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Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 31-33

April 21, 2023 12:35PM
Chapter 31

Four days after Mr Darcy’s departure, Lizzy found herself sitting idly in the library, staring absent-mindedly out the window. She had a book in her lap but could not concentrate on it.

A pattern has formed after Mr Darcy’s departure. After breakfast each morning, they would spend time with Mr Gardiner, helping him to walk the upstairs halls. Today he had been able to walk without their support, but he had still needed their assistance in raising from the bed.

Mr Gardiner would rest and the Bennets would take a walk in the gardens. They would take lunch with Mr Gardiner and Mr Bennet would stay to read and respond to letters. Kitty would go to the Riley’s to discuss wake preparations and to spend time with Miss Julia, whom she had become friends with. Lizzy would either rest, spend the time in the library or with Mr Gardiner and her father. Once Kitty returned, Lizzy and Kitty would spend time together, with Lizzy reading or responding to correspondence and Kitty painting.

Lizzy found it difficult to pay attention. Her mind kept going back to all of her recent interactions with Mr Darcy, and they all pleased her. The feel of him supporting her or how he said her name. She could not stop thinking about him. Was this what it meant to be in love? She suspected she would spend tomorrow watching out the window, awaiting his return to Matlock.

That was where Kitty found Lizzy, asleep on the library couch. She shook her awake. “Lizzy, you said you would help me paint?”

Lizzy was startled and rose groggily. They went to the sunroom where the easel and paints were set up. “Lizzy, what dress should our Aunt wear in the paintings? I was thinking her brown dress.”

“No,“ said Lizzy quickly. “She was wearing that when she died. You should put her in the dark green dress that she liked to wear at dinner. Along with her pearl necklace. It was stolen by the thieves.”

“Of course. I remember the one you speak of.” She had finished her practice pieces, where she and Lizzy had attempted to get her face correct, and to then get the colouring correct. She was now ready to start on the proper canvas. Lizzy read whilst Kitty painted, so the afternoon was spent pleasantly enough.

At dinner, Richard and the Sheriff had returned, so the Riley’s had come over for dinner. As they waited between courses, Mr Bennet asked the question everyone was thinking. “What did you find out in Nottingham?”

The Sheriff wiped his lips with the napkin. “Nottingham was very productive. We spoke with the sheriff’s men there who confirmed there were warrants out for the arrest of Samual John and Robert Blackwell, along with one other, William Spencer, all for thefts that occurred at the inn. We walked through the cemetery, where we found the plot for John’s wife and his two baby daughters, along with his son, who died two years ago. One of his sons moved to work in Newcastle and hadn't returned to Nottingham for many years. However, his elder son had a family who had moved back to Nottingham three years ago when his son became sick. His eldest son, Joseph, had been a coal miner, but had developed black lung. He had a family of seven children.”

Richard took over. “We got more information on Joseph’s family. Children ranging from sixteen to three years of age. Eldest is a boy,” said Richard, looking at Lizzy.

“So you believe that he joined his grandfather in highway robbery to help feed his family?” asked Lizzy.

“It’s a good possibility. We must presume that our Mr John is doing this to feed his grandchildren. From what we could gather, the mother makes a little money doing laundry, and her eldest daughter has now joined. The next youngest girl looks after the other children. From their small allotment, they have chickens, and what eggs they have left over they sell, but I don't believe they get much from it.”

The Sheriff took over. “As Richard suspected that it was possible the eldest boy might be in cahoots with his grandfather, we approached the Nottingham sheriff if they could make an inquiry to the whereabouts of the grandfather, as there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest.”

“It would then look like a routine inquiry and would not make them suspect that we suspected their grandfather was involved in these highway robberies,” said Richard.

“They said they hadn't seen Mr John for the last two years. However, we asked around. Their neighbours told us the eldest boy had only just returned a couple of days ago having been away for a month. Also, it had been noted that they had all received new clothes and shoes to wear.”

“So they have recently come into some money,” concluded Mr Bennet.

“Yes, so we've got some men watching the house and watching the movements of the eldest son,” said Sir Riley. He then turned to look at the Countess. “I must say your son was a great help. He has excellent instincts for investigative work. He would make for a wonderful Sheriff. Better than many that I've worked with.”

Richard smiled and looked down with the praise, whilst his mother and father looked at him in evaluation. “You can't stay in the army forever,” said the Countess.

“Can we talk about this later? I need to think on it,” said Richard, clearly wanting to change the subject.

The table was quiet. It was Kitty who broke the silence. “How is poor Mrs John supposed to survive without a husband’s wage and to feed seven children?” She was immediately embarrassed, as she had meant it to be a question for Andrew only, but as no other discussion had yet started, all the table heard.

“There are few good options available to her. She could marry again, but that would require a man who is willing to take on so many children as his own, which is unlikely,” said Sir Riley.

“Her best hope is to get each child employed as soon a possible to help, especially the boys. The girls can be married, but that causes the added problem that she then doesn't have the eldest girls to look after her younger children,” added Mr Bennet.

Kitty looked aghast at the reality. “How much would she earn as a washer woman?”

“About 20 pounds per year,” replied Lady Riley. “Maybe more if she can pick up the work across multiple estates.”

“How is she supposed to feed so many children with so little?”

“By growing as much of her own food as possible and choosing the cheapest of foods. She may be able to get some handouts from the church. It is difficult, there's no question on it, “ said Lizzy.

“And if she can't afford to look after them?” pressed Kitty.

“If she had a childless relative, they could adopt some of the children. Otherwise they would go to an orphanage or workhouse.”
There was silence as everyone contemplated how lucky they were to not be in such a terrible situation. The Countess steered the conversation to more pleasant topics, but it was clear that Kitty was still thinking deeply about it, as she pushed her food around the plate.

The Bennets retired early to spend some time with Mr Gardiner prior to retiring for the night. Kitty and Lizzy followed slowly after Mr Bennet.

“You look like you are deep in thought,” said Lizzy.

“I always thought myself unlucky to not be as pretty as Jane, and not to have a dowry or a house in London, or not to have all those London trips that you and Jane always went on. I never thought how very lucky we are.”

“Yes, even if Papa dies and we are not married, we could scrape by. We could still afford a roof over our heads and food on the table. If we chose to get work as a governess or companion, it would make things even easier. We will never suffer like that.”

“I wish there was something we could do.”
Lizzy did not reply as she knew there was very little they could do, and for every Mrs John, there were thousands more in a similar position.

“The more I think about it, the less angry and more tragic this all becomes. This man and his grandson were trying to support their family in the only way they could,” said Kitty.

“That is a speech that Jane would be proud of! As I overheard them talking about killing me, please excuse my lack of sympathy for them. They were still doing the wrong thing, even if it was for good reasons. But I understand the circumstances that led them here.”

“I realise the world is less clear cut than I had originally thought,” said Kitty contemplatively.

Chapter 32

Lizzy tried to contain her excitement, but it came out as a nervous energy, making her want to stand and pace. Mr Darcy and his sister were both expected to arrive today at any moment.

Just after midday, Darcy arrived. Lizzy, who had spent the day looking out the window, saw his horse coming down the drive, and had contrived to go for a leg stretch to be outside as he arrived at the front.

Lizzy watched with appreciation as he came up. There was not a question that he looked fine and she idly thought that it would not be so very bad at all being married to such a man. As he got closer, she could see the smile as he recognised her.

He wasted no time in dismounting, sliding off in a single graceful movement to appear before her. He bowed. “Miss Elizabeth, I hope you are feeling better.”

She curtseyed, and he offered his arm to go inside. “Yes, I feel I've regained a great deal of strength over the last couple of days.”

“And your uncle? How is his recovery?”

“Improving. He has started walking the upstairs halls and is getting stronger each day. Though I still think it will be a few days yet before he attempts descending stairs. How about you? How is Pemberley? Did you achieve all you set out to?”

“I addressed the most urgent of concerns, but there is always more that can be done.” By this stage they had entered the house. “I presume my sister is yet to arrive?”

“You are correct in that assumption.” At this stage, the Countess came down to greet her nephew, so Darcy relinquished Lizzy’s arm to greet his aunt.

It was only a mere hour later when the Darcy carriage was sighted trundling down the drive. A refreshed Darcy and Colonel were down waiting for Georgiana to descend from the carriage. Darcy and Georgiana hugged. “I've someone here I want you to meet,” Darcy whispered in Georgiana’s ear.

Georgiana smiled. “I can't wait to meet her! Do you think she'll like me?”

Darcy gave his sister his arm. “I am certain of it.”

The Countess greeted her niece at the top of the entrance steps. “I am so delighted you will spend some of the summer with us. We already have a few guests and some young ladies amongst them that I am sure you will all be the best of friends. They are waiting in the parlour where the refreshments are.”

As they entered the parlour, Lizzy and her father stood to be introduced to the young lady. Lizzy was curious to know the real Georgiana after so very many different accounts. She was a tall girl and had already formed womanly curves. She had handsome features, though not quite as handsome as her brother. Lizzy did not find her to be proud, just exceptionally shy in her mono-syllable greetings. But with the help of the Countess, her shyness melted, and she ventured to say. “I have been most curious to meet you. You are the talk of London. I've had so very many people asking me for information and whether I knew you.”

“I hope I have not disappointed. Surely you exaggerate that I am such an object of interest?”

“It is all anyone can talk of.”

After some more small talk Georgiana and her companion finished their refreshments and were shown to their rooms. Lizzy and her father were about to rejoin Mr Gardiner in his room when the Sheriff was announced. So instead, they were all ushered into the Earl’s study.

“What news do you have?” asked the Earl.

“My men in Nottingham who were set to watch Mr John’s grandchildren have reported back. They saw someone leaving in the night and were following him, but lost him in the night somewhere before Mansfield. They haven't been able to rediscover his tracks.”

“Is it safe to assume that he’s in league with his grandfather?” asked Richard.

“At the very least he knows his grandfather’s whereabouts and is providing support or information,” responded the Sheriff.

“To have been lost would mean he knows he was followed,” said Richard. “He will warn the others.”

“Do we know or have any leads where they might be?” asked the Earl.

“The only real lead is what Miss Elizabeth overheard, “ said the Sheriff, nodding towards Lizzy. “Their movements suggest they have gone to Sherwood forest.”

“But we would need more precise information on their location before we could attempt to mount a search. The area is too vast for any search party, and a large search party would alert them to our presence, allowing them to flee,” said Richard.

“Is it time for a reward to be offered for information leading to their capture?” asked the Earl.

Everyone agreed it was time to put out a reward to encourage information.

“Is there any possibility that they will run now that they've been alerted to the fact that it's clear that some of them have been identified?” asked Lizzy.

“It’s a possibility that they get spooked and run, however, they don't know that we know of their intent to use Sherwood as their base, and with the size, I imagine they would feel safe in there. Even now, it is too large an area for us to search. “

“If they did feel the need to move, is there any possibility that they might attempt a move against Lizzy. Her location here has been published in the papers. Is she a target?” asked Mr Bennet.

They were all silent for a moment. “Surely they would not be so foolish to attempt it. There are far too many staff around the estate that would recognise an intruder,” said the Earl.

“Attempting an attack on the estate would be foolhardy. The weakest point for an attack would be when travelling in a carriage “ said Richard.

“Such as travelling to the funeral or the wake?” said Darcy.

They discussed the funeral arrangements and decided it would be easier security wise to hold the wake at the Fitzwilliam estate rather than at the Sheriff’s.

Chapter 33

Over the next two days, the plans for the wake were transferred from the Sheriff’s to Matlock estate. There was much communication and commotion between the Fitzwilliam’s and Riley’s.

Lizzy got to know Georgiana better and genuinely liked the unassuming young woman. What was more surprising, Lizzy found, was the immediate friendship struck between Kitty and Georgiana. Kitty’s at times brash and completely unfiltered, truthful opinions amused Georgiana and helped her to improve her own confidence. The two became as thick as thieves, and Kitty had to be reminded at times that she was there to help her sister and uncle.

Lizzy also managed to spend some parts of the day in Darcy’s company, which she enjoyed more and more. There was no longer any doubt in her mind that she was in love with Darcy.

She had also spent time with the Countess, who had been so very subtly grilling her for information on herself and her family, that it had taken her awhile to notice. However, Lizzy felt that the Countess respected and liked her and she returned this feeling. The Countess' support for the match between herself and Darcy was clear, as she willingly shared details of his childhood, likes and dislikes, and gave hints that they would all be very close in future. It was clear the Countess planned to be a mentor for her, as she spoke and provided advice on dealing with the Ton for various situations.

“As a Countess, I have a great deal of power. Not direct power, such as the ability to vote in parliament. I have small amounts of power to employ staff and direct household funds. My main power is the ability to influence opinions and behaviour. If I recommend a particular shop or seamstress, their clientele increases and trends start. For others, the art of influence may need to be more subtle. You need to understand how people view you. Some admire, and will be happy to do as you direct. Others may not like me, so I know they will try to do the opposite out of spite, in which case, knowing that, I pretend the opposite to get the behaviour I desire. Others, men in particular, may think me not as able to understand or uninterested in complex concepts because I am a woman.”

“Which is of course complete nonsense!” said Lizzy with feeling.

“Of course it is. However, it doesn't matter how much you may try to prove yourself against men like that, they are unable to change their mind. So you play to that. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.”

“I wish I could influence my mother, but I think that would be impossible for me.”

“It is certainly difficult for a child to influence their parents. It doesn't matter how old you get, they will only ever see you as their children. But maybe I could be of some assistance to you there?”

The Countess also had questioned her on her interests, as well as assessing her general abilities and opinions across many different topics, ranging from religion, history, music, literature and politics. Lizzy believed she had suitably impressed the Countess, and she in turn realised the sharp intellect the Countess had.

It was now two days before the funeral, and the Bennets and Gardiners were due to arrive later that day. That morning, the Sheriff rode in and was busily rushed in, son Andrew by his side.

Lizzy rushed to the study to find out what had occurred, to see the men all coming out.

“Mr Darcy, what has happened?” cried Lizzy.

Darcy came by and instinctively took her hand in his. “There has been another attack on the way to Ollerton. A carriage has been robbed. The Sheriff is organising men to send to help in the search to rout out the men who attacked you.”

“Are you and the Colonel going?”

“Yes, as soon as we have our horses saddled. I may be gone a number of days, but hopefully, on my return, this will all be over for you. We should have these men in custody.”

Lizzy nodded and gave a strained smile. “Stay safe, Mr Darcy.”

He looked at her and looked to kiss her. He was almost certain she felt the same way about him as he did about her. He tore himself away, readying himself for the journey ahead, and going to say farewell to his sister.

Lizzy returned to her uncle and gave everyone the news. “Hopefully they catch these criminals this time, “ said Uncle Gardiner. Mr Gardiner had improved greatly over the last few days. The raspiness they could hear immediately after the accident was gone, and he no longer needed laudanum to sleep. He was able to walk unaided on the upper floor, so the doctor had determined that he could make the attempt to descend the stairs.

As to Lizzy’s injuries, her leg wound was healing without any sign of infection, and the doctor was prepared to say that the leg was safe. Already, parts of the scab were starting to fall off, revealing new skin underneath. She had not suffered a headache for the last few days. All that remained was for her arm to heal.

Kitty and Mr Bennet were on either side of Mr Gardiner as he cautiously descended the stairs. The sharp intakes of breath were the only indication that it was a painful activity. However, on reaching the bottom, Mr Gardiner broke into a smile of satisfaction – the first smile they had seen since the death of his wife.

They helped Mr Gardiner to navigate the lower floor, where he was introduced to Georgiana. The Earl and Countess came by at different stages to congratulate him on his progress and to express their joy in seeing him recover. He joined them for lunch, and decided to spend the afternoon downstairs, waiting for his children to arrive. Everyone bent over backwards to ensure his comfort.

At long last, the Bennet and Bingley carriages could be seen coming down the drive. The Bennets helped Mr Gardiner to rise and walk outside to wait for the carriage to pull up at the front.

The carriage had hardly stopped before the door to the Bingley carriage was flung open and one young boy, followed by a young girl, flew out of the carriage, followed more slowly by Jane, who helped the youngest girl to descend. Henry and Frances raced each other to their father, to be halted by Kitty and Mr Bennet saying “careful, don't hug too tight. Remember his ribs and shoulder are broken.”

By this time the Bennet carriage driver had opened the door of the Bennet carriage, and Mrs Bennet was first out and first to embrace Lizzy. The remainder of the Bennets and Mr and Mrs Philips followed. “Oh my Lizzy, how good it is to see you! How is the leg? Are you walking with a limp? Does the doctor still say that the leg will need to come off? But you are looking well, besides the cast on your arm. Maybe a little paler than normal....”

Lizzy laughed and hugged her mother in return, surprised that she was glad to see her.

Next to greet Lizzy was Jane. The two embraced, tears in both their eyes. “How I've longed to see you! I was so worried for you,” said Jane.

“And I've missed talking to you! How have our cousin’s been?” Lizzy looked over to see her cousin’s hugging their father, tears in all their eyes. Lizzy was glad they were all finally reunited. Her uncle needed his children around him.

Her other sisters, and the Philip’s came to greet and hug her next.

They went inside and were introduced to the Countess who politely offered them tea and refreshments and inquired over their travel. Mrs Bennet was vociferous in her appreciation. “My Lady, we are ever so grateful for the kind attention you've showed my brother and daughter. I do not know what would have happened to them if not for your family.” She craned her head to see if Mr Darcy was around. “Also our thanks to Mr Darcy. We were so relieved to receive the express he sent and his efforts in rescuing Lizzy.”

Lizzy piped up, embarrassed by her mother’s effusive speech. “Don't forget Lady Eleanor’s son, Colonel Fitzwilliam, led the search party. I would not have been found if not for him, and the Earl’s hunting dogs.”

“Yes, yes, we are so ever grateful. Your family has been so good to us. Are the men here so that we can pass on our thanks?” asked Mrs Bennet, looking around.

“Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr Darcy left this morning, Mama, with the Sheriff. There was another attack near Mansfield, and they left to help,” said Lizzy.

The Countess steered the conversion back to funeral preparations and the change of plans, keeping control of the conversation. Mrs Bennet and Mrs Philips hung on every word, and when directed back to their carriage to go to the Riley household, did with satisfaction of being so honoured by the Countess. Kitty and Mr Bennet were also going to stay with the Riley’s for the duration whilst the Gardiner children and Jane would stay at Matlock.

Kitty was excited by the change. This was an opportunity to become better friends with Miss Julia, whom she had been developing a friendship with. Jane would stay with Lizzy and the Gardiner children, and would use Kitty’s room for the four days that Jane was there.

The Bennets and Philips departed to go to the Riley’s, with plans to return the next day for Mrs Bennet and Mrs Philips to go over the last of the funeral and wake arrangements.

As Mary was climbing up into the carriage, Frances Gardiner ran over to her to give her a hug. “How am I to practice the piano if you are not here with me?”

“I’m certain that Lizzy will help you, even with her broken arm,” said Mary.

“Yes, you must show me everything that Mary has taught you,” said Lizzy, taking Frances’ hand and steering her away from the carriage.

Frances turned to Mr Gardiner. “Papa, you must hear me play. Mary has taught me to play the piano, though I'm not as good as her yet. Can Mary stay with us when we return to London?”

“She’s been helping me with my maths and reading,” said Henry. “I know all my multiplication tables now.”

Six year old Alfred piped up. “And Jane has had me practice writing my letters, but I don't write as good as her.”

Mr Gardiner took Alfred’s hand as Jane carried the youngest back inside and to their rooms. Susan was looking very tired and was falling asleep on Jane’s shoulder. The children's nurse was leading the elder two children.

After all had refreshed themselves, Frances wished to play something on the piano for her father, so to the music room they all went. There they found Georgiana practising a piece by Mozart. Little Frances stood awestruck at the performance. At the end, they all clapped with appreciation, startling Georgiana who had not realised she had an audience. Frances whispered loudly “Papa, I'm not that good.”

“We’re sorry to disturb you, Miss Darcy, but little Miss Gardiner here would like to show her father her skills at the piano,” said Lizzy.

Georgiana smiled at the cute little girl who looked so very eager. “Of course, it would be my pleasure.” Georgiana stood to allow Frances to come and take a seat.

Tentatively, Frances placed her hand on the keys, then started to play a simple piece, stumbling on a couple of notes here and there. Everyone clapped at the end and Frances smiled, got up and did a little curtsey.

Georgiana asked if she wanted to try some more music, and went searching through the box of music for some beginner pieces. This is how Frances, Georgiana, Jane and Lizzy spent their afternoon. After awhile, the boys got restless, so Lizzy offered to take them for a walk outside, accompanied by Jane.

Dinner was quiet with everyone retiring early. The doctor came and supervised Mr Gardiner’s climb back up the stairs which was slow. “I'll never take my fitness or health for granted again,” he huffed out as he reached the top. “To think a month ago I would not have thought twice about this.”

Once the children were in bed, and Lizzy and Jane had ensured the comfort of their uncle, they were finally able to talk with complete privacy. Lizzy sat on the end of her bed. “How I've longed to talk to you.”

“How are you feeling, honestly?” asked Jane.

“I'm feeling much better. I haven't had a headache for days. My bruises and aches have healed and the doctor says my leg wound has healed well without any hint of infection. He thinks that my leg is safe. I can't say that I'm feeling any pain, though the wound itself is itchy. My arm is the only aspect that is yet to heal, and even then, with the cast on, it is only an inconvenience.”

“I can't tell you how terrified we were for you when we heard you were lost, and we weren’t certain whether you'd be found alive...or not. I can only imagine the fear you felt.”

“Yes, I was afraid when they were chasing me. I was expecting to be shot at any moment. I didn't think too much about where I was running, nor did I think about the pain until I got to my first hiding place. And it was only after I was certain that I had lost them and that they weren't following me did I realise how badly injured I was. But once I'd started to run, I couldn't stop. I had to keep going and do my best at keeping track of where I was to make sure I did not get lost. I wasn't too worried after I was certain I'd lost them, not the first day at least.”

“Were you at least afraid when you spent the night outside?”

“No, though I was annoyed and dismayed that I’d been turned and had wasted time walking in the wrong direction. About spending the night outside... there are no threats besides the cold, and I remember feeling like I was freezing even though I knew the night was warm. That must have been from the blood loss, but I was so weary I believe I more lost consciousness than slept that night. I was worried the next day, though it seems like a blur where I stumbled around. I know I wrote a letter, but I can't recall what I said in it”

“Do you have it?” asked Jane.

“No. Both letters were taken as evidence. I may never see them again.”

“Then I heard that Mr Darcy was the one to find and carry you out. Now there are those rumours, but you don't seem to mind if you are forced to marry him? I thought you hated him?”

“Oh Jane, I haven't hated Mr Darcy for many months. Immediately after reading his letter, I was ashamed of my previous opinions. As more time passed, I could understand his opinion, and the more I reviewed our interactions, the more I understood him and the less I disliked the man. Now that I have seen him here with no bias, I can see what a good man he is and how much I enjoy, nay look forward to our interactions. I believe I am in love with Mr Darcy.”

Jane smiled. “I never had such a poor opinion of him. To me he seemed perfectly amiable.”

“And now with my prejudices removed, I see the same. He has also made a concerted effort to be amiable with our family. He has even been quite friendly with Kitty.”

“But are you certain he still retains affection for you? I do not want to see your hopes raised to only be disappointed.”

“Mr Darcy has made it very clear that he means to pursue me. But what of you? Mr Bingley has returned to Netherfield. Have you seen him much?”

Here Jane smiled. “I have probably seen him much more than you would have expected. Though he’s made a few visits to the family to pay his respects, he made quite a few as a neighbour on estate business to deal with issues on our boundaries. I've thought about, and I’m certain he made more trips than would be necessary. There is no other reason other than to have a legitimate excuse to see me whilst I'm in mourning. On each of these, we’ve talked extensively, and he seemed in no hurry to leave. It is like he had never left. I am as comfortable with him as I was before.”

“Do you still love him?” asked Lizzy.

Jane smiled again. “Yes, I do. And I have some explanation for why he did not call whilst I was in London. He told me he only learnt of my presence whilst here at Matlock, from something you wrote in your letter.”

“I must admit, I don't recall what I wrote. So, Miss Bingley lied to you.”

“Yes, you were right there. She lied to me when she told me she had informed Mr Bingley of my presence in town. The only reason she would do that was if she feared he held affection for me. You were right to tell me not to trust her.”

“I know you did consider her a friend. I'm sorry that you have been disappointed there. There is no satisfaction for me in being right.”

“I'm sad for the death of our Aunt, but, I feel that it is wrong for me to feel happy. Yet, I cannot but feel happy whenever I see Mr Bingley.”

“I understand. I'm certain Aunt Madelein would have liked Mr Darcy very much, and your Mr Bingley,” said Lizzy with a sad smile.

“It seems wrong that some good things could come from this tragedy. That and the fact her death has probably saved Lydia’s reputation.”

Lizzy sat up straight at this. “What do you mean?”

“You did hear that Mr Wickham deserted the militia with a large number of unpaid debts?”

Lizzy nodded.

“Lydia admitted to us, when we found out about it at Longbourn that she was meant to elope with him. That he had promised to marry her.“

Lizzy shook her head. “Poor, stupid Lydia. How many people know of this?”

“Only Mama, Mary and myself, I believe. Mama forbid us ever mentioning it again as she didn't want it getting out and scaring away your Mr Darcy. Mama, is quite taken with it. The moment she saw the society page gossip, she was starting to prepare the wedding breakfast.”

Lizzy playfully thumped Jane lightly on the arm. ”Don't try to distract me from Lydia. Do you know if Lydia has kept quiet?”

“She has been very quiet since her return and especially after Mama told her to never mention it again. I imagine that she is quite upset, especially if she was in love with Mr Wickham.”

“Does Papa know?”

“I don't think so. I don't believe that Mama has said anything as her mind has been on other worries.”

“You'll need to tell Papa, so that he knows and can consider appropriate actions. Were it to somehow get out...”

“All of our reputations would be ruined.”

“And our chances of marriage with our preferred partners would be gone.”

They were quiet for awhile, before moving onto lighter topics of conversation, with them both talking long into the night.

Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 31-33

Anne VApril 21, 2023 12:35PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 31-33

Maria Teresa CApril 22, 2023 11:23PM

Re: Action Lizzy and the Four Thieves Chapter 31-33

RoxeyApril 21, 2023 04:36PM


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