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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 13

June 30, 2020 09:01PM
Words cannot convey how sorry I am that more than a month has passed since I posted. Tempus Fugit definitely is true.

My daughter is dog/house sitting and my husband has two very full days planned for Wednesday and Thursday so I am hoping I can get a lot of writing done. I have made a nice dent into Chapter 14 already.

I know this is a few days early, but I figured it was ready so why make you wait even longer. I had planned to post it first thing this morning, but a semi-emergency had me physically in the office.

I hope this answers why I had Jane react as drastically as I did. Remember, in the Regency Era, women of gentle birth were kept sheltered and naïve on purpose.

Most of this chapter is from Aunt Jane’s POV. I had her refer to Jane Bennet as Janey to hopefully ease any confusion from two Jane’s.

Chapter 13

Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Friday, June 7, 1811

Jane Sakville knocked on the door to her niece’s bedroom. “Janey, may Matilda and I speak with you?” They situated themselves in her niece’s dressing room before she took a deep breath and began what she knew would be a difficult conversation.

“In such cases, I usually have more tact and patience, my dear niece. Unfortunately, after three long days of travel, I am fatigued. Talk to us, Janey,” Jane Sakville ordered her niece. “Do not try to pull the wool over our eyes and tell us nothing is wrong. I have been told, separately, by five different people, who all love you, there is something wrong.” Jane watched as her niece’s eyes misted up. She handed Janey the extra handkerchief she had ready and comforted her through the expected tears.

“There, does that feel better? Now, talk to us. We will not leave until you do.”

“Your aunt is correct, Miss Bennet. I could not, in good conscience, leave you in this state overnight,” Matilda said.

“I know Lydia told you about her time in Scotland,” Jane gently prodded.

“Yes, Aunt Jane, she did. Oh, I was very much distraught by Mrs. Douglas’ history,” her niece said. “She is such a kind, gentle, intelligent woman. If she could be deceived by a... a... bad man, what is to become of me? How am I ever to marry knowing such men exist? If she could not see his true nature, what chance have I?”

“Oh, Janey, I had forgotten you spent a summer at Lochdale with us. Mrs. Douglas was Kitty’s age when she married and her uncle was not very attentive to her. Do you remember the warning we gave you at the beginning of your first season?” Her niece nodded and she continued. “We did not have this exact scenario in mind, but I thought we did a good job of preparing you. Now I think we might have failed.”

“No, Aunt Jane, you prepared me as best you could. It was not just Mrs. Douglas’ story, but also... I appreciate the chance to unburden myself aunt, I am rather tired,” her niece finished with a blush.

Jane shared a look with Matilda before asking, “Mrs. Douglas told me she assigned Lara to help Lydia become familiar the duties of a maid. Did Lara disclose her history to Lydia?” When her niece gasped and looked at her with wide eyes, she smiled comfortingly and asked, “Did you think I was not aware? When I installed Mrs. Douglas as housekeeper at Lochdale, I authorized her to extend help to women in need whenever she could. An express was sent to me immediately when Lara was hired.”

“But, do you not see, Aunt Jane? What is to stop the same thing from happening to me? Lara was betrayed by someone she had known her entire life. How does one protect themselves from that?” her niece asked, clearly distraught.

“Miss Bennet, I believe your aunt and I have more information than you do. May I?” Matilda asked.

Jane nodded, ceding the discussion to her friend’s lead.

“Lara was not the first young woman to be compromised by that person,” Matilda informed Janey.

“If it had happened before, why was nothing done?” her niece asked with tears streaming down her face.

“The previous young lady, let us call her Miss Smith for ease of having a name, was new to the community. Lara described her as friendly but the scoundrel convinced enough people that she was an outspoken and flirty young lady who seduced him into kissing her at the assembly with the aspiration of forcing an unwanted marriage,” Matilda answered with a scowl. “Miss Smith was an only child and her father decided to send her to live with a relative who owns an estate near to Lochdale. When the same neighbour attempted to kiss Lara at the next assembly, she made a fool of him publicly.”

“Janey, I know the rest of the story will trouble you but do not take it to heart. I spoke with Miss Smith’s relatives the last time I was in Scotland. They had helped her parents settle in when they inherited their estate. I was told they never liked the young man and were not surprised by his actions. You must realize he was a bad seed who preyed on young ladies. There are times in your life you will come across people that cause you concern. Do not push that initial wariness aside even if you choose to give them the benefit of the doubt. Trust your instincts as Lara did. Your parents, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins will all help you. Do you believe anyone could fool your father, Uncle Frederick, Edmund, and Lizzy?”

“No Aunt Jane,” her niece agreed.

Matilda continued the tale quietly.

“Lara went shopping alone in their village a fortnight after the assembly, something she had done numerous times. The young man forced her behind a store, struck her, and tore her dress. Lara made him look a fool at the last assembly and her newfound intense dislike of him was plain for all to see. Her distrust made the women in the village wary of him. He told her his objective was revenge by making everyone think she had been completely violated. She was also worried if she accused him, the village would think she had changed her mind and was trying to force a marriage like the previous young lady, or even worse, would gossip until her father did force her to marry him. The new young doctor had witnessed him dragging her from the street and showed up just after he left. Lara told the doctor she lived at the Smith’s estate and he escorted her there. When they arrived, she apologized and explained why she had misled him. The doctor saw to the injury on her face then left to notify her parents where she was and what had occurred. She begged the Smith’s to send her wherever their daughter was rather than face the scorn of her parents and the village. After some discussion, they agreed and told Lara’s parents she had snuck out and left a note.”

“But, if only the Smith’s, the new doctor, and her parents knew what happened, why did Lara not go home?” Janey asked.

“Her father’s estate yields less than £1,000 per annum and he is a highly religious man. Lara assumed, quite correctly, he would turn her out of the house with no assistance,” Matilda answered.

“Was the neighbour disgraced for the second attack?”

“No Janey,” she answered her niece with a sad look on her face. “Even with the doctor giving witness and pressing the issue, the neighbour managed to escape blame again. The vile young man and a servant, who must have been paid a tidy sum, told everyone they had seen Lara leaving a clandestine encounter looking disheveled. He claimed she paid the doctor to lie in order to discredit him and his servant confirmed to his father and the magistrate that it was impossible he was the assailant since they had been working together with horses all day.”

“Now the third time,” Matilda broke in, “he was caught. By then, the ladies in the surrounding area all avoided him. Lara had grown up there and was very popular and too many bad things seemed to happen when he was near. He caught a maid running an errand and started to repeat his previous actions. What he did not count on, was the maid screaming for help and his father and the magistrate hunting nearby. The men heard the scream, saw someone strike a woman, and the young man’s own father injured and captured him.”

“Why did she not return home after he was exposed,” Janey asked, clearly having trouble understanding someone who choose to voluntarily stay away from their family.

“Lara thought about it, Janey, but in the end, she decided if her parents and siblings did not believe her, even with the doctor as witness, she wanted nothing to do with them. Also, she was comfortable with the freedom her new life allowed, even if she had to work as a servant,” Jane told her niece. “Now Janey, can you see either of your parents refusing to believe you?”

“No, Aunt Jane, and even if they did, you and Uncle Frederick would support me.”

“Good girl. You must find a way to live your life while taking appropriate precautions. For example, walking in the garden at the side of the house should be entirely safe, however walking to Meryton by yourself could not be. Notice I said could and should. Only the good Lord knows what will happen in our future. He gave us life, we should honour that gift by living it to the fullest.”

“What about Lizzy walking alone?” her niece asked worriedly.

“Would it make you feel better if I asked the youngest Sims brother if he would travel to Longbourn and join the household’s permanent staff with the sole duty to protect you girls? He could follow Lizzy at a discreet distance when she traipses along the countryside,” Jane told her niece with a smile on her face.

“I cannot see any of my neighbours acting the way Lara’s did, but yes it would, Aunt Jane. It was most convenient of Mrs. Sims to have five large and trustworthy sons.”

“Yes, Janey, I am sure being of use to my family was her design in having so many,” Jane said with a raised brow earning a blush from her niece. With a serious look Jane said, “In my opinion, Janey, empathy is both your greatest trait and worst fault. It is natural to feel bad for Mrs. Douglas and Lara, and you certainly should learn from their situations, but you cannot let that stop you from living your life. Hiding yourself away in fear serves no purpose. All anyone can do is prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

“Your aunt is right, Miss Bennet. There will always be wickedness in the world, but you have a lot of people who care about you, greatly. In addition to the youngest Sims brother hopefully joining your household, would you be open to the brothers teaching you how to defend yourself?” Matilda asked.

Jane smiled at the shock on her niece’s face. “I think it is a good idea, Janey. Talk to Edmund, Juliet, and Celia, they have all been instructed since a young age. With your uncle’s approval and oversight, I might add.”

Jane and Matilda both laughed outright at the wide-eyed look on Janey’s face.

“Instructed in what?” her niece finally asked.

“Edmund has more training than my daughters, obviously, but they both know how to fence, shoot, and just enough boxing manoeuvres to try and keep someone at arm’s length until help arrives. For example, picking up a stick and using it like a sword to keep distance between you and someone. As a last resort, raising your knee to a specific area will temporarily incapacitate most men. Sometimes, all it takes is a few extra seconds, Janey, to make a significant difference. Think about it, my dear.”

“Thank you, Aunt Jane and Matilda. You have both given me a lot to consider.”


Matlock House, London
Saturday, June 8, 1811

“If Richard is not downstairs in five minutes, I will depart without him,” Olivia Fitzwilliam threatened.

“Olivia, my dear, I know you are excited, but you must be patient. Richard was given leave on short notice. It is understandable, expected even, that he would have to organize a few matters before leaving London.”

“I appreciate his dedication to his duties, truly, I do, but I am eager.”

“I understand your desire for grandchildren, but there is no guarantee Joseph will get on well with any of the ladies in Meryton. As we have seen from past attempts, the more you push him to marry, the more he resists. Richard does seem to be enthralled with Miss Hurst, however, even there, marriage and grandchildren are a long way off.”

Olivia closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Everything you said was accurate. I know I am too anxious. I will try and temper my enthusiasm.”

“That is all I ask,” Michael said before gently kissed her forehead. “Ah, Richard, how good of you to join us.”

“I saw that look, Lord Matlock,” Olivia said with narrowed eyes. “Richard, your father was warning you to be wary because I am too excited about the Bennet ladies. He is afraid my exuberance will drive Joseph away.”

“You must admit, mother, father speaks the truth. If you inadvertently alert JT you are matchmaking, he will leave out of principle or purposefully ignore all of the ladies, probably rudely,” her son warned.

“Yes, unfortunately that is true,” she agreed with a grimace. “Michael, you will arrive in time for the assembly next Friday?”

“Yes. The vote is Wednesday and I plan to leave Thursday morning.”

“Richard, what are your plans? Will you be able to attend an assembly being held in Meryton next Friday?” she asked.

“I will discuss it with the general when I return. Although,” Richard said with a grin, “if I explain why I want the time off, he may insist on joining me. Who knows, maybe he will gain the respect of Miss Mary.”

“We will have to take that risk. Shall we leave?” she asked.

Mother and son farewelled Lord Matlock and were shortly on the northern road out of London heading to Meryton.

“Mother, I read Lady Dobbs’ letter to you and my letters from Hurst, Darcy, and Georgie. Tell me everything you know about the Bennet family,” Richard asked.

“I want to know what you know, too,” Olivia said.

They spent most of the journey talking about the details in their letters. Richard asked that he be allowed to encourage Joseph to visit Meryton after he met the family.

“I know my brother, mother. Depending on what we find, I am fairly confident I can have him ready to leave London at first light on Monday. If, as you say, my cousin and Hurst are interested in Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth, that leaves Miss Mary and the younger two sisters, who have not been presented. I wonder if their eldest cousin’s personality would complement JT’s,” Richard stated.

“I did not think about Miss Mary not being out in society,” she said thoughtfully.

“Mother, please do not try to force any relationships,” Richard said. “For all we know, the ladies might be calling, courting, or betrothed.”

“Words of wisdom. I will attempt to be patient, Richard.”

“That is all I ask. I would hate to see you grow to be attached to a particular young lady only to discover she could not become your daughter,” her son said gently.


Haye Park, Hertfordshire
Saturday, June 8, 1811

Reginald Hurst watched his Aunt Phoebe fondly. She was fidgeting while waiting for Lady Matlock to, hopefully, arrive in time for tea. He was sure Aunt Phoebe wanted to discuss the Bennet sisters with her friend before the family arrived. His sister and Miss Darcy had apparently been telling tales.

Hurst was certain Aunt Phoebe had also talked to Mrs. Stanley, the housekeeper, because his aunt seemed to know more about the Bennet family than he did and she had never been introduced to any of them. He would admit, just to himself, maybe Darcy too if asked, that he was impatient to see Miss Bennet again. He suspected her beauty would rival that of Aphrodite or Helen of Troy, but even more important, to him at least, seeing her treat the daughter of a tenant so kindly...

He was brought out of his revelry by Mrs. Stanley announcing a carriage coming down the drive. He shared an indulgent smile with Harold as Aunt Phoebe rushed out the door to greet the Fitzwilliam’s.

“I am glad you could leave London early. Colonel, thank you for escorting your mother. Olivia, when you are ready, join me in the study,” his aunt told her friend once they were in the house.

“I will be quick, Phoebe. It seems we have much to discuss,” Lady Matlock agreed with a twinkle in her eye that almost worried Hurst.

“It is nice to see you, Colonel,” Grace said while walking down the stairs. “Welcome, Lady Matlock.”

“Miss Hurst,” the Colonel acknowledged with a gentle smile. “If my general allows me a short leave, may I reserve the first set at the assembly next Friday?”

“It would be my pleasure,” Grace answered with a smile.

“Thank you, Miss Hurst,” the Colonel said before turning to him. “Hurst, I will be down shortly to give you an update on our investment. Where is Darcy?”

“He is taking a walk with Miss Darcy. I will find them and meet you and Harold in the study. Ask any member of the staff for directions,” Hurst answered.

“Mrs. Stanley, please show our guests to the prepared rooms so they may change out of their traveling clothes,” his aunt asked.

“If you will follow me,” Mrs. Stanley indicated the stairway to the new arrivals.

Hurst went outside to find the Darcy’s and let them know their relatives had arrived. Miss Darcy hurried inside to speak with her aunt while he and Darcy went to the study to join Harold in conversation until the Colonel arrived.

“Well, gentleman, I had an interesting meeting at SBG Shipping earlier this week,” the Colonel said when he joined them.

“Nothing bad, I hope,” Harold stated. “This is my first investment and I would hate to lose money on my maiden voyage.”

“No, we doubled our initial investment already,” the Colonel said offhandedly. “It was an accident that I overheard the interesting part. I was being escorted to his office for our meeting and the head clerk had just walked in, leaving the door open, to tell him the majority shareholder agreed to the proposed expansion of the company.”

“I thought he was the sole owner and as such would be the majority shareholder,” said Darcy.

“He certainly gives that impression,” he said. “But, now that I think back, I do not believe he has ever specifically said so. There is also the name of the company, SGB. Are there two additional majority shareholders?”

“Very astute observation, Hurst,” the Colonel said with a smirk. “He was a little hesitant to give out information, but Darcy and I have been investors for years and his wife grew up in Derbyshire. There are three brothers, by marriage, who started the company. The most wealthy is the majority shareholder and silent unless a certain amount of money is involved. Of the remaining brothers, one had more money to invest, but the other handles the day to day operations, so they are equal shareholders. I was given the impression the two brothers not directly involved are gentry. He also informed me that once SBG Shipping started turning a nice profit, the two junior shareholders created G&B Imports and Exports.”

“What an ingenious way to proceed,” Harold said.

“I thought so,” the Colonel agreed. “They could use their ships primarily for the second business and, when possible, turn a profit by hiring them out as they did to us.”

“If he is the owner of both businesses, why does he not have an estate?” Darcy asked. “I knew he was doing well for himself when he purchased a townhouse on my street, but why is he still in trade?”

“I asked the same thing, Darcy. In actual fact, he has purchased an estate but it is leased out because he enjoys running the businesses. When his children are older, and the second business is more successful, he will promote managers and assume an advisory role to become part of the gentry,” the Colonel explained as there was a knock on the door.

“Enter,” Darcy called out.

Sally entered carrying Reggie.

“Mr. Hurst, as requested, here is Reggie. The Bennet’s are expected shortly and I am to serve tea. Are you certain you wish to play with him for their entire visit?”

“Yes, Sally. The young man and I will be fine,” he assured the mother.

“Very well, sir. Thank you,” Sally said before curtsying and leaving.

“What do you and Master Reggie have planned, Hurst,” the Colonel asked him.

“Sally told me he has recently become a very curious young man. I am going to take him to the stables and then walk around the gardens,” he responded.

“Do you mind if I join you?” Harold asked. “I am used to being on my feet more than I am now.”

“Of course,” he said. “You may all join us if you like.”

Hurst suppressed a grin when all three gentlemen joined him and Reggie in the stables. They enjoyed watching Reggie’s reactions to the various horses and items in the barn. When Reggie saw his father, he started kicking his feet and babbling.

Hurst shared a grin with Darcy when Wiggins refused to saddle a horse so the Colonel could take Reggie for a ride. After leaving the stables, the gentlemen went to the gardens to show Reggie the flowers.

They were amazed to see how Reggie reacted to the various colors in the gardens.

“The lad seems to be learning new things at an impressive rate,” the Colonel said.

“And trying to put everything in his mouth,” Harold added. “You could not pay me enough money to become a nanny, but I will admit, I am partial these short visits with Master Reggie.”

“Sally showed me Reggie can stand with assistance. Watch,” he said as he set Reggie down on his feet while carefully holding his hands.

“He likes to bounce,” the Colonel said, sounding surprised.

“We should see if Lady Dobbs has requested our presence in the parlour,” Darcy said indicating the window they were in front of. “It looks as though the Bennet’s have arrived.”


Haye Park, Hertfordshire
Saturday, June 8, 1811

“Girls, I am known to Lady Dobbs in London. There may be a moment of awkwardness when we are introduced,” Jane Sakville warned her daughters and nieces as their carriage came to a stop. The Sims twins helped them down and followed them into the house.

“Mrs. Sakville, it is nice to see you,” Mr. Stanley greeted them.

“Mr. Stanley, it has been a few years. I hope your family is well. My daughters and nieces are here to take tea with Miss Hurst and Miss Darcy and I am here to renew my acquaintance with Lady Dobbs.”

“I will escort you to the parlour. Lady Matlock and her son, Colonel Fitzwilliam, joined the household today,” her childhood friend mentioned as they walked down the hall.

Mr. Stanley announced them to the room, “Mrs. Sakville, Miss Sakville, Miss Celia, Miss Bennet, Miss Elizabeth, Miss Mary, Miss Catherine, and Miss Lydia.”

“Thank you, Joey, we will call for you if we need anything,” Jane dismissed him while looking at the shocked faces of her two acquaintances. “Lady Matlock and Lady Dobbs, I was unaware you knew each other. I apologize for being so familiar with Mr. Stanley. We both grew up in Meryton and sometimes I slip into the past and think I am speaking with the same young man who used to pull my hair during church.”

After a few moments of silence, it was clear neither of the ladies would speak. Jane asked her eldest niece to perform the introduction of the two parties.

“I can perform most of them, Aunt Jane,” her eldest niece said, “however I have never been introduced to one of the ladies present.”

Once the introductions were done and everyone was seated, Jane noticed Miss Hurst looking between the two titled ladies and herself with a crease in her forehead.

“Why do I feel that Georgie and I are the only two who do not know an important piece of information?” Miss Hurst asked.

“I heard about your interactions with my nieces when you met yesterday, Miss Hurst. What possessed you speak to my niece Mary the way you did upon your first meeting? Are you always so direct and abrasive?” Jane asked. “You may have a decent dowry, but I have been a part of society for a long time. While they may overlook the harshness of your speech while you are a novelty and an unmarried woman, if you address the wrong person so flippantly, you will regret it,” Jane said with a note of steel in her voice.

Miss Darcy broke the tension in the room by tentatively saying, “Grace may have been wrong to state her question as she did, Mrs. Sakville, but I too noticed the look on the faces of my aunt and Lady Dobbs when you walked in the room.”

Jane heard the tremble in Miss Darcy’s voice and saw Lady Matlock look at her niece with surprise on her face. Another gentle soul, she thought.

“Miss Elizabeth, I am quite certain I asked you to bring Anna,” Miss Hurst interrupted with a defiant look at her.

Jane silenced Elizabeth with a look. She could not believe how Miss Hurst was acting. To purposefully antagonize a woman she was unconnected with and knew nothing about? The deference Lady Matlock and Lady Dobbs had shown in waiting for her to speak first should have clued this self-assured young woman into realizing the information she assumed everyone else knew was significant. Miss Hurst was keeping just to the acceptable side of propriety, barely, but she was extremely brusque. Jane had seen it happen before, of course. A successful season had made many women think they were untouchable and turned them into horrible snobs.

Knowing her friends and family would not interrupt, Jane glared at Miss Hurst until the first look of uncertainty crossed her features. “My niece Elizabeth told me Lady Dobbs was in residence so I knew information would be shared that was best not said in front of a precocious five-year-old. Anna is with my brother and son riding around Longbourn and Netherfield looking for things that need repair. Her father taught her to ride the farm horses last summer and my brother enjoys her inquisitive nature. Anna is doted on by her father and all of the males in our family.”

She looked at inquiringly Lady Dobbs and Lady Matlock and they both nodded. “I need to be perfectly clear, you assure me both,” Jane stressed with a hard look at Miss Hurst, “of these young ladies are to be trusted with my secret?”

“Yes, they are,” Lady Dobbs assured her. “I have tried to tell my niece she was becoming too full of herself these past few months. Truly, she has needed to behave better most of her life. I am actually hoping your revelation will accomplish what I have been unable to. Grace, do you promise to keep any information you learn in this room to yourself?”

“Yes, Aunt Phoebe,” Miss Hurst answered with a curious look.

“Georgie, you will answer the same question,” said Lady Matlock.

“Yes, aunt, I promise anything I hear from Mrs. Sakville will not be communicated to anyone else,” Miss Darcy said. “Does that include William?”

“You may tell your brother, Miss Darcy. Better yet, I will inform the gentlemen too before I leave,” Jane answered.

“Why did Mr. Stanley not address you by your title?” Lady Matlock asked her.

“He does not know,” Jane answered with a smirk when she heard Miss Hurst gasp and saw her face blanch.

“How is that possible?” Lady Dobbs asked looking confused.

“I grew up in Meryton.”

“That does not explain anything,” Lady Matlock said. “How could you possibly have managed to keep a secret this big?”

“Other than Sir Lucas occasionally visiting St. James’s, people from Meryton are not often to be found in society. Even if they did have a house in town, or knew someone who did, the likelihood we would attend any of the same events is slim. I did not know who Frederick was when I married him, why would anyone else?”

“Who is he?” Miss Darcy asked guilelessly, clearly captivated.

Looking her eldest niece in the eye, Jane said, “He was a kind and gentle man who saved me from a potentially horrible situation. My parents and brother liked and approved of him. All we knew was that he was the heir to Netherfield Park and financially care for me. After four months of courtship, what more did I need to know?”

“When did you find out?” Lady Matlock asked.

“At fifteen years old, before I was out in our local society, the vicar of Meryton had asked my father for my hand and it was... uncomfortable for us when I declined. Frederick proposed and asked the vicar from his main estate to travel to Netherfield, after he stopped in London to collect a special license. I did not find out until the ceremony,” Jane answered with a grin.

“Poor Georgie looks like she will burst with curiosity and Grace is not far behind,” Lady Dobbs observed.

Jane took pity on the kind looking young lady. “Miss Darcy, to answer your previous question, my husband is His Grace the Duke of Dorset, I am Her Grace the Duchess of Dorset, my son is The Marquess of Milham, and my daughters are Lady Juliet and Lady Celia.”

“Your nieces do not seem surprised by this information,” Lady Matlock observed.

“It would have been next to impossible for my family to visit Cloverdale if they were not made aware of our rank,” Jane said. “Besides, it would have been beyond the realm of possibility for me to sponsor Janey and Lizzy in town without them knowing.”

“What a singular situation,” Lady Dobbs said.

“I am still amazed you have kept an entire village from finding out,” Lady Matlock said. “Do they not realize what the crest on your carriage means? How have your servants not slipped and referred to you as Your Grace?”

“We do not often travel in a coach with a crest. My husband is a very unassuming man and, like me, enjoys being addressed without our titles when we visit my family. We do not require our servants to maintain such formality at Cloverdale either. We insist they call us Sir and Ma’am in our own homes. It is more likely they will forget to address us as Your Grace when we are in London,” Jane explained and then grinned at the look of astonishment on Lady Matlock’s face.

“Shall I ring for tea now?” Lady Dobbs asked.

“Tea would be lovely, thank you. Miss Darcy, do you know my husband was friends with your father?” Jane asked. “They were roommates at university.”

“I did not, Your Grace. Did you ever meet him?”

“Yes, your mother too. In fact, when you were a baby, we visited Pemberley and I held you in my arms,” Jane said with a smile.

“I believe I remember that trip, mother,” Julie said. “Is Pemberley the house in a valley with woods all around? I was seven, I believe?”

“Very good, Juliet. I should not be surprised, you spent most of your time in the gardens looking at the flowers.”

“My old velvet rose bush is from Pemberley, is it not?” Juliet asked.

“Yes, it is. When we were preparing to depart, you were so upset to leave those particular bushes, Lady Anne was most insistent you take a cutting with you,” Jane remembered with a smile.

“My father and brother have told me that the old velvet rose bushes were my mother’s favorite breed too,” Miss Darcy said with misty eyes.

“Your mother was the daughter of an Earl, yet she had a kind and gentle soul and treated everyone the same. I never heard an unkind word from her,” she finished with a quick glare at Miss Hurst. “Pardon my intrusive question, Miss Darcy,” she said with another glare at Miss Hurst, “but do you have a governess with you?”

“No, Your Grace. My tutors had prepared me so well, I had learned all of the subjects offered at my school faster than the other pupils and my brother allowed me to leave early. We agreed if I did not need to stay at school, a governess could teach me nothing that a companion and tutors would not. Mrs. Annesley, my companion, is the widow of our previous vicar. When we found out Aunt Olivia was arriving today for a lengthy visit, my brother allowed her to use one of our carriages to visit her brother’s estate.”

“That was very kind of him. I also applaud his decision to hire a woman whose character was known to you in advance,” Jane said with a glance at her eldest niece. “Lady Dobbs, I assume you are playing hostess for Mr. Darcy?”

“Yes, Your Grace. Miss Darcy is not out and was never trained in household matters,” responded Lady Dobbs.

“Unless my memory is failing me in my old age,” Jane said to a few snickers from her relatives, “Haye Park has ten bedrooms.”

“That is correct, Your Grace.”

“Are Lord Halburn and Lord Matlock to join your party, Lady Matlock?” Jane asked and delighted in seeing the surprise on both ladies faces.

“Richard will leave on Monday and we are hoping Joseph will join us later in the day,” Lady Matlock answered. “I am hoping they will both be here for the assembly next Friday though.”

“Where will I put both of them if Mrs. Annesley is back?” Lady Dobbs asked no one in particular. “Would your sons mind sharing a room temporarily, Olivia?”

“That will not be necessary,” Jane said with a smile. “Between Netherfield and Longbourn, we could house a small army, a very small one mind you. We will work something out. If Miss Darcy gets along well with my nieces, she could temporarily relocate to Longbourn with Mrs. Annesley. My poor brother is used to being the only male in a house with six women. How much of a disruption could two more cause?”

“I appreciate the offer, Your Grace. When the time comes, I will discuss the situation with Mr. Darcy,” Lady Dobbs said. “Sally, thank you for bringing the tea in.”

Jane, Lady Matlock, and Lady Dobbs entered into a discussion regarding their charitable works while the younger ladies broke into two groups. Her youngest nieces and Miss Darcy started a discussion about music and she was close enough to keep an eye on her daughters and elder nieces while they chatted with Miss Hurst even if she could not hear their conversation.

As the time neared for their visit to end, Jane addressed her niece. “Mary, would you and your younger sisters take Miss Darcy outside to show her the gazebo Mr. Goulding built for his wife? I think she will appreciate how a group of musicians could fit underneath to play for a garden party.”

“Yes, Aunt Jane,” Mary responded with a barely contained smirk.

Once the door was closed, Jane started a conversation she had decided needed to happen. “Miss Hurst...” Jane stopped suddenly when she saw her eldest niece stand and heard her gasp. “Jane, what is wrong?”

“My Uncle Phillips told us that Mr. Hurst was in half-mourning, but I did not realize he had a child too,” Jane Bennet answered softly while staring out the window. “The poor babe, to grow up without a mother.”

The maid Sally, who had entered unnoticed to remove the tea service, spoke, “Reggie is my son, Miss Bennet.”

Jane watched as her niece paled and began to sway alarmingly.

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 13

LizzySJune 30, 2020 09:01PM

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BrigidJuly 02, 2020 02:18AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 13

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Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 13

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