Chapter 5 : Continued
As the star attractions; Prince Mikhail and Princess Zara waited for thier cues, "Prince Mikhail" whispered to "Princess Zara". "This is no' a verra good idea 'Manda. I can see some verra familiar faces in the audience." said Macleod, who sat on a magnificent black stallion. He was dressed in the costume of the Gypsy Prince he was masquerading as.
"Another one of us?" asked Amanda, who was dressed as Macleod's Gypsy Princess.
"No 'Manda, no' another Immortal. I just spied Becca's cousin, Mr. Darcy. He is right up there in the fourth box to yer left." replied MacLeod, in the tone he used when he sometimes had to lecture Amanda.
"Oh him, I saw him once late last summer. I was living at Mrs. Younge's "boarding house". He came there looking for someone, and if I had not known any better I would have thought that he was one of us. The way he carried himself, and demanded to know where the people he sought were. I thought to myself I certainly would not wish to be the people he was looking for." said Amanda, as they waited for their cue to ride out.
"Why Mrs. Younge's 'Manda? You should have asked Fitz to let you stay with him." said MacLeod, a little shocked that Amanda had chosen to live at such an infamous "boarding house".
"I am not speaking to Hugh Fitzcairn. He cheats at cards." replied Amanda in an outraged tone.
"Of course Fitz cheats at cards 'Manda. Everyone knows that he does. Why did that make you angry at him?" asked MacLeod.
"I needed that little talent of his to help me break "Lady Montcliffe's" bank. MacLeod, "Lady Montcliffe" had two scullery maids who worked for her. They were little girls who were potential Immortals. The younger of the two was killed by Paul Kalin, and one of these centuries I am going to find him.* The other was made Immortal to soon by "Lady Montcliffe's" swine of a nephew. I was trying to protect both of the girls and I failed. I had to send Annie to Angelique at the convent. She was twelve years old MacLeod. I hate it when one of us becomes one of us too soon. If that is Mr. Darcy, who is that woman sitting next to him? She is beautiful." asked Amanda.
"I ken it must be his wife. Becca asked about her when he visited in Curzon Street, when we were lookin' for the evidence that Jamie an' I put together against Hadham." replied MacLeod.
"So that is the former Elizabeth Bennet, I have heard the most odd things said about her. The reports are so odd that I cannot decide which are true and which are utter nonsense. MacLeod, you are not going to believe this, but some of the most odd things that I have heard about her were at "Lady Montcliffe's". I overheard a couple called Hurst and Mrs. Hurst's sister, a Miss Caroline Bingley speaking about her while they were sitting at my table. They were not very complimentary towards her. Miss Bingley spoke as if Mr. Darcy was not married to her at all. She kept referring to her as Miss Eliza Bennet." said Amanda, as their cue was struck up and they rode out into the ring.
MacLeod was correct in the fact that Mr. Darcy had recognized him, but Darcy had also recognized his cousins who were also here to see the performance. MacLeod trusted Colonel Fitzwilliam to inform Darcy that this was all part of the plan. This acting as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening.
Darcy and MacLeod were not the only ones who were seeing familiar faces, for during the intermission between acts, Miss Mary Bennet whispered excitedly in her sister Elizabeth's ear. "Lizzie, do you see that man in the box across from ours, does he not look like our Cousin Lucas?"
Elizabeth looked in the direction that Mary had indicated. "I do not know Mary, I know that you told me that you had a letter from our Cousins Naomi and Ruth before you left Hertfordshire informing you that Lucas and Daniel may be coming to England, but did not father say that he had received a letter from Lucas' father saying that Lucas has been taking over the more taxing duties of the mission." replied Elizabeth.
"Yet, it could be him, for Naomi and Ruth wrote in the letter that father had written to say that he had wished to see either Lucas and or Daniel." countered Mary.
"It could be Lucas, especially if Lord Thornewood had also wished to see father's Cousin Samuel." replied Lizzie.
This evening for recognising familiar faces did belong to Mr. Darcy, MacLeod, and Miss Mary Bennet alone, for Miss Catherine Bennet had thought that she recognised her dear Christopher Denney, except the regimentals he wore were different. They looked like the regimentals that belonged to a regiment that she had heard was going to Canada. All in all it had been an exciting evening for both the party from Grosvenor Square & the party from Gracechurch Street. In fact as soon as Mary & Kitty had returned to Gracecurch Street and were back in their shared bedchamber, after Mary had readied herself for bed, she had decided to tarry so she might write of the evening in her journal.
From the Journal of Mary Bennet:
Went to Astley's tonight with my sisters L&K, Mr. D, Miss D, and our Gardiner cousins. The universal favourites were Prince M, and Princess Z. Sister K thought Prince M most romantical and Princess Z beautiful. I thought her costume was a bit risque. My cousins thought that the knife throwing act that Prince M performed from a standing position from the back of a horse was smashing. It was most amazing to watch him maneuver his horse around the ring and throw knives at targets strategically placed at different points, and hit the bullseye every time. It was most amazing, but the most important thing was tonight I am certain that I saw my cousin Lucas Collins from America in the audience tonight. Sister L did not think so. Must have my chest of letters sent from Longbourn. I am positively certain that I read in the last letter I received from my cousins N&R that both Lucas and Daniel were sailing for England.
*A reference to a story that I am in the process of revising and reposting at Jacqui's "A Novel Idea".
Early in the morning the visit to Astley's, Kitty Bennet was awakened to the strange sound of scratching, as if someone was writing something. She sat up in the bed that she had been sharing with her sister Mary since their arrival in Gracechurch Street to find Mary's place empty. She looked across the room to see the dimly lit lamp on the writing desk. She also observed her next older sister busily writing.
"Mary! Whatever are you doing up at this hour? You have awakened me with your scratching away. First you insist you had to write in your journal before you came to bed, now you must be up to write a letter. Whoever are you writing to and why?" asked Kitty, in a querulous tone.
"If you must know Kitty, I am writing to father to ask if he will send me my chest of letters from Longbourn. I need to read the last letter I received from our cousins Naomi and Ruth. I believe that I saw someone that we both should know in the audience at Astley's last night. I wish to make certain if I was correct or not." replied Mary, as she went bac to writing her letter.
Kitty wondered if Mary had recognised Captain Denney also, but she was willing to wager if a young Lady were allowed to do such a thing that she did not. Why would she need to read a letter from their cousins in America, if it was her Dear Christopher. Sometimes she just did not understand her sister Mary at all. Kitty did remember about the letter that Mary had received from Naomi and Ruth just before they left Longbourn for Gracechurch Street. She had even thought she overheard Mary ask Lizzie about their cousin Lucas Collins. Kitty remembered the visit that he had made to Longbourn before he went to someplace called Harvard in someplace called Massachusetts in America. "I do not know why you want that silly chest of yours and I do not think our father will send it, when he would not even send my new bonnet that I forgot to bring with me. So why would he send your silly letters?" asked Kitty in the tone of one who had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.
"Father must send my letters, Kitty. I truly need to read the last letter I received from our cousins, I know I saw Lucas last night, I know I saw him." said Mary, as she sanded, folded and sealed her letter. After she and Kitty dressed and went down to breakfast, she would give her letter to Uncle Gardiner to post for her.
The following morning at Longbourn, while Mr. & Mrs. Bennet and their guest; Daniel Jonah Collins sat at their breakfast, Hill came to the morning room door. "If you please sir, ma'am, but the post has come." said Hill, as she brought it into the room. "There is a letter for you sir and one for Mr. Daniel." said Hill, placing the salver onto the table.
Daniel Bennet unsealed the letter, and began to read. "Martha, my dear here is a very odd letter, with an even odder request from Mary." remarked Daniel Bennet to his wife.
"Oh Mary is always making odd requests. She has always been such a perverse girl refusing that nice Mr. Quigley-Smith. Why she could have gone to the Indies with him." said Martha Bennet.
"Mary writes that they went to Astley's last night with Mr. Darcy and would I please send her chest of letters and the bonnet that Kitty forgot to bring with her." read Mr. Bennet.
"Oh Mr. Bennet whatever does that girl need her with her letters?" asked Mrs. Bennet.
"Mary writes that she wishes to read the letter that received just before she and Kitty left for Town. I do believe that letter came from your sisters, Daniel." said Mr. Bennet.
"I believe you are correct Godfather. Naomi and Ruth wrote my cousin Mary just after our father received your letter inviting Luke and myself to England and my father also received a letter from our patron Lord Thornewood asking that father come to England. Since Luke is in Town, my cousin Mary must have seen Luke somewhere. My brother did evince a wish to see our cusin Mary again." replied Daniel Collins.
Before I go on my gentle readers, I would like to give you a general idea as to just what Daniel Jonah Collins looks like. Danile Collins is very tall, about the same height as his older brother, except that he is just a tiny bit more muscular. His coloring is the same, but Daniel was just a bit more tanned. Daniel Collins is a little less contemplative than Lucas.
After Mr. Bennet had finished reading his letter from his third daughter and had given instructions for her chest of letters and his fourth daughter's forgotten bonnet made ready to be sent to Gracechurch Street. While Mr. Bennet did this, Daniel Collins began to read his letter. He had not read half way, when he began to break into very good natured laughter. "May I inquire as to what is so amusing in your letter, godson?" asked Mr. Bennet.
"Yes you may. My letter is from Luke. Before we left for England, my father had asked us to write to our cousin William Collins when we arrive. Being the dutiful son that Luke is, he has done this. What is so amusing is that our cousin has returned the letter and he had written the following across the outside: "On the advice of my kind and condescending patroness The Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, I must return this letter, as I cannot accept letters from a traitor, a heretic, and does not deserve to wear the name Collins." Luke thought I would think this funny. Godfather, you wrote in the letter to my father about my cousin William, is this what he is like?" asked Daniel Collins of his godfather.
"That is our Mr. Collins all over." replied Mr. Bennet.
A few days after Mary's letter to Longbourn was sent, her chest of letters arrived safely along with Kitty's forgotten bonnet. Mary had both chest and bonnet taken up to hers and Kitty's bedchamber and surprisingly for all those who thought they knew her, Mary ran all the way up the stairs. Kitty followed close behind her, but was shocked to find that Mary had barred the door behind her. This upset Kitty, for she had wished to try on her bonnet, to find out from which angle she should tie the ribands so she would truly look stylish.
"Mary! You open this door immediately. This is my room also. I wish to try on my bonnet." said Kitty, through the door. But Kitty was not listening, for she was uncharacteristically screaming and jumping up and down. Kitty could not help but hear just what her sister was screaming. "I knew it! I was right! I was right! It was Lucas! I just knew it was him!"
Kitty had known that since the night at Astley's, Mary had been behaving in an odd fashion, an especially odd fashion for her usually prudish sister. She wished she knew just who her sister was shouting about. For a moment she wondered if it was her dear Christopher. For one thing that Kitty was sure of was that she had seen her old friend Captain Denney from the ____ shire Militia. She still remembered all the fun that she and Lydia had had when they were quartered on Meryton. What she did not like was that Lydia had behaved badly and now she was away on the Peninsula with Mr. Wickham. Perhaps Lizzie might know just what was making her sister behave in such an odd fashion. Since she and Mary were to go to Grosvenor Square that very morning, she would ask Lizzie about Mary.
Actually, Mary had been behaving oddly ever since she had received that letter from their cousins Naomi&Ruth in America just before they left to stay in Gracechurch Street with their Aunt&Uncle Gardiner. For some reason her behaviour was not as affected or prudish. Then Mary was asking Lizzie about Lucas at Astley's Mary was always excited whenever she received a letter from their cousins Naomi & Ruth for they would invariably have something to say about their oldest brother. Maybe she had been a little bit jealous whenever she did receive a letter from America. Then a totally amazing and unusual thought came to her. The idea that her next older sister was in love with their cousin Lucas. She never would have expected that, because all that she thought Mary was interested in were her books and playing the pianoforte badly, but that was misleading, for when she knew Mary was by herself she played and sang nicely, and she always played so nicely for dancing. Kitty Bennet just did not understand her next older sister at all.
The morning that Mary's chest of letters and Kitty's forgotten bonnet were safely arrived in Gracechurch Street, everyone around her remarked on just how odd her behaviour was. For just after Benjamin, the Gardiners' footman had carried both chest and hatbox to Mary's & Kitty's bedchamber, Mary had asked to be excused from the table. Maria Gardiner heard her third niece hurrying, nay, running up the stairs instead of ascending them at her usual sedate pace. Kitty, while she had not truly asked to be excused from the table, she too rose from her chair, left the morning room to hurry up the stairs. "Now that is more the thing." thought Edward Gardiner.
As soon as Mary entered her's & Kitty's bedchamber, she barred the door behind her sister. Mary's chest of letters had been placed upon the bed as she had directed Benjamin to do. Mary took the gold chain from around her neck and brought it from under her dress. At the end of the chain was a tiny gold key, which Mary put into the lock in the chest. With the chest unlocked and opened, Mary took up the letter that was on top of the pile. Mary paid little attention to her sister's pleas for to open the door as this was her room also and she wished to try on her bonnet. Instead, she paid close attention to the letter from her cousins in America.
Our Dear Cousin Mary,
Just a short letter to give you some wonderful news. This morning our father received a letter from your father inviting either Lucas or Daniel to England. I think the cause of this has something to do with what you wrote about meeting our cousin Mr. Collins.* Then two days ago our father received a letter from our patron; Lord Thornewood, asking father to England. As you know, he has been ill of late. Lucas has offered to go in his stead. Oh Mary! both Lucas and Daniel are to sail for England, and the best news is for you. Lucas has told us that he wishes to see you again.
Just before we close, our good friend; Mistress Temperance Whittier told us to send thee greetings and warns thee to watch out for the two rascals who masquerade as our brothers. Until we write again we remain fondly.
Your loving Cousins,
Naomi & Ruth Collins
The first thing Mary did after she had finished reading her letter was to smile at the memories of Lucas telling her about some of the other families who lived in some of the settlements. Two families were particular friends of her cousins. As Lucas had told her, they were Friendly families. They were: the Starbucks & the Whittiers. Lucas' sisters Naomi & Ruth were very good friends with Temperance, who was now married to Lucas and Daniel's good friend; Caleb Whittier.
The next thing that Mary did was very unlike herself, for she began to jump up and down and began to scream. "I knew it! I knew it! I knew that it was Lucas! I knew that it was him!" Mary wondered who the gentleman who sat in the box with Lucas, he looked familiar. "That must be Lord Thornewood, I should have recognised from helping at Good Samaritan House. Daniel must be with father at Longbourn, father is Daniel's godfather after all." Mary thought to herself. Mary refolded her letter and put it back in her chest with the rest of her letters.
Recalling that her sister was waiting in the hall for the door to be unbarred, Mary unbarred the door, to find a very put out Kitty. "Mary! why did you bar the door? Why did you take so long to let me in? Why were you shouting?" asked Kitty.
Then Mary did something that was so unlike Mary, that Kitty almost swooned with shock. For instead of scolding her, Mary hugged her tight and danced her around the room, and the most impossibly unMary like thing Mary was doing was she was laughing. "Oh Kitty! I did see Lucas at Astley's. Lizzie was wrong. I must tell her." replied Mary.
Elizabeth greeted her sisters warmly, when they arrived in Grosvenor Square that morning. As she greeted her sisters, Elizabeth noted two things. The first was the radiant look in her next youngest sister's eyes, and her choice of dress and the way she wore her hair. The second was the puzzled expression on Kitty's face every time she looked at Mary. She seemed almost afraid of her somehow. Then Kitty asked if she could speak with her in private.
Elizabeth led her sister to the morning room, and she and Kitty sat down on the window seat in front of the large bow window that overlooked the Square.
"What is puzzling you Kitty?" asked Elizabeth in a concerned tone.
"Lizzie, Mary is behaving oddly. The morning after we went to Astley's she woke me up, because she was writing a letter to our father, asking him to send her chest of letters from Longbourn. Mary told me that she needed to read the letter she received from our cousins Naomi & Ruth. When she received the letter, she was all exicted. When I asked her why she needed to read that letter, she said she needed to confirm something. Do you even understand Mary at all." said Kitty, in what was for her, even if she did not understand the concept, her first rhetorical question.
"I think this is because Mary believes that she observed our cousin Lucas at Astley's that night." said Lizzie.
"I remember Lucas, when he came to Longbourn. Mary seemed to like him. Lizzie, do you think that Mary is in love with Lucas? This morning, she took longer to dress than she usually does and she looks different somehow. Do you think Mary looks different, Lizzie?" asked Kitty.
"Yes Mary does seem to be different this morning, Kitty. She seems to be extremely happy." replied her sister.
"Mary seems to be too happy, Lizzie. I think it all had to do with the letter she received from our cousins Naomi & Ruth. Mary was asking you about our cousin Lucas Collins at Astley's the other night and now she told me that she had seen him there that night. I remember that Lucas & Mary liked to do things together when he came to stay that summer and autumn at Longbourn. Lizzie, do you think that Mary is in love with our cousin Lucas? I never thought of Mary in love, when she always seems to be reading, or quoting something. Then why is it that when there were gentlemen visiting at Longbourn, Mary would play and sing badly, but she always played so nicely for dancing and I have heard Mary when she thought she was alone playing and singing songs that fit her voice." said Kitty.
"Yes, Mary said that she saw Lucas at Astley's the other night, and she asked me about it. I just could not say for sure, for our father had a letter from Lucas' father saying that Lucas had been taking over the more taxing duties of the mission such as riding the circuit. I do know that I thought that the young man sitting in the same box was Lord Thornewood." replied Lizzie.
"I do not know where I read this, but sometimes true love can turn even someone as plain as Mary into someone who is almost beautiful. I will not say that Mary looks beautiful today, but she does look nice in her new dress, with her hair dressed the way it is. Mademoiselle Henriette was right in saying that Mary would look nice in the colors she chose." said Kitty.
"Yes Kitty, Mademoiselle Henriette was able to choose colors that look nice on Mary." said Lizzie, smiling, at the thought that her next to her youngest sister, after the removal of the influence of Lydia, was growing up and was beginning to pick up the rudiments of intelligent conversation.
"Lizzie, I know that I have been selfish in past, but I do think that if there is a good chance that we may see our cousin Lucas again, I think that we should encourage Mary, so that Lucas will love Mary back." said Kitty, as she and Lizzie exited the morning room.
As they came out in the hall, the two sisters found Mr. Darcy waiting for his wife. "I am going to Whites to meet with my cousin." said Mr. Darcy, as he gently embraced his wife.
"I will miss you very much, William." replied Elizabeth.
"As will I, my dearest Elizabeth." said Mr. Darcy as Elizabeth returned his embrace warmly.
Arriving at Whites, Mr. Darcy discovered that he had been before his cousin and Captain Duncan MacLeod. Colonel Fitzwilliam had remarked in a short letter that MacLeod had something that he wished to tell them about himself. As Mr. Darcy waited for his cousin and MacLeod, Count Lieven had come to Whites and Russia's Ambassador to the Court of St. James greeted his good friend Mr. Darcy. Mr. Darcy had visited Almack's at times, since he first came to Town. The times that Count Lieven had been present in King Street he had seen how his Dariya and Lady Jersey tried with the help of the other Lady Patronesses introduce him to young marriageable misses, but it surprised him that Mr. Darcy had not been very susceptible to the matchmaking intrigues of his Dariya and Lady Jersey, especially Mr. Fitzwilliam was the most eligible bachelor on the Town since the Duke of Devonshire. It amused him that Mr. Darcy would not let himself be caught. Count Lieven smiled to himself when he thought of how he would tell his good friend Darcy that one day when he least expected it a young lady would steal his heart away without the knowledge of what to do next.
Count Lieven rememberd how Mr. Darcy would laugh at, and dismiss his dire warnings, but he himself had laughed and laughed when he had heard that Mr. Darcy had first been betrothed to, and subsequently married a Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn, in Hertfordshire. He had also heard his Dariya and Lady Jersey speaking of all the speculation as to why his good friend Darcy had married someone who was by all accounts a simple country miss or a scheming fortune hunter, but he had never believed what he had heard of the former Miss Elizabeth Bennet from a certain Miss Caroline Bingley. Then a few days ago Dariya had told him that she and Lady Jersey and the other five Ladies from Almack's would be going to pay a call on the new Mrs. Darcy. They would go in the guise of seeing Miss Darcy. Dariya had promised to describe Mrs. Darcy to him. He knew that there had to be something special about a simple country miss that would attract Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, of Pemberley. He truly wished to meet the young Lady who had obviously stole his good friend Darcy's heart away. He had seen him in Town in the late spring and he seemed ill, but he had returned to Town later in the summer and he had all the appearance of a man driven. Then by the middle of November, Count Lieven had heard of the betrothal and subsequent marriage. Khristofor Andreevich de Lieven was as curious about Mrs. Darcy as his Dariya, Lady Jersey and the other Ladies of Almack's, for even now he was sure that the former Miss Elizabeth Bennet had indeed stolen his good friend's heart away. When Darcy had arrived at Whites that morning he had noticed a smile on his friend's face.
"Good day Darcy, I have heard from Dariya that she, Lady Jersey and the other Ladies from King Street are going to be calling on your wife and young sister soon. They must be looking forward to the visit," said Count Lieven.
"Elizabeth and Georgiana look forward to the visit. I think that with my Aunt's assistance she will find the visit amusing. I am not stupid, Lieven. I know just why my Aunt's neighbor and her cohort from King Street are calling in Grosvenor Square. You know and I know that Georgiana's vouchers are moot. They wish to know which of the gossip about my wife is the truth and what is utter nonsense, and we both know that as much as she loves to spread her bits and scraps around, my Aunt's neighbor is able to recognise the difference," replied Mr. Darcy.
When Colonel Fitzwilliam and Captain Duncan MacLeod arrived at Whites, Count Lieven and Mr. Darcy were having brandies. "Good day, Colonel, how is your Dear Mama today?" asked Count Lieven.
"Mama is well, Lieven." replied Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"That is very good, for she has a very large task sponsoring not one lady but two. May I ask how are Marsden and his lovely Vicountess?" asked Count Lieven.
"Marcus and Kate are well and will be arriving from Essex any day now, along with the children." replied Colonel Fitzwilliam, referring to his older brother, the Viscount Marsden, his wife and children.
"Your Mama will have some help in her task, will she not?" asked The Russian Ambassador.
"I believe she will and she will have the added joy of having her grandchildren here Town, so she might spoil them. Of course my nephew and niece cannot truly be spoiled," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam, speaking of his nephew and niece: Marcus Edmond, Baron Fitzwilliam and his sister, the Honourable Nerissa Fitzwilliam. His nephew was named for both his father, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather, while Nerissa was named somewhat in keeping with the custom of his sister-inlaw's family of naming all female children after Shakespeare's Ladies. Colonel Fitzwilliam smiled as he remembered how he had gently teased his future sister-in-law, when Marcus was courting Katherine, Lady Lochmaben about being a shrew, which instead of angering the Lady, made her laugh. When he had asked her what was so amusing, she had told him that she was named for the Katherine of "The Taming of the Shrew."
"Forgive me Lieven, but I do believe you are not known to Captain Duncan MacLeod. Lieven, this is MacLeod, MacLeod, this is Count Lieven." said Colonel Fitzwilliam as he introduced the Russian Ambassador to his Immortal Captain.
"I have not been introduced to him, but I know of him, and I would just like to take this opportunity to tender my wife's gratitude to him for assisting my wife's abigail when she needed it four days ago." replied Count Lieven.
MacLeod smiled his most enigmatic smile, for he remembered the incident, for though the Lievens did not know it, MacLeod had come to the rescue of the Countess' abigail not just because he did not like to see a lady in distress, he did not like it when said lady was a potential Immmortal, which Tanya was. When she ran by, he had felt the weak, unfocused signature of a potential Immortal. "It was no somethin' to be thankin' me for, it was somethin' that any gentleman should ha' done." replied MacLeod, in a quiet tone.
Count Lieven observed that the three gentlemen wished to be private, he left them to their brandies and their conversation. As soon as Count Lieven had left their parlour, and the three gentlemen knew that they were truly private, Colonel Fitzwilliam spoke, "Darcy, we have the evidence that James and MacLeod collected."
"Have you given it to Horse Guards, Cousin?" Darcy enquired of his cousin.
"Not yet, Darcy. We must wait until Hadham is dealt with," replied Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"You are still insisting that you must deal with Hadham by yourself, MacLeod?" asked Darcy.
"Aye. When I tell ye the truth about myself, ye will ken why I am the only person who can fight Hadham and win. Ye must wonder why I am so determined to kill Hadham. It is no' just for Jamie and the men who died on the Peninsula because o' Hadham's treacheries. Hadham raped and murdered another MacLeod, a MacLeod lass only twelve years old. Colonel, Darcy, I am goin' tae tell ye somethin' about myself that must stay between yourselves. I have all ready told this tae Jamie and Becca. What I tell ye may sound unbelievable and I will sound like I am a candidate for Bedlam, but this is the truth. I am tellin' this tae ye because ye were Jamie's friends and ye are Becca's cousins. I trusted Jamie with my story, yet it was easy tae tell him this, as he was my Clansman, he would have known it, as it is a legend in my Clan." said MacLeod.
"A legend among your clansmen? Whatever are you speaking of MacLeod?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam, a little shocked tone.
"A legend? A legend of what?" asked Darcy, in a wary tone.
"Colonel, Darcy. Ye may no' wish tae believe what I am goin' tae tell ye, but I ken that I that I trust ye both. Ye're kinsmen of Becca, and ye will be weddin' wi' her soon Colonel, so I will tell ye, but this must be kept in confidence. This is the same truth I told Jamie and Becca. I am Immortal, I was born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1592 in a little village called Glenfinnan, near Loch Shiel. Yer sister-in-law would ken of it, for her lands run close by. I am no' the only member o' the Clan MacLeod who is Immortal. I have a Clansman called Connor, he is the Captain of the "H.M.S. Virtuous". As an Immortal, I cannot be killed or die the way most people can. The only way I can die is if I were to meet another of my kind in combat and he takes my head. If someone does this, he not only kills me but he takes in all my knowledge and power. I ken you must know by now that Hadham is another of my kind. We have rules to follow, and Hadham doesna follow them."
"What rules, MacLeod?" asked Mr. Darcy.
"An Immortal is no' to kill another Immortal, but Hadham has this grudge against all members o' my Clan. He has no' just killed Jamie. I will tell ye o' my first dealing with Hadham. It was in the time before Culloden, a young MacLeod lass called Rachel was put under my protection, I was tae see her out of harm's way. Hadham was one of Cumberland's butchers. I did my best tae keep Rachel from Hadham, but one day he found her. I was out huntin' somethin tae cook, an' when I had returned, Hadham had raped and strangled the lass. I swore then, that I would have Hadham's head, even if it would take me ten centuries tae find him. We met when I cam' tae join yer Regiment, Colonel. I knew that if Hadham was in your Regiment he wasna loyal, he was a traitor and a spy for Bonaparte. Jamie kenned this an' we gathered the evidence." replied MacLeod.
"How did you know that it was Hadham in the first place?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"Immortals can feel another Immortal nearby. When Hadham cam' tae Becca's house, I felt him before Worth cam' tae announce him. I ken I am asking ye tae take my story at face value even if it sounds like I should be locked awa' in Bedlam, but is the truth. This is the same truth I told Jamie and Becca." replied MacLeod.
Colonel Fitzwilliam and Mr. Darcy considered what they had just been told. Dare they believe him, for tho' Captain MacLeod was an honourable man, a good soldier, this story of his, this legend of his Clan sounded a bit farfetched, yet he lived by a code and as a soldier, Colonel Fitzwilliam lived by a similar code. He could not thnk for his cousin Darcy, but he knew that he also lived by a code, a code he had lived by since he was a boy. Colonel also knew that for a time, that Darcy had truly failed in the trust that was placed in him by old Mr. Darcy, his father. That being the case, Darcy was the first to believe and accept MacLeod's story as the truth.
"I will believe you MacLeod. I too have felt that I have failed a trust that was placed in me by my father. You may or may not know this, but my cousin is along with myself co-guardians of my only sister, almost two years ago, if I had not intervened, she would have been hurt badly by a very deceitful person , who was, un fortunately the son of my father's steward and my father's godson." said Darcy. "That is an amazing story MacLeod, but we will believe and trust you. Your actions on the Peninsula told me that you are an honourable man. I thought James was a good man ever since Darcy and I first met him ay University. He was a very good husband and I knew that Rebecca loved him very much. I know that even though he did not have much time with the twins, I know he would have been an excellent father." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as he set his glass down on the table next to his chair.
"You use a sword to fight?" asked Darcy, curiously.
"Aye Darcy, I use a sword to fight, among other things. I have seen ye at the fencing parlour before. You are very good with a sword yourself. I practice every day. It is a good exercise, it relieves tension and calms ye. Would ye like tae join me one day, Darcy?" asked MacLeod.
"I will join you MacLeod. I need to practice myself. I have a wife and sister to protect, I will not fail them."
A time was fixed for Darcy and MacLeod to meet at the fencing parlour to practice. Colonel Fitzwilliam excused himself, as one of Whites excellent footmen brought him a note from Count Lieven. "Lieven wishes to see me. He seems to love intrigue as much as the Countess." he said, in a cryptic tone. Colonel left Darcy and MacLeod to finish the conversation.
"That was you at Astley's a few nights ago, was it not?" asked Darcy.
"Aye it was me, I was helpin' a friend. It may seem strange, but there are woman Immortals also. Amanda is a verra old friend of mine and she is helpin' tae defeat Hadham. 'Manda is good, but she has been an Immortal longer than I have been and unfortunately her sense of right and wrong can be muddled, yet she is my good friend. Amanda is the "urchin" outside holdin' my horse. She can sense Hadham if he just happens tae cam' here. You probably heard your cousin mention Jamie's batman; Angus MacLaren was dead, in a sense he is but as an Immortal can sense another Immortal, they can also sense when someone can become Immortal when they die. I knew that Angus was one of us and asked him tae help Jamie and I tae stop Hadham. Since he was Jamie's batman, he was the person who sewed the letters in both of Jamie's coats. Then I had Angus gae tae Becca's and ask for the older coat. He took care o' it while I was teaching him some of what he needs tae ken o' survivin' as an Immortal. He is safe for now, for he is with another friend o' mine. He is also like me, but he lives in a monastery. That is sanctuary for Immortals, for we canna fight on Holy Ground. I have told Becca tae tak' Jamie an' Meggie tae a Church if they are out walkin' an' she happens tae see Hadham. We will keep Becca and Jamie's bairns safe." said MacLeod in a determined tone.
Mr. Darcy and MacLeod sat speaking of swords and fencing, when MacLeod sat up suddenly, as a watchful look came to his eyes. He looked around as if he was trying to discover where a sound only he could hear had come from, when a very discreet cough was heard at the door.
"Excuse me Captain MacLeod, but there is a young person at the door who wishes to speak to you. He says that there is something wrong with your horse," said the footman.
"Thank ye. Darcy please excuse me and make my farewells to your cousin. I need tae check on my horse. Ye ken it is more than my horse I need tae see. I just felt an Immortal near by, one more than Amanda, I ken it is Hadham. Amanda just let me know this. Tell your cousin that I will see him in Curzon Street." said MacLeod as he rose from his chair.
"I will see you at Andre la Monte's on Wednesday." said Darcy.
MacLeod quickly made his way to the front door, where he did find Amanda waiting. "Where is Hadham, 'Manda?" MacLeod asked his friend.
"He is sitting over there in his curricle. MacLeod, who is that with him? I know that I have seen him at "Lady Montcliffe's" with Hadham, but I know that he is not one of us." asked Amanda.
"I ken that it is Braxton. He has formed an unholy alliance with him and they both serve Bonaparte, along with Hadham's confederates on the Peninsula." replied MacLeod, as he mounted his horse and Amanda mounted hers.
Colonel Fitzwilliam returned to the room where his cousin and MacLeod had sat. Mr. Darcy made MacLeod's excuses and farewells and gave his cousin MacLeod's message about seeing him in Curzon Street. "Darcy, I just had the most curious interview with Lieven. He wishes to know all about Elizabeth. Do you have any idea what that was all about?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"After last spring and summer I believe he must wonder about my all but impulsive decision to marry a woman who, certain females of whom we are both acquainted, have out about, was beneath me and had more than likely trapped me. But we know that is not the case. Then as you also know, Countess Lieven, Lady Jersey, and the rest of their cohort from King street are calling in Grosvenor Square to nominally meet Georgiana to determine if she deserves vouchers, but as that is a moot point with them they wish to inspect my wife." replied Mr. Darcy.
"I suppose that wish to see for themselves which of the rumours that Mrs. Hurst and Miss Bingley had spread after your betrothal had been announced were true and which were cut from whole cloth. I saw the letter that Elizabeth sent my mother asking for her assistance the day that they call. Darcy, are you still planning to meet MacLeod at Andre la Monte's on Wednesday?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"I am." replied Darcy.
"I am only too sorry that I cannot join you that day, as I have business at Horse Guards. You are going to be amazed by MacLeod's swordsmanship. I have watched him practice on the Peninsula. He uses a most unusual looking sword while he is practicing. His moves are almost like a dance, a most deadly kind of dance. It is almost as if his arm and sword are one." said Colonel Fitzwilliam, as the both gentlemen made ready to leave.
Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam had just exited the parlour where they had sat. As they came out into the entry hall. After they had collected their hats and greatcoats. They were about to leave, when the front door opened, to let two gentlemen into Whites hallowed halls. Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam recognized one of the gentlemen as their friend; Gareth Morrison, The Marquis of Thornewood, immediately. The other, looked strangely familiar to Mr. Darcy.
"Wood! What brings you here?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam of their good friend, knowing that he did come all that often to Whites, tho' he had been a member since he had first come to Town.
"Wood it has been a long time." exclaimed Darcy, as the three friends indulged in friendly backslappings.
"I was at Astleys the other night and saw you both. I thought I might find you here today and thought I would come. I am sorry that I was not able to offer my congratulations on your marriage before, so I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your marriage, Darcy. I understand that you have taken your guardian's role very seriously, Colonel. It was a shame to hear about MacLeod. He was a good man, a good friend. I must make my guest known to you This is......" began Lord Thornewood.
"Your guest is all ready known to me, for we are cousins-inlaw, if you are who I believe you to be." said Mr. Darcy.
"I also believe that we are cousins-in-law. I am Lucas Collins."
"Then I must make you known to my cousin; Colonel Fitzwilliam. cousin, this Lucas Collins, of Pennsylvania, America. I do have that correct, do I not?" asked Mr. Darcy.
"Yes you do have that correct. I have also heard that the youngest of my Bennet cousins has married someone whom I myself, having been in a position to have some knowledge of him would have rather not seen this marriage, but even at the age of eleven I knew that Miss Lydia was bound to come to grief if continued along the road she traveled upon. I must admit that I was most surprised to discover that you had married my cousin Elizabeth. I recall when I travelled to England and spent some time at Longbourne I was able to have a chance to observe my cousins and I saw distinct similarities between my cousin Elizabeth and a good friend of the elder two of my three sisters. Mistress Temperance Whittier she is now, for she is married to a good friend of mine and my brother's. I suppose you could guess from Mistress Whittier's first name, she is a Quaker. We have some Friendly families living in some of the settlements where my father has his mission. As I remember my cousin Elizabeth, she was very outspoken in her opinions on a good many things." said Lucas.
Darcy smiled as he recalled that he had been the subject of some of her opinions. "Last autumn, my friend Mr. Bingley, who has since, married your cousin Jane, came into Hertfordshire, where he had let an estate called Netherfield. I encountered your cousin Elizabeth at an Assembly in Meryton. It may not have seemed so at the time, and I imagine if you had been there, having seen you thrash a person for his ungentlemanly behavior, you more than likely would have thrashed me and made me appologised to your cousin for insulting her, but I do believe that at the time Elizabeth was more than able to hold her own. Speaking of that person I mentioned, Collins, I have had it from a very reliable source that Mr. Quigley-Smith has returned from his somewhat forced sojourn in the West Indies, and has since returned to Hertfordshire. I would be very cautious if I were you." said Darcy, to Lucas.
"I will take your advice." replied Lucas.
"Darcy, did you say that your American friend's name is Collins? Surely he cannot be connected to Lady Catherine's Mr. Collins?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam, in a curious tone. Lucas began to laugh good naturedly at Colonel Fitzwilliam's question. "Just what was so amusing about my question?" asked Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"If you are referring to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, then the Mr. Collins you just referred to is my first cousin, unfortunately. My father was Mr. Collins' late father's younger brother. At the time that Sir Lewis married Lady Catherine Fitzwilliam, that would make her your Aunt, my father had just come down from Oxford. He had all ready decided on going to America to start his mission, which I do believe my late Uncle Zechariah did not want my father to do. In what my father believes was a desperate attempt to prevent my father from going to America, he prevailed upon his godfather, who just happened to be Sir Lewis to present my father with the living at Hunsford. My father turned it down. Your father is the Earl of Matlock, is he not?" asked Lucas, of Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"He is." that gentleman replied.
"Then my father was at University with your father while he was still Marsden. Perhaps if you were to ask your father if recalls a Mr. Samuel Matthew Collins." said Lucas.
"I like you Lucas Collins. You are definitely not like your cousin in Kent. I would have to say that my Lady Aunt and your cousin deserve one another." said Colonel Fitzwilliam.
"I believe that I was given a taste of my cousin's personality just recently. I wrote him immediately on my brother's and my arrival here. My cousin returned my letter unopened along with one of his own, stating that on the advice of his kind and condescending Patroness The Right Honourable Lady Catherine de Bourgh, he could not accept a letter from the son of a traitor, a heretic and who does not deserve to wear the name Collins." said Lucas.
"You have described your cousin word perfect." said Mr. Darcy.
"I have been wondering this since I arrived here in Town. My cousin Daniel informed me that my cousins: Mary & Catherine were here in Town, staying with their Uncle Gardiner, and I would just like to know how my cousin Mary fares. That person you told me about, cousin, was the most obnoxious to her, if you recall, and I would like her to know that now that I have returned, I will protect her and thrash him again if necessary, if he tries to cause her the least distress," said Lucas.
"At this moment, your cousin Mary is visiting Elizabeth in Grosvenor Square along with your cousin Catherine. I would be pleased if you and Wood come to call today," replied Mr. Darcy.
"Of course we will call, Darcy. How is your sister?" asked Lord Thornewood.
"Georgiana is well, Wood. She will be happy to see you." replied Darcy.
"When you were at Astley's, you had the Gardiner children with you." said Lord Thornewood.
"Yes I did. I did not know that you were acquainted with my wife's Uncle and Aunt." said Darcy.
"Mrs. Gardiner and her nieces help at Good Samaritan House three days a week." replied Lord Thornewood, speaking of his establishment that helped families who had come to London after being displaced for one reason or another. This establishment had gained the Marquis of Thornewood a reputation in some circles as being something of a radical, due to his ideas on reform. Yet his ideas had been of great use at Pemberley. Mr. Darcy had instituted many of his friend's ideas.
"Then you are well known to my wife, Wood. I am surprised that you are acquainted with my wife's cousin." said Mr. Darcy.
"I have contributed to Mr. Collins' Father's mission for many years." replied Lord Thornewood. After accepting Mr. Darcy's kind invitation Lord Thornewood and Lucas agreed to arrive at Darcy's Townhouse in an hour's time.
Mr. Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam left Whites and returned to Grosvenor Square. After they entered the house and went up to the drawing room, Mr. Darcy crossed the room to furtively embrace Elizabeth. "Welcome back William, did you enjoy your morning?" asked Elizabeth.
"Yes I did enjoy it, Elizabeth. My dear, I was wondering if you might send a note round to Gracechurch Street to enquire if your sisters might be allowed to stay at least one hour longer, you may wish to send a note to Jermyn Street to Charles and Jane, asking for their company also. Forgive me Elizabeth, but I am expecting some guests," said Mr. Darcy, mysteriously.
"Visitors? Who are they, William? Why are you sounding so mysterious?" asked Elizabeth, in a curious tone.
"One of my visitors will claim an acquaintance with you, even tho' he was one of my best friends at University. I refer to Lord Thornewood. He tells me that you and your sisters give of your time at Good Samaritan House. The other guest may be the means of making one of your sisters very happy. For my Dearest Elizabeth, your Cousin Lucas has returned to England." replied Mr. Darcy.
"Lucas?! here!? I cannot credit it, and yet, when we were at Astley's, Mary mentioned that she had seen someone who looked like our Cousin. Then when my Sisters arrived this morning, Kitty had been puzzled by Mary's behaviour before they left Gracechurch Street. Yet now I see it all, Mary would never be this happy unless she was correct that she had seen Our Cousin Lucas. Mary had wanted to read a letter she had received before she and Kitty came to stay in Gracechurch Street. She was so happy that she wore one of her new dresses, and wore her hair differently. You are telling me that Lucas and Lord Thornewood will be coming here to Grosvenor Square? Oh William! Mary will be extatic. She will definitely not behave like the Mary that you met last autumn in Hertfordshire. This is a Mary whose behaviour will be quite shocking." said Elizabeth in a mock serious tone.
"I will believe it when I see it my dearest loveliest Elizabeth. Tho' if your sister hides travellers' journals behind all those heavy volumes she seems to enjoy, then I imagine that she has been doing this for far longer than just after your Cousin came to visit from America." replied Darcy, in a similar tone.
"As a matter of fact, William, My Sister has been reading travellers' journals since before Lucas came to visit at Longbourne. It is part of her secret. I do believe that when Lucas visited, part of his charm was the fact that he was actually from one of those exotic places that she had read about. I do think that when my Father read a letter from his cousin, Lucas' father, it sparked Mary's curiosity about America. You will not credit this, William, and this also must not go any further than between us, but when my sister was nine years old she had already planned to journey to Africa as a missionary." said Elizabeth. At this point, Lizzy and Mr. Darcy were interrupted by Ames.
"The Marqis of Thornewood and Mr Collins." announced Mr. Darcy's butler.
"Not Mr. Collins again." whined Kitty, as she rose from her chair, where she had been reading the latest issue of "La Belle Assemblee", looking at the latest fashion plates.
As the two aforesaid gentlemen entered the Darcys' drawing room, Mary, looking up from the pianoforte where she had been studying a song arrangement she had found, shrieked in a very un-Mary like way, "Lucas! I knew I had seen you at Astley's!" Mary qickly stood up and was soon hugging her favorite cousin.
"Oh Lucas, I was sure that I had seen you at Astley's the other night, but Lizzie was not sure. She reminded me of the last letters that My Father received from your Father, the ones saying that you have been taking over some of his more taxing duties." said Mary, as the two cousins loosened their hug and moved away from each other, so there was a proper space between them.
"I understand that, Cousin Mary, but as you know, my Father has been ill of late, and so I offered to come to England to see Lord Thornewood in my Father's stead, and here I am. I imagine, that after your Father made the acquaintance of our cousin Mr. Collins, he wished to become reacquainted with myself or make the acquaintance of his godson. Dan is at Longbourne telling your Father all about his adventures with Mr. Lewis and Mr. Clarke. I would tell you some of it myself, but I do believe that only Dan could do justice to the stories." replied Lucas.
"Lucas, you must come and meet our brother-in-law's sister, Miss Darcy. I have mentioned you to her." said Mary, as she led her cousin over to the pianoforte, where Georgiana sat.
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. Collins." said Georgiana.
"Please Miss Darcy, I know that this is the American in me coming out, and my Cousin Mary will probably tell me that it is not proper, but, Mr. Collins is my Fsther, call me Lucas or Luke." relied Lucas.
"Mary has told me that when you visited here before, you and she were used to play and sing together. Mary has said that you play the violin wonderfully." said Georgiana.
"My Cousin exaggerates a bit, but I am accounted to play the violin well. I do not have my violin with me right at this moment, it is in my rooms at Good Samaritan House. I am also accounted, as my Cousin has probably told you, a very good tenor." replied Lucas.
"Then we must sing something together, all three of us. Mary is a beautiful alto, that I am afraid that she has tended to hide under the Biblical bushel basket. We were just going over a new arrangement for "Barbara Allen", and Mary says that this wants a good tenor. Please Luke, I am sure that Mary would wish you to sing with us." said Georgiana.
"Miss Darcy, I think that you are just as much a minx as my Cousin Mary is and has always been." said Lucas, smiling at both young Ladies.
Not meaning to overhear the conversation of Lucas, Mary, and Georgiana, and remembering Mary's unfortunate performance at the Netherfield Ball, Darcy was a bit worried about the impromptu performance. "Elizabeth, your sister is going to sing with Georgiana? I know you love your sister very much, but I have my doubts how well this is going to turn out." said Darcy in a doubting tone of voice.
"William, Mary's performance at Netherfield was more to keep the gentlemen away, than to attract them. It is part of her secret. Mary has the most beautiful alto voice. Our music master said that Mary could bring a room to tears with her alto as I could with my soprano. Though I do think that he tended to exaggerate a bit. So do not worry. You are about to see." replied Elizabeth.
Lucas stood behind Mary and Georgiana, who sat side by side on the bench. Georgiana struck up the opening chords, and the three began.
In Scarlet Town where I was born
'Twas a fair maid dwellin.
Made every lad cry welladay,
For love of Barbara Allen.
They buried Willie in the old churchyard
And Barbara in the new one.
From Willie's grave there grew a rose;
From Barbara's a green briar.
They grew and grew to the old church wall
Till they could grow no higher;
And there they formed a true love knot,
The rose wrapped round the briar.
Three young people finished with a great flourish, to the applause of Darcy, Elizabeth, Kitty,and the Bingleys, who had just arrived in Grosvenor Square.
"Elizabeth, I took the liberty of inviting Charles and Jane while I was still at Whites. I thought that your sister would especially wish to see your Cousin." said Darcy.
"Darcy, when your note arrived in Jermyn Street, we never expected find out that a cousin of Jane's was in England. Jane did mention that she had relations in America and surprisingly enough they were also connected to Lady Catherine's Mr. Collins." said Mr. Bingley, as they entered the drawing room.
While the Bingleys were greeting Lucas, Lord Thornewood took the opportunity to greet Georgiana. "It is nice to see you again, Miss Darcy. It has been some time since I last entered this house. You were just come to Town for the first time." said Lord Thornewood.
"We have missed you at Pemberley; my Brother and I." replied Georgiana.
"Will you also be giving of your time at Good Samaritan House along with Mrs. Darcy?" asked Lord Thornewood.
"Yes, I will, my Lord." replied Georgiana.
"Your sister-in-law has been helping at Good Samaritan House for many years." said Lord Thornewood.
Lizzie and Jane returned to the drawing room. "Lord Thornewood, I must ask how are Timothy and his sister Annie? As I recall they had just arrived and were very frightened. I do hope that they have become used to this change in their life?" asked Lizzie.
"They are growing used to the change, but they do ask after the 'nice lady who tells such lovely stories'." replied Lord Thornewood.
Before Lucas and Lord Thornewood needed to return to Good Samaritan House, another song was called for. "Come Darcy, I know that we gentlemen have good voices, we must join in with the ladies. None of this pleading that you cannot sing among strangers, because you are not among strangers now, and I know that you have a truly strong baritone." said Mr. Bingley, as he and Jane crossed the drawing room to stand by the pianoforte.
"Only if you are open to exposing your so-called tenor to the tender ears of the Ladies, Bingley." Mr. Darcy muttered to himself as he and Lizzie also crossed to stand by the pianoforte.
"What was that, Darcy? I did not quite make out what you just said." said Mr. Bingley.
"I said I am sure that the Ladies will enjoy hearing your tenor." said Darcy, as the two friends laughed good naturedly.
"Kitty, you choose a song, this time." said Georgiana.
"How about 'Greensleeves', that was one that Mary and Lucas always sang when he came to stay at Longbourne when we were girls." suggested Kitty, smiling. Mary did look like she was in love, but she would not ask her, for she knew that in some ways her next older sister was still a private person. When everyone was ready, Georgiana struck up a chord, and began.
"Alas my love you do me wrong
To cast me off discourteously
For I have loved you Oh so long
Delighting in your company
Greensleeves was all my joy
Greensleeves was my delight
Greensleeves was my heart of gold
Who but my Lady Greensleeves"
It was sad that Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrived shortly after they finished singing. "We will see you in a few days, Lucas. We will be coming to help with the children at Good Samaritan House" said Mary, smiling at her favorite cousin.
"It was nice to see you again Cousin Lucas." said Kitty, as they left the Darcy's town house to return to Gracechurch Street.
When all was quiet again in Grosvenor Square, Darcy smiled at his wife. "Elizabeth, you were correct, Mary did seem a different person in the presence of your cousin from America. As you are well knowledgeable of your sisters, do you think that there is something mutual between your cousin and your sister? They seem to have some of the same interests.