Section I, Next Section
Posted on Wednesday, 14 July 1999
"Dearest Martha, daughters, I have just received news from your Cousin Samuel Matthew Collins by this morning's post. His eldest son; your Cousin Lucas Isaac will be to Longbourn for a visit this summer so you must all be on your best behaviour." Daniel Bennet told his family one morning in early spring. "Just how old is he now, Mr. Bennet?" asked Mrs. Bennet in an extremely curious tone. For now Mrs. Bennet was curious indeed, very curious, for it was not very often that Longbourn had any male guests, family or not. For even now, Mrs. Daniel Bennet saw her most important task, was seeing all her daughters marry and marry well. "Lucas is the same age as Our Jane, seventeen. He is in fact one month younger as you well know, Martha my dear." replied Mr. Bennet. "Oh! Then he will be just right for Lizzie or Mary! Yes! Mr. Bennet, I believe that he may do well for Lizzie." said Mrs. Bennet in an excited tone. "Only if Lizzie or Mary wish to leave for America." muttered Daniel Bennet to himself, as he excused himself from the breakfast table.
Daniel Jonah Bennet had learned to take himself off to the sanctuary of his library when his wife was in a matchmaking frame of mind.
"Lizzie! Mary! Make haste! Make haste! We must go into Meryton to purchase new dresses for you, new dresses and new music for you to practice, so you will have something to perform when your Cousin Lucas arrives in June" Mrs. Bennet called to her second and third daughters, after breakfast was over. "Mama! What about me!?" whined an eleven year old Lydia, which was immediately echoed by a twelve year old Catherine, now known among her family as Kitty. "Yes my darlings, you also may go." replied Mrs. Bennet, who had decided long ago that it was better to give in to Lydia's demands than listen to her screaming and watching her lie on the floor kicking.
"Mama! Tell Kitty that she must stay at Aunt Phillips, while we go to the shops. I do not like it when she is along with us; she is always coughing. The last time we went to the shops, Kitty pinched me, when I told her to stop." whined Lydia. "I did not. Mama! She is lying. Lydia pinched me first." whined Kitty. "Mama! Kitty is lying." whined Lydia, at the thought that she would have to share this visit into Meryton with three of her sisters. Just who was this cousin anyway? Why did he have to come for a visit, and from America? He probably lived with the savage Red Indians. They were going to the shops, but Mama said it was for Mary and Lizzie. Why did they need new dresses, when she had not had a new dress in two months. Mama should get a new dress for her, not Mary and Lizzie. Most certainly not for Kitty. She would hold her breath this time, Mama always gave in anyway.
When Lizzie's and Mary's new dresses began to arrive at Longbourn, the three oldest Bennet sisters immediately began to remove a goodly portion of the lace and ribands from them. Mrs. Daniel Bennet was sure when she chose all that trimming for her second and third daughters' dresses, said daughters would show to advantage. Lizzie allowed as how the dresses looked like overly decorated wedding cakes. Mary also saw how sill she looked in the new dresses, so among the three oldest Bennet sisters, they contrived to make the dresses more to their liking.
Then came the fight over the music that Mrs. Bennet had wanted Lizzie and Mary to play and sing. The songs were fine for Lizzie, who had a fine soprano voice, but Mary was an alto, and the songs just did not suit Mary's voice.
"Mama! This song is not right for my voice. It is way to high for me to sing." said Mary, as she tried once more to reach the high notes.
"Nonsense, Mary, it is not too high for you, besides gentlemen do not like women with low singing voices. Gentlemen only like nice high voices like Lizzie's. Then there is another thing, Miss Mary, when your Cousin arrives, do try not to go about with your spectacles on, gentlemen just are not attracted to women who wear them." Martha Bennet told her third daughter.
"Mama! Mary cannot see without them. How will she be able to play and sing for our Cousin if she cannot even see to read the music?" asked Lizzie, concerned for her sister and herself. This was not the first time that her mother had tried to instruct her daughters on the correct method to impress a gentleman. Jane had been the first student, and in spite of Mama's instruction, Jane did well, until the delicate subject of dowries and fortunes came up, then the gentlemen were not so fine after all.
"Miss Mary will see just fine, so you just tend to your own business, Miss Lizzie." replied Mrs. Bennet.
Posted on Thursday, 15 July 1999
It was a very bright morning in early June and Longbourne was at sixes and sevens, for this was the morning that Lucas was to arrive. Mrs. Bennet had had all five of her daughters up early to help make sure the house and everything in it shone.
"Lizzie, Mary remember your cousin will be arriving this afternoon, so do not go out for any long walks. You must be here to welcome your cousin. This going off for long walks makes my nerves flutter. I feel faint at the thought of your walking about. I mean this for you especially, Miss Lizzie and no going off to see that Charlotte Lucas and if she calls tell her you have more important things to do today, than visit with her." Mrs. Bennet told her daughters.
The morning flew by, but instead of listening to their Mama's admonitions not to go for long walks, both Mary and Lizzie did go out for walks. They had each chosen a different direction and purpose for their walks. Lizzie, as always liked to walk and revel in the wonders of God's creations, but Mary enjoyed walking in silence to contemplate the same wonders. Sometimes Mary would bring a book with her, for she had heard how her Father had enjoyed reading out of doors in his younger days. Today was no exception, Mary had brought her Father's copy of the "Odyssey" in the original Greek and his Greek dictionary with her. Mary had her favorite place to walk and her favorite tree to sit under, while she was reading. Mary sometimes brought breadcrumbs with her for the birds, or she was accompanied by Dame Tabitha, Longbourne's kitchen cat, though today she was quite alone, for Dame Tabitha was in imminent expectation of the arrival of kittens, kittens fathered by Thomas, Longbourne's stable cat. Because of this, Miss Mary Bennet was the first to note the arrival of her cousin from America.
He did not come in a carriage, as she knew her Mama would have expected, he had chosen instead to come on horseback. Mary was an indifferent horsewoman at best, yet she did think the young man riding up the drive to Longbourne rode well, in fact the horse he rode was the most beautiful of the horses in the stables at The Rose and Crown. At least she and Lizzie thought so. The odd thing was the way he was dressed. His coat if it could be called so was made of buckskin and appeared to be slipped over his shirt and breeches. The coat was decorated with a curious fringe. He wore curious boots also made of buckskin. The young man himself, appeared to be very tall and somewhat thin. He had long rich brown hair, that he wore tied back. He smiled and the smile went up to his eyes. Mary felt her face flush at this, realising that the smile was directed at her
"Good afternoon sir, are you lost?" asked Mary, trying to be helpful.
"I might be, then I might not be. Can you tell me, Miss, if I am anywhere near Longbourne?" asked the young man in an enquiring tone, tinged with the curious accent of one from America.
"This is Longbourne sir." replied Mary, in a surprisingly friendly tone.
"Then I am not lost. I am Lucas Isaac Collins and you are?" asked the young man.
"I am Miss Mary Bennet and I am your Cousin, sir." replied Mary, smiling shyly at the young man.
"I thought as much." said Lucas, returning the smile, and again causing Mary's face to colour when he winked at her.
"Where is your carriage sir? Did you have an accident?" asked Mary concernedly.
"No, I did not have an accident. My carriage is at The Rose and Crown in Meryton. I thought I might ride ahead. I like to ride, so I rented this horse at the livery stable, asked directions and sent my carriage with my luggage ahead. It should be arriving just now." replied Lucas.
"Your carriage should arriving any minute now, sir. I am so sorry, but will you excuse me. I must go back to the house to change my dress or Mama will be in a taking. My Sister Elizabeth is probably returned already. I was reading and got way too interested in Homer's words. I must go, but I will see at the house Cousin." Mary told her Cousin, as she hurried down the path that had been Mary Bennet's short cut back to the house.
Posted on Saturday, 17 July 1999
"I will continue along the drive Miss Mary Bennet and I will see you at the house after you change your dress" Lucas called back, smiling at the shared conspiracy.
Mary hurried back and as soon as she gained the house, she quickly climbed the friendly tree that was both hers and Lizzie's quick staircase to their bedchambers. As soon as she climbed in the window, she hurried to her bedchamber. She then rang for Sarah, who came to help Mary into her dress.
"Sarah, I would like to try something different with my hair today. Do not pull it back as tightly as I usually wear it. I wish my hair to look softer." said Mary, as Sarah finished fastening the tabs on her dress. Mary thought the dress really looked better after she, Lizzie and Jane had removed more than half of the ribands and lace. Mary was taking one final look in the mirror, when she heard Kitty in the hall running towards her chamber.
"Mary! Mary! Our Cousin has come. Mama says to hurry downstairs. He is just riding up the drive." Kitty called through the door.
"Riding? Did he not come in a carriage, Kitty?" asked Mary, as she opened her chamber door.
"No Mary he did not. He sent his carriage and luggage ahead of him, while he rode." replied Kitty.
"Did you see what he looks like, Kitty?" asked Mary.
"No Mary, but we must hurry so that we will all see him." replied Kitty.
Mary and Kitty hurried down the stairs and out the front door to stand with the rest of the Bennet Family, as Mr. Lucas Isaac Collins came riding up the drive on a magnificent chestnut.
"Welcome to Longbourn, Cousin." announced Daniel Bennet, as Lucas dismounted.
"Thank you Cousin Daniel. My Father and Mother send your family greetings from America. I am pleased to be here and to meet my Cousins." said Lucas, with a smile for four of his Cousins and an unnoticed by everyone except for the one intended for wink, a wink that again brought a flush to the face of Miss Mary Bennet.
The Bennet girls had stood in order by age and though it seemed as though only Mary noticed her Cousin's wink, her next older Sister saw the wink. Lizzie could not help teasing her about it. Mary only replied that she had been sitting by her tree as he came up the drive and they had spoke, and did not Lizzie think he looked splendid on Galahad, for both she and Lizzie had recognised the chestnut that Lizzie had named the day she had been in Meryton.
"Girls did you see how well your Cousin rides, he is a regular Cyclops is he not?" said Mrs. Bennet
"Mama! You mean Centaur. He has both of his eyes" said Lizzie in a shocked tone.
"You must forgive our Mama, sir. She tends to get things muddled up like that. I am Elizabeth Bennet and this is Jane, the eldest of my sisters. These are: Mary, Catherine or as she would rather be called Kitty and Lydia." said Elizabeth.
"I am pleased to meet you all." replied Lucas.
It was agreed that a bit of light refreshment would be had in the drawing room in an hour, after Lucas had had a chance to clean up after his ride to Longbourn from Meryton.
While Lucas was changing, Lizzie visited her sister Mary's room. "Mary I am truly shocked. Our Cousin winking at you, but yes he did look splendid on Galahad. You said you spoke to him?" asked Lizzie.
"Yes I did. He seems very nice for someone from America. I found a travelers journal about the place he lives, it seems a wild place, yet Lucas seems to be a gentleman." replied Mary.
"Yes he does seem to be, but we must warn him about what Mama intends after tea and sandwiches. I know that you are still having trouble with your song. I do have an idea that might help you. Why do you not let me turn your pages and while you are reading your words and playing, I will sing for you." said Lizzie
"Lizzie, that will not be honest, besides, Mama will have you go first." replied Mary, in an apprehensive tone.
"I will ask Mama to let you go first." said Lizzie, in a determined tone.
"It will still not be honest, Lizzie. He will find anyway. I do not wish to be dishonest with a member of our family, Lizzie, please, I do not think that this is a good idea. I will wear my spectacles to play, and sing as best I can." replied Mary, in a tone as determined as Lizzie's.
Posted on Wednesday, 21 July 1999
After he had bathed and changed out of his travel stained clothes, Lucas returned downstairs and entered the drawing room. He carried a small trunk with him. "Cousin Daniel, I brought gifts for you and your family." said Lucas, as he took his seat. He placed the trunk on the floor beside him and opened it. Lucas presented his Cousin Daniel with a new pipe and tobacco, which he appreciated very much. For Mrs. Bennet, he had a coverlet that his mother had woven. For the Bennet sisters he had some curious buckskin reticules and slippers, with the most intricate beadwork, that were made by the Red Indians that came to his Father's mission. Mary found that the curious slippers that she knew, from her perusal of traveler's journals from America, were referred to as moccasins. Mary, who was indifferent in her work, truly thought that the beadwork on the pair she chose was lovely, and they fit perfectly.
After having had tea and sandwiches, Mrs. Bennet decided that now was the perfect time for Lucas to know why he was really here in the drawing room. "Now that you have had a chance to refresh yourself, Cousin, you must hear your Cousins Lizzie and Mary play and sing for you. They have been practicing ever since we have known that you were to be visiting Longbourn." said Martha Bennet, in a tone that would not take no for an answer.
As Mrs. Bennet made the invitation, Lucas started to yawn. "Forgive me Cousin Martha, but I am more tired than I thought I was. I really do think I should retire for the night. Mayhap I will be less tired tomorrow and I will be able to listen to my Cousins then." said Lucas, as he rose from his chair.
Being taller than Mrs. Bennet, he looked over and smiled sympathetically at them, for Lucas had recognised a matchmaking Mama when he saw and heard one. Having come to a foreign country, he thought would have escaped from them. He may live on the frontier, but he was his Father's heir, since he had long ago decided to follow in his Father's footsteps as a minister, there were certain members of his Father's congregation who clung to the idea that everyone knows that a good minister needs a good minister's wife. Many times, he had visited the members of his congregation and had been introduced to various daughters, nieces and other young Ladies.
Lucas, being a gentleman and an older brother, was able recognise his Cousin's distress. So decided to rescue them by convincing his Cousin's Mama that he was really too tired for listening to music that evening.
"Oh Mr. Bennet! You must insist that your Cousin stay to hear Lizzie and Mary play and sing." said Mrs. Bennet in an outraged tone.
"Dearest Martha, the lad has said that he is tired and wishes to retire for the night. I myself believe that that is an extremely good idea. It has been a long day for him, Martha, my Dear. Mayhap, by tomorrow evening he will have recovered and will be in a better frame of mind to listen to Mary and Lizzie." replied Mr. Bennet.
Oh Mr. Bennet! How will your Cousin be able to appreciate Lizzie and Mary's playing if he does not stay to hear them." said Mrs. Bennet, whose tone had become more upset that her plans were being thwarted at every turn.
"Martha, my Dear, the lad will be just as able to appreciate his Cousin's accomplishments tomorrow evening as he would this evening and mayhap he will be even more able if were a bit more refreshed." said Mr. Bennet.
"Cousin Martha, I promise that I will be truly rested tomorrow night. I am sure that you would not wish for me to be rude as to fall asleep tonight while I am listening to my Cousins." said Lucas, with a wink and smile for Lizzie and Mary, who acknowledged this with returned smiles.
When the Bennet Sisters went up the stairs to their bed chambers, they met their Cousin in the hall. "Thank you for your kindness, Cousin. We were going to warn you about Mama, she does get in a mood like this when we have visitors." said Lizzie, taking the role of spokeswoman of her sisters. "Especially male visitors." Lucas thought to himself.
"I most definitely understand women like your Mama, Cousin Elizabeth. Though I live on the frontier, I have made the acquaintance of a few Mamas just like her. I am to follow in my Father's footsteps and they believe that every good minister needs a good minister's wife. I just smile and be kind to Mamas like that." replied Lucas.
The following morning, Mary was up early, so early that she thought that she had been before everyone else, but as she entered the morning room, she found her Cousin Lucas already there, eating a somewhat large breakfast of: eggs, bacon and Cooks fresh hot muffins. "Good morning Cousin. You surprised me, for I thought that I was before anyone else. Are you enjoying your breakfast?" asked Mary, as she filled her plate at the sideboard.
"Yes I am. Your Cook should be commended, especially for the muffins. They are delicious." replied Lucas. "You look as if you have been out already, have you?" asked Mary.
"Yes I have been out. There is nothing I like better than an early morning ride. Do you like to ride, Cousin Mary?" asked Lucas.
"To own the truth, I do not ride as well as my sister Jane. My sister Elizabeth rides, but she does not like to ride sidesaddle. I would like to ride better than I do, but I suppose that after all this time I would not be able to become more skillful at it." replied Mary.
"Nonsense! and I predict that you will be able to ride much better than you do now before I must return to America. I will teach you myself. I helped all three of my sisters learn to ride" replied Lucas, in a very positive tone.
"You have three sisters, what are their names?" asked Mary.
"Yes, I have three sisters. The two oldest are twins called Naomi and Ruth. I do believe that they are your age. Their birthday is April 21st and are your age. My youngest sister is Hannah Grace, she is younger than Miss Lydia." relied Lucas.
"I am three days older than Naomi and Ruth." said Mary, wondering if they might like to correspond with her, as their Father did with Papa.
Mary had just begun her breakfast, when Mr. Bennet entered the morning room, crossed to the sideboard to serve himself.
"Good morning Cousin, Mary. I see you are up early and have been for a ride as well," said Mr. Bennet.
"Yes Cousin Daniel, I have been for a ride. Your grounds are pleasant to ride around." replied Lucas. Mr. Bennet had just seated himself, when the rest of the Family entered the morning room and began their breakfasts. Kitty and Lydia were laughing and giggling about the walk they would take with their Mama into Meryton to pay a call on their Aunt Phillips. Perhaps they would visit the shops and Mama would but them new bonnets or gloves.
Jane was planning to help Sarah, Hill and Cook in the stillroom. Elizabeth was going to pay a call at Lucas Lodge to see her friend Charlotte and then she would go for her usual long walk, but Mary was as yet undecided, undecided until Lucas asked if she would like to visit the stables. He wished to check his horse. He noticed that the chestnut had appeared to pick up a stone and he wished check himself. Then Mary could show him about the grounds of Longbourn.
"You take care of your own horses?" asked Mary, in a curious tone.
"Yes I do. Living on the frontier has taught me that there are many things that you must do for yourself." replied Lucas.
"I will accompany you Cousin". replied Mary. "He must love and care for all animals." Mary thought to herself, as she finished her breakfast. "If you will just excuse me Cousin, while I go fetch my bonnet and pelisse, I will join you." said Mary, as she and Lucas rose from the table and left the morning room.
"I will join you as far as the stables, Cousin. I recognised the horse you have leased from Mr. Warren at The Rose and Crown." said Elizabeth.
The three cousins soon were ready to leave the house. They walked out to the stableyard, entered the stable and soon came to his horse's stall. "Hallo Galahad." said Elizabeth, as she reached up to pat the big chestnut.
"Galahad is his name?" asked Lucas.
"Yes, I named him myself, for I have known him since the day he was foaled, at least I was in Meryton that day." replied Elizabeth, with a smile.
Elizabeth turned to take her leave of her sister and cousin, after promising to tell Charlotte that Mary said hello.
After Elizabeth had left, Lucas entered the stall, where Elijah; Longbourn's stable boy, just finished giving the chestnut some grass. Lucas smiled at the boy.
"I would like to check his right front hoof, it appears that he picked up a stone during my ride this morning and I would like to remove it." said Lucas, as Elijah went into the tack room to fetch the stone removing implement. Elijah soon returned to the stall and gave Lucas the tool and Lucas began to remove the stone. While he worked, a violin could be heard being played nearby. The tune was a very jaunty dance tune that Lucas recognised immediately and began to hum along, while he worked. When he finished, he put the chestnut's leg down and brushed off the front of his coat.
Forgive the interruption, but I would like to identify the above tune being played and the tune that will be played very soon. First of all, they are both dance tunes from either England, Scotland or Ireland, that were imported to America. I do not know if they titles would have been the same by now, but the American titles are "Soldier's Joy" and "Devil's Dream". These tunes were used in the soundtrack of "Liberty: The American Revolution", a PBS mini-series. Thanks lots, Your Gentle Author.
"Who is that playing, Cousin?" Lucas asked Mary.
"Why that is Ben, our stableman." replied Mary.
"I play the violin myself, but I do have a more portable means of making music if you do not mind Cousin Mary." said Lucas, as he took his harmonica from his coat pocket. Mary nodded and Lucas brought his harmonica to his mouth and began to play. Mary noticed that he was playing the exact same tune that Ben played. When her cousin finished playing, Mary applauded him. As Mary was applauding her cousin, Ben came to the stall, carrying his violin and bow.
"Good mornin' Miss Mary." said Ben.
"Good morning Ben. This is our Cousin Lucas, who is visiting from America." replied Mary.
"You was the young man that rode in last evenin'? You took good care of this fellow. Was that ye playin' along wi' me?" asked Ben.
"Yes sir. You played well yourself. I recognised the tune you were playing. "Soldier's Joy" is a particular favorite of mine. Might I see your fiddle, sir. I happen to be accounted to play very well." said Lucas.
"Yes you may, young man." replied Ben, as he gave his violin to Lucas. Lucas carefully tucked the instrument under his chin, checked the tuning and began another jaunty tune. Mary could not resist the tune's rhythm and began to tap her foot to the tune.
"Oh! please do not stop. I loved that. What was that called? I sometimes play dance music on the pianoforte, but I do not recognise that." said Mary, in an excited, but curious tone.
"It is called "Devil's Dream". That is another favorite of mine." replied Lucas.
"Lucas, you play wonderfully. Maybe you can rescue my Sister and I from a truly embarrassing situation tonight, by playing for us, instead of our playing for you. Do you play at home?" asked Mary.
Posted on Saturday, 24 July 1999
"Yes I do, as does my brother Daniel and all three of my sisters. Dan plays the guitar, as does Naomi, her twin Ruth plays the spinet, while our youngest sister Hannah Grace is learning to play the spinet and the recorder. ( P.S.I also play the recorder. Y.G.A.) My family likes music. Do you like music, Cousin Mary?" asked Lucas.
"I like to play music, but I do not like to play for some guests as Mama wishes." replied Mary.
Mary spent the rest of the morning showing her cousin about the grounds of Longbourn. As she did this, Mary asked many questions about Lucas' home in America and life at the mission.
"It is a very different life than you have here, but I enjoy where I live. When I return to America, I will be going to Harvard College and I will be living with my Grandfather and Grandmother Lawrence. I will be studying theology and such, for as you know I am going to take over for my Father when he is ready to retire." said Lucas.
"I have heard and read of some of the places you have seen and wish I could see them myself. The way you described places like Niagara Falls and The Allegheny Mountains, takes me right there without even sailing to America to see them first hand. Thank you for telling me about your home in America, Cousin Lucas." said Mary, as they returned to the house to change for dinner.
Dinner was, as dinners went at Longbourn, a somewhat noisy affair. Those most contributing to this, were Kitty and Lydia, who had so much to say about their visit in Meryton, what their Aunt Phillips had to say about this and what she had to say about that.
".......and mostly my new bonnet is quite the prettiest. It much prettier that yours Kitty, prettier than Maria Lucas' new bonnet, the one her Papa bought for her in London." said Lydia.
"No! my new bonnet is the prettiest. It is prettier than yours and I have new gloves to match so there." exclaimed Kitty in an outraged tone.
"You must forgive your cousins, Lucas, for I believe they show every sign of becoming two of the most silliest girls in all of England. Surely your sisters behaviour is much more subdued." Mr. Bennet told Lucas, who smiled to himself.
The Family soon finished dinner and the ladies left the men to their port and talk. In half an hour, the men joined the ladies in the drawing room.
"Cousin Lucas, you must have a chance to listen to your cousins play and sing for you. Miss Lizzie, you must go first." said Martha Bennet. Lucas smiled an understanding smile at Elizabeth, as she rose from her chair, crossed the room to the pianoforte. She took her seat on the bench, looked through the music 'til she found her song and began:
"I know that my Redeemer liveth. And that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth," sang Lizzie, as Mr. Handel's beautiful melody filled the drawing room. As usual, as Mr. Wilford said, she brought silence to a room and tears to the eyes to anyone who had the good fortune to hear Lizzie's voice.
"Very nice Miss Lizzie, now you must let your cousin hear your sister." Mrs. Bennet told her second daughter. Mary was a little more hesitant about going to the pianoforte. "Make haste Mary! Make haste! Your cousin is waiting to hear you. Hurry girl!" Martha told her third daughter in a sharp tone. Mary soon found herself at the pianoforte, and sitting down, she found her piece and began to play and sing. Mary really tried her best.
"Rejoice! rejoice! rejoice greatly! rejoice oh Daughter of Zion" Mary sang, but unfortunately, the song was just not meant for an alto and Misses Kitty and Lydia began to giggle, which maid Mary nervous and made it difficult to concentrate on her music. After the fourth try, she brought both her hands down on the keyboard with a crash, rose from the bench and ran from the room. At which point, Lucas rose from his chair also, left the drawing room without excusing himself and soon found Mary lying face down on the sofa in her Papa's library, dissolved in tears.
Lucas stood in the doorway of the library, rooted to the spot, a gentleman confronted with that most troubling sight; a woman in tears, but being a big brother and having faced this situation before, he was ready with a large handkerchief. This he gave to Mary, who quickly dried her eyes. Eyes, that Lucas had noticed were a silver grey.
"Thank you Cousin." said Mary, with a quiet sob. "Now, now Cousin Mary, what was that all about?" asked Lucas, in a quiet tone.
"It is Mama. She made me sing that song. I told her and told her that it was just not right for my voice. I cannot sing as high and as beautifully as Lizzie, but Mama says that gentlemen only like to listen to high voices." Mary quietly sobbed out.
"I do not know if I am a gentleman, but I would like to think that I am and I am accounted as such at home in America. I know that I have not lived all that long in the world, being that I am only seventeen, but I like sopranos and altos both. My sister Naomi is a soprano and her twin: Ruth is an alto. They like to sing duets. Did not your Mama think to have you and Lizzie sing a duet, but no that was not her intention was it?" asked Lucas.
"No it was not her intention. I am so sorry." replied Mary in a quiet voice.
"Do not be Mary. I myself like to sing duets. Besides being accounted a fine violinist, I am also accounted to have a fine tenor. Perhaps our voices will blend well together. Would you like to try a duet, Mary?" asked Lucas.
"I would like to try a duet with you, Lucas, but what should we sing?" asked Mary.
"What is your favorite hymn from Church?" asked Lucas. "Old Hundredth" replied Mary.
"Let us try then." said Lucas. They soon began the fine old melody:
"All people that on Earth do dwell, Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell, Come ye before him and rejoice."
"See I told you we could sing a duet well. Now I do not want to see another sad face, Cousin. Now let us go back to the drawing room, but before we go back, Cousin, after changing for dinner, I brought my violin downstairs. It is in the drawing room. Would you like to accompany me, while I play?" asked Lucas, smiling at his cousin.
Posted on Thursday, 29 July 1999
"Yes I would like that Cousin." replied Mary, happily, as they returned to the drawing room. As they reentered the room and crossed to the pianoforte, Mrs. Bennet began to berate her third daughter for her behaviour. At this Lucas winked at Mary, as she again took her place on the bench.
"My Cousin was just a bit nervous, but is now recovered." said Lucas, as he took his violin case from the table where he had placed it before dinner. He opened the case, took out the bow, rosined it up, then he took out the violin and began to tune it. When he finished tuning his violin, Lucas walked over to the pianoforte.
"What shall I play?" asked Mary, in a whisper. "Do you know "Money Musk"?" asked Lucas, just as quietly.
"I believe I do and I must say that I would rather play that than always playing "Grimstock" for my youngest sister." replied Mary in a firm tone.
"Cousin Daniel, as you can see, my cousins are not the only talented members of our family. I am accounted quite good on the violin and thought that I might play some dances with my cousin accompanying me." said Lucas, as he gave a sign to Mary to begin playing. The bow of Lucas' violin began to fly over the strings, as Mary's fingers flew over the keyboard, as the jaunty melody filled the drawing room. Kitty and Lydia were the first to get up and dance, but the rhythm of the tune was so infectious that all in the room began to tap their feet, even Hill and Sarah, who were just carrying tea and coffee into the drawing room, could not help smiling. This young man from the Colonies was a gentleman through and through, despite, as they had heard, the fact that he lived on what was referred to as the frontier, where all the Red Indians lived.
"Mary! Mary! Does he know "Grimstock?" asked an extremely out of breath Lydia.
"Not "Grimstock" again. I want "Mr. Beveridge's Maggot". Please Mary." whined and begged Kitty.
"Why pay both" suggested Lucas, sensibly.
"Because I asked first." replied Lydia, in a petulant tone. Mary and Lucas played both tunes, but soon they had to stop to have some tea and biscuits.
After having sufficiently refreshed themselves, Mary returned to the pianoforte and sat down again. Lucas soon rejoined her.
"Cousin, do you think you could play the tunes you played at the stables on Ben's violin? I would like to see if I can accompany you?" asked Mary. "I will play the tunes, if you accompany me Cousin." replied Lucas, as they began to play again. The rhythm of the tunes, once more had all who were listening tapping their toes and once again Miss Lydia and Miss Kitty stood up to dance.
"Oh Mr. Bennet, I do believe that I am growing so tired. I believe that I will retire." said Mrs. Bennet with a large yawn. The rest of the family followed suit and as the sisters were walking up the stairs to their bedchambers, Mary smiled at her cousin and thanked him for his kindness.
"I practice at nine of the clock of a morning, perhaps when you are through with your ride, I would not be averse to your joining me, Lucas." said Mary.
"I would be glad to join you, while you practice." replied Lucas, as he turned down the hall to his chamber. Mary smiled to herself, as she opened the door to her bedchamber.
The following interlude between Lizzie and Jane was originally dedicated to Hilary, who has a story entitled "The Dark Haired Girl" over at BoI and it was my inspiration
Lizzie finished readying herself for bed and was sitting at her dressing table, brushing her long chestnut brown hair, when a gentle scratching was heard at the door. "Come in Jane." called Lizzie, as her oldest sister entered her bedchamber.
"Lizzie, what do you think of our cousin? He has been so kind to you and Mary. He seems to understand about Mama." said Jane.
"He has been kind, though I do think it is Mary that he has been most kind to. He does play well. His family must play music for entertainment at the mission." replied Lizzie.
"Lizzie, how were Charlotte Lucas and her family, today?" asked Jane.
"They were well, Jane. I enjoyed my visit there. Jane, the most unusual occurrence happened as I was returning from Lucas Lodge, as I always like to take the long way near Oakham Mount; I was just coming over a rise, when a young man on horseback passed me by. He was a stranger, for it was not our Cousin, for he was riding the most magnificent black I have ever seen. The young man stopped as he passed me and stared at me as if he knew me. He was tall and had curly dark hair. His expression was so serious. It appeared as if he was going to say something, I could not help it Jane, I felt one eyebrow lift in enquiry, then that frightful man dismissed me and I was angry, but as I walked along, I thought about it and started to laugh out loud. Jane, that frightful man had the audacity to follow me all the way home. He stopped just outside the gates, as if he escorted me there, what could he mean by it, I ask you." said Lizzie, in an entirely whimsical tone.
Posted on Wednesday, 11 August 1999
The following morning, just as he had promised, after he had been for his ride and had had breakfast, Lucas joined Mary in the drawing room, to practice with her. Mary had just begun to warm up: "Behold, A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel; God with us."
"That was a good beginning, Cousin Mary. Do you know the next part?" asked Lucas.
"I do." replied Mary, as she began: "Oh thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountains....." Mary sang, in a very joyful tone. Lucas applauded, when she had finished and Mary smiled back at him. "There is a very good duet for tenor and alto in this work. I know the alto part, but I do not have a tenor to sing it with and to own the truth, there are not many good tenors here for me to sing it with." said Mary, as she turned the pages in the score to the very duet and began the recitative that came before: "Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallow'd up in victory." When she had finished this, Mary went right into the alto line: "O death, O death, where is thy sting? O death, where is thy sting?" and then Lucas added the tenor line:
"O grave, where is thy victory?, where is thy victory?....." When they had finished, Jane who had just come downstairs after assisting Hill and Sarah, inventorying linen, stood in the doorway and applauded.
"Thank you, Sister." said Mary.
"Mary, Mama told me to remind you that nuncheon will be ready soon." said Jane, as she left the drawing room.
"Thank you." replied both Lucas and Mary, as they returned to their practicing.
"Cousin, could you possibly play "Devil's Dream" once more, I do not think I did it justice last night. I do like that tune, I must confess and I wish to play it properly for dances." asked Mary.
"Of course, Cousin. It would be my pleasure." replied Lucas, as he picked up his violin and bow to begin. Lucas was just about to draw the bow across the strings, when Sarah came into the drawing room somewhat hurriedly.
Author's Note: Before I go on I thought I would take this opportunity to inform my gentle readers that I have based Lucas on a real person. This person is one of my favorite non-classical violinists. His name is Mark O'Connor and if would like to see what he looks like here is his web site: www.markoconnor.com
"What is it Sarah?" asked Mary, concernedly. "Oh Miss! Cook says as to tell you that the kittens is comin' as you wanted to be told and that you must come to the kitchen quick like." replied Sarah, excitedly.
"Lucas, will you please excuse me, for Dame Tabitha; our kitchen cat is having her kittens. This is her first time and Cook is so worried. I asked to be there when she starts to have them." said Mary, as she rose from the bench by the pianoforte.
"Of course Cousin. I do not wish to interfere, but I do know from experience, with cats and dogs, when they are having their babies they do not want much fussing, but if this is her first litter, I would think that someone should be there to watch to see if she is having problems. I have helped my hound bitch Jezabel with two of her litters," replied Lucas, as placed his violin down on the table by the pianoforte. The two young people left the drawing room and hurried to the kitchen, where they found Cook standing by the stillroom door.
"Dame Tabitha's bed is in here Lucas." said Mary, as she entered the stillroom.
After entering the stillroom, Mary and Lucas could hear Dame Tabitha meowing loudly, as if she were in great distress. "Is she all right, Lucas?" asked Mary, the concern in her tone making her voice go up in pitch.
"I think so. While I am more familiar with whelpings, I do believe there are some similarities with kittens." replied Lucas.
Posted on Thursday, 12 August 1999
As Dame Tabitha labored, Mary at first agreed with Lucas that she was doing fine, but after sometime it began to appear that she was truly in distress.
"Lucas, is there something you can do to help my cat?" asked Mary, as tears began to fill her eyes.
"Do not cry Mary, I will help her," replied Lucas, as he gently felt the cat's belly. "I do believe this first one is turned wrong, but I can turn it back. I have done this before with two of Jezabel's puppies. I know that she is much smaller, but what I need to do is the same. Mary, Dame Tabitha has been trying very hard with this first kitten and there is a chance it may be dead, but I will try hard to help this kitten to be born, so the others will be born safe." said Lucas, as began the delicate process of turning the kitten around.
It did not take long, though and the first kitten was born alive, safe and sound. Very soon four more kittens soon joined their brother, as the very first kitten, the one Lucas had saved had been a male. Altogether there were three males and two females. The females were grey tabbies like their mother, one male also looked like his mother and the other two males were tortoise shell like their father; Thomas.
When it was ascertained that both the kittens and their Mama were safe and would survive, Mary, without thinking, hugged her cousin tightly and kissed him on the cheek. As she realised the impropriety of what she had just done, she pulled away from him and covered her blushing face with her hands and lowered her head. When a sense of equanimity was regained between both cousins, Mary lifted her head.
"Forgive me, Cousin Lucas, I did not mean to do that, but I was so worried about Dame Tabitha. You probably guessed that though she catches all the rats and mice here in the kitchens, she is truly mine. I raised Dame Tabitha from a kitten, because her Mama was killed by weasels. She was the only kitten from the litter that survived. I was so afraid she would die." said Mary, in an embarrassed tone.
"Cousin Mary, it was the least I could do. I could see that you loved her very much and how worried you were about her. She is one of God's creatures and therefore we must be kind to them. I would not have let anything happen to her." replied Lucas.
"But I behaved improperly and kissed you." said Mary.
"Mary I will not say word about that. You were worried about your pet and knowing that she and the kittens were safe, you were just relieved to know it. Besides, for a first kiss given it was not so terrible, not that I am experience such things." replied Lucas, in a light tone and a winking smile for Mary, a smile that brought a smile to her lips.
Posted on Saturday, 21 August 1999
The weeks went by and the kittens grew and were healthy. True, there had been some concern about the smallest of the kittens, as his Mama was not always able to feed him, so his brothers and sisters were pushing him out of the way. Seeing this, and remembering the runts of two of Jezabel's litters, he helped Mary feed him. The kittens eyes soon opened and were beginning to scamper about and explore outside of the stillroom. So Mary and Lucas began to take them out of doors while they were walking about the grounds.
One fine morning, Lucas having just changed his clothes after his ride, found his cousin sitting by the exact same tree where they had met when he had first arrived. Lucas knew that he would often find Mary sitting under this tree, usually reading. This morning, she seemed to be intently watching.
"What are you studying so intently, Cousin?" asked Lucas. Putting a finger to her lips, Mary replied in quiet tone. "I am studying the kittens in order to ascertain something of their character, for I do not wish give a kitten the wrong name. That would be a disaster. As you know, I am very good at naming things and I do not wish to disappoint."
Lucas laughed at this good naturedly. "You could never disappoint, Cousin Mary. No, do not bring up your Mama again. You know what she is about, so you must do all you can to rise above her. Mary, you know that she wants the best for you and your sisters, but you also know there are betters ways to go about it then your Mama's. Sometimes it unfortunately takes a war to change things."
"You mean like England's war with America?" asked Mary.
"Something like that." replied Lucas
"I love Mama, truly I do, but she just does not understand how we feel when she gives us her advice on how to find husbands. I truly believe that somewhere is the one person God intended for my husband. I do not want a rich husband to please Mama, I just want one with common sense and is kind." replied Mary, as the kittens came crawling over to her.
"A gentleman with common sense, have you not found such here in England, Cousin?" asked Lucas.
Posted on Wednesday, 25 August 1999
"No I have not. When my sisters and me go to the Assemblies in Meryton, Mama and Aunt Phillips try to introduce me to gentlemen who they think I would like to dance with, but they turn to be so silly. When I try to converse to converse with them, they either act as though I am to stupid to understand things like politics or reform, or they do not understand or are not interested in them. Then I surely do not wish a man who is unkind to anyone or anything. I know that you are kind and I can converse with you about anything. When I go the Assemblies and the gentleman with whom I am dancing is just too silly, I pretend to stumble so that we must stop dancing and then I say that I am not dancing for the rest of the night. Then Mama scolds me. People think that I am just not interested in dancing or social things. I am interested in dancing or conversing with a gentleman as long as he is someone with common sense and not silly, well not too silly. You are not silly, Lucas. I do not know why it is, but I feel that I am able to converse with you, I wonder why that is." replied Mary, half to herself.
"I will tell you cousin, it is because we many things in common, but enough of that, Cousin. Have you thought of any names for the kittens yet?" asked Lucas.
"Yes I have, Lucas. I think that the female with the white spot on her forehead should be named for Queen Charlotte and the larger male be named for His Majesty." replied Mary.
"Those are good names and to be fair the other couple should be named after the Washingtons, that way both our countries are honored. What about the poor odd kitten out? What shall we name him? He does like to hide behind things and then pounce on or another of his brothers and sisters without warning. One of the American generals from our war, it was part of his strategy to do that." said Lucas.
"Do you refer to General Francis Marion, Lucas? While I know that ladies are not supposed to know about battles and things, I heard about such from my Grandfather Gardiner when I was a child." said Mary.
"Yes, I was referring to "The Swamp Fox" as he was called, though we should call the odd kitten Lord Cornwallis, Mary. It is just not fair that there were only five kittens and there were only three males." replied Lucas.
"I do not know for sure, Lucas. He does not seem to be a Cornwallis to me. I like the name you suggested. He does seem to enjoy pouncing out from behind things on his brothers and sisters. He has also been trying to climb trees. I hope that he does not try to climb my tree, for it is a very difficult tree to climb." replied Mary.
"Then we are agreed, the odd kitten will be Marion. I believe that it is time to return to the house, so that you may change into your riding habit. I promised to help you ride better, Mary. I will keep that promise." said Lucas, as he rose to his feet.
Mary rose, brushed off her dress and the two cousins walked back towards the house. Mary reentered and hurried up to her bed chamber to change into her riding habit. She had begun to enjoy the lessons that Lucas gave her. Lucas said that she was doing well. Mary knew that she would never ride as well as her sister Jane, but she knew that she would be able to ride with her cousin and not disgrace herself by falling, or any such thing. She was doing well and would do even better today. Little did she realise though that fate had other plans for her riding lesson that day.
Posted on Thursday, 26 August 1999
Mary quickly changed into her riding habit and returned to the stables for her riding lesson. Mary enjoyed her cousin's lessons, for he never made her feel nervous or rushed her. For some reason it was easy to learn things from Lucas. When Mary entered the stable, Lucas had Ladybelle; the Bennet sisters' horse saddled and ready for her lesson. Mary had just mounted, when something caused Ladybelle to start and she ran off with the girl. Mary tried not to scream, as the horse ran, but it could not be helped. Lucas quickly mounted Galahad and was soon after Mary and Ladybelle.
"Go Galahad. We must catch up with Ladybelle." said Lucas, as he spurred the big chestnut. Lucas rode hard and soon he was nose to nose with the grey. Lucas reached over, snatched the reins and soon brought Ladybelle to a stop in slow stages. When Ladybelle was fully stopped, Lucas jumped down and helped Mary down from Ladybelle. Without thinking, Lucas held his cousin tight and very gently kissed her over and over telling her that she was safe. When Lucas realised what he was doing, he abruptly stopped and stepped back to let something like equanimity return to the situation. "Are you all right Mary? Ladybelle ran away with you so fast." asked Lucas.
"I am fine Cousin. Oh Lucas! I am so embarrassed. I know it was my fault. I mounted perfectly and was just ready to start off, then Ladybelle ran. I know I did something stupid." replied Mary, in a sobbing voice.
"No Mary it was not your fault. Look here, a big fly bit her leg and it startled her, that is what made her run away with you. Do not worry Cousin Mary, why do we not ride back to the stables, no I will not take no for an answer. It is good to get back on after something like this happens so you will not lose your nerve. I have had to rescue my sisters like this before. Yes, why do we not return, for I believe we have had enough excitement for today." replied Lucas.
From Lucas Isaac Collins to Naomi and Ruth Collins 12,June 1807
My Dear Sisters,
As I promised, I am writing home to tell you of our Bennet Cousins. As you know there are five girls in the family. I wonder just what Miss Ann Jackson and Miss Molly Donahue's mother will have to say to that. Jane; the eldest is a blonde angel, by that I mean angelic in looks and behavior. Miss Bennet is my age. Elizabeth; our Mother's goddaughter puts me in mind of Temperance Starbuck, independent in behavior, thought and just as plain spoken. Lizzie, as she is known in the family, is quite the hoyden. She loves to take long walks by herself, just as Tempe does and we know how much a hoyden Tempe is for all her bonnets and Quaker grey. Mary; the third girl, who is your age, is somewhat like me, in some ways. She likes to take long walks just as her next older sister, but she sometimes brings a book or two along with her and she finds a nice comfortable spot under a tree and reads, just the way I do. I do not wish to alarm you, but their Mother, Our Cousin Daniel's wife is trying to make a match between myself and either Elizabeth or Mary.
I truly thought that I would not run into any mothers like Ann Jackson's and Molly Donahue's, though I still wonder about Molly's. What would her Uncle; the good Father O'Brien say about his sister's machinations? Yet I suppose the idea that "everyone knows that a good minister needs a good minister's wife" is universal. I am wondering what it will be like when I return to America, to live with Grandfather Lawrence in Boston, while I am at Harvard, but enough of that. I find that I truly enjoy my Cousin Mary's company. Since she is in the middle, I think that she needs a little confidence and some friends. Maybe the two of you might write letters to her and Father could send them along with the letters to Cousin Daniel. Mary Likes music, reading travelers journals and her pet cat; Dame Tabitha, who has recently given birth to a litter of kittens, that are the worry of Mary's life at this moment. We have been caring for the smallest kitten right now.
I have been helping Mary with her riding. We either meet under her special tree on nice days, or in the library on the not so nice days to read and discuss what we have read. We practice together in the morning. She plays the pianoforte and sings alto. Lizzie also plays the pianoforte and sings soprano. We play together after supper of an evening. Then Mary's youngest sisters like to dance, which brings me to the subject of the Misses Catherine, or as she would rather be referred to; Kitty and Lydia.
There is one year and eleven days between them. Mary informs me that Lydia was born a month early and her Mother coddled her, yet for some reason she did not send Cousin Catherine to "a good woman in the village" as is the custom here. It is most amusing to watch them share secrets one minute and then turn around and start arguing the next. I hate to say this but, Miss Lydia is extremely spoiled and is her "Mama's Darling Own". Miss Kitty tends to follow her youngest sister about and tends to do as Miss Lydia does. I do think it is amusing that younger sister is the one who sets the example, instead of the other way around. It would be fine if the example was a good one, but unfortunately, it is not a very good example that Our Youngest Cousin sets for her next oldest sister. I predict that Miss Lydia will come to grief if she continues along the path she is walking on, but I am not here to tell my Cousins how to raise their family. There is to be an Assembly in the town of Meryton in four weeks and I suppose that I shall be playing escort to my Cousins. I do look forward to standing up with at least two of my Cousins. I fancy myself that I will not be too silly a partner for Our Cousin Mary. She tells me that she wishes for a man with common sense and she has not found such a man at the Assemblies here. Until I write again, I fondly remain.
Your loving brother,
Lucas Isaac Collins
From the journal of Mary Athena Bennet
Today my Cousin Lucas Collins arrived at Longbourn. I was sitting by my favorite tree reading Father's copy of "The Odyssey". He came riding up the drive. He decided to ride from town and send his bags ahead of him. My Cousin rides well. I do not know how he did it, but he convinced Mr. Warren at The Rose and Crown to let him hire his best horse; Galahad. This is what Lucas looks like. My Cousin is tall, but I would not refer to him as thin, he has long reddish brown hair that he ties back neatly. He was wearing an odd kind of coat, that he later told me was made of buckskin. He also told me that it was made for him by the mother of one of his friends, a red Indian.
Posted on Saturday, 28 August 1999
My Cousin smiled at me as he came even with my tree. We spoke briefly, but I needed to return to the house to change my dress. When Lucas arrived at the house he winked at me. Sister E, quizzed me about that. I believe that my Cousin Lucas is very nice.(Will write more later.)
From the journal of Mary Athena Bennet
A most odd thing happened last night, my Cousin Lucas saved me from being embarrassed by Mama. Mama wished me to sing "Rejoice! rejoice! oh Daughter of Zion" from Mr. Handel's beautiful work "Messiah" and Lizzie and I told her and told her that it was wrong for my voice. Mama does not truly understand what gentlemen truly likes in Ladies they wish to court. Mama said that gentlemen only like sopranos, Lucas is very much a gentleman and he likes altos. Lucas is a wonderful tenor, we tried to sing a duet and our voices blended well together. Besides having a lovely tenor voice, Lucas plays the violin and something he calls a harmonica.
When I regained my composure, after my sisters K&L laughed and made me nervous, Lucas and I returned to the drawing room and we played some dances. Sisters K&L stood up to dance. Lucas and I practiced this morning, but we were interrupted, my cat Dame Tabitha gave birth to her kittens, Lucas saved Tabby's life and one of the kittens life. One of the kittens was turned wrong and Lucas turned him back. Tabby had five kittens, two females and three males. I was so frightened for Tabby, that after it was all over and Lucas was sure that Tabby and her kittens were safe, I was so relieved that I behaved improperly and hugged and kissed Lucas. He said that he did not mind.(Will write more .)
Posted on Saturday, 28 August 1999
From the journal of Mary Athena Bennet
It has been some weeks since I last written. Lucas and I have been taking care of the smallest kitten. His brothers and sisters have been pushing him out of the way. Today, I was sitting by my tree watching the kittens play, I did so to ascertain their characters so that I might give them just the perfect names. Lucas came and sat with me and we spoke of kitten's names, wars, Mama, what I would wish for and what I would not wish for in a husband.
Then we returned to the house so might ready myself for my riding lesson. Lucas has been giving me lessons so that I may ride better. I do not fancy that I will ever ride as well as my Sister J, but Lucas informs me that I am doing very well. Today, I had a bit of a scare though. A fly stung Ladybelle on the leg and she ran away with me. Lucas rode after me on Galahad and stopped Ladybelle. He was wonderful. After he stopped Ladybelle, Lucas helped me down. I must admit that I was slightly shocked by what happened next, for Cousin Lucas behaved slightly improper when he held me close and kissed me over and over. I must own the truth that I was terrified at being runaway with. I found that being held by My Cousin was strangely calming. I think I was somewhat improper also, for instead of scolding Lucas for his behaviour, I welcomed it, yet for the oddest reason I did not feel ashamed at My Cousin's kisses.
Since then, my riding lessons have been going well and since turn about is fair play, My Sisters and I have been teaching Lucas all the latest dances, so that he may acquit himself well at the Assembly in Meryton. Lucas has promised that he will stand up with me and assures me that he is not in the least silly. There is one young man whom I hope will not ask me to stand up with him. His name is Mortimer Quigley-Smith, he is a junior clerk in my Uncle Phillips office. I do not like him in the least. Mama and Aunt Phillips always try to have me dance with him, but there is just something that makes me feel uncomfortable whenever I am in his society. After we have danced, even though he has worn gloves, I still feel dirty where he has touched me. (Will write again soon)
Posted on Saturday, 11 September 1999
The evening of the Meryton Assembly was clear and moonlit. The Bennets' carriage soon pulled up in front of the brightly lit Assembly Rooms. When the carriage stopped, Lucas jumped down from the box, let down the steps and helped his cousins out. He then assisted Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their party soon entered the Rooms. A stop was first made at the cloak room and then the Bennets and Lucas came to the entrance to the ballroom, here, Mr. Bennet made a sharp right turn in the direction of the card room.
"Oh Mr. Bennet, must you always vex me by leaving me for the card room as soon as we arrive for a ball." Mrs. Bennet could be heard to loudly complain.
"Martha, my Dear, you know that I am not one for balls and such silliness. You go along with Lucas and the girls and I will join you when the ball is over, or Lydia and Kitty have started another fight between the officers." replied Mr. Bennet, in a weary tone, as if this dialogue was something of a ritual between Mr. and Mrs. Bennet.
The Bennet girls were dressed in their finest and favorite dresses. Jane was an angel in a white muslin gown, trimmed in lace. Lizzie wore cream colored muslin trimmed with gold ribands. Mary wore a dusky rose muslin just trimmed around the neck with lace. Kitty and Lydia both wore similar white muslin dresses, save that Kitty's sash was pink and Lydia's sash was blue. All the Bennet sisters, with the possible exception of Miss Lydia thought that their Cousin from America looked handsome, and one of those said Sisters thought him more handsome than many of the young men of Meryton.
Mary Bennet, her Sisters, her Mama and her Cousin made their way through the crowded ballroom. Mrs. Bennet began to remonstrate with her daughters on what she believed to be the proper way to solicit a young man's hand for a dance. The Assembly opened with a minuet and Lucas knowing what duty expected of him, asked a very surprised Mrs. Bennet to dance it with him. Lucas Isaac Collins was of the belief that it was the only way to let his Cousins get partners for the dance on their own.
A.N.: Before I go on I have discovered that Mrs. Bennet's sister, the girls Aunt Phillips Christian name is Matilda, Mr. Phillips refers to her as Maud. Mr. Phillips' Christian name is Amos. Thanks lots, YGA
After the opening minuet, Mrs. Bennet joined her sister Mrs. Phillips, Mrs. Phyllidia Long and Lady Lucas who were sitting to one side of the room. Ever since the receipt of the news, from Mrs. Daniel Bennet and Mrs. Amos Phillips, that Mr. Daniel Bennet's cousin in America's eldest son would be visiting Longbourn, the Ladies of Meryton had evinced a desire to see this young man. Oh yes, there had been glimpses of him at church, remarkably, standing next to Miss Mary Bennet, and was it not Miss Mary Bennet, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, their Cousin, Mr. Lucas Collins, Mr. Gareth Jones, that sang "Tallis' Canon" so nicely at Vespers on Sunday last, and was not Mary Bennet seen smiling at her cousin from America, her that was headed for old-maidhood? It was a very curious thing.
Posted on Tuesday, 14 September 1999
After the opening minuet came a set of country dances which Lucas danced with Jane. Following these, was a reel, knowing how much his cousin Elizabeth loved the reel, Lucas chose to dance it with her. Lucas had an interesting conversation with Lizzie about what he thought of England so far as compared to his home on the frontier of America. Then came another set of country dances, which Lucas danced with Mary. They spoke of kittens, the music and the latest book that they had been reading together.
As Lucas and Mary danced, because it was such a singular occurrence to see, all eyes were upon them. Unfortunately, one set of eyes looked upon them with definite mischief in mind. Mr. Mortimer Quigley-Smith and his two particular friends; Mr Parsifal Jones and Mr. Basil Wilton were just entering the ballroom.
"I would never have thought to see this, Mary Bennet dancing with someone. What say you to this, Quigley-Smith?" asked Mr. Parsifal Jones.
"That is her stupid Colonial cousin, Jones. He is obligated to dance with her. He is a guest at Longbourn and so he is a guest here. He is obliged to dance with all five of the Bennet girls. He does not even know what a little prude Mary Bennet is, my friend, but enough of that. Remember our little wager, ten pounds to the first of the three of us who walks out to the dance floor with that bluestocking antidote and then remembers that you had given your dance to someone else. Mary Bennet deserves to be humiliated for the last time we were to have stood up together. Telling me that her foot hurt and would not be standing up for the rest of the night, when I am the only one who obliges her Mama and asks that antidote to stand up with me. Her Mama was in her rights to scold her that night, I heard that she was sentenced to a week in her room, with nothing to eat but bread and water." replied Mr. Quigley-Smith. The three not-so gentlemanly gentlemen made their way fully into the ballroom and separating, they each began to make their own circuit of the ballroom, each looking for a likely miss to ask to dance, to put the nefarious plot of Mr. Mortimer Quigley Smith into action.
As the ball progressed, Lucas danced a jig with Kitty, this was a bit more difficult, as Kitty could not converse as well as her sisters. During the next set of country dances, which he danced with Lydia, he did not even try to converse her, he just let her chatter on about all the nice officers that stood in the corner, ready to do her least bidding. Lucas wondered, if this was what his cousin Lydia was like at eleven years, what would she be like in another four to six.
The nefarious plot to humiliate Miss Mary Bennet instigated by Mr. Mortimer Quigley-Smith would have worked, if the villain himself had not been in a boastful mood that evening. Unfortunately, Mr. Quigley-Smith did his boasting within earshot of two people, in fact they were the last two people who should have heard his boasting. Mr. Quigley-Smith was boasting at the refreshment table, just as Lucas led Mary to the table for well needed cups of punch. Lucas heard Mr. Quigley-Smith's boasting and Mary was about to take flight, Jane and Lizzie came up behind them and Lucas put Mary into her sisters' capable hands.
Lucas, having heard a little something of Mr. Quigley-Smith's odiousness from the three elder of his cousins, and he had seen and heard of this first hand, it caused the most natural reaction in a gentleman like himself. He spoke in a most dangerously calm tone: "Excuse me, I do think that you have something to say to my Cousin, Mr. Quigley-Smith."
"I do not have anything to say to a bluestocking antidote." replied Mr. Mortimer Quigley-Smith, in an obnoxiously smirking tone.
"I said I do think that you have something to say to my Cousin, Mr. Quigley-Smith." Lucas repeated in a very quiet tone that was very threatening.
"And I said that I do not." replied Mr. Quigley-Smith, thinking that that was the end of it.
"Cousin Jane and Cousin Elizabeth, please take Mary to your Mama. I will join you in a few moments." requested Lucas of Jane and Lizzie, who very gently led Mary away from the refreshment table and Lucas again turned to Mr. Quigley Smith.
"I do believe that you and I have something to discuss outside, Mr. Quigley-Smith." said Lucas.
"I have nothing to discuss with stupid Colonials." said Mr. Quigley-Smith, in an arrogant tone.
"I said we have something to discuss outside, Mr. Quigley-Smith." repeated Lucas, in a tone that someone acquainted with Mr. Lucas Isaac Collins immediately took notice of and did not ignore. Lucas could tolerate much, but one thing he did not tolerate and that was anytime a so called gentleman dared to insult a Lady, and when the Lady was family that was enough to make Lucas wish to fight. Though he always was fair and he gave the villain one chance more, before they fought. Lucas forcefully took Mr. Quigley Smith by the arm and led him out of the Assembly Rooms.
"You know why we are out here, Quigley-Smith, but I will be fair and give you one more chance. Do I send your apology in to my Cousin, or do I give you the thrashing you deserve." said Lucas.
"You would not dare and I do not have an apology to make." replied Mortimer Quigley-Smith, still full of arrogance.
"Dare I not, Quigley-Smith? Remember that this was your very own fault." said Lucas, as he brought his right fist back and hit the odious bounder in the jaw. Mr. Quigley -Smith went down immediately, due to his glass jaw.
Posted on Saturday, 25 September 1999
Messrs. Parsifal Jones and Mr. Basil Wilton left the Assembly Rooms in general as soon as they had observed that the Bennet Sisters' Colonial cousin had all but dragged their friend outside. When they arrived on the "field of battle" it could be said that the battle in effect over due to Quigley-Smith's glass jaw.
Quigley-Smith's friends did not like the idea that a "Colonial" could beat their friend so easily, so they thought they would teach the "stupid Colonial" a lesson. Unfortunately, they made an extremely fatal mistake in trying to gang up on Lucas Collins. Yes they did get some licks in, but it was still Lucas who won the day. Having grown up on the American frontier, even though he would soon be studying to become a minister, he had learned how to fight from some of the young red Indian braves who came to the Mission. When it was all over, all three not-so-gentlemanly gentlemen had been sent to grass, but Lucas knew that he would soon have a shiner under his left eye. He was just about to return to the Assembly Rooms when Mary, Elizabeth, and Jane, with the help of the Rooms footmen came outside to search for him.
"Oh Lucas! Are you all right!? What did those villains do to you!?" asked Mary in a concerned tone, as the footmen helped her cousin to his feet.
"I am fine Cousins, truly I am. I am afraid those "villains" made the mistake of trying to thrash me together. That was just not smart of them, I learned to fight from a good friend of mine, Noah Soaring Eagle. He is the son of one of my Father's first converts at the Mission. He is about my age, we are good friends. When they do regain what little sense they all have, I think that they will find it prudent if they stay as far away from me as possible, because if it is the last thing that I do, I will make those "villains" apologize to Cousin Mary. I do believe that they will find it in the best interests of their health to make their apologies to you, and soon." replied Lucas, in a winded tone.
As the three sisters and the footmen helped their cousin to the door of the Assembly Rooms, Mary could see by the lights of the lamps by the doors, that her cousin had the beginnings of a large bruise on his right cheek and a shiner under his left eye. "Do they hurt much, Cousin?" asked Mary, as she reached out to soothe the noble face of the young man that had just gone into battle for the sake of her honour.
Posted on Wednesday, 6 October 1999
"They hurt enough, Cousin. Do not worry, you will have a chance to play nurse in the morning." replied Lucas, in a light tone.
"Mary, I think that Father has just left the card room, so it must be time to leave. I will fetch Mama, Kitty, and Lydia from the ballroom." said Jane. "I will fetch our cloaks." said Lizzie, as she observed Mr. Bennet approach them.
"What happened to you dear boy? Did one of your silly cousins trip you up while you were dancing with them?" enquired Mr. Bennet.
"Father! Lucas has just been defending my honour. Mr. Mortimer Quigley-Smith and his two villainous friends insulted me and Lucas thrashed them for it." said Mary, in a some what outraged tone.
The Bennets and Lucas left the Assembly Rooms much to the disappointment of Mrs. Bennet and her youngest daughters. Her voiced complaints could be heard by all and sundry in the town of Meryton.
"Oh Mr. Bennet! How could you leave like this?! Just because your Cousin had to engage in vulgar fisticuffs with the only gentleman who would make a proper suitor for Mary. Then take my Dearest Lydia away from all the nice officers. It is a week in your room, with nothing but bread and water, for you Miss Mary. This is all your fault."
Mary was about to take umbrage at this, when she noticed Lucas put a finger to his lips. Mary relaxed, for she knew that her Mother just did not know that she did not like Mr. Mortimer Quigley-Smith. He made her feel uncomfortable. He was cruel to people and animals alike. He had tried to humiliate her tonight, but Lucas had defended her honour and if the odious Mr. Quigley-Smith and his friends had any sense they would apologize to her.
When the Bennet's carriage returned to Longbourn and the family reentered the house, Mary had a basin of cold water, cloths, and some comfrey sent up to Lucas' room for a poultice for the swelling.
"Thank you for defending my honour tonight, Lucas, I just do not like Mr. Quigley-Smith no matter how many times Mama and Aunt Phillips has me to dance with him, He makes me feel uncomfortable and he is not just silly, he is very cruel to all God's creatures. His friends are just like him." said Mary, matter-of-factly.
"Mary he tried to humiliate you, and he deserved the thrashing he received. His friends just made the bad mistake of trying to attack me at the same time. I was not going to let them get away without being taught a very valuable lesson. No bounders are going to hurt my favorite Cousin and just walk away." said Lucas, in a firm voice, full of conviction.
"Your favourite Cousin, Lucas. Is that what you think of me?" asked Mary in a very surprised tone.
"Yes Mary, you are quite my favorite Cousin. I have begun to feel this since I have had the chance to get to know you and your sisters." replied Lucas.
"Then I have a small confession, Cousin. You are quite my favourite cousin also." said Mary, in a somewhat abashed tone.
With Mary's tender nursing, Lucas' bruises soon began to heal. They still spent their mornings riding and practicing together. On not so nice mornings, in consideration of Mrs. Bennet's "nerves", Lucas and Mary would spend time in the library reading and discussing what they had read. Most of the time they had the kittens and their Mama as an audience. On nicer days, Lucas and Mary would sit under what had become designated as "their" tree reading. As always the kittens and sometimes Dame Tabitha, their Mama would accompany them. So what happened a se'nnight after the Meryton Assembly was not wholly unexpected. Even though they had tried to keep them from the attempt, all five of the kittens to climb some of the trees about the grounds of Longbourn. None of the kittens had made the attempt of climbing the tree that Mary and Lucas had claimed as their own. That is until that particular morning.
Mary had gone out for a walk with the kittens but soon she had come to hers and Lucas' tree. Mary had brought a packet of bread and cheese to nibble on while she read her book. Just the day before, she had been to the lending library in Meryton and found a traveler's journal from America. Lucas had promised to meet her here to discuss it. Mary loved what Lucas had to say about the opinions of the journal writers. Especially when they were describing a place that her Cousin was familiar with. While Mary read her book, she watched the kittens' antics. They would run around her Mama and Marion would pounce at her tail. Finally, Dame Tabitha had had enough of her mischievous children and she jumped into Mary's lap, and soon went to sleep. The day was sunny and lazy and Mary soon found herself starting to yawn, and before long she could not keep her eyes open and was soon sound asleep.
Posted on Sunday, 10 October 1999
Mary had been sleeping for an half hour, when the loud mewing of a kitten in distress awakened her. Opening her eyes, she noticed that Dame Tabitha and four of the kittens were still asleep. She also noticed that missing kitten was Marion. Mary started to look around the tree, but she did not see him; yet she could hear a kitten mewing nearby. It did not take Mary long to realise that the sounds were coming from above her. Marion had finally succeeded in climbing up the tree and then promptly succeeded in getting himself stuck. Mary knew what she had to do; she rose, kilted up her skirts, preparatory to climbing up the tree that had become hers and Lucas'. Marion had climbed way up high and she knew that it would be a difficult climb, even her sister had a hard time climbing this particular tree. Intrepidly, Mary began the slow climb to the high branch where that troublesome kitten sat.
"If we had known just how badly behaved you would become we would have named you Trouble." Mary told the kitten, as she climbed the tall oak. Mary finally reached the branch where Marion sat. She carefully moved onto the branch, caught up her kitten and soon found herself as stuck as Marion was.
Lucas soon arrived at the tree at the appointed time and noticed Mary's plight. "So that troublesome kitten finally got the knack of climbing up a tree and soon found out he has not the least idea of how to get to get back down again. So he lured you up to rescue him and now you are stuck also?" asked Lucas.
"Yes, I came up here to rescue this troublesome kitten of yours and now I cannot seem get back down again. I, an extremely competent tree climber. How positively humiliating a situation this is." replied Mary, in a teasing tone.
"So now he is my kitten, is he? You minx, I should leave you up there for awhile to punish you, but that would completely destroy your image of me as a knight in shining armour, would it not?" said Lucas, in a similar tone.
"It would do you credit as a knight in armour if you leave me up here, but not as an older brother. You most likely use your sisters in just such a fashion, for I have seen David and Jonathan Long treat their sisters in a like manner and it makes happy that God has seen fit to only give me older sisters." replied Mary, in a mock outraged, but similar teasing tone, which caused both cousins to break out into laughter.
When both cousins had regained their composure, Lucas slowly began to climb up the tall oak to the branch where Mary sat and just as slowly helped both girl and kitten back down. When all three were safely back on solid ground, Mary began to tremble with relief. Lucas slipped out of his coat and placed over his cousin's shoulders and held her close until equanimity was restored.
Posted on Thursday, 4 November 1999
"Thank you Cousin," said Mary, as she stepped back so there was a more proper space between herself and Lucas. "It would appear that I have been as much trouble as Marion has been. I was never used to become stuck in that tree. I feel so silly."
"Nonsense Cousin, everyone climbs too high sometimes. Why just last summer I was called upon more than once to rescue Naomi and Ruth after having been stuck in the same tree. Just remember Mary, just because you became stuck up there, does not mean you should stop climbing trees if that is something you like to do. I know your Mama would disagree with me, but I would not be averse to a wife who would climb a tree to rescue one of God's Creatures if it was in distress. Being kind to animals is not unladylike. It is something that I would want in a wife." said Lucas.
Mary and Lucas shared the bread and cheese she had brought with her while they discussed the traveler's journal that they had been reading together. "Lucas, did you not tell me that your brother Daniel has seen this place? Were his descriptions the same as the writer's? Are the writer's descriptions accurate, or are they less than accurate, compared to your brother's descriptions?" asked Mary.
"I would not call them inaccurate, just overly dramatic. Dan used less flowery words in his descriptions. He used common sense." replied Lucas.
The Dear Readers will please forgive this little interruption in this my little narrative while I give an explanation about the song that Lucas is going to sing in a minute. I, like many of my fellow Dwiggies put something of myself in all my stories, such as basing Lucas' character on Mark O'Connor. As my bio in The Baronetage states, musically, I am a true eclectic. One of the sorts of music I love to sing and participate in is Sacred Harp, this a descendant of the Singing School tradition of New England. Singing Schools were a way for a church congregation to learn to sing. This is also referred to as Shape-Note or Fa-So-La. To go even further back to England there is something similar that is referred to as West Gallery. One of the best known composers of this music, for example the song Lucas is going to sing, was William Billings, the lyrics are by Isaac Watts. I hope you like it.
"Lucas, as you were coming towards the tree I thought I heard you singing, could you sing that again? The words, if I am not mistaken are by Isaac Watts, but the music is unfamiliar to me. Is the composer an American?" asked Mary, curiously.
"Yes he is. His name is Willaim Billings. You liked that did you? It is a Singing School song." replied Lucas, as he began thus:
"Now shall my inward joys arise
And burst into a song;
Almighty love inspires my heart
And pleasures tune my tongue"
"I liked that Lucas, but what is a Singing School?" asked Mary, even more curiously.
"We have Singing School every month. It is a way of learning to sing easily. I also suppose it is also a way for the younger members of the settlements to meet one another." replied Lucas, as he and Mary stood up preparatory to return to the house for dinner.
Posted on Friday, 19 November 1999
Arriving back at the house, it soon became evident that Mary was still somewhat in shock from her brief sojourn in the tree. As usual, Mrs. Bennet began to berate her third daughter for her "foolishness".
"Whoever heard of climbing up a tree to rescue a silly kitten? It is bread and water in your room tonight, my girl." said Mrs. Bennet. The two cousins shared a knowing look, as Lucas placed Mary into Hill's capable hands. Mary was soon tucked up for the night.
Since it was still daylight, Mary picked up her journal off her night table and began to read over her last entry.
From the Journal of Mary Athena Bennet
Last night my family went to the Assembly in Meryton. Mama and Papa had their usual row about Papa leaving her for the card room as soon as we arrive at the Assembly Rooms. We all wore our finest and favorite gowns. My Cousin Lucas looked extremely fine in his evening clothes, at least I thought he did. I have heard some of the "gentlemen" of Meryton, especially M. Quigley-Smith, P. Jones, and B. Wilton refer to Lucas as a "stupid colonial". First of all, the United States ceased to be colonies thirty-one years ago and second, Lucas is not stupid. Lucas and I have wonderful conversations together. Conversations about music, America, and other things. One day I am going to go to America.
Lucas danced first with Mama, to keep her from pestering my sisters and I about getting gentlemen to dance. My sister and I all danced with Lucas. He also danced with Charlotte and Maria Lucas and Miss Long.
The most important thing that occurred was that Lucas proved himself to be something of a knight in shining armour. The above mentioned "gentlemen" insulted me. Lucas thrashed for it. Will write again soon.
Knowing that she had been neglecting her journal of late, Mary got out of bed, put on her dressing gown, brought her journal to her desk, lit a candle and began another entry all about the events of that day.
From the Journal of Mary Athena Bennet
This morning Lucas received a letter from his sisters. He has three, the oldest two are a set of twins who are three days younger than I. Their names are Naomi and Ruth. Lucas tells me that they would welcome letters from across the Atlantic. I know that it is improper to write to an unmarried gentleman, but it is not improper to write to said gentleman's sisters and in the course of said letter in quire as to his health and etcetera.
We were to meet at our tree to discuss the traveler's journal that I borrowed from the lending library. I had the kittens and their Mama with me. I fell asleep waiting for Lucas. While I was sleeping, that dratted Marion succeeded in climbing up our tree and proceeded to become stuck in the process. I made the mistake of climbing up after that troublesome kitten and I became stuck myself. Lucas arrived soon after. We teased each for a little bit, but he helped Marion and I down from the tree. We spent some time discussing the traveler's journal. Lucas told me that his younger brother, Daniel had walked some of this trail that was described. He also told about something called singing school, that they have at the Mission. We then returned to the house, and Mama began to berate me for being foolish for climbing up our tree to rescue Marion. It is not foolish to care about God's creatures. Lucas told me, and I know that it is the forward American in him, but he told me that he would wish that in a wife. I would wish that in a husband also. I was still a bit in shock from being stuck up in our tree and Hill helped me upstairs and tucked me up in bed, for that is what she said I needed. That brings me to date. Will write again soon.
Mary sanded the page of her journal, blew out the candle and returned to bed. In a few minutes, she was fast asleep. If on were able to observe Miss Mary Bennet's face, one would have seen a smile.
That evening, after another rather noisy dinner, Lucas, after most faithfully promising that he would play his violin for dancing. He disappeared into Mr. Bennet's library to devote a quiet measure of his time to his correspondence. He had received a letter from his sisters Naomi and Ruth. He had not had time to fully peruse it, so he had taken this opportunity to read his letter and begin another. Here is the letter in full:
Letter from Naomi and Ruth Collins to Lucas Collins
Our Dear Brother,
Just a few lines to tell you just how much you are missed here. Just yesterday, Miss Ann Jackson and Miss Molly Donahue were here saying that they cried all night the night you left to take your ship. Mrs. Porters niece Elinor, dropped by to take her leave, as she is returning to Philadelphia. She asked if you had written. Today Miss Catherine Madison and Miss Ann Jackson almost came to blows over just what makes you so handsome. Tempe Starbuck happened onto the seen and had this to say to those two silly females. "Thee are all very worldly. I am not sighing over a boy, who only yesterday was pulling our braids and introducing snakes and frogs onto our persons. Thee forgets Ann Jackson, thee for gets Catherine Madison. Thee forgets that not one year past, Lucas Collins placed a snake into your pinafore pocket when thee was not aware of it, Ann Jackson. Thee will not find me crying bitter tears over such a rascal." Temperance Starbuck is not fooled by you brother.
Father O'Brien was visiting at the Donahues these two weeks past. I know that before you left for England, you were wondering just why Mrs. Donahue was trying to make a match between you and Molly. You were wondering if she expected Molly to convert you to the Church of Rome or you were to convert her to Methodism, either way, Father O'Brien told his sister that, "You were always a great silly woman, Sorcha Donahue." To which Mrs. Donahue replied, "You may be a Holy Sainted Father, but sure an you were always a great fool Padraig O'Brien. We were wondering if you have the acquaintance of any other young Ladies besides our Cousins. Write and tell us. We do miss you and remain fondly.
Your loving Sisters,
Naomi and Ruth Collins