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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

September 02, 2020 10:26PM
Sorry if this is a little incoherent in places. My seasonal allergy issues turned into a sinus infection and I was down for a few days until the amoxicillin kicked in.

The Mrs. Bennet POV is all for Brigid who has avidly followed the story from the beginning. Hopefully Mrs. B isn’t too spiteful, I did tone it down a little bit based on the comments from my beta Alida. I kept thinking back to P&P and how she treated Darcy after he insulted Lizzy. Call it what you want, vanity for daring to call on of her daughters not handsome or motherly love for how much it affected her daughter, but she was pretty dismissive of him.

Chapter 22

Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, October 11, 1811

Reginald Hurst could not believe what he was seeing. What possessed Miss Bingley to wear those two colours together? He was a man, and even he could tell it was not smart to use them in that particular proportion. Depending on your body structure, a pumpkin, squash, or carrot would immediately come to mind, especially with the green feathers.

The musicians commenced the music and the dancers resumed the set. He noticed Miss Bingley scanning the crowd before her gaze landed on him. He felt uncomfortable with, and disgusted by, the way Miss Bingley was scrutinizing him. What could she mean by it? Previously, she had treated him with disdain and looked at him with revulsion clearly in her eyes. Almost worse was the way Bingley was staring, very nearly leering inappropriately, at Miss Bennet.

“You seem unnerved, Mr. Hurst,” Miss Bennet said quietly when they came together. “May I assume the Bingley’s have arrived?”

“Yes, they have,” he answered at the next opportunity.

“If you believe it will help, or bring you comfort, I will be happy to be at your side when you greet them,” was the sweetest response he had ever heard.

The dance ended before Reginald could respond. He looked down at her, smiled, took a deep breath to prepare himself, and responded in a whisper while walking towards his in-laws, “I most gladly accept your company, my love. This is bound to be unpleasant.”

Miss Bennet faltered for a moment and he looked down at her and noticed her face was flushed and her eyes were wide. “Are you well? Is it too hot in here?”

“I am fine,” she whispered as they reached the Bingley’s.

He really did not want to interact with them, but knew it was his duty until he decided whether or not to cut ties with them permanently. Miss Bingley was still looking at him peculiarly and it was exceedingly unnerving. If he did not know better, he would have thought the looks she was giving him were impassioned.

He greeted his in-laws and was shocked speechless when Miss Bingley started ranting. It soon became clear that she did not recognize him. That meant... he felt like he was going to lose the contents of his stomach.

He saw the astonishment on the faces of the siblings when Lady Matlock referred to him by name and then how they paled as Lady Catherine and Lady Sheldon took further digs at Miss Bingley.

“Bingley,” he tried again, “are you going to introduce me to your guest?”

“Hurst? How...”

If Bingley would stop looking at Miss Bennet every few seconds, perhaps he would be able to form a coherent sentence. “Sir William, would you do the honours?”

“Of course, allow me to introduce you to Mrs. Verdier.”

Reginald remembered hearing about the sister of their Cousin Lucile but they had never met before. “It is a pleasure,” he said before turning to Bingley. “You will be hearing from my representative regarding the contract we created this past December. I was generous in April, but no more,” he said with a hard look at Miss Bingley.

He heard Miss Bingley gasp as they walked away.

“I hope you are not upset that I did not introduce you to the Bingley’s,” he told Miss Bennet.

“I am sure you had your reasons,” Miss Bennet stated confidently. “Miss Bingley is even worse than the various stories led me to expect.”

“Certainly. You are a very kind young woman who always gives people the benefit of the doubt. I have never seen her look at me like that. It was... unpleasant.”

“She did not seem to recognize you. Have all of your activities and exercises altered you so drastically?” Miss Bennet asked.

“I told you what my life was like during my marriage. What I did not tell you, was the effect the environment had on me. I truly owe Darcy and Fitzwilliam a debt I could never pay. If I continued down the road I was on, I am not sure what my future would have been,” he said before explaining what his married household was like.


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, October 11, 1811

Fitzwilliam Darcy stopped dancing when the music ceased abruptly and looked around the room. Only his years of experience being in society kept his jaw from resting on his chest.

“What an... imaginative colour combination,” Miss Elizabeth whispered after staring for a few moments. “The apparel oft proclaims the man.1

“Fitting in this case,” he agreed softly.

The musicians started playing and dancing recommenced.

He groaned when he noticed that Bingley had fixated on Miss Bennet.

“Mr. Darcy, this may be an improper comment to voice out loud, but there seems to be something weird about the way Miss Bingley is looking at Mr. Hurst.”

“We are courting, Miss Elizabeth. I want you to feel able to say anything to me. In this instance your observation is accurate.” What was Miss Bingley thinking? It was disgraceful to stare at Reginald with desire clearly apparent on her face. Bingley was only marginally better with the way he was staring at Miss Bennet.

When the music ended, they were on the opposite side of the room.

“Reginald and your sister are heading toward the Bingley’s. We should follow,” William told her.

“I believe you said Mr. Hurst has not seen the Bingley’s since last December and that he had lost a lot of weight in the intervening time. Could Miss Bingley not recognize him?” Miss Elizabeth asked.

“I believe you are correct,” he said as they were getting close.

William heard Reginald speak to Bingley and listened to Miss Bingley do what she did best, spew vitriol. That woman would never learn to think before speaking.

He was proud of Reginald for discreetly hitting back at his in-laws before walking away and enjoyed hearing the three ladies putting Miss Bingley in her place.

He took a few steps closer and glared at Bingley. He was pleased to see him flinch. “What did we talk about that first day at Haye Park, Bingley? You were instructed to tell your sister we were not staying at Netherfield, among other things. How could you allow her to insinuate that she is an intimate of mine? My dear Mr. Darcy? I will not allow her to force my hand. If Miss Bingley’s reputation is harmed by her actions, I will not assist you,” he stated firmly. “As I have told you twice, I will NEVER marry your sister,” he hissed quietly.

He felt bad, nearly, when he saw Miss Bingley pale even further.

“If you do not exert control over your sister, I will be forced to publicly end our friendship and cut you,” he said quietly.

He did not think it was possible, but Bingley’s eye got wider.

“Come, my dear. Let us go see if Reginald is well,” he told Miss Elizabeth before walking away.


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, October 11, 1811

Frances Bennet stood in a group with Lady Matlock, Lady Sheldon, Lady Dobbs, and Lady Catherine watching the assembly room. She smiled to herself as her daughters all positioned themselves for the first set. Kitty and Lydia were dancing with Mr. Bennet and Mr. Phillips, respectively, Mary with Marquess Brundel, Lizzy with Mr. Darcy, naturally, and Jane with Mr. Hurst.

Fannie was undecided how she felt about the anticipated arrival of the Bingley’s. She had heard such different accounts of Mr. Bingley that puzzled her exceedingly.

Jane and Lizzy had told their younger sisters stories of what had happened during their season in London. She and Thomas felt it was good for Mrs. Waldron, Jane, and Lizzy to inform the younger girls about incidents they might encounter during their seasons. Meryton society was nothing compared to London, but the lessons could still be relevant to the assembly they were currently attending and would also help prepare them for their future as members of London society. Her daughters had only slipped and used a name once, but she remembered the stories they had read and heard about Mr. and Miss B.

She had been excited, at first, when her sister Jane told her that Netherfield had been let to a single young man, what a fine thing for her girls, until Jane had told her his name. Mr. Bingley did not seem capable of controlling his sister in a London park. How would he handle being the head of the family when he had a wife and children to protect?

With dismay she recalled the few years she and Mr. Bennet had fallen into indifference. They had allowed the wishes of their youngest daughter and their own desires to consume their lives. If two such strong minded people as her and Thomas could fall into such habits, what would life be like to live with someone who was already weak-willed?

She had decided to do everything in her power to make sure her daughter Jane did not become enamoured of their soon-to-be neighbour.

Then, the Goulding’s made it known they were exchanging houses with a young man from Derbyshire for the summer. The letter her daughters received from Dottie and Martha, after their short stop in London, excited her greatly. Two rich and single young men with their sisters and other family members! In her lifetime, Meryton society had never had such additions to their ranks.

Mr. Darcy and Mr. Hurst had warned her eldest daughters about the Bingley family. It sounded to her and Lizzy as though Mr. Darcy was wavering regarding his acquaintance with Mr. Bingley. The two gentlemen had been friends for years, but recent incidents had eaten away at their relationship. Mr. Darcy did admit Mr. Bingley had some redeeming qualities, but in her mind the bad severely outweighed the good.

Grace and Georgie, as she had been invited to call them, had warned everyone what to expect from their new neighbours. Grace had rarely met the Bingley’s, but over the winter at Pemberley her brother had shared a great deal of what his married life was like with her. Miss Darcy’s stories were similar, but certainly gave them a greater insight into the previous actions of Miss Bingley.

During the planning of Mrs. Fitzwilliam’s wedding, Lady Dobbs and Lady Catherine mentioned the Bingley’s and gave her even further understanding about the possible issues they would encounter. Mr. Bingley, they said, was known to fall in and out of love quickly, but, to her, Miss Bingley sounded like the biggest threat. She decided a forthright discussion with all of the young ladies was required in the morning before church services. She was not certain what Miss Bingley would do when she found out that Mr. Darcy was officially courting Lizzy or how many titled gentlemen were in the area. Desperate people did desperate things.

Fanny sighed and realized there was really nothing she could do about any of her concerns, no matter how valid. Everyone at Longbourn was well aware of the possible difficulties and that they must be prepared to assist each other, if needed.

She wished Mary would have allowed herself to be presented with Juliet and Lizzy. Lord Brundel would surely have gotten her to the altar by now. All in good time, she supposed, as long as his hand was not forced. The man was undoubtedly captivated with her middle daughter.

It had been equally obvious that Lizzy and Mr. Darcy were immediately fascinated by each other. Although, Mr. Darcy surely waited long enough to ask for a courtship, she huffed to herself. Ten thousand a year, and likely more. ‘Twas not as good as the lords they were acquainted with, but, most importantly, Lizzy assured her that they cared for each other deeply. They were well matched in intelligence, integrity, and connections.

Mr. Darcy would most certainly be the main prey in the scheme they all expected Miss Bingley to put into effect. Certain precautions should be put into place right away. Why did she not think of the need before?

Then there was Jane and Mr. Hurst. Thomas assured her Mr. Hurst was interested in Jane and was in a financial position to care for her. She understood and empathized with the position he found himself in. That a young man, who was heir to his family’s estate, without his own heir, and had met a young lady he cared for, was determined to finish mourning his deceased wife, spoke well of the man. She had been leery at first, but the more she saw them together, her fears were eased. They would do well as a couple.

She noticed the doors opening and could not believe what walked in. “Oh, that poor girl. Someone should explain that orange clashes with her hair,” she muttered to herself.

“Lord help us, the Bingley’s have arrived,” she heard Lady Matlock say quietly as the music stopped.

“I do not even know what to say,” Lady Catherine commented.

Lady Sheldon simply laughed behind her fan.

As the music started up again, Lady Sheldon said, “We should position ourselves near the Bingley’s. It is certain Mr. Darcy and Mr. Hurst will have an unpleasant meeting. And, by the bye, Fannie, Grace informed me Miss Bingley’s colour preferences were previously mitigated by the former Mrs. Hurst. Since her sister’s passing, Miss Bingley seems to have been purchasing her own, increasingly outlandish, wardrobe.”

“If I was her modiste,” Lady Catherine said, “I would refuse to make a gown of that shade for someone with hair like hers. Or truly, for just about anyone.”

Fannie followed slightly behind her friends. She determined Mr. Bingley was good-looking and had a pleasant countenance. Miss Bingley appeared to be a fine woman in elegant gown with an unfortunate sense of fashion. The unnamed guest was older than the siblings with clothing that was of lesser quality. Her sister Evelyn had told her they were orphans. She assumed the companion was a widowed aunt to retain respectability when they had male guests.

“What could Miss Bingley mean by gazing at Mr. Hurst so? Why, it is practically indecent. Is she a woman of loose morals?” she quietly asked no one in particular.

“In some ways she is, but I do not know how far her depravity extends. I do not believe she has seen my nephew since just after Mrs. Hurst died. Reginald has lost a significant amount of weight and looks healthier than he has since attending Cambridge,” Phoebe said.

“It is true. I almost did not recognize him and, by virtue of growing up on the estate next to his and being good friends with Phoebe all throughout our childhood, I have known him his entire life,” her newest friend, Isabel Sheldon, said.

“Indeed, Miss Bingley does not recognize him,” Lady Catherine chortled quietly. “She is looking at him as though he is a favourite dessert she cannot wait to try.”

“My daughters are already dubious of both Bingley’s,” she admitted. “I will try not to influence them too much. However, I do not know if Thomas and I should allow our family to socialize with them.”

“My biggest concern is what she will do as soon as she learns that William is courting Elizabeth,” Lady Catherine declared. “Miss Bingley has been chasing my nephew for the past five years. She is nearly on the shelf and, as we have all seen, desperation can make women of a certain age do dangerous things.”

After the set, Mr. Hurst and Jane reached the Bingley’s first. She saw ladies Matlock, Sheldon, and Catherine take a few steps closer and quickly glanced at Lady Dobbs, who had stayed next to her, to see Phoebe looking amused. She heard Mr. Hurst’s greeting and listened to Miss Bingley’s response with growing horror.

The nerve of this woman. First, she berates poor Mr. Hurst for greeting his family. Then, she insults the entire town before she insinuates a close relationship with Mr. and Miss Darcy! Country nobodies and horrible town indeed! Their betters? First circles? Miss Bingley either had a skewed sense of self-worth or she was insane.

She heard Phoebe laughed and commented softly, “You do not seem surprised by her reaction.”

“Not in the slightest,” Phoebe shook her head as Mr. Bingley responded.

“I have never met Miss Bingley but based on what I was told, that is exactly how I should have supposed she would have responded,” she said while shaking her head.

“Yes, that sister of his rules their roost.”

“You were correct. Miss Bingley seemed shocked when your nephew was identified,” she muttered. Olivia had told her about their encounter in the haberdashery and the brazenness still amazed her. “Can you believe Isabel said that out loud? She is right though, Miss Bingley really does look like a carrot,” Mrs. Bennet murmured in amusement to Phoebe.

“I will never be able to look at that particular vegetable the same way again,” Phoebe snickered quietly.

Her friends started back towards them without asking for an introduction and Mr. Darcy approached the newcomers. Fannie could only hear a little of what he said, but Mr. Bingley looked upset and Miss Bingley appeared stricken at his last few words.

After Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth followed after Mr. Hurst, she decided to ask for an introduction to the shocked siblings.

“Sir William, please introduce me to the Bingley party,” she asked her neighbour. He raised an eyebrow but complied with her request.

“Mr. and Miss Bingley, I have heard a lot about both of you. Mrs. Verdier, it is a pleasure to meet you. We were not forewarned of your presence at Netherfield,” Fannie said.

Mrs. Verdier smirked slightly before responding, “My sister is married to one of the Bingley cousins. I agreed to join the household to fulfill the role of chaperone as needed.”

“Did you say, Bennet?” Mr. Bingley asked. “I met your husband.”

“Yes, he told me of his visit,” she responded diplomatically. Thomas had very few positive things to say afterwards. “It must be challenging to be lean how to be the master and mistress of an estate for the duration of your lease.”

“I was very impressed when the agent told me about Netherfield and signed a lease immediately,” Mr. Bingley responded, already seeming to be the normally cheerful self she had heard about.

Mrs. Bennet raised a brow and said, “I was told you leased it without even taking a tour. I thought they were having a go at me, but having met you, I find I finally believe their story to be true.”

“Whatever I do is done in a hurry,” Mr. Bingley responded with a large grin, apparently missing her point. “Therefore, if I should ever resolve to quit Netherfield and Meryton, I should probably be off to London in less than five minutes. At present, however, I consider myself as quite fixed here. The society here certainly agrees with me. Quite nicely, without a doubt,” he finished with an almost disconcerting look at Jane.

What could possess him to stare at Jane in that manner. Why, it was very nearly indecent. Miss Bingley was not any better with the way she had been starting at Mr. Hurst. Yes, a discussion with Thomas was in order. Perhaps her sister Jane or Mr. Fitzwilliam knew of another footman to hire for her daughters’ protection.

“Miss Bingley, my sister Phillips told me Mr. Bingley’s unmarried sister was to keep house for him. I must say, I was ever so surprised when I saw you walk in with him.”

“Why do you say that, Mrs. Bennet?” Mr. Bingley asked, looking confused.

“I assumed your sister would be younger than you, Mr. Bingley. By the time I was what I suspect your sisters age to be, I had been married for ten years and had just found out I was expecting my fifth child.”

“I have heard something similar before, Mrs. Bennet,” Mr. Bingley said cheerfully. “My sister is a very particular woman. She has yet to accept a courtship from any of the men who have asked.”

She noticed he did not say gentleman. Miss Bingley must think too much of herself. She was done with this conversation and regretted asking for the introduction. Fannie had watched Mrs. Verdier try and hide her amusement as the conversation with the Bingley’s progressed. After the last gibe, Mrs. Verdier lost her restraint and desperately tried to cover her laugh with a cough.

“Mrs. Verdier, allow me to escort you to the refreshment table. The roads are terribly dusty this time of the year,” Fannie said lightly.

“Mrs. Bennet, I understand you have five daughters,” Mr. Bingley said, completely ignoring his guest’s discomfort. “Are they all present? If they are, I would be agreeable to dancing with them.”

“They are all here, however my youngest three have not been presented and are only allowed to dance with family and close friends. My eldest two have all of their sets promised,” she replied.

“Presented? To the queen?” Miss Bingley sputtered.

Now she was directly insulting the Bennet family? Did Miss Bingley think her daughters were not worthy of being presented? Or that their family could not incur the cost of a season? What presumption!

“Yes, Miss Bingley, presented to the queen,” she said slowly. She felt like throwing her brother Frederick’s rank in Miss Bingley’s face, but calmed herself, slightly.

“The Bennet’s are descended from a noble line. Longbourn was built for a second son and has been in my husband’s line for many generations. My own father was the second son of a gentleman. Father studied the law and took a gentleman’s occupation. Given your familial background, you may be unaware that when young gentlewomen reach an appropriate age, it is not uncommon for them to be presented to the queen and take part in London society.”

“I do not remember reading about, or meeting, anyone named Bennet being presented last season,” Miss Bingley stated rudely.

“I am sure you would not have attended the same events. Unless you somehow managed to get a voucher to Almack’s,” Fannie replied flippantly to the haughty woman.

Mr. Bingley, having missed the undertones of their conversation, laughed and said, “My sister was never presented and would give her best feathers for an Almack’s voucher.”

“Our father felt saving money for our dowries was more important than spending it on frivolous dresses. He managed to save £40,000 to be split between his two daughters,” Miss Bingley sniffed.

Mr. Bingley finally looked uncomfortable but she was starting to become amused. “Hmm, it may have started out at twenty, but if my understanding of Mr. Hurst’s parting comment was correct, your dowry’s current total is significantly less and about to get even smaller,” she said quietly.

After a few uncomfortable moments of silence, with Miss Bingley gaping at her, Mr. Bingley asked, “Mrs. Bennet, I understand your elder daughters’ dance cards are full. The musicians seem to be preparing to start the next set. Would you introduce me to them after the dance?”

“Of course. My eldest, Jane, is standing next to Mr. Hurst. Their relationship is established but not official. He has been calling on our family for a while and singling her out with his attentions. We expect an announcement of some sort in late November. My second daughter, Elizabeth, is next to Mr. Darcy. They have been courting for three weeks. I am certain he will propose to her the moment he thinks Lizzy is ready,” she responded. It was not a gracious response, but she enjoyed the look of horror on Miss Bingley’s face.

“It is not true,” Miss Bingley stammered. “Mr. Darcy would never ask to court a country nobody.”

Her amusement vanished with one sentence and she no longer felt guilty for how she had treated the siblings.

“Country nobody?” Lady Matlock scoffed from behind her. “Elizabeth is a gentlewoman with numerous acquaintances in the nobility. Did you not just hear Fannie say she was given a voucher for Almack’s?”

“She is as well connected, if not better, than my nephew,” Lady Catherine added scornfully.

“Miss Bingley, the Longbourn and Haye Park households went to London for a week recently. We had a trip filled with fun and entertaining events, including a trip to the theatre and a ball at Almack’s. At the theatre, Elizabeth was invited to sit in a duke’s box with another duke in the party,” Lady Dobbs informed the now red-faced woman.

“Only someone who is touched in the head, would consider the daughter of a man who made his fortune in trade to be higher placed in society than a gentlewoman,” Lady Sheldon said spitefully. “Elizabeth was presented to the queen and spent this past season in those very same first circles you implied you are a part of. A nobody, indeed!” With that parting shot, Lady Sheldon turned to Fannie and asked, “Would you introduce us to this interesting woman?”

“If you will join us, we will take you to get something to drink,” Lady Catherine told Mrs. Verdier after the introductions were done.


Assembly Room, Meryton
Friday, October 11, 1811

Charles Bingley felt self-conscious when he heard a loud gasp and the assembly room went silent. Everyone stared at them with varying degrees of shock on their faces. Thankfully, Sir William greeted them and the musicians started again.

He spotted Darcy on the dance floor, his friend’s height made it easy, before his attention was seized by a magnificently beautiful blond lady who seemed mesmerized, unfortunately, by her dancing partner. She smiled at her partner and he realized she was everything he was looking for in a woman. He wondered how serious their attachment was and whether or not he stood a chance of gaining her affections.

“How has your first week at Netherfield been, Mr. Bingley?”

“It has been challenging, Sir William. Darcy makes estate management look so easy. I was not expecting to have so many things that needed my attention.”

“Mr. Darcy seems to make everything look easy. His entire group has integrated into the society of Meryton seamlessly. My eldest daughters enjoy having four extra ladies in the area. In fact, they begged me to allow them to join their friends at Longbourn to prepare for the assembly. It took three carriages to transport all of the ladies here,” Sir William laughed.

“That certainly sounds hectic. How does Mr. Bennet do it?” he chuckled. “What type of activities do the young men in Meryton enjoy partaking in?”

He listened to Sir William with surprise. Darcy and Hurst were mentioned in many of his examples as if they had grown up here.

He heard his sister speaking to herself quietly, but he could not make out what she was saying. The music ended and he saw the beautiful blonde approach on the arm of a handsome and fashionably dressed young man. They reached him and the man greeted him as though they were acquainted.

He listened to his sister’s rant with growing dread. Darcy was going to be furious with him. Why did he not insist she stay at Netherfield? He saw the shock and dismay on the blond lady’s face and rebuked Caroline for her actions.

He noticed Lady Matlock and two more women approaching and knew it had gone from bad to worse.

Hurst? The man in front of him looked nothing like the Reginald Hurst he saw last December. This man was physically fit, even more so than he was, and looked healthy, confident, and... completely sober.

“Hurst?” he sputtered and heard his sister utter her surprise at his identity as the ladies walked away. He vaguely heard Hurst ask for an introduction again but could not form a response other than, “Hurst? How...”

Sir William performed the introduction in his place before his brother-in-law turned to him with scorn clearly visible as he quietly made him understand he would be demanding the remaining £7,000 the contract said he was owed from Caroline’s dowry, causing her to gasp, before he too walked away.

Darcy approached him with a hard look on his face which caused him to flinch. This would be worse than when he was last at Darcy House.

And it was. Charles knew he deserved Darcy’s contempt. He had been told many times, and by many people, that he needed to exert control over his sister and he did not. It had been easier to leave her with his Bingley relations and then give the responsibility to Mrs. Verdier.

Charles knew he should have been more forceful with his sister and told her about Darcy’s living arrangements and warnings earlier than he had.

He was surprised when another older woman approached and requested an introduction.

Bennet? He had been visited by Mr. Bennet. The other gentleman who visited told him the five Bennet daughters were the beauties of the area.

Mrs. Bennet confirmed he had met her husband and discussed the lease on Netherfield and his impulsivity. He looked at the blond lady and thought perhaps he would not be as quick to give up this time.

Mrs. Bennet also confirmed she had five daughters and then shocked his sister by mentioning they had been presented. Caroline took advantage of the chance to bandy the original amount of her dowry to the village. What was she thinking? She knew it was down to £15,000 and would shortly be £8,000. He did not like his sister purposefully misleading people but was surprised when Mrs. Bennet refuted her claim. How was it this woman was intimate enough with the Hurst family to know about the reduction of his sister’s dowry?

He knew his sister would say something untoward soon, so he asked about her daughters and listened in horror that beautiful blond was attached to Hurst. His sister reacted just as badly to hearing that Mr. Darcy was courting his lady’s sister.

He saw Lady Matlock approaching again and prepared for more polite insults.

He felt like the blinders had been ripped from his eyes. His sister was an insufferable snob. She was the daughter of a tradesman not a duke. What right did she have to look down on the good people of Meryton. Why, everyone in this room probably outranked them.

As the ladies walked away with Mrs. Verdier, he looked at his sister and mentally prepared himself for the unpleasant conversation he knew they needed to have.

“Sir William, I believe my sister is feeling unwell and needs some fresh air. When we return, would you be willing to introduce us to some of the local families?” he asked.

After a moment spent scrutinizing Caroline, Sir William nodded his agreement.

“Come along, Caroline,” he said as he took his shocked sister’s elbow to escort her to get her wrap and then outside.

It was alarming to hear Darcy threaten to end their friendship. He knew his friendship with Hurst had deepened, but he never thought it would become stronger than theirs previously was. Darcy never called him Charles.

He pulled her to a private area to the side of the building’s doors.

“Thank you for taking me back to Netherfield, Charles,” Caroline said.

“I told you after your first outburst that we are not leaving. You will go back inside and face that room full of our neighbours, Caroline,” he said sternly. “I warned you, numerous times, that Darcy would never marry you. I also told you, just before we arrived, that he was unavailable. You MUST give up this ridiculous fixation you have with him. You are making a fool of yourself!”

“Charles,” his sister whined, “Mr. Darcy has to marry me.”

“No, Caroline, it will never happen. I do not care what you do, I will never make him marry you,” he hissed at her. “I have been wondering if the woman with Lady Matlock is correct, that you are touched in the head. Seriously, Caroline, Darcy is a gentleman unquestionably of the first circles with an earl as an uncle. What could possibly make you think he would marry the daughter of a tradesman?”

He saw his sister’s eyes start to get angry and pressed on. “You went to a private seminary for how many years? Did they teach you about propriety? What caused you to approach three titled ladies you were not acquainted with? And do not dare tell me Lady Matlock is your soon-to-be aunt! You know that is nonsense.”

“I deserve to be in the first circles,” Caroline answered forcefully.

“Deserve? Nobody deserves to be in the first circle. You are either born there or marry into it. What about you makes you more special than anybody else?” he said mockingly. “I have let this behaviour go for too long. I had hoped making you repay your allowance overages would help. Then I handed my problem off to our aunt, uncle, and Mrs. Verdier. Make no mistake, I count you as a problem.”

“Why are you so angry with me?” Caroline asked with slightly glossy eyes. “Mr. Hurst is the one who deserves your ire. He is in half-mourning and is all but courting a young lady? A young lady who, if I am not mistaken, has caught your attention. It is insulting to the name Bingley.”

“I do not agree, Caroline, and you will not be able to convince me otherwise. I am pleased Hurst has waited this long. You know society overlooks widowers remarrying before their mourning is over,” he scoffed at her. “Besides, you delude yourself if you think the name Bingley means anything to society other than fodder for gossip.”

He pressed on. “I want an answer, Caroline. Why do you think a man as proud of his heritage and estate as Darcy is would marry the daughter of a tradesman? There is nothing you can do to change the fact that our father was in trade. Your place in the ranks of our society has long since been established.”

“But Charles...”

“No, Caroline!” he hissed. “Do you understand and accept that Darcy will never marry you?”

“Yes, I do,” his sister whispered.

That was too easy, he thought to himself. He would have to keep an eye on her but now was not the time. “We are going back inside and you will smile and act like you are having a good time.”

1 Hamlet

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

LizzySSeptember 02, 2020 10:26PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

BrigidSeptember 04, 2020 07:01PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

NobukoSeptember 03, 2020 02:54AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

LizzySSeptember 03, 2020 03:13AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 22

Mari MSeptember 03, 2020 03:51PM


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