of course, my family and I attended the Netherfield Ball. The Bingleys were very gracious hosts.”

“Yes, I heard about the Netherfield Ball. It must have been wonderful.”

“Indeed it was!' said Elizabeth with as much enthusiasm as she could muster. “Oh, and then I also heard you praised from an entirely different source – a childhood friend – or companion, if you will. George Wickham,” said Elizabeth, watching for Georgiana's reaction. “I believe he grew up at Pemberley with you and your brother. Is that not so?”

Georgiana grew pale and seemed to lose her balance momentarily. Elizabeth reached out to support her.

“Are you all right, Miss Darcy? You do not look at all well!”

“Just a spot of dizziness, Miss Bennet. I am fine, really, but perhaps I should get out of the sun.”

“Yes indeed, Georgiana!” cried Anne, waving to Terence to come and fetch them home.”

Once she was seated comfortably in the coach, Georgiana turned to Elizabeth and said, “You must think me a very fragile creature, Miss Bennet. I assure you I am not. Forgive me for bringing this lovely excursion to an end. I feel rather foolish, but I suppose yesterday's journey has caught up with me. I hope to see you again very soon.”

Elizabeth smiled and nodded, but could not help feeling guilty for bringing on Miss Darcy's distress. She had made a grave mistake in mentioning George Wickham. What right had she to upset Miss Darcy when it was her brother who had cheated Wickham out of his livelihood?

She was thoroughly ashamed of herself. Once the coach was off she sat down on a log to make sense of her emotions. “I hope she doesn't inform Fitzwilliam of this! Fitzwilliam? When did he become Fitzwilliam to me?”

“Urrgh! Aggravating man! I cannot wait to leave this wretched place!” she cried aloud, jumping up and pacing about. “But why in the world would you care if he knew?” came the little voice that often balanced her thinking. “I don't know. I only know I don't wish him to think ill of me,” she murmured.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Another Month Complete 4

Gaby A.June 28, 2020 09:22PM

Re: Another Month Complete 4

Shannon KJune 30, 2020 02:07PM

Re: Another Month Complete 4

MichaJune 29, 2020 01:41PM

Re: Another Month Complete 4

Gaby A.June 29, 2020 02:15PM

Re: Another Month Complete 4

MichelleElleJune 29, 2020 12:41AM

Re: Another Month Complete 4

Gaby A.June 29, 2020 02:14PM



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