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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 25

September 24, 2020 02:19AM
Chapter 25


Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, November 12, 1811



Jane Bennet sat in the large parlour of Longbourn with her family in the morning after they had broken their fast. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Mr. Hurst was to return to Meryton this very evening. She could hardly keep still in her chair. Her eyes kept being drawn to the grandfather clock in the corner as though she could make time advance more rapidly by continuously looking at it and wishing the hands would spin faster.


She longed to see Mr. Hurst, very much. He was Reginald in her hopes for the future. She was careful not to think of him by his first name too often for fear that the informal address would slip out while she was in company. She would be severely mortified to publicly imply an understanding which did not exist. Formally. In her heart, she knew they were committed to each other.


That Mr. Hurst was resolute about mourning for the full year, made her care for him even more. He was steadfast, loyal, and honourable. She knew he would propose the moment he could. She would be patient. He was certainly worth the wait.


The past fortnight had been difficult for her and Lizzy. They were both missing their particular gentleman. To keep occupied, they had thrown themselves into their duties and planned ahead. All the tenants had been visited and follow-up visits, where required, were forthcoming. The account books were up to date. They had prepared Longbourn for the Gardiner’s upcoming visit. They had decided what items their family would put into their boxes this year on boxing day. Sadly, they were having difficulties thinking of additional ways to keep busy.


Her parents were currently discussing what they needed to accomplish this day and her sisters were deciding whether or not to complete the follow-up tenant visits. It seemed likely to rain and they did not want to get caught in a downpour on their way back.


Jane heard one of her sisters say Mr. Collins and could tell her father heard them too. Papa was unsettled anytime the man was mentioned. He had sent Allan Sims to deliver a letter to the Sakville’s explaining the situation and asking if they could find the time to visit Longbourn. As Jane anticipated, her Uncle Frederick had responded in the negative because they all wanted to stay close to her Aunt Jane.


They had decided, as a family, to ask the Gardiner’s to visit before the Haye Park ladies. Thankfully, they had accepted the invitation for Mrs. Gardiner and the children. Uncle Edward would escort his family to Longbourn on the Monday Mr. Collins was expected and return to London at dawn the next day.


When Mr. Darcy heard their plan, he demanded that Georgie, Anne, and Mrs. Annesley spend a week at Longbourn as their guests to ensure there were no free bedrooms. Jane caught the look Mr. Darcy exchanged with her father and realized they were holding something back. She had tried to get Mr. Hurst to confide in her, but he would not. Lizzy had no better luck with Mr. Darcy.


Her eyes were drawn once more to the grandfather clock and she realized not even ten minutes had passed since the previous time she had looked.


“Lizzy, do you think Miss Thomlin could use our help teaching Anna her letters?” Jane asked. Anna’s personality was cheerful enough to liven up anyone’s day. The question caught the attention of her parents.


“I think you should be more worried about Lady Catherine at the lesson scheduled for tomorrow. Lady Dobbs, too, if she returns tonight,” father responded with a twinkle in his eyes and a smile on his face.


“Mr. Darcy certainly has done a lot for the Sayers family,” her mother said. “He is a very good man. You have chosen wisely, Lizzy, my dear.”


“I am not sure that I envy Anna, mama,” Kitty announced. “Lady Dobbs seems like a stickler for rules and Lady Catherine, while she has a wonderful name, can be so forceful she makes me uneasy.”


“How can you say that, Kitty?” Lydia asked, clearly upset. “Lady Catherine has been nothing but kind to us. Yes, she can be a little... intense, however, while blunt, she is never cruel. Lady Dobbs does not like things that are improper, and will not hesitate to give you a lecture, but again, she is as kind as she can be while doing so.”


“I know that, Lydia. I was not being critical,” Kitty tried to explain.


“We are all clearly fond of and respect both women. I do not think that is in dispute. I do understand the point you were trying to make, Kitty,” Jane said and smiled as her sister nodded her appreciation. “We have similar personalities, while Lizzy and Lydia are more assertive. To them, Lady Catherine is a kindred spirit. To us, you are right, intense is an accurate word. I imagine Mary has found a like-minded individual in Lady Dobbs.”


“I have,” Mary agreed with a nod. “I like to debate what I have read with Lady Dobbs. Our thoughts usually match up well. I have so much to discuss with her when she returns. She helped me see that papa was right to take away my copy of Fordyce’s Sermons.”


“Thank heavens for that,” her father declared.


“Mama, what did you mean when you said that Mr. Darcy has done a lot for the Sayers family?” Lizzy asked with narrowed eyes.


“He has not informed you?” her mother asked, looking confused.


“Fanny, I just talked to Mr. Sayers yesterday afternoon and Mr. Darcy does not return until today.”


“How silly of me! This child is making me sleepy and forgetful,” mama said while rubbing her large stomach. “Well, as you all know, Mr. Darcy talked to Mr. Sayers about Anna before he went to help the Fitzwilliam’s move into their estate. It has been decided that Anna will enter a boarding school as soon as one is located that meets their educational requirements and will accept a student of her age.”


“That he cares enough for a tenant’s daughter, who does not live on his estate, shows Mr. Darcy’s Christian generosity,” Mary said with a smile. “I would be honoured, should the opportunity arise, to call him brother one day.”


“But what about the rest of the family?” Elizabeth asked, blushing because of Mary’s comment.


Jane was curious to hear the answer herself.


“One look at Mr. Sayers should be enough for almost anyone to infer he is unhappy with the current status of his life. Apparently, he has also been rather vocal about wanting to make significant changes. He approached me yesterday because he had a visit from his deceased wife’s younger brother.”


“That tells us little more than we knew previously, papa,” Lydia observed. “Why did he visit you?”


“To inquire if I would object to his brother-in-law appropriating his lease and working the plot of land.”


“What did you say?” Kitty asked.


“Where would the family go?” Mary wondered out loud.


“I think the answer to your question is obvious, Mary,” Lydia stated definitively with a smug grin.


“Oh really?” their father asked playfully. “Out with it then, young lady. Where will they go?”


Jane thought Lydia was right, it was incredibly obvious. In her mind, she answered at the same time Lydia did.


“To Pemberley, of course, papa,” Lydia replied flippantly with crossed arms and an exaggerated roll of her eyes.


Jane laughed along with the rest of her family and Mrs. Waldron. She was very fortunate to be part of a loving family who all enjoyed being with one another. She could not imagine what her life would be like if her parents did not get along well, or if her father hid away in his study and did not pay attention to his daughters, letting their behaviour deteriorate to that of immoderate hoydens. The two years her parents seemed to have lost their way was an eye-opening experience. She knew she was blessed to have such a loving family, but the experience made her even more grateful.


“Was Lydia correct?” Elizabeth asked.


Jane shook her head. She was surprised her sister felt the need for confirmation. Mr. Darcy seemed to enjoy offering solutions to the problems of other people.


“Yes, Lizzy,” her father answered with a strange look on his face. Jane was certain he was also astonished at the question being asked. “Mr. Sayers has no sons or desire to remarry. He is worn-out and no longer wishes to expend so much energy farming such a large plot of land by himself.”


“What else would he do?” Mary asked.


“It seems his passion is cultivating herb gardens,” their mother answered.


“Yes!” Lydia exclaimed loudly while grinning.


“Do you care to enlighten us by adding to that pithy statement, Lydia?”


“Sorry, papa, I just remembered a few months ago when Mrs. Hill was thinking about cultivating more thyme plants next spring. I heard her tell Mr. Hill that she needed to speak with Mr. Sayers before a decision was made.”


“He is somewhat of a local legend with herbs,” father agreed while cleaning his spectacles. “He was very excited to find out Pemberley has a conservatory. For years, the cook has been asking Mr. Darcy to hire a gardener with an extensive knowledge of herbs. The estate’s herb garden has grown far too large and wide-ranging for the cook to take care of while performing her other duties.”


“What about Anna’s sister Molly?” Kitty asked. “Would she stay working as a maid at Netherfield?”


“No,” mother answered. “Mr. Darcy will be hiring father and daughter. There will be room for advancement at Pemberley because the family is in residence most of the year, whereas my sister keeps a lighter staff at Netherfield because it is not their primary estate.”


“Mr. Darcy hinted that Lizzy and Jane would both need maids when they marry. He was spot-on. Since the girls currently share Betsy, one of them will have to engage a new maid. I suppose he means to suggest Molly since Lizzy already knows her and she is fiercely loyal to our family,” father explained with a raised brow and grin.


“It definitely makes sense,” mother added. The younger sisters looked confused so she continued, “It is common for new brides to bring their own maid rather than promote from within.”


“Why, mama?” Kitty asked. “I think it would be good for the servant’s morale to promote from within.”


“What would be the benefit of bringing in a maid from outside the household, Kitty?” their mother asked.


“Well,” Kitty said, clearly thinking as she was speaking, “they would know you and your preferences. And, I must admit, it would be comforting to have someone you know, other than your husband. But they would not be able to tell you about your new home or help you figure out where the rooms are.”


“That is all very true,” mother agreed.


“Let us hypothesize for a moment, Kitty,” their father broke in. “If you had an elder brother, who had just gotten married, and his wife promoted a maid from our household, what would happen?”


“The maid would be able to help her, a lot! With her being a local and familiar with the house, she would know where to go for items that were requested and who to go to with any questions she could not answer,” Kitty said, unmistakably embracing the scenario Jane knew to be a lesson on household matters. “She would also know the layout of the estate and Meryton. The maid could introduce her to people in Meryton and show her where to go shopping for the best wares. And, maybe the most beneficial thing, explain the temperaments of the neighbourhood residents. You would not want to inadvertently put two women near each other at a dinner if they had a bad history.”


“All very good points, Kitty,” their father said proudly.


“What about gossip?” mother asked. “Do you think a maid from Longbourn could unintentionally, or be pressured to, tell her friends, family, or other servants information about her mistress that should have been kept private? What about how the household runs? The personal servants of the master and mistress of an estate have a place outside of the normal hierarchy of the household. How do you think Mrs. Hill would react to taking orders from someone who used to report directly to her?”


Jane smiled when her younger sisters all looked stunned at their mother’s question. While they thought of a response, she asked, “Lizzy, what do you think about Molly possibly becoming your personal maid?”


Her sister was prevented replying by the entrance of a footman with a note for Jane.


“A note arrived for Miss Bennet,” Allan told them. “It came from Netherfield and the servant was told to wait for an answer, no matter how long it took.”


“Thank you, Allan, please wait a moment,” her mother told him as she reached for the portable writing desk that was kept next to her preferred chair. “Jane, before you break the seal to read the note, and tell us what it says, I must write a note of my own.”


“Yes, Mama,” Jane replied, confused. She looked at Lizzy, but her sister shrugged her shoulders slightly in response.


After a moment, her mother handed her own note to Allan and said, “Please ask the servant from Netherfield to wait and then use a horse and personally deliver this to Haye Park as fast as possible and wait for an answer yourself. Very well, Jane. Who is it from and what do they say?”


“It is from Miss Bingley,” she said after a moment, and then read it aloud.


My New Friend,

If you are not so compassionate as to dine today with Mrs. Verdier and me, we shall be in danger of hating each other for the rest of our lives, for a whole day’s tête-à-tête between two women can never end without a quarrel. Come as soon as you can on receipt of this. My brother is to dine with the officers.

Yours ever,

Caroline Bingley



Jane was torn. She did not want to be rude, however, Miss Bingley made her uncomfortable. She was not sure why, but Miss Bingley had been singling her out and paying her undue attention. Lizzy thought she was trying to get information about their family in order to cause trouble, but Jane was not convinced that was her motive. It did not make sense to her. From the assembly, Miss Bingley knew they were related to Lady Jersey and that they were on friendly terms with numerous other titled personages. What could she think to gain by asking so many questions about their family, specifically her mother’s relations? It was also clear that Miss Bingley was frustrated Jane would not disclose the amount of the Bennet sisters’ dowries. She had tried to explain that she did not even know the amount, but Jane could tell Miss Bingley did not believe her.


She was grateful that Mr. Bingley had stopped looking at her so disconcertingly, yet it was still generally evident whenever they met, that he admired her. It was equally evident, to everyone but Mr. Bingley, that she was not yielding to his preference. He seemed to be aiming to exploit the absence of Mr. Hurst to his advantage. She wished Mr. Bingley would accept her heart was no longer hers to give and cease his attempts to turn her affections towards him. She tried to be circumspect and show her preference by bringing Mr. Hurst up whenever they spoke, but Mr. Bingley seemed to be wilfully misunderstanding her.


“Jane, my dear,” her father said, “How do you want to respond?”


“No, Thomas, I am sorry, but Jane could not accept even if she was so inclined. I need her assistance to prepare for tonight. At the time the note was read, I had extended an invitation to Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh to join us for dinner at Longbourn. Jane cannot possibly accept Miss Bingley’s invitation,” her mother stated sternly.


Jane crossed the room and kissed her mother on the cheek. She whispered, “Thank you, Mama.”


“I would not want you to be uncomfortable, Jane dear,” mama whispered back.


Jane was surprised to see Allan enter the room so quickly after he left.


“Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh are here to pay a call. They had just finished saddling my horse when their carriage pulled up.”


“Show them in.”


“Lady Catherine and Miss de Bourgh, how nice to see you,” her mother said.


“Young Sims assisted us from the carriage and delivered your note,” Lady Catherine informed them after they exchanged greetings. “I am afraid we must decline your invitation. You see, we are here to extend one of our own. My nephew was thoughtful enough to send an express rider with a note confirming his arrival tonight. If your family is free for dinner, we would like you to join our welcome home party. If you accept, the Bennet’s will be the only guests so your youngest daughters may attend.”


“I am happy to respond in the affirmative for Mrs. Bennet and my four younger daughters,” her father said. “Unfortunately, my eldest, Jane, will not be able to accept. She was invited to spend the day at Netherfield with Miss Bingley. You understand, I am sure.”


Jane heard many people in the room gasp and agreed. She could not believe what her father had just said. He knew she did not want to go to Netherfield.


“Naturally,” Lady Catherine agreed solemnly. “I can tell Miss Bingley is exceedingly attached to Miss Bennet and vice versa. I would hate to make Miss Bennet feel the loss of her newest friend for the evening.”


“Conveniently enough, Miss Bingley’s note invited Jane to arrive as soon as possible after it was received. She could go now, spend the day with her dearest friend, and return in time for dinner at Haye Park,” her father stated with a wicked grin.


“A mighty fine compromise. I am certain Miss Bennet appreciates you putting forth the suggestion,” Lady Catherine deadpanned with a nod.


“I am sorry to contradict you, Mr. Bennet. I was hoping Jane and Elizabeth would spend the day with me at Haye Park. With my cousins gone, I have been lonely for feminine companionship. I am sure you understand,” Anne said with a sly grin.


“Yes, we discussed the possibility earlier this week,” Elizabeth said quickly.


Jane smiled at her sister. It was true, basically. Anne had mentioned, in passing, that she was missing Georgie and Grace and that it would be fun to spend a day together.


“Jane, write Miss Bingley a response then you and Lizzy need to pack a small trunk containing your clothes for dinner,” their mother ordered before shooing them from the room before their father could speak.


~*~



Haye Park, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, November 12, 1811



Lady Catherine de Bourgh laughed at the story Miss Bennet had just told about her sister Elizabeth climbing a tree and getting her skirt caught. She was in the parlour at Haye Park with her daughter Anne, Miss Jane Bennet, and Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Her nephew and niece, along with Lady Dobbs, Harold Dobbs, and Reginald Hurst, were expected to return within a half-hour.


The door opened and all four ladies looked up to see William walk in to the room. Catherine smiled as Elizabeth stood quickly and hurried to her nephew’s side. William looked as though he wanted to wrap his arms around Elizabeth and kiss her senseless. Thankfully, he restricted himself to holding her hand and whispering, in a soft voice he thought would not carry, “Elizabeth, I have missed you terribly.”


“Let us give them a moment,” she said softly to Anne and Miss Bennet. “Miss Bennet, you were telling us about the tenant visits you made. Is there anything we can do to assist the families? Anne has a deft hand with a needle and I knit very well. I am proficient because I have been practicing my entire life.”


William nodded his appreciation and a few moments later sat down with Elizabeth at his side.


“I assume you rode ahead?”


“Yes, Aunt Catherine. Harold, Dobbs, and Alfie said they would stay with the ladies and practically insisted I ride ahead,” William responded.


“William, you did not ride alone, did you?” Elizabeth asked with wide eyes.


“He better not have,” she said sternly. The boy was not an idiot. She hoped his eagerness to see Miss Elizabeth had not made him take unnecessary risks.


“Murray rode along with me.”


“Your valet is ever so faithful,” Anne said with a grin.


The group chatted for another twenty minutes until they heard what sounded like two carriages arrive. Catherine smiled to see Miss Bennet exit the room first, eagerly making her way outside to greet them.


By the time they made it out the front door, only one carriage was visible and Mr. Hurst had handed down Georgiana and was performing the same service for his aunt. The moment he saw Miss Bennet, his expression changed. His eyes blazed with passion and the corner of his mouth twisted into an appreciative half-smile. Miss Bennet’s face lit up at the sight of him and she started to take a step forward but seemed to catch herself just in time. Lady Catherine caught Phoebe’s eyes and they shared a smile. It was clear the pair missed each other very much.


“Phoebe, I am sure you would like to stretch your legs after the long ride. William you will join us with Miss Elizabeth and Mr. Hurst with Miss Bennet. We will take a few turns about the yard,” she magnanimously demanded.


She approached Phoebe who whispered, “That was nice of you, Catherine.”


“Shall we pretend we do not see Mr. Hurst’s hand covering Miss Bennet’s? Or the fact that their fingers are intertwined?”


“Yes, I believe we shall,” her friend said with a devious grin. “After all, they are doing no real harm and they are in plain sight of everyone, with two chaperones following them.”


“Those dear girls missed them so much, it was painful to watch.”


“You should have seen our nephews,” Phoebe told her quietly. “There were a few times I thought Richard or Grace would tie them to a chair just to get a break. They were trying to finish everything as quickly as possible while still being diligent.”


“William normally operates that way. If Richard was at the point of exhaustion, it must have been exceedingly bad,” Catherine said before laughing mirthfully. “You should ask the Bennet sisters what they have accomplished this past fortnight. With their family addition ready to make its appearance in December, I am sure Mrs. Bennet appreciates not having to worry what to do for Boxing Day.”


“No!” Phoebe exclaimed before airily chuckling.


“Do you think your nephew will be able to wait a fortnight before proposing?” she asked.


“It would be most ungentlemanly if he did not wait,” Phoebe responded. “After all, he has been rather vocal regarding his intentions.”


“Everyone knows he did that to stem the gossip surrounding his relationship with Miss Bennet. There were a few matrons who were upset that the eldest Bennet sisters captured the two wealthy new residents. They tried to plant the seed that he was trifling with the eldest Miss Bennet.”


“I still cannot believe the nerve of them. I think Reginald handled the situation perfectly,” Phoebe said proudly. “Look at that! I would be shocked if Reginald did not just ask Miss Bennet for a private interview first thing in the morning, in a fortnight. Do you see how she is blushing?”


“I do believe you are right, Phoebe. Did you make a stop at Longbourn before you arrived?” she asked.


“No, but if I know my nephew, he asked Mr. Bennet months ago for permission to propose,” Phoebe responded.


“And if I know Mr. Bennet, he made him squirm a bit before giving his blessing,” she said with a smile. “They really are a unique family. With their connections, they could have easily turned out as arrogant as I used to be. I need to thank Anne once again for taking control of Rosings and making me see how I treated everyone.”


“On a happier note, what say you to a double wedding? I know Reginald will not allow his mother to help plan, so I do believe that makes us the mothers of the grooms by proxy,” Phoebe said with a mischievous smirk.


“Oh, Phoebe, I do adore the way you think.”


~*~



Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Monday, November 18, 1811



Fitzwilliam Darcy was anxious to arrive at Longbourn to see Elizabeth. He understood Mr. Bennet’s desire to welcome their relatives in privacy. Staying away from Longbourn for the entire day, especially since his sister was in residence, had been torturous.


“Calm down, William. We will arrive shortly,” his Aunt Catherine scolded. “You are overwrought for no reason. There is no evidence to suggest their cousin will ignore Mr. Bennet’s refusal.”


William stared at his aunt for a moment before he caught the Earl of Palmrich’s eye and shared a commiserating look. There was no way his aunt believed what she was saying any more than he did.


“Lady Catherine is correct,” Dobbs said with a grin. “There is no reason to worry. Mrs. Bennet invited us to spend the afternoon at Longbourn and join the family for dinner. If he does show up at four o’clock, we will know he has no sense.”


“His letter said he would arrive by four o’clock, not at four,” he stressed. “What if he is there right now?”


“There is nothing you can do about the situation if he did arrive earlier than expected,” Lady Dobbs said kindly. “It takes roughly four hours to travel from London. Most likely, he did not want to leave earlier than midday.”


“That is a valid point,” Palmrich said.


“I want to thank you, again, for coming with us,” William told his friend.


“Being here allows me to see Charlotte once again before our wedding,” Palmrich said with a smile. “Besides, given your description of this Mr. Collins, you will need all the help you can get. I have had men like him serve under me before. It is hard to break the habits of a lifetime, but it can be done. I am actually looking forward to the challenge. Civilian life has become a bit boring and tedious.”


“Here we are,” Reginald said. “There, you see, Miss Elizabeth exited the house and she is smiling. All is well, William.”


He sighed when he saw Elizabeth. He felt as though his heart would burst.


“Look at William, Phoebe,” his Aunt Catherine said in a stage whisper. “He has a wistful look on his face and his eyes are burning with desire. I think seeing Miss Elizabeth with a little boy holding her hand has made his mind wander to the future.”


He heard them both titter like old biddies and ignored them, thankful his sister was in residence at Longbourn and not in the carriage to hear them speaking.


“You had better be careful, Darcy,” Dobbs joked. “It looks as though someone may have supplanted you in Miss Elizabeth’s affections.”


“Miss Bennet looks to be occupied with another young lad,” Reginald said softly. “I empathize with what William must be feeling.”


The carriage came to a complete stop and William could not wait for the footmen to open the door. He handed his Aunt Catherine out and immediately walked to Elizabeth.


“How are you today, Mr. Darcy,” said the sweetest sounding voice.


“I am well, Miss Elizabeth, thank you for asking. Would you introduce me to your acquaintance?” he asked gently.


“It would be my pleasure, sir,” she said with luminous eyes. “This is my cousin, Master Andrew Gardiner. Andrew, this is, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. We are courting.”


“It is nice to meet you, Mr. Dawcy,” the young man said very properly with a bow.


“I am very pleased to meet you, Master Gardiner. Miss Elizabeth told me you would be visiting.” He noticed Elizabeth’s cheeks were slightly pink.


“Lizzy is my most favourite cousin, Mr. Dawcy. She reads to me, takes me to the park, and taught me how to make a fort in the nursery. If I give you my blessing, will you make sure she is cared for like my papa does for my mama? She must be loved, happy, and protected at all times,” Andrew said seriously.


Elizabeth was as red as a tomato now. He kneeled in front of Andrew to be at eye level and told the boy, “I grew up with a wonderful example of a father. My excellent father made sure my mother was loved, happy, and protected every day. It has always been my intention to follow in his footsteps. I solemnly promise to you, that I will care for Miss Elizabeth just like you would.”


“Lizzy and Uncle Thomas told me you were a good man. I will believe you. If you do not keep her safe, I get her back,” Andrew informed him.


“We have a deal, Master Gardiner,” he told the child as he extended his hand. After they shook, he stood up and looked at Elizabeth.


“I apologize, sir. He is four-years-old and is having trouble pronouncing his r’s,” she explained, clearly mortified.


“I understand, it is quite common, as is his desire for you to stay at Longbourn. Shall we go inside?” he asked, offering her his arm. He smiled when he saw Reginald with Miss Bennet and the younger boy preceding them into the house.


In the parlour, he saw an elegant couple he had not been introduced to previously.


“Mr. Gardiner?” he heard Dobbs ask. “What do you do here, sir?”


“Mr. Dobbs, it is nice to see you again. We are here to visit family. You see, Mrs. Bennet is my sister,” the man he assumed to be Mr. Gardiner answered.


He grew concerned when Dobbs stood there staring at the gentleman.


“What is wrong, Harold?” Lady Dobbs asked.


“Apparently, Mr. Dobbs knows this Mr. Gardiner and is shocked at his connection to the Bennet family,” Lady Catherine said. “If I may be so bold, Mr. Dobbs has spent most of his life on a ship and you do not look like a former sailor. How do you know him, sir?”


“Allow me to perform introductions,” Mr. Bennet broke in. “This is my brother and sister, Mr. Edward Gardiner and Mrs. Madeline Gardiner and their four children. Seven-year-old Emily, six-year-old Sophia, four-year-old Andrew, and three-year-old Philip.”


“Miss Thompson, is that you?” William asked in surprise after the introductions were completed.


“Yes, Master Darcy. I am surprised you recognized me after all of these years,” Mrs. Gardiner said with a smile.


“How could I forget? You used to help your father run the general store in Lambton and would give me sweets when I came in with my mother.”


“Yes, until father inherited my uncle’s estate and turned the store over to his youngest brother. My uncle still runs the store.”


“Yes, my friend Mr. Hurst purchased a few journals there last December,” William said with a grin. “Dobbs, you have not explained how you know Mr. Gardiner.”


He was intrigued when Mr. Gardiner shared a look with Mr. Bennet before the latter man answered, “I believe they met in the office of his business, Mr. Darcy.”


“The only business interest Dobbs has, that I am aware of, is our investment in SBG Shipping...” he faltered and looked back and forth between the two men. “Richard told me SBG was started by three brothers by marriage. Sakville, Bennet, and Gardiner?”


“I told you he would figure it out, Edward,” Mr. Bennet said with a grin.


“We must ask that everyone in the room keeps that information to themselves,” Edmund Sakville said from the doorway. “My father does not appreciate his private business being fodder for the gossip mill.”


Darcy noticed that his sister was blushing at the mere presence of Mr. Sakville and silently groaned.


“Edmund, we were not expecting you,” Mrs. Bennet said while trying to stand up.


“Please, Aunt Fannie, do not try and stand. You look just as large as my mother,” Sakville said with a grin as he bent down to hug Mrs. Bennet.


“Oh, no, my boy,” Mr. Bennet joked. “No matter the reason, you never tell a woman she is large. The ladies may get away with it, but you will get into trouble.”


“Thomas is right, Edmund,” Mr. Gardiner confirmed with a grin. “If you wish to keep in their good graces, you tell them they are glowing and look wonderful.”


“I will remember that sage advice, thank you Uncle Thomas and Uncle Edward,” Sakville said with a bow.


“Out with it, Edmund. What has brought you here?” Mr. Bennet asked with a grin.


“Mother made me travel to London to purchase some of her favourite sweets that she is craving. Since I was going to be so close, she demanded I be here this afternoon in case you need my assistance. The more time that passes, the more she worries that Mr. Collins will show up and try to ingratiate himself into life at Longbourn,” Sakville said.


“What does she propose you do to help?” Elizabeth asked her cousin.


“My mother asked me to remind her brother that he is not obligated to tell Mr. Collins the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” Sakville explained with a devilish grin. “If he shows up, I am sure Mr. Collins will be unsettled when he sees Aunt Fannie is with child. I know this will not sit well with Darcy, but if he does arrive, what would happen if you remind him of the terms of the entail and that you also have a sister who is with child? Then you let him know your sister has married, her name is Jane Sakville, and then introduce me as your nephew, Edmund Sakville?”


“Oh, that is brilliant. I see Jane is as intelligent as she ever was,” Mr. Gardiner said with a delighted chuckle. “Everything you say would be completely true, but would obfuscate the relevant details.”








SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 25

LizzySSeptember 24, 2020 02:19AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 25

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Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 25

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Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 25

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