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Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 31

November 13, 2020 03:06PM
I apologize for skipping a week and that this is so late. Our weather has been fluctuating and wreaking havoc with my sinuses. The temperature had been double our normal average for almost a week. On Tuesday we walked the dog in shorts, on Wednesday it was so chilly and windy that I put gloves on after a few minutes, and Thursday morning my husband had to scrape his windshield. If you have ever had a sinus pressure headache, you understand what I am talking about.



I finished the chapter after midnight and was too tired to post this before bed.



I did read it again this morning, twice, but I did not have a chance to do as thorough a job of editing as I usually do and I almost doubled the chapter after my wonderful beta, Alida, read it over. Please forgive any errors, especially the pesky apostrophes. For some reason I have never been able to master possessiveness.





There will definitely be at least one more chapter, maybe two, and an epilogue.











Chapter 31


Longbourn Pensioners’ Cottages, Hertfordshire
Wednesday, November 27, 1811



Thomas Bennet dismounted and tied his reins to the hitching post near the pensioners’ cottages. He did not relish having to tell the elderly disabled former vicar that his daughter had been arrested and, in all likelihood, would be executed for her crimes.


“Are you sure you want to join me? This will not be pleasant.”


“Mrs. Younge attempted to kidnap my sister for something my mother supposedly did. I deserve to be here, Uncle Thomas. I should be able to easily catch up to father and Juliet before they arrive at the inn tonight,” Edmund Sakville said.


“Our fiancées were part of her scheme. We are here to offer you whatever support you need, even if it is just to corroborate your story as eyewitnesses,” Darcy said.


“We will not speak unless asked to,” Hurst added.


“I must warn you that Mr. Attwood is elderly and sick,” Mr. Bennet said as Mr. Jones approached them. “Thank you for coming, Jones.”


“Thank you for asking me, Bennet,” was the reply. “As you know, Mr. Attwood is very ill. I do not believe he will last much longer. I do not know if he can handle the news. It might be better that we do not tell him his daughter’s fate.”


“I will follow your lead,” he said before walking towards the Attwood cottage.


Jones knocked and the door was answered by Miss Thomlin.


“May we see Mr. Attwood?” Jones asked. “I will stay with him until your replacement arrives.”


“Very well. He is very weak, but he is awake,” their neighbour warned before gathering her belongings and leaving.


“Mr. Attwood, how do you do today?” Jones asked.


Thomas had not visited Attwood in a while. He was shocked at how frail the old man looked.


“Who are you?” was the weak reply.


“I am Mr. Jones, the apothecary.”


“Is Mr. Ruthers visiting his family again?”


“Yes, he asked me to care for you in his absence.”


Thomas did not understand what they were talking about. Mr. Ruthers was the former apothecary who passed away over ten years ago.


“Bennet, why are you here? Did you come to gloat that Jane married the new master of Netherfield?”


“No, Mr. Attwood, he did not. Bennet was worried about you,” Jones answered for him.


“I doubt that. Bennet told me he would convince Jane to accept my suit and then as soon as Mr. Sakville arrived, he thought I was no longer good enough for Jane. Then Thomas had to announce his engagement to Frances Gardiner.”


Thomas understood now. Mr. Attwood, in the grasp of his illness, had mistaken him for his father.


“Why would that matter?” Jones asked curiously.


“Jane and Frances were the only unattached and attractive ladies in Meryton. Not that it matters. After the rumours surrounding my attempt to marry Jane, I doubt anyone in this area would accept my hand,” Attwood said. “In case my illness takes a turn for the worst before I hear back from my sister, please ask Ruthers to make sure Sally is taken care of. I worry for her. Sally was quite attached to Jane and has been sad since she moved away.”


“We will make sure that your daughter is taken care of,” Jones said soothingly. “I can tell our short visit has been taxing your energy. You should rest and I will see Bennet and his friends out.”


The gentlemen were all quiet when they walked to their horses.


“You gentlemen may rest assured that Mrs. Younge acted alone,” Jones explained. “I am sorry, Bennet, but I could not let you tell him. Your conscience is clear. As you could see, he is in no condition to hear what you came to tell him. The kindest thing you could do, was nothing.”


“Does he have any hope of recovery?” Edmund asked.


“No,” Jones said sadly. “He is one and seventy-years-old. His time is near. The only thing I can do is make him as comfortable as possible.”


“What if we sent to London for a specialist?” Darcy asked.


“I am sorry, Mr. Darcy, but I doubt it would help. I have seen cases like this before. I would hate to give you false hope.”


“Do everything you can, Jones,” he said. “Send the bills for whatever he needs to Longbourn.”


“His condition is not your fault, Bennet,” Jones said. “However, I will do as you ask.”


“Thank you, my friend.”


“Are there any personal comforts we could see to? Does Mr. Attwood need clothes or food?” Hurst asked.


“Thank you for your concern, Mr. Hurst. His needs are completely met. If you will all excuse me, I must go reintroduce myself to Attwood.”


Thomas and the others rode back to Longbourn in silence.


As they approached the stables, Edward said, “Uncle Thomas, I am going to catch up to father and Juliet. They should not be too far ahead of me.”


“I am sure Sakville will appreciate knowing there should be no further threats lurking. Be safe, Edmund.”


A sombre group of men walked into Longbourn.


~*~



Netherfield Park, Hertfordshire
Monday, December 16, 1811



Reginald Hurst could not stop himself as he paced in front of the fireplace in the main parlour at Netherfield. He was getting married in the morning. He had not been nearly so anxious the night before his first wedding ceremony.


The past year had been life changing for him in so many ways. He had mourned the passing of Louisa and his Uncle James, cultivated a deep friendship with Fitzwilliam Darcy, strengthened his brotherly bond with Grace, returned to the physique of his university days, and learned how to be a diligent estate owner. The most important thing, in his mind, was that he met, fell in love with, and won the heart of, the mesmerizing Jane Bennet.


The past three weeks had been so busy, he felt like he had not been able to spend enough time with Jane. It also did not help that he had to share her attention with her new brothers. He must admit though, that the twins were precious. He had brought Reggie to meet the babes and the one-year-old was enthralled and did not want to leave.


Thankfully, his aunt and Lady Catherine had started working on the details for the wedding before they were engaged, but it still took a lot of their time. His patience had been worn thin. He did not want take part in any more questions or conversations about flowers, dresses, lace, the colour suit he would wear, would he have a flower on his coat or not, the verses to be read at the ceremony, and by whom, and the list just seemed to grow larger. Then, of all things, they had to discuss the wedding breakfast. None of the men could tell him why it was vital to decide how many muffins and pastries to bake and of what flavours. What did William and he know about cooking and entertaining?


The biggest blessing, to him, was that when William had proposed to Miss Elizabeth, she wrote Mademoiselle Brodeur a letter asking the modiste to start special dresses for both sisters to wear. He had never been so glad to see evidence of Miss Elizabeth’s boldness. If he had been asked his opinion on Jane’s dress, he might have had to come up with some important business in town. Aunt Phoebe and Lady Catherine had taken Jane and Miss Elizabeth to London, with Allan and Alfie, for their fittings. While he missed her terribly, he was grateful for the break from questions, choices, and planning.


While the ladies were gone, the men concentrated on Netherfield. As a wedding gift, Sakville offered to let him and Jane move into Netherfield for as long they wanted, or until a new tenant was found. With a smirk, Sakville mentioned Netherfield was able to house a much larger wedding breakfast. If he were not so grateful, he would have been annoyed. Mr. Miller had continued as steward during Mr. Bingley’s short time holding the lease, but there was still much to be accomplished before the end of the year.


After the wedding, Lady Catherine and Miss de Bourgh would be leaving for Rosings and Miss Darcy, Aunt Phoebe, and Harold would temporarily locate to Longbourn to give the two newlywed couples privacy. After twelfth night, depending on the weather, Harold and Aunt Phoebe would go to Bouldermoss until the season started and the Darcy’s might attempt a trip to Pemberley.


The thing that shocked all of them the most, was when Mr. Wickham was ordered to report to London. Everyone else was told he was being transferred to another regiment, but Palmrich told them the true story in confidence. The commander of the royal guards was so impressed with the way that Mr. Wickham handled the situation with Mrs. Younge, that he recommended Wickham for a possible covert position with the Foreign Office1. Wickham’s abilities to remember vast amounts of information, be comfortable in any social class, and adapt mid operation if needed, made him a strong contender, if it was determined he could be trusted.


In his opinion, the most dangerous aspect would be what they turned Wickham into after his training. The man had been a nuisance to William his entire life, it was scary to think what he would be capable of doing if he chose to direct his ire back onto the Darcy family. William was optimistic and surprisingly, Richard agreed. Most of Wickham’s bad behaviour stemmed from him believing William had been given his rightful inheritance and, according to Richard, from boredom. Now that Wickham knew beyond a doubt that he was not the elder Darcy son, he seemed to be genuinely remorseful for how he treated his childhood friend. As to boredom, Richard said intelligence officers on the continent do not survive long if they are lazy. It would take all Wickham’s cunning to outwit his targets. It would be risky work.


Then there was Mr. Attwood. Reginald and William both felt sorry for the frail old man, that they brought Jane and Elizabeth to visit him thinking it would cheer him up. Unfortunately, Jane looked too much like her aunt that Mr. Attwood’s reaction was uncomfortable for her. The next time they visited, Miss Mary joined them instead. It was a sad day, a week after his daughter had been arrested, that Mr. Attwood died in his sleep unaware of, and incapable of understanding, what had transpired. They later found out that the father and daughter had died on the same day, Mrs. Younge having been found guilty of the crimes she had committed and sentenced to death.


His stomach tightened whenever he thought about what could have happened that day on Oakham Mount. He could feel his anxiety rising and had to force himself to calm down by remembering that Jane was safe at Longbourn, most likely enjoying her last evening at home with her sisters.


“Hurst! What is wrong? You look as though you are heading to the gallows instead of marrying a woman who clearly adores you,” Halburn observed.


“Maybe he is constipated,” Richard offered gleefully. “I have seen the illness present many times just before a large battle.”


“Aye, it is quite common among sailors. It occurs when you do not drink enough fluids,” Dobbs added with a smirk. “I still have some blue mass and black drought2 in my trunk. I would be happy to prepare you a dose.”


“I am very regular, thank you for your concern.” He sighed. “I was just thinking about what could have happened that day on Oakham Mount.”


Reginald heard William groan from his place in front of the window and looked at his friend. “What is wrong?”


“Why did you have to put that thought into my head?” William almost whined.


Palmrich snickered and said, “Poor Darcy was focused on the wedding night to the exclusion of everything else.”


“That makes sense to me,” Dr. Withers said. “Hurst has been married once before so he knows, basically, what to expect. Darcy, conversely, is probably worried about hurting Miss Elizabeth.”


“Darcy, take the advice of someone who was in your shoes not too long ago. Everything will be fine,” Palmrich said. “I am sure Charlotte will make sure the sisters know not to be afraid of their wedding night.”


“Trevor is right,” Richard told his cousin. “Lady Palmrich is a sensible woman. Besides, I could see Grace, Aunt Catherine, and Lady Dobbs all speaking with them even if Mrs. Bennet was not too distracted by the twins to perform her motherly duty.”


“Come sit by me for a minute, Darcy,” Dr. Withers said.


Reginald watched as the doctor spoke quietly to his friend. Whatever was said, seemed to ease William’s apprehension.


“How is your pursuit of Lady Juliet progressing, JT?” Richard asked his brother.


“Slowly,” that man responded.


“Although I am only related to Edmund by blood, I consider Juliet and Celia to be my cousins too,” The Marquess Brundel said. “In many ways, Juliet and Miss Elizabeth are similar. They both form decided opinions about people based on first impressions and can be very stubborn. As the daughter of a duke, Juliet has been relentlessly pursued by too many gentlemen to count, even before she came out last season. She needs to understand that you are interested in her, not the prize of her dowry and connections. Give her time and let her get to know the real you.”


“Thank you, Brundel,” Halburn said. “I had come to understand most of that out by myself. However, I greatly appreciate that you confirmed the accuracy of my conclusions.”


“What advice do you have about Lady Celia?” Harold asked nonchalantly.


He was shocked. How had he not realized his cousin held a tendre for the duke’s younger daughter? “Lady Celia?” Reginald asked. “When did this happen? Last we discussed her, you were still uncertain whether or not you wanted to let her catch you. It seemed to me that she was a nuisance to you.”


“I knew she was the one for me the first time I met her,” his cousin answered ruefully. “I was hesitant to approach her for the obvious reason that she is the daughter of a duke, but also because I needed to learn how to be a civilian and become worthy of her. I am still not sure it is the right time to give her any encouragement because she is so very young. I do not want her to have any regrets.”


“Why is that funny, Richard?” he asked his laughing brother-in-law.


“Dobbs and Brundel are both in the same boat. They are both enamoured of ladies who do not come out until next season,” Richard responded. “The main difference, is who had done the chasing. It is a good thing the couples are not switched. Brundel and Lady Celia would be planning their wedding for shortly after her presentation and Harold and Miss Mary would probably never make it to the altar.”


“At least Dobbs knows Lady Celia is interested in him. Miss Mary seems to enjoy my friendship, but I am not sure she will ever welcome a deeper relationship between us,” Brundel admitted.


“I would never tell you things my wife told me in confidence,” Richard said with a devilish grin, “however I can mention that I overheard part of a conversation between Miss Mary and Mrs. Waldron and Mrs. Annesley.”


“Well? Out with it, man! What did you overhear?” Brundel asked.


“Richard looks like he will burst with excitement, Brundel. Perhaps he should not tell you,” Halburn said. “If he was eavesdropping, it would be ungentlemanly to repeat what he heard.”


“I was not eavesdropping,” Richard defended himself. “I was in the smaller parlour taking a nap on the settee that is out of the way when Mrs. Waldron and Mrs. Annesley walked in with Miss Mary and started telling her what to expect this season.”


“Richard, you should have made yourself known,” William admonished his cousin.


“Perhaps, but they walked into a public room of the house and did not check to see if anyone else was there,” Richard explained.


“Who cares how you heard them, what did they say?” Brundel asked.


“Miss Mary complained about the number of things they were making her learn and Mrs. Annesley made a comment about her needing to know them as a future Marchioness and eventually a Duchess.”


“And? That is all? Why were you so excited about that?” Halburn asked.


“Miss Mary did not contradict Mrs. Annesley,” Richard responded simply.


The room was quiet as everyone thought about the meaning of Richard’s statement.


“I ask that you keep what I am about to relate to yourselves so it does not take the attention from the brides,” Dr. Withers said.


The men all agreed, and the doctor continued.


“I have asked Miss de Bourgh to marry me and she said yes.”


A flurry of congratulations was offered while he continued thinking about the past year.


“William, do you realize that in a weird way we owe our good fortune to Miss Bingley? The consequences of the call she decided to make on Miss Darcy is what brought us here, after all. With Viscount Dover marrying Miss Owens last month and Palmrich and Miss Lucas marrying a fortnight ago, at this time there have been three weddings, three engagements, and from the sounds of it possibly three more engagements next season. All of these things happened because we came to Meryton.”


“I dislike being beholden to her for anything, but you do have a point,” William responded with a thoughtful look on his face.


“Do not forget, the younger Sakville seemed to be a little too attentive to Georgie. I would not be surprised if he was waiting for her come out,” Halburn said with a grin at William.


“Do not remind me,” William sighed.


“Speaking of the Braggley’s,” Harold said with a smirk. “It is certain they have left London?”


“Who are the Braggley’s?” Halburn asked, looking confused.


“I seem to recall that Aunt Phoebe and my wife were involved in thinking up that clever name for the Bingley’s,” Richard said proudly.


“I am partial to calling her Miss Bicker, but yes my mother and cousin, along with Alfie, came up with alternate names for Miss Bingley,” Harold answered with a grin. “Entertaining, is it not?”


“If I had to choose a favourite, it would have to be Miss Backbiter,” he said with a smirk at William.


“I never actually called her that, out loud,” William defended himself with a smile. “Alfie’s hearing is too keen.”


“But did they leave?” Halburn asked impatiently. “More importantly, did the little puppy manage to keep his sister in line or was she able to spread gossip in London?”


“As planned, they did indeed leave England, probably forever, exactly one week after they left Meryton. So far, it seems Bingley actually managed to do what he said he would and nothing inflammatory was said about the Bennets.”


“I do not know why you were so worried,” Dr. Withers said with a confused look on his face. “I am not very active in society, by choice, but even I heard all about Miss Bingley’s actions. Her character was widely known well before the death of her sister. Nobody of any importance would have believed anything that woman had to say. It would be the equivalent of social suicide to repeat what she claimed.”


“That may be so,” William said, “but with Elizabeth and Miss Bennet being so beautiful and marrying such eligible bachelors, there are those that would delight in trying to use any morsel of gossip to harm them.”


“True, but do you think it would take mother, Lady Jersey, and Mrs. Sakville long to squash the rumours and make anyone who spread them pariah’s in society?” Halburn asked. “I think we have wasted enough time discussing that family.”


Reginald was surprised when Dr. Withers approached him with two glasses of brandy.


“This is for you, Hurst and the other one is for Darcy.”


“Thank you, doctor,” he said.


“Does everyone have a glass now? Darcy and Hurst are to be married tomorrow. Let us toast to their last night as bachelors. Drink up men.”


Reginald drank the liquor and was concerned when it tasted funny.


“Is the brandy bad?” William asked.


“I was going to ask the same question,” he said. “It tasted off.”


“That is because your father-to-be demanded that I split a sleeping powder between the both of you. I suggest you ask your valets to prepare a nice hot bath for you and go to bed. Instead of tossing and turning all night, you will wake up feeling refreshed,” Dr. Withers answered with a smirk.


“Not fair!” Richard exclaimed. “Why did Mr. Bennet not tell me to do the same thing? I was a complete wreck and did not get any sleep.”


“Neither did I,” Palmrich said. “I believe we should have words with him tomorrow, Richard.”


“Off to sleep, gentlemen,” Dr. Withers said with a gentle smile. “You will thank me in the morning.”


“I doubt that,” William said. “Unfortunately, it has already been done so we might as well listen to them, Hurst.”


“We will discuss this more tomorrow, gentlemen. Friends do not drug friends without their consent,” he said.


“I do apologize, but I agreed with Bennet that it would be for the best. I spoke to your valet’s in advance and warned them they should plan to sleep in your rooms tonight.”


“Do not be angry with Withers,” Richard said. “You will thank him in the morning, trust me. Yes, Withers probably should have told you what he had planned, but I believe I know you both well enough that I can state with confidence that neither of you would have agreed. You know we all care for you and would never deliberately harm you or put you in a dangerous position for nefarious reasons.”


“We will station extra footmen outside of your rooms to make you feel more comfortable,” Palmrich said.


“Think about it, my good men. If you get a good night’s sleep tonight, that means you will be well rested for tomorrow night,” Halburn said with a rakish grin.


~*~



Churchyard, Meryton
Tuesday, December 17, 1811



Happy for all his paternal feelings was the day on which Thomas Bennet gave away his two most deserving daughters to two excellent gentlemen. Walking them down the aisle was one of the hardest things he had been forced to do. He knew it was unrealistic, but he would have been perfectly happy to have them remain at Longbourn as his little girls forever. Unfortunately, they were grown women who deserved to be able to have their own life. Besides, it would be diverting to introduce his sons as the uncles of his grandchildren. If Jones’ prediction was right, the twins would be uncles when they were one year old.


Fanny had demanded to be present to the dismay of her caregivers. Jones and the midwife finally gave in when she threatened to attend whether they approved or not. Thomas was thankful his old friend Jones had managed to extract a promise from Fanny that she would take it easy. She would walk to and from the front pew and as soon as they arrived at Netherfield, she would sit in the chair they had prepared for her with the assigned a footman and maid to carry out any tasks she needed done or deliver her messages to the appropriate staff members or guests.


The ceremony had been beautiful and progressed smoothly. Little Anna was delightfully proud to be the flower girl and did an excellent job. To the enjoyment of those present, she even took it upon herself to walk in front of the couples as they exited the church as married couples while throwing even more of her petals.


It saddened him to see his baby girls enter their new husbands’ barouches for the first time as married women without chaperones. He knew it was just a matter of time until Brundel convinced Mary to be his wife. At least, to his knowledge, no young men had shown a marked interest in Kitty or Lydia yet.


The wedding breakfast was perfect and proceeded without issue. He was touched by how many people had travelled to Meryton in December for the wedding of his daughters. It was certainly an event that would be talked about for years to come.


He was pleasantly surprised when Lady Catherine announced the engagement of Miss de Bourgh and Dr. Withers. One less man to possibly take his youngest daughters from him.


~*~



Churchyard, Meryton
Tuesday, December 17, 1811



Reginald Hurst had woken up a bit later than normal feeling refreshed. As much as he was annoyed with Bennet and Withers, they knew what they were doing when they made him take a sleeping powder without his knowledge. The rest of the morning passed in a blur as his valet got him ready for the double wedding.


When he saw Jane walk into the church on her father’s arm, he could not believe she was finally going to be his. In his darkest days, he never dared dream his future could be as bright as it looked now. He was about to marry a woman who was his ideal mate.


The church looked beautiful, Jane was breathtaking, and the ceremony progressed smoothly. Before he knew it, he was signing the church register as a married man and walking down the aisle again, this time with Jane on his arm. Shortly after they exited the church, they were met by well-wishers and slowly made their way to the barouche.


He handed Jane up and sat next to her. Once they had finished waving to their guests he said, “I apologize if the barouche is too cold, Jane.”


“Lizzy and I were the ones to suggest the barouches, Reginald,” Jane replied. “It may be cold outside, but it allowed the opportunity for everyone to see us drive away. Besides, the ride to Netherfield will not be long.”


“I shall have to keep you warm, my dear.”


“How ever would you manage that?” Jane asked innocently.


“Like this,” he answered as he put his arm around her and pulled her close.


“I like this. This is nice,” Jane whispered.


“I cannot believe we are finally married,” he whispered against her lips before he kissed her deeply.


“Reginald,” Jane scolded. “What about the driver?”


“Beech has been my driver for a long time, my love. He is very loyal.”


“He is also deaf and blind when needed,” Beech said from the driver’s seat, while looking forward.


“As all good carriage drivers should be. Now, what were we doing?” he asked with a wicked grin.


“You had better not muss my hair,” Jane cautioned before he captured her lips in a passionate kiss.


~*~



Churchyard, Meryton
Tuesday, December 17, 1811



Fitzwilliam Darcy had awoken this morning when a door was closed by a maid. He had looked outside and realized he had slept later than he usually did and felt completely refreshed. He hated to admit it, but, while high handed, Bennet was correct that taking a sleeping powder was in his best interest.


Murray was as efficient as ever and before he knew it, he was ready to leave for the church. He was not hungry, but to pass the time, he went to the dining room to see if anyone else was awake.


“William, how are you this morning?” Richard asked.


“I am ready to be married.”


“I understand. I am sure you do not feel like eating, but you need to. I am sure you remember forcing me to break my fast on my wedding day. If nothing else, it will help pass the time until we leave for the church.”


William felt like he and Reginald were deliberately being passed between their friends, as though they had prepared a schedule in advance. Their obvious attempts at keeping them distracted worked, and before he thought it possible, they were on their way to the church.


He was nervous standing up in front of everyone, but when the doors opened he smiled and felt at ease. He watched as Anna and Sally, carrying Reggie, walked in. Anna was insistent that little Reggie have a part in the wedding. William did not know who it was, but someone had the idea that Reggie would carry a pillow containing the ceremonial rings3. For the soon-to-be Darcy’s, the pillow had the Darcy signet ring and the ring his father presented his mother and for the soon-to-be Hurst’s it had the matching rings Reginald’s grandparents wore.


Anna did a wonderful job of throwing the flowers and then quietly sat next to Mrs. Bennet in the front pew. Sally gave the pillow with the rings to Richard, who would hand them over at the appropriate time.


When Bennet walked in with Elizabeth on his arm, his feet started towards her on their own volition. Fortunately, Richard stopped him before he actually took a step. She looked stunning. He was amazed that she had fallen in love with him. He wanted to sweep her into his arms and run to the master suite at Haye Park and never leave.


“Calm down, William,” Richard whispered.


Sooner than he thought possible, the vicar was pronouncing them man and wife and they were signing the church register. Anna preceded them out of the church throwing flowers. The guests laughed and Elizabeth did her best to hide her amusement.


“Mr. William! Mr. William! Did you see me throw the flowers? Did I do a good job?” Anna asked excitedly as soon as they were outside.


“Yes, you did. I was very impressed,” he answered with a smile.


“What gave you the idea to throw flowers when we left?” Elizabeth asked.


“Well, I thought that since you and Miss Jane were getting married at the same time, I need to throw them twice. Do you think Miss Mary will let me throw the flowers when she marries Lord B?” Anna asked mischievously.


“Anna,” he cautioned as people started exiting the church.


“I know, I know, we do not want gossip spread, but we were alone,” she answered with a grin. “I see Lady Jersey. ’Scuse me. I haffta go tell her about throwing the flowers.”


“If that little girl was born a man, she would make an excellent solicitor,” he commented.


“Why do you say that, William?”


“She can find a loophole for just about all of her bad behaviour,” he said softly as they were congratulated.


He kept Elizabeth moving slowly towards the barouche. Eventually, he was able to hand her up and start the ride to Netherfield.


“We are finally alone,” Elizabeth said with a smile and raised eyebrow.


“I noticed,” he answered.


“I must say, William, it was rather brilliant of you to have Alfie drive us to Netherfield,” Elizabeth commented.


“Why is that, my dear?”


“Because I know I can do this,” she answered.


William was shocked when Elizabeth put her hand behind his head and pulled him down into a kiss.


~*~



Netherfield, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, December 17, 1811



“We will be coming into sight of Netherfield in a moment,” Alfie stated loudly.


Elizabeth Darcy giggled as she pulled her head back.


“You are an excellent driver, Alfie. Thank you very much,” she responded.


“Indeed. He is very good at his job,” William said gruffly.


“I think he deserves another raise,” she stated with a laugh.


When they arrived at Netherfield, they saw Mr. and Mrs. Nicholls waiting for them on the front steps.


“Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Hurst and Mr. and Mrs. Darcy,” Mrs. Nicholls greeted them. “Mrs. Hurst, as the current mistress of Netherfield, I am at your service.”


“Thank you, Mrs. Nicholls. I am certain everything is ready for our guests. They should be arriving shortly,” Jane said.


“I do not know about you, Jane, but I could use a quick walk on the front lawn until everyone arrives from Meryton,” she said.


“That is a wonderful idea, Lizzy. What do you think, Reginald?” Jane asked her new husband.


“I would be happy to escort you, my lovely wife.”


“Mr. Hurst, now that we are brother and sister, please call me Elizabeth or Lizzy,” she offered.


“And please call me Reginald,” was the response.


“Miss Bennet, I would be honoured if you would call me William.”


“I am Jane to you.”


“How nice that we have all decided to use our Christian names with each other,” she said. “It will make conversations progress so much faster.”


“We will have to remind our younger sisters to make the same offer,” Jane said.


“Speaking of your family,” William said. “I am rather annoyed with Bennet.”


“Papa? What did he do to incur your displeasure?” she asked.


“He convinced Dr. Withers to give us sleeping powder without our knowledge last night,” William answered.


“Mama did the same to us. Jane and I are not happy with her either,” she admitted.


“Lizzy, you know she did it out of love. Aunt Maddie, Lady Dobbs, and Lady Catherine all agreed it was for the best. I know they should have asked us first, but please do not be upset with them for wanting what was best for us,” Jane said.


“Jane is right,” Reginald said with a sigh. “It would be easy to carry a little grudge, but truly, it took me a while to get to sleep even with the powder.”


“My dear, it sounds like Jane and Reginald are going to be our voice of reason,” William stated. “I will acknowledge that, while I could tell I was tired, my mind would not stop thinking about today and I also fell asleep later than I should have.”


“Why are you using logic?” she asked. “As much as I do not want to, I will agree with all of you that our parents may have had a valid reason. That does not mean we should not let them know we were upset and felt betrayed.”


“Betrayed is too strong a word, Lizzy, especially when you know they were trying to help. I did not like being deceived,” Jane clarified.


“We will make sure they understand our displeasure before they leave today,” William said. “For now, I see a carriage coming up the drive. We should greet our guests.”


Elizabeth enjoyed the wedding breakfast and speaking with all of her friends.


“Elizabeth, we should speak with your parents soon and then make our exit.”


“Very well, William,” she answered shyly.


~*~



Netherfield, Hertfordshire
Tuesday, December 17, 1811



Jane Hurst greeted the wedding guests in the best of spirits. She was married to Reginald. Everything was simply divine. She enjoyed speaking with all of their guests with Reginald at her side.


“Jane,” Elizabeth said in her ear, “William and I are going to leave in a moment. We wanted to speak with mama and papa.”


“We could use the library,” she suggested impishly, making her sister laugh.


The three couples had a brief conversation in the library. They informed her parents that they were displeased with them and received apologies and promises that it would never happen again.


“Truly, Jane, we were discussing the night before our own wedding and realized neither of us got any sleep,” Fanny explained.


“We were trying to help. Even if we went about it incorrectly. We did insist your maids and valets were in your room the entire night to safeguard you. Our motive was pure. We genuinely wanted to help you avoid the same mistakes we did,” papa added.


Jane was pleased that they had worked through the issue so quickly. “I am grateful that we had a moment of privacy so that I could farewell you without everyone else watching. I will miss you.”


“Jane is right. We have been away from Longbourn before, but this time it is different because it is no longer my home,” Elizabeth said with tears glistening in her eyes.


“I understand, Lizzy,” mama said. “Would all four of you join us Friday evening for dinner?”


“Thank you, mama, we would love to,” she answered.


“All will be well, Jane,” papa reassured her. “Before you know it, Netherfield will feel like home and walking into Longbourn will feel strange.”


“I hope I never feel odd walking into Longbourn,” Lizzy said.


“It will happen,” mama confirmed. “I still remember the first time I walked into my father’s house after our marriage. It really begins to sink in how much your life has changed. Make no mistake, the changes are all for the better.”


“All of my girls will be welcome at Longbourn whenever they want to visit,” papa promised.


“Thank you, papa,” Elizabeth said before giving their father a hug.


When Elizabeth moved to hug their mother, Jane hugged their father. “I love you, papa,” she whispered in his ear.


“Come, we should go back to the party and start gently encouraging people to go home,” mama said with a smile. “If we stay in here any longer, I am going to start bawling.”


After they waved to the last of the guests and the Darcy’s had left for Haye Park, Reginald turned to her with a rakish grin and asked, “What should we do now?”





1 Foreign Office - Huge thanks to my beta, Alida, for giving the intelligence organization I created an actual name. I was searching for something containing ‘intelligence’ and had no luck. The Foreign Office was formed in March of 1782 and covered foreign and domestic affairs for the Kingdom.


2 Blue mass and black drought - according to the Wikipedia blue mass page, the two items together were a common cure for constipation in early 19th century England. The Royal Navy used it for sailors who mainly ate cured meat and old stale biscuits.


3 Information on wedding rings varied depending on the website I looked at. Some said rings were integral for both parties, others said that only women wore them, and one said men only wore one if he was wealthy.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 31

LizzySNovember 13, 2020 03:06PM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 31

EvelynJeanNovember 14, 2020 07:18AM

Re: Even More Consequences From A Call - Chapter 31

MichaNovember 14, 2020 04:47PM



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