Welcome to our board! Log In Create A New Profile
Use mobile view

Advanced

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 28

October 15, 2020 04:29AM
Some of your questions should be answered in this chapter but the majority of them will probably be in the next. It took me so long to get two points of views typed up in this chapter, I ran out of time. Even as is, this is the fourth longest chapter I have posted.


I was watching Phineas and Ferb with my daughters, yeah laugh at me all you want but it’s a funny show, so you will see an Isabella line in here.






Chapter 28


Meryton, Hertfordshire
Thursday, November 21, 1811



George Wickham felt like a blasted numbskull. What was he doing here? He should go back to the camp and stay out of the skullduggery of these gossiping, irritating, meddling ladies.


Miss Bingley was out of her senses if she thought meeting on the southernmost green space in Meryton would not be noticed. He had been sitting on a bench on the outskirts of a small grove of trees for less than five minutes and half the townspeople had waved at him. Unnoticeable indeed.


He was getting his life back on track and now this? Well, if he was being honest with himself, his real life never truly started until a year ago. From an early age, he had suspected he was connected to the Darcy family somehow. The children of the servants and from the village of Lambton always made fun of him for spending so much time at the main house, taking lessons with the young master, and having the same first name as Mr. Darcy. They relentlessly called him a footlicker and a lickspittle and accused him of thinking he was better than them. The older boys were the first ones to put the thought into his head that he contained Darcy blood and explained how it could be possible.


At first, he was glad to have a brother, and later a sister, that he was close to and he was able to see all the time, until he and Darcy were sent to school. It did not take long to find out what it meant that he was the natural firstborn son instead of the acknowledged heir. He was barely tolerated by the other pupils and the instructors were hardly better. The other boys called him a charity case or George Servantson and some of the bolder ones called him the bastard brother. None of this was ever said within Darcy’s hearing of course. Even the titled students were wary of offending the powerful and extremely wealthy family, there was a son and daughter to marry off in the future after all.


George’s resentment grew as the years passed. When he read Mr. Darcy’s journals at Pemberley a year ago and found out that everything he had believed his entire life could not possibly be true...


He looked up when he heard a carriage and his eyes widened. Miss Bingley had arrived in what had to be the biggest, most ostentatious, carriage her brother owned. She had it fully staffed with a tiger, numerous footmen, and the driver. She was creating quite the display and drawing attention to herself. He groaned when the carriage came straight towards the green and stopped right next to him.


As she approached, he asked, “This is your idea of being careful? If you were trying to be inconspicuous, you failed. Spectacularly. If this is how the beginning of your plan is unfolding, I want no part of the actual implementation.”


“What are you blathering about? We were both in a wide-open space in the village and happened to meet each other,” Miss Bingley said off-handedly.


“You arrived in a huge flashy carriage and went directly to where I was sitting. You assume they will not think we arranged this in advance?” he scoffed incredulously. “How many times have you visited this spot previously? Or even come into the village?”


“These people are simple peasants. They are not intelligent enough to suspect anything,” Miss Bingley sneered.


“Nevertheless, I want nothing to do with your plan,” he said before turning to leave.


“Wait! I will pay you!” Miss Bingley all but shouted.


He turned around and just stared at her. This foolish woman was absolutely crazy. “No thank you.”


“How does £500 sound?”


“Did you bring it? Show it to me?” he asked with narrowed eyes.


“Of course I did not bring it with me.”


“Then how do I know you will honour your promise? Most dowries are set up under the control of a male relative. Say your brother,” he said with a raised brow. Miss Bingley narrowed her eyes, and he knew he was right. “How do you expect to pay me if your brother controls the purse strings?”


“When I am Mrs. Darcy, I will have more than enough pin money to pay you,” Miss Bingley said confidently.


“How long have you known Darcy?”


“We have been acquainted for almost five years. He met Charles at his father’s funeral,” Miss Bingley answered.


He smirked at her. “If Darcy has not asked to court you in the five years you have been acquainted, what makes you think he would suddenly propose now? Especially since he has been publicly courting Miss Elizabeth Bennet long enough that their engagement is expected to be announced any day?”


“That brings us to my plan,” Miss Bingley said with a grin that would rival any that Lucifer could produce. “Mr. Darcy is unfailingly honourable, but he is also exceedingly proud of his heritage. He would never connect himself to a family in disgrace. Miss Eliza and I despise each other, and she would never do anything I ask. However, Miss Bennet and I have struck up a friendship of sorts, the silly uncultured chit. What would happen if Miss Bennet, or one of the senseless younger sisters, were found in a compromising position? Say, closed up in the library of Netherfield with a certain militia gentleman who refuses to marry her because she allowed him far too many liberties? He would be so distraught to lose his lady love, that he would turn to a marriage of convenience.”


There was a certain twisted logic to her plan. But she obviously did not know Darcy as well as she thought. George was certain Darcy would never abandon the woman he loved, no matter what happened. One must also take into consideration that the village was very fond of Miss Bennet and she had lived there her whole life. Even the staunchest of gossips was unlikely to believe the preposterous story when it was about a girl who was widely acknowledged as the most proper maiden in the village of Meryton. Besides, if Darcy were willing to settle for the type of marriage she was offering, he would have given in to the demands of his aunt and brought another estate into his holdings.


“Why would I settle for your £500, when rumour has it the Bennet sisters each have a large dowry?”


“Lies most likely spread by the family themselves. Longbourn is a tiny, insignificant estate. They could never have managed to save anywhere near the amount my father did, and they have to divide it by five sisters.”


She was so utterly absurd, he almost laughed in her face. She did not know enough to realize she was showing her ignorance regarding estate matters. He had only seen Longbourn from afar, but even that was enough to tell it was a good-sized estate and probably generated more income than anyone unconnected with the family knew. Mr. Bennet seemed to be the type of man to make sport of his neighbours and laugh at them good naturedly. It was also a good way to deter the fortune hunting men from focusing on the sisters.


“I want half up front,” he demanded.


“I told you, I do not have such a large amount of funds with me,” Miss Bingley hissed at him.


“What do you have? Do not look at me that way. What assurances do I have you will not back out of our agreement as soon as you have what you want? I am giving up the certainty of a dowry for the chance that you will honour our agreement.”


“I have just over £100,” Miss Bingley ground out.


“I will take one hundred even, by the end of the day, with a vowel, in your handwriting, promising the remaining four.”


“Do you doubt my honour?” Miss Bingley asked with her hand over her heart as if she was greatly offended.


“Do not play the wounded maiden with me. Are you not the same person who is planning to ruin two families just to try and get what you want?” he mocked.


“What are you talking about, two families? It will just be the Bennets.”


“Believe that if it makes you feel better, Miss Bingley. Do you deny you are attempting to ruin the happiness of Miss Bennet and Miss Elizabeth? How do you think it will affect Darcy and Miss Darcy?”


“I do not care tuppence about any of them. I am trying to take what is mine and protect my brother from Miss Bennet plying him with her arts and allurements. He will do much better with Miss Darcy.”


No doubt about it, he was correct. Miss Bingley deserved a cell in Bedlam. Neither Darcy would ever marry the child of a tradesman, he was certain of that much. The Matlock’s and Lady Catherine would have something to say about it if they tried. If they truly loved the person, he doubted their relatives would actually stand in the way, but they would never sanction a marriage of convenience to someone outside of the first circles when there were so many suitable options to choose from, many of whom had larger dowries.


“Miss Bingley, we have been speaking too long and are attracting even more attention than when you arrived,” he pointed out. “I assume you planned for this to happen at the Netherfield ball?”


“When else would everyone be at Netherfield?” Miss Bingley scoffed. “The lazy musicians insisted on having two short rests scheduled in addition to the lengthy rest they will receive when we are eating dinner. I think during the first rest, after the fourth set, would be best. You head directly to the library and I will follow as soon as I can find one of the Bennet sisters.”


“How are you going to get them to join you in the library?” he asked curiously. He had heard the sisters were all highly intelligent and had been trained to deal with unwanted advances. Maybe if he was lucky, Miss Bingley would put her hands on whomever she lured, and they would physically put her in her place. He wondered if he could sell tickets and hide his fellow officers in the library. No, he decided, it would not be worth the risk that one of them would not be able to hold their tongue.


“The library will not be open to the public as I plan to store some of the extra flower arrangements there. I will claim a few pieces were damaged, need to be replaced, and that I would appreciate their advice on which of the options would look best,” the woman said smugly while crossing her arms. “They would not be able to resist the opportunity to be of assistance to someone like me.”


George noticed an older lady and a young girl walking on the nearby path. The young girl was giving Miss Bingley a gimlet eye and he was subjected to a fair share of her ire. He winked at the little rascal and received a scowl in return.


“Thank you for the scintillating conversation, Miss Bingley. I will let you continue your walk in privacy,” he said loud enough to be heard by those nearest as he turned and started walking away.


“You had better be in place or you will not get the remainder we agreed upon,” Miss Bingley called after him.


George shook his head as he made his way across the village. He did not have long to wait until his meeting with Mrs. Younge. He could not believe he was meeting two women he barely knew on the same day, let alone one of them next to a cemetery.


When George reached the place where he wanted to meet Mrs. Younge, he leaned against the tree trunk and checked the timepiece his godfather had given him when he started university. He had been told it was to help make sure he was not late to his classes, but he had taken it as another sign that he was that man’s son. He shook his head at yet another misunderstanding. Now he realized he was gently being told his habit of being late would not be tolerated by his professors and fellow students.


“Mr. Wickham, how nice of you to meet me,” Mrs. Younge said from behind him a few minutes later.


He turned around and told her, “You have my undivided attention. What did you want to discuss?”


“Revenge,” she answered succinctly.


“I do not understand. You will have to explain it to me using more than one word,” he said, by this time annoyed.


“I have been back in Meryton long enough to discern that after the ball, the eldest Bennet sisters and Miss Darcy will most likely go for a long mid-morning ride and end up at Oakham Mount to enjoy a light meal before returning to Longbourn. All you need to know is that I require your help.”


“How do you know the Darcys well enough to want revenge?” he asked. “With the exception of the past few years, I was an intimate of the family and I do not recognize you or your family name.”


“I have no specific reason to seek revenge upon the Darcys, it was merely a convenience and an easy way to make money. Mr. Darcy is so arrogant and self-centred, he made the sheltered Miss Darcy an easy target. Last December, my plan was to have you elope with her and then you would pay me a finder’s fee from her dowry. Now that she is cared for by the Bennets, it makes her an even more appealing target. You will still elope with her, making sure it is known to everyone here, and give me a third of her dowry for my assistance.”


“A third? You do realize her dowry is £30,000? Why would I pay you a full £10,000 for something I could accomplish myself? She has fond memories of me and is certainly gullible enough.”


“I will make your success easier. Miss Darcy knows me and is fond of me too. I can give you the appearance of legitimacy which will go a long way to easing her mind. You will pay me one third, Mr. Wickham, or you will regret it,” was the hissed response. “You do not want to make me your enemy.”


This woman was a different kind of scary than Miss Bingley. There was no reservation in his mind that she would follow him to the ends of the earth and make him pay, most definitely with his life.


“What is your plan?” he asked cautiously.


“I told you they are sure to end up at Oakham Mount. We will hide ourselves until they arrive, cut off their possible escape routes, and force them into a carriage. You will marry Miss Darcy for her dowry, and I will ransom the Bennet sisters to their aunt and uncle.”


“Why would you not send the demand for payment to their parents?” George asked with narrowed eyes.


“They will all pay, make no mistake,” Mrs. Younge answered dangerously. “The whole family deserves to pay.”


“Why do I get the feeling that no matter whether the ransoms are paid or not, the sisters will not be returned? I refuse to be a part of murder.”


“Neither of us will lift a hand against any of the young ladies. They are simply a means to an end.”


“Which is what?” he asked. Her answer was not comforting in the least. Just because they would not touch the sisters did not mean they would be returned to Longbourn unharmed if the ransom was paid.


“Money.”


They worked out a few more specifics before she left him.


“Until next Wednesday,” Mrs. Younge said.


~*~



Meryton Graveyard, Hertfordshire
Thursday, November 21, 1811



Anna Sayers walked into the Meryton graveyard with Miss Thomlin for their weekly visit. She headed straight to her mother’s grave and updated her on the changes that would be happening soon. She was excited about going to school and moving to Pemberley, but she was sad to be unable to visit her mother whenever she wanted. Miss Lizzy told her she would be able to visit a few times a year and it made her feel better.


She stood up and noticed Mr. Wickham and that sneaky new lady talking on the other side of the fence under some trees. It looked like they were up to something.


When the lady walked away, she saw Mr. Wickham shake his head. Anna decided to walk towards him.


“Mr. Wick, whatcha doin?” she asked. “I saw you earlier with mean old Miss Bingley and now the new scary lady. What bad thing are you planning?”


“Here I am being approached by yet another lady I have not been introduced to. This is not my day.”


“Well,” she said impatiently, “whatcha gonna do?”


“It is ‘what are you going to do’, by the way,” Mr. Wickham said. “And my name is Mr. Wickham. Are you going to formally introduce yourself?”


“I don’t duce myself to drels,” she responded crossly.


“Drels? I am not familiar with that saying.”


“I heard Mrs. Hill call you a... a... I think it was a scodrel?”


“Do you mean scoundrel?”


“Yes, that sounds right. I asked Miss Thomlin and she said it means you are a bad man, Mr. Wick. I only duce myself to nice people.”


“How do you know the scary lady?”


“I have seen her come from the place the Longbourn servants live when they are too old to work.”


“The pensioners cottages?”


“Yes. My nana lived there when she was too old to be the housekeeper at Longbourn.”


“I have determined that I like you,” he said with a nice smile. “Did you know I heard about you too, Anna?”


“Who told you about me?” she gasped. She did not like that this scoundrel knew her name.


“Many people. You are well liked in this village for your frankness. Let me give you a piece of advice, young lady. Do not judge people based on gossip. Wait until you meet them and form your own opinions that are based on fact.”


She pursed her lips and thought for a moment. “You have a point. I heard Mr. Bennet tell Miss Lizzy that a few times.”


“Do you also know it is not proper to speak with someone you have not been introduced to by a third party?” Mr. Wickham said, looking like he wanted to smile.


“Course I have, Mr. Wick. Lady Dobbs and Lady Catherine, and I hafta say their name in that order cause the widow of a Viscount takes dence over the widow of a Knight, told me so. However, Mr. Bennet, who I have known forever, told me that I cannot let the old biddies make me act like an adult yet. He said that I should enjoy my childhood,” she answered with a large smile.


Anna was surprised when Mr. Wickham threw his head back and laughed. It was weird finally talking to him. His voice sounded a lot like Mr. William and he acted like him a little bit too.


“It was nice to meet you in person, Anna. So far, everything I have heard about you is proving to be true. Enjoy the rest of your day.”


Anna watched him walk away. She was not sure what she thought about him, but knew she would have to keep her eye on him.


She heard the leaves above her head rustling and looked up to see Alfie appear and then drop to the ground.


“Come along, Anna,” Alfie said. “It is time for your next lesson with me and Allan. Go inform Miss Thomlin we have arrived. We brought your favourite horse for you to ride to Longbourn.”


She told Miss Thomlin she was leaving and ran back to Alfie. She was surprised to see Allan exit the woods with three horses. Anna was glad that Alfie overheard whatever they were planning because she knew he would help keep her friends safe.


~*~



Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, November 26, 1811



Fitzwilliam Darcy was nervous. He had just arrived at Longbourn with Reginald for their pre-arranged meeting with the eldest Bennet daughters. If things went as planned, the sisters would be out back on the swing that hung from a large oak tree.


He had not been able to sleep last night and regretted not taking Mr. Bennet’s advice to split a packet of sleeping powder with Reginald. They had both wanted to propose for months. He would shortly be an engaged man and after the supper set of tonight’s ball, all of Meryton would know.


He had not seen Elizabeth since last Thursday. There had been a horrible succession of rain that prohibited travel by making the roads impassable by carriage and horseback riding dangerous to the mounts and riders. He was so impatient to set his eyes on her.


The friends dismounted and handed their reins to the stable lads.


“Are you ready?”


“I think so,” Reginald answered.


Once more unto the breach, my friend1,” he said with a smile before he headed towards the oak tree.


When he saw Elizabeth, he froze and his heart almost stopped. She was pushing Miss Bennet on the swing with her head thrown back in laughter. It was the very picture of domestic tranquillity. He could see himself pushing Elizabeth on the similar swing that hung from a willow tree at Pemberley.


“Good morning, ladies,” he said. “Would you like to go for a walk with us?”


“Yes, Mr. Darcy,” Elizabeth said with a gentle smile.


He offered her his arm and, as agreed with Reginald on the way over, directed her to the path that wound through the gardens. They discussed the upcoming ball and their sisters until William stopped next to a beautiful rose bush that was out of sight of the house.


“I adore the smell of roses,” Elizabeth said with a smile.


“I know,” he responded while looking into her eyes. “I could spend an eternity looking into your eyes and never tire of the luminous sight.”


“Thank you,” Elizabeth whispered up at him.


“I will remember the first moment I saw you for the rest of my life. When Anna told me I could turn around and there you were under that tree, with leaves and sticks in your hair, cheeks red from the exertion of climbing, and eyes shining mesmerizingly, my future was instantly clear to me. You were the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. The more I found out about you, the harder I fell under your spell. I did not think it was possible, but your mind attracted me more than your physical beauty. I cannot begin to describe how ardently I love and admire you,” he whispered before kneeling. “My feelings will not be repressed. I barely managed to hold myself back the past months for fear of rushing you. My life will never be complete without you, Elizabeth. Please accept my love and do me the honour of giving me your hand in marriage.”


With tears streaming down her face, Elizabeth replied, “Oh, William, I love you too. It has been many months since I first looked into my heart and saw you. I believe I fell in love with you while I was still in that tree. You were so sweet with Anna, who was obviously below you in consequence. I have never before met anyone I could envision myself growing old with. It would be my pleasure to marry you. I promise, I will spend the rest of my life helping you make a loving family and a happy home.”


William could not help himself. He stood up, put his arms around Elizabeth, drew her close, and bent his head. The first touch of his lips on hers was feather light but caused an explosion of passion throughout his body. He pulled her closer and deepened the kiss. He felt Elizabeth’s arms circle his waist and she pulled him closer. It took all the strength he had, but he managed to draw his face away from hers. She looked breathtaking. Her eyes were closed, her mouth slightly open, and she appeared to be dazed.


“We should go find Reginald and Miss Bennet and speak to your father right away,” he said gruffly.


“You are right, unfortunately,” Elizabeth smirked at him.


“With your agreement, your father, Reginald, and I thought he would announce our engagements at supper tonight,” William told her.


“That sounds perfect,” Elizabeth whispered.


“I am glad,” he whispered back before laughing and continuing in a louder voice, “Reginald and Miss Bennet should be near the garden entrance.”


~*~



Longbourn, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, November 26, 1811



Reginald Hurst followed William around the stables and nearly twisted his ankle trying to avoid his friend who stopped suddenly. He was able to discover what was wrong when he saw them.


Jane was sitting on the swing being pushed by her younger sister. She had her head twisted back towards Miss Elizabeth and was laughing. It was a breathtaking sight. His heart swelled with love for her.


Vaguely, he heard William greet the sisters and Miss Elizabeth’s reply, but he could not take his eyes off Jane. She was a vision of loveliness. The sight reminded him of a painting he saw in the Louvre while on his grand tour, La Gioconda. The painting made headlines this past August when it had been reported stolen. From his time in Paris, he knew comparing women to the famous painting was becoming very common. He never understood why they did it, until now. Da Vinci painted a woman who managed to captivate almost everyone even if she was not particularly beautiful. He thought it had to be her virtue proudly on display, enchanting eyes, and mysterious smile. In his mind, Jane was the epitome of a perfect, beautiful, virtuous woman.


He realized he was staring when Jane approached and called his name. “I apologize, Miss Bennet. I was momentarily struck dumb by the lovely picture you and your sister made on the swing. Would you like to walk around the outside of the garden?” he asked.


“I am more than happy to walk around, or through, any garden with you, sir,” Miss Bennet said shyly.


He smiled when she blushed and looked down. He noticed a loose curl and tucked it behind her ear and was thrilled when she leaned slightly into his touch. He put his pointer finger under her chin, tipped her head back up, and smiled gently.


“Please, never be embarrassed about showing affection for me,” he whispered, noticing her eyes were full of unshed tears. He offered his arm, covered her hand with his, and started walking.


“Miss Bennet, today is the one-year anniversary of Louisa’s death.”


“I remember, sir,” Miss Bennet answered softly.


“It is a bittersweet day for me,” he said absently. “I did care for Louisa and legitimately mourned her passing. However, I also feel like the next chapter of my life is beginning.”


They had reached the ornate stone bench just outside of the garden entrance. “Would you like to sit?”


When they were settled, he continued. “I cannot stress enough how much I owe William and Richard. I truly do not know what would have become of me had they not encouraged me to improve myself. Over the holiday season last year, my now brother-in-law taught me how the army keeps its troops in shape and well-conditioned. He was relentless and I think he recruited Miss Darcy to inform him if I skipped an exercise day.”


He smiled when Miss Bennet chuckled.


“That sounds like Mr. Fitzwilliam.”


“Yes, it does,” he smiled, then sighed. “Having him there to keep me accountable unquestionably assisted me in staying on track. I had been given a weight loss diet from my aunt’s cousin and Richard and the Pemberley cook both had ideas of ways to enhance my meals without deviating. Life at Pemberley was exactly what I needed. William rarely partakes of spirits and the environment was idyllic. I was able to properly mourn, without the drama that staying in London or going home to Whitemeadow would have caused, or the temptation to start drinking again. I think it was beneficial to concurrently work on improving myself emotionally and physically.”


“Georgie has told us a lot about Pemberley. I would like to visit someday,” Miss Bennet said.


He needed to move this conversation along and quit stalling. “I am sorry, I did not ask you to walk with me so I could rehash my recent history.”


“Mr. Hurst, I suspect today is an important step in your healing. I do not know from personal experience, but I have spoken to widows and they all told me the first anniversary is the worst. I would be concerned if you were not feeling nostalgic today,” Miss Bennet said gently.


“I appreciate your understanding,” he said with a sad smile. “As I said, I also feel like this is the beginning of my second life. Did I ever tell you that when you and Miss Mary stepped into the clearing on the day we met, I froze?”


“But it was such a nice day outside,” Miss Bennet said with a furrowed brow.


“Not literally. I was struck dumb at how exquisitely beautiful you were. What I noticed even more, was how scared you looked and that Anna had to pull you over to our group. I thought perhaps someone had hurt you,” he admitted quietly.


“I was... unsettled. My sister Lydia had just returned from Scotland and relayed a distressing story. My Aunt Jane helped me work through my concerns.”


“I am glad,” he said honestly, taking her hand in his. “When you picked Anna up and warned her to be cautious, I realized right then and there that you were the perfect woman for me.”


“You did?”


“How could I have thought anything else? With that one simple act, you stole my heart. Everything I learned after that, reinforced what I already suspected. You are as pure and lovely on the inside as you are on the outside. You are the one for me. I think about you all the time. I hope I did not confuse you by insisting on mourning for a full year.”


“Not at all, I understood.”


“Jane, I wish I could be more eloquent. If I cared for you less, I might be able to express myself better. I love you and cannot imagine my future without you as my wife and the mother of my children,” he said before he kneeled in front of her. “Will you make me the happiest of men and agree to marry me?”


Jane put her other hand on top of his and squeezed.


“Reginald, you hold a place in my heart that nobody else has managed to touch. I also think about you whenever we are apart and wonder how you would react to things I observe. I forced myself to think about you as Mr. Hurst instead of Reginald to ensure I did not slip up in public. Hearing what you went through with the Bingley’s, inspired me to be more vocal with my preferences. You mean everything to me. My answer, in one word, is yes.”


“Oh Jane,” he said. He could not take his eyes off her face, in particular her lips. She must have noticed because she blushed and looked down again. He moved to sit next to her on the bench again and put his left arm around her shoulders and his forehead on the top of her head. Her hair smelled amazing. He kissed the top of her head and then her forehead. He put his finger under her chin again and tipped her head back to kiss her cheek and slowly moved closer to her lips. The first time he touched the side of her mouth, he sucked in a breath and pulled back to look into her eyes. She was so beautiful. She opened her eyes and smiled shyly at him. He could not stop himself from kissing her properly. He felt her tremble slightly when their lips fully touched for the first time.


He kissed her gently a few times until he heard William laugh and tell Miss Elizabeth where they were sitting. He would have to remember to thank his friend for being discreet.


“I love you so much, Jane. Thank you for agreeing to be my wife. What do you think about your father announcing our engagement tonight at supper?”


“I would like that very much.”


“Is my brother-in-law still making you uncomfortable?” he asked, concerned.


“Not at all, Reginald,” Jane answered with a blush. “He does nothing untoward, but I can tell he still wishes to know me better.”


“After everything that happens tonight, he should know there is no chance of that,” he said proudly.


“Oh, Lizzy! It looks as though you are as happy as I am. Tis’ too much, by far too much,” Jane said with tears in her eyes when her sister and William appeared.


“We should go speak with your father. He is expecting us,” he said.


“Papa knew?” Jane asked.


“Of course he did, Jane. William and Mr. Hurst are honourable gentlemen. They would have spoken to papa first.”


“How silly of me. You are right, Lizzy,” Jane said. “Yes, let us go inside. Papa can announce it to our family right now and to everyone else at the ball.”


“That sounds like a good plan, Jane,” he told her with a smile as they walked inside to find Mr. Bennet.


~*~



Netherfield, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, November 26, 1811



Jane Bennet, her sisters, Georgie, and Anne had dressed with more than usual care, and prepared in the highest spirits for the Netherfield ball. The prospect of dancing was extremely agreeable to every female at Longbourn.


Her parents and Mr. Darcy had agreed that her youngest sisters and Georgie could attend the first half of the ball, but they were to leave with Mrs. Waldron after supper. The girls were excited even with the restrictions imposed upon them.


Jane entered the drawing-room at Netherfield with the other females from Longbourn and looked for Reginald and Mr. Darcy among the cluster of people assembled. Her eyes caught his over the sea of people and she smiled happily while her feet moved towards him without conscious thought.


“Jane,” he whispered.


“How are you this evening, Mr. Hurst?”


“I am well, Miss Bennet. I must say, you look lovely tonight.”


The engaged couples conversed until the first set was announced. Jane partnered with Reginald for the first, Mr. Dobbs for the second, Mr. Darcy for the third, and the Earl of Palmrich for the fourth after which the musicians took a break.


Jane found herself alone after they sent Reginald, Mr. Darcy, and the Earl of Palmrich for refreshments and Lizzy and Charlotte Lucas needed to visit the retiring room. She was on the outskirts of a group of matrons when Miss Bingley approached her.


“Miss Bennet, two of the flower arrangements were knocked over and I need to choose replacements. I wonder if might request your assistance? Your help would mean so much to me,” Miss Bingley begged. “The extras are in located in the library.”


“Of course, Miss Bingley. I am sure that this has been an overwhelming evening,” Jane replied. “I will help in any way that I can.”


When the ladies arrived at the library door, Miss Bingley opened it with the key.


“You locked the door?” she asked.


“Of course I did, Miss Bennet. I did not want to run the risk of someone coming in here and knocking a vase off the table,” Miss Bingley explained.


They entered the room and Jane was surprised to see a fire blazing and candles lit.


“The flowers are on a table to the right,” Miss Bingley said with her arm pointed in that direction.


Jane walked to the table and saw Mr. Wickham standing against the wall.


“Miss Bennet, fancy meeting you here.”


“Good evening, Mr. Wickham,” Jane greeted the man before walking a few steps further to the window. “It is such a nice night outside. The torches lining the drive create a unique effect when you look out the window.”


“I will take your word for it, Miss Bennet,” Mr. Wickham responded.


“We are not here for pleasantries, Mr. Wickham,” Miss Bingley hissed. “I will leave the room, lock the door, and be back as soon as I can gather some witnesses.”


“What are you doing, Miss Bingley? I thought we were friends.”


“Friends? With someone like you? A country nobody? How presumptuous,” Miss Bingley sneered at her.


“A country nobody who, I hear, is a cousin of Lady Jersey,” Mr. Wickham taunted the upset woman.


“You are here to help me, just like a tool. Do not forget that. You are not being paid to think, not that you could,” Miss Bingley mocked.


“How much was she willing to pay you, Mr. Wickham?” Jane asked.


“Not much, a token really, a trifle. She offered me £500 for compromising you,” Mr. Wickham answered with a grin. “However, I heard earlier this morning that Miss Bingley’s dowry is £20,000. What say you to leaving the library and screaming outside the door to gather a crowd?”


“What are you talking about?” Miss Bingley gasped.


“You are rather ambitious, Mr. Wickham,” she said. “There seems to be one significant problem with your suggestion.”


“Stop this, both of you,” the now pale Miss Bingley said.


“I am always open to constructive criticism, Miss Bennet, and I must admit my curiosity is peaked. What is the problem with my idea?”


“That Miss Bingley’s dowry is only £8,000. I would hate for you to be misled and forced into a situation without all of the necessary information,” she replied with a smile.


“You are a clever young lady,” that man laughed. “Tsk, tsk, Miss Bingley. Captain Carter told me that just a few days ago you told him your dowry was twenty. Lying to the good people of Meryton?”


“Mr. Wickham, I will make sure you regret it if you do not do as we agreed,” Miss Bingley threatened.


“What exactly did we agree on?” Mr. Wickham asked.


“Do not be obtuse! You will compromise Miss Bennet in front of witnesses and then refuse to marry her because she allowed you liberties,” Miss Bingley stated.


“Why me?” Jane asked. “What did I do to you, except offer genuine friendship?”


“Because this whole backwater village infuriates me with your nonsensical sense of superiority.”


“Do not forget your plans for Mr. Darcy,” Mr. Wickham added.


“How would arranging a compromise of me, affect Mr. Darcy?” Jane asked.


“Because Mr. Darcy would never marry a woman with a ruined family.”


“I am confused, Miss Bingley. Your plan is to have Mr. Wickham compromise me so that Mr. Darcy will not marry my sister? What do you get out of this?” Jane asked. “How is it worth £500 to you?”


“Mr. Darcy will be so upset that he will be happy to enter into a marriage of convenience with his best friend’s sister.”


Jane could not help herself, she started giggling. “I have to disagree with you, Miss Bingley. Mr. Darcy would certainly marry my sister regardless of what happens tonight.”


“He would never dishonour his family name,” Miss Bingley scoffed. “One way or another, he will be mine.”


Jane was surprised when the servants entrance opened, and Mr. Bingley and Mrs. Verdier stepped out.


“Caroline! How could you? What have you done?” Mr. Bingley asked while Mrs. Verdier looked highly amused.


Jane turned towards the fireplace when she heard her father start laughing.


“This has been a most entertaining conversation. Do you agree Sir Lucas? As the magistrate, could Miss Bingley be charged with anything?” her father asked from the wingback chair he sat in.


“I would have to read the fine print of the laws to be sure. However, since Miss Bennet was ultimately unharmed, unfortunately I do not believe so,” Sir William answered from the matching chair. “It is a shame, really.”


Lizzy, Mr. Darcy, Reginald, Edmund, Mrs. Nicholls, Uncle and Aunt Gardiner, Lady Dobbs, Lady Catherine, Anne, Charlotte, the Earl of Palmrich, and the earl’s younger solicitor brother, James Trevor, emerged from behind the floating bookcase and entered the main open area of the library.


“Are you well, Jane?” Lizzy asked.


“Yes, I am fine, Lizzy,” she answered.


“Mr. Bingley, I must inform you that your sister’s actions this evening invoked the morality clause of your lease. You are hereby ordered to vacate the premises by Thursday morning, and you forfeit the entire cost of the lease that you paid in advance,” Mr. Trevor said.





1 Henry V - The line is actually Once more unto the breach, my friends, once more.











I did create an alternate ending because the devil on my shoulder thought about stopping the chapter without you knowing who was speaking, but the angel on the other shoulder, and Alida, my beta, said to leave it as is.


This is what you were saved from:


***Alternate ending***


Jane could not help herself, she started giggling. “I have to disagree with you, Miss Bingley. Mr. Darcy would certainly marry my sister regardless of what happens tonight.”


“He would never dishonour his family name,” Miss Bingley scoffed. “One way or another, he will be mine.”


Jane turned towards the fireplace when she heard laughter.


“This has been a most entertaining conversation.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 28

LizzySOctober 15, 2020 04:29AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 28

EvelynJeanOctober 15, 2020 02:56PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 28

BrigidOctober 15, 2020 01:14PM



Author:

Your Email:


Subject:


Spam prevention:
Please, solve the mathematical question and enter the answer in the input field below. This is for blocking bots that try to post this form automatically.
Question: how much is 11 plus 4?
Message: